Long time, no see…Witchers and Religions

Hey guys!

I know it has been a while since my last post, but I promise I haven’t forgotten you all! I’ve been really busy with RL stuff as well as completely absorbed in a few games that I have been playing. I will try to return to a more regular level of posting but in the run up to August the RL stuff is going to consume more and more of my time so I can’t promise anything.

So you may be wondering what games have stolen me away from blogging for all this time. Even if you aren’t, I’m going to tell you anyway… I finally managed to get my hands on The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, albeit for the Xbox 360 as I still do not have my own pc to play on. This game blew me away with amazement, it has everything it should have and more.

The story is compelling and filled with decisions which lead to one of several outcomes, each with their own end scenes which lead to a dramatic cliff hanger. Very rarely is control taken from the player when it comes to decision-making. Though you are following the story of a set character, Geralt, he is yours to mould as you see fit. He can either be a murdering jackass with no scruples, a troubled soul with a chivalrous heart, or something in between. His disposition has no effect on the game as in titles like Mass Effect, only his actions decide the outcome. Obviously if you are playing as a murdering jackass, you would kill people rather than be merciful, which affects the game, but you get my point I’m sure.

The animation in the game is pretty good, people move pretty much as they should and monsters feel like monsters. The combat in the game is fairly basic with two weapon types and three moves, but it works well. You can dodge and block to negate damage, and you have a fast and a powerful attack that you can use on different types of enemy or use them together to create special combo attacks. The basic level of combat really did not bother me, as I have said before, combat is a tool to further tell the story of the game. I don’t play an RPG for the challenge, if I want that I will play an RTS.

The voice acting was also quite impressive, as it was in the first game. The speech felt natural, the voices suited the characters pretty well, though some of the dwarves were a little over the top I felt. The lip synching was reasonable as well, keeping me immersed rather than getting frustrated.

All in all this was a great game which made up for my awful experience with Dragon’s Dogma. It’s a shame that my list of good RPG’s to play has run dry though since I enjoy them the most. Perhaps I shall replay Geralt again and try to uncover as many endings as I can.

The second game I have been playing a lot is the expansion for Civilization V, Gods and Kings. Like many people I was disappointed with Civ V on release, having bought it on day one and finding that there were no religions or offline multiplayer functions and they had changed the way culture worked. I had other problems with the game too, the main one being the uselessness of the city states. With the arrival of Gods and Kings a lot of my issues were resolved, and as such Civ V has actually become enjoyable, much to the delight of my girlfriend who really wanted something for us to play together.  The offline multiplayer had been fixed in a patch previous to the expansion’s release, so if you have been stuck with your head in the sand, you can now LAN and hot seat, so get on that!

The new expansion at a basic level has made Civ V into a prettier and more streamlined Civ IV, putting religion back into the game as well as adding spies and new rulers. At a mechanical level though, the religions and spies are totally different to what we saw in Civ IV. In the past you would research a technology which would unlock a religion for the first to discover it, giving you no legitimate bonuses aside from more culture and cultural buildings, as well as enabling a more advanced player to sweep up several religions and become a cultural superpower. It works out differently in Gods and Kings. This time you have “Faith” which you earn as you would culture, through buildings or leader bonuses or even social policies. At a certain amount of points (which varies depending on your game speed and who has acquired one before you) you can create a “Pantheon” which allows you to pick a bonus from a list which will eventually become the core of your religion. At a later point when you have enough faith you can found a religion. You can use preset icons of real world faiths but you can name your faith what ever you like if you would rather not be Christian, Taoist etc. You can then pick two more bonuses for your civilization, allowing you to adapt a religion to your style of gameplay. Are you going for a cultural victory? Get culture bonuses. A domination victory? Happiness and offense/defense bonuses are key for you. It really adds another level to the gameplay and I think it works pretty well. Finally you can enhance your religion with a great prophet, which gives you one final bonus. This may sound like a way to power through the game, but the faith required for each step increases dramatically, spacing out your bonus acquisition. I’ve found that by the Medieval – Renaissance era I have founded my religion and enhanced it.

There have also been some AI upgrades, making it smarter and thus more challenging and more responsive to your own strategies. The early modern era has been expanded, as has naval combat, for which you can now gain Great Admirals to aid your sea warfare and some melee naval units to complement your traditional ranged sea warfare. Three new scenarios have also been added centred around the Fall of Rome, the Renaissance and the Victorian period if that is your kind of thing. If you like achievements, you will also be happy to know that Civ V: Gods and Kings adds another 52 to steam, so get busy!

Additionally, nine new leaders have been introduced to the game:

Well that’s all from me folks, hopefully you are all getting your gaming hats on in the run up to summer vacations and the like.

Until next time!




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