Tuesday, 6 August 2013

DIary of a Witcher : Part 2

Well as I suspected, Vensna only wanted me for my body! She was the hot waitress I was talking about in the last entry. At least I got to know her name before anything happened, I did have to get her drunk first though (what's new).

So anyway, I've realised this series of posts is going to be a bit spoilerific. But I'm okay with that, after all the game was released 6 years ago and frankly if you haven't played it before you're unlikely to now (but you should). Also, nobody is forcing you to read any of this, you could stop right now and click this link to be taken to happy place. Assuming you've not done that you've only got yourself to blame if this ruins anything for you!

So anyway, I've completed the Prologue and Chapter 1 of the game now, I'm not sure how many hours that is, but it feels like a lot. That's not to say much has happened, this game is quite the slow burner. I've had encounters with more Barghests and Drowners than I could care to remember and I've slaughtered my fair share of Ghouls too.

I met a Dwarf outside of Vizima who I think was a blacksmith, I had a chat with him and I was in stitches as he was swearing like a trooper! There was another Dwarf called Zoltan who taught me how to play a game of dice that's based on Poker. You can play several people in the game and it's a quick way to make money. The trouble is, whether you actually make money or not is all down to the luck of the dice. Sadly I haven't had much luck and I've lost far more money than I've made so far... damn gambling!

I also met a guy called Odo (not the one from Star Trek), a rich gentleman who partakes in the game of poker dice. He seemed a nice guy until I discovered he had killed his brother for his money, hence why he is so rich. Before I found that out though I had another interesting experience in the game, that of alcohol. He got me drunk! It's actually quite funny, you get double vision and struggle to walk straight. You can sleep it off easily enough and I'm not sure it has any benefit other than being a bit of fun.

Abigail doesn't look like a Witch
I had my first big decision to make too, there's a Witch called Abigail (she's also hot), and you have to decide if she was responsible for the beast that has been plaguing the village. The villagers have got their pitchforks out and are ready to burn her at the steak, they have lots of tales about her wicked deeds. The problem is there's a lot of evidence that supports her innocence too and if you talk to her there are two sides to the stories. Essentially it's left for you to make up your mind who you believe.

So, having had sex with her (well it would be rude not to) I went out to face the villagers and pass judgement. I decided she was innocent and that although she is a Witch, she was not doing evil. This lead to a fight with half the village and I ended up having to kill numerous people.

Did I let her manipulate me to save her life? Possibly, maybe I'll find out as the game progresses. But regardless of her good looks and charm I think I made the right choice.

Having completed the first Chapter I'm starting to see some of the issues with the game. The first is the amount of backtracking, it's seemingly endless. Every character you speak to seems to want you to walk to the opposite side of the area to fetch something or kill something. When you've done that you walk all the way back to collect your reward or information. This generally leads you to having to walk back to the other side of the map to get to your next objective. This process goes on and on and on. It's a bit repetitive, but I've managed to stick with it so far and the story is starting to draw me in to the point where I want to see where it is heading. So even though I despair at constantly trekking backwards and forwards, I'm having to go with it.

I'm also having trouble with some of the missions, the map marker isn't always very accurate. So while it will point an arrow in the direction you need to go, often you will follow it to a dead-end. Some places are only accessible from one direction and the tracking doesn't account for that! Also, when you reach your destination the person you need to see isn't always there. The NPCs have a fair amount of freedom in the game, but will be in certain locations at certain times. If you don't arrive at the right time you can get totally lost as to where you have to go. It's okay if you're meeting a character you've seen before as you can usually find them. But when it's someone new it's tough! I spent ages trying to find a merchant selling a certain herb who was never where the map said he should be. Turns out he was only about 15ft away but I was a long time figuring that out.

My Eyefinity setup is also giving me a few small problems, the game wasn't really designed with such a resolution in mind. So although the cut scenes play out, I'm missing a huge amount of the action, the way they've fudged it is to zoom in on the original view, so I'm only getting a tiny part of the vertical picture. In general gameplay it's fine, although the menu stuff is stuck to the far edges of the monitors which leads to a lot of mouse movement. I can live with these issues though, none of them are ruining the game. You can see it in the screenshot below:

Click to enlarge, OSD stuff is at the extreme edges :-(
In the Witcher 2 they fixed this and put all the On Screen Display stuff in the middle monitor, but there's no option to do that here.

