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Reply 4280 of 4512, by newtmonkey

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Baldur's Gate (PC)
Finally completed Durlag's Tower! I probably spent at least 10 hours just on this tower. It's really too bad that they stuck one of the most frustrating battles in the game right in the first basement level, because I'll bet that a lot of people just gave up and went back to the main quest.

There were some frustrating areas (finding and disarming traps is never fun in this game), but I thought it was a good mix of combat, exploration, puzzles, and story. I had a hell of a time beating the last boss of the tower, but

Spoiler

was able to finally beat him by uncovering the mirror, taking the mirror images out one-by-one, and then sending my thief hidden in shadows over to shoot the boss full of acid arrows; he was already quite weak from fighting his own mirror image, so it only took a couple of arrows to slay him.

I tried finishing up the quest in Ulgoth's Beard,

Spoiler

but found the cultists to be unbelievably frustrating. You get attacked the second you enter the town, so you can't really prepare for the fight by casting spells, etc. A few seconds into the battle, you have cultists teleporting behind you (backstabbing left and right), one guy pelting you with arrows, and two other cultists running you down. You can't rely on fireball because you end up killing townspeople, killing your reputation.

Not gonna deal with that frustration! I'm happy enough with just completing the Tower.

With Durlag's Tower cleared, I went on to continue the main quest. I was able to make a lot of progress really quickly, and that's all thanks to my time in Durlag's Tower. I got a lot of nice equipment in the tower, earned enough experience to level everyone up at least once, but more importantly I learned some good (some might say "cheesy") tactics for difficult fights.

One choice I made earlier came back to haunt me!

Spoiler

I had skipped the boss fight in the Iron Throne Headquarters back in Chapter 5, because I just could not defeat them no matter what I tried; instead, I sent my thief hidden in shadows so I could avoid combat and just steal the documents. Well, you have to go back in here in Chapter 7 to get another document (and fight another boss)... and so I had to fight this new boss in addition to the bosses from Chapter 5 all together! What I ended up doing was to send my mages in with Haster, Mirror Image, and Globe of Invulnerability on them, cleaned up the Chapter 5 bosses with fireballs, and then brought the rest of the party over to the new boss, who was not difficult on her own.

Things seems to be quickly reaching the conclusion. I might be able to complete this over the weekend, but we'll see.

Reply 4281 of 4512, by clueless1

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@newtmonky - I finished BG1 back in May 2017, but it's far enough ago that I can't remember many details, so your stories don't ring many bells for me. What they are doing, though, is piquing my interest in BG2. I've got it loaded and my party imported from that 2017 game, but I've never felt super interested in jumping in and playing. I know the game's combat system gave me mixed feelings, maybe that's it. But your posts are making me rethink this game. Perhaps when I'm done with Ultima VI I'll give it a go.

For kicks, I found my comments on BG in this thread from 2017:
Re: What game are you playing now?

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Reply 4282 of 4512, by newtmonkey

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clueless1 wrote on 2022-09-24, 10:10:

... For kicks, I found my comments on BG in this thread from 2017:
Re: What game are you playing now?

This was fun to read! I'm glad my posts have got you interested in continuing on to BGII. 😀 I though TotSC was a great expansion, almost a mini-RPG on its own. Durlag's Tower has some frustrating aspects to it, but it's one of the best "mega dungeons" I've ever experienced in an RPG.

---

With that said...

Baldur's Gate (PC)
Completed! A massive session today, as I just became completely addicted to this game. I cleaned up some loose ends, got some nice equipment upgrades, and was able to level up three more characters. I felt I had enough tricks up my sleeve and decided to try completing the game. The remaining areas were not very difficult at all compared with what I had experienced in the expansion pack, and I made quick progress through the rest of the game.

I was dreading fighting Sarevok, but was actually able to win the fight on my first attempt (my thief and one mage were slaughtered though).

Spoiler

It was pretty close, though. I used my invisible thief to draw out one of his companions (a mage), and immediately made a huge mistake; I had cast a bunch of protection spells, then stupidly cast "Dispel Magic" on him... whoops! There went all my protective spells 🤣. I was able to kill the mage, though. A big fighter came running at me, and assuming this was Sarevok, I let loose with everything I had; this was mistake number two, because it was just Tazok! Finally, Sarevok came charging down and I was down to 4/6 characters, with really no good spells left. It seemed impossible, but my front line characters stood toe-to-toe with him with little problem, and after a few seconds, Sarevok was dead!

