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Ornstein and Smough didnt hold me back!

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Well I only went and did it! Ornstein and Smough are history!

Things just werent working, so I swapped my armour and weapon choice, did a little level grinding, summoned a little help and switched up my tactics. My summoned helper (who I shall name Keith) kept Smough busy whilst I took down Ornstein. Keith died in the process but it was just enough to get me through to phase 2 of the battle. 

The empowered Smough still wasnt no cake walk, but I took it slow, picked my moments to strike and took full advantage of the cover provided by the pillar bases. I took a few hits and depleted my estus flask, but after a long 10 minutes (it felt longer) it was all over. 

Raising my level and sinking a few points in to endurance certainly helped - my character build could finally wear a decent set of heavy armour without feeling like he was wading through quicksand. I was starting to get concerned that my lack of ranged attacks was going to prevent me beating this boss battle but in the end I didnt even need it. 

So, Im back in love with Dark Souls again! It feels good. 

Ornstein and Smough wont hold me back

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Yesterday after playing a little XCOM:Enemy Unkown, I opened the disc try on my 360 and, without thinking, reached for the Dark Souls box on the shelf. I put the disc in, closed the tray calmly and sat down. Press start. Load game. Ah, there is my adventurer, sat in the warm glow of the Firelink Shrine, taking things easy. Maybe I'll just let him stretch his legs? After all, he has been sat on his backside for months now. Yes, a little stroll round that graveyard near here is a wonderful idea.

So we headed to the graveyard, my hero and I, and quickly discovered my divine club permenantly puts a stop to those pesky skeletons. Hmm, interesting. Thats good ol' Dark Souls for you; always something new to discover, always new things to learn! Oh and what is this? A pathway leading to a tunnel? Sure why not...

...and so it continued. Without a worry in the world and my new divine club in my hand, I almost skipped through the catacombs, dispatching skeletons and mages with joy. Further in I discovered that switching to a heavy armour and shield helped deal with the pinwheel skeletons and I proceeded to discover a new area of the game. I was in a strange hazy trance with a big smile on my face when I dropped down in to a tomb and came face to face with a boss, but I was not discouraged. "Hell, Ive made it this far" I told myself happily "Its all or nothing - charge!!" I ran at the boss, waving my club in the air (well thats how I imagined it anyway) and wailed on him with all my heart.

Mr Boss went down quick. I was unstoppable! Why did I ever stop playing this game?! This is great! Lets keep going! I scrambled out of the bosses lair and continued forward. It got dark real quick but I strolled in to the blackness with great confidence. "Tomb of Giants" Dark souls welcomed me. 

It got darker & darker until I could barely see a foot in front of me. And there were noises in the darkness. Oh...oh dear... all my confidence suddenly drained from me as if someone had pulled out a plug. Panic descended on me. Stood still in the darkness with no idea on which way is back. I had completely forgetton how Dark Souls works - to charge in to new areas carelessly without fear is guaranteed death. I wasnt alone down there, I quickly discovered.

It was all over in seconds. Giant skeletons (I presume thats what they were, it all happened so quickly) attacked me mercilessly from the shadows. You Died the game told me as it had a hundred times before.

Back at the bonfire I decided that I had learnt a lot of important lessons. Probably most importantly, that you cant fear death. Its going to happen again and again, but as long as you are learning from the expirience then it has not been in vain. I had originally stopped playing Dark Souls months back, when I had got stuck on the bossess Ornstein & Smough. Maybe, just maybe, now is the time to try again...

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So, any advice..?

Big Dumb Fun

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Army of Two, the coop shooter franchise from EA, has now spawned three games in the series. The third in the series, The Devils Cartel, is due for release very soon and has a demo now live on XBL.If a franchise hits three games, someone is obviously buying them. But who? I cant recall anyone ever waxing lyrical about either of the previous AoT games and thats probably because they are pretty dumb games. During the demo, you play as one of an Army of Two (clever title, eh?) grizzled, tattooed muscle bound ex-special forces men. You gunfight identical looking Mexican drug dealers who all seem to wear sweatpants. You fight through a dilapidated warehouse, up on to the roof where you jump in to a chopper & proceed to blow up more stuff.

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Grrr. Bang Bang Bang. Not fun. 

Okay, normally I wouldnt judge a game entirely on its demo, but I think its safe to say Army of Two: The Devils Cartel isnt going to go much deeper than what is presented here. It truly is devoid of imagination. It doesnt even seem to get the basics right; movement feels sticky & the weapons lack impact.There is nothing wrong with big dumb fun. But if thats what youre after I would still look elsewhere. Try Bulletstorm - yes, its large angry men swearing and shooting a lot, but my god is that game fantastic fun & has the incredibly unique points based system encouraging creative kills. And it has a dinosuar that fires frikkin' lasers from its eyes. There's imagination for ya.

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Grrr. Bang Bang Bang. Much Better

It should be about the journey...

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...not the destination.

The last couple of weeks Ive been playing, amongst others, Far Cry 3 and Resident Evil 6. Both games I had been looking forward to play for quite some time and for one reason or the other had been putting off.

