Archive for September, 2013

So, whilst pretty much everyone else in GAME was queuing up to get Grand Theft Auto V, I had a copy of ArmA III Deluxe Edition in my hand. It’s not that I didn’t want to get GTA V… I think tech wise it seems like a fantastic game, although from what I’ve heard about the characters and world you live in, I feel there could be a few things that put me off. Anyway – it’s £44.99 in GAME on the 360 and I can’t be bothered to bargain hunt, so I’m going to leave it a bit. If a PC version ever does surface, might go for that instead. I don’t really game on my console much at the moment.

Funny thing was – I already owned ArmA III. I was given an Alpha Key ages ago for coverage purposes and it’s been updating to the latest version as time has passed, so it’s full review code now. I don’t really have much history with the ArmA series in general. Even professionally, I think ArmA II was released before my time (or it was early days and so passed me by), and I never played them in my own time. I’ve reviewed the past two Operation Flashpoint games that Codemasters have put out, but we all know they don’t really count, given the direction Codies took that franchise. Still, I’d always been interested in the idea of ArmA, of an ultra-realistic military shooter, and the dynamics of online play associated with it. Like a lot of my gaming habits though, they’re driven by whether or not I’ve got friends to play them with, and I never did with this. It wasn’t until DayZ came along that I bought ArmA II and Operation Arrowhead to try it out. Because it was the ‘flavour of the month’ at the time, a lot of people I knew were playing it as well, so it was easy to get people to play with. Still never played ArmA ‘proper’ though.

So why buy ArmA III, then? Well, on some level I respect what Bohemia have been doing over the past couple of years, especially with the DayZ project, and so I guess I want to show them they’ve earned my money. Mainly though, I wanted it for the manual and the controls scheme layout that comes with it. ArmA III is such intense game as it is, trying to remember all the controls is a hassle I don’t really need. The engine improvements over the last game means that there’s no better time to jump into this series, especially with DayZ Standalone (Which uses a combination of the ArmA III engine + others) coming sometime next year.

Side Note: There is actually a project that’s ported the original DayZ mod into ArmA III, called ‘Zoombies’. I haven’t check it out yet, but you should. You still need ArmA II + OA installed for it to work, for some reason.

Haven’t played much of ArmA III to date so far… my last playthrough was a weird one… it was basically like the film Jarhead, except I did manage to kill one person, right at the beginning. Highlight was definitely the muppet who crashed the helicopter full of people.

I’ve been spending most of the day fiddling with Photoshop in order to make my ArmA III experience better. With the ‘Deluxe Edition’, you get a paper fold-out map of Atlis & Stratis. I’ve spent the morning scanning it into my computer and tweaking it a bit in Photoshop. Even thought I could always just get the paper version out, having a digital copy is also going to come in handy, as I have an app that’s a great mapping tool for stuff like his. I’m making it available to anyone who’s interested, as from what I can tell there’s no other decent maps of Atlis/Stratis available online at the moment. You can grab it from my personal DropBox here.

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It’s also available on GamePlan, if you want to download either the free trial or the premium version of the app (iOS & Android). As you may remember, I dabbled in PR for a while representing this neat gaming app called GamePlan. For a quick refresh, it’s an app that lets you download high quality maps onto the device for planning and orientation, either pre, post or mid-game. It’s an amazing tool for games like DayZ, where you don’t start off with a map, and even when you do find one it can be easier sometimes to glance at a tablet or phone then it is to load up the map. Works quite well for RTS’s as well, if you want to plan how a game is going to go before hand or whatever. Sadly the app never took off (probably my fault), and the designer has moved on to more profitable things now, but it’s still available to purchase and it still works. Premium allows you to host a session that your friends can join, and you can make edits on the maps in real-time. Really cool stuff – it’s what I’m using as my ‘second screen’ experience while I play.

In the mean-time, I’ve discovered this quirky little title called Towns. It was £3.39 on Steam today and seems to be curious mix of Minecraft and Kairosoft’s Dungeon Village. Haven’t quite got the hang of it yet, but then the game isn’t quite finished yet either, I don’t think. Happy Sunday!

 

So, you want to build a Roman Onagertm? Tired of not being able to get through that small pile of wood on the way to the shop? Sick of being terrorised by sandcastles that choke the beach? Want to show the guys in the office who’s really boss? Well today is your lucky day!

Following my easy 17-step guide, you could be in possession of one of the fiercest siege weapons of the Roman era. Rome may have not been built in a day, but it could’ve been torn down again just as quick thanks to this wonderful piece of engineering. Now you can bask in the glory, knowing that anyone who crosses you will get a pathetically small stone in the face.

Prepare yourself:

Step 1: Pre-Order the Collector’s Edition of Total War: Rome II, by Creative Assembly. It retails at about £109.99. If you didn’t pre-order the game, build a time machine and go back in time, so you can pre-order it.

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Step 2: Have an argument with your girlfriend about how you spent £110 on a videogame. You won’t win, but there’s nothing she can really do about it now, is there?

