Category Archives: Games

Ubisoft: When Offline Isn’t Offline

Given the furor that Ubisoft has been experiencing over their DRM methods, you’d think they would have learnt to back off.

Unfortunately they haven’t.

For all the ‘offline mode’ support Anno2070 claims to have, once you’ve performed the one-time Tages authentication check, you also need to create an ubi.com account, register your game key against it (which invalidates the key), and log in at least once.

I wanted an offline mode to avoid this sort of shit treatment.

No longer will I put up with this sort of crap.

I don’t want to create and maintain accounts for every publisher and/or every game.

I don’t want to have to worry about losing those account details when I put the game down and come back to it in 6 months.

But most of all, I feel like the publishers are intentionally trying to violate my privacy by tracking my game actions and forcing me into signing into an online service I didn’t want to play what’s fundamentally a single player experience.

No longer.  I am now actively refusing to buy any Ubisoft games, irrespective of platform, developer or quality.  Unless they demonstrate a healthy dose of reality, I doubt they’ll be coming off of it again.

And I will be encouraging my friends and peers to do the same.

Tactics Ogre

Squeenix dropped Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together unexpectedly into Australia retail.  It’s a PSP remake of the original Tactics Ogre game which featured on the SNES.

Tactics Ogre is yet another turn based strategy game developed by the guys who went on to produce Final Fantasy Tactics and Vagrant Story.

It features a branching storyline, and enough tricky combat tactics to keep you busy for some time – it’s dislodged Z.H.P as my current carry everywhere PSP title.

The Australian retail box is a “special edition” which contains a minimalist artbook (meh) and a mini soundtrack.

The PSP remake features a few nice view options, but doesn’t appear to have been drastically altered from it’s original SNES format graphics, which is a nice change. Players familiar with Final Fantasy Tactics Advance or A2 will find the visual style familiar.

Finally! A fight we can win!

Interestingly enough, the game features a screenshot option, and has extra scenarios for you to play through once you’ve finished the main game.  So far I’ve only finished chapter 1, and that’s already taken a few hours of my life to achieve.

Battles are difficult, but not impossible – occasionally a battle really comes together well and you can storm through it, but in general they feel genuinely difficult as you face poor terrain hindering your units mobility and face powerful enemies who shrug off attacks. This, however, rarely crosses the boundary to unfair – and frequently the best way to finish a mission is to rush for the goal than to cautiously fight through the enemies.

Overall, an excellent member of the genre, and worth the time and effort.  The branching storyline should also offer a fair bit of avenue for replay.

Dear Game Publishers…

Dear Game Publishers,

Please stop making your single player games reliant on internet connections – a large number of us do not want to be tethered to an internet feed just to play something that we should be able to play offline.

We’re rapidly accelerating to a point where in 10 years time there will be nothing left of your games to remember them by as none of the games will operate without your infrastructure – compared to from 10 years ago to now where people can still play their favorite games from 2000 irrespective of the game publisher’s servers, or even the fate of said publishers.  (Total Annhilation, All the pre-generals C&C games, Quake 3 and earlier are all major examples of this at work – none of which featured any DRM, and all of which still work on the correct operating systems, or completely compatible systems).

Whilst you may not feel there are immediate profits to be made, there is goodwill to be maintained which will help fuel your future sales – this sort of abuse of your player-base merely ensures they’ll leave jaded and less likely to support you in the future.

Pox Nora

Pox Nora was advertised repeatedly on a number of gaming comic websites some time ago.  I think I saw it on Penny Arcade.

I signed up, and never got around to trying it because the game client was a 50+MB Java WebStart app, and I didn’t have the patience at the time to wait for it to download.

I finally pulled down the newer standalone (install4j. blergh) client (which is also Java based) and waited for it to pull down the 100MBs of Pox Nora client so I could finally give it a try.

I must admit, it’s rather addictive.  It’s a rather fun blend of Magic: The Gathering style collection and battlegroup building, mixed with shades of Final Fantasy Tactics and other turn-based battle games.

