Advent Calender: The Followers

You were almost certainly one of the almost-infinite hordes who gathered around the universes’ internet connections to discover whether or not RPS were going to devour chocolate today. If so, after the endeavor was over, you may have been left wondering why certain games didn’t make the cut.

Good or baaaaad?

Here’s where. Why did we ignore Supreme Commander? Why wasn’t a game about slapping quite enough? Do we actually hate RPGs? Answers to these questions, and more, beneath the cut.

SUPREME COMMANDER
Probably the most obvious heavyweight PC contender to not show its face, at least of the games we’ve expressed an admiration for. In fact, it was actually on one of the earlier drafts of the Advent Calender. It’s just when it came to write it, we realised that while we like Supreme Commander a lot and admire it enormously, we don’t love it. Hell – I even quite like the setting, especially the brain-in-jars Cybrans. Problem is that your relationship with Supreme Commander is virtually sadomasochistic, with it as a harsh-iron skinned mistress and you being the pitiful politician being kicked around the concrete floor, while wearing Diapers, probably.

SUPREME COMMANDER: FORGED ALLIANCE
Same as above, really. Though if we had to choose, this is the incarnation we prefer.

UNREAL TOURNAMENT 3
Another game that was on the list, but booted out in favour of – oooh – The Burning Crusade, I think. It’s another case of a game we like a lot, but don’t love – at least, don’t love as much as Team Fortress 2 or Quake Wars: Enemy Territory.

ROSE & CAMIELLA
The third list-member who was given the boot when doing in the organising, in favour of last-minute dark horse and POST APOCALYPTIC HEX-BASED GAME OF CHAMPIONS Armageddon Empires. It was pretty much my call entirely, as I was the man who completed Rose & Camiella, because I’m best at slapping people. That said, the Gran who turns up at the games’ close and punches with a CLOSED FIST is one of the year’s finest end of game bosses.

TRAVIAN V3
Because after two months with the fucker, the last thing I was, was in love with it.

THE WITCHER
No, really. Despite RPS’ general ambivalent stance towards the game, we honestly did consider it. As I said before, while it’s been an ace year for games generally, for certain genres, it was subnormal. The traditional Western RPG is one of them – and the Witcher is the unchallenged high-point for the genre, and worthy of a mention in any end of year round up. Certainly more that – say – Hellgate. But, ultimately, we just didn’t love it, so it didn’t really have a chance. C’est la vie.

(That said, I’m having a crack at it, and am about to try and play with the extended dialogue.)

NEVERWINTER NIGHTS 2: MASK OF THE BETRAYER
Not includuded because – obviously – we hate the Western RPG.

ULTIMA ONLINE: KINGDOM REBORN
Alec found it pretty funny, but that doesn’t really justify a place. Unless you’re Sumotori, Obv.

NEVERWINTER NIGHTS 2: MASK OF THE BETRAYER
Okay, seriously, it just didn’t make a cut. Expansion packs have a hard time of it, even when they thematically stand on their own so well. In fact, thinking about it, perhaps that was Mask of the Betrayer’s larger problem for me – it didn’t really feel like a high-level D&D adventure. The middle of the original NWN2 campaign, where you’re ruling your castle… that’s high level D&D. This was just another fantasy romp. Brilliantly written, brilliantly concieved but not quite genius, hence not quite loved by us. Good work and really well worth playing. While Witcher was the best stand alone game of the year, Walker and I both lean towards MotB for the highlight of the western RPG this year.

GUITAR HERO III
Because it’s no Frets on Fire.

FRETS ON FIRE
Because as much as we played it this year, it’s still not really this year’s game, debuting last one. And it may just not have made the cut.

GUITAR HERO III
Actually, let’s have a few extra words on this one. Despite it being the first appearance of this much-loved game on the PC, it’s got a history, and a history everyone on RPS is well aware of. GHIII, while really neat, is a step towards Guitar Hero III just becoming a hermitted game. The real GH heads prefer it over Rock Band, because – as far as I can make out – it’s more difficult. Which it is – the songs are all longer, with none of the pure-pop bursts in the earliest incarnations, and there’s an increase in fingering difficulty on all the levels. This is great for the fraction of the players who are experts at the game – the problem is, following that route is a auto-catalyzing sequence leading towards ultimate irrelevance. Look at the traditional fighting game – back around SF2, it was completely mainstream. Now, a game as honed towards What The Hardcore Fans Want as Virtua Fighter 5 has managed to shed any audience who aren’t part of that hardcore audience. If you believe in playing games rather than marrying them, this is a regrettable direction.

