I had to steal a break from my constant stream of homework to tell you all (you, being my loyal readers, of course) about a couple of new projects in the gaming world that are currently getting kick-started on, well, Kickstarter. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks–or just don’t really stay on top of your gaming news, I suppose–these projects are going to sound like old news to you. However, these two games have skyrocketed to the top of my most anticipated games list, the one that I keep in my mind at any rate. Continue reading
BioWare recently held a fanfiction writing contest to celebrate the launch of lead-writer David Gaider’s new book, Dragon Age: Asunder. Gaider and the “Writers Pit” at BioWare personally read through roughly 400 entries including my own and hand-picked their favorite twenty. The top five are to receive signed copies of the new novel, and the winning entry by Kilyra (BioWare community alias) titled “Last Strands of Childhood” earned him/her a slew of Dragon Age II themed gear from Razer.
Ever since I made my submission to the contest at the beginning of January, I have been checking the BioWare blog and social site religiously. I’ll admit that I even got my hopes up. In fact, I was all but certain that I would crack the top 5. Today, however, I am reminded of the importance of humility. There’s always the next writing contest. In the meantime, I’m going to read over some of the winning entries. I’ll also be posting my own entry for your reading pleasure. I would truly appreciate any feedback that my readers would be willing to offer.
I promise that I will
never probably never again alliterate so much in a future article headline. The excitement of today’s new release on GOG.com simply has me giddy. As you may (but probably don’t) remember, I got my hopes up for a re-release of Lands of Lore: Guardians of Destiny back in August when Good Old Games announced that they had secured a partnership with EA Games. I have since checked the site religiously on Tuesdays and Thursdays for news of the games release. This morning, at 5:30 AM my eyes happily landed on an announcement that not only has GOG.com released LOL2, they have packaged it with the original title, Throne of Chaos, and priced the package at the killer deal of $5.99. As is always the case with GOG, the title is free from DRM and remains permanently in one’s account after the purchase is made.
While I will be (re)purchasing the title as soon as my next paycheck rolls around, the true irony–and I use the word in a colloquial sense rather than a literary one–is that the game has arrived just days after Skyrim, which has and will continue to absorb every minute of time that I have to spare for the coming months. In fact, if I can pry my self from the world of Nirn for an hour or so, I will be typing up a review of the latest Elder Scrolls title for all of you to enjoy. For those of you looking for a fantasy RPG fix who aren’t able to purchase Skyrim or simply do not have any interest in the title, head over to GOG.com right now and pick up one of Westwood Studios’ greatest.
I’m a little slow on the upkeep, but I felt like I should announce to my legions of readers that Kotaku just reported that Chrono Cross, one of the best RPGs originally released for the original PlayStation, is now available for purchase on PSN. As someone who never actually owned a PlayStation, I missed out on the game when it was released back in ’98. Money’s tight now, but this is certainly something I will have to look forward to once I have finished with Skyrim. So in a year or so.
Coincidentally, I have been listening to the Chrono Cross soundtrack via YouTube a lot lately. I know it’s strange, listening to the soundtrack of a game I’ve never played, but I think it is a testament to the quality of the game’s music. I’ve recently fallen in love with this cover of one of the games more famous numbers . . .
In spite of an earlier statement that I made to the effect of, I don’t want to rank my favorite games in any particular order because it reduces the quality of the game to a trivial numerical standard, the impending release of Skyrim has me constantly thinking about how I would arrange such a list. Look for a list coming to the site soon as I steal moments of free time to rank them when I can. If you would like to post one of your own, please do so in the comment section below.
UPDATE 1: I should clarify that this is to be a list of my favorite games ranked from 1-10 as opposed to what I deem to be the greatest games of all time. That’s a big enough difference to spare me the label of hypocrite, right?
UPDATE 2: Here’s a rough first draft (definitely subject to change):
- Quest for Glory IV: Shadows of Darkness (PC)
- Metal Gear Solid 3 (PS2)
- The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (PC)
- Panzer Dragoon Zwei (Sega Saturn)
- The Curse of Monkey Island (PC)
- Halo: Combat Evolved (Xbox)
- Baldur’s Gate II (PC)
- Mass Effect (Xbox 360)
- Warcraft III (PC)
- Final Fantasy VIII (PS1, although I played it originally on PC)
While I was disappointed to see that old-school PC game digital marketplace, GOG.com, had not yet released a title this morning, my disappointment quickly turned to excitement with their announcement that a slew of classic EA titles will be released starting this Thursday. GOG always does a great job of building anticipation for the release of games that are sometimes decades old, and I simply can’t wait to see what they have in store for us. I’ve got my fingers crossed for Lands of Lore, or Red Alert 2, ooh, or Generals, or pretty much anything by Westwood, or Black and White, or . . .
