Tag Archives: Video Games

Thoughts on Star Wars: The Old Republic

I’ve been a big fan of Star Wars since the original movie came out back when I was young. If I recall correctly my first Star Wars video game was even the Empire Strikes Back game for the Atari 2600. A few years back I bought a video game called Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords. I had a blast playing it. So much so that I hunted down a copy of its predecessor, Knights of the Old Republic and played through that. Once again, I thoroughly enjoyed it. When word came out that there was going to be a new Star Wars MMO however, I was… unsure. Then it came out that Bioware, the company responsible for the original KOTOR game was going to be making it. Then came word that it was going to be “set” slightly after the KOTOR games, effectively making it an online, multiplayer KOTOR 3 of sorts. I began to develop some interest. I signed up for the beta. I got into some of the testing weekends. I bought Star Wars: The Old Republic.

So why all this babbling? Well, I figured I’d try my hand at a very non-traditional review and post some observations now that I’m far enough in to have unlocked a good chunk of the game. So, here we go.

First thought? Let’s get the 800 pound gorilla out of the room…This game is NOT World of Warcraft. I don’t mean that as either an inherently good or bad statement. I like World of Warcraft. Star Wars: The Old Republic is its own game. Each game has its good and not so good points. There are similarities, sure but the games definitely “feel” different to me.

Much like the earlier Knights of the Old Republic games, the progressions in SWTOR isn’t completely linear. By that, I mean there are huge story choices, which can impact how certain other characters in the game interact with you. So you could basically play the same class twice, make different choices, and get two somewhat different stories. (Not completely different mind you, you do still stick to the same basic script).

In the spirit of “buddy” movies throughout the ages, you’ll spend most of the game traveling with a companion. And for the record, the Smuggler class flies a freighter and has a Wookie available as a companion, so I think Han Solo would approve. I also really like that as get more companions, you can send the ones that aren’t with you off to gather materials or make things for you. They aren’t just back at the ship playing cards or hanging out at the local cantina.

Playing the game, I’m finding it very immersive. The story writing is very enjoyable, if maybe a tad predictable. But hey, it’s a game based on a movie world. Good guys have to fight bad guys, or it would make for a very boring game. It is STAR WARS, Not STAR PEACE after all. And speaking of the stars, I’m a big fan of the space battles. It’s not that they’re horribly difficult once you get the hang of the controls and the objective of the different battles. It’s the little things. The sounds, straight out of the movies. The visuals, the scale it imparts. And the little comments from your crew members that make it so entertaining. During one space battle one of my companions suggested we’d be better off if I let the droid fly the ship. Ouch.

But that’s the fun of it though. The voice acting is very well done. There are cutscenes galore that really help it feel like you’re playing though a movie. The comments from and occasional conversations with your companions really sell the story.

Yes, there are some of the traditional MMO drawbacks in the game, but such is life. There are just certain things you have to have, no matter what the game is.

Overall, I like it. And in the end, isn’t that what it’s all about? Isn’t that why even as we “grow up”, we still play video games? Because we like it? That’s enough for me. I’ll probably post more about it when I think of stuff, but there you go. A Beerbarrel review of Star Wars: The Old Republic. I guess, to borrow from Siskel and Ebert, I’d give it two beers up.

Have fun out there folks!
-Beer

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Five Thoughts on a Friday – The “off on break” Edition

Howdy folks, and welcome to what’s likely the last post of the year on this blog. It’s certainly the last Five Thoughts of the year. We’re out of Fridays. Anyhow, I’m feeling rather lazy today, so let’s get started, shall we?

  1. I’ve been out of the office since Christmas and I’m amazed at how fast the time can still go by. And even more amazed at how you don’t realize it.
  2. While it’s great to unplug from the grind and recharge the batteries it can make keeping up with what’s going on in the world around you a bit tough. Especially when you through in all the holiday obligations and such. Like college football bowl games!
  3. Just once before I go back to work I *would* like to get a good night’s sleep though. It’s amazing how efficient a small dog can be at hogging a huge bed and the covers.
  4. Been getting in some gaming time playing the new Star Wars MMO. I really like it. And the way it ties back into the old Knights of the Old Republic games is a fun bonus.
  5. Lastly, as a quick and easy out to this week’s post… Happy New Year everyone. Next up, 2012. Hopefully everyone will have a great one, and we won’t see the end of the world. Although we’re sure to hear about it. Again.

Okay folks, that’s five and I’ll see you next year!

Have a great weekend and a Happy New Year folks!
-Beer

Five thoughts on a Friday – The Early Access Edtion

Good morning folks, and welcome to another edition of Five Thoughts. So, what are we thinking today? Why don’t we find out….

