Rat Race

Happy Weekend TAY!

I hope everyone is set for a great weekend with lots to play. I certainly have some gaming time to catch up on myself.

I played almost nothing last week as I ended up reorganizing two rooms of my house. Last Tuesday my wife’s new home office furniture finally arrived. She ordered one of those desks that goes up and down so you can either sit or stand while working. Obviously being able to stand and move around is much healthier for you, so the adjustable height on the workspace is a key feature to your health if you find yourself chained to a desk for many hours a day.

We were surprised by the delivery date, even though we’d been making inquiries for weeks about when the furniture would be arriving. This meant we had to scramble last Monday to remove the old huge desk (in many, many pieces) and disconnect the miles of cables and devices interspersed through the room. The delivery and setup went well though and my wife is so happy with the new desk. She spent the next day’s shift standing the entire time.

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After that was done, I started on transforming one of the rooms in the basement into a second game room. This space previously held only the same bookcase seen here plus our treadmill and inversion table. The nice thing about this room is that the previous owners put laminate flooring in this small area, though I have no idea why this area has flooring while the rest of the basement has carpeting. This laminate floor is super slippery and I always drooled over it as it would be amazing to play Dance Central on.

So, we took our first ever purchased HDTV that was unused in my son’s room and put it on the bookcase. The old 32" Sharp LCD is only 720p/1080i but the input lag is fairly low. I then ran the old Xbox Spherex surround speaker system around the room and I’m always amazed how good that little speaker system sounds. I’m not overjoyed with the speaker positioning (and I’ll grab white wires when I find them or paint the black ones) but since we will be mostly playing Dance Central and Rock Band 3 in that room, the speaker setup works well enough. That room still just has builders primer on the walls, so we’ll eventually paint it, but I don’t mind the white so much. Being in the basement that room is pitch black with the lights off and the white helps illuminate the surroundings a little with just the light from the TV.

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That’s an old and very cheap black recliner (in the first pic of the basement) on sliding felt pads that you can quickly move out of the way to dance, but it is comfy enough and was rarely ever used in the room it previously inhabited. Add to the room an Xbox 360 (with Kinect), Wii, Atari 2600 (Gemini version), Colecovision, and PS2 (with EyeToy) and the room is ready to rock. The biggest bonus here is that my son often plays Minecraft on the 360 with his grandfather. This new setup now has the 360 we previously had in our family room and that now frees up the family room TV when Xander is playing with his grandpa.

The only actual game I played this week was Thursday night with my buddy on his Twitch channel. We bought Warhammer: End Times - Vermintide that came recommended by Rathorial and was on-sale on Steam.

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Having never played Left For Dead, or anything like it, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Vermintide is a 4 character co-op romp through, from what I gather, is a similar game to Left For Dead set in the Warhammer universe. And instead of the undead, you get to fight giant rats...big ass rats that use guns and swords and walk upright. (which somehow reminds me of one of the first dirty jokes I learned as a child).

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We played Vermintide with just the two of us and two AI-mates on Normal. After getting our asses handed to us 5 times on Normal, we dropped the game to Easy to get our bearings. Of course, we did better on Easy but not that much better. I think part of the problem is that the AI teammates are all sorts of dumb and this is problematic for a game that relies on a cohesive team. The next day, I popped back into the game by myself to take screenshots and didn’t realize that I started a public game and that other real people had joined. This was on Normal difficulty and it was SO much easier with three human players (and higher level players). So, maybe the next time my buddy and I play we’ll try to pick up some human teammates.

I like what I played though. I’m a sucker for first person melee, so for me, it is pretty hard to do anything wrong if your game is based on that. What I wasn’t prepared for was how good the game looks. These screenshots don’t really do it justice, but the game’s visuals are exceptionally well done. The performance is great too considering the visual quality and the great animation of the giant hordes of baddies that can be onscreen at once.

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Vermintide isn’t without issues (like the physics engine going berserk from time to time) but overall the experience is very impressive. I’m looking forward to getting back to it next week.

Hopefully this weekend will have me dancing in the new game room and getting back to The Witcher and Tron: Evolution. I still have a fair bit of work and reorganizing to do since the displacement of the exercise equipment from the new gaming area has me doing a shuffle in the basement, but it feels good to go through the rooms and clear stuff out.

So, what are you playing this weekend?