I feel I've been quite negative in this post, and I don't mean to be. I'm really enjoying it, but not everything is perfect. None of these problems have caused me to give up yet, and normally I give up on things fairly quickly so it's definitely doing something right.

I've made it into Vizima now so that's a whole new area for me to explore, that's if I ever escape from this dungeon I've been put in....

EDIT: Just had a though, is it a coincidence that the three characters I've had sex with in the game so far (Triss, Vensna & Abigail) have all been redheads? Hmm, I do have a thing for redheads...

Friday, 2 August 2013

Diary of a Witcher : Part 1

During the Steam summer sale, I purchased a copy of "The Witcher 2". I started playing it in Eyefinity on my PC but the frame rate was a bit poor and it really needs a gfx card upgrade to run sensibly. If I was on just one monitor I've no doubt my 7870 would laugh in the face of it, but a resolution of 5,760x1200 is just too much.

I want to hold off on upgrading until the new range of cards is released later in the year. As I've never played the original game I figured I'd play that first while I wait.

It runs on my three screens really well, although there is a bug which means the cut scenes only work if you turn the lighting down to basic. This isn't a disaster as it all still looks lovely. Being an older game I can get good frame rates too so everything is nice and smooth.

The hot waitress
You play the game as Geralt, a Witcher. I'm still not 100% clear on what a Witcher is, though it seems to be something to do with slaying monsters. So far I've only played a couple of hours into the story, I've defended against a castle siege though the Salamandra (the bad guys) managed to escape with some mutagens. I've saved the life of Triss Merigold by creating a magic potion and then I slept with her. The next day we all split up to try and track down the Salamandra, I headed South and seem to be in a village called Vizima.

I visited an Inn and got chatting to one of the waitresses, she seemed hot. The next thing I know, she's outside being hassled by some bandits, so I killed them and walked her home. She told me to meet her in a barn the next night with some wine. That's as far as I've got up to now, I'm guessing if I do as she asks then I'll be getting lucky again! I'll let you know how that pans out next time.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Tex Murphy: Under A Killing Moon

Before I got my new shiny triple screen setup which you can read about over in this post: Triple monitors, calibration & Eyefinity. I decided to do some old school gaming. I'd recently learnt thanks to Niaz (@gospvg on Twitter) that a new Tex Murphy game was coming out. This had me tremendously excited as I had fond memories of the series.

I still had the games on the numerous CDs they came on, but as they were designed for a time before Windows these games ran in MS-DOS. This meant it wouldn’t be a trivial matter to get them running on modern PCs. Fortunately while searching the web for a method to do just that, I stumbled across the GOG website at http://www.gog.com. This made it possible to purchase the games at a very cheap price ($9.99) download them and run them in Windows! I decided for the stress free life and to get playing the games sooner rather than spend my weekend trouble shooting, I'd just pay up.

I'm glad I did, the whole process was very simple and I'm sure I'll be using GOG.com again in the future!

Once back in the game, the memories came flooding back, it was very nostalgic! The one thing that struck me more than anything else though, were the clunky controls. This was a first person point & click adventure game. But, this was in the day before "mouse-look" had been discovered. So instead of moving with the traditional WSAD keys, you moved with the mouse. Looking up and down was done with keys! It was most bizarre and I never truly got used to that. I was able to get by, but I'd be lying if I said it didn't hamper me somewhat.

The graphics engine was very dated too, but really after the first few minutes I wasn't bothered by that. The story line was interesting enough to keep me playing to the end, even in the tricky "stealth" section towards the end which was made far worse by the control scheme.

I played the game over a weekend, the voice acting is dodgy in places, but overall the writing is excellent and the video sections are both funny and move the story along nicely.

If you have missed out on this series of games I suggest you give them a shot. Just be patient with the controls and allow yourself to get to the bottom of the mystery. I'll be attempting the follow up "Tex Murphy: The Pandora Directive" and the sequel to that "Tex Murphy: Overseer" soon before the new game comes out later this year. Hopefully they will have fixed the controls in the new game!