Tag Archives: PC

Consoles versus PC – The Mass Debate

video-gamesHere’s a debate which has been raging for, well, not very long compared with say the history of cutlery, but it is relevant to those of a nerd persuasion ie everyone on the floating citadel.

Back in the mists of time this debate spilled across the playgrounds of the country albeit in a different guise. Back then PCs were crap and consoles weren’t much better. Kids would trade punches and fight real battles to defend the honour of the Sinclair Spectrum against the mere suggestion that the Commodore 64 was a better machine (it was and anyone who says otherwise deserves a slap).

Skip a few years and the rock throwing was between the Nintendo kids and Sega kids. The Atari ST owners looked on smugly, whilst the kids with the Commodore Amigas knew that they were the top of the pile. But any machine was a lot of pocket money and if Santa Claus was dumb enough to bring you anything but an Amiga then you knew you had to justify your choice; that you had an ST for its better midi output which was about the only reason to get one. Cue lots of kids trying to pretend to know what that actually meant in reality.

Moving on to current times and everything is a billion times better than previously. Go back and play a game from yesteryear just to see how bad things were. I installed a C64 emulator the other day to revisit some old classics. It was awful. Gaming now is great. No doubt we’ll look back in ten years from our matrix style immersion tanks and laugh, but for now we are in a golden age.

Significantly, there are no real losers in today’s market. You can buy any up to date gaming platform and get some great games. Sure there are market leaders and some shaky outliers, but its all generally quality stuff.

Fights from the past do remain however to some extent, this time over the decision to play PCs or console games. Notice how I said play. Unlike in the past where gaming was an expensive niche hobby, most serious gamers will own both as relative prices are lower and the technology has more value in terms of use ability.

There are pros and cons to the whole PC versus console decision. A lot of it rides on game availability, the sheer number for the PC gives it a massive edge. Also the types of game, MMOs being a popular format and not widely played on consoles. Personally however I have not played much on my PC all year, choosing instead to spend my game time on consoles. For me currently its the ease of use that wins it, being able to switch on and get stuck in with mates without having to patch this or reconfigure that or upgrade this component to play. Having kids means my game times are few and far between and I want to get the most out of them.

No doubt most people will disagree as PC gamers can be such snobs!

XCOM Enemy Unknown

Are remakes ever any good?

XCOM Enemy Unknown was a big game back in the nineties. It is widely regarded by those of a rose spectacled disposition to be one of the greatest games ever made. Essentially the game sees you taking your team of Vanilla Ice clones in beige boilersuits saving the world from hordes of marauding aliens. It was mainly turned based full of RPG elements with great levels of tension and excitement and unlike anything else we’d ever seen before. I certainly remember playing it a lot.

Recently a remake was released. Could it ever match up? Having played it a bit I can categorically state that it is a fantastic reworking of a classic game. Basically, it’s the same game with all the boring bits taken out. Boring bits in the greatest game ever? Great as the original was, it could drag a little bit. The maps were huge, your squads could be large and the turn based nature meant your Vanillas could move a few steps every five minutes. Trying to find a lone sectoid hiding in a wardrobe somewhere in downtown Tokyo for the fifth time in a week under these circumstances could be pretty dull. Bear in mind that you would always have to be tactical because any one of the thousand wardrobes could spell permadeath for your nurtured mini Ices if not handled correctly.

The remake sees the maps and squads being smaller, which means quicker into the action and more focus on squad tactics. The arbitrary time unit has been replaced by a move and then shoot action type sequence meaning it plays a bit like a squad based tabletop skirmish wargame. Troop levelling up now gives special feats, and with specific classes of characters every member plays an important role increasing interdependence.

Obviously the graphics are much improved, the interface is slicker and the out of action sequences are now less micro-managerial. The flat-tops and hi-tops are gone; but heck you can’t have everything!

Virtual Vs Fantasy Worlds – My Fight

I suppose the fact that I have waited this long was reasonably fortuitous considering Servitob’s post regarding gaming pal CaRaBuS and his new-found War of the Ringness. Currently there is an agreement between myself and Servitob regarding this game which has been mentioned on this very blog, that he will not get his army for it until I have completely finished painting mine. I have, of course, made some progress on this front and the first fruits of that endeavour have been posted upon this very blog. I was assembling some more stuff a few weeks back but have to admit that for the past few months the painting has been on the decline. This is a situation I want to remedy and therefore as I am talking about getting War of the Ring stuff painted you may wonder why I have started off the post with a picture of the box art from Warcraft 3?