We’ll see how long this keeps my attention anyway.

Games and Censorship

Oh god, the OFLC and the NSW Attourney-General’s office have opened a can of worms.

Given the latest sort of back and forth, EB Games is a serious violator of the NSW Classification laws for selling games that currently aren’t classified.

These games include titles such as:  World of Warcraft, Age of Conan, Guild Wars and Warhammer Online (all of which I’ve seen on the shelves of my local EB).  I even have evidence of having bought unclassified games from EB in the past – I have a copy of Master of Orion I, which was bundled with UFO Enemy Unknown – UFO was classified, but MOO wasn’t – in its original EB shrinkwrap with the old-style EB price sticker intact.

Anyway, most of us don’t view this as being a big deal.  It seems EBGames doesn’t realise it’s breaking/has broken the law.  The NSW Police seem to be quietly ignoring it along with every other crime they ignore.

Anyway, there is a point to this, other than screaming at how stupid this all is.

Henceforth, I will not be posting my opinions on import games unless I can find evidence of an OFLC classification.  Technically, it might be sufficient to classify as a public demonstration if I include screenshots or detailed information about the game, so let’s just not risk it.  Besides, the imports I bring in for myself are a tiny tiny fraction of the total games I play and I rarely mention them anyway.

And…  if anybody talks about mass complaining to the NSW police that EB and every other games retailer are selling unclassified games, I’d strongly recommend participating.  It would give all of the relevant parties something to seriously think about if, all of a sudden, every reseller of games and the publishers are all being hit with classification infringements…

Games Games Games: December Splurge

OK, Being December, and being time of Chrismas Sales and big releases, I have picked up a few more games than I normally would, and there’s also last month’s stuff which I didn’t get around to posting about…

Because I’m lazy (that’s why there hasn’t been a post in here for ages…) I’ll give the ultra quick reviews!

Guitar Hero: World Tour (PS3): Guitar Hero is finally back, after the lackluster Guitar Hero 3.  The new game mechanics make for some more interesting and challenging play, and the soundtrack is actually pretty good.  About 25% through career mode for Solo Guitar.  Drum kit is nice and sturdy, shame about the calibration (fortunately I have a USB-MIDI adapter so I was able to fix it up using the Drum Tuning Tools that Activision/RedOctane released).

Armored Core: For Answer (PS3): More of the same giant robots on ice skates action (*ahem*).  Plays like Armored Core 4, only with a more comprehensible story arc, and some better revised equipment.  Quad-Legs are king-of-the-hill for mobility again!  Banzai!  I still find myself playing this with my finger firmly pressed on the boost button all the time.

Grand Theft Auto 4 (PS3): I finally caved and bought it.  I’m glad that Rockstar didn’t go for another round of gang mentality after San Andreas.  Car controls are twitchy, but all in all, enjoyable so far.

Gears of War 2 (X360): More Gears of War.  If you’ve played and enjoyed the first, you’ll love the second.  ’nuff said.

Valkyria Chronicles (PS3): Simply brilliant from storyline to mission design and gameplay.  If I wasn’t half-stuck on a mission, I’d still be playing this non-stop.

Race Driver: GRID (PS3): High speed arcade racing.  Not bad, but not for realism junkies.  Couldn’t seem to get it comfortably configured to play with my steering wheel, but playing using a Controller is quite satisfying none the less.

Mirror’s Edge (PS3): This game was a real surprise for me – innovative gameplay in a first-person perspective – rather than being a shooter, we have ourselves a first person runner.  The controls make free-running plausable in the first person view, and with a bit of practice you easily find yourself running through the levels at full speed and seriously considering making attempts on the speed-run records.

So after all of that, my main recommendations are:  Valkyria Chronicles (PS3 Only) and Mirror’s Edge (PS3 and X360) – both are excellent games with a fresh take on their respective genres.