Category Archives: PC Games

Mass Effect 3 One True Ending

Here’s a spoiler-free video I made to poke a little fun at the whole Mass Effect 3 ending upset. You probably have to have some familiarity with Mass Effect to have any idea what I’m talking about up there.

I’m actually not done with the game yet, so please no real spoilers.


Deus Ex: Human Repetition

“If only they would remake Deus Ex!” the people said. The game-makers,  eventually, listened.

And so we have Deus Ex: Human Revolution. It’s a decent enough game. If you like the original Deus Ex, then you’ll probably like this. If you didn’t, you probably won’t.

But here is the problem: It is just a remake of Deus Ex. That’s it. Rather than improve upon the original, Human Revolution rehashes it: same bad voiceover acting  and accents, same basic level design, nearly the same muddled plot, filled with conspiracy theories, and same awkward ending. Continue reading

Steam is better than anything else, but Steam can be better

Today the Steam sale was The Sims 3 focused. I’ve wanted to pick up The Sims 3 for a while now, but I was never going to pay $50 for a game that I’ve already played over and over again for the past ten years. At $20, though, it was suddenly reasonable. The problem is that for whatever reason, EA doesn’t sell The Sims 3 for Mac on Steam. So only the PC version was on sale, which is ridiculous, because when you buy the game in a physical store, they give you a DVD that works on both PC and Mac.

After a quick internet search, I saw that both the EA Store and Direct-2-Drive also had The Sims 3 on sale for $20, and they were offering the Mac version for the same price. Score, right? No. I spent my whole lunch break trying and failing to buy it on Direct-2-Drive. They wanted me to make an account, enter in all of my billing information, and then they had to call me to verify. Only the phone call verification would never work. After three tries with my credit card and three tries with my PayPal, they blocked my account from trying to purchase the game (what?), and I turned to customer support.

To use Direct-2-Drive, you have to make an account. To use their customer support, you have to make a different, separate, customer service account. What? I’m having a problem with your service, and you make me fill out more forms, just to gain the ability to fill out more forms? So for a good half hour I said no to that, until eventually I said okay, fine to that. I opened a customer service account and filed a case with them. By the end of the day (end of the day?!) they e-mailed me saying they had lifted the block. I went back in, had to start from scratch with an empty shopping cart, but I bought the game and it worked.

So now I’m playing the game, right? No. Now I’m downloading a huge file, then I’m going to have to enter a serial number they sent me, then I’m going to have to do some kind of activation with EA. I could have avoided all of these problems by just downloading the game illegally, which begs the question, why is EA punishing the people who want to purchase their games? And why is Direct-2-Drive so improperly named, as nothing is going directly to anything, you guys.

And all of these problems would be avoided if the game was on Steam for Mac, because you guys, Steam just works. But Steam can’t work if you don’t put your game on Steam. Why would EA put The Sims 3 for Mac on disc, on Direct-2-Drive, and on their online store, but not on Steam? It boggles the mind.

So, game companies. Hi. I have a favor to ask you: put your games on Steam. I know you’re afraid of Steam, you can see that it’s a monopoly train barreling towards your bottom line, taking control of all sales in this industry. But you guys, at least their train runs like it’s supposed to. And I know you’re trying to get your own online stores going, but until your online stores have integrated friend lists, automatic updates, and unlimited downloads to unlimited computers, STOP TRYING TO HAVE AN ONLINE STORE AND JUST PUT YOUR GAMES ON STEAM. Because yes, Steam can be better, but Steam is better than everything else.



Taking the Facebook out of the Farmville

I have a confession to make: I have started playing Farmville.

Welcome to the Farmville Player Protection Program

Still reading? Okay. I know I’m late to the social gaming party. I know that—your mom jokes aside—only your mom plays Farmville now. I guess I started because I wanted to know what all the fuss was about. I like videogames, so I thought I should at least experience it firsthand. I’ve been playing it fairly regularly for the past two weeks, and it’s pretty fun. It’s mostly mindless clicking, but like all great casual games, they’ve put in all the right tricks to keep you coming back for more.

But you see, here’s the thing: I had to tell you that I played Farmville. If you were (or are) my Facebook friend, you would have no idea that I grow candy corn from my Facebook profile. Whenever Farmville tries to get me to tell you that I’m doing that, which it does at almost every turn, I say no. I say cancel. I don’t hit share. Because, well, I don’t want everyone on Facebook to know that I play Farmville. And I don’t think I’m alone. It is for this reason that I propose that Farmville provide us the option to dump the Facebook. Continue reading

Civilization V: To Be Completed in 2011

Civilization V is not done yet. It’s good, and it could be great, but for now it is incomplete. Which is too bad, because although Civilization V is not profoundly different from Civilization IV, it is a solid step forward, fixing or improving upon many aspects of the previous Civilization games. Unfortunately, problems with the graphics and the user interface mar what should be a spectacular game.

(text to be inserted later.)

Many of the improvements to the game seem so natural, and so logical, that it’s amazing that they weren’t made earlier in the series’ run. The hexagonal tiles are easier to navigate than the old square ones, and result in more natural looking borders. The one-unit-per-tile rule gives battles more strategic depth, and allows you to more easily see the massive armies your opponents are building up on your border. Ranged units can, given suitable cover, be effective in actual battle, unlike the old Civilzation’s use for archers: Fortify ’em in a city and forget ’em. City-states add more ways to win, and more ways to hinder your opponents.
Continue reading

Duke 3D Revisited

Good evening! … or afternoon… or morning… what time is it for you right now? Oh, it doesn’t matter, because we’re about to go in a TIME MACHINE. Right this way, have a seat in my Delorean. Pretty comfy seats, right? It’s a bitch to park, though. Okay, let’s get out of this Delorean and hop on inside of my time machine. Oh–did you think this was the time machine? Haha, you’re silly.

The year is 1996. Or something. Something like that. It’s the summer before my freshman year of high school. The future is nothing but opportunity! Well, opportunity to be picked on and belittled by my peers, but I don’t know that yet. Right now, everything is awesome, because I’m at some friend’s house, and I’ve just seen Duke Nukem 3D for the first time. Continue reading

Massively Ineffective: UI Mistakes in Mass Effect 2 for PC

This is purely a review of the user interface for the PC version of Mass Effect 2. There are no spoilers.

The user interface for Mass Effect 2 is a bit like living life with a little Regis Philbin on your shoulder. You want to cook eggs? Little Regis yells into your ear “Are you sure you want eggs?” You say yes. He yells “You mean yes, you want eggs?” You reply that yes, you want eggs. Then you open the refrigerator. You put the eggs on the counter, grab two, and before cracking them, Little Regis screams directly at your head “Are you sure you want two eggs?” You sigh, mumble that yes, you want two eggs, and for one brief instant you feel sympathy for Kathy Lee Gifford.

Mass Effect 2 is an exceptional game. The graphics are clear, the story continues to be compelling, and the squad combat has been improved significantly over the last game. What I am going to complain about here are very minor issues, but they’re minor issues that repeat throughout the game.

Click, select. Click, select. Click, select.

There are a lot of menus in this game. Since time immemorial (aka around 1983), the mouse has functioned in essentially the same way when selecting menu items. You either click once on the item to select it, or click twice. Mass Effect 2, however, decided to go a third, decidedly shitty, route: after you click on the menu item, you then have to click another item, elsewhere on the screen, to actually select it. Continue reading