The Legend of Heroes Trails in the Sky – A PC jRPG done right

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Some time ago I was browsing through my Steam library looking for something different to play and I saw this game that I bought during a Steam sale (well, like every other game really): The Legend of Heroes Trails in the Sky. I couldn’t play it when it originally came out on PC, and I had not played the PSP remake, so I decided it was time to try a new jRPG franchise.

The game is not as long as other jRPGs, I have completed it in around 45 hours. It took me another 10-15 hours to get all the Steam achievements. There is not much hidden content (no real hidden bosses or huge sidequests or anything of the like) so once you complete the main storyline, you just have some cleanup to do to complete it 100%.

Don’t let this put you off though: those 45 hours are worth it. This is not the best jRPG that I have ever played, but it’s one that I am glad I have played and completed. The battle system is an interesting hybrid: it’s purely turn-based (the style I love the most) but it also allows you to move your characters on a grid (Disgaea style), which works reasonably well, although I haven’t really used this feature that much, normally you can simply attack and let your characters move by themselves. It adds an interesting new dimension to battles, but again, most of the time it’s not something you absolutely must use in order to win the battle.

Graphically, this game is beautiful. The colors are bright and the characters are so fluffy it makes you feel like a 10-year-old. The characters are well designed and well developed, each with a specific fighting style and personality, in the best jRPG tradition.

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But the best thing about this game is the story. No, the combat system is not the best one ever made, and the game doesn’t offer lots of challenges but the story will keep you hooked. The game is famous for the long dialogues, and yes, I can confirm you will have to do quite a bit of reading, but everything will lead up to a finale that will keep you longing for episode two. I don’t want to spolier anything, but I can tell you that I absolutely cannot wait for the second chapter to be released (which is supposed to happen some time this summer, according to rumors online). When asked in an interview about the status of Second Chapter, XSEED replied the following:

We know you’ve been waiting for SC. Boy, do we know! And in hindsight, we wish we could’ve scheduled its localization a lot better, because at this point we want it out the door just as much as you (ha ha). I’m currently working together with Trails in the Sky FC & SC editor Jessica Chavez to clean things up and make sure it’s as polished as can be within our crazily hectic schedule. In fact, we’re working 100% in tandem with some of the series’ biggest fans to ensure that every fact is checked and every piece of foreshadowing is correctly shadowed, and just in general taking every step we can to ensure even our biggest critics are pleased with the final product. So far, I could not be happier with the feedback we’ve received.

I recommend you read the whole interview, which also includes news about other episodes of the series.

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Unfortunately, there are not many jRPGs on the PC, although things have started changing in the last few years. This is one of those games that you should consider purchasing to support the developers to make sure more games like this find their way to the PC. Save your money, don’t buy another FPS (there are way too many of those on Steam already) and use that money to buy this. If everyone did this, Steam would become a better place 😉

The gog.com Big Fall Sale is On

gog.com 2014 Big Fall Sale Banner

I thought this deserved to be mentioned in a post of its own. gog.com are currently doing a huge sale which, according to their website, touches more than 700 games and discounts up to 90%.

Their games library is certainly impressive, and they have a few games currently on sale that deserve a special mention (some of them are not even available on Steam):

  • Neverwinter Nights Diamond
  • Neverwinter Nights 2 Complete
  • Rayman 3
  • Baldur’s Gate II Complete
  • Planescape: Torment
  • The Longest Journey
  • Icewind Dale Complete
  • Icewind Dale 2 Complete

Make sure to check out the sale because you are likely to find something cool on discount right now. Plus, if you check in for 7 days on their website while the sale is on, you will get a free copy of The Witcher 2 and The Gamers: Director’s Cut.

An Open Letter to the Developers of Quake Live

Quake Live Logo

Ok dear Quake Live. A lot has been going on in the past few weeks, something has been good but most stuff has been bad. At the moment of writing, most things are still very, very bad. Just in case the developers had not noticed, here is a summary of the situation.

How do you even start an open letter anyway? Do you mind if we just jump right into it? I guess a little bit of form won’t hurt.

Dear Quake Live Developers,

This is a list of everything that your latest game update, together with the release of the game on Steam, broke. The good news? Nothing is broken beyond repair if you just, for once, listen out to what the community is saying. For your convenience, I have added a paragraph at the end of the letter detailing what could be done to solve this mess. Don’t worry, it’s nothing difficult.

For now, let’s start with what is not working anymore.

Unable to create servers

I would say that this is probably the main reason why people purchase a Pro subscription (yes I know, the URL says “premium”, which was another availablesubscription which has now been discontinued; oh well, so much for attention to details), and server creation is totally broken at the moment. I can’t spawn new servers and this has been going on for about a week. And no, I am not the only one: just one or two of my friends with a Pro subscription are able to create servers at the moment. All the others have to either ask somebody to create one (there was a tournament yesterday, you can imagine how fun it was to find somebody who could create servers) or play on public servers, certainly not the funniest thing to do.

