Browsed by
Author: Mattias

Mount&Blade: Warband – The Verdict

Mount&Blade: Warband – The Verdict

An interview by the universe

You’re late.

I know.

It’s been fucking five months.

Yeah, I noticed.

So – what the hell?

I was busy. Er. Playing Spelunky? You should play Spelunky.

Did you even get round to playing Warband?

Of course!

What prompted you to finish it now?

It’s on sale on Steam, and you should buy it. You still have time!

Oh. So now that you’ve had lots of time to think about it, maybe you can at least tell us what it is first?

It’s an RPG about horses and hats, largely. And swords and arrows and ladies and mercenaries and honey and villages and kingdoms. Or khanates, if you are so inclined. Despite what I said about hats last time, here they’re a reasonable addition to the game, as they’re mainly made out of metal.

Ladies? There weren’t any ladies in the original game besides the useless wives of the lords.

It’s not just the original game with added multiplayer. They’ve redone almost everything to some extent, not to mention all the additions. They’ve gone to lengths such as redefining how much happiness a jar of butter inspires in your soldiers. If you’re used to the vanilla M&B, the changes in the most minute details will strike you at times. It’s not often you see how difficult it is to balance a single-player game.

This might be a good time to remind you that there’s absolutely no point in buying the vanilla version of the game. There’s not one area where the original is better. Everything feels like a better thought-out game and they’re also heavily supporting the game. New, large patches are sent out every few weeks, even though the game is quite old. And unlike with The Creative Assembly, the patches don’t meant that the underlying product is broken.

I want ladies, not game balancing.

But yeah, ladies. It’s perhaps one of the most prominent, if also one of the least useful additions. Wives can serve as a secretary of state of sorts, but that appears to be it. Strictly no sex. Hilariously, when I married my in-game wife, her relationship to me got a severe hit and stayed at -14 until the end of the game. I’m actually rather happy that they didn’t give women a more strategic part in the game, as you generally don’t want those kinds of distractions in M&B.

Then again, you can now play the game as a female character, and it’s more than a cosmetic change. The game warns you that it’s actually a (mildly) sexist bastard and will treat you differently if you choose against beards.

Ladies are more boring than I hoped. Any war stories instead?

How convenient that you’d ask that. Let me walk you through a short period of one of my kingdoms.

Only three nations remain. The Khanate does not count as they hold no cities and most lords have been captured. The Rhodoks, despite their majestic spears (pervert), pose a minor threat with three cities close together and no easy access to my territory. The Sarranids are a different matter as i have never actually fought them for long. Can they keep up with our war machine? How will their mamlukes fare against our knights? Do they have any considerable super units that i don’t know about?

A far-away land until recently, both our and their conquests have now bound the borders of our nations. Minor skirmishes by bored lords over looted villages and attacked caravans have been raising the tension for a while. Open war is near. It’s just a matter of who mans up first.

The Sarranids invade. I lose three cities on the first day of the war. Fortunately I’m a sore loser and end the game, so I don’t get to see how I’m utterly murdered, probably to death.

Your kingdom?

Mine, yeah. Gone are the days of simple rebellions and the other kingdoms take upstarts relatively seriously now. It’s as you’d expect of course, with huge territories being increasingly difficult to maintain and control. In the end, I was losing as many castles to treason and my knights deserting me as to direct enemy action. Unfortunately, the mood of your knights and lords has more to do with your interpersonal relationships than the success of your kingdom. There’s also an annoying see-saw effect: if you get along well with one of your lords – say you give him a village – your relationship with the rest of your subjects will suffer.

So I found myself in an idiotic position where I didn’t want to designate rulers for my lands as my relationships would suffer too much. Besides pillaging, lands are the best source of income, so I was struggling to raise anything but very basic armies.

Fortunately that brings me back to the good parts of the game, as they’ve actually greatly streamlined the way you actually gather money from your lands. It was really satisfying to see that it’s now automatic, so you don’t have to travel from one side of the map to the other to get money from a few poor villagers. Mount & Blade: Warband officially features automatic horrors of feudalism!

