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Jumping the Shark Podcast #153

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Image: Filomena Scalise / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Having emerged from our respective turkey comas, the mad trio are all back together for Jumping the Shark #153. Bill gives us the lowdown on The New Science’s success at BGG Con, the latest developments in Tomorrow, and a few other cardboard bits and pieces that have been on his carving plate, including Spartacus, and the first deck-building game in a long while to grab his attention, Legendary. I spend a few hours with Baldur’s Gate Enhanced Edition (PC version) and find that, yep, it’s pretty much Baldur’s Gate, only it runs better on modern hardware. I’m also reminded just what it was like to play a so-called hardcore RPG in the 90s era of game design. Things really have changed and, it turns out, some of those changes were for the better. Finally, Brandon wraps up his time with Dishonored and finds a few more shiny spots behind the blemishes of Halo 4.

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Todd Brakke

Todd was born in Ann Arbor with a Michigan helmet in one hand and a mouse in the other. (Never you mind the logistics of this.) He grew, vertically anyway, and proceeded to spend over 16 years as a development editor for Pearson Education, publishing books, videos, and digital learning products under the Que and Sams Publishing imprints. Because that wasn't enough of a challenge, Todd has also been a 20-year part-time snob about video games, writing reviews, features, and more for multiple outlets. Follow him on Twitter @ubrakto or check it out his website at ToddsFoolery.com.

8 thoughts on “Jumping the Shark Podcast #153

  1. I had a very similar map uncovering issue with Xenoblade Chronicles. It got to the point where rather than being excited to get to another area, I dreaded it, because I could not stand opening the map and seeing that undiscovered area. I’m fairly sure that played a huge part in me not finishing that game, but that was after 90 hours of play, so I am have just had my fill at that point.

  2. I had pretty much the inverse reaction to Bioshock and Dishonored a credible places. Rapture was a cool location, but it’s also very design-y. I can’t actually see people living there, while the places you go through in Dunwall actually felt inhabited. Hell, I’ve been in less credible real world pubs than the Hounds’ Pit.

    As for The Baldur’s Gate discussion, Brandon’s post the other day triggered my Baldur’s Gate compulsion, and I just started up a game using The Baldur’s Gate Trilogy mod that imports the assets from the first game into BGII, letting you use the rule and engine enhancements and play through the entire story seamlessly. Couple that with the infinity engine widescreen mod, and the Enhanced Edition seems kind of redundant.

    As for the mages situation, Todd’s misremembering how bad it is for good parties. True, neither is as powerful as Edwin, but you’ve got Xan – Lawful Neutral – in the Nashkel mines, and Dynaheir – Lawful Good – near Nashkel.

    (Of course, if you want Dynaheir in your party you’ll have to drag Minsc along too, and who’d want *that* goofball around?)

    1. All true, plus Imoen can dual-class into pretty righteous mage. I think that’s even her official state in Baldur’s Gate II. The way 2nd Edition resets a dual-classing character to first level makes for some rough going at first, but she catches up quick and the payoff is well worth it.

    2. My memory is definitely hazy, but I could swear there problems with the makeup of both Xan and Dynaheir that made them not great mages. Possibly my imagination? Totally agree with dual-classing Imoen, though, which they pretty much forced you into in BG2, if memory serves.

      1. Xan is a bit crippled in that he can’t use any Evocation spells, so that’s the majority of direct damage spells gone, but Dynaheir’s a fine mage.

  3. I’m still in the mode of very much enjoying Dishonored. I’ve just finished the third mission and the process of creeping through the levels, unknoting guard posts one slice at a time, and uncovering treasure troves reminds me of everything I enjoyed about Thief.

    I considered the increase in rat swarms and Weepers in my game as a side effect of all the fresh bodies I’ve been leaving in my wake. More corpses means more food for the vermin, fewer guards to enforce quarantines, and more sick citizens wandering around the city. It’s an interesting trade-off since my character has no compunctions about murdering malevolent guards, but will go to great lenghts to avoid killing Weepers who are only guilty of being sick.

    Brandon’s right about patrols who don’t notice their ranks are mysteriously thinning out. There are incidental bits of dialogue where a watchman will grumble, “This area was supposed to be under guard!” but they never actually go searching for the buddy they were just chatting with moments earlier. It doesn’t really damage my enjoyment of the game…but then, neither did indestructible buildings until I played Red Faction: Guerrilla.

    Maybe someday we’ll get the best of both worlds: a stealth game where guards get suspicious of their missing comrades just before you level the entire block with a thermobaric air strike.

  4. So this is out of nowhere but hey, whaddaya want?

    I got Witcher 2 on the last Steam sale so I figured I would do my fourth attempt on finishing the first game. My question is this: are these controls really as terrible as I feel like they are? I’m playing with the Over-The-Shoulder camera, because the other two just feel too removed from the action, but I feel like the fighting is either super-input-laggy or just downright unresponsive. I mean I get that they wanted to do rhythm-based combat, and once you get a chain started, I really like it, but it feels like a crapshoot getting Geralt to even pull out his sword in a timely fashion (ladies!), let alone attack a dude when I want him to.

    Am I doing something wrong here? I don’t mind dropping the game down to easy and barreling through it if 2’s better in that regard, but frankly, this is starting to feel like Let’s Play material.

    Again, I know it’s not related to the show, but this feels like as close as the site gets to a general thread and I trust your folks’ opinion. I’d really hate to quit for a fifth time, but I also don’t want to drop 60 hours of gametime across two games if it’s all more of the same.

    1. No, that sounds about right to me. The Witcher had some neat stuff: the monster studies, potion crafting, the branching quest stuff. The combat always struck me as floaty and weird, though, and there’s an awful lack of feedback on what’s going down.

      The Witcher 2 is much improved in every respect. Don’t let your experience with the first game taint your desire to play the second.

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