Move along, nothing to read here.

There was a post here, it was me moaning about Battlefield 3’s terrible campaign mode. It wasn’t pretty, and Moderator Kitteh made me delete it*.

Here’s a cat meme instead, normal service will resume next week.

*Moderator Kitteh doesn’t really exist, it was me that deleted the post, mainly because I realised nobody wants to hear me moan about a game. Not even my wife.

Multi-Player Weekend Event Madness!

Apologies for no post last week, a stomach bug has been sweeping through our house and one of the casualty’s was last week’s post. I did have a long old speech about Bioware’s artistic integrity not really being under attack three quarters done, but as it’s not really that relevant now the post is lost to the mists of time. A lucky escape I hear you mutter.

Anyway, I’m still not quite 100% so this post will be short and sweet, and not really about anything at all. This weekend I’ll be trying to fit in two multi-player event weekends, one on Gears of War 3 and one on Mass Effect 3. If you fancy joining me hit me up over Xbox Live – Gamertag: SGT Benton.

Details incoming!

Gears of War 3

Gears Weekend 2x XP in versus, beast and horde. Guardian has a new xp multiplier. Horde bonus objectives every 2 waves. Custom gnasher skin.

Gears Weekend playlist is Raven Down 24/7. First to 10 Execution with Gnasher and golden snub loadout on Raven Down only.

Gears Weekend features tophats and flower blood for the Raven Down massacre playlist.

Mass Effect 3

Join the war against the Reapers online between 5PM PST Friday, March 30th to 5AM PST Monday, April 2nd and promote at least 2 characters to your single player campaign.

This operation includes PC and Xbox 360; we are continuing to work with Sony to enable these types of Operations on the PlayStation 3 platform. We appreciate your patience, and we expect an update later this week regarding Operation Raptor and the PlayStation 3.

Commendation Packs will be awarded to individual soldiers who complete their training, and a Victory Pack will be awarded to everyone if the Allied Goal is achieved. Packs will be available to download the following week. Please note that participants need to set “Upload Gameplay Feedback” to “on” in the online options to be able to participate in Operation RAPTOR.

Blogging from the past.

It’s Friday! Only it’s not. I’m actually blogging from the past because I expect to be a little bit busy on Friday, there’s this game coming out called Mass Effect 3… As this post goes live, I’ll be tucking into the third part of Bioware’s space trilogy, moaning about how they’ve left the stupid Thermal Clip mechanic in the game, and generally Shepard-ing it up aboard the Normandy. That’s after I’ve gone out a bought it that is, something I wouldn’t be doing if it weren’t for Game cancelling my pre-order due to their recent  financial troubles. Anyway, that’s this post done. Not having played the game yet, it’s a bit hard to write anything else besides expect a supplementary entry over the weekend. Till then enjoy Mass Effect 3 if you’ve already got, and if you haven’t, what are you waiting for?

See you online.


*EDIT 14/03/12*

I thought long and hard about a second post about Mass effect 3, but decided against it. The reason? I don’t like the game. I’m not making a judgement on the quality of the game, clearly it’s very well made, but I just don’t like it. So rather than making an overly negative entry I’ll just leave it at that, I don’t like it.

And I don’t like the ending either 😛


Random Stuff

Jeez, finding something to post about every week is hard… 😛

Seriously though this week has been half term, which for me means a constant battle against the noise and mess of two children at home. Small wonder I try to take solace in a virtual world. I have managed to get some decent thinking done though, and it led to me changing my Mass Effect 3 pre-order from the £70 N7 Edition, to the regular £40 version.

Since my last post I’ve been rethinking my attitude to buying special edition versions of games. Once upon a time I loved them, but now… I realise that I can do without the baubles. Most of the extra stuff I’ve accumulated over the years is still in the box, untouched. I can’t really think of anything that has made a significant impact on my enjoyment of the game. So I’ll save the extra money and spend it on something else, that £30 I’ve saved could be spent on a whole other game.

Anyway, that’s me done. Over the next few days I’ll be playing Red Dead Redemption, Gears 3, and the Mass Effect 3 MP demo. If you want to join me, hit me up on the above Gamertag. 😉


Would you pay £88 for Call of Duty? Chances are you already do…

I want to take a look at DLC with this post, or more specifically the very clever business model publishers have gotten us used to. Being an older gamer, I can remember a time when the whole game consisted of whatever was on the cartridge/floppy disc. If it was bugged in some way there was no downloadable patch, if it was a multiplayer game and you were bored of the maps/race tracks/whatever you couldn’t download news ones. In short, you gave the publishers one lot of money for the game.

