Author Archives: Chris Grooms

Skyrim Mods: January 2013’s Best of the Best

Miscellaneous Mods
Deadly Spell Impacts
Enhanced Blood Textures
Faster Mining
KenMOD – Time on loading screen
Malkavs Collection – 70 Boxes to Find
No Guard Helmets
No NPC Greetings
No Spinning Death Animation
Unread Books Glow
Faster Mining (may be buggy)
Realistic Ragdolls and Force

Graphics Modifications
Glowing Ore Veins 300
Lanterns of Skyrim
Radiant and Unique Potions and Poisons HD
Real Effect Candle
Ultimate HD Fire Spells
Unique Booze Bottles HD
Vibrant Auroras
Get Snowy
Lush Grass
Skyrim Flora Overhaul – Summer Edition

Player Home and Abodes
Grey Ledge Manor – No Load Doors
Rayeks End

User Interface Mods
A Quality World Map – With Roads
Better Dialogue Controls
Atlas Map Markers and Dawnguard Addon

Character Customization and Creation
Alternate Start – Live Another Life
Character Creation Overhaul

Weapons, Armor and Clothing
Bandit Eyepatch
Bandolier – Bags and Pouches
Cloaks of Skyrim
Immersive Weapons
Immersive Armors
Jaysus Swords
Lost Art of the Blacksmith

Sound Replacements and Alternatives
Crisp Archery Sound Effects
Fantasy Music Overhaul
Icebreakers Improved Reverb
Clanking Armor

Magic and Combat
Locational Damage

Playable Races

Skyrim Configurator
TES V Save Game Manager


Recently: Borderlands $4.99, Preorder Borderlands 2

Recently: Borderlands $4.99, Preorder 2

Borderlands 2 is $4.99 on Steam right now until July 30th. You can play the original for FREE on Steam until Sunday 1PM PST. You can also preorder Borderlands 2 now for $59.99.

As of right now the phenominally successful Arma 2 DayZ mod lists 882,168 unique players. The mod is still in its alpha stage and suffers quite a large number of issues such as griefers ALT-F4ing out of combat, “ghosting” (momentarily changing servers to flank players) and connection issues. Along with bugs in general. Regardless of these issues the mod is still going strong. I think players generally feel that the right issues aren’t being fixed at the right time but fixes are coming in on a semi-regular basis.

The Just Cause 2 multiplayer mod is in development again. Retail (legit) copies will be required according to the developers.

Check out the video below detailing Sonic Ether’s shaders mod for Minecraft.

Release Dates:
Baldurs Gate Enhanced Edition – Sept 18 PC, Mac and iOS
World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria – Sept. 25 2012
Guild Wars 2 – Aug 28 2012
Lord of the Rings Online: Riders of Rohan – Sept. 5 2012
Borderlands 2 – Sept 18 2012

NewEgg: EVGA GTX 560 SE 1GB for $119 (109 after rebate)
Borderlands for $4.99 plus Free Weekend until Sunday 1PM EST

Sonic Ether’s Unbelievable Shaders for Minecraft
F1 2012 Video Detailed
MechWarrior Online: Founders Program Video
Battlefield Aftermath Details: GameInformer / Shacknews
Hawken Hands-On:

Arma 2 DayZ Mod: Why We Die

Arma 2 DayZ Mod: Why We Die

Contrary to popular belief the common death in DayZ is not suffered to the dreaded brandit or zombie. Oh no. It is true; you will die often. Just not from circumstances which can be called “legitimate”. I can guarantee you that without a slither of a doubt that you will die nearly entirely to bugs, what might appear to be a hacker (or could be) and unfortunate other Real Virtuality 3 game engine issues.

In the past week of playing I’ve died zero times to what I would call a “fair death situation”. When it comes to a PvP death I’ve gotten the drop on the “enemy player” all but once. The one exception was when a player exploited the ability to disconnect and spawn back in to sneak in a kill. I’m very good at stalking players and getting the first shot but I’ve only successfully killed a player once.