  1. First thought of the day.. LAST FRIDAY IN THE OFFICE OF THE YEAR!!  Sorry for shouting. Had to get that out of my system though. Yep, as of this time next week it’ll be Christmas Vacation. Works for me! A fun thought for the season though, I tried it out last weekend. Everyone gets caught up with the “Merry Christmas / Happy Holidays” debate. Try this instead.. Don’t say Merry Christmas. Don’t say Happy Holidays. Say “Mele Kalikimaka”. They’ll be stunned. And confused. And then they’ll smile. Hey, it worked for Bing Crosby!
  2. If you’re like me you still have anywhere from a little to all of your Christmas shopping to get finished up. Well, if you’re like me that also means you have pretty much one week to get it done. So, you have been warned, folks. (Luckily, I’m on the “one more thing” side of the coin this year). And for the record? As I write this SantaClaus.com says you have 8 days. But remember folks, that’s for the start of December 25th. So if you need to have them wrapped and under the tree before then….
  3. I am now playing the release version of Star Wars: The Old Republic. Yep, I got my early access email. I’m still creating/deleting characters though, trying to figure out what to play. Eventually I’ll probably try one of each I think – just to see the stories. Things are slightly different from the beta. I could probably do a whole review post on it. We’ll see. What really struck me though, wasn’t anything directly related to the game. No, it happened when I had finished creating a character and hit play. A cinematic starts with the famous Star Wars “scroll” and the music. That music. It blows my mind how this many years later, all you need is the first note, maybe two and you instantly recognize it.
  4. I think I may have to bring Red back for this one. Seriously, you’re a professional athlete. And while I know that doesn’t set you up for life by default, it sure can if you’re smart about it. But if the story about Sam Hurd of the Chicago Bears being arrested is true, well… Red?
  5. And after that last one, well… I have absolutely nothing mean to say about this story. As we get closer and closer to Christmas (And other assorted holidays), I think it’s nice to hear about something like this every now and then. Maybe there is a little hope after all, you know?

Okay, that’s five and I’m ready to head into the weekend. The holidays are bearing down fast now, so we’ll keep with the theme of running another holiday themed song.  I don’t think this one will draw a rebuttal from my co-blogger though. Apparently, he just really doesn’t like that song I linked to last week. This week? Vince Guaraldi. Enjoy!

Have a great weekend folks!
-Beer

Five Thoughts on a Friday – The “Day Off” Edition

Howdy folks and welcome to this week’s Five Thoughts. We’re sort of giving ourselves the day off here today. Being lazy and all. Let’s get at it, shall we?

  1. Happy Black Friday. This stuff has really gotten out of control, hasn’t it? Let’s start at midnight, let’s start camping out for Friday on Monday..  Sheesh. Not my thing, that’s for sure. I have the day off, the last thing I really want to do is get up early and shop. Besides, I’m still fighting off the food coma from yesterday.
  2. Today is the day after Thanksgiving. While I still think it’s a bit early due to the way the calendar fell this year, it is now acceptable to start playing Christmas music and turning on your lights.
  3. I’m looking out the window and the sun is shining. I have to admit, I was kind of hoping for some combination of cold/rainy today that would support staying inside instead of going and working on the things that need to get done in the yard. Can’t win them all I guess.
  4. I’m back into the SWTOR test this weekend. I wonder if that had anything to do with me wanting the weather outside to me miserable? Ah well.
  5. I have to admit I was really getting sick of some of the “Do you know how much sodium/how many calories/ how much fat” stories all the news channels were running last week. And will no doubt continue to work in as we move towards Christmas. It’s the holidays people. Celebrating and over eating is part of the deal. If it was a normal pattern of behavior I agree it would be a problem. But if you don’t make a habit of eating 4500 calories at every meal, doing it once a year on Thanksgiving isn’t a big deal. So have some fun already!

Okay, that’s a very quick Five Thoughts for the day. I now return myself to my regularly scheduled day off. And since I know my co-blogger is off to see a certain movie. And we talked about playing the music, and lighting the lights….

Have a great weekend folks!
-Beer

Five Thoughts on a Friday – The “End of the Year” Edition

“Um.. Beer? You know it’s not even Thanksgiving yet, right? It isn’t the end of the year, it’s not really even all that close to it.”

Hush, and let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

Anyways, it’s the last Friday before Thanksgiving in the United States. Next week is Black Friday. With that, the holiday season is off and running and there’s no stopping it. By the time you blink it will be Christmas and then the year will be over. So everyone, take a deep breath and say goodbye to 2011. Because after this weekend, you aren’t going to have time. Anyways, on to today’s post! (I had actually intended to go a bit video game centric in today’s post. What with doing the Star Wars: The Old Republic weekend test last weekend and all. Then the reviews from the LA Auto show started to show up online. And my inner gear-head got all cranked up again. So, let’s start with cars.)

