Torchlight 2 review

“No time to write, must get back to playing.”

Dissonance, cognitive

Generally, I do not expect to learn about upcoming features in a video game from Forbes.

Smugglers get the coolest ship

In the new Star Wars MMORPG, characters get a starship of their own when they finish the first story arc for their class (typically level 15, but if you’ve been doing instances and side quests, it could be later).

I haven’t played a smuggler far enough to see their ship, but thanks to an incomplete feature/glitch in the game, I was able to run around inside one. All of the ships have a bridge, bedrooms, a conference area, a lounge, a cargo hold, and a “talk to your boss” holocommunicator.

But only the smuggler ship has a head in a jar in its cargo hold. Also a giant caged beast and someone frozen in carbonite, but head-in-a-jar is the real prize (pictures). And it’s not even a random head-in-a-jar; it’s apparently a tie-in to the Knights of The Old Republic game.

(The glitch? I was grouped with a smuggler who needed help on the final class quest to get the ship, so after the cutscene, we were both transported onto it. Except we were on different copies of it, so we couldn’t interact, and when I flew it to a different planet, she stayed behind in her copy. When I landed, I was in my own ship. What I should have done was try flying a space mission, to see if I got to fight using her ship model as well.)

Oh, and while there are plenty of “shoot the engineers and release on time” issues with the game, it’s quite playable and fun for folks who like their gaming casual and interactive, but pretty brutal on hardware requirements. Their server/client architecture needs a lot of optimization to handle a room full of people, and the client has a lot of rough spots that can make it perform poorly on computers that can handle maxed-out settings on Skyrim.

“Are you a god?”

I must say, I’m enjoying playing a Massively Zero-Player RPG; the best part is that I reliably outgear all of my friends.

Imminent Death of Productivity Predicted

The English adaptation of Chantelise is out. Free demo, 10% off through Friday. From the folks who brought you Recettear

Portal 2+2

Scott and I ran through the co-op storyline today. Lots of fun, although we got stuck good and hard twice, once because we simply couldn’t figure out how to combine the available portal surfaces to get the second player across, and the second time because the solution we came up with was so complicated that we knew we had to be overthinking it and missing something simple (“no, that really is how you do it”).

As usual, it was a lot easier with tablespeak than it would have been with any manner of chat session.

Pity they couldn’t come up with a way to work more Cave Johnson dialog into it…

[Update: belatedly, it occurred to me that the people who are claiming they solved the co-op puzzles alone, only needing a partner to satisfy the “both present at the exit” requirement, are full of shit. For some of the puzzles, getting one player to the exit is relatively easy; the actual challenge is getting the second one across. That was the exact situation that stumped us: I made it to the exit, and could no longer create the portals that Scott would need to use the same method; we had to figure out a different path to the top, using both sets of portals.]

Portal 2, everyone else 0

I didn’t actually finish the original Portal, mostly because when it first came out, I didn’t want to buy The Orange Box for Xbox 360, and didn’t have a Windows gaming setup. When they gave away the Mac version as part of the Steam release for that platform, I got it, but ended up playing a lot of Torchlight instead. I knew the concepts from playing the Flash version, and of course I heard the song and watched a number of videos of the hilarious dialog and interesting puzzles.

Portal 2 was a day-one Mac release, so I bought it, played it all the way through, and loved every minute. Even the relatively few places where I got stumped (generally because I missed a subtle visual clue or got myself turned around and jumped back the wrong way). My biggest complaint would be not being able to locate the [spoilers] in the one and only timed section; the scene is sufficiently visually chaotic that I didn’t see them arriving, and then only had audio clues to work with, which weren’t terribly directional. And, of course, it was timed, so I had to do it again.

Sadly, there’s an entire second game that I can’t play at all until I get one of my friends to buy the damn thing and finish the single-player campaign. It’s great that they made a two-player co-op game with a real story, but quite frustrating if you don’t have anyone around to play it with. And the idea of playing it on Steam with a stranger just repulses me. The thing I hate most about online gaming is making my fun dependent on the maturity and intelligence of a stranger, going all the way back to the unrestricted griefing and player-killing of Ultima Online. There are non-sociopathic gamers out there, but if I want to be social in a game, I prefer to be in the same room.

Now, as for the common speculation about how you can “scientifically” explain how portals work, well, after the end of the single-player story in Portal 2, you’d not only be killing catgirls, you’d be committing furry genocide.

Oh, wait, some people might like that idea…

(and, yes, after finishing it, I went back and played the first game all the way through, including the advanced maps; it deserves all the praise it’s gotten)

Ding! “Grats”

Recettear has sold over 100,000 copies. Both the original developers and the English localizers deserve every penny.