Login to the QL launcher is broken

Quake Live has now moved to Steam. All good stuff (more about that later in the post), but what about the old client? Yes, it’s still there, and people can still use it. But can they? This is what I have been seeing in the past few days when I try to login to the client:

Unable to login to the desktop client

I struggle to believe this error message, as once every 100 times the login actually works. No, I am not changing email address between attempts.

You can’t unlink your Quake Live account from Steam

Linking your Quake Live account to your Steam account is a permanent action. Seriously? What’s the thought behind this? Please explain, I am all ears.

Welcome back, lag!

Ever since the game was moved to Steam, in-game performance has massively deteriorated. To be honest, it’s a bit better now than it was a week ago, but it can still be terrible at times. Constant “Connection interrupted” messages have been experienced also by players with good internet connections.

At the moment, playing in Northern Europe is still not a nice experience: average ping is around 60-70, and it was over 150 a week ago. I personally have never pinged that high in those servers, and there is nothing wrong with my connection (as a quick speed test confirmed).

“But how can you be so sure that it’s Quake Live’s fault?”, I hear you say. The answer is in the next paragraph.

The official forum is down

This is what you are greeted with if you try to access the official forum:

Quake Live forum is down

The QUAKE LIVE forums are offline in order to reduce the overload on our infrastructure. We are working to restore site responsiveness and will enable the forums at that time.

If they had to take the forum down to alleviate the impact on their infrastructure, how bad must this infrastructure be?

Besides, are we sure that this is the real reason why it has been taken down, or perhaps it is to avoid the flow of criticism and request for support? The truth lies always in between, so perhaps it’s a combination of the two.

Weapon balance has not been improved. But can it be anyway?

Many people have been complaining about the Lightning Gun (or LG, or shaft for the insiders) because it used to be an extremely powerful weapon. I was among those who though so at first, until I finally decided to do one logical thing: learn how to use it!

This weapon is powerful for a reason: it’s not easy to learn and it’s not easy to use. So why did they decide to nerf it down? Good question, glad you asked. I don’t know why. If before the update you could battle against a Rocket Launcher in a 1v1 match if your LG was good, now your LG must be very, very good to win this (I would guess around 45% accuracy).

So now I want the Rocket Launcher to be nerfed. And then every other weapon, one at the time, until we get to a point where every weapon will deal the same damage as every other, so that we won’t get any more complaints from users who cannot learn how to use a weapon.

Free For All is ridiculous now

Before moving to playing CA almost exclusively, I used to play FFA. The latest update introduced Loadouts, an option that allows you to choose a primary and a secondary weapon with which you can start a game and respawn after being fragged.

Quake Live Weapon Loadouts

So no more looking for your favourite weapon, keeping an eye on how much ammo you have left for that weapon etc. You just spawn with the weapon you like and that’s it. Oh, and ammo packs are unfiied, meaning that you don’t have to look on specific parts of the map to get the ammo that you need. Just get one random ammo pack and you are done.

Quake Live Unified Ammo Pack

This has been absolutely ruined.

But surely there has been some good stuff, right?

Definitely. I think making the game available on Steam has been a good decision, it was probably the only thing that could get us new players. Obviously, the implementation was flawed to say the least, but that is another story and has already been covered in this article.

What about bunny hopping and visual timers instead? I don’t know, I am not sure that making the game easier will make more players like it. Why can’t people just learn how to play a game as we had to do when we first started? If a game is difficult, it’s difficult. Period. No need to make it easier to make more players play it. If a game is difficult, then it will appeal to a certain group of players and not to others, it’s as simple as that. Money rules everything, I know, but this was really a flawed idea. If they made Dark Souls easier just to appeal to new players, that game will probably lose much of its appeal. What happened to good ol’ skillz?

Ok TGL, we admit our mistakes. What can we do to make up for what we have done?

Nice to see that you have read this! This is something that I was expecting to be included in the new update but that, to my surprise, was not there from the beginning. The solution to this is quite simple:

Allow players to create matches with the old ruleset.

I know that you can choose Classic mode when you spawn a server (if you are lucky enough to be able to do it, that is), but even Classic mode includes some of the new changes (for example, LG damage down to 6). Besides, I haven’t found a way to create a classic FFA server where you only spawn with the machine gun.

This obviously won’t solve all your infrastructure and performance issues, but at least it would allow old players to keep enjoying the game the way they have been doing since the beginning, while allowing new players to be introduced to the game in a gentler way.

After the update, all you have done is forget about the players who have been giving you support and paying for subscriptions, in favour of new players who might not even stick around that long to become supporters of the game. Who has been paying for the Pro subscriptions to support you so far, new players or old players? The least you can do is to show these players a little bit of respect and listen to their voices.