Check it out here: http://www.gog.com/en/news/back_to_the_old_school_with_ea_classics
As of late, I have been feeling an itch for some nostalgic Lands of Lore action. For those of you who don’t know it, Lands of Lore was an RPG series created by the legendary Westwood Studios before their acquisition by EA. Westwood made a number of my favorite childhood computer series including Lands of Lore, The Legend of Kyrandia, and, most famously, Command & Conquer. While “Fables and Fiends: The Legend of Kryandia” was my introduction to Westwood, and I was a big fan of the Command & Conquer series for a number of years, I consider the “Lands of Lore” series to be one of their most under-appreciated.
Unfortunately, I no longer have the means to play any of the games, nor do I really have the time (although I would definitely make time for “Guardians of Destiny” if it ever came to GOG.com). I was caught in something of a conundrum. That’s when Kikoskia and his “Let’s Play” channel on YouTube came to the rescue. I have never before given “LP”s a second thought, but Kikoskia’s charming, English narration and his love for the series helped me to satisfy my yearning to return to the lands of lore. I just opened up his play lists in the order of my most favorite game in the series to least (2, 1, 3), and let them play through my headphones while I worked throughout the day. It was terrific! The game’s sounds and dialogue whisked me back to my younger days, and Kikoskia’s narration kept me in the game without needing to actually see it. He felt like a kindred spirit, as if I was
watching listening to an old friend play the game. I highly recommend you check his channel out if you have ever had an interest.
Update – Alright, I admit that Lands of Lore 3 was actually my second-favorite in the series. I felt I needed to lie before because I know that the game is technically much, much worse than the first. Chalk it up to nostalgia. As a kid, I fell in love with the guilds and familiars of the third game. It’s a real shame the development was rushed.
Stephen Totilo of Kotaku fame recently posted his list of the games he played and beat in 2010. He finished 52 games this last year and played many, many more than that. It might help that it’s his job to play and report on video games, but even considering that fact, it’s still very impressive. Totilo’s list stands as evidence that even with the many responsibilities that come along with marriage, it’s possible to remain a gamer to the core.
Now how do I land a gig at Kotaku?
I’ve had some good Christmases in my time, there’s no doubt about that. One year, I woke up to find a brand new Xbox and a copy of Halo: Combat Evolved that would quite literally be the catalyst for one of the most major changes in my life (more on that later). Another, I received not one, but two beautiful, red, leather bound copies of Tolkien’s classic The Lord of the Rings. I was thrilled! Even more so after I exchanged one for an equally beautiful copy of The Hobbit. An earlier Christmas left me the proud owner of Sega’s 32-bit Saturn. None of them, however, were quite so spectacular as this one.
My 6 year old Alienware that I once touted as the greatest computer ever built bit the dust a few months back. I was able to boot her up one last time in order to make a backup of all my data and that was it, my PC was dead. I’m quite certain that there was a motherboard failure, nothing too serious, but it wasn’t worth sinking the time and effort into tracking down a replacement. The once great gaming PC was incapable of playing the latest games on even the most pitiful settings. Instead, I set my mind on radical overhaul. My wife and I decided that we’d start saving some money and that, hopefully, in a year or two, I could build a new machine. To bide my time, I took to building dream machines on Newegg in the form of wishlists.
Little did I know, my wife had been saving up her tips from work over the last 8 months to deliver me the best Christmas surprise of my life. The second I tore the silvery paper from my brand new mother board, I knew she had spoiled me rotten. The processor, hard drive, RAM, and video card (well, Christmas cash for one – it was sold out) that proceeded only confirmed my suspicion that I had been completely outdone this year. My wife had “hacked” my Newegg account and purchased every item on my wishlist.
My wife had never before ventured so far into the tech jungle. In addition to the new PC, I found lightsaber chopsticks, gamer grub, Mario themed candy, and a whole assortment of geeky treats and trinkets. Jamie had left her comfort zone entirely, and herein lies the most incredible Christmas gift of all. What made this Christmas the best in my life wasn’t just the new computer. It was my wife’s demonstration of how she truly wanted to make me happy. The fact that she loved me enough to stray entirely away from her interests to deliver a gift that was wholly selfless is something that I’ll never forget.
It also means I have my work cut out for me next year.
It’s cliché to list Christmas as you’re favorite holiday. Acceptable, but cliché nonetheless. Even still, you’d be hard pressed to convince me that any other holiday is better. Why? Because Christmas is the ideal holiday for gamers. The long, cold nights create the perfect excuse to stay indoors after school or work, wrap a blanket around yourself, and get lost for hours on end in your latest favorite game. The only real challenge is selecting which of the season’s many blockbuster releases are worth devoting your time off to. This year’s been every bit as phenomenal for gaming as I had hoped it might be, kicking off with BioWare’s Mass Effect 2 and fighting relentlessly with long anticipated hits such as Final Fantasy XIII (love it or hate it), God of War 3, Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty, and Halo: Reach. What is surprising, however, is the strong performance that independent developers have shown this year. I can only hope that we get titles half as good as Limbo and Super Meat Boy next year.
So what are you all playing this December?