Saturday, September 15, 2012

Skyrim Hearthfire

It's common knowledge that I love the Elder Scrolls games.  All of the character customization and ability to sort through weapons, armor, ingredients, and other loot speaks directly to my soul.  So when the video preview for Hearthfire appeared, promising me the ability to design and build my own house, my heart was aflutter.  What I envisioned was a dream-come-true combination of Skyrim and Minecraft.  Instead, I received a really limiting and less fun version of Kingdom for Keflings.

Players are allowed to purchase three specific lots of land and build a house on them.  Each house begins as a small starter home and then is built upon after that.  Players have the option to add a Main Hall and three other wings such as a kitchen, armory, greenhouse, bedrooms, etc.  There is a limit as to which wings you can have and where they go on the house.

As far as decorating inside the home, each room has a workbench that allows you to build everything the room needs.  The game places each piece of furniture and fixture into the room for you and there is no way to rearrange items.  The only customization is that you don't have to build everything in your room.  You can leave it barren or not have as many benches or decorations, but that's about it.

There are a few advantages to these new houses.  First, the greenhouse wing allows you to plant any growing ingredient you want and mass produce them.  For example, I had a quest that required 20 jazbay grapes.  Instead of hunting for the obscure grapes, I simply planted some in my greenhouse and harvested a couple in-game days later.  There is also a library wing full of bookcase that allows you to place all those books you collected onto shelves for display.  Other wings provide similar functionality. 

Overall, it's not a bad DLC.  I like the extra functions that the houses serve as far as storage and production goes.  I also like that building these houses helps to boost skills like Smithing and Alchemy if you put in the time.  The developers appear to have fallen short of their advertising implication of customization since the ability to make the houses truly your own is very limited.  At the cost of only 400 MSP or $5, I think this DLC is worth it in the end.  It adds a little something new to the game that players haven't seen before and it gives everyone a reason to put that Skyrim disc in one more time.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Mass Effect 3 DLC: Leviathan

Mass Effect 3 has had plenty of free DLC.  There have been several new maps added to the multiplayer portion of the game.  There has also been an extended ending added at the demand of the fans.  But can the first major single player, post-release DLC live up to the in-depth story and compelling game play?  This is Bioware, of course it does.

The new content, Leviathan, takes Commander Sheppard and the team on several missions to discover the origins of some ancient artifacts.  Beyond that, I can't tell you much without giving away the story.  But I will tell you this, it's a hell of a good story.  The add-on really expanded the mythology of the series and contributed to the history of the galaxy and even somewhat the ending of the third game.

The cost of the DLC is 800 MS points or $10.  For this price, it's an extremely short addition.  I hunted in every corner and slaughtered every enemy and still barely dragged out two hours.  There were some intensely memorable moments with breathtaking cut scenes; I just wish there was more.

Overall, I think that this DLC is worth the purchase.  The achievements are easy, the story is amazing, and it's nice to have a reason to pick up the single player campaign again.