Sunday, June 05, 2016

A Sunday Review

Here are reviews of the DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
  • May 4th
  • Green Lantern #52 - So this is basically Hal winning a single fight. Really? That's all for the final issue before rebirth? Ok. I think I'll go read something else now.
  • Batman Beyond #12 - Something is being set up here with Terry being brought back, sort of. I would like to know what it is. But again, it's just one fight until the end of the book and not much else going on.
  • Scooby-Doo Team-Up #16 - Zoinks! Jinkies! This has to be one of the funniest of the team-ups so far thanks to the Wizard deciding to give a couple of the meddling kids powers based on their own catchphrases. This was one worth checking out if you love Scooby and the Marvel family.
  • Spider-Man 2099 #10 - So, is the entire issue a flashback to how Miguel got to the first two pages? Yes, yes it is. While the situation with Tempest's mom appears to be settled, more threats are always on the way and in this case, Miguel may be jumping in too deep. Time travel is confusing, even when it's only two distinct times and places.
  • Doctor Who 10th #2.9 - I'm not sure what the witch was, except that it was linked to the Doctor and Gallifrey, and that's bad news. This issue was more than a little disjointed, even after rereading the previous issue. Not my favorite story, but I'm still interested in finding out what the link to ancient Gallifrey is.
  • Rough Riders #2 - More team gathering, and testing. All pretty fun. Good artwork, interesting premise. I'm looking forward to seeing where this series goes.
  • Beasts of Burden: What Cat Dragged In - This is one fine book, and very creepy and sad in this case. This issue focuses on the cats, particularly one cat that was a former enemy of our hero animals. We learn what she left behind and yet desperately attempted to reach again. Fantastic artwork, wonderfully touching and sad story. A must-get if you've read the other issues in the series, but not the best jumping on point if you haven't.

I tried out two online multiplayer games this past week. Both of them are free to play with extra content available for a price. I am figuring that I won't get particularly addicted to either game, although it's always a possibility with a person like me.

Anyway, let's talk about my experience, since that's what this review is about. First of all, I downloaded and installed Steam, the gaming system that allows people to use these games and many others. I'm not sure I had to do that, but I was trying to play catch up with some other folks I know online. So it was partly due to that and partly curiosity.

Steam is slightly annoying but overall funny. It acts like a game itself, urging people to earn accomplishments such as making friends, joining groups, adding games to a wishlist and playing games. All very silly, but probably extremely effective in the overall scheme of appealing to a bunch of gamers.

Now, as for my gaming cred, I don't have much any more. I gamed quite a bit as a teenager on the C64, and even did a bit of gaming, including multiplayer stuff, at college. I've told my college gaming story more than once, and probably even on this blog before: My friends Dan and Carl set me up on a computer with a text-only MUD (multi-user domain) that was based on a fantasy setting. We started playing Friday afternoon. A few minutes after I started, Dan tapped me on the shoulder and said it was time to go to dinner. So we went, then game back to the math hall and played some more. A few minutes later, Dan tapped me on the shoulder and said, "It's time for breakfast." so we went. And then came back and played some more. A few minutes later, it was lunchtime and we went, then came back. Then dinner again... and breakfast... and lunch... and as we went to Sunday dinner Dan told me he was cutting me off since I had classes the next morning.

So, yeah. I've done the gaming thing.

I haven't gamed much since college, and the years have definitely passed me by. I played some old stuff recently, using the VICE emulator for C64 to play Wasteland and Standing Stones (I will finish Standing Stones this time, I swear it!). I enjoy the old stuff, but I'm also craving newer games. I want to see what's come along since I last gamed regularly. I played a bit of Castle Wolfenstein and Doom in my time, but it's been a very long time since I played a current-ish game.

Back to this week, after installing Steam I looked for a couple of games I could play. There were two that caught my eye: Star Trek Online and DC Online. I know fans and critics of both of them. So I downloaded both of them. DCO took about four hours to download and another hour to install. STO took about 8 hours to "Patch" after it had downloaded.

I tried STO first. I started out at Star Fleet Academy, just about to get my assignment after graduation. The game leads you through some basic combat training, then sends you to a ship where you go on your opening cruise. Of course, it doesn't go right, and you run into some trouble that puts you in charge, crazily enough. The controls were complicated and I couldn't find a quick way to open up a "help" window or anything that would tell me what buttons to push. There were hints and clues, but I found myself befuddled by commands and irritated by the controls.

Then, after a bit of combat, I was told to meet with another ship. The map showed me where, and I went there and... nothing. So I flew around and entered the rendezvous point again. Nothing. By this time I'm really getting irritated and just mashing keys, but I flew around once more, figuring I'd ragequit in a second, and on the third try the scenario started. I seriously needed a hint as to what was wrong, and how to fix it. In any case, I found it frustrating enough that I didn't bother to continue. I may go back to the game, but at the moment, I'm just bored with it. So, 8 hours of downloading and less than an hour of play.

The next one I tried was DC Online. I'd heard that I wouldn't enjoy it due to a lack of aquatic action, and sure enough, there was no Aquaman anywhere. The main plot involves the need to create a bunch of superheroes to fight off an invasion by Brainiac. I rolled up a hero character with mental powers, and she started up in Brainiac's ship, trying to escape while disabling the ship. My first problem was that I couldn't figure out how to hit anything. I had to restart and find a help page. The official help pages were totally useless. Everyone just assumes you are familiar with gaming protocol or something. It also makes you wait for a few minutes to get back into the game, unless you pay for the privilege of getting in faster. That's annoying.

So, apparently, when playing with the keyboard, you use your mouse buttons for hitting. Once I figured that out, it wasn't nearly so hard to play. However, I did have another problem. I somehow deactivated my powers. To give you an idea of how weak the first things I faced were: I managed to defeat them with my bare hands. But once I'd figured out how to turn my powers back on, I had a much easier time of it.

At the end of the battle, Superman popped in to help out, which was fun. Then I was back on earth, and interacting with other players. Which wasn't so much fun. I don't enjoy team playing, and I got invited to multiple teams before I'd even figured out the movement controls (I was literally still bumping into walls). I declined the invites and went on a couple of quests/missions, which were actually very engaging. I got to save Zatanna and Raven and fight alongside Cyborg (after first, as is traditional, fighting with him). Along the way I picked up gear and got new skills. Along with each new power is a little chart on how to trigger the attack with the mouse. I need to take notes.

The lack of Aqua-characters is mildly saddening, and the frequent interruptions by other players was also annoying (the chat was filled with garbage). But the game was fun. If I can figure out how to make sure other players don't keep inviting me to things, maybe I'll play it a little longer. Especially since one guy invited me to a team while I was getting my butt kicked by a tough demon-thing, and because I couldn't figure out how to dismiss the invite quick, I nearly "died". Thanks dude. I did figure out on another play through how to turn those off, but it was really irritating for me. I'm a solo type of gamer, I'm afraid.

Looking out over Metropolis.

Anyway, for free games neither was too bad. I would much prefer a single player game, but that's just me. I'll probably play both a little more. At this point I can imagine getting addicted to DCO, although it doesn't seem too likely with all the people being annoying. I don't see me playing much more STO, although that also could change, depending on whether or not I figure out the controls.

My eventual goal is to play the Fallout series of games, as well as the sequel to Wasteland. I've been watching vids of Adipose playing Fallout 3, and I think they are my kind of thing. But since that requires actual money, I'll have to wait.