In today’s market, DLC is the norm. On the whole, game prices haven’t really increased in the time I’ve been a gamer, at the time Street Fighter 2 Turbo on the SNES cost  me around £50 for example, so publishers haven’t managed to edge the price of games up for a very long time now. Only they have, very cleverly, with the drip feed of DLC.

For this example I’m going to use Call of Duty: Black Ops on the Xbox 360. This is not a comment on the quality of the game itself, and yes I know you could shop around for points etc… I’m trying to keep this simple. So with that in mind;

  • Call of Duty: Black Ops – Full game £44.99
  • Pack of 5000 Microsoft Points – £42.50
  • DLC Pack 1 – 1st Strike – 1200pts
  • DLC Pack 2 – Escalation – 1200pts
  • DLC Pack 3 – Annihilation – 1200pts
  • DLC Pack 4 – Rezurrection – 1200pts
  • Total Cost for Black Ops and all the DLC: £87.49

So if you bought Black Ops and all the DLC it would cost you just over £87. If I was being particularly awkward, I’d point out that on the Xbox you’re also paying a Live subscription too, so if Black Ops was the only thing you played that’s over £100!

So my question is this Call of Duty fans; If you went into your local game retailer to pick up the latest copy of the series and it had £89.99 on the box, would you still buy it? And for clarity it’s the plain vanilla version and there’s no DLC ever, anything that would have been DLC is already on the disc.

To be honest you could substitute Call of Duty for Dragon Age: Origins (which had a mountain of DLC after launch), or pretty much any other game, my point is none of us buy the latest title happy in the knowledge that it’s going to cost us double the sticker price in the long run. Nobody looks at the box and thinks “this is going to cost me £40 alone in DLC”. So if the latest version of your favourite game had a realistic prices tag on it from day one, if you knew the true cost, would you still buy the game?


I am a self-confessed RPG addict. Whether it’s wandering around Skyrim in the latest Elder Scrolls game or Middle Earth in Lord of the Rings: Online, I spend most of my gaming time wandering a virtual world earning virtual baubles. Investing time in questing to earn new shinys for a character that no one else will see is pretty pointless. I’ll freely admit that it’s the collecting aspect that hooks me, I’m comfortable with my addiction. What’s bothering me is other non-RPG’s feeding my addiction with their own sweeties, albeit in a far stealthier way.

The game chief in my mind right now is Gears of War 3. Like all good pushers, Epic offered up the first hit free via the campaign, gently feeding us with achievements as we progress through the story. Next comes the unlockables. All good RPG’s feed the collection habit with offer of new armour and weapons for you character and Gears 3 is no different. OK you don’t get actual new armour, but a new character skin is no different in reality, and they only unlock by XP grinding.

The final step to complete Gears substance dependence  is the collecting of medals and ribbons. Again Epic start us off slowly, the first few come easy and serve to take your eye off the horror of what’s looming on the gaming horizon; months of Locust killing, grinding XP and gaining those sweet, sweet Onyx medals. Why have you done this to me Epic? Collecting things is my addiction and you’ve used your shooting game to feed my habit. PLEASE STOP!

Precious… must have the precious…

Fable Fatigue

I’m in that curious down time at the moment, that time between when you’ve finished playing one big blockbuster game and are now waiting for the next. Gears of war 3 kept me going for a shorter time than anticipated and now I’m waiting for Uncharted 3, filling the time with Fable 3. I don’t know what prompted me to choose this game other than I wanted an RPG to play and somehow I chose the least RPG-like of all my RPG’s.

I’ve played the story through once already, but I couldn’t understand how I had so little of the achievements? Well it soon became apparent; It’s a tedious grind. The second half of the story amounts to not much more than a gold grind if you want to be a good monarch and save your kingdom with minimal casualties, but at least that can be diluted into a mainly passive affair. What can’t be softened is the fetch quest achievements.

  • Shoot 50 Gnomes
  • Collect 50 silver keys
  • Collect 5 Gold keys
  • Collect 30 library books
  • Collect 30 flowers

And they’re just the specific collect-em ups, you also have to collect every item of clothing in the game, and every Legendary Weapon, which involves trading with your friends online because you can’t find all 50 in your own game world.

Fable 3 feels like half a game, Lionhead got to the part where you become king/queen and ran out of ideas. Such a shame really as I do quite enjoy the world they’ve created, but it does explain why I gave up with it the first time round, only half of it is worth playing.

Why I’ll quit gaming.

With my Hall of Fame blog post taking longer to type than I anticipated, I thought I’d better break the post drought with a quick blog. Having a rant about gaming is something that comes easy, so what better way to get going again? The focus of my ire this time round is the increasing use of “Online Pass” codes, and the way that they control what I do with my game.

