Turkey Sandwiches Are Coming!
Happy Weekend TAY!
And a happy long-turkey-crazed-shopping weekend to my neighbours to the south. We here in Canada have culturally appropriated your sales weekend, even though we have no holiday to pin it on. I’m actually going to try to avoid going anywhere this weekend. I’ve done most of my shopping for sales online and I’ve likely spent more than I should have. I did pop into Best Buy late on Friday to pick up some cheap movies and a third PS4 controller that was on sale, but that was only because I was in the area. The amount of TVs going out the door at Best Buy was CRAZY, I imagine there will be lots of happy folks this weekend.
We bought an Asus ROG Strix (yes, that apparently is a name) gaming laptop to replace the nightmare that was our Alienware laptop (which we thankfully ended up being able to return).
I also bought Kingdoms of Amalur, Watch_Dogs, Far Cry Primal, Ori and the Blind Forest, and The Evil Within on Steam. On Origin I bought Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst and Unravel. Finally on the Nintendo eShop I bought Super Mario Galaxy 2 and Fast Racing NEO. What games did you buy on sale? Let everyone know where and what to look for. I’ve only dabbled with Fast Racing NEO, but it hits that WipEout/F-Zero vibe very well.
I had houseguests last weekend and my beautiful wife’s birthday was on Tuesday, so I didn’t have a chance to game much last week. Plus, we have new rat babies that we adopted on Monday for my son, so things have been a little abnormal around here. The girls took to litter training after only three days, so things are going extremely well so far.
What was played last week was The Witcher 2: Assassins Of Kings. In my haste to get started, I failed to investigate the different difficulties which resulted in a bit of lost time.
As many who read these weekend posts already know, I like my games to be punishing; like ball-gag and gimp suit rough. I have limits though, and permadeath is usually a deal breaker for me. (unless in a roguelike setting)
After the training at the opening of The Witcher 2, I was allowed to manually select my difficulty setting with the toughest being “Insane”. Sounded good to me. Little did I know that on this difficulty level, death is a permanent affair.
After about an hour to an hour and a half, when I finally died for the first time (being incinerated by a dragon), I found out about the permadeath situation. Unfortunately, when you select the difficulty in-game, it doesn’t inform you about the permanence of death. Even on the main menu, when you look at the difficulty selection, it isn’t abundantly clear this is a permadeath run. I wish the devs had been a little more clear about Geralt having only one life in that mode.
I realize this “Insane” mode was added later to The Witcher 2 and it is likely that people playing at the time would have been more aware of this hardcore mode. However, games can spend a long time on the market and for new players, like me, it would have been nice to maybe throw in a pop-up to let me know there would be no access to the saves when selecting “Insane”.
What made the whole thing even more confusing was that I was able to manually save and there was an auto-save present while playing. It was only on death that I discovered that these save files were not accessible, even though it shows you each save file. To add insult to injury, these save files are stamped with the difficulty selection and cannot be accessed even when you restart at a lower difficulty.
Once I restarted and selected the “Dark” difficulty (hardest, non-permadeath difficulty level), I was able to rapidly replay up to the point of my death and continue on with my enjoyment of the game.
I’m happy to see the strong writing and voice acting of the first game make a return. I’m barely into Chapter 1 and I’m already enthralled with the story.
The game still looks great visually, though the Enhanced Edition is only four years old. I think the biggest disappointment so far is the combat. I appreciate the move from the clickity-click combat of the first game to a more robust brawling engine. However, it pales in comparison to something like Arkham Asylum that precedes The Witcher 2 by a couple of years. The Witcher is obviously a work in progress in terms of combat and it doesn’t sound like it was perfected even in the latest incarnation of the series. The combat is certainly serviceable and fun enough to occupy me through this amazing world.
I’m looking forward to getting back to The Witcher 2 this weekend while I avoid the crush of people out shopping. Have a wonderful time with your family this holiday if that’s what you are doing, but if not, what are you playing this weekend?
[Edit: The Weekend’s “Starboy” dropped on ProStudioMasters while I was writing this. More pop/R&B music for my weekend. Check out this cool first person video. *NSFW or the squeamish*]