I was pretty shocked to win, and I felt that there were far more difficult battles earlier throughout the game.

There were some minor things that bothered me. Weird pathfinding issues sometimes screwed things up, and it could be frustrating to get my characters where I wanted them during more hectic battles. Some of the fixed encounters were also pretty frustrating for a first time player. It felt at times you were expected to die once, reload, and then prepare accordingly. I think playing this game for the first time without a good thief in your party would be an exercise in frustration.

Finally, I found the writing to be extremely inconsistent; dialog related to the main story was generally very good, but everything else was pretty bad (every time the game tried to be cute or funny, for instance).

Other than that, I really enjoyed this game! It's got really excellent exploration, the graphics are wonderful, and the story ends up being pretty interesting. The overall layout of the world really makes you want to keep playing, whether to clear the fog of war in a map to see what's out there, or to unlock new areas on the world map by exiting areas from different map edges. Party building is also really exceptional, and it was always exciting to earn a new experience level or some nice magic equipment. When the real-time combat works, it's very thrilling.

One of the greatest things about this game is how much freedom you have in tackling difficult encounters. My party was quite subpar in several areas (for example, my second "tank" had a pretty low Dex and thus a poor Armor Class), but you can make up for it with spells, potions, etc. Another awesome thing about this game is how the real-time nature of the engine allows you to actually use a thief as intended. My big complaint with the Gold Box games is that your thief is basically just a poor fighter (good backstabbing though). In BG, a thief really feels like a thief, finding and disarming traps, and hiding in shadows to scout ahead. It really makes the game feel quite tactical at times.

---

Anyway, GOG reports that it took my 87 hours to complete this, but that includes an attempt years ago that I gave up on partway through. I reckon it actually took around 70 hours to complete. I actually skipped a LOT of stuff in this game... I left most of the wilderness unexplored and barely did anything in Baldur's Gate itself, and I didn't reach the level/EXP cap for anyone.

I want to play BG2, but will take a break and play something turn-based next. I'd also like to replay BG1 in the future, but instead of a "fake multiplayer" game where I create my party, I'll play a standard game and try using the "canon" party. I'll probably play the Enhanced Edition for that.

Reply 4283 of 4512, by newtmonkey

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Icewind Dale (PC)
Send help! I am addicted to the Infinity Engine!
Having completed Baldur's Gate just yesterday, I originally planned on next playing a turn-based RPG, but after thinking about it I decided I'd rather play something else using the same engine. I planned to just generate a party for Icewind Dale, but before I knew it I had spent five hours on the game!

It's definitely much much more linear than BG, with you being sent from area to area as the story progresses. There's really no wilderness to explore, but so far the dungeoneering is really good. You really seem to level up a lot quicker in this than in BG, though a lot of experience is gained early on just doing some minor quests in the first couple of towns. You also get magic equipment pretty quickly; I looked it up later and it turns out loot is somewhat randomized, which is pretty exciting.

I am using the same party I try to use in every RPG I play based on the D&D rules: Fighter, Paladin, Cleric, Fighter/Thief, and two Mages. It's working out pretty well so far, but it might have been a better idea to start off one of my Mages as a Fighter and Dual Class him a few levels in.

Even though this uses the same engine as BG1, it really looks quite nice, even if it is not really technically upgraded much over the BG1 engine. The backgrounds are really fantastic, and so are the new enemies. I also must mention the soundtrack, which is excellent.

Last edited by newtmonkey on 2022-10-26, 08:00. Edited 2 times in total.

Reply 4284 of 4512, by appiah4

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Titanfall 2
Two levels through and I am already starting to understand why this game's single player got so much love. It's a great game all around. I'll post more screens and write a more detailed piece later.

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Reply 4285 of 4512, by Sombrero

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I finally got the plague last week. Wasn't bad but I was groggy enough to rule out everything that needed any kind of concentration, so I needed something light to kill time during quarantine and I happened to buy The Sims 2 a while back so I figured to give it a whirl. The last time I had played it was around launch nearly 20 years ago and while it wasn't exactly my favorite game ever I do remember having fun with it.

