Monday, September 22, 2008

PC Gaming

Lately, in a fit of crazy procrastination, I've been playing some games again on my PC. Instead of the mere blank-staring-at-the-monitor-trying-to-write-something activity that I sometimes do...

Baldur's Gate, the EasyTutu version, has long laid dormant in my PC since summer. Lately, I've made some progress, mostly completing the various sidequests that can be found in the city. Whew, that sure is a big city. But I'm ready to move on. Maybe give me a couple more weeks or so.

Then there's Neverwinter Nights. I've recently reinstalled this, since I still haven't finished the later Premium Modules, and I needed an RPG fix after uninstalling Oblivion. Anyway, a couple of days ago, I started playing it again, just to peek into an adaptation of the old SSI AD&D Goldbox CRPG, Pool of Radiance, for research purposes. Yes, I'm running a damn Ruins of Adventure game on rPol, using AD&D 2nd Edition rules. How did I get roped into that? Well, the DM dropped out, and I just had to offer to DM in her place. I was in a tabletop RPG high at the time, I think. Now, it's feeling like I've bitten a little bit more than I can chew (I have three other games to run afterall) but, of course, I couldn't let the gaming group down.

Anyway, the NWN Pool of Radiance adaptation was a bit too simplistic for my tastes, so little help there. Fortunately, I also finally managed to get another installer for NWN2, which also had another, and I think better, adaptation of the classic module/CRPG. So I installed it last Sunday, and, after a few hours of downloading the patches and the module, have it up and running. I cribbed some notes from the module, then planned the Slums. Nothing on graph paper. Just a bit of an outline of stuff they'll run into and when. That's one of the great things about play-by-posts: it's a lot easier to just wing it than in face-to-face games. Although the good GM need to at least plan out the story in advance a little bit, just in case Real Life(tm) starts getting in the way.

Tinkering with both Neverwinter Nights games has got me playing Pirates of the Sword Coast (which I left around the part where you finally reach Spindrift Isle) as well as the NWN2 Original Campaign (which I had to restart because I haven't kept a savegame from when I had it last installed and because I also can't remember much of what I've played before).

This afternoon, I finally finished Pirates of the Sword Coast: the final boss fight was a bit difficult but it was a good thing I bought a lot of Potions of Cause Critical Wounds (because the endgame turns you into undead). It was crazy running around for position and guzzling Potions of Haste, then hacking at the huge Aspect of Umberlee, all the while Sahuagin and the other Aspect is harassing you with arrows and swords and spells. My two companions, the pirate Nihar and the lizardman Garm, fell unconscious early on. I think I didn't give them enough gear to survive.

Still, all's well that ends well and PotSC was a well-made and entertaining module. I think I'll try that Premium Module set in Cormyr next. The one that makes use of the horse mount graphics.

And then there's Deus Ex: Invisible War. I got over my allergy of FPSes (that's First-Person Shooters, for all you nongamers) long enough to want to install this and play through more than just the prologue and I must say, I'm very pleasantly surprised. Multiple paths and solutions through the game truly make this game worthy of all the hype and fanboyism it engendered in its heyday. It's almost just like a huge Adventure game (I mean the genre, of course; i.e. like King's Quest, Grim Fandango, The Longest Journey, etc.) with fighty parts!

But it's Sci-Fi. And not RPG enough. Which gave me thirst for a fantasy version. But I couldn't go through all that crap to install Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion again. So off into my DVD archives to hunt down the nearest fantasy analog to Deus Ex that I can find: Arx Fatalis. Turns out the game's also being re-released in the next few months and it has just received a new patch! After all these years, imagine that. I don't think enough people knew of Arx Fatalis. Not now, not even back in 2002 (?) when it was first released. But it truly is a gem of the deep mines. Exploring AF's subterranean world gives me that same feeling I got way back when I first discovered the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks (now that's another story for another day).

Then there's the recently-released Dragon Quest: Chapters of the Chosen on my Nintendo DS. I've always been a fan of DQ, and I even prefer it to Final Fantasy. FF IV's been remade and also released on the DS but as soon as Dragon Quest was out, I put Cecil's quest on hold. Don't get me wrong. Final Fantasy IV is probably one of my favorite installments in the series so far, and I've played them all except for the MMORPG FF XI. But the Dragon Quest series captures that feel that can only be called "classic CRPG fantasy" for me. Add to that a dash of the naughty, the innocent, and a sprinkling of your favorite fairytale. That's what Dragon Quest means to me.

Back in the SNES days, I think the Dragon Quest series as well as the two Lufia games had much more enjoyable gameplay than Final Fantasy's superpower buildup.

It's almost a quarter past one in the morning here, and I've got classes to teach in the morning, so I think I'll have to cut it short.

Until next post, game on.