MEDIEVAL II KINGDOMS
Really, really good. Probably my favourite add-on pack of the year. We probably should have included it, but were distracted by shiny lights and yelping noises.

MR ROBOT
While incredibly lovely, just didn’t quite make the cut. Still, really worth playing.

DWARF FORTRESS
Despite having the sizeable Z-axis update, it turned out we didn’t actually play enough Dwarf Fortress to work its way into the list. Having started a good six or seven fortresses to play around with it, I’ve certainly got the flavour of it, however. It remains a major game about miners.

LORD OF THE RINGS ONLINE
Good fun, but that’s about it. I probably played most out of the RPS guys, but it just felt a little too safe, in terms of desperately not wanting to mess up the Lord of the Rings licence. The accepted wisdom was – and, for some, remains – that Licensed MMOs don’t work. It’s nonsense, of course, but Turbine desperately didn’t want to add to that particular myth, and you can tell. They didn’t, but they didn’t really push it anywhere either. One of my most persistent memories of the game was having it demoed at a Codemasters events, where the Turbine-member spent most of his time saying “We have the standard control system and the standard skill points and…”. Well, lots of use of the word “standard”. That may get decent sales and a fun game, but it certainly does make us write rapturous notes to your genius in end of year rounds ups.

CIV 4: BEYOND THE SWORD
I didn’t get around to playing it. For shame, for shame.

GALACTIC CIVILIZATION II: DARK AVATAR
See Civ 4: Beyond the Sword.

40 Comments

  1. Thelps says:

    RPS has started referring to itself as ‘I’? This has to be the first example of a website achieving sentience on the internet. I’m both intrigued and horrified.

  2. Will Tomas says:

    I take it that this is Kieron writing, channeling the spirit of RPS?

    Either way, I’m not convinced any of those games should have been in the list over any of the ones that were there. Besides, it’s always more fun reading articles about games the writers love than games they’re generally ambivalent about, because they tend to be better at making you want to play them. And there were several on the list that passed me by when they came out.

    Although, more out of interest, I’d like to hear what the Kieron/Jim makes of the Witcher, considering the range of views people seem to have about it.

  3. Pidesco says:

    The Witcher and MotB make this year, the best year for western RPGs since the last century, and you failing to acknowledge this fact cleverly disguised as my opinion is a truly disgraceful disgrace, regardless of all the reasonable and well thought out discourses that you have written or may write in the future to explain your choices.

    Also, picking Burning Crusade and C&C3 for your list is an excellent excuse for someone to show up at your various homes and slap you silly with a large, frozen sea bass.

  4. dartt says:

    The RPS Funding Bill is passed. The website goes on-line July 2007. Human decisions are removed from PC games blogging. RPS begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 17:54 p.m. Greenwich Mean time, December 29th. In a panic, they try to pull the plug.

  5. Kieron Gillen says:

    Fixed. Was originally going to be a group post, but I ended up doing it.

    KG

  6. Feet says:

    All of a sudden RPS assimilates Kieron Gillen! The world is shattered!

    Who knows what it is capable now it has control of that beard!

  7. Cargo Cult says:

    So many fallen by the wayside, but I still made it to the list with MINERVA.

    Bwuhahahahahaha!!!

    ..

    Oh, and don’t forget to vote for MINERVA in ModDB’s awards thingy. Pretty please? Thank you!

  8. Nuyan says:

    Another expansion pack that is missing is Beyond the Sword. It’s probably the best Civilization expansion pack ever released (Which also shows that majority of Civ expansions in the past were just cash-cows, but well) and I’d say that’s worth a mention.

    Still have to find time to seriously play it myself though, even while I bought it after release.

  9. Greger says:

    Blasphemy! Kingdoms is the gaming event of the entire year, and if you don’t agree, well… then I HATE YOU! And I agree with Nuyan that Beyond the Sword is the awesomest thing ever to happen to Civ.

  10. Simon says:

    Re. GHIII:
    Another reason to leave it out would be that it’s also a very, very bad port. A game that’s technically as simple as this, it’s even on the ps2 after all, shouldn’t have a Stranglehold level of system requirements.
    Kane & Lynch on the other hand is apparently quite a good pc game that’s had a bad port to the consoles.

