April 25, 2012
I played 30-45 minutes of The Walking Dead last night. This was enough time to finish the first scene, with a suitable introduction to the main character. They’ve laid the foundation for an interesting story around the protagonist who may/may not have killed his wife before the game started. The writing is working out pretty well for me. The game feels highly cinematic, while it’s cell-shadedish textures looks a lot like a comic book. It’s a pretty interesting visual blend between the comic book and tv show. So far, the game isn’t really scary, but that isn’t the draw for this franchise.
The marketing around this game claims there are no quick time events. This is a goddamn lie. Killing zombies seems to be a process of mashing ‘q’ a few times, then ‘e.’ You know when to do this because of a prompt that appears on the screen. It looks like you want to be quick with your response, less you get zombified. If these aren’t QTEs, I don’t know what is. I didn’t play Jurassic Park, but I understand they’re trying to distance themselves from that game. So maybe this is a different style of QTE, I can’t honestly say. I took a look at a gameplay video for Jurassic Park, and I can say it looks really similar.
Assuming the $25 gets you all five episodes (roughly ten hours of game) and the quality of the game stays as high as this initial 30 minutes, The Walking Dead seems like a decent value proposition. I’m looking forward to finishing Episode One this week.
January 27, 2010
I’m about seven hours deep in this game, and I can tell there’s a lot more for me to do. So much so that I’m going to break my discussion of the game into parts. Here’s what I’ve noticed so far that pisses me off.
- No more elevators. Some people consider this a good thing; those people are assholes. Now instead of hearing the galactic news and off-cuff dialog between characters I get to look at vector graphics. Load screens are plentiful, but now I don’t have a distraction to keep me occupied through it.
- It’s a little predictable at spots. Shepard and some of the key party members I’ve picked up so far are busted up from all of the crazy awesome things they’ve been up to since we last met. Even the scientist I recruited is secretly a bad ass ninja assassin with light sabers coming out of his nose. So far the most normal member of my crew is a former decorated soldier-com-terrorist. I guess I’m not going to see another rugged street cop or common field archeologist caught up in the chaos of a world they never made.
- Seth Green does not have enough lines.
- SCANNING! Good fucking god that’s boring. Look, I’m all for making my space opera as realistic as possible, but should it really take 10-30 minutes to check a planet for resources? Should doing that be integral to the upgrade system? Was there no way to bend the fiction a bit to at least point out where on the planet’s surface a mineral deposit might be?
- The “Spoiler Spoiler” Site. You know, the one where you put down that statue and look over the result of the opening cinematic? Yea, that better not be the pinnacle of the content offered by the Cerberus Network dlc, because if it is I don’t think they’ll sell a lot of it for $10. I realize it’s free to people who buy the game new, but let’s be honest here, that’s not everyone.
- The solution to the complaints about inventory management is one I did not see coming. They removed inventory all together. You select which guns you want to use before you leave the ship, all mods are equipped all the time, and only Shepard has different sets of armor. It works, but I feel like I’m giving something up.
I do want to clarify that I am having a great time with Mass Effect 2. I hope to be deeper into the game by Friday so I can elaborate on what I think the game is doing right without spoiling too much.
January 20, 2010
I may have talked about this before, I don’t remember. Majesty 2 is my kind of RTS, that is to say it’s an RTS hidden under a thick layer of RPG and SimCity. You play as the ruler of a generic fantasy world. Each map you play has a monster that ‘you’ must destroy to back up your claim to the throne. Now you never lift a sword or draw a bow yourself, that would not be regal. You place bounties on monsters heads.
The smart king puts a small bounty on lots of low-level creatures initially, so the adventurers get a chance to level up and earn some gold. Then you kindly provide them with an outlet to spend their gold (seriously, they give it right back to you through shops) and send them off again for increasing danger. I won’t go into a lot of detail about the campaign or humor because I think it is worth the $29.99 and I want you to play it for yourself.
The reason I’m bringing this overlooked gem up is because they just announced the expansion. It’s due out in the first part of this year, and I’m afraid it’ll be overlooked again. Majesty 2 is an example of the experimental, quirky design you’ll only find on PC, and I feel obligated to support this kind of behavior.
January 18, 2010
I’ve been swamped with work the last few days; yet I managed to get a few hours in on the Star-Trek: Online beta. I’ve just gotten outside of the tutorial missions, and I’ve got to say the game is interesting.
Comparisons to Eve jump to mind. The combat system is fairly similar in that you have to approach your target and be within range to attack. So far I have not noticed an auto-attack feature, so my fingers got tired really fast. The new feature to combat is the 4 quadrants of shielding. Shields that are fully charged prevent more hull damage than those that are damaged, so it’s in your best interest to rotate around your attackers.
The other main similarity to Eve is pacing. In order to communicate the vastness of space it really takes a long time to get anywhere. Warping will get you into a star system (although I’m not sure it’s randomized like Eve), and then you’ll spend 3-4 minutes navigating through void to reach your destination.
I was taken back by the textures at first. The game looks really good for MMO standards. Then I decided to fly my ship into a large asteroid/small moon to try to land; my ship bounced off and all illusion was broken.
The closest reference point I have for the ground missions is Tabula Rasa. The combat isn’t terribly interesting to me, but the npc ‘away team’ does hold some merit. In the tutorial my crew and I rolled up on some wayward Borg. If I were extremely patient they would have killed all of the enemy for me; however it was far more effective to use them as flanking props. Flanking deals roughly 50% more damage, so I’d get my team engaged, run around the group of enemies then proceed to positively pimp slap those fools.
