Friday, January 27, 2012

Mirkwood

Since October 2011 I've been playing LOTRO in Mirkwood. A lot has happened that took me away from the game, not to mention that the in game festivals also took my focus away from this dark forest.

Mirkwood continues the story started in Moria. While it did continue in Lothlorien, it is far from its end when you finally cross the river and have to get used again to being in the dark. And surrounded by enemies, too. I've died quite a couple of times in the first days just because I wasn't used to being in hostile areas anymore. The Golden Wood had few enemies that would be aggressive, but now it is like I am back into Moria, but with trees and sky.

Looking to Lothlorien from Southern Mirkwood. 
The area is very linear, with your epic quest quests grouped with the other quests from the area. Most of the times I could make only one trip to a certain area, complete all quests, and back to the NPCs to deliver. While that is very practical, it became a bit mechanic at some points, in which I would just take a break from playing.

Stories and Quests
Most of the stories are about the mysteries of Mirkwood, with lots of "kill 10 rats" quests so that you can clear some of the nasty wildlife, ghosts and undead. Not need to mention that you gotta kill orcs all the time as usual.

But I did enjoy the ghost story quest at the Haunted Inn. It starts creepy, keeps being creepy, and ends in a creepy way. I wish I could describe more, but I don't want to spoil it. Just remember to complete that one, in case you like to skip some or the quests that are not related to the main epic quest.

The epic storyline was not as fun as the dwarven version, again, even though now dwarves and elves go together in certain parts. I personally thought the idea that took players to Mirkwood bad, which I don't want to spoil (again), but the execution was good, and more friendly about doing the quests surrounding the story areas. 

Thing is, I like the humor the dwarves bring, and the elves don't bring any humor at all. Still, the elves are interesting in that they have the sorrow of immortality and the curiosity of those who have all the time in the world. They will ask you to explore ruins and other creepy mysteries within the forest and help you understand what happened there, which is something I enjoy much more then to be told to kill 10 wolves because they are poisoned.

Elements from the books were inserted in a very discreet and rewarding way, where I didn't expect to really see such moments, but kept thinking it would be nice to happen: and there they were. You will see moments that are only vaguely described in the books to be told with a bit more detail and right before your eyes. 

Which makes me hope they will eventually add the other part of Mirkwood, the one with the elven kingdom from where Legolas came from, and where Bilbo visited with all his dwarf "buddies". I haven't searched on why they didn't add that part right as they launched Southern Mikwood, but I got the time and patience to wait and see what is the master plan.

Sights and Landscape
Mirkwood is a beautiful adventure, even though it IS a very dark and haunted-looking forest. I started it in October (yes, I took forever to finish it) right around Halloween, and it made me feel it was like being in a themed event that had the finesse of not being too cheesy.

The colors are mainly brown, and the light is always scarce, making you feel like you are indeed in a very deep and humid forest. Some areas will even have the "spotlight" feature that is seen in some areas of Moria, to show you that you are in complete darkness.

The way the orc encampments were spread and the ruins are occupied by enemies bring that "Moria feeling" of danger back, which was welcome after the peaceful trip that was Lothlorien. 

Conclusion and moving on
At this point I am still doing the Epilogue quests of the Mirkwood epics. They are not required to be completed in order to move on, which I am glad since I haven't had the time to group up to finish some of the more challenging ones.  The plan now is to start on the new Volume and then head out to finally experience the Rise of Isengard content. 


Friday, January 6, 2012

More games, less time

I'm still too busy to continue with the same pace of playing games and writing about them, but Black Friday online deals on games got me last year, and I had to make some purchases that I've been wishing for quite some time now. The Christmas sales were also an excuse for another tittle, and then some LOTRO that I always play slowly is what I've been doing in game after work.


Audiosurf
It is an older, Indie game, pretty simple but I love the idea of it. You use music to create race tracks where you either collect or dodge colorful blocks, with high scores to brag about or just a good way to relax. It is interesting to see how different songs will create different effects and speeds, and I still need more time to play around in this game.


Check the demo here.


The Sims 3 Late Night, Generations and Pets
My collection was stuck in "Ambitions" since I got lucky enough to get it in a Twitter drawing some months ago. And the odd thing is, I don't play the game itself much, but I love building houses (which is why I have a page here in the blog exclusive for my creations)


Thanks to the many sales and discounts, I was able to get the 3 expansions I didn't have. I still don't have any of the "stuff packs", but I find them too much money for too little anyway. Maybe at another sale, some day.


So far I haven't played much, but I love the new items and town that came with Generations (or was it Pets?). I also played around with a cat for a bit, which made me go "aaww" a lot, since I miss having real cats after having them for all my life.


A cat dreaming of butterflies
I still haven't seen any vampires though. One of the adults entered mid-life crisis, and I found out I can plant carrots. Hopefully I have time to explore the game better soon, and to create lots of houses, of course.


Neverwinter Nights 2
This is a game that I've also wanted to try, but didn't want to really pay for it. So the sale came and it was too good to say "no". I don't regret, so far it has been really refreshing to play an RPG again, instead of an MMORPG. I love how my decisions actually influence the story and my companions, and the humor or most quests was unexpected and keeps me wanting to progress in the story. 


I will write more on this once I have more time. Tchos has also been playing the game and has some awesome descriptions of the main story and some mods, here.


The ones that remain in my wishlist
There are some games I've ALMOST purchased, but I realized I still have much more tittles then time and they'll have to wait for now.


Trine: I loved the demonstration of the game, but still have other offline tittles to finish before I move into this one.


Fable III: I still need to finish Fable itself!


Cities XL: While I do enjoy city building games, I wasn't sure this one would be that good. It looks amazing, but the reviews pointing that large cities cause a loss of performance in the computer discouraged me.


Not so wished anymore
After playing the beta for SW: The Old Republic, I wanted to purchase and play it. But I wanted to wait and get the boxed version after launch, to avoid queues, etc. What happened though, is that my husband got the game on pre order, and while just watching him play, I lost interest. The reason might sound silly to some: I miss the medieval fantasy setting! I understood this when I stopped to recall the comments I make to him: "there are no trees in the cities", "your inventory looks boring", "don't you miss horses?" and many other simple things that are actually important to me. The story mode does look pretty fun though, and maybe at some point I will play the game. 


Also, I am still interested on completing my journey through LOTRO first.


Lotro's Mirkwood
Soon I will be done with Mirkwood, and I'll take the time to detail the adventure that it was. Yule festival kinda stole my focus, so I'll try and talk about that later on too.



Age of Wonders III

This month I decided to play through the Age of Wonders campaigns again while waiting on Sim City. Progress was going well and I was having ...