Tag Archive | reviews

Let’s talk about ArcheAge

So. I love me some video games. Not quite as much as I love books, but there’s a lot to be said for strapping on some armor that barely covers your lady bits and not really anything important and running out to kick some goblin/orc/whatever ass.

Fantasy games are my cup of tea. Although I can usually be persuaded to try out other genres of games, I rarely stay with them for long, preferring to get my elf back on. There’s one notable exception to this rule, but we’ll discuss that later.

I’ve worked in the game industry, so I feel for what game designers, publishers, etc go through to put a game on the market and that not everything goes as smoothly as originally planned. The best laid plans of mice and men, as you well know.

And now to the point!

The most recent offering on the market in fantasy gaming is ArcheAge. It is originally an Asian game being produced and distributed in the US by Trion. Trion made news when they first opened by going with the ballsy move of having three games in simultaneous production with no games out earning money. It didn’t totally pay off for them, but it did give us Rift, which doesn’t suck and is a fun way to spend some time. It had a few really great game innovations that I hope to see become standard features in future games.

Now, distributing and producing someone else’s game comes with a few caveats, one of which is usually that you don’t have a ton of control over content etc.

Unfortunately, I think that this is going to end up being a black eye for Trion.

Why?

Cause the game is fucking frustrating as all get out. This is a fairly significant statement from me, because as with movies, my usual rating criteria for anything is “Does it entertain me?” and if the answer is yes, we’re golden. The problem that I have, is that while yes the game does entertain me, it also presents enough roadblocks to my game play and enjoyment that I basically want to claw someone’s eyes out.

The Good:

We’ll start with the positives. I like the graphics. They’re pretty and not everything is brown, which is a pretty big deal.

The character creation is okay. It isn’t terrifically involved to the point where it takes me a good half hour plus to make my character, but it’s detailed enough to make me happy.

I like the way they’ve done the classes. You get the four main fantasy categories and from there you can customize your class as you wish as you level up and gain points to spend. It makes for a bit of variety and you get to feel like you have a little more control over what your character is throwing around.

The mounts. Love them! They’re adorbs and your first one is for frees as part of a quest (if you don’t skip the quest like some folks *coughmecough* did).

Chris Evans’ biceps in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. No, this has nothing to do with the game, but they really should be mentioned at every possible opportunity, because Chris Evans. Seriously.

I don’t hate the questing system. It’s pretty standard. Go kill these things that are causing problems, etc etc etc. We’re on rails as opposed to being sandboxy, which is just fine for me. It isn’t one of the things that I get irked about.

Crafting! I love crafting and harvesting and all things related to. It’s fun to create. The system is involved enough to not be totally dull, but it isn’t like, say, Aion or Final Fantasy XIV pre-relaunch. Or even really post relaunch for that matter.

Free to play. There once was a time when I was all about paying a monthly sub for a game. No problem at all. Provided that said game held my attention and provided what I considered fair value for my money. As more and more games come out, I can’t afford subs for all of the ones that I am interested in playing, nor are they really producing a game that I feel deserves a $15 a month commitment from me. So free to play is a big selling point. And if I like something about the game enough to spend some money on it, woohoo.

The Bad:

The free to play model being used. I know, I just said that free to play was a good thing. And it is. Provided that the model isn’t too restrictive and doesn’t give me the impression that I am being forced to give them money that I am not prepared to shell out. Unfortunately, that is exactly the feeling that I have about this game. For several reasons.

1) Labor points – Actions cost labor points. Harvesting costs labor points. Crafting costs labor points. Opening and identifying loot costs labor points (or it did in beta, I haven’t been able to get in long enough to see if this still applies without patron status). Without purchasing patron status, one earns a total of five labor points every 10 minutes of game play. That is, you must be logged in to the game in order to get labor points. Harvesting an iron node, costs 10 labor points. If the rare spawn special node appears after your initial iron gather, that’s another 20 labor points. 30 points total. 60 minutes of game time in order to get some iron. Don’t even get me started on the costs for crafting things. Even as part of a quest, crafting costs a significant number of labor points.