Step 3: Open the box containing the Authentic Roman Onager(tm), and spread out the pieces, revelling in the task that is before you.

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Step 4: Realise that you can’t see any instructions, then begin a frantic search for them. Scratching your head and fiddling with your beard is advisable. If you don’t have a beard – grow one, and then return to this step.

Step 5: Sigh in relief as you realise they were actually stored under the cardboard holders that held the collector’s edition’s bits and bobs. Make a mental note to play a game of Tabula later, using the game board that appears to line the inside of the case.

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Step 6: Stop your girlfriend, who in the intervening time between Step’s 3 and 6, has proclaimed that she doesn’t need instructions and has been trying to assemble it without you.

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Step 7: Lay out the Catapult Frame. Pulling the centre rope tight, insert the front and rear cross member’s, making sure the rear cross member has the indent facing towards the sky/ceiling/you. The throwing ‘spoon’ is meant to rest in the indent later.

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Step 8: Insert the upper posts, and then insert the upper post cross member into the slots. It should fit flush. If not, you used a wrong piece in step 7. Give up on life and just walk away.

Step 9: Take a moment to consider whether or not you should be using glue, as there appears to be a sizable amount but so far no indication as to when it’s used. Ultimately decide against it, and carry on.

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Step 10: Insert the support posts. They will form a triangle between the upper posts and the ‘rear’ of the frame. They may be a bit loose, so feel free to use some of the afore mentioned glue.

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Step 11: Insert the Axle through the left hand hole in the front of the frame. Make sure the latch is pushed up so that it doesn’t impede penetration. In the other hole you can slide in the wooden cover, which looks like a small wooden cup. Put some glue on the inside so that it will secure the other end of the axel to it. The Axle must still be able to rotate freely, even when fully inserted.

Note: The other end of the Axle, as in, the one not being glued to the wooden cover, has a metal cog on it. That’s meant to interact with the latch. Later, when you’re winding back the throwing arm, it’s meant to prevent the axle from releasing the tension too early. Have a little play and make sure it works. If you accidentally break the cog off, it should fit back on, and you can always use the glue.

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Step 12: Prevent girlfriend from putting the rope in the wrong way.

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Step 13: Insert Catapult release rope through the axle centre hole. Tie a not at the end that will secure the rope to the axel. Make sure it’s not the weird metal claw-thing on it.

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Step 14: Now for the fun part. The centre rope that’s on the catapult frame should have six strings in it. Separate them in half, and slide the lower end of the ‘spoon’ or ‘throwing arm’ through them. Be careful not to slide too much through, the spoon needs to be able to move without scraping the floor.

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Step 15: The spoon should hold in place, resting in the indent of the lower cross member. If it doesn’t, get someone to hold it. Either way, turn both the left and right metal wheels on the outside of the frame, simultaneously, to increase rope tension. The more you turn, the tighter the two rope clusters should get and the spoon should lift up so that it’s pushing against the upper crossmember. Turn the metal wheels until you can’t anymore, although don’t go crazy – you might tear the ropes.

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Step 16: Grab the metal thing at the other end of the axle rope, and hook it on the top edge of the spoon. Find the little metal rod, and insert it into one of the axle’s other holes, to the side of the main one. Start twisting the axle away from the spoon; this will retract the spoon gradually, with the metal cog on the side stopping the spoon from releasing too early. Rinse and repeat until the spoon is once again resting on the axle.

Note: It’s just as quick to use your hands and rotate the axle manually, instead of using the metal thing. Be careful not to damage the axle cog or accidentally rip it from the wooden cover.

Step 17: Your catapult should now be ready to fire. Put something in it, aim it at your girlfriend while she isn’t looking, and pull on the secondary rope. This will release the metal claw, allowing the spoon to whack forward and fire its payload. Be slightly disappointed at the results – it’s really not that powerful. Contemplate the fact that you spent £110 on this crap, and that the game itself wasn’t as good as it should have been. Pray that the rest of it is better.

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Congratulations! You’ve now assembled yourself a fully working (scaled) Roman Onagertm! You’re now ready to besiege a small sandcastle, and perhaps terrorise the person sitting next to you in the office. Maybe. No refunds.

Serious Business: In all honesty, it’s not a bad CE, all things considered. I still question whether it’s worth £109.99, but the Onager is pretty cool, and makes a great desk ornament. You also get a cloth map of the game-world, and a set of engraved wooden tokens & dice. This can be used to play Tabula, which is an ancient Roman version of Back-Gammon, apparently, (The inside of the box acts as the board), or Tesserae, which is a bit like that game in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. You also get a two-player card game called The Punic Wars, which is actually pretty fun to play. As for the game itself… well, they’re already on Patch 1.2, it’s getting better bit by bit, and I have faith that it’ll get there in the end. I’m also quite looking forward to what they do with their DLC plan. Apologies for not having posted in so long! Also, in case it wasn’t clear – I did get this CE myself, with my own money. It wasn’t a freebie.