In GameDrone Monthly I give a recap of my gaming activities in the past month, some new articles on GameDrone that you might have missed and what I expect to be doing in the coming month.
Maybe you’d like share your experiences, send in a game you’d like me to cover on GameDrone or team up for a multiplayer or co-op game this month. Whatever the reason, feel free to leave a comment and we’ll discuss :)
July was very much like your typical summer month: a quiet month that’s ideal for playing through older games, because hardly anything worthwhile gets released. Digital download services did their best to combat this lull with crazy summer deals and I expect that many of you have seen a slight swelling in your gaming catalogue these past few weeks. Anyhow, I’ve still got a lot of games to play and talk about, so be sure to stick around.
July on GameDrone
I didn’t write as much as I’d like in July, which resulted in fewer posts. Still there were quite a few interesting articles and announcements that bear mentioning, but I hope to improve the post frequency in the coming months.
We’ll kick off this monthly flashback with my coverage of Blizzard Entertainment’s unfortunate decision to implement real names on their forums. Blizzard wisely listened to their community which responsed with tens of thousands of protests and articles much like mine. And so they decided against implementing real names on the forums, while still implementing some new functionality such as post ratings.
The most interesting story in July had to be the announcement of Dragon Age 2, which popped up out of nowhere with a release date for early next year! I assembled all the information I could find into a very early preview. And it’s certainly a strange story as Dragon Age 2 differs from its predecessor in many ways, with a human protagonist who is fully voiced, fully reworked art style and graphics, dialogue wheel and a story that spans a decade and mostly takes place in an entirely different region of Thedas.
I’ve also written a few interesting tips and guides in July. After reinstalling Windows on my notebook I sat down to write 6 tweaks to optimize a fresh Windows installation, which covers such things as energy management settings and unnecessary services. And having gotten myself into some StarCraft and Brood War gameplay again I also covered some interesting solutions for glitches the game has in modern operating system, most notably the color inversion bug.
There were a lot of interesting Guild Wars 2 related news bits in July as ArenaNet unveiled a lot of new gameplay information. Most notable was certainly the revelation of the Ranger profession (#2, #3), but also very interesting was ArenaNet’s take on death and healing in MMOGs. They also discussed the inclusion of mini-game activities (#2, #3) such as beer brawls and shooting galleries.
We’ll round out July’s stories with a StarCraft 2 1 vs 1 match commentary that offers some good 1080p footage of a Terran vs Protoss match played during beta. And a few colorful screenshots of the extremely intense music-driven arcade shooter Beat Hazard. And lastly, a poll that asked which MMOG(s) you were looking forward to ended in July with an astonishingly one-sided result: Guild Wars 2 took the lead with 51% of the votes, with runner-up Star Wars: The Old Republic raking in 15% and third place Warhammer 40.000: Dark Millennium Online taking 14% of the votes.
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Games I played in July
If you’ve read last month’s GameDrone Monthly then you may recall that my intention was to play through Singularity in July. I was really looking forward to that after reading a few very positive reviews, but it turns out the postal service messed up and my copy never arrived. I’m starting to think I should forego physical copies altogether despite the higher price of digital copies. Well, I’ve got a few articles on that topic coming up, but for now it just means no Singularity for me…
Instead I took to playing through the StarCraft and StarCraft: Brood War singleplayer campaigns to refresh my memory. They’re both still excellent strategy games today and were a lot of fun to play through again, but the presentation of the story definitely lacks a little flavor by modern standards. Don’t get me wrong: Arcturus’s betrayal is still an incredible plot twist and Brood War definitely improved the delivery of its story, but the simple talking heads approach just isn’t what it used to be. It’s unfortunate that I forgot to put the game speed up to fastest until I started on the Brood War campaign, because it meant that StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty‘s campaign got pushed to August.
Beat Hazard also saw a little action, because it’s just a great way to listen to your favorite tracks. It’s an arcade space shooter game similar to asteroids, but it builds the levels, enemy waves and even your fire rate based on the musical track you’ve selected. It also includes leaderboards, unlocks and everything so it stays fun for quite a while, but its flashy visuals can get a bit intense. The pre-game seizure warning is definitely warranted in this case.
On the regular shooters front Modern Warfare 2 made a short appearance, but quickly disappeared out of sight. I haven’t played it in quite a while now that most of my Steam friends have begun to realize that it’s just not a very good game. Hopefully they’ll move on to something cool like Quake Live.
Lastly I got a little bit of time in with Alien Swarm, which saw an out-of-nowhere free release on Steam in the middle of July. And come on, who wouldn’t want to play a free online co-op alien ass kicking game? Exactly, so I played that for a bit, but the pressure to finish StarCraft and get on with StarCraft 2 did push it quite a ways to the background.
Games I intend to play in August
Let’s start with the obvious: StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty. I’ve already completed a fair bit of the singleplayer campaign in Hard mode in August (since it’s already August right now) and I should be finished shortly. Then we’re going in for another go now that I’ve read all but one of the StarCraft books, a few of which are actually pretty decent, in order to get that Brutal mode Sarah Kerrigan portrait! Why? It’s Sarah Kerrigan! And it doesn’t seem like finishing in Brutal, without all those nasty bonus objectives, should be all that difficult.
Speaking of bonus objectives, I’ll be writing a few mission walkthroughs for the more difficult Hard mode missions, including all bonus objectives. The few mission guides I’ve seen pop up thus far seem to unilaterally ignore bonus objectives, which is ridiculous because they’re the only difficult part about StarCraft 2’s singleplayer campaign! Naturally, I’ll also be doing some multiplayer in August, which I do intend to cover with at least a couple of post-beta game commentaries over on YouTube, especially now that some of you have been kind of enough to subscribe to my channel.
Mafia 2 is also definitely on my list of games to play in August after it’s finally released on August 27th. I finally played the original game last year on recommendation from several friends and, despite the mobster genre being utterly not my cup of tea, I absolutely loved the game! I really hope that Mafia 2 will manage to do good by the original game and offer a similarly captivating tale of mobster intrigue. There’s now a demo available for this game and I hope to get some time in with that soon and write up my impressions of that on GameDrone.
Similarly, Elemental: War of Magic will be released on August 24th and after beta testing it for the past few months I can say that it’s certainly shaping up to be an excellent turn-based strategy game. With its fantasy setting it almost seems like a cross between Civilization and Age of Wonders, with both extensive empire management and heroic characters with their own skills and abilities. So I’ll try to get some time in with this game as well, but just how much will depend on how much I’ll be playing StarCraft 2 by then.
I’d also like to get some time in with Fallen Earth, since I’ve had a subscription for a while now and haven’t done a whole lot with it. I should get some play experience in before the subscription ends and see if I can get some coverage up on GameDrone. I might supplement that with some Guild Wars, because it’s a great game and I really should get around to playing through Nightfall and Eye of the North at least once.