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Tycho / on Fri, Feb 13 2004 at 4:30 am

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Rubies:  Not Just For Slippers

You play a game like Champions of Norrath - any multiplayer roleplaying game, really - and pragmatism must sometimes trump fashion.  Of course, that rarely keeps your fancy elf friends from flipping you shit about it, as though their pretty circlets were somehow the emblem of masculinity.

Speaking of Champions, actually - it’s pretty good.  I’m fresh off Dark Alliance 2, and having played the entire second half of that game under the effects of the Haste spell the default movement speed here is like wading through hip-deep peanut butter.  It’s not as cool as it sounds, believe me, though I’m sure I’ll come to appreciate it once we have four players to keep track of.  I liked how Dark Alliance 2 did away with ammunition for ranged weapons and made party gold a shared commodity, but I like how Champions lets you have four simultaneous customizable characters and play online with full voice.  Snowblind clearly knows best how to coax their engine into producing marvels, and I’m looking forward to playing this one through - online, or off. 

Checking SCWatch a couple days ago, I noticed that Star Chamber was the runner-up for Strategy Game of the 2003 over at DIY Games, and it occurred to me that if a game were to beat Star Chamber it would have to be pretty God damned good.  I’d love to be able to tell you whether or not it was, but my Massive Assault experience thus far has been “sub-optimal.” 

I’m not in any position to even tell you if it’s a good game or not, I can’t tell you if the vaunted “Secret Allies” system really does constitute an original concept because I can’t make the game work.  I downloaded the demo, and playing through just three of the tutorial missions was enough to tell me that it was a game I needed to own.  No complaints graphically, a rarity for the genre.  It’s turn-based.  Turn-based and hex-based.  What else do I need to say, really. 

I mean, aside from the fact that the copy protection keeps the game from running on my system.  Determining that life was too short to waste on this kind of crap I proceeded to do it anyway, trawling forums and swearing creative new oaths.  Then, I went out to the living room and played Culdcept, R-Type Final, and Champions of Norrath on the PS2.  So if you want a review of me trying to play Massive Assault, I’m going to give it tens all the way across.  Every game I ended up playing was one anybody could be proud to own.

They were great, but you can’t play space shooters when you want turn-based strategy and expect to emerge from the experience satisfied.  Around midnight, I just tracked down a cracked version of the executable.  All that did was trade the initial problem for some kind of sound issue that hard locks the system, probably due to the illegitimate exe.  At this point I hardly care if in my desperation to use the product I purchased I turned to unauthorized code.  I would have preferred to talk today about how independent developers are breathing new life into genres the big industry players shy away from, but instead we have to talk about how even small publishers turn to software which locks legitimate users out of software they rightfully own.   

(CW)TB out.

i’m crazy for you
but not that crazy

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