Aren’t you glad I am going to tell you? But first, a small aside, on July 21st 6 Inch Move was blessed (and quite excited) to reach 10,000 hits on our motion tracker, yesterday we hit 20,000. It took us almost a year to hit 10,000 and a little over a month to double it, so, another thank you to our readership for continuing to stop by.

When you mention the word gamer I think there are really two sub-categories that can be fallen into, Video Games and Tabletop Games. I also believe that you will be hard pressed to find a tabletop gamer that doesn’t play video games, the opposite would not be so difficult. Obviously tabletop games have been around longer than video games and were the herald of the nerdy/geek image movement. Yet with the advent and steady increase in availability of computer systems and their prevalence in society, the stigma associated with gaming is lessened on the video gaming front but still firmly attached to those of us who spend out time with toy soldiers. While there are still people who will ostracise those who enjoy spending time on their PCs the massive prominence of consoles makes gaming as a past time much more acceptable than it once was.

I am not going to try to blow open a debate on this though, as a tabletop gamer I also have a thing for video games, I believe that the same thing that grabs me about the worlds brought to life through physical gaming is what also attracts me to a virtual environment. You get to spend time in another world. With all of the stresses and endless array of work that normal everyday life throws at you a bit of escapism can be a welcome break from that day of banging your head against a brick wall after getting hassled by your boss. Whether that is spent gluing some Orcs together in the privacy of your own sanctum or kicking their asses into tiny pieces to see how many of them actually have a liver for some bizarre hand in on a quest if a personal choice. However, while video gamers are not in the majority tabletop gamers, we tabletop gamers do like our video games and this, at least for me, causes problems.

To assemble and paint an army requires a LOT of effort, it is not an endeavour that we take on lightly, nor should it be. We make a commitment when we get into a game that a fully painted army is what we are headed for, our ultimate goal if you like and nothing looks better than playing a game with two armies fully painted, I’ve done it in the past and I’ll do it again. I know that for some people the game is more important than the painting and they don’t feel it a requirement to ever apply paint to their models, this isn’t my take on the hobby as I consider painting your force to be integral to the gaming, therefore the ultimatum from Servitob becomes more relevant. I have all the models, I just need to actually finish painting them and having skipped a few months I am behind where I would like to be. I am also trying to rapidly assemble my Warhammer 8th army so I can play with that while finishing my War of the Ring painting.

What has got in the way for me is the video games, I got Final Fantasy XIII for my birthday last month (that’s right Internet, you never even got me a card, let alone a present, you are blackmarked come Christmas I tell you!) as well as I’ve picked up Naughty Bear, Mass Effect 2 and Super Street Fighter 4 all for my 360. While I haven’t done a lot of gaming on my console I have spent a lot of time on the PC, time I could be putting to better use on my more physical gaming. This is the distraction from getting my models finished, there are virtual worlds that I enjoy being in and they do help me relax and offer rewards for completing milestones (some of these quest-giving NPCs must have vast pockets to keep offering characters the choice of 5 or 6 armours or weapon items for collecting random body parts that are worryingly absent from some creatures). Yet, when I spend time on these games I look over the table at my array of models and feel like I am betraying them. For a few months now I’ve not painted a thing, only assembled pieces here and there, I need to get back into the habit of painting and have a whole formation of Easterlings ready and waiting for me to paint them, no work other than dipping the brush in the paint pot is required to start them.

With Autumn fast approaching and the darker nights rolling in painting is going to get harder (I do have a daylight lamp for painting at night) and I don’t want to fall even further behind. So I ask you, Google spiders, what do you do to avoid the distraction of other worlds in order to help you get that last unit finished?

I need to break the PC habit and crack on with the items for War of the Ring, now I’ve publicly stated that, maybe that will help me give it a go.

Spaceships – Now with Extra Pew! Gratuitous Space Battles (PC)

So I was milling around last week and found this: Gratuitous Space Battles. Being an adult with a credit card I decided to indulge and downloaded the game.

