Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Now Playing: Rome 2

Oh, Rome 2, how I want to love you. Why do you make it so hard? There wasn’t a game I was more excited about than this. Sadly, Rome 2 does not live up to my lofty expectations. Not yet, at least. Now, I’m a long term fan of the series. I’ve played every major title upon release and so I was well aware that Total War games, traditionally you might say, always have rocky starts. But in the end, they are always totally worth it. I have no doubt that the same will apply to Rome 2.

However, I can’t review a game on what it has the potential to be, only what it currently is. And what Rome 2 currently is, is something of a disappointing, technically flawed mess. It may not be in as bad a state as Empire was on release (at least from my experience) but it’s certainly close.

So let’s get this out of the way first. Rome 2 has some serious technical issues. I’ve experienced several crashes in battles and on the campaign map and I’ve seen regularly inexplicable frame rate drops on both, which is one of the worst problems, at least for me. I bought a new PC, largely because of this game, which can run Shogun 2 on Ultra settings like a breeze. Yet Rome 2, even when I crank the settings down, will occasionally shudder and stutter along. It doesn’t make the game unplayable, but clearly Rome 2 is in desperate need of improved optimization.

Then we have the bugs. These bugs range from graphical errors, to erratic unit behaviour, to unresponsive AI. The good news, is that all of these problems are fixable. With enough TLC, Rome 2 could become as polished and bug-free as Shogun 2. Because although Shogun 2 is now an extremely polished and silky smooth experience, that wasn’t always the case. It took time and patches to become, at least in my opinion, the best in the series yet. I hope one day I can say the same about Rome 2.

So let’s get into the meat of it, shall we? We’ll begin with a look at the campaign map. The Rome 2 campaign map is utterly gorgeous. It’s vast, highly detailed, varied and stylish. Although some of the visual effects are a little overdone (city selection & building smoke) the map feels alive, and watching your empire slowly expand is fantastic. Cities can be expanded as the population grows to include more building slots, and you can now watch your cities grow organically on the map, walls springing forth and buildings rising from clouds of dust – it’s a wonderfully simple, yet immersive feature.

The way you manage your regions and cities has also seen something of a much needed overhaul. Regions are now grouped into Provinces. This cuts down on tedious micromanagement significantly, something of an irritating burden in the late-games of previous titles. Now you can simply select your Provincial Capital and manage a region as a whole, seeing all the settlements included from a single panel. As in Shogun 2, building slots are restricted, forcing the player to choose which regions to specialise in which areas. One thing I love about this system is that it also gives the player smaller, local expansion targets in order secure entire Provinces for the benefits that brings (improved stability and edicts).

City happiness is another factor to take into consideration, and failure to manage it properly can result in rebellions. It’s a game of balance, as you weigh up the need for military, cultural and economic buildings within specific regions. I also liked the now improved region garrisons, as they can actually be quite effective – a good thing given the new army limits which I’ll talk about later. There are also two types of city now. Capitals and ‘minor’ cities. Both can be sieged, but only the Capital has walls. This adds some much needed variety to the by-the-turn siege-fest that plagued Shogun 2. However, it’s also not without its problems.

Like Shogun 2, the campaign map has been designed in a way to funnel the player and the AI into more direct conflict. This was intended, with the addition of non-fortified minor settlements and army stances, to increase the variety of battle types fought. Unfortunately, that’s not quite the result, as 90% of battles involve attacking the minor cities either by land or sea. In over 40 hours of play, I’ve not seen a single ambush or river battle, only two fortification battles, and only 10 traditional field battles, as opposed to over 90 non-fortified minor settlement battles. Having played and experienced these other battle types through the excellent custom battle mode, it’s a shame we rarely, if ever, see them in the campaign.

Another new addition is the army (and navy) tradition system. This is a great new feature, one I really have little fault with. General and Agent skills return, but these feel like something of a step back from Shogun 2 because unlike in that game, the skills are not laid out on clearly defined paths to follow. As a result, I didn’t feel like I was personalising my Generals and Agents as much as I wanted to. This issue is compounded by the choice of having one year per game turn, and many Generals and Agents tend to snuff it from old age the moment they begin to get interesting.

