Category Archives: Gaming

Playing around with Sims 4

I wasn’t going to buy Sims 4, I really wasn’t. I didn’t like Sims 3 and, since EA released Sims 2 Ultimate, I was perfectly happy playing that without the display issues I’d had with my physical-copy game previously.

Then came the festive season and a 50%-off deal on Origin and I decided to give Sims 4 a try. One week of (intermittent) play later and I’m still not sure whether I like it or not.

It runs beautifully. I love the look of it compared to Sims 3 and the gameplay is far more my style of play than what felt like very linear gameplay in Sims 3. I don’t miss the open world aspects one bit, coming mainly from Sims 2. The emotions are nice and my Sims are far more engaging than those in Sims 3 – and, while the game is fairly bare at the moment without the plethora of expansions previous incarnations have eventually had, I’m still having fun learning how it works.

The downsides? It’s hard to really put my finger on it – in the end, it’s just not as addictive and absorbing as Sims 2 was when it was first released. I’ll play for half an hour or so, and then I go and do something else. Perhaps part of the dissatisfaction is the learning curve, the smaller neighbourhoods, and the relative lack of visual feedback (without clicking through menus) compared to Sims 2. But the potential is there – and if EA can release some decent expansion packs it has the foundations of a solid game.

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When vampires attack … and how to fix it

Finally getting on my feet after some fairly major surgery (sporting injuries: don’t do them), I’m playing Skyrim for the 3rd time. Which is great, and the replayability of the game (with LifeAnotherLife) amazes me, but I ran into a problem I haven’t had before thanks to a vampire attack in Whiterun, namely the deaths of Belethor, Ulfberth, and Adrienne. Now that’s a problem for a new character!

Luckily the solution is pretty simple. For each character, go into the console and type:

  • prid <reference ID>
  • resurrect
  • moveto 14

Job done! (RefIDs can be easily obtained from UESP)

Adrienne resurrected without issue, however Belethor and Ulfberth then wouldn’t sell to me. This is solved by going into the console again, clicking on the NPC, and typing:

  • addtofaction 51596 1

The ability to use console commands is, yet again, invaluable!

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Sims 2 Ultimate and CCleaner

sims-2-ea Like many people, I downloaded Sims 2 Ultimate when EA released it. I’ve loved the franchise since the original game was released, but try as I might I’ve never gotten along with Sims 3. My original Sims 2 game had stopped working – for whatever reason – when I got a new graphics card so I’d, reluctantly, consigned the game to the scrapheap before Ultimate reignited my love for what is still an engrossing game.

However, I also have CCleaner – a great little program but one that has a nasty effect on Origin games if you run the registry cleaner. Tears were shed when my game failed to start, and I was staring into the abyss of reinstalling when I decided to try restoring my CCleaner registry backup*.

Problem solved.

(*Go to your backup file, right-click, and choose Merge).

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Tropico 5 – First impressions

I’ve been a fan of the Tropico franchise for a long time and couldn’t wait to get my hands on the latest incarnation – Tropico 5. Tropico has always been witty, rich in detail and content, and one of the most satisfying strategy games around, and Tropico 5 (so far) seems like a pretty good update to the franchise.

Tropico 5 1

The GUI has been overhauled substantially, which can be confusing if you’re coming from Tropico 3 or 4. The information is still there – you may just have to look for it in a different place. Sometimes that’s less convenient, but after ten minutes or so I found myself getting used to the new interface.

Tropico 5 2

The new construction menus threw me at first but now I’m used to them I love them. New buildings, new resources to exploit, trade routes, dynastic progression – and the artwork for the menus looks great.

Tropico 5 4

The visuals have been revamped and, to be honest, I think they’ve lost a little of that Tropico flair. The game does play more smoothly on my PC than Tropico 4 but it does feel ‘flat’ and the resource overlays are clumsy.

Impressions so far? Overall I like it, and it’s a good addition to the Tropico franchise. Maybe with more gameplay even the ocean waves will grow on me.

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Fixing the Skyrim Markarth bug

2014-05-03_00001I’m on my second play-through of Skyrim and, while it’s great that I’m seeing lots of things I didn’t see the first time around, it’s not so great that I have bugs I didn’t have first time around too. The biggest – and, until recently the most annoying – was the Markarth bug that meant that Markarth guards kept attacking me. Over and over and over again.

One solution would obviously be to avoid Markarth – I did try going away, seeing if not visiting for a couple of weeks would solve the problem. Needless to say, it didn’t. Some googling brought up suggested solutions, such as visiting the Shrine of Talos and speaking to the guards there, but I didn’t even have any guards in the Shrine of Talos!

However, I fixed it eventually, and here’s how.

  1. Go up to a guard in Markarth. I picked one at random
  2. Enter the console
  3. Click on the head of the guard, right in the middle
  4. Type paycrimegold into the console and hit enter
  5. Close the console

This worked for me and I was able to finish up quests I’d been putting off because of the bug.

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My 8 essential Skyrim mods

2013-09-21_00001Bethesda’s Skyrim is an out-of-character game for me (I’m more of a simulation/strategy gamer) but somehow I’ve racked up 400 hours of playing time over two characters and it’s still as engrossing and fun to play as it was the first time.

That said, I think a lot of its enduring appeal to me has been in the mods created by the community and Nexus has been one of my favourite bookmarks for a while. I have a lot of mods but there are some I consider essential now to the way I play the game, some that are the first I’ve gone for when I’ve installed on a new PC.

These are my favourite mods. Your mileage may vary.

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