2) Harvesting/Crafting – As previously mentioned, these things cost labor points. One the one hand, that isn’t a terrible thing, if you spend a few hours questing and whatever, you have enough labor points to do at least some harvesting. Sort of. Crafting on the other hand. I did a quest wherein I had to craft a pair of gloves. It required 100 labor points. I couldn’t complete the quest until I was ready to move to the next quest hub. Frustrating.

3) Houses/Farms – I like houses. I am crap at decorating them, because I have like zero artistic ability when it comes to any sort of visual. Even my stick figures are sad. I’m okay with this. My house ends up looking a little like an antique shop with crap crammed in every available corner and no real rhyme or reason. But I still like to have the house and I still like to make stuff to cram into my corners. I also like (as mentioned before) harvesting. Having my own little farm and getting to plant things/have livestock, gives me a happy little tingle in my crafting place. So, it would seem that this really ought to go in the good category, right?

Well it would. Except for one little, tiny, annoying ass detail. You can’t own any sort of property unless you purchase patron status, which starts out at $15 a month. So, no house. No farm. Which then follows, no crafting in the cookery area with anything that can’t be grown on the public farms, which are severely limited. Which also means, no quest completion for any quest requiring you craft with ingredients not zoned in the public farm areas. Yes, I ran into this special little hell in beta and lemme tell ya, I was pissed. Like, I had to turn the game off and go read to get my happy back.

4) Queues – I get it. You don’t want to stand up a hundred servers at launch, only to have to consolidate in a month or so when people get bored and wander back to whatever other games they cycle through. That’s fine. But when you have people who can’t play your game without sitting in a queue for six hours (no shit on this, sometimes it takes this long), your game is really not going to do well.

Not only do you have to sit in the queue to play, you have to sit in the queue to create a character. Which means if you create a character on a server, after having been in queue for three hours, and it turns out that it is not the server that your significant other is playing on, you must then go to the correct server and sit in the queue for another three or four or eight hours just to CREATE A GODDAMN CHARACTER. And since you only have two (without paying for more, of course) you’re kind of fucked if he decides to move. Because in order to delete the character on the wrong server to free up that space? You guessed it. You sit in the fucking queue.

Which leads us to my ultimate rage.

5) Patron status – Basically you pay a sub to play the game. Which is fine. Believe me, I understand. It’s a business and ultimately they need to make money so that people stay employed and they can keep making games. I support this all over the place. My current favorite game, which also happens to be free to play, has hit on a model that has gained well more than $1000 out of us in the past year. Which, doing the math, is quite a bit more than they’d have gotten if we’d been paying a $15 a month sub. Even for both of us.

Patron status gets you: the ability to own property. You can have that house and that farm. If you can find land that wasn’t bought up during the head start and is being held for ransom by those folks who are charging stupid amounts of in game money for it. (Please note, that my SO caved and bought patron status, because he wanted the full game experience. He has discovered, on his server, that there is still property available, but you have to go out into the boonies to find it.) But then, there are assholes in every game. But, lemme just say, if I’m paying you money in your free to play game for something and I can’t get it? You need to give me back my gorram money. In an actual fucking hurry.

Patron status gets you: more labor points. You earn at twice the rate while online AND you can even earn labor points when you’re offline at a rate of five points every 10 minutes. That’s not a bad deal. Cause you’re gonna need that extra labor to build that house. But is this really worth $15 a month? Fuck. No. Especially when the biggest reason (property ownership) for having patron status is not happening cause of a bunch of douche canoe fuck shovels. Oh and there’s nothing in the works to solve this problem. So basically, it’s “Yeah, we know you’ve paid us x number of dollars, but too fucking bad”. That doesn’t really bode well for my relationship with this game. Just saying.

And on to my number one beef with Patron status.

Patron status gets you: the ability to bypass the queue and log directly into game.

So with the current status of the queues (and let’s not forget that I can’t create, delete, or play a character on any server without waiting for three, four, or six hours in a queue) I cannot play the game. Because after six hours of waiting in a fucking queue, you can bet your sassy little hinie that I have found myself something else to occupy my time. Like another game. That doesn’t force me to buy a $15 sub to play a free to fucking play game.

This feature especially makes me feel like I am being forced to pay money to play a game that advertises as free to play. A game that advertises as one of its biggest selling points, the crafting and housing systems. That you cannot experience or experience fully, without giving them money.