I was wary of a one turn per year system, but I wanted to give it a fair shake. Now I have, I can’t understand the decision behind it as it kills any personal player connection to their Generals and Agents and makes investing time in their skills feel worthless. Thankfully, there is already a 2 turn per year mod available. It doesn’t alter movement range or building or research times, but it honestly doesn’t need to as the game still feels finely balanced in those areas regardless.

Army and mercenary recruitment have been streamlined, but in a good way, as you now recruit directly to the army. There are also now multiple auto-resolve battle options which is a great idea in theory, but in practice it only seems to take troop numbers into account and not quality, making it rather unreliable. Armies now also have the already mentioned ‘stances’, but you’ll rarely see the AI use them, aside from the very handy Forced March. Armies can now also move freely across water by transforming into a fleet – a good idea, I reckon, but badly implemented, as they make regular fleets largely redundant. Right now, they are simply too fast and too powerful.

There’s also a new system in place that limits the number of armies, fleet and agents you can field depending on your faction power. I actually like this system as it requires more thought on the part of the player when and where to use their forces. The ‘limit’ isn’t anywhere near as limiting as you may think. I never fielded a max limit of either army or navy, but maybe that’s just my own play style. Returning to agents for a moment – they are a lot of fun, but the three types tend to blur together as they fulfill some very similar functions.

The campaign UI is great, with a wealth of in-depth information only a click away, and the game contains an entire encyclopedia to sift through. The campaign also has a series of chapter based mini objectives (some designed to prod you in a historically accurate direction) which can be ignored or followed as you see fit. This is in addition to the traditional Military Victory condition, which is now joined by Cultural and Economic Victories. There are also new diplomatic options such as non-aggression pacts and defensive alliances, including the great new ability to set war targets for allies (which they actually will attack, believe it or not) new dilemma events with positive and negative outcomes depending on your choices (although these seemed to vanish entirely from my campaign – another bug?) plus a new internal political system.

The political system, unfortunately, is a rather disappointing feature. It’s all a little basic and shallow, and you can largely ignore it for the most part. It’s another game of balance to prevent (or encourage, if you like) a civil war. The problem is that it’s just not very interesting or engaging for the player, as without the family tree of previous titles, it’s hard to care about your family or tribe over time. You just keep an eye on the balance of power and readjust (or not) accordingly.

Overall, there’s a ton of great new stuff packed into the Rome 2 campaign map, and a lot of welcome refinements to previous systems. Some of these new mechanics may work better than others, but I feel with the right amount tweaking, either through patches or mods, all of these problems can be solved. The big issue though, and one that really needs to see an immediate improvement, is the campaign AI.

Compared to Shogun 2, the CAI is strangely passive. It’s almost timid in its dealings with the player. It absolutely refuses to declare war. Seriously. I’ve raided territory, assassinated Generals, poisoned water supplies – I’ve done everything I can to trigger a conflict yet even then, it just doesn’t want to tangle with me. Hey, who can blame it? Amusingly, when I then attack it, it often immediately asks for peace. In one specific case, I wanted to take a small region to gain complete control of a Province. I sent an army to take it which wasn’t very large or strong, and the AI faction had two full stacks nearby which could have easily retaken the city. But on the very same turn I requested peace with the faction and it accepted! It didn’t even ask for compensation for its lost region. I actually gave it some anyway just because I felt sorry for it. I ended up with a region with zero consequences or challenge as the AI just didn’t seem to want to fight me even though it held the superior forces in the region. It seems the Total War: Rome 2 CAI is a bit of a pacifist!

Now, I certainly didn’t want a CAI that randomly declared war for no reason, but this is a step too far, and as a result, there’s very little challenge or resistance to player expansion. And little to no challenge to me equals little to no fun. Now, I’ve read some people saying the CAI is often declaring war on them, but I’ve not personally seen it. Yet others have said they can never get the CAI to sign trade agreements, which, funnily enough, I can’t get enough offers for. Practically every turn the AI is begging me for trade rights, cash, or non-aggression pacts.

CAI expansion is another issue, as I expected to see more factions getting knocked out and others growing in power, but this didn’t really occur. Some did grow, but not to the extent we saw in Shogun 2, when it became more of an epic clash between a smaller number of superpowers towards the end-game. The CAI also seems to have trouble with city management (I’ve seen its armies starving in their own lands) and army composition – either building multiple small stacks, or a few larger ones comprised of weak troops, often 70% or more ranged units, such as slingers. But once again, I’ve seen a mod which already goes some way to re-balance the CAI and remedy this odd behaviour, so it’s certainly within the developer’s capability to improve it.

