Archive for the 'Retro Gaming' Category

03
Jun
09

Retro Respect: Planescape: Torment

The face of an enigma.

The face of an enigma.

What is there to say about this game that hasn’t been said by many? When I think of Planescape: Torment a few words come to mind: brilliant, masterpiece, near perfect. If you don’t believe me then you have never played it, and here is why you need to.

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The Nameless One

Developed by the late and great Black Isle studios (creators of the Fallout/Baldur’s Gate/Icewind Dale series) and released by Interplay on December 12th, 1999, Planescape: Torment was released to critical acclaim by reviewers but did no sell all too well. Now considered a cult classic that can be slightly tough to find, it is now widely considered the best traditional AD&D computer RPG of all time.

P:T takes place in the Planescape campaign setting for AD&D, where it encompasses all the planes of existence. You play the role of The Nameless One, a man that has lived countless lives as an immortal, where each death brings amnesia of his previous lives. That’s right, the good ole’ amnesia bit, but trust me, P:T is the only game in my opinion that does the amnesia story arc well. You’re goal in P:T is to ultimately die, die the True Death rather than dieing and being resurrected.

P:T is not for those that do not enjoy reading however. There is a lot to read in P:T but it is easily the best story I have ever experienced in any game I have ever played. Let me repeat that, ANY game that I have EVER played. Not that there isn’t any voice acting in the game, oh no. What voice acting there is in P:T is top notch and extremely believable.

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Morte the Floating Skull

Along with the story are your companions, which are as varied and strange as any I’ve seen before. Your main friend, and the first person you meet, is Morte; a floating skull that has a swirly personality and is not afraid to point out peoples’ imperfections. Some other companions you meet are Dak’kon, the sword-wielding githzerai from the planes of Limbo and Ignus, an insane fire mage that also happens to be constantly on fire.

The game mechanics work much the same way as other Computer D&D games using 2nd edition rules, with a lot of twists. For starters, the Nameless One never wears armor, but can be imbued with magical tattoos that enhance his abilities. Morte, since he’s just a floating skull, can be equipped with new sets of teeth to attack with. And Dak’kon’s armor and weapon upgrades as he himself levels up.

Although the game is no longer officially supported, there is a small group that still support the game. For starters, the game has a number of unofficial patches that add quests and fix a ton of bugs. Lastly, there is a wide screen mod and interface mod that updates the game’s looks to be much more pleasing to today’s graphics standards. The game’s art style however is still fresh and unique even to this day.planescape6

So, in any way you can, attempt to pick up this classic and set some time up to play it through. You will be very glad you did, because I sure am.

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01
Jun
09

E3 09′: Secret of Monkey Island Special Edition

secretmonkeyJust annouced at E3 09′  from LucasArts, the remake of the original Secret of Monkey Island. I’m a huge fan of the Moneky Island series and all of the classic LucasArts adventure games. The remake stays completely faithfull to the original with high-res graphics, updated audio and voice acting. And while in gameplay, you can switch between the original game’s graphics and audio on the fly. Very cool stuff and is definitely on my radar.

I really hope this will start a trend from LucasArts to begin re-releasing their classics.

[GameSpot E3]

04
May
09

Retro Respect: Asheron’s Call

I wish I still had my original box.

I wish I still had my original box.

Asheron’s Call (AC) was one of the first MMO’s that I played in my gaming career. Just after I got into the original Everquest, a little company by the name of Turbine Inc. (later developed Dungeons and Dragons Online and Lord of the Rings Online) developed Asheron’s Call, released by Microsoft on November 2, 1999. I was quickly attracted and got right into it.

I’ll admit right away that I never got max level or played much high end content, but I did play a good amount of Asheron’s Call on most fronts.

Asheron’s Call takes place on the Isle of Dereth on the planet Auberean. The character you play is part of a race of nomads named the Isparians after the harsh battles with the alien Race the Olthoi.

The best thing is AC is still up and running and you can still experience it at the Asheron’s Call Home Page. Try the 14-Day trial.

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Ahead of its time

Asheron’s Call did a lot of things very well. Like Ultima Online before it, it ditched the conventional classes of Everquest and future MMO’s for a skill based advancement. Instead of choosing your class when you create your character, once in-game you have a large library of skills such as weapons skills (Swords, Maces, Bows, Crossbows), crafting skills (Alchemy, Cooking, Fletching) and Magic Skills (War Magic, Life Magic, Item Enchantment) to spend your experience points on. Here is a full list.

Although the game did have levels, which went up to 275 as of the latest updates, the number of your level was largely arbitrary. It was merely a measure of how much experience you have gained on your character. But how powerful your character is is solely based on how you spent your experience points on your skills and attributes. So a level 100 character can have the same amount of hit points as a level 10, it just depends on how many experience points you spent in your Health/Endurance.

This made it so you can play your character in any way you please. You were not restricted to one set of skills as a class and that was it.

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PvP Kill

AC was the first MMO to feature a completely seamless and open 3D world. If you see a mountain off in the distance, there is nothing stopping you from running over to it and scaling it. You never know what you might find at the top. The only loading screens during gameplay was entering and exiting dungeons.

AC also had a very interesting guild system. Instead of guilds, there was a system of Patrons and Vassals called Allegiances. One player would take another player under their wing becoming a Patron. The other player becoming a Vassal. From there the Patron can then take on other Vassals, then those Vassals will become Patrons to other players, on and on and on. In the end you get a pyramid of players in one allegiance starting with the original Patron down to his vassal’s, vassal’s, vassal’s, vassal, etc. This also made it easy to get started as a new player because there were always players in starter towns looking for vassals.

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Lastly, one of the best aspects of Asheron’s Call was its originality. There were no orcs, elves, dwarves, and gnomes. The character you played was a part of a race of humanoids named the Isparians. Within that you chose your ethnicity of Isparian to represent your background.

The creatures and NPC’s you meet in Asheron’s Call are all completely unique in their own rights and made the Isle of Dereth really seem like a completely alien planet (which it is).

One last tidbit was that there was an Asheron’s Call 2 that was released in November of 2002. Unfortunately, due to the lack of interest, the servers were permanently shut down in December of 2005.

There is a lot more I can say about Asheron’s Call, but I think the best thing would be to actually check it out and see what you were missing. And if you have played it before, why not try it again?

Current MMO developers should definitely take a page out of AC’s book, because it was brilliant back then and still holds water to this day.

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04
May
09

Shadowbane closing servers on July 1st.

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Farewell.

Word has come down from Ubisoft that the severs for Shadowbane will officially be closed on July 1st 2009, permanently [Press Release]. Previously set as May 1st, it has been extended for two months, so now is a great time to check it out if you’ve never tried it. It’s absolutely free to make an account and download the game. I know I will be.

Admittedly, I never got far in Shadowbane (barely beyond the starting areas). I followed the game during its development cycle but was saddened when it came out to bad reviews. Shadowbane was stricken with poor graphics (even for its time), a clunky interface, and was bug ridden. But what Shadowbane did correctly was be the first MMO since Ultima Online to actually capture the true open PvP vibe. It was full open PvP and guild city building and seiges. When it was in its prime it was considered one of the finest PvP centered MMO’s available. Unfortunately that time came around the WoW era. Another great MMO taken down by theme-park garbage MMO’s.

Get more Shadowbane info at Shadowbane Chonicles.