No matter how much I like aspects of this, I cannot and will not give them a fucking penny of my money, simply because I feel like they are trying to force me to spend. Rather than give me a game to play and then give me some really attractive things that I WANT to throw my money at them for, they are essentially charging a monthly fee to play a game that they’ve advertised as not having a monthly fee.

Nope.

Just no.

TL:DR

There are some cool things about the game, and I pretty much enjoy it. However, I will not be spending my time or my money on it, because they’ve put in place some douchey fucking policies that make it a waste of my time and a rip off in the bargain.

I’ll save my money on this and find somewhere better to spend it. Like at Starbucks.

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Ready to Wed – Cindi Madsen

Happy Tuesday darlings!

After my unseemly wallowing in unemployment, I am getting back into the swing of things with a new book review! The lovely folks at Entangled Publishing offered me a chance to review Ready to Wed by Cindi Madsen. And as always, I lept at the chance. Not only is Cindi a lovely person, I enjoy her writing, so it’s always a pleasure.

In a nutshell:

Dakota Hallifax is 100% type A. (Having those tendencies myself, I appreciate this.) So being a wedding planner is readytowedpretty much the perfect occupation for her. But how do you plan the biggest wedding of your career when your wedding just crashed and burned with a no-show groom?

Just when Dakota is sure that her life is a total mess, her childhood best friend Brendan West moves back to town. He helps her pick up the pieces.

The Good:

There’s a lot that I loved about this book. I’m a total sucker for happily ever afters, and this book has an awesome one. No, I won’t tell you what it is.

Beyond that, I like Dakota. I can relate to being something of a control freak and can sympathize with her mother issues. I also like the fact that in spite of the utter blow of having her fiance stand her up at their wedding (mental note: do not get married on a cruise, because awkward if it doesn’t work), she doesn’t completely fall apart.

True, I wanted to slap her when she actually considered giving the jerk another chance, but really, who can blame her? Been there, done that.

Then there’s Brendan. Who doesn’t love a genuinely nice guy? Especially one who swoops in with a nice broad set of shoulders just when you need them? It doesn’t hurt that he’s a hottie and wears suits to work 😉

Jillian, Dakota’s catering bestie, is awesome. She’s all snarky and no nonsense. She’s the kind of friend that everyone needs at least one of. Completely supportive in every way, but doesn’t pull punches or sugarcoat things.

I also love her color coding system for bride moods. It’s kind of awesome and I may just steal it for my personal mood ring.

The Bad:

There’s that whole getting stood up at the altar thing, that’s bound to give any girl (or guy!) nightmares about getting married. Just breathe through it and keep reading! It works out.

Overall:

This is a great read. It hits you in all the feels and I admit to getting a tad weepy there at the end. I hope to see Jillian’s story at some point in the future.

Where you can buy:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

ONE – LeighAnn Kopans

View the electronic details here.

OR

Get the paperback version here.

I am cheerfully setting work aside to do a very, very long overdue review. I’m sure by now, we’ve all gathered that I love to read. I set my reading goal for the year at 150 books, but to be perfectly honest, I blow it out of the water. I’m also discovering that I like doing the whole review thing as well. Mostly because I want other people to like the books I like.

In this case it isn’t JUST about the book, although it’s freaking amazing. It’s also about the author. LeighAnn Kopans is one of the lovely people I stalk follow on Twitter. She is the very definition of awesome. ONESweet, inspiring, encouraging, supportive, and just generally a terrific person.

Does this really make her book better?

Hell yes, it does. No amount of love will make a bad book, good. But it definitely makes a great book, better. Because you sit there reading this terrific novel and in the back of your head the whole time is the knowledge that you know the author (even if it’s just through Twitter) and she is a truly fantastic human being. My joy in her success made reading ONE an even better experience.

Fortunately, for those of you who don’t follow LeighAnn around like a puppy, ONE is completely amazerful all on its own!

The Blurb:

When having two powers makes you a Super and having none makes you a Normal, having only one makes you a sad half-superpowered freak.

It makes you a One.

Sixteen-year-old Merrin Grey would love to be able to fly – too bad all she can do is hover.