Okay, let’s move onto battles. To start, I have to say these look fantastic. The environments, the units, the cities – all top notch. The attention to detail and variety is staggering. The battle maps are large and gorgeous, certainly the best yet in a Total War title. Especially the fully upgraded city maps, which are amazing to behold. No complaints there. But everything else? Well...

I love the new overhead tactical map, but I love the new cinematic camera even more. I, and maybe I’m in the minority here, really like the battle UI design and unit cards. I love the variety of new battle types, especially naval landings to take a settlement – great fun! I love the artillery, unit types and cool battlefield deployables like flaming balls! And the new line of sight system is a wonderful addition, giving light cavalry and skirmishers important roles to scout ahead.

I also love the music. Rome 2 has a great soundtrack that really gets you pumped up for the fight. It has great combat animations plus great battle audio in terms of dialogue between troops. It’s immersive and often amusing. General speeches return but are no longer part of a pre-battle cutscene – a good change, as they often became repetitive and quickly skipped. The scene really gets set for an epic clash, no matter the size of the engagement….which is then over in three minutes. Three bloody minutes!

Combat speed is ridiculously fast. There’s also a terrible ‘blob factor’ in the way units attack, completely breaking any carefully planned formation. There’s no time to utilise any tactics or appreciate the fantastic (when you get to see them) combat animations. Special abilities are clicked fast and mindlessly to keep up with the pace and rout the other side faster than your own. It’s a bit of a mess, frankly. Unit pathfinding can also still be rather wonky, especially when it comes to using siege equipment.

The good news, as I said before, is that a lot of this is fixable. In fact, it’s already mostly been fixed for me as I downloaded a mod to improve the combat. Now I can enjoy much longer battles, with units that maintain a high degree of cohesion, even after a charge. Battle lines are more clearly defined, and I have the time to zoom in and admire the action. There’s also now time for tactics, such as flanking, to come into play, and special abilities are much more welcome as their timing is now more important – but they are not quite so decisive either.

This simple, yet effective mod has dramatically improved my enjoyment of Rome 2s battles. I can’t stress that enough, and I’m amazed the core game didn’t ship with combat of a similar nature, especially when it comes to unit cohesion, which in the base game is a bit of a mess. But even so, battles can still be disappointing due to the rather odd Battle AI. But before I get into that, I should mention naval battles – quite fun, but often they descend into a complete clusterf**k of ramming and little else. Siege battles look fantastic, but are often ruined by poor AI, so let’s turn to that now.

The best way I can describe the Battle AI is schizophrenic. I’ll give you two examples, both non-fortified city assaults. In one, I was attacking, and the AI smartly used its troops to block off every street leading to the capture point at its centre. It put spears at the front, and ranged units behind. It also landed a small naval garrison to bolster its lines. It effectively locked down the town, on all fronts, just as well as I’d expect a human player to do, and also defended it well, moving units to shore up the areas I probed to attack – sending men after my skirmishers, but not being led away – instead falling back to maintain its defensive line. Fantastic stuff.

But then we have a similar battle, a siege battle, where the AI does...nothing. Seriously, it sometimes just does nothing, and you can send a single unit around its lines to capture every point and win. Or there are the times when its attacking, and it just ignores everything but the capture flag, blindly (and fatally) trying to run through your entire force to reach it. As you can imagine, this rather ruins any epic city defence no matter how good it looks or sounds.

Yet at other times, it displays a dynamic intelligence which is improved on what Shogun 2 gave us. It uses special abilities more effectively. It holds units in reserve. It holds formations, flanks, and uses skirmishing units properly. It retreats, re-forms, and attacks again. The fact is I’ve seen the Rome 2 BAI do some great things which would make it the best in the series yet – but it just doesn’t do them nearly often enough. A lot of the time, it just doesn’t seem to work at all and as a result, battles become far too easy.

And once again we return to a lack of challenge. And without challenge there’s no sense of accomplishment. No real feeling of victory, because it doesn’t feel earned. This is Rome 2s biggest problem, aside from the technical issues and bugs. Your victories feel worthless. Your great empire was too easy to build. But once again, this is something that can be fixed, and it certainly needs to, because I don’t think I can maintain any interest in my campaigns otherwise.