  11. SwiftRanger says:

    I’d say the Gold Edition is the best SupCom incarnation, at least that way you can play with all factions online (you need an original SupCom key for that) and the Gold Edition is about as cheap as Forged Alliance on its own (FA really shouldn’t have been stand-alone in other words).

    Sometimes SupCom feels like “much work” idd but having no love for it because of that is a bit beyond me. It’s not only one of the few RTS’s in a long time that went completely for the “lots of units, war on all fronts”-approach, it has also (successfully) tried to bring out that huge control freak in everyone. How can you not love a game that eliminates the use of tedious sidescrolling, allows you to drag-drop every single (queued) command you give or has units that automatically rebuild your entire base when it’s destroyed? Dig deeper guys, because I have the impression you maybe didn’t see all its tricks (yet). It’s not as polished as World in Conflict perhaps but then again, it tries to do so much more as well.

    Ah well, love is a subjective thing it seems and a list that limits itself to 24 games in a year like 2007 is just a bit odd.:)

  12. Thelps says:

    I second all your remarks on SupCom, SwiftRanger. The game demands a week or two of pure, learning-curve practice before it even begins to reveal its intricacies. Yes, it’s hardly a relaxing RTS, but for me, I want a full-on, multiplayer megalomania-thon which is exactly what SupCom is. Then there’s also all the innovations of scale, unit-AI, shift commands and the obvious, near-revolutionary strategic zoom. Sure, it’s an imperfect beast to every gamer, but at least it’s pushing the genre in a new direction, rather than just aping previous games and tacking on one or two new gimmicks to attract more players (which is what every other RTS this year has done, at least in my opinion).

    You’ve got to admire the ambition. Otherwise you’re just selling it short.

  13. yns88 says:

    “Having started a good six or seven fortresses to play around with it, I’ve certainly got the flavour of it, however. It remains a major game about miners.”

    You deserve to die for this.

  14. Kieron Gillen says:

    Nuyan: Good point. Forgot that. Will edit in some stuff about it. And Dark Avatar too.

    KG

  15. Hobbes says:

    “Good point. Forgot that. Will edit in some stuff about it. And Dark Avatar too.”

    Though not *much* stuff, clearly…

  16. Kieron Gillen says:

    Not much to say, man.

    I lost my hat last night. I am rubbish.

    KG

  17. Pidesco says:

    How about Democracy 2? It’s quite great.

  18. Martin says:

    @dartt: Very funny mate, you got a hearty LOL from me for that comment. :)

  19. Zarniwoop says:

    Once again, a mentioning of Mr Robot, and not a Styx reference in sight.

    :(

  20. Freelancepolice says:

    Civ 4 beyond the sword is superb, from the subtle differences to the full on additions. They all fit so well and the scenarios are truly out of this world (pun intended :( )

  21. King A says:

    Its been mentioned on here before but the full blown ‘Fall From Heaven II’ mod for Civ 4 BTS is superb and well worth checking out when you finally do get around to picking up the expansion Kieron. I expect the dark part of your subconscious that lurks at around 4am will be compelling you to pick it up at the nearest opportunity.

  22. Mickiscoole says:

    I’m a huge fan of Supcom (And forged alliance which I’m still playing through), but because all my friends at uni have it and we have all nighter LAN games of it. Some truly awesome moments have emerged from these games.

  23. Schadenfreude says:

    Good call on playing the Witcher with the extended dialogue; you should try and get hold of the Polish sound pack too though. Not understanding a word of it of course; to me it just seems better acted and more ‘authentic’ when they’re all growling in Polish with a decent set of English subtitles.

  24. Kieron Gillen says:

    Schadenfreude: That was the plan, but we’re having trouble locating it. Any pointers? Feel free to mail us.

    KG

  25. Dan Forever says:

    I would have replaced c&c3 with supcom myself, as I’ve had countless hours of fun playing supcom with my mates. I find that the developers have looked at how people play real time strategy games and added lots of nice touches to make playing the game as easy as possible. My favourite feature being ferry points, and the fact that transport craft will automatically transport units in their group when ordered to move somewhere.

    On the other hand, the number of times units in c&c 3 seem to wander off and do their own things or just sit there and die has me pulling my hair out.