I’m not going to thoroughly explain every situation that I’ve encountered but to be brief with one: I recently hid in a tent in Stary Sobor at night and waited for a player to either enter my tent or the one across from me while waiting prone. The player entered the tent across from me and I placed a head shot with the revolver. The bullet did not land because of a bug in Arma 2 which causes prone fired rounds to collide with ground terrain instead. This alerted the player to my presence bringing about my death. This is a very common occurrence which makes firing “around a corner” impossible in Arma 2 even though the feature exists: it does not work. Prone fire is a risky tactic.

Issues like these bring about an interesting point. The battle to survive in DayZ is very little about not being eaten alive or killed by bandits. It’s about learning the nuances of the issues in Arma 2 and DayZ and figuring out how to work around those issues. While I am a nerd and I get a certain kick out of such things; it defeats the purpose of the entire mod.

You will quickly realize that attempting to outrun a zombie is literally and metaphorically an “uphill battle”. Whether or not you survive attracting the attention of a zombie will depend on whether or not you can find a barn to run into and whether or not clunky controls (or lag due to the extremely horrible netcode in Arma 2) resulting in accidentally getting hit resulting in bleeding out profusely in the middle of nowhere trying to find a barn to run into: while also attracting 15 more zombies.

The ultimate goal in DayZ for most is not to survive. No one survives this mod. As of right now the average survival time is about 31 minutes. It’s to find the best gear that you can before you do die. For some it’s make as many players’ virtual lives hell as possible. What’s incredibly frustrating is that like clockwork you find a very useful item such as matches and then die to a bug or lag that results in a broken leg. That’s game over.

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve picked up morphine and then broken my leg leaving the room. Recently I picked up a FN FAL with 120 rounds (a powerful weapon) while literally out in the middle of nowhere and was killed within 20 minutes while moving through an open field. Like I said: like clockwork.

You never have morphine when you need it. Blood is basically a hit points system that is impossible to renew without finding matches plus an axe (or wood) plus an animal to kill for meat. Unless you’re lucky enough to find a blood pack (good luck) and a friend to transfuse it for you (good luck).

To be fair: yes Dayz is an alpha mod. But let’s be realistic here rather than extremely illogical. The issues that really break the mod are Arma 2 issues. Not DayZ issues. I just do not see Rocket (the developer) fixing these issues without some very hefty fixes to Arma 2. So don’t get your hopes up. Arma 3 is around the corner and I don’t see any productive fixes on the horizon. To be honest: I don’t have much hope for Arma 3 either. I want to love this game and I do for a lot of reasons but the issues far outweigh the fun.

To conclude my thoughts: DayZ is fun but equally as aggravating and at times infuriating. You will lose your gear. You will lose your head. Now go kill some zombies.

Mod Spotlight: ARMA 2 DayZ

Mod Spotlight: Arma 2 DayZ

Unfortunately I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus lately dealing with some health issues. Not a lot was happening in the PC gaming sphere worth talking about so I took my time.

Something quite interesting was brought to my attention by Megamansx recently though. DayZ is a persistent-world zombie and the elements survival mod for Arma II. It’s probably not what you’re imagining. It’s better. Think Left 4 Dead in a persistent world with a massive landscape. You’re plopped down onto the map and left to your own devices. You must survive by finding food, ammo and avoiding zombies, other players and your inevitable perma-death. You will die. It’s just a matter of when.

Apparently you can repair vehicles and drive them (like a bus, tractor or even a helicopter) but the parts are difficult to find. Check it out. Better yet, this video explains DayZ quite well.

If you own Arma 2 then I’d suggest giving DayZ a look. ARMA II: Operation Arrowhead is required to play DayZ.

Another great mod is on the horizon. The Just Cause 2 multiplayer mod has been ‘resurrected’ and is back in business. I can’t believe that JC2 (a really fun sandbox) was not designed with MP in the first place. JC2 could have been an amazing success had MP been included.

DayZ Mod
ARMA II: Operation Arrowhead (Steam)

Team Fortress 2 Cheating
CheatCC: Arma III Preview
World Wide Telescope

Thoughts on: Max Payne 3

Thoughts on: Max Payne 3

Max Payne 1 and 2 were great games. I loved the story, the characters and the gameplay. The characters were fun and comedic at times. The only thing about MP1 and MP2 that I didn’t like was the annoying drunk/drugged scenes which made me want to put a bullet in my old CRT. Max is an old fart now and damn bro if you’re going to shave your head shave that nappy ass beard too.

