Are we being exploited by DLC?

Spurred on by the debate around the Mass Effect 3 DLC, I started writing some thoughts down.. but it quickly turned into a definite TL;DR with DLC, online passes, pre-order bonuses, retailer exclusives and the fight against used games.. as well as the all-too-common cry that customers are being exploited.

So.. I’ve split it all up, with this part mainly being about DLC, in-game purchases and other bonuses, and another part to come about the fight against used games.  I’ve mentioned a few games or companies in my examples here.. either because they were the first or best example to come to mind, or because I know that product better.  I’m sure I’ve missed some great examples, and although I’ve checked my facts, I may have something wrong or out of date in here.. so feel free to let me know in the comments 🙂

The first Mass Effect 3 DLC pack appeared briefly on the Xbox Live Marketplace last week, and stirred up quite a debate about exploitation.

One complaint against DLC is that it provides an incentive for developers to withhold part of the game to charge more for it later.. or even on the same day, in the case of Day 1 or unlocks of content from the game disk itself.  You can’t return DLC if you don’t enjoy it, nor can you sell it on as it’s usually tied to your game account.  Other complaints are about price (Modern Warfare 2’s ‘Stimulus Package’: £10 for 5 maps, two of which were re-releases), or the worth of the DLC (Oblivion’s Horse Armour), and then there’s the idea that it’s only being produced to milk consumers for every last penny. (more…)

Coal Collector!

The Great Gift Pile objectives are turning out to be a mix of quick and easy tasks and longer, more difficult challenges..

Atom Zombie Smasher: KringleJammer was fairly easy to get, as was the Rock of Ages: Snowball War.  Audiosurf: Candy Stripe required only the collection of red and white blocks in a line, but it took me a while to find something on my PC that played at the right pace to generate the blocks I wanted.  “Still Alive” was giving me blue blocks, so wouldn’t do for this!

Beat Hazard: Survive Christmas 10 required me to survive for 10 minutes.. and it took far longer than that!  After several attempts of under five minutes each, I realised I had unlocked some perks which might help: the Ultra DLC added Micro Missiles and a Reflect Shield which just about let me last long enough to complete the objective.

A harder achievement was the deliberate loss of a game in Fate of the World, where instead of trying to save the world, I led it towards global thermonuclear war and the Let it Glow achievement!  After a few attempts I ended up consulting the internet for tips on how to get the ‘right’ ending.. it turned out to be a rather tight list of instructions while hoping for the right random numbers to be generated each turn.  I think actually winning this game, as opposed to playing for an achievement, will be next to impossible as all territories seem to get annoyed with you very quickly! 😀

For another deliberate loss, I also tried to nuke Santa in DEFCON.. but found his movements too unpredictable, the AI too eager to react, and my supply of nukes too low for me to get him.  I quickly got bored of this, so I checked out the tips on the net again, and reduced the number of cities to 5 per territory, but then found the game crashing almost as soon as I launched a nuke!  Something to do with the latest update and Windows 7 🙁

Another not-quite-game objective was Winter Assault.. survive a 30 minute match on Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II – Retribution, on one of the winter maps.  Four of us joined the game, with one going AFK immediately.. only interested in the achievement itself.. but three of us met in the middle to trade blows until we’d met our time requirement!  I wished for more Great Unclean Ones, but settled for a squad of Chaos Dreadnoughts instead 😀

With the completion of all these objectives, I’m collecting lots of coal along with vouchers which probably won’t get used.. two are for Valve.. I already own all their games, as do all my gaming friends.  Although, if anyone does want them.. 🙂

I did win one game via the giveaway.. Silent Dreams’ Grotesque Tactics: Evil Heroes, a fantasy role-playing game with strategic combat and a sense of humour.  The games in this giveaway are provided as a token, which can be added to your own inventory or traded.. so if you already own the game you win, you can give it away or trade it for something else.

A friend bought me Space Pirates and Zombies by Minmax Games, which I tried briefly last night.  After stumbling through the first couple of missions, I decided I need to be somewhat alert to play! 🙂

The Steam sales are ongoing, and I also picked up ACE Team‘s rather Monty Python-esque Rock of Ages, mentioned earlier, and Croteam‘s Serious Sam HD: The Second Encounter, and Serious Sam 3: BFE, with the first two games below £2 each, and Serious Sam 3 at a reasonable price, considering I wanted a copy for me and a copy for Tim.