If she could just land an internship at the Biotech Hub, she might finally figure out how to fix herself. She busts her butt in AP Chem and salivates over the Hub’s research on the manifestation of superpowers, all in hopes of boosting her chances.

Then she meets Elias VanDyne, another One, and all her carefully crafted plans fly out the window. Literally. When the two of them touch, their Ones combine to make them fly, and when they’re not soaring over the Nebraska cornfields, they’re busy falling for each other.

Merrin’s mad chemistry skills land her a spot on the Hub’s internship short list, but as she gets closer to the life she always wanted, she discovers that the Hub’s purpose is more sinister than it has always seemed.  Now it’s up to her to decide if it’s more important to fly solo, or to save everything – and everyone – she loves.

The Good:

The story is amazing. A fun, different take on superpowers. I read through it super fast to the exclusion of all else. There were many glares and sighs as my nose was stuck to the screen of my Kindle, but it was so worth it. Seriously, if I had all the moneys I would buy copies of this to just leave lying around for people to pick up.

This isn’t your usual spandex wearing superhero story. It goes deeper. I love the fact that in order to fly, you need a combination of powers that work together. I’d honestly never thought of it, but it makes perfect sense. Which is part of the draw for me. It makes me think: Oh yeah, that’s totally how that would work if we had superpowers.

LOVE IT!!

I also love the characters.

Merrin is such a great heroine. She’s smart, strong, and she knows what she wants. She loves fiercely and fights like hell to save her family. I just want to hug her.

Elias is totally swoon worthy. He’s the sort of boyfriend every girl should have in highschool. He’s sweet, confident, supportive.

The best part about their relationship, for me anyway, is that neither of them loses their sense of self. Yes, they’re in love and they can do amazing things together. But Merrin never gives up being herself or tries to be different to make Elias happy. Theirs is a healthy relationship that makes me all kinds of happy.

No bad. Just read it. You won’t be sorry!

Take it Like a Vamp – Candace Havens

This review is so horribly overdue, I cannot EVEN begin to say. All I can do is apologize profusely for the lack. Work blew up like nobody’s business and I’ve been running to exhaustion since about mid-May. Again, my deepest apologies to the ladies at Entangled and to Ms. Havens (whose work I really enjoy).

I could fill the whole blog post apologizing, but really, no one is here for that. Nor should you be!

View the details here.

In my fogged and totally out of it brain, it took me a minute to remember the book and why the name Candace Havens was so familiar. Well DUH. She was one of the authors featured in A Riveting Affair – A Steampunk Anthology. All the squees. I really love this woman’s work! I reread the first line of Take it Like a Vamp and immediately remembered the entire story. It’s pretty darn groovy.

Casey’s best friend is a super hot guy, and really, who doesn’t wish they had one of those! Hers also happens to be a vampire, a rather high ranking one at that. Naturally, Casey doesn’t believe that she is good enough for the hottie but still manages to end up right in the middle of a vampire power struggle with said hottie wrapped around her little finger.

I know what you’re thinking, but the truth is, no. Vampire stories never get old. They’re a whole lot of fun to read and this one is no exception. TakeItLikeAVamp

The Good:

I love Casey. She’s a terrific character. While she has insecurities, they aren’t enough to where she lets people walk all over her. She’s got some serious fight going on. One of the things that I really enjoy about her as a female lead is her strength. Yeah, her man is all kinds of alpha and intimidating, but she holds her own and stands up to him. Repeatedly. She insists on a partnership. For this alone I could totally kiss the author. In a non-creepy way, honestly. It isn’t just Nick she stands up to, though. She also kicks some serious ass when his psycho ex (from like a hundred years ago) shows up and tries to take a bite (literally) out of her.

Nick is the hottie, head of the council, vampire. He’s a pretty good guy, who has fallen in love with his neighbor. It’s sort of cute how he tries to resist her, being a vampire and all. But boy, does he jump at the chance to have Casey, when he has to get married, or else. He’s kind of a dumbass for not just telling her straight out from the get go that he thinks she’s amazing, but guys are silly like that sometimes, and where’s the fun in

Now, I know that I should be all swoony over Nick, and don’t get me wrong. He is totally swoon worthy, but his bff Linc totally steals the show. He’s got all of Nick’s swooniness and a smart ass sense of humor on top of it all. Every alpha male needs a best friend who keeps him grounded and tells him how things are without sugar coating, and Linc is that guy. I’m pretty sure he has his own book, but if he doesn’t yet, he really needs one!

