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The Agony and Ecstasy of Chivalry: Medieval Warfare

Chivalry

The only advice I was given before playing Chivalry: Medieval Warfare was, “Don’t use horizontal swings.” Wise words, but I’ll get to that in a moment.

My first match had me playing the role of the Vanguard, the long-hilted weapons specialist: spears, halbierds…you get the picture. I joined the match at the top of a grassy knoll, my comrades in arms sprinting down the hill, weapons raised, snarling their battle cries. I lowered my spear and chased after them to meet the enemy at the riverbed. Arrows whizzed past me as I ducked and dodged, gradually getting a closer view of the mayhem below me.

I spotted my target–a lightly armored (and armed) Man-at-Arms, who had just finished off my teammate–a plate armored knight–in the riverbed. I closed in, hefted my spear, and as I jabbed….was instantly decapitated by a stray flail from behind.

Shocked at the speed of my defeat, I consulted the scoreboard. How could I have missed seeing the second enemy? To my dismay, my executioner was actually a fellow teammate, who had caught my neck, instead of his foe’s, midway through a horizontal swing.

While friendly fire and team kills are common in many competitive multiplayer games, nowhere is it more prevalent than in Chivalry. It’s a common sight to see players dealing 20-50% of their damage to their own teammates. When you’re swinging heavy weapons in a confined space where one hit often spells death, precision just doesn’t factor into the strategy.

It makes the game  frustrating, but it also has a lot to do with what makes it so addictive. You start to celebrate when you manage to dispatch an enemy without gutting a teammate in the process. You get better and more precise over time, but the risk is always there, and that’s the best and most unique thing Chivalry has going for it.

The game looks and often plays a bit like a half life mod. The modes are pretty straightforward, the equipment progression system pretty uninspired, and the visuals pretty has-been. But these shortcomings hardly matter, because it’s way too much fun to swing a broadsword around.

The game’s on sale right now, so go check it out.

An Update from Jeff

Wow, it has been quite awhile since our last post! All our contributors have been quite busy over the past few months, and unfortunately writing for pleasure has taken a bit of a backseat for all. I’m sure the others are with me in saying that we love to write about games, but we also want time to play games, a battle which the latter has been winning over the past year. That said, I’ve always wanted this site to serve as an outlet for us to write- whether its a review, an op-ed, or a rambling. A few folks have been asking me recently when we will begin contributing regularly to the site again. While I can’t speak for the other guys, I’ve been wanting to start writing again, if only on occasion. So in the spirit of beginning anew, here is a quick recap on what I’ve been up to recently in my gaming endeavors. Continue reading

Minecraft Impressions: Keepin’ it Simple

Part of the reason why Minecraft has drawn so much acclaim is the addictive simplicity of it all. The game’s concept of risk and reward is so unassumingly basic. Without shelter, you will die. But without venturing forth, expending some risk in exploration and expansion, the player can take no forward step in colonizing the land or building their empire.

To some creation (classic) mode will be the big draw. In it, entire teams of players are creating large scale, complex projects. In the same mode, another play style has evolved on the other end of the spectrum, focused not on creation, but on destruction. While wearing the engineering hat from time to time can be enjoyable, It was the main Survival Mode (Alpha, as its currently referred to), that hooked me in to Minecraft. Construction of enormous structures and tunnel networks is certainly a part of this experience, but when the player must balance their creations with resource management and survival, well, that’s when things get interesting. Your first full day and night spent in Minecraft will teach you this balancing act very quickly. As soon as the sun begins to set, you had better have your shelter built if you hope to survive the night- whether it be a simple hole in the ground, a free standing cabin, or a Helm’s Deep. Similarly, as you begin to tunnel underground in search of better, and rarer resources, so grows the risk of zombie infested caverns, lava flows, and underground flooding. Each day, though, you grow to become a more capable adversary against the abominations of the night, and your colony continues to grow in size and scope.

Its an addictive yet simple formula. The whole experience though is made strange by the game’s spartan visuals and gameplay mechanics. These will improve, surely, but one cannot deny that even in this early version,  Minecraft is already an utterly engrossing experience. Check it out.

PAX Prime 2010 – The Welcome Home Edition

PAX Prime 2010 WsctcAnother year, another Penny Arcade Expo passed. The panels are over and the exhibitors are packed and gone, but the excitement and energy that is PAX are tough to fully process right away. Still lining Seattle’s famous pike street are PAX banners, featuring various statements of nerd humor, such as “why your IT guy is out sick”. But one banner in particular caught my eye, containing a message that why the 72-odd hours of PAX make up the absolute highlight of many gamers’ year (including mine).  “Welcome Home”.

