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Managing Your Backlog

Managing Your Backlog

At the end of October, Valve will be running their annual Halloween sale on Steam. No big deal, right? That’s more than a month away! Except Valve ran their annual Steam Summer Sale just two months ago, and that’s a bigger sale than Halloween. If you’re like me—weak-willed—then your gaming backlog grew considerably with minimal impact on your wallet during the Summer Sale. Not only that, but the first wave of new game releases is next week, with another coming at the end of November.

Or perhaps you resisted the sweet siren songs during the Steam sale, but somewhere along the way, you’ve accrued a backlog. A backlog that is insurmountable! You have all these games but no time to play them. If you do have the time, which one do you even start with? Do you have space on your hard drive to install the game? How long will the download take? Once you have all of that out of the way, you might not have time to actually play the game anymore.

Personally, I have a few games in my backlog. Let’s just say it’s somewhere between understating-four-dozen and four-dozen. Some of these are games that I have already played, but intend on replaying to write an article about it. I’ve started some games, but played them for only 2 hours before stopping. I have a few games downloaded but haven’t installed them. The rest I haven’t touched at all.

If you’re interested in cutting down your backlog before it grows larger, here’s how I’ve been working through my own backlog.

Revisiting Spartan Ops Episode 10

Revisiting Spartan Ops Episode 10

This is the final week of my SpOps revisits. There doesn’t seem to be any indication that there will be a Season 2 as of yet, so this is likely going to be my last article about SpOps until Halo 5 comes out. It has to be a good article, and I’m not entirely sure I can deliver. I don’t like SpOps. It has some good moments, but there’s just a lot of repetition and redundancy in the gameplay. I don’t know what the designers in charge of development had in mind when they sat down and decided that, yes, this is what Spartan Ops is, and this is how it will play.

Last week, I had said that Episodes 8 and 9 were inconsequential. This isn’t entirely true. It’s mostly true, but there are only two key points that have any relevance. The first is that Madsen received a map after looting Gek’s corpse in the Episode 8 cinematic. This map was handed to Doctor Glassman, who is using it to discover the secrets of Requiem. It’s actually kind of cool, because Glassman was a worthless character before, but now he gets a chance to be useful. I’ll be touching on this some more later. Anyway, at the end of Episode 9, Crimson discovered another map, and when combined with Glassman’s map, it becomes a super map to all of Requiem.

Too bad Requiem is about to fall into a star.

Revisiting Spartan Ops Season 1.5

Revisiting Spartan Ops Season 1.5

When I first started playing Halo 4’s Spartan Ops, I wasn’t particularly thrilled with what I saw. Everything I read about the mode leading up to the release of the game suggested that Spartan Ops, or SpOps as I like calling it, was going to be something special. The original Firefight mode in Halo 3: ODST was just wave after wave of enemies. It was an arcade mode. Halo: Reach expanded upon the options somewhat, but it was mechanically more of the same. SpOps was supposed to be different. It was supposed to weave in narrative elements to continue the campaign.

Episode 1 was an exercise in tedium and monotony. It left a very sour impression upon me. I played through each episode as they came out in the following weeks, and I remained unimpressed. When I sat down and played through each episode again in preparation for the Recap series, I found something different. Episode 1 was still as boring as I remembered it, but Episode 2 was different.

Before, my expectations were being tempered by 343i’s hype machine. When I sat down to replay the first five episodes, my expectations were tempered by reality. That is to say, yes, there is going to be a lot of running around and a lot of killing Covenant. I knew there wasn’t going to be much in the way of story content for each chapter. So I paid more attention to what little content I thought there was.

Surprisingly, I found more than I expected.

World of Warcraft: My Quest for Green Fire

World of Warcraft: My Quest for Green Fire

Ah, green fire. It is something Warlocks have been asking Blizzard to implement for years. Warlocks draw their power from fel energies, exposure to which causes green discoloration. Orcs’ green skin and Blood Elves’ green eyes are both examples of how fel energies can corrupt and change a person’s physical features. It is only natural that a class which harnesses that energy would emit the color as well. It took some time, but Blizzard was finally happy with a way of implementing it in-game, and I was fortunate enough to experience it.

When all was said and done, I spent about two weeks working towards my green fire. It was probably the single hardest challenge I have faced in World of Warcraft, and no other victory has filled me with as much feeling of accomplishment. I would like to share how I personally was able to finally defeat Kanrethad Ebonlocke, Leader of the Black Harvest.

I’m Excited About Blizzard’s New Game, Hearthstone

Im Excited About Blizzards New Game, Hearthstone

Yesterday morning in Boston, Blizzard Entertainment announced their next game. During their announcement panel at PAX East, they revealed Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, a collectible card game similar to Magic the Gathering. Unfortunately, I could not be at PAX East this year, but the announcement was being broadcast on the official PAX livestream. I’d like to think that the live audience was excited, despite the livestream chat having only negative things to say about it. I’m sure many of the people playing the game on the show floor right now like the game; comments on the Hearthstone subreddit indicate as much. I would envy them, except I know how the queues are. There are many other panels going on at PAX, and I could only be in one queue at a time. I wouldn’t be playing the game this weekend even if I were in Boston.

That’s not to say I won’t be playing Hearthstone when it comes out. I will! It has sufficiently piqued my interest. I like the Warcraft universe, and I like the major characters. Well, most of the major characters, anyway. Death to Garrosh! Victory for Sylvanas! Death to the Alli—sorry, went a bit off-topic there. I like Warcraft. I like the exaggerated-yet-whimsical aesthetic. But there’s something more to Warcraft that I like—World of Warcraft, specifically—and I trust Blizzard to follow in their own footsteps.

Are Pet Battles in World of Warcraft a Bit Morbid?

Are Pet Battles in World of Warcraft a Bit Morbid?

Many players enjoying World of Wacraft’s pet battle system are also fans of Nintendo’s Pokémon games. Pokémon has been frequently criticized for being a dark concept. A ten year old boy goes out into the world making animals fight one another to near death. He traps them in small spheres, several times smaller than the pokémon being caught, and carries them on his belt or in a digital storage box. The protagonist in the anime and in the video games is always trying to do the right thing and fight some great evil, but that does not necessarily make capturing wild animals and forcing them to fight acceptable.

Denying the similarities between Pokémon and pet battles is silly, and even though pet battles in World of Warcraft are nowhere near as complex as they are in Pokémon games, the core mechanics are all there. So how does World of Warcraft’s pet battle system compare to Pokémon? Can the concept be considered just as dark? Could it be less morbid? Could it be even worse?

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