Okay, time to quickly cover a few remaining things and sum up. Custom battles are great, I love the map selection system and all the new options. Historical battles are a lot of fun, but seriously – only four? I hope they do some more. I’ve not tried MP yet and I doubt I will. I’ve never really been interested in TW for MP, so it would take something special to make me. Something like the Avatar Campaign of Shogun 2, the only TW game I’ve really spent any time playing MP with. But the MP of Rome 2 is just the bare bones basics and as such, holds little interest for me personally. Strike that down as another disappointment. I’ve not tried Co-op either so I can’t comment on that.

Overall, Rome 2 is a fantastic, frustrating, buggy, messy experience. It’s got so much potential and it’s a shame to see it in this current state. A bad game will always be bad. But Rome 2 isn’t a bad game. It’s a good game, a potentially great game – if not the best Total War game yet – but it’s been released in a bad state. It’s fixable. Unlike a just plain bad game, Rome 2 can be saved.

The first thing I think the developers need to do is patch out the bugs and improve the performance. Get it working right. Get it stable. Then we seriously need to look at AI and the balancing of certain systems such as combat and a few of the campaign mechanics, such as AI aggression (or lack, thereof). Then, ideally, with the aid of community feedback, we need to see new content, or the fleshing out of features such as the political system. A family tree, anyone? I’d also highly recommend a closed or public Beta in the future to help avoid another release like this. Sure, you won’t catch all the bugs, but thousands of us are willing to test your game for free – so why not let us do that?

Despite all the negatives, I’m still having a lot of fun with Rome 2 and I hope that with enough time, patches and support we’ll have the definitive, biggest and best Total War.

Just not yet.


Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Coming Soon: Rome 2

I said I was going to wait for a bit, but I've got so much to say. I may as well get it out of the way now. It's bloody long though. I don't think I'll break it up into multiple posts, I might just post it all as one, we'll see how it looks.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Now Playing: Dragon Age 2

I didn’t exactly go into this with high expectations. I’d played the demo prior to release, and that convinced me to avoid it. But spin on a few years and I wanted to kill some time before the Rome 2 release. On sale, Dragon Age 2 was an intriguing proposition. So I figured it was time to give it a shot. I’d thoroughly enjoyed the original Dragon Age: Origins, after all. Perhaps there was still some good to be found here. Perhaps I would be pleasantly surprised. And in some ways, I was. But overall, DA2 is a rather terrible game and a massive step back from the far superior original.

So I think we’d better start with the good stuff. Hawke, the main character, is a wonderfully sarcastic bastard. No matter the situation, he’s got an entire arsenal of snappy replies. I chuckled a lot at his responses. His character is kept fairly consistent across the three core dialogue choices (Good/Neutral/Bad) and all are usually amusing. Without the dry wit of Hawke, I don’t think I could have made it through to the end.

Next up is your companion characters. These are a bit of a mixed bag as you’d expect, but overall, very good. Varric is awesome from start to finish. Merrill was initially irritating, but she quickly grew on me. Aveline was solid, and Fenris was surprisingly good too, despite a rocky start. Anders was fantastic. No, wait. He was mostly terrible and whiny. But it was fantastic when I stabbed him. (Whoops, spoilers!) So yeah, companions, overall, are decent enough, and combined with Hawke, make the game just about tolerable to play.

The story. This is also a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, I liked the concepts behind it and the setting. A more focused story, set in a single area, set across many years as Hawke builds his reputation and wealth in the city of Kirkwall. No ‘end of the world’ nonsense, more odd jobs and such building to an inevitable confrontation that’s simmering throughout the entire game. So it’s interesting in concept, but certainly not in execution. In fact it’s all handled rather horribly unfortunately.

So...good stuff done. That was fast. Now onto the bad stuff. Dragon Age 2 feels like a test build of a game. Like an alpha version that was shipped by mistake. It feels messy and incomplete. It’s biggest flaw relates to its use of environments and levels. Despite being set largely in a single city, that city is bland and boring to explore. It’s empty, ugly, with a lack of detail, charm or character. It’s a series of corridors and boxes with a few prop baskets placed here and there. I’m astounded by how bad it is. You can switch to the city at night, but this just makes it even less populated and…uh, darker. The city also doesn’t change at all over the years that progress.