  26. Ben Abraham says:

    Liberal Crime Squad doesn’t even rate a mention?!

    THIS IS MADNESS!

    No… this is Rock Paper Sparta!

  27. Kieron Gillen says:

    LCS didn’t come out last year, alas.

    KG

  28. Thelps says:

    Us SupCom-ites are being conspicuously ignored. CONSPICUOUSLY IGNORED DAMMIT!

    (Probably rightly so, alas, since we most likely represent the greatest threat to derailing this thread).

  29. Schadenfreude says:

    E-Mail sent, Kieron. I’m a bit drunk so the installation instructions may be a bit rambling and incoherent but it basically boils down to “Rename Polish soundpack to English soundpack”.

    Enjoy.

  30. Solrax says:

    The trouble with SupCom is that it shipped broken, then they made you pay for an expansion pack that fixed some, but not all, of the brokeness. Now they’ve moved on to new games and the 360 version, and thanks for buying the game twice!

  31. Drakkheim says:

    You’re forgiven for not playing Dark Avatar.. It was a good expansion but not game of the year good. Now Twilight of the arnor… do yourself a favor and Don’t skip it when it comes out. The per species tech tree and terror starsare definatly gonna make it a contender for next year’s turn based game of the year title.

    Oh and thank you for introducing me to a whole bunch of games I otherwise would have missed over the last year… Now if I can just keep my dwarves from starving…….

    ..
    damn racoons.

    Have a wonderful new year.

  32. SwiftRanger says:

    The original SupCom beta was more polished than some other RTS releases now, Solrax. Adding FA performance fixes, a mini-interface and new units since release isn’t exactly what I’d call leaving your game behind as well. Nearly every expansion (even one made by Blizzard) is a patch in disguise and there are always features that won’t be available for the original game. FA can be improved, sure, that’s why there’s a new patch in the works for it. No game is perfect. The only broken thing about the whole SupCom series are the Belgian manuals, believe me. :)

    GPG is working on new games yes but not the Xbox360 port (done by ex-Barking Dog folks, looks like a dumbed down version). They ARE doing a second SupCom addon though. I can’t say developer messages as these ( link to forums.gaspowered.com ) don’t worry me but then again, GPG is always growing it seems.

  33. Matt says:

    The problem with the witcher dialogue wasn’t the acting for me. I can cope with bad voice acting, it was the translation itself. Some of the dialogue options and npc responses just didn’t make sense, at times it was really jarring. I asume using the Polish language and the subtitles will not fix this?

  34. Kieron Gillen says:

    The original uncut English script patch is available here. I haven’t tried it yet.
    link to thewitcher.com

    You can play it like that, but the voices will be different from what’s actually said (obviously). If you get the Polish files off (er) somewhere, you’ll be able to play it as a foriegn adventure.

    I haven’t yet, so not sure if it’s worth the effort.

    KG

  35. Schadenfreude says:

    Contrary to official RPS opinion I thought it was worth the effort to play through the game with the crappy translation (More so than playing through NWN2 or MotB; both of which I thought were shit). So with the decent translation (Which goes a bit wonky in the Prologue) and the kinda scary, gruff Polish voices I reckon it’s more than worth the effort.

    But I’m drunk again.

    Seriously; I don’t think I’ve ever posted here sober. Still; I’d like to think I’m deploying my semi-colons correctly.

    Livin’ the dream.

    Livin’ the dream.

  36. malkav11 says:

    The default translation isn’t *that* bad. It’s not particularly lively and it does occasionally verge on non sequitur or other forms of incomprehensibility, but it’s perfectly serviceable most of the time.

  37. Krupo says:

    I’ll say it again – knowing Polish, I look forward to getting the original version of the Witcher (Wiedzmin! Even the title sounds better in Polish – no surprisingly).

    I’ve seen some clips of dialogue on Youtube. It rocks hard. Must get. I’ll be hopefully flying to Europe next month, maybe I’ll be able to score a copy while I’m there.

  38. kadayi says:

    I was also pretty surprised the Witcher wasn’t in the RPS Advent list tbh, it’s a very well constructed game, and one in which the decisions you make can’t be defined as straight good or evil, which is a complete departure from the norm (I’m looking at you Mass Effect). The Witcher is what Fable should of been. Sure at times the translation wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t unplayable or bug riddled as a result.

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