Monday, January 05, 2009

Byte: Winter Sales

Now that the new year has begun and the credit crunch is biting the High Street on the bum so hard that the only people making profits are the wind-up administrators who close down businesses, we're really seeing a lot of vicious price-cuts so that people can at least have the hope of selling something.

Of course, if you've got bargain-hunting DNA like me, this kind of economic environment is brilliant. I swooped on the Steam New Year sale like an electronic vampire bat, predatorily picking off the best deals. Ultimate Doom and Doom II (including Master Levels for Doom) were a veritable snip at a whole ninety-nine pence each, plus Beyond Good and Evil for less than four quid was also a compulsory purchase. I also took the opportunity to snap up Jagged Alliance 2, for around six quid; surely a bargain in anyone's money.

Doom and Doom II were surely the best value buys, though on a 20" monitor, it's a visual monstrosity. After playing through the first couple of episodes, I really got an urge to dig out my copy of Dark Forces (the original Star Wars Doom-clone, and progenitor of the Jedi Knight games) - as I do miss the uncomplicated directness of the Doom-style 3D shooters. Though you have to play them with the classic control set. Playing Doom any other way just feels so wrong.

Beyond Good and Evil has turned out to be a slightly less successful buy. I was hoping the Steam version would be a little friendlier with multi-core machines, but it still runs way too fast (no audio-visual synchronisation in the cutscenes at all) on my desktop (even with one of the CPU cores turned off) and it barely runs at all on my laptop (despite being way over the recommended spec) - presumably due to issues with Vista. I'm a little hacked off, because I never quite got around to completing it, and I really fancy going back to it.

Jagged Alliance 2 is something a lot of people have been telling me to try, given my X-Com-love. I haven't done much with it so far, but I did really like the personality test you take to determine the stats and skills of your character.

Beyond that, I'm quite tempted to pick up Call of Duty 4, now that Play are selling it at a price that's appropriate for a one year old game, but otherwise there's very little I'm excited about at the moment. The release schedules look particularly barren, so it's difficult to see where I'm going to devote the lion's share of my gaming time other than the ever-reliable World of Warcraft.

I've been putting in some serious time on my alts since I got back from France, and my Mage is now knocking on the door of level 50 (only a level and a half to go until I get my pet Water Elemental) and my Paladin is approaching that difficult mid-30s period (level 33 and counting), but at least I have the motivation of the Nightblade, which dropped for my Mage from a troll in the Hinterlands to get my Pally up to level 39 at least. I'm tempted to try to twink my paladin, now that I have an Epic two-hander ready-waiting, and also because I've never really put much time into the Battlegrounds, so it would be nice to get some practice before getting into Lake Wintergrasp at level 77 with my mains. It was my first ever Epic World Drop - I only had to wait FOUR FECKING YEARS to get one, so I thought that I might as well use it, rather than flog it in the auction house, even though I'll have to re-spec Gormlaith from Protection to Retribution to really be able to use it properly.

I've also been playing quite a bit with the PC Gamer guild (Horde faction) on Steamwheedle Cartel with my Death Knight (which hit level 62 after a moderately successful raid on the Hellfire Ramparts on Saturday night, which yielded me a very nice Plate chestpiece, though we wiped really badly on the last boss), and I should be about ready to move off into Zangarmarsh in another evening or two. The guys in the PCG guild all seem to be pretty easy-going and casual-friendly, and it was nice to do a dungeon on Saturday night, even if I was in the unusual role of acting as group Tank (normally I go as DPS or Healer when I'm playing with Sharéth or Yonn). I just eBayed myself a 3 metre VGA cable so that I can set my laptop up more comfortably with the TV - as my current VGA cable is too short to allow me to sit on the sofa while I'm hooked up to the TV, and gaming on the floor gets a little uncomfortable after a while. Fingers crossed that should arrive later in the week, and the laptop might actually become my preferred WoW machine...
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