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eBay Distractions

Lately, I've been playing Age of Conan, City of Heroes, and Sonic Rush Adventure.

Age of Conan

The leveling rate in this game is remarkably quick. Simply doing quests can get you a level in about an hour or two. By day 5 (a day after release-day) I had reached level 40, about half-way through the 80-level game.

Prerequisites met, I was now amongst the mammoth-riding pre-order populace. Only the Mammoth wasn't any faster than walking so we usually leave them securely in our pockets.

However, I found that I was hesitant to log back into the game since then. It's not that I'm sick of Age of Conan after a few days of release, it's just that I'm having a hard time enjoying myself with so much stress: The guild mates always want me to team up with them, PKs are harassing me, and my computer doesn't run Age of Conan very comfortably -- part of the reason why I'm hoping I can sell this laptop of mine is to make the leap to a PCIe system at last. In such a negative state, I begin to notice a game's flaws more.

One of the things that really puts the nose to the treadmill about Age of Conan is the way they're currently handling grouping. When you're soloing, you can kill mobs and perform quests freely, and this results in a great level of advancement. However, in a group, the experience points take a nosedive if you try to fight anything worthy of a group.

Take on a +5 mob, it'll nearly kill the whole group, and take 5 times longer to kill. Take on an equal level mob, it'll fall flat on its nose before 3 group members have taken a swipe at it, and give about 75% of the experience as the +5 mob. However, this method of defeating the even con mobs quickly in a group soon fizzles out due to the rapidly dwindling supply of living mobs. I suspect that Epic Mobs might be worth it if the group sticks to same-level mobs, but the player mentality is to go after higher level mobs for better experience, and that just doesn't seem to work due to the damage blunting of the scaling level system.

Consequently, this game sabotages itself: Players need to group in order for a MMORPG to be a MMORPG. Yet, this MMORPG is balanced to make grouping less lucrative or (at best) equal to soloing. Grouping is always an inconvenience, a hassle in coordinating with other people, and equal isn't good enough to overcome one's natural tendency to want to avoid inconveniences. Here's hoping Funcom gets around to fixing this sooner rather than later.

Another pet peeve of mine that this game walks all over is having to wait around for named mobs to spawn in order to complete quests. Listen, I'm playing the game, I'm ready to kill that mob now. I don't want to sit around for 10 minutes staring at the screen waiting for the game to let me play it. That's outdated bullshit, plain and simple. At least I have the reassurance of knowing that I don't have to care about this anymore by the time I hit level 80.

By Friday, I was weary enough of Age of Conan that I decided to stay out of it entirely. I took a break for the day by returning to that old flame of mine, City of Heroes.

City of Heroes: Issue 12

For me, the newly release major City of Heroes patch (Issue 12) is a non-Issue. I've not a level 50 Villain so I can't play the new Epic Villain Archetypes. I'm stuck playing my level 43 Mastermind because I want to get to level 50 so I can't play with the Powerset Proliferation. For the same reason, I can't participate in the Hollows makeover, new zone maps, or Midnight Squad missions. That pretty much leaves the new GUI interface that reveals the gory statistical details of each power as being the only Issue 12 feature I've reason to give a damn about.

Playing on the Freedom server ("Freedumb" to the locals) on Friday was a very frustrating endeavor. The groups I ended up in seemed to have no idea how to play or else were interested in exploiting me by bridging the levels their fledging new villains. I'm not sure where all the good groups were, but I spent hours tangling with stupidity that offered only slightly better experience than soloing. I think if I had $10 to spend, I'd use the new character slots to move my Mastermind over to Virtue, but unfortunately I don't have that kind of disposable scratch right now.

This desire to hit 50 as fast as possible, coupled with the stupidity of the players I encountered, unfortunately diminished the relaxing enjoyment I was getting out of playing a familiar game that did not tax my system overmuch. At least I made a level.

Respite was found, predictably, completely offline.

Sonic Rush Adventure

I'd probably not have tried out this game if my interest in the Sonic franchaise was not rekindled by my recent research. This is one of the few well-reviewed Sonic the Hedgehog games to come out lately, and I think it probably does the franchise more justice than mediocre Sonic Heroes and certainly moreso than the abysmal 3D remake of Sonic the Hedgehog did. Perhaps Sonic should stay in 2D, as that's where he's always done best.

Sonic Rush Adventure is actually a masterful collection of minigames. Sonic and friends find themselves on a chain of islands that can only be transversed by watercraft, which Tails quickly whips up through materials recovered. There's a game associated with each watercraft and then (when on an island) the game switches to the latest and greatest version of the traditional Sonic the Hedgehog 2D play.

Review? This aient no stinking review. Here, this video is a review.

It's not a bad little game, although I did find the sequences that involve racing Johnny on the jetski to get a Chaos Emerald can be a bit heavy-handed in difficulty. These sequences, much like the Sonic the Hedgehog 2d games in general, tie success heavily to one's ability to both memorize the map through trial and error and then have the reflexes to pull them off flawlessly. It can be a tad frustrating - at least the 2d sequences allow me to finish them with a subpar rank.

Sonic Rush Adventure was also my first encounter with the Blaze the Cat character. I have to say that this pyrokinetic feline is indeed a fun character to play as, in addition to possessing a bit of Sonic's trademark speed, she can jet through the air an impressive distance, which is a pretty interesting spin.

I'd probably not buy the game, but at least it's a worthy rental of my GameFly account. I'm crossing my fingers that when I return the game I'll be able to get my hands on a copy of The World Ends With You before August.


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