These problems also apply to the other environments in the game. The opening is a prime example of this – a long, brown, muddy corridor with no detail and blocky hills. To make matters worse, the game recycles the same 3-4 maps for every mission. There’s a single ‘cave’ map for example, which is used for everything from mining tunnels, to slaver hideouts. These maps are designed in a linear, dull fashion, with generic props that enable them to (sort of) fit a variety of potential settings.

As a result they just feel lazy and irritating to fight through for the seventh bloody time. I cannot believe anyone thought this was acceptable. If it only applied to side missions I’d cut it some slack, but no, even primary missions use the same recycled assets over and over again. And given that the game is set in a single location, this lack of attention to detail and level design is shocking.

It also doesn’t help that even though you can warp between areas of this crappy city map, it always deposits you very far from your destination, meaning you have to run through these empty streets all the time, sometimes getting interrupted by magically spawning bandits. (Oh, and just because you reset the mini-map every time I revisit one of these recycled areas, doesn’t make it a ‘new’ location. You can’t fool me like that, DA 2!)

Oh right, combat. Enemies seem to spawn out of thin air (or just ‘jump’ into the action out of nowhere) and half the time the enemy types don’t even make sense for the environments you encounter them in. In the city, thugs may randomly attack you as other NPCs stand and chat in the middle of your bloody battle. Combat works fairly similarly to the original game, but is now far more frenetic and bloody, enemies often exploding into ridiculous showers of gore. I guess it’s better than their bodies magically popping out of existence though, which also happens a lot.

When you reach Kirkwall early in the game you get a choice – to work with a smuggler or a mercenary. I chose smuggler, expecting it to tailor my early missions...oh wait, no. No smuggling! The game advanced forward a year and I missed it all. Yay? Now I’ve got to raise some coin to fund an expedition by doing odd jobs? Fair enough, you think, until you reach the ‘expedition’ and it lasts all of twenty minutes.

Towards the end of this section, one character just dropped dead. Just dropped. It was very awkward and I burst out laughing which is probably not the intended reaction. But there’s a lot of moments like that – where the scenes are edited badly, or dialogue is delivered so flat, and combined with weird timing and bad facial animations it just gets very, very funny during ‘serious’ moments.

At this point I was about ready to stab a fork in my eye and quit, but I played on, thankfully Hawke keeping me entertained because the gameplay certainly wasn’t. Some missions are more interesting than others, but certainly not in how they play out because they all play out exactly the same. Go to A. Go to B. Kill several packs of spawning enemies. Return to A. That may read like the bare bones of quests in any RPG, but in this case I’ve not actually boiled it down at all. That’s really all it is. The bare bones. No depth, no detail, no variety, no interest.

I could go on and on about this, but I think I’d better just try to keep this concise and wrap up: Terrible, generic gear choices. I didn’t bother buying/selling anything because it’s just not worth it. I think I can count on my hands how often I changed gear because such progression is practically non-existent. Barely any companion gear customisation. Just a choice of generic bonus rings. Crafting/enchantment is pointless. Dialogue wheel is a horrible choice compared to the text responses of the original.

So to sum up, Dragon Age 2 is a short, linear, dull and painful experience. It feels, plays and looks unfinished. Play Dragon Age: Origins instead.


Saturday, 7 September 2013

Rome 2: Iceni Campaign

25 hours into my first Rome 2 campaign and I feel as if I've barely scratched the surface of what this game can offer. I'm playing on Normal and I'd say I'm roughly approaching the 'mid-game' phase. The game runs relatively smoothly on mostly Ultra settings, with a few noticeable FPS drops during larger engagements and occasionally (for no apparent reason) on the campaign map, so I hope optimisation patches are in the pipe. I've only had a couple of crashes and seen a handful of bugs, so in terms of a Total War release this (at least from my experience thus far) has been one of the better ones, especially compared to all the issues I had with Empire on launch.