Well covid and quarantine are both done and gone, and I'm still utterly hooked to the game. I don't even understand why the heck doing everyday chores in a game is so fun to me but it is. Maybe the bug did something to my brain, please send help.

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Reply 4286 of 4512, by clueless1

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Ultima VI: The False Prophet

Still somewhat early in the game. I made it to Empath Abbey and made my way to the Spider Caves southwest of the Abbey. I discovered that the spiders and spidersilk seemingly respawn infinitely. I'd make a circle around the 2nd level and by the time I got back to the ladder up, more spiders and spidersilk would spawn, so I kept doing it. Over. And. Over. I couldn't stop. Ended up with over 150 spidersilk. The EXP for killing spiders is low, so my characters haven't gotten enough to level up, but it's still been strangely entertaining. I did discover that reagents seem to have a maximum stack size of 144, because I have a stack of 144 and a new stack of 30ish. Since then, I've made my way to Yew and got Jaana to join me. Since we are in the city of Justice, that will be the next mantra I learn and rune I obtain. It hasn't been my favorite RPG so far, but it's light, easy to get in and out of, entertaining enough, and just enough nostalgia tugging at me that it keeps me coming back. At the moment, I've got almost 15 hours sunk in. Will put in another 30ish minutes this evening.

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Reply 4287 of 4512, by NovaCN

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Sombrero wrote on 2022-09-27, 20:13:

I finally got the plague last week. Wasn't bad but I was groggy enough to rule out everything that needed any kind of concentration, so I needed something light to kill time during quarantine and I happened to buy The Sims 2 a while back so I figured to give it a whirl. The last time I had played it was around launch nearly 20 years ago and while it wasn't exactly my favorite game ever I do remember having fun with it.

Well covid and quarantine are both done and gone, and I'm still utterly hooked to the game. I don't even understand why the heck doing everyday chores in a game is so fun to me but it is. Maybe the bug did something to my brain, please send help.

A lot of people will tell you that 2 is still the best one overall and I'm inclined to agree. If you ask me, my hypothetical ideal Sims game would have the core gameplay of 2, the open world of 3, the art style of 4, and the aesthetic for magic from 1 (TS1: Makin' Magic still has the most creative approach to the concept in the entire series—wizards embracing modernity with things like mechanical cauldrons and computerized spellbooks, while soaking the purely magic-themed locations with a spooky yet whimsical haunted carnival theme—and it still disappoints me that all the sequels just go with generic fantasy wands and robes instead).

As for me, I'm still making my way through Final Fantasy XIV. I'm currently in patch 5.3 for Shadowbringers, plan to finish up the Eden raids after, then I'll tackle the Nier raids. Gradually getting closer to Endwalker.

My Steam Deck also arrived yesterday, and while I don't plan to use it too heavily any time soon (I got it mainly for travel) I've installed Devil May Cry V and played the first mission. I figure a three-year-old game certified for the Deck is a good starting point to see how it feels. I did run into a couple hitches during my brief play session, so I did that DirectX 11 .ini file edit that typically helps so it should be smooth as butter when I give it another go later today.
If anyone's curious, I got the 512 GB model. I wanted the extra hard drive space and that improved screen is very, very nice.

Last edited by NovaCN on 2022-09-28, 16:26. Edited 1 time in total.

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Reply 4288 of 4512, by newtmonkey

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Icewind Dale (PC)
I put another few hours into this over the past few days, and got through the first "real" dungeon in the game. As much I loved the open world exploration of BG1, the linear dungeoneering of ID feels to me like a better fit for the Infinity Engine so far. Part of it is that the game is so linear that the developers probably had a decent idea of what level the average party would be at any given time, and designed the encounters appropriately. You can't really arrive at a particular location grossly underleveled. On the other hand, it also means that you have less tools available to you in any given situation; in BG1 you could just ignore a particularly difficult encounter or area, and go explore and do a dozen other things instead.

Anyway, I'm really liking it so far and of course a lot of the strategies I figured out during BG1 apply here. The game does troll you a bit by having the first major dungeon completely full of undead, making your mages mostly useless... in stark contrast with BG1 where mages are ridiculously powerful almost from the start (thanks mostly to the Sleep spell, which is basically instant death for many enemies).

It's really too bad in a way that Icewind Dale 2 is apparently more of the same, because I would have loved a game that combines the setting, graphics, and music of ID with the open world of BG1.

