I had intended to get some blogging in this weekend, especially after seeing headlines that the Big Three might become the Big Two which would be huge news for us Michigan people, but I couldn’t think of what to say that would be all that interesting. In fact I’ve been in a bit of a blogging malaise lately. Maybe I’m just burned out from all the political drama what with the upcoming election and all, I’m still astounded that the Presidential race is going to be close, or maybe it’s the changing of the seasons. Not sure, but I know several of you have sent me some very good links lately hoping I’d write something on them and so far I’ve had little to nothing that seemed worth saying. It probably doesn’t help that I’m currently participating in both the Wrath of the Lich King and LittleBigPlanet beta tests and both ate up a good chunk of my weekend. So I’ll write a little bit about those for now:
With regards to Blizzard’s expansion to World of Warcraft all I can say is: Wow! As far as I know they haven’t updated the graphical abilities of the client in any way, but you’d almost swear that they did with just how gorgeous the WotLK expansion looks. The designers have really learned how to squeeze every last drop of goodness out of the client. If I had to guess I’d say that most of the improvement comes from improved texture use, but it’s also clear that they’ve learned a few tricks to making the low-polygon models look like they’re more detailed than they really are. Of particular note are some of the special effects. Fire, for example, has always looked a bit cheesy in WoW so when I first stepped foot into the Ember Clutch and saw all the trees caught in the midst of a fairly realistic looking forest fire I was, to say the least, impressed. There’s another effect when fighting the ghosts of a Norse looking race new to the game on the beaches of Riplash Ruins that caught my eye immediately. When the ghosts die they explode into a pile of seaweed. The expansion just looks fantastic all the way around and the variety in landscape is higher than I thought it would be given the frozen theme of the expansion.
It’s also obvious that Blizzard has learned a lot over the years in how to tell a story in a MMO and make people feel a part of the world. The main villain of this expansion, Arthus aka The Lich King, shows up early and often rather than just sitting in his dungeon waiting for players to get high enough to take him down. Not only do Death Knights interact with him quite a bit during their first two levels of experience—you have to go through a quest line to free yourself from being his slave—but he also shows up in at least one of the two starting zones for people arriving in Northrend. Reportedly he shows up through various quest lines all the way through the different zones of the expansion. Did I mention the expansion is huge? I’ve been playing the beta since shortly after it opened up and I’ve only gotten to level 72 on two of my characters, my hunter and my mage, and I’ve only made it to three of the different zones so far, not counting Dalaran which I got portaled to at one point. I’m sure someone will power level their character to level 80 in just a day or two, but for those of us who actually play the game for the content it should take a couple of months at the least to get to 80. It’s amazing to see how much stuff they’ve crammed into the game and I’m looking forward to seeing client 3.0.2 drop tomorrow bringing a good chunk of the user interface and game changes along with it. It’ll basically contain everything except for the new Northrend content to the current game.
The LittleBigPlanet beta has been a blast. The first few platform levels you’ll go through teach you everything you need to know about how to play the game and control your sackboy as well as getting you started on your collection of items you can use to customize the game. It feels a little simplistic at first, but it quickly becomes apparent that it has a lot of hidden depth. Already there are a ton of user created levels available all of which it was recently announced will be carried over to the live game. The game is as gorgeous and cute as the screenshots have shown and it can be surprisingly difficult to snag all the collectibles in a level. I’ve not created much of anything myself yet, but I’ve had a blast seeing what others have come up with. One person managed to put together a fully functional electronic calculator in the game using the available parts. It’s a surprising creation that leaves one to wonder what else might be possible. I think this one is going to sell a lot of PS3s.
So that’s what I did with my weekend. How about you guys?