The only really bad thing about Mp3 is that you’re forced to sit through cinematics which make up about seventy five percent of the game. Several times you sit through a cutscene only to walk 30 feet and then you’re right back in another. What the hell is the point? Any weapons that you have equipped prior to a cutscene more often than not either disappear (pissing you off that you just lost that assault rifle) or are replaced with a pistol that you weren’t using in the first place because you were out of ammo for that particular weapon. There’s about as much actual gameplay in Max Payne 3 as there is non-voice over dialogue in The Wonder Years. Click the link to understand the reference.

When Max released the gameplay suffered due to various issues with mouse acceleration and sensitivity. The 1.0.22 update fixed these issues and I was able to actually enjoy the game. Developers tend to fuck these things up a lot for some reason. I’m still waiting on a Field of View slider due to the incorrect setting used currently. Yet another side effect of developers getting used to making shitty console ports.

The story isn’t amazing by any means but the only real reason they suffer in my opinion is because I expected it to be as good as the other two games. But seriously if some asshole is going to talk then let him talk to me: while I’m playing. We don’t need a cutscene every 30 seconds. It wasn’t long before I was getting kind of pissed off at the number of cutscenes. Things pick up about a dozen chapters in though. Cutscenes get a bit shorter and less numerous. Once you get actually play the game it starts to feel a lot more like a Max Payne title. And that can only mean: awesome.

The question always is: is the Payne experience worth the price tag? In this case I would have to say: not yet. Wait till the price drops to at least about 39 dollars.

Review: Diablo 3. Tool tips are serious business.

Diablo 3 Review: Tool Tips Are Serious Business

Diablo 2 released on June 29 2000. Needless to say we’ve all been waiting a long time for Diablo 3. Does it live up to over a decade of anticipation? Diablo 3 sold 3.5 million copies in the first 24 hours and last I heard was at about 7 million.

I was pretty hesitant about buying Diablo 3. It has a hefty price tag at about 60 bucks. Online-only is a negative that makes such a hefty price tag less than enticing. I participated in the Beta and wanted to see more past the level 13 progress limit. I just wasn’t really pulled in and got bored after a few hours of playing the beta. There really hasn’t been much out lately to excite me so I just couldn’t help myself and picked up D3. I did enjoy the original games and games like Titan Quest so I am a fan of the genre.

Skeptics hit the nail on the head when they stressed online-only as a rather large negative. Down-time has been a common occurrence in Diablo 3. Scheduled maintenance is expected but Blizzard does like to take the server down in the middle of the day with nothing but a fifteen minute warning and then call it scheduled. They did this today and the reason was: we’re fixing tool tips. Yes, tool fucking tips bro.

Checkpoints are another issue. Meaning automatic save points which you can return to. You run through 5 hours of difficult hell or inferno content and leave the game thinking you can return to the last checkpoint. Oh silly you. Damn you Blizzard. Damn you to… inferno!

Joining a public game doesn’t put you with other players on the quest you select. Nope. You get shoved back at the beginning of the act and are forced to play through hours of content you already completed. You can however open your game to the public and start where you left off. It’s too much to ask for this to make sense.

Once you’ve completed normal and nightmare modes which can be plowed through in a few days your next difficulty mode is hell and then inferno. I love a hard core game like everyone else and trust me; my complaint is not the difficulty. My complaint is the mechanics. There are none. Mobs are given several more abilities in hell and inferno. And these spells range from creating walls, invulnerability shields, molten lava fireballs of death and so forth. This would give the illusion of a mechanic but don’t make me laugh. Har har mechanics. What’s that!?

Mobs just randomly choose targets and rape glass cannons and tanks alike with no rhyme or reason. IF you had a monk or barbarian (these classes received 20% damage reduction) in your group then they’re about as useless as a wet toilet paper square in a house fire without any real taunt abilities to curtail the chaos. You have no control. Not a damn sliver. Get used to it.

