Wednesday, October 31, 2012

First Impressions: Sleeping Dogs and Baldur's Gate

Welcome to this Wednesday's Hunting Game(s) post! I'm going to create banners for my weeklies soon so I can stop including them in the title (which I'm trying to do now...), so look forward to that!

Obviously I still have power and wasn't swept to Oz by Sandy, so that's a plus. And that means I get to right my double feature of first impressions!

First: Sleeping Dogs! I had wanted to pick this game up at release but chose to save my money. Fortunately, had a sale and I had credit (due to buying XCOM from them), meaning I got Sleeping Dogs for $5.00 (I think. If not, it was close!).

I honestly expected it to be a Grand Theft Auto knockoff set in Hong Kong. While I got the setting correct, I was otherwise wrong. This IS a free roam game, but it is set up much differently than GTA. First, I've been playing for a couple of hours and have YET to see/use a gun. Instead, the fights I'm being thrown into are Batman: Arkham Asylum style fights where I have one attack button, one block/counter button, and a ton of enemies that glow when they're about to attack.

Seeing as how I loved combat in Batman, I'm loving it here. It helps that the fighting feels more fluid than any combat I've ever seen, moving seamlessly from a roundhouse kick to catching the attacker behind me's foot and dropping him to the ground, hard. It's not particularly difficult, but it is enjoyable. And, so far, I've met three kinds of enemies - basic thugs, brawlers that can't have their attacks interrupted, and grapplers whom you want to avoid... well, grappling.

Grappling is a key element in the fighting, as it allows you to get through blocking opponents and use the environment against them (my favorite so far has been throwing people into phone booths and then kicking them in the chest, hard.

Combat looks and feels awesome.
There are weapons here and there, but your character is more lethal without them, at least in the beginning.

The story is decent -- under cover cop having to balance personal issues while gaining the trust of the gangs and remaining on the good side of the police. This is visually represented by two experience bars, one for the triads and one for the police -- the more missions/actions you take that reflect each side nets you experience for one or the other (and sometimes both). This isn't a good OR evil setup, you can level both at the same time -- triad exp allows you to unlock more combat effectiveness, while the police exp gives you extra tools/abilities for the job.

That's just a quick rundown, because there is more I could talk about. Maybe I'll do a full review once I complete the game. For now, know that I'm really enjoying the game, even the driving aspects (which I normally hate). I'm really looking forward to see what else can come from these developers.

Pros: story, driving, combat, city feels alive, collectibles, mission variety, movement fluidity
Cons: I've got nothing at the moment...

I've also finally started Baldur's Gate. I'm using the Trilogy mod, which combines both the games and expansions as a seamless game (all done in BG2's interface). It is awesome, but I do have a warning for new players -- DON'T use a mega-mod/mod-pack! I used BiG World, which made the setup easier, but it also installed a ton of things that I just don't know about and it's hard to tell what's been included. I ran into an issue where a high level encounter was added in the middle of an important town, preventing me from accessing the area that I should have been able to use from the get go.

That being said, I'm really enjoying the game. I love the D&D aspects and I think the difficulty is just about right (I'm playing it on Core and it's hard. I MIGHT drop the difficulty down in the future, but for now it works). Anyone who's started a D&D character at level 1 knows it's difficult, more so when there isn't a DM (Dungeon Master) to spoon feed you the first few levels.

I made my main a Beserker (fighter specialization), and I'm really wishing I went mage. You find plently of NPCs to join your group throughout the game, but so far I have found any good-aligned or decent mages (that fit with the story -- currently I'm using a mage from a mod, and she's pretty terrible). My next character will definitely be an evil sorcerer.

The Sword Coast
I'll do a full review once I finish the game (the first time), AND I'll do an updated guide to modding it appropriately -- after this, I better damn well be an expert.

Alright, that's all for now. Just some first impressions as I promised, and both good so far. I also picked up Pokemon Black 2, but I don't intend to play it much until this weekend.

Friday's post will be featured around the big news we got yesterday in regards to Disney buying LucasArts (you know, in case you didn't hear). I'm going to do a write up on the Star Wars story/stories  I'd like to see make it into the next trilogy (looks like Monday's post was just in time).

See you then!

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