The Bad:

There’s not a lot that I could pick out that irked me in this one.

Casey, while initially down on herself, really came into her own and shined like mad by the end of the book. Her self-esteem improved, but NOT just because she had a man. So there was nothing there to piss me off about her. I related on all kinds of levels. She’s really a wonderful character.

Overall:

Candace Havens had already impressed me in A Riveting Affair and she did so yet again with Take it Like a Vamp. I really enjoyed this and am seriously considering another read through. The writing is great and the characters develop really well. Especially my girl Casey! I highly recommend giving it a read, you won’t be disappointed!

Famously Engaged – Robyn Thomas

View the details here.

As always, the lovely women at Entangled Publishing provide me with some of the best ever reading material! I really love getting the opportunity to review books for Entangled, because they are, without fail, well written and famouslyengagedentertaining.

Famously Engaged, by Robyn Thomas, is a fun read.

Super famous rock god, Jake Olsen is just looking out for his baby sister’s best interests when he decides to very publically engage himself to Beth Carlisle. What could go wrong? Only lots, of course!

The Good:

I liked the premise of the book. It was unique and a lot of fun. I liked the fact that Jake was doing his best to look out for his family, even though his sister didn’t know they were related. It was touching that he went to such ridiculous lengths to try and head off a problem that really wasn’t even there. Sure, there were probably easier ways to do it, but then there wouldn’t have been much of a story there!

I loved that Beth was such a sweetheart. She really deserved the happily ever after that Jake gave her and she wasn’t so sickeningly sweet and perfect that you ended up not liking her. She was a real trooper through all the media nonsense and it was easy to admire her pluck. Nothing beats a sassy heroine! I also got a kick out of the fact that all of Jake’s band and entourage immediately adopted Beth as one of their own.

The interaction between Jake and his friends was great. It’s exactly how guys who have been friends for a long time treat each other.

The dialogue was snappy and the descriptions didn’t drag.

The Bad:

I know that they’re secondary characters and all that, but Brad and Skyla kind of irked me. I get that Beth is a great person and all that. Like I said, almost too great.

Skyla being friends with Beth is cool. I like that she’s able to be friends with her fiance’s ex. But Brad? He’s obssessed. Like way more so than any normal person should be. They got divorced for crying out loud. Yes, it’s possible to still be friends with your ex, but it was really beyond what I’d tolerate in my fiance. So I wanted to kick Brad in the ding ding because he was stalkery in the extreme.

So, while Jake’s approach was a little heavy handed and ridiculous, it was totally understandable given the epic creepiness of his future brother-in-law. Honestly, in Skyla’s shoes, I’d have been looking for a new fiance long before the time he suggested moving in with his ex.

Overall:

It isn’t an instant classic or the next Harry Potter, but Famously Engaged was a good read. It was quick and entertaining with a sweet outcome for two people who deserved to be happy.

 

Tall, Dark, and Divine – Jenna Bennett

View the details here.

I often get bogged down in my day job and life in general. That’s one of the reasons that my posting is sporadic (try as I do to keep it somewhat regular). It’s also one of the reasons that I read. I find that it settles my mind and gives me a little bit of escape (I always here this in my head as es-cap-ay, thank you Finding Nemo!) from the stresses of life.

I received a copy of Tall, Dark, and Divine for review from the lovelies at Entangled. Thus far I have been a huge fan of everything I have read from them. They publish quality work and I love that I am able to give honestly glowing talldarkdivinereviews about the books I get to read. I liked TDD so much that I jumped at the chance to host a guest blog post by the author, Jenna Bennett. That will appear on the 16th!

So let’s get going!

The blurb:

Annie Landon has given up on finding Mr. Right, and has gone out looking for Mr. Tonight instead. A conversation overheard in the bathroom of Dionysus’s Bar about a jilted and lonely “Greek god” in need of a quick pick-me-up sounds like just what she’s looking for.

But picking up the god of love for a one-night stand is easier said than done–especially when he’s sworn off mortals forever.

