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Tycho / on Wed, Sep 19 2007 at 12:38 am

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In The Love Nest of Har’akki

The news that Mass Effect would feature an uncompromising, high-res simulation of alien lesbian sex was sweet, and hot, like spun sugar.  For Gabriel, at any rate.  Some of the community reaction is dedicated to demanding gay parity for the male persuasion of this sexual equation, lengthy treatises by oiled men who crave starborne sodomy.  The rest of the dialogue is just boring.  Boring, terrestrial, and (quite frankly) myopic.

Where are the bipedal crustaceans in this calculation?  The swirling, aroused gasses?  The lonely, sentient space station whose hermetic bulkheads hold secret clusters of erotic delights, provided your character has both the skills and equipment?  Carpe astrum, you Goddamned backwater clowns.  There must be an entire universe of thrilling, dangerous, sometimes razor sharp genitalia that slavers beyond the Horsehead Nebula.

You might have noticed that we’re advertising an Everquest game, an act that I’m aware places us in significant rhetorical peril.  If I had not found the game completely electrifying, I would have turned down the buy.  Of course, what I find electrifying has somewhat strange parameters.

I used to enjoy a deeply indie online CCG called Star Chamber, which was eventually purchased by an online CCG company called Worlds Apart (which did, among other things, the Lord of the Rings online CCG).  As does happen from time to time, World Apart was eventually purchased by Sony Online Entertainment, becoming SOE Denver.  Since then, they also delivered a Stargate CCG that we liked enough to advertise.

Legends of Norrath: Oathbound is a game within a game, similar to Final Fantasy’s Triple Triad, that you can play against other players directly in the client.  It’s tied into the loot systems for both EQ games, so that cards you get in packs are actually equipment and so forth - I find that interesting, but as a person with no investment in those systems it doesn’t motivate me.  What motivates me is a rock solid, deeply tactical card game, which Oathbound absolutely is.  It plays in a stand-alone client which you can download, and comes with a fairly elaborate tutorial that is worth playing all the way through.  I had no interest in it, I felt confident dismissing it out of hand, and it won me over.  You may find yourself similarly surprised.

I have a very high opinion of Eurogamer, but I don’t know how a person could possibly have reviewed Team Fortress 2 already.  We put time in both at work and at night, and I don’t feel like I’m any smarter about the sometimes extraordinary interplay between the game’s nine Goddamned classes, which mesh in real time to create some kind of shuddering Chaos Engine.  I have a lot of fun playing it, though the Medic brings me the most joy, so I’ve focused on it almost to the exclusion of all others.  A healing “gun” - like the repair module present in Tribes, almost a decade ago - is an immensely satisfying way to model that relationship.  Anytime your medical gun is attached to a player, your “Overcharge” ability is building up.  When unleashed, both you and your target become invulnerable to enemy attacks.  It’s an incredible siege breaking technique, and it’s earned simply by embodying the virtues of your class.  But where to use it, when to use it, I’m still learning this - and what’s more, other players are still learning that I can do it.  I always love the early period in these multiplayer offerings, before the hard limits are known, when players seem to be magicians and anything is possible.


(CW)TB out. 

  in triumph and iniquity

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