For those unfamiliar with the dreaded codes, an Online Pass is a code first introduced by EA (and now used by others) that you need to redeem in order to play the online portion of the game. The idea of them is that the publisher makes some money from the second-hand market, with the second buyer having to buy another code to replace the original used by the first owner.

On the face of it, it doesn’t seem that bad but lets examine what happens when you want to share the game with family or friends. Want to take your copy of the latest FIFA round your mates house and play online? Can’t do that unless you mate buys the code. Want to share your copy of Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit with you brother who lives in the same house? Can’t do that without your brother buying a code. And lets not forget, you’ve already paid £40+ pounds for this game in the first place!

I may have singled out two EA published games there, but it’s Codemasters apparent use of an online code system on Dirt 3, and my decision to not buy it because of it that’s triggered this post. If this trend continues eventually all games will have some sort of code attached designed to stop me from sharing my game legitimately, and when that time comes I’ll be done with gaming.

Do we expect too much from online friends?

This is going to be a tricky blog post, the question I’m asking is do we expect too much from our online friends?  It’s tricky because it’s impossible for me to ask it without going into the reasons for asking, and I’m going to have to cover some events that still bother me without moaning, whining or complaining about people I like. Nevertheless, it’s question that does genuinely interest me, so I’ll plough on. First, a little back story…

A little while ago, whilst still a member of an online gaming community, I had a disagreement with another member of the site. It was storm-in-a-tea cup type stuff and we both apologised to each other pretty soon afterwards, but in the heat of the moment I stood down as a member of staff there. After calming down I thought again about why I’d resigned and it soon became apparent to me that this disagreement was merely the proverbial straw, and that other things said and done by the guy running the site had bothered me more than I previously considered. I decided then that the site was no longer for me. Staying away probably doesn’t make much sense to most you, especially not when I have plenty of other friends there, but it does to me. It’s pretty hard to feel comfortable in someone else’s house when you don’t get on with that someone, no matter how many other friends are there, so I stay away.

With that as the context, here’s why I’m asking the headline question. Last night a group of guys from the above site were playing Blur, a game I still have and one that we’ve all enjoyed playing together previously. Half of me hoped for an invite, half of me didn’t expect one and for some reason on this particular occasion it bothered me. In all the time I’ve been away from this site I’ve had one invite to a game, this despite the amount of time we’ve spent gaming together. Of all the people I got to know there, only two have bothered to send me “how you doing” type message over Live, and this is what got me thinking about online friends.

I still can’t put my finger on why last night bothered in particular, but I have come to the conclusion that maybe I expect too much from online friends. I’ve never met any of these people, why should I expect them to care about whether I’m at a loose end on Live or not, and it’s my choice to stay way from the site that they organise these nights on. Also, in the interest of balance I should say that I’ve only invited one of them once into to a game that I’m playing, so perhaps it cuts both ways and I’m just whining. Right now I’m undecided, is the term “Friends List” misleading? Do we read too much into it? In the past I did but I’m trying to not now, my FL is evolving, changing to a selection of people who I really do consider friends and the rest I can do without…

Dragon Age 2

Dragon Age 2 is a tough one for me,  I’ve gone back and forth in my head on just whether I like the game and so far managed to come to no conclusion at all. On the one hand I spent a good amount of my play time feeling the game was tedious, and yet on the other something has drawn me in enough to clock up around forty hours and counting on Bioware’s new RPG. My overriding issue with DA2 is that they’ve dumbed the RPG elements down too much, and whilst they got away with doing that with Mass Effect 2, this game doesn’t have the same strong characters or continuity of story to carry it through.

Set almost entirely in Kirkwall, DA2 has you juggling quests for both the various opposing factions in the game, and your companions. All of them come off as extremists and with DA:O’s coercion skill gone it never feels like they’re open to compromise. As a result you spend your time picking sides, with none of the options feeling particularly appealing. Very few of your companions are entirely likeable either, and like the aforementioned factions they’re similarly extreme in their views, similarly closed to compromise, and just as incapable of running their own errands or asking you to do them without whining. All this results in a profound sense of futility, knowing that the end will be the same no matter what you do, and that the only variable is exactly who you chop up on the way there.

On the flip side I’ve spent some time playing this game so it can’t be all bad. Combat is improved, the graphics are better, and having a fully voiced character is a much welcomed addition. It’s just that it feels lacking to me, comparing this game to Dragon Age: Origins highlights just how much of the Role-Playing has been stripped out, and even though Bioware did the same thing from Mass Effect 1 to 2 to end up with a great game, it doesn’t work here. Less isn’t more, it’s less…

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