I had actually owned a copy of Resident Evil 6 for a few months. I had been initially deterred after playing the demo on XBL but I had picked up a preowned copy cheap regardless and was keen to play through the latest installment of one of my favorite series. Yesterday, I finally came to the end of Ada Wong's campaign, the final of the four campaigns, but it wasnt easy. Not because of the difficulty but because I was finding myself really not enjoying the game - I realised I was just ploughing through the action and quicktime events, eager to get to the next story-telling cutscene. This clearly isnt what playing videogames is about! Ive always enjoyed expiriencing everything a game world has to offer, savouring the environments, characters and story, it has never been my intention to rush through to the end-game. 

My time with Far Cry 3 was different in so far as when I started I was happy free-roaming, hunting for fun and not paying any attention to the story missions (apart from stumbling on to one during natural progression of play). However as time went on   I moved back to the story missions, fast travelling to the next waymarkers, and by the last few missions I was back to rushing through to the end-game. 

Based on this recent expirience I have decided I will seriously reconsider my approach to gaming, especially for the next generation consoles. Perhaps If I commit to playing fewer games, purchasing those that only those really excite me and capture my imagination, I will enjoy the expirience more and appreciate more what they have to offer. When I was a kid and my parents brought me my first Super Nintendo, I managed to make three games last me nearly two years! Admittedly they were all classics (Super Mario All Stars, Super Street Fighter 2 and Zombies) but I think that still highlights that my attitude towards gaming has developed in ways that is not all for the best. Perhaps this is due to how I am now an adult and I have a certain amount of disposable income - games are no longer an amazing thing that needs to be cherished, they are readily available to me now whenever I wish to purchase. 

Rest in Peace, Isaac?

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I have just read the following:

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2013-03-05-ea-cans-dead-space-series-following-poor-sales-of-dead-space-3-report

Im really saddened by this news. Dead Space & Dead Space 2 were two of my favourite games of this generation; the first being such a wonderful new IP and the second being one of the best action games Ive ever played (and subsequently replayed). Admittedly I havent even gotten around to playing the third entry in the series mainly due to being discouraged by the demo that didnt particulary impress me (I felt it was devoid of the DS tension & atmosphere - and human enemies? Puh-lease). Still, its on my list to play at some point in the near future. 

The thing that really struck me was that EA instructed the developers to move the gameplay in to an even more action-orientated style to appeal to a wider audience like Mass Effect 3 had done. As some of the comments in the article rightly point out, "..by going for Mass appeal (the series) managed to lose most of its appeal.."

Sad face. 

UPDATE: Phew. So EA have responded by saying these rumours are false. Guess they still feel a few more $$$ can be squeezed from the IP. Its unlikely, but Im hoping the next installment goes back to its dark, ominous corriders - although saying that I wouldnt be surprised if DS4 was a four player co-op or something of that ilk. 

Multiple Saves

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You would have thought I had learnt my lesson by now.

Especially after that Elder Scrolls: Oblivion fiasco. 60+ hours deep in to my adventure, I was. After clearing out a cave full of trolls & god-knows what else, I leave the cave only for my game to crash as I exit back to the open world. I reload my save, try to leave the cave once more and it crashes again. I try again. And again. It quickly dawns on me that I have encountered an incurable glitch and that I have no other save files outside that bloody cave. My heart sinks.

Fortunately I loved that game, so although it was far from ideal I started again right from the beginning. "Ive learnt a valuable lesson" I told myself. "From this day on, I will make multiple saves. I wont be fooled again!" And I wasnt

....until now, that is. 

You see this afternoon, I was playing Resident Evil Code: Veronica X, and Steve & Clare had just taken off in a sea plane to escape the island. Claire was limping terribly and not having saved for a good hour, I took the oppertunity to do so on the typewriter in the planes cockpit. Phew! Claire then walked through the door to the next part of the plane and came face to face with the Tyrant. And died immediately.

I chose to retry, and again immediatly died. So I backed out to the main menu to load up another save. But it didnt exist.

I didnt even have a glitch to blame this time. 

I feel.. like such... an amateur. 

Code: Veronica X

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Im preparing myself for what lies in wait for me behind every door. Im watching my ammo count, considering every shot. Im planning every save strategically. Im managing my inventory and Im checking every item, pondering their uses. 

Two hours in to Resident Evil Code: Veronica X and Im having the best gaming expirience Ive had for a long time. 

I can forgive the controls - Claire Redfields ability to navigate environments like a knackered RC car. I can deal with the daft dialogue and irratating characters - it makes me smile everytime one of them says something jarring in light of the 'horror' going on around them. Im really fond of Steve Burnside, the islands cocky young gun-loving inmate, whether he is bursting through a glass window firing off rounds in slow-motion or freezing up upon encountering his undead father. 

I suspected I had played REC:VX at some point back in the day, and every so often I will encounter a room or a cutscene that suddenly triggers a memory - a fond memory - of my original playthrough. But those recollections are vague enough to make the playing the game as suprising & enjoyable as if this was my first time. 

A certain amount of my fondness to this game can probably be linked to nostalgia. I expect a lot of young gamers who had never expirienced the traditional RE games would have a hard time seeing past its obvious flaws and archaic design. 

Im off to play the game now. Wish me luck. Last time I saw Claire she was limping terribly, had only a few shots left in her pistol and only one ink ribbon to her name...