  1.  News from Bizzaro Land, um Los Angeles. The old rules of the known automotive universe no longer apply. Nissan now has a production car (The 2013 GT-R) that will do 0-60mph in 2.7 seconds. I’m gussing it will also get you a speeding ticket in roughly the same amount of time. Not to be outdone (But a completely different type of vehicle), Ford Motor company whipped up some sort of alternate universe Shelby GT500 that has 650 horsepower, will push the 200mph barrier, and… doesn’t get hit with the gas guzzler tax!!??!?!?!! How is that even possible (Don’t get me wrong though, I highly encourage this type of thing!)?
    (Both links are worth following, just for the pictures of the cars)
  2. From the land of “Apparently Hollywood is never going to learn, or admit they have no new ideas”…  NBC has not only accepted a script…but has ordered the production of a pilot. Of the Munsters. Listen, I liked the original Munsters a lot. I love the Munstermobile (Both of them actually, don’t forget Grandpa’s ride!).

    But Hollywood, let it go, folks. Frankly, I’m shocked that they aren’t doing a reality TV show for the casting of the pilot. Oh crap, I hope I didn’t just give them an idea.
  3. Doing the segue… Speaking of pilots (Of a different type). A bit of a scary moment turned comical the other day when the truth finally got out. The captain went to the restroom, where he got stuck due to a faulty door latch. The poor co-pilot, who got left alone to wonder why the captain wasn’t coming back got a message from a passenger. Frankly, I can see some people getting upset when they hear the audio, and I can understand it. But I can also see the co-pilot’s point of view. He opens that door, and control of the plane is at risk. The captain though, I feel for him. How would you like to be known from now on as “The pilot who caused an emergency landing by getting stuck in the bathroom”. He’s going to have to own that one, because there’s no avoiding it. But hey, when you gotta go, you gotta go.
  4. Switching back over to gaming, as I tweeted earlier in the week, I had a blast testing out the Star Wars game last weekend. And I see there are tons of giveaways for beta keys for the next test weekend now. I think it’s going to be a very good game. Will it threaten Warcraft? I don’t know. WoW has it’s own big content patch coming soon (4.3). Looks like there may be some gaming to be done here in the near future. I’ve also stumbled across The Godfather: Five Families and will give that a look, but I’m expecting to see something akin to mafia wars on Facebook. We’ll see if I’m right or wrong.
  5. Back to television for a moment. I miss “That 70’s Show”. Why do I miss it? I miss it because I miss Red. He got it. He understood that if you’re going to host a pornographic website, as a teacher you probably shouldn’t use your SCHOOL DISTRICT ISSUED LAPTOP to work on it. If you do, that makes you, as Red would say… A Dumbass.

Okay folks. That’s Five and I’m ready to get the weekend (and the end of the year) started. By this time next week we’ll all be in holiday mode. Or a food coma, which is kind of the same thing. Anyways, no music this week. Instead we’re going to let William Shatner make sure you all stay safe if you’re looking to fry a turkey this year. There was no way I wasn’t using this video.

Have a great weekend folks!
-Beer

 

Five Thoughts on a Friday – The “This goes to eleven” Edition

Howdy folks, and happy Spinal Tap Day (And yes, it’s Veteran’s Day, too. A far more important remembrance. Just having a little fun here folks). That’s right, it’s 11-11-2011. Or, 11-11-11. Let’s be honest here for a second. If you get the reference, then you knew there was no way it wasn’t going to get mentioned somehow, somewhere in this post. If you have no clue what I’m going on about, well… go check out “This is Spinal Tap“. It’s a comedy classic. It goes to eleven.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way… On with today’s post!

  1. On the what can break next front.. Beer’s found out that the answer is… the furnace! That’s right! On the day we get the first snowfall of the season (And temps dropping down to freezing), the furnace quit working! Fortunately, we have a very effective fireplace and space heaters (And someone on the way to fix the furnace). So it isn’t all bad.
  2. On the gaming front, I’ve been getting back into World of Warcraft a bit lately. Just that time of year I guess. More time inside than outside, etc.. That could be threatened here going forward though. I’m restricted from saying too much, but there is a new game coming out this year that I managed to grab a beta invite to. Lets just say it’s set Far Far Away. Will definitely be checking it out this weekend. Hmm… I have a pretty new gaming system, I wonder if I can run them both at the same time?
  3. The Black Friday ads are starting to get published. Nothing like getting all those 4am shoppers fired up a bit early, huh? As I wondered last year.. seems like every year these ads seem to “leak” out early. Almost like it’s intentional. Just saying… Speaking of Black Friday, the day preceding it in the States is Football Thursday Thanksgiving. And this year, that Thanksgiving turkey dinner is going to cost you more. Unless you’re like me, and turkey has been banned from your household due to a refrigerator “incident” (aka, Failure!).  Funny how these stories always come out this time of year. It’s like it’s on the calendar of all the news organizations, “Okay, time to do the ‘turkey dinner cost is going up/down’ story for the year”.
  4. I have to tread carefully on this one, I know. But as someone who sees things slightly differently in life I can’t help but laugh at this. There’s just a symmetric irony to it. The Office Professional Employees International Union is picketing. No big deal, that’s what unions occasionally do. That’s normal. They’re picketing Solidarity House. Yes, you read that right. The OPEIU is picketing the home office of the United Auto Workers, aka the UAW. So this is a union on union picket. Think about that one for a moment. The thought of it made me laugh.
  5. There’s a lot of things that can tip someone off to “This relationship might have some issues”. When I try to think of them though, I usually don’t come up with “Wife causes a bomb scare when she has a GPS tracking device attached to her husband’s car“. I’m thinking that would probably be pretty high on the list though. Maybe just below attempted murder, I’m not sure.

