Blizzard

Episode 232: Warcraft III

Wasn't this site supposed to be for a video game podcast?  Last Time on Video Games makes its triumphant return, with the precursor to the biggest MMO of all time, Warcraft III.  It's got heroes and creeps galore!  Can the Last Time guys guide Orc Jesus to stop the invasion of The Legion?  Or will totally reasonable hero Arthus fall to the scourge and conquer all of the World of.... Azeroth? Aslo featured: More wood than you can handle.

Episode 151: B****** Don't Know About My Additional Pylons [StarCraft]

Zerglings, Templars, and Siege Tanks, oh my!  The game that was so popular, it basically launched e-sports as a concept.  Dive into struggles of 3 races as they vie for galactic territory and, much more locally, a lot of natural gas.  Have some exterminators and get ready to roll out!  It's much more than Warcraft in space.



This download requires more vespene gas.


Next time on Last Time, Wonder Boy!

It's a wonder he's not dead.
Geremy@lasttimeonvideogames.com,
 Tyler@lasttimeonvideogames.com,
 Zach@lasttimeonvideogames.com,
 or LTOVG@lasttimeonvideogames.com.
 You can also go to the show page at plus.google.com/+LastTimeOnVideogames or comment on the site at www.lasttimeonvideogames.com.
 Also, you can follow our tweets @LTOVG.

Broken Controllers: Diablo 3

    So a while back a game released on the PC and it was, not universally panned, but constantly compared to the game that came before a game that was one of the best games released in the nineties for the PC. My inner Blizzard fanboy might be peeking out on that but whatever. I'm talking of course about the Diablo games recently the third installment of this series made its way to the console and I had the opportunity to try it out. Follow the jump to defeat the great evil.
    Well Diablo 3 follows its forebear of being a hack and slash dungeon crawler. The whole point of the game of course is to find all the demons and complete the story but to do so you have to navigate all kinds of randomly laid out dungeons where the boss isn't where you might have left him on your first playthrough. During this you unlock sills and find new and interesting gear to equip your chosen hero with. 3 has five classes, Barbarian, which takes the fighter slot as a big hulking damage taker and dealer, Monk, the other frontline class which does damage . . .and that was about as much as I could see. The Demon hunter which is a ranged bow user and I think its supposed to be a heavy damage dealer but I didn't see any of that on my use of it. Finally two mage classes, the voodoo priest and the sorcerer round out the classes. The choice of class determines the narrative that your character brings to the story but does nothing to alter the story because Blizzard wanted to deliver a very specific one to the player.
   
    The story begins as a meteor has fallen on a town and now the dead are rising all around the site. Your character has shown up because of whatever reason they have to investigate. From the very start upon your arrival in the town your character is pulled into a battle against the forces of hell and the attempt to save the entire human race from extinction. Not really a shock to anyone who has played a Diablo game before.

    Now that my overview is complete lets talk a bit about the game and the things that I felt might need work. From the start since it is a hack and slash game there is some repeating gameplay and I felt while the graphics were good it sometimes felt as though they just didn't have enough variety early on in the monsters and that never really felt like it changed. Compared to Diablo 2 which also had a lot of reskinned and not different monsters it made that work by interspersing different monster types within the same groups as others. So while in Diablo 3 you are always fighting the same three or four zombies in 2 you would be fighting zombies with fallen with quillbeasts and spiders in the same room. Does that make the game bad? No not really but it felt like a wasted opportunity especially within the dungeons. I understand that the first boss is the Skeleton King but come on guys! The combat is all about hitting a routine by finding the combination of available skills work best but since you don't start off with all of your skill types unlocked and they remain locked off until a predetermined point it might be more accurate to say its about getting through until you have these options opened up. Now Diablo 2 had an approach like that but since you were limited in options to the two mouse buttons and with a skill tree it felt like you had more control over your character than there is in 3. Consider this; in Diablo three there are about 15 active skills per character along with several passive skills. In 2 there were about that many skills PER tree and each character had three trees that they could use. It gave the player the control to play a summoner druid or a shapeshifting druid while three feels really limited. Character choice aside the story is something that I have in my crosshairs so lets make the jump.

    Diablo 3 starts off so promising with the fully animated cinematics to start things off and the narration from your chosen character class but later in the game it feels like it loses steam. While this might be just a feeling that I had it felt that I spent the vast majority of the game in the first act while the other three just began a downhill run that ended with them becoming shorter and shorter. It felt rushed like the whole game was supposed to have these kinds of long arcs because again I'm going back to 2 here each of the acts in that game had a more structured six quests that once complete, the final one was always kill the demon lord, you were finished with the act and moved on. My point is each level felt like an entire experience in hunting each one of these evils down and killing them off while Three feels like it is leading up to just one climax which in my opinion was a let down.

    Spoilers!
    Now here I'm going to talk about some of the moments that drove me nuts. First there is really only one moment that felt like the kind of great evil boss I'm supposed to be taking on. That giant thing in the Diablo Three commercial? Second act boss. The other bosses in the game while they are very Diablo 2 felt off. The Skeleton king didn't but that was because I hadn't fought the other one yet. My point is that if you are going to make a multi-phase boss make it the last one. Comparatively the killing of Diablo is kind of pathetic. I remember when I first killed him in Diablo 2 it was an epic marathon of just watching the health bar slowly creeping down and weathering the deaths of my character to go at him again. This one I beat him handily on my first try and was left unsatisfied. "Really?" I asked, "that's it?" This is the problem that stems from a lot. Here is Diablo a character that is supposed to be the baddest ass of them all and he is dropped easily by a human despite handily crushing an Archangel. I understand that I'm the hero of the story but why not make me freaking earn that win?