Sora no Kiseki FC (aka Trails in the Sky) (PC)
I've got this on Steam and also on PSP, but neither are ideal for me. The Steam version (even in Japan) is English only, and while it's a fine translation, I'd just rather play it in its native language. The Steam release is also enhanced in various ways, and I wanted to play it how it was originally released. I then got the PSP version, but it's a clear downgrade even from the original PC release. Finally, I decided to just buy boxed copies of the entire trilogy, since they aren't too expensive. I must say, they are very nice releases! The game disc is in a nice plastic clamshell with full color art, and this together with the manual, etc. is inside a very sturdy high-quality cardboard slipcase sort of box. I have a few other games from the same company (Falcom), and the packaging has always been very nice.

I'm a big fan of RPGs of all types, so there's a lot to like here for me. Like many Japanese console RPGs, it's got a great soundtrack and some fun characters... but in many ways it feels like a 90s western PC RPG. You can control it with a gamepad, but it plays better imo with a mouse and KB, and controls pretty similarly to Ultima VII. You can save anywhere outside of combat. It's got turn-based combat, but distance and positioning matter to some degree, and there's lots of stuff to customize on each character, like equipment slots, spells, etc. This was released at a time when typical RPG elements were getting "streamlined" out of many JRPGs, so it's surprisingly nice to see armor, boots, etc. for sale at equipment shops!

I'm enjoying it quite a bit so far. It's very linear and story-focused, but I think there's a lot of optional stuff to do throughout the game. It's the first of a trilogy (within a massive series of generally unrelated games), so there's many hours of enjoyment ahead of me if I end up liking this one.

Reply 4289 of 4512, by newtmonkey

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Icewind Dale (PC)
I started exploring the next dungeon. I'm not having too much trouble so far (14 hours in or so), but I am starting to regret having two mages in my party, as they're mostly dead weight. They've been crucial in a couple of difficult fights, but I think a single mage would probably have been fine. I probably would have been better off with one dedicated mage, and a ranger or maybe a fighter/mage instead of the second one. Oh well, I plan on using this party to the end, so I'm stuck with it.

Sora no Kiseki FC (PC)
I put a couple of hours into this today. Just as I suspected, there's a lot of optional stuff to do in this. Your characters in this are members of an adventurer's guild, and you can pick up some optional missions in addition to whatever mission is required to proceed through the story. One nice thing about these missions is that the target, goal, etc. isn't marked on your map; instead, you are just given some general directions ("a tough monster has been seen on such and such road"). It's not a huge open-world game like Morrowind or something, but it's cool that you have to explore a bit to find what you're looking for. It also seems like you can almost always run away from battle, so if you explore too far and run into ridiculously powerful monsters, it's not game over.

Character upgrades are pretty fun. Equipment costs money, but you don't really earn money from killing monsters. Instead, you earn money from completing missions, or from selling various crystals dropped by monsters. The interesting thing here is that these crystals are also used to unlock more slots to equip special abilities... so you have to decide whether to unlock more abilities, or upgrade equipment. Of course, you could just grind battles and do it all, but that's no fun.

I generally have zero interest in Japanese RPGs released after, I dunno, 2000... but this is like a cool combination of a PSX-era JRPG and 90s PC RPG. Very nice so far!

Last edited by newtmonkey on 2022-10-26, 08:01. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 4290 of 4512, by Sombrero

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After reaching the peak of athletic career in Sims 2 I feel I've now beaten the game. I could keep going but there aren't much more to do anymore than make money until I could get a bigger house. Starting a family isn't my thing, I don't like the dollhouse style of gameplay where you have several sims under your control, I much much prefer having just one sim under your control while everyone else is controlled by the AI.

Turns out there was a reason why I remembered liking the game back in the day, the gameplay loop has that addictive "one more day" aspect to it that keeps you glued to the monitor. I like the music too, the radio metal music with that weird sims speech sounds hilarious. It's just one of those easy going feel good games.

I just wish there was a separate volume control for TV's and the like, they are incredibly loud and visitors seem to go straight to the tv if you leave them alone. Gets pretty obnoxious having to constantly listen to the cacophony they make, I would have sold the TV in an instant if it wasn't so useful to have. That's pretty much my only gripe with the game.

