So close I can taste it…

Not going to be on here very much over the next two days or so as my World of Warcraft main character (Liaresa on Feathermooon if you want to drop in and /whipser a “Hi” to me) hit level 59 as of last night. For those of you who do not know, 60 is the maximum level you can reach in that game, so I am geeking it out and devoting all of my free time to reach my final ding. Fortunately, two other guildmates reached 60 last week, so they will be of great help getting me there and hopefully, I’ll remember to take a screenshot of that ding to add to my growing collection.

Curse that addictive game!

Neverwinter Nights

Sometimes it takes me a while to catch onto the big non-FPS games of note. This is mostly due to the fact that I am a hard core FPS-gamer type of guy. I didn’t start playing StarCraft until Broodwar was well over a year old. I didn’t play Diablo (though still haven’t touched Diablo II) until a few years after it came out as well. However, you can bet your ass that the day Doom(s), Quake(s), Unreal(s) were released my butt was in line waiting for it. A couple of weeks ago I finally made the jump to another big game of recent time and pretty much only bought it at the time because it was going for $19.99 at the local Target. This game is Neverwinter Nights and I picked it up because it came bundled with Shadows which I figured wasn’t a half bad deal. If I wound up detesting the game, it only put me out 20 bucks.

After a couple of weeks of playing this game all I can say is WOW!!!

While it’s no Doom3 or UT2004 graphics-wise, the graphics really are stunning and with my Radeon 9700 Pro, I can ramp up all anti-aliasing and run it very smoothly at 1280×1024. I’m not a big fan of turning music on while I am doing my gaming thing, but this score is very nice indeed. The way it picks up during the intense battle scenes adds the extra oomph that I wish more games I have played in the past had. The story and the insane amount of sub-plots drives you deeper into the game and at times I get so into it, I don’t realize how much real-life time has passed. The story writers definitely did an awesome job keeping this game suspenseful and intriguing at all times.

The only downside to this whole game (which isn’t the game’s fault), is that I never really enjoyed Dungeons & Dragons and pretty much avoided playing it every chance I was offered to. So, as a non-fan of this particular genre of gaming, it makes it pretty hard to understand what is going on while I am playing. My only role-playing experience I have amassed thus far in my life boils down to essentially 2 games which in no way are considered true RPGs, Diablo and Ultima Online. I love both of those games and every once in a while, I slap in the Diablo CD and start up another game just for old time’s sake. I can understand certain things like hit points and experience points, but when it comes to the calculations that occur as I cast a spell or shoot an arrow from my crossbow, I am completely at a loss. If there was some form of D&D for Dummies web site or low level tutorial, I would love to find one. Granted, I starting to pick up on some things like knowing that a 1d6 crossbow is lower in damage than a 1d8, I have no clue what that means in battle when you add things like attack+1 or mighty+4. Does that mean one does 8x normal damage with a special attack and a bigger scream and the other 6x? Or is it something else?

On my first go at this game, I picked a elven wizard whom I named Kerberos (lvl 12 I believe now) and I actually just began Chapter 3 yesterday. One of the things I do not understand is that if I am a wizard, why can I only cast a spell once without resting? In other games I have played, you could essentially cast the same spell as many times as you want as long as your mana was there. Once that ran out, you had to rest. Here, it seems like there’s no such thing unless I bust out a magical staff. My guess is that the other games I have played in the past were terribly wrong and this is the right way everything is supposed to happen. Eh well, no real biggie.

All in all, I am beginning to be a huge fan of this game. I know my little brother wants me to hop on-line to play with him and his buddies, but I want to at least get through this, Shadows and Hordes which I bought the day after. I figured it’ll take a while to do all of that eh??

Doom 3 first impressions

Oh my god!

I am so in love with this game. As far as first impressions, I am utterly amazed at the level of realism in Doom3. That’s not to say however, I didn’t have any problems at first. At the beginning, I could not get the game to work correctly after the first install with some odd error about creating a file (gamex86.dll) in the game directory. My first guess was that it did not like my install path of “D:/Program Files/Doom3” which is the dedicated drive I use for games. So, I changed the path to “D:/Doom3” and it worked absolutely fine after that. My guess is that the space in the path might have thrown things off a bit, which a few other people on the Doom3 forum confirmed.

As far as the performance of my machine with this game, as expected it’s not the greatest. My machine could pretty much only handle “Medium” graphics mode at a decent frame rate. I also threw down the resolution to 800×600 to speed things up a bit and changed the “seta image_cacheMegs” setting to 256mb of RAM. However, being on medium mode did not mean the game looked like crapola. On the contrary, the graphics are rather breathtaking even at this reduced detail level… There is so much visual realism in the monsters and players that it makes you want to explore every nook and cranny in the game just to take in the graphics. I posted up a few screen shots here of one of the corridors I had to walk through. Here’s one of a demon about ready to chuck a fireball at me. The detail in the blood and core is quite eery in some places as shown here. Finally, here’s a shot of yours truly in the bathroom (don’t ask).

I read somewhere that a sci-fi writer was brought in for the story line and man did that help out with the game’s plot. It’s a very dark and dismal setting (as you can see from the screen shots) which almost reminds me of a a horror movie. From watching the game trailers, I knew I had to play this game in complete darkness and man does that help with the “scary” ambience. If I still had my 5.1 speaker system, it would have completely made the game much more realistic since it does allow for 5.1 surround sound in the audio settings. Unfortunately, that’s gracing my brother’s machine now, so I played the game via my headset and it wasn’t really that bad. I also have to add that the background music for this game definitely adds to the “suspense” factor. Much like the better horror movies, the musical cues do not necessarily mean something bad is going to happen. There were many times when the music was almost soothing then all of a sudden a demon jumped out in front of you and then it picked up as the fight ensued. Conversely, there were also many times when the music got quite hectic leading you to believe that all shit was about to break loose, but nothing happened at all. Again, a very good sign that careful thought was placed into making this a suspenseful shooter as opposed to the typical games out lately that just concentrate on killing everything in sight.

All in all, I have to say that I am extremely impressed with id’s latest offering. If you do happen to get your hands on it, take my advice. Play it in the dark and if possible, turn up the volume high… It’s one of the best gaming experiences I have had thus far and I’m only at the beginning. Can’t wait to see how this ends.

Here’s a pretty interesting blog on Doom3 at GameSpy networks.

Got Doom?

Just picked up my copy of Doom3 at a local GameStop and had to wait in line of what must have been 30 or 40 other guys itching to get their hands on the game. The minimum specs required to play the game are frightening (shockingly it’s a Windows 2000 and XP only game… No Linux?) hardware-wise and I think my rig can just about get to the medium graphics settings (AMD 2700, 512 MB DDR RAM, Radeon 9700 Pro, Audigy, XP Pro).

I am beyond psyched now…