The story is a joke. But this is a loot game. And loot is awesome! When you get it and when the stats aren’t fucking atrocious. Which is 99.9% of the time.

I actually like Act 1. Act 2 is alright. But Act 3 and 4 all but prove that Blizzard got bored making this game and said “Fuck it”. Apparently hell is made up of nothing but platform after platform and heaven looks like an elven city built in the clouds. Angels are just push overs that get wiped out by demons that shove them onto pikes. Probably anally.

Titan Quest rocked this game hard. TQ is the longest game I’ve ever played in 29 years and that isn’t counting the expansion. It was a Diablo clone and a damn good one. Looting was fun. Areas were well designed. The story was more interesting. Just an all around good game. Diablo’s development team just said “fuck it these stupid assholes will enjoy anything Blizzard shits out”.

There are few redeeming factors for Diablo 3. I can’t think of what they are though. There’s something. I swear. Maybe. Ok for some reason it is somewhat addictive. I just can’t figure out why. But really I would have taken a Titan Quest 2 over this steaming… @&&#(SERVER SHUT DOWN IN 15 MINUTES.

God Damnit.

Review: Torchlight 2 Beta and Diablo 3

Review: Torchlight 2 Beta and Diablo 3

This weekend I participated in the Torchlight 2 beta. I am inclined to say, “Hot damn pick this bad boy up”. Torchlight 2 is only twenty bucks! Diablo 3 released on May 15th. Runic expects a June or July release for T2 if I remember correctly and the beta is closing for everyone on May 22nd further indicating an impending release.

Right now Diablo 3 is $59.99. Torchlight 2’s pre-order cost is $19.99. You can pick up three copies of Torchlight 2 with a group of friends and get the fourth free. So you can technically pre-order for about $14.99. Steam pre-orders get a free copy of the original Torchlight. I am not aware of any such offer that was or is available for Diablo 3.

Diablo 3 forces you to login and play online. If the servers are down you can’t load up a save offline. If the servers shut down permanently (of course mega juggernaut Blizzard will likely keep them up for a decade or more) then you never get to play again. D3 has DRM and no one likes DRM. There’s no LAN but friends can pop in and out of your games online seamlessly. Torchlight 2 allows you to create an Internet/LAN game for your friends (or anyone) to join. In the T2 beta Internet games were just as fluid and smooth.

T2 also supports the modding community which I’m sure that Diablo 3 does not. We’re always happy about that.

Areas are much larger than in the original Torchlight and are randomly generated (Diablo 3 does not randomly generate maps). Both games are gorgeous but personally I feel that there is less replay value in a game that looks exactly the same compared to one that does not on the next playthrough.

Torchlight 2 has a lot of improvements. I was really happy with one of them. Say you’re using a bow and you’re holding down the button to keep firing. You can easily turn (or adjust aim) while firing by moving the mouse. This works for all classes abilities as far as I know. It might not sound that special but it is when you experience how fluid it is in T2. Especially compared to the alternative and awkward combat in a lot of similar games (like D3). Any break that you can give your poor fingers is welcome.

Things like that make a big difference and I expected Blizzard to revolutionize the genre but they did quite the opposite. Diablo 3 takes several steps back from its predecessors. There’s no real improvement to combat whatsoever. Some of the abilities (especially early game) seem like you’re firing a dud. Others are really fun to use. But to be fair these “duds” are the unupgraded abilities and do get better.

Runic is quite an amazing company. They give gamers what they ask for rather than shoving restrictions down our throats. I thank them for that. Blizzard in the past few years has seemed to go down the toilet with the announcement of World of Warcraft’s Pandaria expansion and the dumbing down of the Diablo franchise. I don’t know what is up their ass but they are in dire need of a rectal exam.

When I played Diablo 3 I just was not wowed whatsoever and got bored in less than two hours. I couldn’t put Torchlight 2 down. Both games share a lot of beauty (great looking maps for example) but T2 just has far too many superior features and personally in my beta experiences. I have not played retail D3 yet.

I am going to give T2 the crown and the “mark of awesomeness”. No contest. So pick it up. You won’t regret it. It’s only twenty bucks.