Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Command and Conquer 3: Lupus, Cylons and Cinematics

 It’s fair to say that I am not a huge fan of RTS games.  I’m simply not a skilled enough micro-manager to effectively control all those units well enough to do really well at them.  I do well enough, but I’m not amazing.  Starcraft remains one of my favourite games, and Starcraft II one of the games I most want to play, but that’s for two things: the story and the custom maps.  I like the Starcraft series for the maps you can play that aren’t RTS.

Anyway, I play them, but it’s not my preferred genre.  I recently picked up a cheap copy of Command and Conquer 3 though, and I have to say I’ve been loving the campaigns.  The story is interesting, with this whole thing about Tiberium which has apparently been going on for the whole series.  The infighting within both sides of the conflict is fascinating.  The gameplay is relatively solid.  It functions like other RTSs of its ilk.  I feel it isn’t as balanced a game as Starcraft, but Blizzard set a pretty high standard there, and I haven’t had any major problems, though anti-air options seem a little limited if you’re not GDI.

What I love about this game though, and what got me hooked from the moment I started the campaign, is the briefings – the cinematics in between the levels which really drive the story forward.  For a start, they’re filmed, not CGI (mostly).  So they have actual actors serving as your commanding officers and briefing officers.  This is where a lot of C&C 3’s entertainment value comes in, and I think it is largely down to Jennifer Morrison, better known as Cameron from House.  I can take Boomer from Battlestar Galactica being in it; she’s in Hawaii 5-O too.  You see her around, although it does suddenly become incredibly bizarre when Caprica 6 is a Nod commander, when Nod has a distinctly Cylon air about them.  I even appreciate Lando’s appearance.  Good to see him; fair enough.  Cameron though, she’s totally unexpected, and I just can’t take her seriously.  Having Cameron staring straight at you and telling you how tough the next mission will be, sharing her feelings about the situation or congratulating you on a job well done all seems slightly unnerving to me.  I keep on laughing during GDI briefings, and I keep feeling that somewhere, one of the designers was just a massive House fan and decided to do some serious fanboyism.  Yes that’s a word.  I really like the cutscenes overall.  They work well, they’re dramatic, and it gives a definite sense of realism to the game.  Plus, having the characters interacting directly with you makes you feel far more immersed in the situation.  One wish? To be able to make decisions on your own.  The characters try to give you the opportunity to make decisions, to pick sides and to otherwise impact the game, but if you can actually make other decisions, I haven’t found a way to do them.

 around 7:50 Cameron's in there.

But my goodness.  Cameron makes me laugh every time.  Totally worth playing a game I’m only moderately good at for that.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Resurrection: Like Insurrection, Only With Less Violence

My goodness this has been far too long.  I apologise in the gap in posting.  I’ve been rather focused on trying to get a job for the last few months, and I let this slide as a result.  Let’s see if I can’t bring this back online.  Of course, I say this right before I’m off for the holidays, but we’ll take things one post at a time, shall we?

So, I think I’ll start this blog off and running again with a feature of another blog.  The last post I did for the 30 Days of D&D Challenge back in October was on my favourite DM, Rich.  Well, he has a blog too!  It’s dedicated to the creation of his D&D mod called Providence.  Providence is essentially a project aimed to combine the best of 3.5 and 4th edition into one grand system, without the weaknesses of either, though of course it is bound to have weaknesses of its own.  As for its successes, I’ve read everything he’s done so far and it is fantastic work.  The classes are works of art, the feats are fun and varied, and it is finally actually possible to craft magic items!  There’s a tutorial on it and everything!

It’s got to be one of the most thorough jobs I’ve seen since Pathfinder.  It is not just a string of variants and extras he’s thrown together.  This is a concerted, focused and well-structured project which is resulting in a truly comprehensive and solid game.  One of his key focuses has been to give every class two things: something interesting every level, and a highly variable class structure, to allow the widest possible array of characters.  He has completely altered and rebuilt all the major classes, as well as adding in a large number of his own.  The spell list hasn’t been written yet, but it looks to be several times the size of the 3.5 spell list, which terrifies me.  The various documents he has created for each section of this feat of geekery, when compiled into a single document, already reaches over 300 pages.  It’s a beautiful sight.

The blog is at  Check it out.  He is putting up fairly regularly updates of his latest addition to the world of Providence, mostly the classes he has created himself.  I’ve been helping to find the kinks in the classes, and so I’ve looked through all of this pretty thoroughly.  It’s really impressive.  Check out what he’s put up so far, and keep following his progress.  Providence is going to be a great game when finished.