Actual war stories, as opposed to this strategy nonsense? I want to kill men with sharp objects.

As I’m sure you will. While the battles have improved, they’re still somewhat basic and get repetitive after some time. But not more than other in most other action games! I really think they’re excellent, but could be much better. As of this iteration, they don’t make for wonderful war stories. You tend to try to single out enemies, kill them during short dogfights and then turn to the next. The fighting mechanics are still really fucking good and that’s what the game originally shot to fame with. It just puts any other medieval/fantasy game to shame. I’ve been playing Oblivion lately and it’s just completely pathetic in this regard.

Right. And that extends to Multiplayer?

Yes, it’s got multiplayer.

Yeah, but, you know, talk about it. This is supposed to be a comprehensive review.

Nay. I specifically decided not to talk about it at all besides saying that in my opinion, it’s different and excellent. If you want the details, go read other blogs or reviews. It’s all the web is talking about.
I’m a terrible salesperson. CAN YOU SEE? Telling people to go read other resources online. Sorry Chris.
I’m also out of ideas on how to end the revi

Let’s whine about hats: TF2 is going too far

Let’s whine about hats: TF2 is going too far

[Insert ordinary praise for the game and a slow introduction here]

Have you listened to the developer commentary of TF2? As you’d expect from Valve, they’re clever and give you a pretty thorough look behind the curtains of the game. Unfortunately, some of it is out of date by now, and only serves as a reminder of earlier times. Times without paraphernalia better suited for games like Men of War.

Read More Read More

Another franchise returns to its roots: Worms 2D back to the PC

Another franchise returns to its roots: Worms 2D back to the PC


After discovering that Worms doesn’t quite work in 3D – or at least that nobody really cared about it – Team 17 sat down and thought about perhaps making another 2D version of it. 49142 years passed, many developers grew beards. And then they made Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust instead. Balls.

Read More Read More

Free, pretty, in HD, Braid

Free, pretty, in HD, Braid

Noo, not ze game you zilly boy, ze art! Ze art!
Buzzword, buzzword.

Buzzword. Buzzword buzzword buzzword?

I figure “Braid” qualifies easily, and with good reasons – one of them surely being the brilliant artwork. Which has now, indeed, been released for free by the artist David Hellman. Notice that this decision was made just a few days after the PC release, while Xboxers got nothing. This clearly demonstrates that the PC is superior. And that Jonathan Blow / David Hellman are awesome.

Not enough hands, not even nearly enough

Not enough hands, not even nearly enough

this game is art is a game is art is a game is art is a game is art is a game is art is a game is art is a game broccoli

Days, when sitting in a corner and reading is not an option as all the books are made of empty coconut shells. Days, when making sauce for your pasta would drive you to write cryptic messages on the walls with said sauce. Days, when the mere sight of a headcrab makes you lose control and point at the ceiling and yell SWEET SWEET PILLOW and crawl into a corner and read books and the books are made of empty coconut shells and are illegible and written with pasta sauce. Days, when you wake up and the time is 51:3/7.

No, I don’t get them either. Yet on occasion, it becomes necessary to crawl into someone else’s skin and observe your surroundings for a while. This may or may not have the previously described effects, but it sure as shit has to be very similar. As an example, you do not, for heaven’s sake, make a game called “i made this. you play this. we are enemies” if you don’t have either grandiose plans for taking over the world or writing books with pasta sauce.

Once more: I won’t even attempt to explain it. Provided you’re not prone to psychosis, go now. Feel the ashes. Go and think. You won’t have to do that again this month, I promise.

The story of the Steam installed games list, no sleep and braaaaains

The story of the Steam installed games list, no sleep and braaaaains

Disclaimer: Steam is awesome, but the same can often not be said of my intelligence regarding healthy sleeping schedules
I’m currently obscenely tired. So tired, in fact, that my brain has given up on allowing me to engage in almost any activity, including reading, writing (so sorry about this) and even playing games. Looking at your currently installed games list and mentally crossing them off one by one until none are left is a strange feeling for such an avid gamer like me. You know you want to play something, anything, but everything has a fatal flaw or two that you can’t see when you’re wide awake. So here’s my current list and my first thoughts about them. I hope it reveals something perverse about me to myself after I get a good night’s sleep.