Other women spend their money on shoes: I spend my money on games! 🙂

The Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine Race!

So Relic’s Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine has finally been released, allowing players to take the role of Captain Titus, a genetically modified superhuman clad in several tonnes of power armour..

Despite only really having Dawn of War II as a reference for the whole Warhammer scene, I’ve been looking forward to Space Marine for a while, and when it finally arrived there was no chance it wasn’t going to be played.  Tim and I decided to have a friendly race through the single player game, too 🙂

The story: Orks have invaded an Imperial Forge World, and Captain Titus is sent in with his Ultramarines to hold key locations until reinforcements arrive..

Your starting weapons are a bolter pistol and a combat knife.. and these make short work of the Orks you first encounter 🙂
Combat is a mixture of ranged and melee, but the melee is where the fun was to be had, especially with the combinations of different strikes and stuns sending the Orks flying 🙂

Health is regained by performing an Execute move; this becomes available when you have stunned an enemy.  This meant staying in the fight where you’d normally have to duck out of fire to let health regenerate.. and it transformed the smaller Orks into health pickups!  Stomping through the Orks let me take a very short lead over Tim, too!

It wasn’t long before we met the Imperial Guard, and they were rather happy to see us 🙂
They also had an Ork problem, which I was more than happy to help with!  At the end of the first run through the trenches, I came across my first Nob, who I found difficult compared to the previous carnage.

Repeated attempts on this enemy meant that Tim got ahead in our race.. and he stayed ahead while we were helping the Imperial Guard and their leader, 2nd Lieutenant Mira.. blowing some stuff up, killing some more Orks, and being given some nice new weapons; the Stalker Bolter and the Vengeance Launcher!

As the Orks had captured a gun emplacement, that was one of our targets.. this involved sticking explosives to one of the massive shells and pushing it into the loader, so that it would blow up the gun.  Following the shell up, we found the Orks had spotted and removed it..

Guarding Leandros back while he pushed it back in was a hard task as there were plenty of Squigs hidden in with the Orks, and they blew me up a few times while I was busy meleeing Orks!  Tim had also struggled with the Squigs, which had allowed me to catch up again 😀

After this we met Inquisitor Drogan, who turns out to have some amazing secret weapon.. and we end up carting the power source around for a while, which attracts the Orks.. the Warboss Grimskull wants it too!  He sent some of his boyz to take it, but I killed them off and proceeded to take the power source, which blew up and sent me down to the sewers, where I had to fight my way up to rejoin the Ultramarines.  I also unlocked the Melta Gun and the Lascannon, two fantastically powerful weapons, though the Melta Gun ended up being my favourite gun for up-close fiery death 🙂

We fought our way to the weapon with plans to turn it on the Orks, through hot turretty death thanks to a security system which couldn’t distinguish us from the green-skinned fungus.. but firing the weapon unleashed the forces of Chaos!

Inquisitor Drogan turned out to be a traitor, with the weapon having been designed to open a rift for the Chaos forces to come through!  He was rewarded with death, then the Orks joined the fight.. Grimskull still chasing the power source.  While fighting, Grimskull and Nemeroth fell over the edge, leaving us to fight the Bloodletters, big red demons who warped around and so weren’t good to shoot, but were rather susceptible to melee stuns 🙂

Next up was destroying the Spire and the Chaos Warp.. via the awesome Imperial Titan which we’d seen before.  On the way to it, I met Grimskull again..

Killing the Warboss wasn’t as hard as I would have expected, with the Melta Gun to destroy his pet Squigs and minions.. and when he was dead, the remaining Ork forces scattered, leaving just the Chaos enemies to kill on the way to the Titan.  The fight on the Titan was a little frustrating as the enemies were out of range of my Thunderhammer.. and Tim caught me up again >.<

After the Spire was destroyed, Nemeroth made another appearance, killing Sidonus and claiming the power source.. which he would use to become a Daemon Prince!

There was another session with a jump pack next.. I love that thing.. and I managed to misfire myself through a hole in the ground at one point, but overtook Tim again.. only to lose ground in the next section and end up behind again.

Tim completed the game just before I got to Nemeroth.. but we were both beaten by another friend who completed it all in one go.. he isn’t human 😉

I enjoyed the last fight despite the use of quicktime.. probably because they were the buttons as I would have been hitting anyway.
As for Captain Titus.. is he corrupted or not?  I guess we’ll have to wait and see if there’s a Space Marine 2 😉


Chaos Rising – Pure

A friend and I finally got together to complete the last mission of our co-op campaign on Dawn of War II – Chaos Rising, having gotten most of the way through it back in January.