To be straight to the point it was worth every last digital and plastic copper coin! Essentially, the premise of the game is simple. Build a fleet to destroy your opponent. But here’s the unique bit – you don’t actually do any fighting yourself. Doesn’t sound exciting? No, probably not… yet. The idea is that most battles are won in the design studios and engineering labs of spaceship executives, and here is where you come in. You pick a ship hull, stick on some lasers, add a shield, add armour and an engine. You then place you creations on the field of battle, tell the starship commanders what to do and sit back, relax, and watch your fleet get blasted into bite size chunks. So then you go back to the drawing board. Maybe I need a different type of shield? How about some plasma torpedoes? Redeploy, this time telling your captains to actually work together. Get a drink, sit back, and watch more space chunk formation. Back to square one. Right, now I definitely need some fighter cover. Go design a fighter. Might need a carrier too, so I’ll make one of those. Add in some complimentary electronic warfare ships and redeploy. More space chunks. And so the cycle gets repeated until you actually finish the challenge.

Challenges come in various sizes, with differing forces and special rules. Once you have finished all in game challenges you can go online and play challenges created by other players, with the ability to post your own challenges. Expansions are also available with new missions and factions.

The actual battles are well depicted. Fighters zoom around, missiles fly all over the place, lasers streak light beams across the background, bouncing off of shield bubbles. There is an option to speed up the battle, as you don’t actually do anything but watch things unfold. This can be quite nailbiting at times, as you watch your captains execute your orders. Your orders are quite simple, for example, engage frigates at 500m. Work together. Prioritize shooting damaged enemy ships. They carry out these orders effectively but with a good dose of AI. Most of the battle is down to your deployment and designs.

It’s infuriatingly addictive at times. No one ship design is superior to any other and each one will have pros and cons. It’s about designing a fleet with ships that work together well, all within the budget. Throw in four factions, each with unique abilities and a ton of unlockables. GSB is a fun little replacement for times when your Firestorm Armada friends are at kindergarden and your Full Thrust mates are kicking the bins over.

The Post Of Now And Forever

Alright, I admit it, deep within my tortured soul lies an appreciation of Kzer-Za.  What the heck is that?  I hear you ask.  Well, back in the days of the early nineties when all Sci-Fi was appropriately rubbish and suitably cheesy there were a couple of guys peddling this computer game franchise called ‘Star Control’.

The first of the series, surprisingly entitled ‘Star Control‘ was an awesomely shooty space game.  Loads of weird aliens in strange spaceships face off in glorious 2D interstellar battle.  Imagine Street Fighter II, except Ryu has mysteriously become a massive green Ur-Quan Dreadnought, and instead of punching opponents he spews forth fusion fire with suitable pew pew noises, and launches small autonomous fighters out of his butt which harrass his enemy.  In this case his enemy is Dhalsim, who through the skills of yoga magic has metamorphosed into a Chenjesu Broodhome, a starship the size of a moon with an entire crew made of giant electrical crystals, launching enormous charged shards infinite distances to wreck anything smaller than a planet.  You get the picture.

Anyway, along comes this game ‘Star Control II‘.  This game is like the first but hundreds of times better.  It’s gone beyond hyper fighting.  This time those nasty Ryus, i mean Ur-Quan, have enslaved the galaxy and the Dhalsims (the Chenjesu)  have gone missing.  You play the part of  an escaped Human who must save the galaxy.  How?  Well, you need to get some people on your team.  Travel the galaxy (and extra dimensions) to find weird and zany alien races.  Some are friendly, some are hostile.  All is not lost however, because a large contingent of Kens (Ur-Quan Kohr-Ah) have shown up recently and started somewhat of a civil war with the Ryus (Ur-Quan Kzer-Za).  Both are equally matched, and like Ryu and Ken are of the same species and fighting style but will quite happily beat the snot out of each other.  Here is your opportunity, with the masters of the galaxy in a fight to the death you might just be able to liberate everyone.  Anyway, the plot is delicious, the aliens are awesome and the twists and turns along the way are succulent.

So why the heck am I telling you all of this?  Well, recently I downloaded ‘The Ur-Quan Masters‘, a fan remake of the original, and its awesome.  Quite possibly the best remake ever.  Yeah the game is ancient, but heck, its still so involved and the fun is still there.  Stuck for something to do?  Go download it and go blast something.  As the infinitely incomprehensible Mycon say:  ‘Juffo-Wup fills my cells and I grow turgid.  Violent action ensues!’