Audiosurf: My hands don’t follow my orders. Any orders. I’d end up punching my screen to rather small bits of plastic, and that’s not in line with the grand scheme of things.
Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts: You can’t light campfires and make shish kebab, because the bloody English don’t like it when you stand around and do nothing for a while. So they come and put the fire out. With Churchill tanks. Bullies.
Counter-Strike: Source: Hahahahhhahahaahahaaaah, *sniff,* hahahahhahah!
Left 4 Dead: I’d mistake an ordinary zombie for a potted flower and a Tank for Mohandas Gandhi. Neither are generally good ideas when you instead need to help your chums up from the floor. Because you shot them. Multiple times. Mahatma Gandhi as a Tank would be fucking horrifying though.
Mount and Blade: I am that character. That character is me. Assuming control of it in my condition would mean several stab wounds in my throat, which sounds painful.
Trials 2: Second Edition: Because getting my spine split in half with a loud *CRACK* is at this time of the day exactly what I yearn for.
Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Never played a single Dawn of War game. So in addition to my problems with my lack of any speed at all in Company of Heroes, I’d have to teach myself totally new concepts and game mechanics in a fictional, unintuitive world? I wouldn’t mind doing that but it might just be too simple. Remind me of this when you’ve recruited Dolph Lundgren for me to wrestle to the ground and kill with my bare fingers. While being shot at by Steven Seagal. On Jupiter.
Half-Life: I’m currently playing this though again because I want to notice each and every subtle gameplay element in it. I’ve also set the difficulty level to ‘High’ so it’s even difficult enough when I’m fully awake but have the audacity to blink every once in a while.
Hexen 2 New (and rather unappealing) single player campaign and I don’t fancy getting turned into a sheep every single round in multiplayer either.
Monster Truck Nitro demo: Constantly racing indestructible wheel-things downhill on two very similar tracks? Okay, I realise Trials 2 was too much of a challenge to many people, but RedLynx apparently targeted this thing towards people who are not dead tired, but dead. There’s literally no challenge in the game, and that’s a lot coming from someone who’s currently writing this bloody list.
Multiwinia: I’d be perplexed as soon as I saw the fairly unconventional menu screen.
Peggle Deluxe: Quite officially the most sleepy game ever created in the history of the great apes of Terra. I might still fire it up to play simple musical tunes with the menu buttons.
Quake 3: Yes, well, please refer to Counter-Strike: Source.
Race 07: I would need to write some kind of post-it to remember which way ‘left’ and ‘right’ are. Or remember how my maths teacher used to tell us how to remember where left and right was: “Put your arms in front of you and stick your thumbs out. Your left thumb will show you where the right side is and your right thumb will point at your left.”
STCC – The Game demo: Race 07, only… Race 07.
Sid Meier’s Railroads! demo: I’ve never touched this, and it promises countless hours of micromanagement. Is that the sound of brains migrating to Tibet I hear?
Silent Hunter: The high seas. Typically no shipping but my humble Type II. I take back what I said about Peggle. I mean seriously now.
Trackmania Nations Forever: Like Race 07, only four times as fast. And in effect three-dimensional. That’s two too many.
Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of Wzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

The Scout speaks: Valve Time countdown starts now

The Scout speaks: Valve Time countdown starts now

Listenin' to me?
/Initiating irritating voice/

Listen, man! There’s like, a whole bunch o’ new stuff promised for me, dude! I’m gettin’ a new promotion, okay? Do you have any idea how significant this is? Are you even listening? More stuff to hurt people with!

Stuff. Nails?
Just perhaps dude. Here’s the cool thing: Robin Walker, one of my employers at Valve (although they can’t control me for shit, I mean like, they don’t own me [Yes they do – Ed.]), said this yesterday:

We’re just about done with the Scout pack, and our design and coding has already moved on to the next pack. The weapons and achievements are all nailed down and we just have to finish up the final artwork on them.

That’s indeed very much what I’m talking about, brudda! Woo!

Suck eeeet!