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Reply 4291 of 4512, by chrismeyer6

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Sombrero wrote on 2022-10-02, 06:53:

After reaching the peak of athletic career in Sims 2 I feel I've now beaten the game. I could keep going but there aren't much more to do anymore than make money until I could get a bigger house. Starting a family isn't my thing, I don't like the dollhouse style of gameplay where you have several sims under your control, I much much prefer having just one sim under your control while everyone else is controlled by the AI.

Turns out there was a reason why I remembered liking the game back in the day, the gameplay loop has that addictive "one more day" aspect to it that keeps you glued to the monitor. I like the music too, the radio metal music with that weird sims speech sounds hilarious. It's just one of those easy going feel good games.

I just wish there was a separate volume control for TV's and the like, they are incredibly loud and visitors seem to go straight to the tv if you leave them alone. Gets pretty obnoxious having to constantly listen to the cacophony they make, I would have sold the TV in an instant if it wasn't so useful to have. That's pretty much my only gripe with the game.

It's been quite some time but I think you can edit the config file and set different volume levels in the game. I used to play The Sims 1 and 2 alot back when they were new games. Lots of fun times.

Reply 4292 of 4512, by Sombrero

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chrismeyer6 wrote on 2022-10-02, 15:21:

It's been quite some time but I think you can edit the config file and set different volume levels in the game. I used to play The Sims 1 and 2 alot back when they were new games. Lots of fun times.

I can find the same volume settings in the config file that you can also adjust within the game, but I don't see anything else in there. The problem is the TV volume is tied to sound effects volume and the TV is loud enough that I'd have to bring sound effects volume so low that it basically mutes everything else just to get the TV to the volume level I'd like.

DOS/Win98SE: Abit BX133-RAID / P3 650MHz / Voodoo3 3000 / 128MB SDRAM / SB Live! / Orpheus
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Reply 4293 of 4512, by Demetrio

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Shadow Warrior (1997)

Playing it on my Pentium MMX Win95 machine.
Like Duke3D, really fun and even more challenging.

F.E.A.R. Extraction Point

After replaying F.E.A.R. on my Pentium 4 PC, I decided to play the expansion.
Gameplay is fun but, for now, the story is not good as the main game

Spoiler

like Fettel resurrection makes no sense (as he says himself at the start of the game 😁).

Moreover, I have bad framerate issues that I don't have with the main game: maybe it is not well optimized.

Reply 4294 of 4512, by dr_st

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Demetrio wrote on 2022-10-03, 09:59:

Shadow Warrior (1997)

Playing it on my Pentium MMX Win95 machine.
Like Duke3D, really fun and even more challenging.

I seem to recall it definitely felt easier to get lost in the levels compared to Duke3D.

Demetrio wrote on 2022-10-03, 09:59:
F.E.A.R. Extraction Point […]
Show full quote

F.E.A.R. Extraction Point

After replaying F.E.A.R. on my Pentium 4 PC, I decided to play the expansion.
Gameplay is fun but, for now, the story is not good as the main game

Spoiler

like Fettel resurrection makes no sense (as he says himself at the start of the game 😁).

Moreover, I have bad framerate issues that I don't have with the main game: maybe it is not well optimized.

I think the expansion pack was released based on an older build of FEAR and didn't get updated with the latest patch. But there are quite a few tweaks suggested on the PCGamingWiki page, perhaps some of them will help.

I also learned recently that the storyline of the expansion packs to the first game (Extraction Point and Perseus Mandate) was "thrown out" of the canon, when the sequels came out. Possibly being considered sub-par had something to do with it.

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Reply 4295 of 4512, by Nexxen

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dr_st wrote on 2022-10-03, 20:15:
I seem to recall it definitely felt easier to get lost in the levels compared to Duke3D. […]
Show full quote
Demetrio wrote on 2022-10-03, 09:59:

Shadow Warrior (1997)

Playing it on my Pentium MMX Win95 machine.
Like Duke3D, really fun and even more challenging.

I seem to recall it definitely felt easier to get lost in the levels compared to Duke3D.

Demetrio wrote on 2022-10-03, 09:59:
F.E.A.R. Extraction Point […]
Show full quote

F.E.A.R. Extraction Point

After replaying F.E.A.R. on my Pentium 4 PC, I decided to play the expansion.
Gameplay is fun but, for now, the story is not good as the main game

Spoiler

like Fettel resurrection makes no sense (as he says himself at the start of the game 😁).