Have Fun!

The Eternal Dilemma

I had a look at the stuff on Bioware’s new epic, Dragon Age and couldn’t make head nor tail of it.  Apparently the first rule of Dragon Age club is that you don’t talk about Dragon Age Club.  I am a Bioware RPG fan though so I’ll probably check it out when it finally comes out from behind the sofa.

But…  Which platform to use?  This is the eternal dilemma which has faced geeks since the geekdawn of geektime.  Back when I was a youngster and finally realised there was a world outside of digging in sandpits the fight was between the Commodore 64 and the ZX Spectrum.  We were quite young so had no concept of the technologies involved, and no ability to get involved in deep arguments, so we used to let our fists decide.  Hordes of kids would rumble for their cause, when in reality it made no difference because we had no purchasing power and therefore no choice as to which side we were on.

As time wore on, we became wiser and got jobs and better pocket money and eventually began fighting over the Commodore Amiga and Atari ST.  By now we knew what kilobytes were so could argue and sound technical.  The ST kids would forever go on about their better sound capabilities, but in reality the Amiga was unbelievably better in all other respects, most importantly in the games department.  Realistically, if you bought an Atari ST you were either a peasant (the Amiga was more expensive) or a bit of a masochist.

Around the same time other kids were fighting their wars over the consoles available.  Firstly the Nintendo NES versus the Sega Master System.  Both were pretty lame compared with the 16-bit computers available, but then some people just don’t have the dexterity to work a keyboard.  Eventually the kids became entrenched for either the Sega Mega Drive (AKA Genesis) or the Super Nintendo.  Both sides had their plus points and their followers willing to die for their brand.

Nowadays, we are older and have better jobs, so now the hardcore child gamer within us no longer has to pick sides.  Our younger selves had to fight for the cause because we could only afford one machine, so we had to justify our decision.  Our older selves could, if needed, stray from one platform to another.  The loyalty is no longer so strong.  Personally I have a PC for work, internet and a few games, and an Xbox 360 for gaming.  I ended up with the Xbox because it’s main rival, the PS3, is comparatively a bit overpriced with no discernable increase in game quality for the types of games I like to play.  Online play is important to me and I’m wary of anything that’s free.  Xbox Live does cost, but in return it’s an excellent service.  With the PS3’s online service you get what you pay for.  However, if things changed and the PS3 became the more appealing choice I would probably invest in one, because after all, I am no longer the battle-hardened platform zealot of my youth.

So back to the crunch of the matter – When Dragon Age comes out, do I go for the console version or the PC version?  At the moment I am not sure.  Yeah the PC version will be better, have better mods, be more customisable.  But it will also be as buggy as as a beetle colony, be more likely to have hardware conflicts and take ages to get running correctly.  The PC online servers are going to be full of hackers, bots and spammers.  The console version on the other hand will be way easier to run, and will work well.  In multiplayer modes there will be no hacking, but there will be a high likelyhood of getting yelled at by a 13 year old.  From Ohio.

Here be Dragons

In a break from our normal scheduled tabletop antics I bring you news from the computer gaming world. As you may or may not know by now RPG powerhouse Bioware are gearing up for the release of the modern successor to their excellent Baldur’s Gate series. The new feature, called Dragon Age takes place in a typical fantasy world where you get to fight off hordes of evil doers. Now, while this may sound pretty run of the mill check out the videos on the site. Not only are they awesome in and of themselves but Bioware has a long history of creating games with excellent backstory to help you really immerse yourself as you play.

For the most part I missed out Baldur’s Gate 1 & 2 on the PC, despite the fact that I own both of them. What really brought me around to their side was the Knights of the Old Republic games. I’ve played the first one through many times and did complete the second one, which, while good wasn’t the same calibre as the first. I’m also a huge fan of Mass Effect and have finished that three times to date, all are amazingly detailed in their stories and worlds so I look forward to seeing the next incarnation of their brilliance. I’m notoriously bad at finishing off single player campaigns in games so the fact I’ve finished the Bioware titles I played during my adult years says a lot to me about just how good they are. I’ve pre-ordered my copy so am hoping it arrives on the release date of November 6th, I am then anticipating locking myself away for the weekend to play it. I could go through all the details I know but you’d be better of checking out the site and making up your own mind.

Personally, I can’t wait!