Until that happens, my subscription has been cancelled. You simply don’t deserve anybody’s money unless you show that you are not the naive, money-grabbing, conceited and deaf people that it looks like you are in light of what has been going on in the past few weeks.

Regards,

TGL

4 Rayman Games for Less Than $10! (Less Than a Day Left)

Rayman Bundle 75% Off

This is for all the platforming fans out there: if you haven’t played Rayman yet, you have a great opportunity to do so now. gog.com is currently seeling a bundle of 4 Rayman games for $9.46. At this price the bundle is a steal! It contains the following games:

  • Rayman Forever (the original game with a bunch of extra levels and a level editor)
  • Rayman 2: The Great Escape
  • Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc
  • Rayman Origins

I absolutely loved all of them, it’s difficult to pick a favourite since they are all amazing games.

The bundle will expire in less than a day at the time of writing, so don’t miss this! Trust me, you won’t regret it.

Rayman Legends (PS Vita) First Impressions

Rayman Legends Box

I knew it was only a matter of time before I bought Rayman Legends. I have already played Origins on my PS3 and I have liked it so much that I started hoping for a sequel while I was still playing it. I completed everything in that game, including The Land of the Livid Dead level, which in turn granted me a platinum trophy.

So, after playing with Legends with my girlfriend for a while (she already had a copy of the game), I finally found it at a good price and I decided to go for the PS Vita version, making it my first physical game for the console. The first impressions are, not surprisingly, great.

The game plays fantastic as usual, it’s fast paced, the level design is brilliant and the music is awesome. Nothing new so far, but the daily and weekly challenges are a great addition and can make the game last much, much longer. In addition, the PS Vita controls are used in a pretty good way, making you control Murfy with your finger (lifting platforms, killing enemies etc.) or using the gyroscope to incline platforms in a certain direction. It also looks easier than Origins, with regards to collecting the Lums: in Origins it was sometimes quite tough to collect 350 Lums in every level, but now in Legends collecting 600 Lums in every level is usually not that hard, also because you don’t need to hit every enemy twice to get the maximum number of Lums out of them.

Here you go, a quick post with the first impressions on Rayman Legends. I am sure I will spend many hours on this game, and rest assured that there will be more posts about this game in the following days and weeks!

Logitech Driving Force GT Settings for F1 2013

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Some months ago I wrote a blog post about how to configure the Logitech Driving Force GT to play F1 2012 on the PC, since apparently it didn’t behave very well out of the box the way it did with the console version of the game. Some days ago, thanks to the Steam Christmas Sale, I bought F1 2013 and, to my surprise, I noticed that it worked almost perfectly without the need to tinker with the settings too much.

Logitech Driving Force GT (DFGT) Gaming Wheel

So here are the settings that, in my opinion, work best for F1 2013:

Logitech Gaming Software settings

If you haven’t done so yet, download the Logitech Gaming Software from the official website. The important values here are the degrees of rotation and the force feedback settings:

  • Rotation: 180°
  • Force Feedback: activated, all three values set to 100%

In-game settings

These were basically perfect out of the box, the only one I changed was the Steering Deadzone which I set to 1.25% from the default 5%. Everything else remained unchanged. Here are the two screenshots with all the values:

Logitech Driving Force GT settings for F1 2013 #1Logitech Driving Force GT settings for F1 2013 #2

Here you go, I hope this post will be useful like the old one. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment, I will do my best to help you out 🙂

Diablo III – It’s Still Diablo After All

Diablo 3 Logo

In the last couple of weeks I had the chance to pick up Diablo III again, after spending some months with my Xbox 360. At the moment I only have my PC with me, so starting to play Diablo III again seemed a legitimate choice.

I bought this game not much time after it first came out, and i have played with it for some hours before putting it aside, mainly due to lack of free time. The moment I started playing with it, though, I realized that it was still Diablo, and that it had all the great things that made the previous two episodes amazing: action-packed combat, endless grinding for better equipment, fascinating atmosphere and great multiplayer. I though that the long wait had been worth it, after all.

I know that Diablo III has been harshly criticized by many fans, especially because of the Auction House (and especially because of the Real Money Auction House, which is going to shut down on March 18, 2014), which decreased the challenge in the game. Well, I can agree with that, but after all it was our choice whether to use it or not.

After spending about 30 hours in the last two weeks with this game, I can say that this game is awesome like its predecessors. I can see myself playing with this for many, MANY more hours. Currently I am playing with my level 54 Demon Hunter through the campaign at Hell difficulty, and I can’t wait to start playing it at Inferno.

Oh and of course, I can’t wait for Reaper of Souls, the first official expansion of the game, to come out. Now, if you don’t mind, I have some demons to kill.