This last mission, Foul Play in the Chapter Keep, started with Predator tanks, which we were meant to use to clear the path for our later fights.. it was good to feel powerful and I would have liked to have mine for longer!  I was a bit disappointed when I lost control of the tank after being given my regular units back.

The Undoer thought we’d missed something, and ended up going down the path where Eliphas was hiding all by himself.. this meant Jonah got a little time laying on his back while the rest of the troops came to find him.  Eliphas put up a bit of a struggle, but not too much.. a warm-up for our future confrontation with Ulkair, the Great Unclean One and final boss.

Ulkair had his own arena..

Compared to other fights, this one was fairly tough and Force Commander Bob and Jonah had to take it in turns to tank him.  I was glad of Jonah’s healing skills as well as the invulnerability buff.. not the mention the nearby beacon where I had to keep reinforcing troops.

We took him down in the end, and were rewarded with a rather cool cutscene and a bit more story.

And there it is.. another game completed!  Next up: Dawn of War II – Retribution.. although I do want to play this again on the corrupt side! 🙂

Battle Brothers

Add another game to the ‘Completed’ pile, as Tim and I have now finished our co-op campaign on Dawn of War II! 🙂

The last few missions were a lot tougher, and running on towards the objective sometimes led to being swamped so we had to change tactic and be a bit more cautious.  Fighting off waves of Tyranids was fun, as it constantly felt as if we were going to be overrun, but just managed to scrape through.  I’ve no idea what this would be like on a harder difficulty.. 😀

I’ve still got Chaos Rising to complete before Retribution comes out, though I think this is one that needs to be completed in single-player first because of the corruption mechanic and wanting to play it my own way!

Dawn of War II – Co-operation!

I’ve had two attempts at completing the single player in this game.. the first when I originally got the game early last year, and the second very abortive attempt just before the release of Chaos Rising this year.  Tim has completed the game though, and wanted to play co-op..

At first, I found it a little harder to play with Tim as he talks a lot less on mumble than I’m used to these days.

As usual, the defense missions were the easiest, as I’m fairly defensive anyway, though it was strange not having control of all four units.

Eldar are tougher than they look 😉

Idranel was particularly tough.. more so when we encountered her the second time.  During that fight, we needed to revive each other a few times 😉

I’m betting this will be the next game I complete, as I’ve got a little extra push..

Chaos Rising

5.30am.  Dark and cold.  This is a time of day best slept through, but at the end of February, I found myself getting out of my warm bed and getting ready for a day in London with THQ and Chaos Rising, the first expansion for Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II.  After baking in the train – the heating was broken in my carriage and thus on full blast – I was glad of the cold outside 🙂

The event was held in HMV’s Gamerbase in the Trocadero Centre, easy enough to find.  However, the toilets were not so easy to find (none in the Gamerbase or even on the same floor) and then when I did find them.. well.
I figured a £1 charge to be a bit excessive, and ended up sneaking into the McDonalds a few streets down instead!

So, the game..
Chaos Rising adds a new campaign to run through, this time facing the Chaos Space Marines.  These are a corrupted form of the Space Marines you control, with a new set of skills and abilities.  Only the first three missions were available to play at the event, following which the guests tried out the multiplayer side of the game.  Of the new units, the Great Unclean One stood out as a rather interesting, if hideous specimen 🙂

A new corruption mechanic has been added to the expansion, with your squads gaining corruption for questionable actions, such as taking items from Shrines, or ignoring optional side missions to help out civilians.  Gaining corruption leads to different abilities and access to higher level wargear, but will lead to you being unable to use other wargear for which you need to be Pure.

Along with the campaign, there are new units for each of the races, new maps, and extra modes for multiplayer including free-for-all, which probably means I should brace for a beating 😉

My favourite mode, Last Stand, gains two new heroes, the Tyranid Hive Tyrant and the Chaos Space Marine Sorcerer.  Both of these can summon minions too, which makes for an interesting group of allies!

Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II

I recently started playing this with a couple of friends.

My favourite has to be Last Stand.. maybe because I find it easier, though  🙂

So far I’ve concentrated on playing as the Force Commander, which I’m finding a great way to unwind.. there’s just something really sastisfying about running into a bunch of enemies and sending them flying all around!