    Is Diablo three a bad game? No I wouldn't go that far but it is fairly mediocre when compared to many other available games out right now. It gave me the same kind of feeling I had when sitting with a few friends and chilling with Baldur's Gate or Gautlet Legends. Fun for a while and with people to kill some time working together but it won't light the world on fire. Compared to Blizzard's other recent release it falls flat. It's a pretty game when it isn't darker than hell with the lights off but other than my listed issues it's functional and if you need a time-killer there are worse options. I don't know if it is multiplayer on console, by which I mean a bunch of buddies on a couch because I never got a chance to test that out so take that for what its worth.

    I'm going to start putting what I think the game would be worth to purchase based on what I personally had fun with. Take it for what its worth, which means not much in my case.
    Final rating 20$ out of 60$

Broken Controllers: Crafting the Stars

    So I've mentioned that I'm playing a lot of Starcraft 2 and I felt that it would be a good entry into our Last Rant segment; stealing some of Tyler's thunder. Starcraft as a, I hesitate to call two and a half games a series, game and I have an interesting relationship. Which basically means I suck at it. The game is in my personal opinion the best real time strategy game that is currently available followed closely by only Starcraft Brood War.

    Now that is a pretty big statement I know but keep in mind that Starcraft, the original, is STILL sold in stores on the shelf fifteen years after its original release. Its staying power can be easily attributed to the sheer balance of the game. When the first game released other strategy games like Age of Empires were built around a basic setup of every "race" had the same units with maybe one or two unique and special units. Starcraft changed the formula and each race has its own playstyle and strengths. For the record all three hosts played Terran. Each race also contained a variety of units that could be used to differentiate themselves and play well, Tyler preferred nukes while me and Geremy leaned toward more conventional options.

    You said it was about Starcraft 2 not 1!

    Yes I did, and in this case I wanted to give some basics.

    Starcraft 2 Maintains this same paradigm with some of the star units making a reappearance in the second game. Terran still get Marines and Siege tanks but can no longer build foot medics, they're now the dropships, or Goliaths. While Protoss lost the Dragoon and the Reaver but kept the Zealot and the High Templar. On the front of the evil Zerg they did not lose their icons of Zergling and Hydralisk but they received, as did the other two, more units with new jobs.

    One thing that really causes Starcraft 2 to stand out as a unique game is the difference between its campaign mode and its multiplayer mode. Currently only the second campaign has been released, the Protoss is the final one that we are all waiting on. The two are different in many ways. The Terran Campaign included units that were completely unavailable in multiplayer while the Zerg included upgrades to their units that weren't carried over. Personally this intrigues me since Starcraft is a game about practice and reaction but campaign, other than teaching the very basics, doesn't teach good multiplayer habits which in many other games I've played generally does. While that isn't a terrible thing it is a little strange. Of course as my fellow host pointed out when we were discussing the game it does allow the guys at Blizzard to throw in some things that may have been thrown out of development into the game. Well lets roll into some more interesting things shall we?

    As I said above this game is all about the practice and rewatching games that you have played to see where you could have done better. I'm terrible at this game and it is difficult for me to see where I made a mistake especially in games that I have won. Clearly if I won I made the right choice. Well in Starcraft that isn't quite the case. I've found even when looking at games I've won I can find some things wrong with my actions. A classic tale that I had was I scouted a opponent and saw he was probably looking to go air harassment and armed with that knowledge I did absolutely nothing about it. I won the game but it was a moment that even as I type I'm trying to facepalm. You see each build and unit has something that can hard counter it. My prefered Marine, Marauder, Medivac can be hard countered by protoss colossi or enough Ultralisks. The game is just so well balanced that while people can claim that things are overpowered but in reality most are just a new challenge that you have to deal with.

    You've heard me mention that I was a Bronze League hero and you may have wondered what that meant. Well Starcraft 2 employs a matchmaking system that often will put a player up against another one of equal skill. Now this can feel broken especially after you go three games straight without a win but stepping back shows that it recalculates and often you'll be facing down people on your level or at least near it. Eventually of course you will jump to another league and keep moving. At time of writing I have jumped into Silver league which means I'm no longer in the true scrubs division but still nothing to really brag about. And while I haven't played really any the game continues to have games that are geared towards one specific thing that doesn't affect your ladder rankings. This is the arcade, as I stated I have no experience with it but I assume it consists of all kinds of game modes that people dreamed up.

    All things considered my only real criticisms of the game stem from the need to login to battle.net, Blizzard's multiplayer system, to play the game and earn any kind of achievements. The other is that I don't care for the game's menu layout. I had to look up on their website how to create a game to practice against computers, which isn't really a truly big problem but it was annoying and I shouldn't have had to.

    In short if your computer can run the game go buy it. It is hands down the best game that has made its way onto this blog or podcast thus far. Even if you don't play the multiplayer the varied units and characters will make the campaign fun to run through multiple times.

    With that I leave you with. . .

    Nuclear Launch Detected.

    Damn it Tyler!