My largest issues from a gameplay standpoint currently are -
  • Generals and Agents dying too quickly - I think a 2 turn per year mod is in order.
  • Lack of aggression from the campaign AI - this may be a Normal difficulty issue, so I'll definitely knock it up to Hard on my next campaign.
  • Schizophrenic Battle AI - For the most part, it works well, certainly on par with Shogun 2, if not a little better. Yet occasionally it just goes completely mental. Hopefully they can smooth that out.
I won't be doing a review for some time, not until I've got at least two campaigns completed. There's a staggering amount of content and variety here, and it's going to take a long time to experience it all. I've seen the game getting a lot of flack online the last few days due to bugs and technical issues, but I can only comment on what I've personally experienced, and so far, Rome 2 looks like it has the potential to be the best Total War title yet.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Now Playing: Dungeon Siege 3

Dungeon Siege 3, unlike Dungeon Siege 2, serves as a more direct sequel to the original game in terms of story, characters and locations. This is one aspect of it I quite liked, as DS2, whilst a great game, felt very far removed from the original to the point where it felt like an entirely separate franchise. Dungeon Siege 3, however, is unfortunately a significant step back from the great strides made forward in DS2.

Although it is technically still an action-RPG, DS3 feels more like a simple (and repetitive) hack and slash game. I must state that the PC keyboard and mouse controls are rather awkward, and clearly not designed for the game and the way it plays. I switched to using a controller, which was a lot easier.

So let’s look at the good stuff first. The game looks great, with some lush, highly detailed environments. Character models and animations are good. Level and enemy variety is also good. Combat is fast, fluid and magic and weapon effects are colourful and enjoyable to watch. DS3 is certainly a pretty game, there’s no doubt about that. Audio is decent, as is VA. Story wise it’s nothing special, but it does the job, although I really liked that the ending took into account your choices and gave you a personalised epilogue of events.

Okay, so that’s about it for the good stuff, I’m afraid. Now onto the bad things. First of all, let’s talk about companions. DS1 allowed you several companions, although these weren’t so much unique ‘characters’ as just extra stats to add to your team. DS2 limits you to a team of 4 out of a larger pool of companions which you swap out as you please. Although more limited, each companion was given a unique personality and side quest, plus additional dialogue as they commented on certain events.

In DS3 however…there’s a moment when you find the tomb of the original companions in DS1. It’s a nice touch, but it comes just before you recruit your second companion in DS3 and sadly realise that you can only have ONE companion in your ‘party’. You see, there are four playable characters, although these really boil down to four different classes to choose from, and whichever you choose at the start, the other three characters then form your companions. But you can only have one active at a time.

This wouldn’t be so bad if the companions were given some depth, unique dialogue and side quests, but that isn’t the case. Aside from a few lines here and there, your choice of companion is largely irrelevant. They have an ‘influence’ bar you can increase by making certain story based choices, but this didn’t seem to mean anything in the game at all. So you certainly won’t bother playing through again to see how things change with a different companion or main character.

Gear/level progression is terrible. You have a ‘base’ set of gear you can upgrade but visually it’s all practically identical aside from a few colour variations and a couple of unique items. You’re also locked to specific weapon types for each character so there’s very little freedom to customise. Level upgrades are basic, simply unlocking new tiers of the same few abilities.

Combat is solid, but can grow repetitive. You have normal attacks, special attacks, power attacks, blocking and rolls, plus two ‘stances’ which involve switching to alternate weapon sets. But with no party tactics or even the basic ability to pause the game and issue orders, it feels much more like a hack and slash as you simply hammer the attack button whilst rolling around on the floor and your AI companion does their own thing.

Side quests are disappointing compared to DS2, largely just involving small detours off of the main quest areas. There’s no companion specific stuff, or puzzles to solve. In fact there’s very little exploration in general. The environments, although they look good, are very static and incredibly linear. This was something DS2 pulled off very well, by creating levels that didn’t feel like a grind, but also allowed room for a great deal of exploration. DS3 is really just a slog from A to B to C, with no reason to revisit areas, or put together pieces of a puzzle as in DS2.

DS2 addressed a lot of the flaws of DS1, but DS3 seems to have ignored a lot of these improvements. DS3 should have built upon those improvements, but instead it seems to go backwards, and in some cases ends up worse than the original. It’s shorter than both of the previous games, with practically zero replay value. It’s pretty to look at, but very shallow. DS1 may not have aged very well, but I can forgive a lot of its quirks as the product of its time. DS3 has no such excuse. It’s short, forgettable and just not very interesting. Get DS2 instead.