I’m sure it is a reflection on my personality and its numerous disorders, but I have had more fun in the past couple of days by running around Azeroth picking flowers than I did trying to level my Warrior Priest in Warhammer Online (named Didymus incidentally, replete with white whiskers and an eye patch. It was such a lovely concept to me, I had the RP all worked out, but it just wasn’t to be). Azeroth is revitalised and rejuvenated, populations are again soaring, bands of adventurers heading into the depths of the deepest dungeons once more in order to earn as many Old World achievements as possible before the Lich King arrives and demands a damned good six of the best, stiff upper lip, “No, sir, please sir, I’m sorry!”, wooshing of the cane, large school exercise book down your underpants in order to cushion the blow. Isn’t it? Wasn’t it? Marvellous.

I’ve gone back to one of my numerous level seventy characters, it is no minor coincidence that I picked the one with epic flying mount, and have decided to investigate the revamped world of the war and of the craft. The war is the standard Blizzard fare, with large events occurring around the world to mark the next incoming raid boss of doom! You’ll never defeat this one! Until we nerf them all to buggery-and-back when the next expansion arrives. Poor old Illidan Stormrage, forever bragging at the release of the Burning Crusade that we “are not prepared”, to which the players simply responded “That may be so, but if it’s alright with you we’ll just wait out here until they nerf you. Shouldn’t be too long, and what are you going to do in the meantime? You can’t leave your bastion, and your minions seem to be making surprisingly little impact on the Outlands. It’s almost as if they’re pinned to the areas where they stand, and can’t advance at all”. So apart from avoiding being transformed into a zombie at every turn – guy can’t even go to the toilet without a zombie popping out of the cistern and getting all plague carrier on your arse. Not a pleasant experience, I can tell you – most people are just generally running around like loons and revelling in the new achievements, which you can get for just about everything. There’s definitely one for being molested in the bottom by a zombie popping out of the toilet. Couple all of this with the Halloween event that is currently under way, and WoW is right now the dictionary definition of magic and mayhem.

Always two there are: the war and the craft. I’ve decided to pick the new Inscription trade skill on my character, he’d never really got into a crafting profession and so I thought it would be good to try out this neat profession which, seeing as I decided to level-up the complimentary herbalism skill rather than spending the equivalent to the national debt of the United States buying herbs on the auction house, has the nice bonus of requiring me to run around low level areas again; by combining this herb gathering activity with trying to unlock all the exploration achievements that I missed whilst levelling the character originally, I have hit that sweet spot, that MMO erogenous zone, which pleasures both the explorer and the achiever in me; by which I mean the part of me that is an explorer and a achiever, I don’t literally have an explorer and an achiever ‘in me’. I’m not that sort of person. Well ok, maybe I am, but not in this instance.

The other bonus to all of this is the complete lack of pressure, it’s that easy going feeling that you have when you set yourself a goal and are not instead trying to satisfy the inhuman intent of some designer’s sadistic skinner box fetish. It means I can hop into the game for twenty minutes and actually accomplish something tangible and meaningful to me because I, and I alone, set the goal.

It hasn’t all been ‘work work work’ as the orc peons would say, I’ve also tried my hand at a few other games. Dead Space was high on my list of games that will potentially make my underpants expand, so I grabbed that one to play over the weekend. Alas, on the PC version at least, it gives me chronic motion sickness. The camera is hideous, and for a game that is about survival horror – where scripted events and sounds are designed to make you look all around you to find out if that multi-jawed, slathering alien really is breathing on the hairs on the back of your neck – I find it boggling that they would make the camera so bloody restrictive. I can’t believe it was intentionally to help with the atmosphere, and I know the third person perspective camera can be done in a way so as not to cause this because I played all the way through Resident Evil 4 (at least twice) without it ever triggering my motion sickness. Most frustrating! Perhaps it works better on the consoles, but I also found the movement of the character to be really awkward as well, so in the end I had to give up on the game, which is a real shame because the small amount of the game that I managed to play seemed really quite excellent. It appeared to be an intriguing cross between System Shock and Resident Evil, and I would have liked to have played further, but one finds it ever so tricky to play any game with a keyboard full of vomit.

In other gaming news: I’ve been playing World of Goo, a game which thankfully does not induce vomit, unless it is possible to vomit with joy and wonder, in which case I imagine I’m due a veritable deluge of diced-carrot-fortified avgolemono. I’m only part of the way through chapter two at the moment, so hopefully once I’ve experienced the game a little more I’ll be able to write a reviewlet. I’m also hearing many good things about Fable 2, to the point that I’m seriously considering investing in an Xbox 360; then again I’d also like to play Little Big Planet when it is eventually released, but that would involve the purchase of a Playstation 3, and I’m not sure I can justify the purchase of both consoles on the basis of wanting to play a game on each. Decisions decisions.

In the meantime I’ve ordered Left 4 Dead via Steam, there’s Farcry 2 which m’colleague has been tweeting good things about so far, and GTA IV has its PC release sometime in the near future. If it isn’t out already, to be quite honest I’m having trouble keeping track of the myriad packages of gaming joy that are available at the moment. I think there’s at least one plastic-instrument band-a-like game coming out soon too, Guitar Hero World Tour maybe? Such that, once again, I shall unleash my fearsome rhythm skills on an unsuspecting world. My playing style has been compared to a drunk octopus and a spider on amphetamines trying to make love on the frets of the guitar. I think it’s an insult, although one can never be sure.

All things considered, it’s almost enough to make one chunder from the overwhelming choice. I think I’d better go and have a lie down with a bucket. In a non-matrimonial sense, for all you bucket fetishists out there.

Posted by Melmoth at 8:14 am