Archive for January, 2011

Boldly Returning

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

When I put together my 2010 review I was pondering over why I had given up playing Star Trek Online.  It was such a thrill to fly around in various cool looking spaceships engaging with Klingons and Borg I had to think hard about what it was that caused me to leave it.  As soon as it sank in that the reason was that there wasnt enough content and that in the 9 months I had been away that the content had increased there seemed little option but to consider a re-subscription.

I was right in the middle of my deliberations (changing main game for me is a big step and one not to be taken lightly) and I read the quick years summary from Brian over at Blue Kae.  That review talking about the user generated content and the added sector areas meant it was at least worth a months subscription to check out what has changed.

I was not disappointed to find everything I loved about the old game, but with more things to do, so for now I’m absolutely loving it.  Really love the look of the new sector space without the grid:

When I saw this video I was also reminded that STO allows you to overlay your own music over the game using the in built music player, so I could play my extensive drum and bass collection whilst cleansing the universe of evil aliens.

So based on playing whatever takes my fancy on an evening I seem to be well and truly back in my spaceship.  In the last week I’ve played STO more than twice as much as anything else, even though I played a long Sunday session of Lotro with Ame and my good friend Mango.

Can’t wait for the user generated “foundry” content to release onto the live server, this could take sto in a totally new direction.


A Reading Challenge

Monday, January 10th, 2011

I’ve always loved reading. I come from a family of bookworms, and started devouring books  at an early age. So when I saw the post on Falcata Times about the reading challenges at Book Chick City, it caught my interest straight away.

There are three challenges – read 100 books, read 12 Mystery/Suspense books, and read 24 Horror/Urban Fantasy novels, each by the end of 2011. You can combine these, so the 12/24 genre specific books will contribute towards the 100 book challenge. For more details, I’ve included slinkies below, or you can use the Challenge adverts shown on the side bar.

100 Books in 2011

12 Mystery/Suspense Books in 2011

24 Horror / Urban Fantasy Books in 2011.

Averaging out at two books per week, this may prove tricky, and is definitely contrary to my “get more fresh air” goal for this year! However I can see a great deal of enjoyment coming from this. There is also the opportunity to post reviews, so it will also be interesting to see what other participants are reading.

There is also a Stephen King Challenge which I may sign up for – I only re-read the Dark Tower series a couple of months ago, otherwise this challenge would have been perfect – but a reshuffle of my TBR list just might give me the minimum six books to have a go.

So, anyone else joining in?


That was the year that was…

Sunday, January 2nd, 2011

2010 in gaming

Well we have come to the end of the year and what a great gaming year it has been.  Thoroughly enjoyed my time in many games this year and thought it worthwhile having a small re-cap on the years events.

The start of the year was dominated by Star Trek online, I was in the open BETA for this due to pre-purchasing it and really enjoyed both the BETA and the early release of the game.  The space combat had some of the most original and enjoyable gameplay I’ve come across in years.   Full marks to Cryptic for taking an IP from a bankrupt developer and getting something to release in super quick time.  Big downers to the publishers Atari for forcing Cryptic into this extremely tight release so that by the time the game launched the content was great, but there was just not enough of it.  I managed to get to max level in a very short space of time and effectively just ran out of missions.  My view is that this game was about 6-9 months too early and would have probably kept my interest if it had released with more to do.  I still managed to rack up nearly 300 hours in the game so its up there in my most played games of all time list and I still get tempted to get back into it, but the expensive subscription and the pushing of in game shop items is just holding me back.

Had a go at Dragon Age Origins (during my time with Star Trek), but it only kept my interest for around 30 hours, which was a little disappointing as I thought it would be a life stealer.  The things I liked were the story and the characters, the things I didnt like were having to talk to everyone in the party to “Get them on your side” and the pausing during combat.  In fact now I think about it I really disliked this feature, if I wanted to play turn based gaming I get out my Warhammer figures (GASP!!).  Its a shame that I found these two things annoying as there is so much potential in this series and there are a lot of people out there that love it.  Don’t think I will bother with DA2 unless they fix what I don’t like and I’m not expecting them to.

What can I say about Guild Wars, absolutely love the story, the presentation (for such an old game), the combat, everything here hits the nail on the head for me.  I even like the payment model which is to buy things in installments (like a singple player game), with a shop that has truly optional items in it.  In some cases I bought things in order to support Arenanet.  I really like the company and I really love the game.  This is actually my most played game of all time at over 650 hours gameplay.  Started playing this in May 2010 and still haven’t put it down yet.  I get the occasional frustration when I hit some difficult content, but other than that this is one hell of a game.

Will be buying Guild Wars 2 as soon as I’m able to.

I’ve been playing left4dead and left4dead 2 with the same groiup of friends now (Me, Ame, Mango and X) for as long as I can remember, we have a wednesday night session and sometimes another at a weekend.  The only problem we have is that the content is starting to get a little stale.  So I spent most of this year keeping my eye out for alternatives.  During the last quarter of 2009 we found Borderlands and that was a blast for the four of us, I managed to rack up around 150 hours in that baby, before we completed it and didnt really have any motivation to replay or buy the expansions.

So what were we going to choose as our 2010 l4d alternative.  Its not as easy as it sounds to find an entertaining coop shooter for the four of us.  Damn you Valve for making your games so good that we can;t replace you.

In the end I introduced the lads to  Guild Wars and we did enjoy our time in the game, but a combination of work related commitments and sometimes only having an hour or so to play kept us from really getting our teeth into it as a team.  So off I went in search of something a little bit more shooter based.  Where was this years Borderlands…  The coop shooter arena seemed like a bit of a ghost town, then along came Valve with a little gem of a game to spice things up.

Alien swarm was actually a great little game which fit our commitment and play styles perfectly.  Lots of shooting a little bit of planning and teamwork and eeek facehuggers.  Can’t go wrong, or so I thought.  GASP!! There was only 15 hours of gameplay for us in this.  I wantz more valve, where is the paid campaign for it… Alas, Alien Swarm is now gathering dust on my virtual steam shelf and we moved back to left4dead for a while.  I thought there might be light at the end of the tunnel when I heard that Alien Breed was available on steam as a paid game with similar gameplay, but its only 2 player coop now four, so no hope there.

This was probably everyone’s surprise game of 2010, it certainly surprised me.  I remember one of my friends (Lukey from Chilled-Out-Gamers) linked it to me weeks before the game hit big time and I had a quick looked as dismissed it as 8 bnit nonsense.  Then the blogging community started to rave about how addictive it was and that once you try you will be stuck for hours.  I still resisted until Shawn of GuildCast started talking about how he was resisting it too.  I finally gave in to peer pressure and bought it, after all it was less than £10 to buy, so how good/addictive could it be.

Well I found out pretty quickly and it totally took over my gaming for several weeks.  Loved the whole logo type feel to it.  I built up, dug down and thoroughly enjoyed my time with it.  I’m pretty much over it now, with a slim chance of playing it in 2011, but you never know.  I did however spread the love when it comes to this and my good wife (Ame) and one of my mates from work (Sheps) are still playing it avidly.  My bad, for pimping games again…

Other games

There were a few also ran titles I played in 2010 (some of which were bought in a pack with games I actually wanted).  The list includes games that were either only played for a short while or played towards the back end of the year, so their stats didnt quite impact.  These are:

Dirt 2

Beat Hazard


Clive Barkers Jericho

Global Agenda



Zen Bound 2

Rise of the Argonauts

Team Fortress 2

Burnout Paradise

The Lord Of The Rings Online

Batman: Arkham Asylum