Okay folks, that’s five thoughts for this Friday and it’s time for Beermaker to start the weekend and download a beta client. But, before you go, don’t think for a second you’re getting out of here without at least one more “This goes to eleven” Spinal tap reference. You know you want to listen to it. Enjoy!

Have a great weekend folks!
-Beer

Five Thoughts On a Friday – The “Heading Out” Edition

Good morning folks, and welcome to another Friday. We’re all still here (again), but someone writing this post is heading out again soon (AGAIN?!?!?!!). Yes, it’s true. Beermaker’s heading out on yet another boondoggle. So, in the interim let’s see what we have going on this week, shall we?

  1. I’ve come to be amazed at how I’ll put off trying to post to this blog in the later part of the week. I’ll think of something and make a note about it, saying to myself “Well, It’s already (Insert Wednesday or Thursday here) and I’m doing the post on Friday. As a result I actually have a backlog of things that I should really consider working on and posting. I wonder if that’s normal? If it is, it’s one of the few times that word has ever been used to describe me, that’s for sure!
  2. Wow, that last one was pretty damned self-indulgent, wasn’t it? See, that’s what happens when you have the keys to the place. And, I’m going to continue the theme here for just a  little bit. Now, part of this might actually belong on a friends Tantrum blog. But, he hasn’t had a tantrum in a while so I’m just putting it here. Recently I had to employ the services of a plumbing company on an emergency basis, later in the evening. So, to all the people we called who advertised 24/7 emergency service? Here’s the deal. 24/7 emergency service does not mean “Okay, we’ll page dispatch and see if we might be able to get  someone out in a couple of hours”. No, nope, nu-uh. It means “Dear God the basement is backing up get your rear ends over here and fix it and I’ll worry about the price later!!!!” So when you tell me it’ll be 15-20 minutes before you can tell me if you can someone out to me, you know what I do in that time? I keep calling your competition until I find one that says “On our way right now”. And they now have some of my money. The money you obviously didn’t need. Have a nice day.
  3. Changing gears completely now (Well, I guess it still sort of involves water in a way) I had to talk about this today. Why? Well, it’s a historic find for one. Wreckage of a 13th century ship thought to have belonged to Kublai Khan’s invasion fleet has been found. Now, that’s cool enough. And reading the CNN article today, it says it was found in about 25 meters of water. Makes sense, sounds about right. Yesterday though, there was an article on Yahoo. That article doesn’t put the ship in 25 meters of water. It says the ship was 25 meters off the coast of Nagasaki. I’m gonna trust CNN on this one. Why? Because I find it hard to believe that over the course of 700+ years, nobody noticed a shipwreck only about 27 yards off the coast! (Yeah, that’s right. That would be about 82 feet) Nobody went swimming/diving there for all that time? Seems unlike to me.
  4. With the passing of Steve Jobs, lots of interesting stuff has come out. Being a car guy, I really gravitated to this little nugget when it came up. Steve Jobs driving without a license plate. One of the theories was that it would help avoid being followed or identified. I can by that to an extent. And it might have worked. Except for those meddling kids. Except for one little thing. Steve Jobs always drove a silver Mercedes. Now, if you changed out colors and models you’d probably be able to avoid detection. But with his approach? You saw a silver Mercedes without a plate, you could ID it as probably being Steve Jobs. Oops.
  5. You didn’t think you were going to get out of here without me mentioning the 800 pound gorilla of the gaming world announcing its next expansion pack, did you? Hmmm… maybe I should have called them an 800 pound panda.

    Hey, I liked Kung Fun Panda.

Okay folks, that’s five and I am literally out of here. Now, there will be border crossings involved this weekend so I will do my best to avoid any international incidents.

In the meantime, considering we talked about a Mongol fleet (well, the wreckage of it) outside of Japan (launched from China), and the latest Blizzard expansion, there was really only one choice for the video choice. Hope it doesn’t get stuck in your head.

Have a great weekend folks!
-Beer