Moreover, I have bad framerate issues that I don't have with the main game: maybe it is not well optimized.

I think the expansion pack was released based on an older build of FEAR and didn't get updated with the latest patch. But there are quite a few tweaks suggested on the PCGamingWiki page, perhaps some of them will help.

I also learned recently that the storyline of the expansion packs to the first game (Extraction Point and Perseus Mandate) was "thrown out" of the canon, when the sequels came out. Possibly being considered sub-par had something to do with it.

I found the expansions enjoyable. I like the FEAR franchise, but 4 isn't coming any time soon. 3 was ok, but too console like for my likings.

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Reply 4296 of 4512, by newtmonkey

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Icewind Dale (PC)
I was able to complete the Dragon's Eye dungeon tonight. It's sort of like a mini Durlag's Tower (from Baldur's Gate TotSC), but with much more combat and far less puzzles. It's a great dungeon though with five massive levels, great encounters, and some nice rewards. Now that my party is around level 7/8, things are really starting to come together. The two magic-users have really started to pull their own weight, mostly with support spells. Web and Chromatic Orb are just as useful as they were in Baldur's Gate.

My party seems a LOT more resilient in this game than it was in Baldur's Gate, even though the party makeup is basically identical. I'm not sure if that's just how this game is, or if I'm applying the tactics and strategies I learned in BG. I haven't had to resort to the kind of cheesy tactics I used in the more difficult encounters in BG, so far at least. I was pretty pleased to defeat the boss encounter of Dragon's Eye on my first attempt, as I read afterward that this can be particularly difficult. It was a great battle complete with some moments where I definitely felt like I was on the verge of losing, but careful use of spells and items got me through with no deaths. It really makes you appreciate the real-time with pause combat engine.

Reply 4297 of 4512, by Sombrero

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I've started a full run of classic Command & Conquer series, starting from the original C&C and ending with Red Alert 2. I can't say I dislike C&C: Generals but it never felt like a C&C game to me, it's all right but kinda B-class in my opinion. But the ones after Generals, yeah no thanks.

I played the Soviet campaign of RA just last year I think but it's been ages since I've played Tiberian Sun and Red Alert 2 the last time, quite possibly over a decade. Really looking forward to play them again. But seems it also has been longer than I thought since I've played the original C&C, so far there's been one cinematic I did not remember at all, felt like watching it for the first time ever and also I had somehow completely forgotten GDI gets bazooka troopers 🤣

My intention was to go slowly and take my time to avoid burnout, but I haven't been very successful with that, I've played half of the GDI campaign in two sittings. Can't help it, I love the game. I think I need to start a full playthrough of Neverwinter Nights on the side to force myself slow down with C&C and also finally check out the first expansion for NWN that I've never played.

Edit: typos, typos everywhere

Last edited by Sombrero on 2022-10-05, 18:13. Edited 3 times in total.

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Reply 4298 of 4512, by Joseph_Joestar

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Sombrero wrote on 2022-10-05, 13:06:

I think I need to start a full playthrough of Neverwinter Nights on the side to force myself slow down with C&C and also finally check out the first expansion for NWN that I've never played.

In terms of story, both Neverwinter Nights expansion packs are better than the original. Gameplay is similar, but there are more skill checks, from what I remember. They are well worth playing, if you enjoyed the original game.

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Reply 4299 of 4512, by Sombrero

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Joseph_Joestar wrote on 2022-10-05, 13:19:
Sombrero wrote on 2022-10-05, 13:06:

I think I need to start a full playthrough of Neverwinter Nights on the side to force myself slow down with C&C and also finally check out the first expansion for NWN that I've never played.

In terms of story, both Neverwinter Nights expansion packs are better than the original. Gameplay is similar, but there are more skill checks, from what I remember. They are well worth playing, if you enjoyed the original game.

I'm very familiar with the base game and the second expansion, just never got around trying the first expansion for some reason. But very glad to hear it also has better story than the base game. I think the OC campaign is simple in kinda charming way, but the story, characters and the dialog are painfully bad. HotU was a big improvement in that regard, I expect I also like SoU well enough even if it isn't as good as HotU, as long it's better than OC.

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