Eros has been down and out since his ex-wife left him, and falling for another mortal woman is the last thing he needs. Which means a maddening desire for the woman across the street is not in the cards. Thus begins his quest to find a match made in heaven for Annie. It’s the perfect plan … if only Eros can bear to let the girl of his dreams go.

Can a woman looking for love, and a matchmaking god who wants her to find it—with someone else—have a shot at a happy ending, or will Eros’s golden arrows miss their mark, for once?

The Good:

I’m a huge fan of mythology of just about any flavor, but the Greeks are my first great love. (Third grade school library for the win!) Bringing the Greek gods into the modern era is usually a big hit with me. Jenna did a terrific job with this! I thought she really captured what made each of them tick and showcased the personalities in a fun way.

TDD made me giggle at several points, which is always a huge plus! I liked Eros (Ross) and Annie. They were a cute couple and I was happy for them to get together. There were times I wanted to shake Ross for having his head up his ass. You’d think that after thousands of years and being the god of love, he’d have gotten a clue. But in keeping with mythology, while a god and exceptional, he really is just a glorified mortal with all the faults and foibles of a man, somewhat exaggerated.

The best part of TDD, for me anyway, was Dionysus. The god of wine and debauchery and all that other good stuff that comes from getting a snootful now owns a bar. Totally makes sense. He totally steals the show. Dion is snarky, brutally honest, has this awesome habit of telling Eros exactly what he doesn’t want to hear. He’s hysterical and made me laugh throughout the book.

The Bad:

While I really liked Annie, I sort of wanted to shake her for not putting her foot down a little more firmly about Ross being a moron about whatshisbutt guy that he was trying to set her up with. Not that I don’t understand why she didn’t. I totally do and it really would have been out of character for her to pitch a fit about it. I mean honestly, who WOULDN’T doubt that a FREAKING GOD would want them. She’s totally believable and relatable. Which is why I wanted to shake her 😉

Overall:

This is a great read. I love how Jenna nails the characters of the gods and makes the whole thing light and fun, while at the same time telling a sweet love story. It was totally worth putting off that pile of paperwork that’s breeding on the corner of my desk!

Love Me – Diane Alberts

View the details here.

I was out of reading material the other day.

I know, I know. It was traumatic. I don’t know how I survived.

Then, the lovely and amazing Heather Riccio bailed me out with a copy of Love Me for review! Huzzah! I’ve read other awesomeness by Diane (who I also religiously stalk on Twitter) so I knew that I was going to love it. loveme

I was so right!

The Blurb:

Thomas Jones has come to Vegas to win yet another account for his marketing company. But when he sits across from beautiful and sensual Brianna Falk to deliver his pitch, his desire to leave Vegas as quickly as possible is replaced by the need to get closer to her. Yet she resists his charm.

Brianna knows a date with Thomas could jeopardize her job, but he’s so maddening and insistent, she has a hard time denying him just one date. But that’s all it can be: one date. Because she has to protect her job and her secrets, even if it means giving up a chance at a life she never thought she’d have again.

The Good:

S.T.E.A.M.Y! Whew! Goodness gracious. I had to fan myself while I was reading, and I couldn’t stop reading, which totally blew my “read and work at the same time” plan out of the water! There was a lot of fanning and blushing going on that day.

I really enjoyed the interactions between Thomas and Brianna. There was so much snarky goodness as he flirted with her and she shut him down. It was so much fun to read. I also loved the way that Thomas bravely threw himself into getting to know her kids and getting along with them. He was totally committed before he could even admit that he was. It was just adorable!

They were totally sweet together and Diane did a terrific job showing how their past hurts affected their current relationship. It was also heartwarming how committed they both were to overcoming all that and learning to trust someone again.

I love Diane, she’s a darling. I love her writing, she really gets in there and makes you feel all the feels, so I’d love her writing even if I didn’t love her. That’s really just not a problem though, cause she’s really awesome and you should follow her on Twitter too!

The Bad:

S.T.E.A.M.Y! I got NO work done! Oh and I totally got choked up at the end. *sniffle*

Overall:

Read this! It’s a fast, fun read and it leaves you feeling all warm and fuzzy afterward.