In last year’s PAX, I was fleeting familiar with the sense of community one finds at such an event, but it wasn’t until this year’s convention that I was hit in the face with this fact. As I’ve noted previously, much of my time last year was occupied pursuing swag and spending hours in line for a few minutes playtime of the latest titles. While I certainly spent my fair share of time in the expo hall this year, my experience with PAX 2010 was profoundly different than the last, and one of ultimately more enjoyment. Continue reading

Pre-PAX Thoughts

Less than 17 days until the largest event in the world for gamers begins– right in my backyard. I’ve always felt very fortunate to have such an important event in the gaming community so close to home. When it comes to big events, Seattle feels a little cut off at times, so its events like PAX that make living in the Pacific Northwest just a little more worthwhile.

Seattle Convention Center PAXGiven its occurrence on such a pivotal weekend, Labor Day, last year was the first time I was able to attend PAX. I had an absolute blast, but I still felt like I missed quite a bit of what the convention had to ffer.  For one, I spent most of my time on the exhibition show floor. When I was younger, I used to dream of going to E3 (back when it was closed to the public), so the exhibit hall of PAX was my small way of making up for all those times I missed E3. While I got to play plenty of great upcoming games, I regret not branching out more – the panels, meetups, etc.

This year, I hope to fully make up for last year’s shortcomings . PAX isn’t just about exhibiting the latest and greatest games, its about gathering with 60,000 other gamers, playing a game or two, and making a few friends along the way.

Review: Splinter Cell Conviction

splinter cell conviction

I remember my first look at Splinter Cell: Conviction came in an issue of EGM, full of concept art of a Sam Fisher given a “rugged”, some might say “homeless” new look. The game featured gameplay elements to allow the player to hide in plain sight, using crowds and the environment to slow and escape from enemies. It was a radical change from the past five games, all of which focused on stealth gameplay and an arsenal of gadgets. While these changes might’ve upset some, Splinter Cell Conviction, unlike its precessors, was shaping up to be a game I was legitimately psyched about.

Continue reading

Sackboy’s New Abilities Revealed in LBP 2 Adventure Trailer

I’m probably the biggest LittleBigPlanet fan as you are likely to meet. While never willing to devote the time into level creation myself, I simply cannot get enough of the content-creation community that is LittleBigPlanet. The sequel appears to be providing full backwards compatibility, which is really the only way for the developer to avoid fragmenting the community between the two titles. There was plenty to complain about with the platforming aspects of LittleBigPlanet, but as the trailer above suggests, many of those problems are being addressed in the sequel. Direct control, a much needed grappling hook, and several others should help the game become a more proficient platformer, while helping it evolve into other genres as well. For me anyway, LittleBigPlanet 2 is shaping up to be one of the strongest-looking releases this fall.

Fable 3 to lack Kinect support at launch

No kinect support for fable 3 at lanch

Today on the Engadget show, Peter Molyneux himself broke the news that Fable 3 will not include Kinect support on its October 26th launch date, but patched in later instead. It seems rather silly for such a major title in Microsoft’s fall lineup, from one of the most passionate supporters of Kinect, to lack out of the box support.  Microsoft certainly isn’t alone in disappointments though.  A few months back, Media Molecule confirmed what sounds like half baked Playstation Move support with LittleBigPlanet 2. Being a bit skeptical over the long term success of motion control in the first place, I can’t say I am all that upset by this news.  Yet when the success of a new hardware launch in the market is so heavily dependent on the software available for it, I wonder how Microsoft or Sony expect consumers to justify the steep entry fee with the current launch titles announced.

I’d love to get a perspective from someone who is excited about Kinect/Move and their respective launch titles. Leave a comment!

Northwest Gamer’s Fresh Coat of Paint

Our long overdue redesign is finally here! Its our hope that our new design is easier on the eyes, and simpler to navigate. The redesign isn’t completely done, and even the average user will notice several obvious issues. These will all be worked out in time, so bear with us! That aside, some of my favorite new features include:

  • A featured post slideshow element, which allows us to highlight articles…if we ever actually get around to posting them!
  • A randomized, rotating banner image. Suggestions for additional characters are always welcome!
  • A new comment system powered by Disqus.
  • An updated, hierarchically organized navigation (though it still needs work)

Feel free to explore the new site, and leave any comments or suggestions here, or shoot us a tweet!

Red Dead Redemption Review: I Reckon Its Okay

Red Dead RedemptionGrand Theft Auto and I have a love-hate relationship. For nearly every one of their games, I can point out genre-defining features, and still find others that are nearly game breaking. Red Dead Redemption, while not bearing the GTA badge, is still so similar in formula to a Grand Theft Auto game that I’ll treat it as such in this review.  I’ll break my review down by the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of RDR–I know I know, couldn’t help myself. But lets be honest– this is probably the most apt situation to use such an expression, so let’s get started! Continue reading