What I haven’t seen yet is a crafting system and player driven economy. The Star-Trek universe is primed for a merchant class. When I was asked to rescue a cargo freighter ship in an early mission I had hoped I’d get to keep it and begin playing intergalactic markets. Unfortunately that was not the case.
I’m going to spend some more time in the beta this week, hopefully I’ll discover the features that would hook me then. For now, my would-be preorder cash will wait in my Nexus-One fund.
January 8, 2010
I wanted to talk about the MAG beta today, but I found it unplayable. Zipper isn’t known for their FPS prowess, so I’m not going to complain about it too much. I found the bullet clipping to be reminiscent of problems we had in PC games in 1997. Maybe they’ll add bullet penetration, fix the clipping planes, and move the position the bullets fire from to the position a person would expect. Maybe all of that can be patched. Maybe these aren’t the final builds of the maps. Or maybe MAG is a one trick pony and isn’t worth any further discussion.
Most of my gaming time has been spent in Modern Warfare 2. I’ve gotten to the point in my character’s progression where I got tired of CoD 4: Modern Warfare. The guns I like are unlocked with all the tweaks at the ready. In CoD 4 I had a clan going with me, keeping me engaged night after night. This time around I’m only keeping my skills sharp because of the LAN circuit.
The reason I’m writing this post now and not playing MW2 is quite simple. Infinity Ward fucked up. I hate to be that guy, but the hacking is far too common place. My praise for the game gets nullified every time some dillhole with too much free time one-shots my entire team in under a second. Infinity Ward will never be able to stop all the hacks. It hasn’t been done for any game in history. If only someone figured out a way to make players responsible for filtering out this kind of nonsense. Oh, that’s right, they did in 1996 when Quake offered dedicated servers.
The PC gaming industry evolved a specific way for a reason. We don’t rely on Punk Buster to keep out the riffraff. We rely on people who love the game enough to spend a lot of their time ensuring people have a good time with them.
After this LAN party I think I’ll be back in Counter-Strike for my FPS needs unless I’m playing with at least two friends.
January 6, 2010
I am compelled beyond comprehension to play Castle Age constantly. This Facebook app consists of waiting a set amount of time for enough points to spend on clicking a button, causing the random number generator which throws back a bunch of rewards. I’m getting to the point where a going to bed isn’t enough time to completely refresh my character’s energy and stamina points. Knowing that is a source of both pride and frustration.
Some of my friends and I have been sending alchemy ingredients to one another with hopes of gathering enough random crap to super-glue together to form a boss. When one of us manages a boss, I must assure you that it is on. We all team up; normal quest bosses fall in seconds. The super bad ass world bosses, however, seem to be unbeatable if we stick in our clique.
In a way I feel encouraged to meet new people via Facebook to bolster our ranks. On the other hand I don’t want to be exposed to the tons of spam adding a bunch of people I don’t know would generate.
I wouldn’t pay money to be subjugated to this game, but I’d like the social aspect of it to be detached from my Facebook profile.
December 28, 2009
Borderlands, a FPS by Gearbox, is the next game in secession to emulate Diablo 2. That may give an idea as to what kind of game it is, a pure shoot-em-up explode-orama mixed with a piles-of-loot dungeon crawler. Borderlands executes this quite well, well enough to earn several game of the year nominations (and awards, depending on where you look).
The idea behind Borderlands is as follows: circle strafe while killing dudes, who then drop better and more creative weapons to allow for more entertaining ways to kill the next mob of dudes. That’s the game. If it were played in any other way, the other way would be the wrong way to play it. That’s it’s highest peak, though there are quite a few problems with it.
In their circle strafing fun, Gearbox decided it needed more depth, so they added an incredibly useless story to tie the quest lines together. They just added some lady’s face in the top right corner of the screen, which is, of course, completely ignored while circle strafing and killing dudes. The story itself is hard to follow, and forgotten shortly after each dialogue.
The 87 bazillion guns was a selling point for most people, and rightfully so. The player was guaranteed to never receive a duplicate item, unless it was from a boss. The weapons could do anything from starting fires, bouncing off walls, shooting in certain formations, and all sorts of combinations. If this system was not implemented, there would be no motivation for anyone to play it. Borderlands would be just a husk of a standard fps, that did nothing for anything in gaming.
The problem with the weapon algorithm is after forty hours of play, the player figures out each gun is exactly the same as the next in terms of how it works, the only difference is how flashy it is. If the number of possible guns were forgotten, how creative would they really be? There’s a few elemental mods, a couple of interesting bullet spread formations, and not much else. It’s really just your standard weapon lineup of shotgun, pistol, sniper rifle, assault rifle, rocket launcher. Realizing this makes the game’s entertainment value drop immensely.
Despite the game’s many flaws and shortcomings, you’ll be happy to play it for a good fifty-sixty hours, especially if you can run co-op with friends. I might add, the PC copy of it is a broken console port, and if you were to buy it; definitely go for the 360 version. The PC SKU is still fun, but the bugs and Gamespy client are a bit overbearing.
December 17, 2009
This site could have been a shrine for Left 4 Dead. I was entranced with the game from the day it came out to the day I left for Brazil. I’d play nightly; I developed maps and tools to modify the game. I literally knew it inside and out. That love may have worked against the sequel.
For example, the hunter does not feel the same. In L4D he’s a little floaty, and he pounces in an arch. In L4D2 he feels like an unguided missile. His jumps seem faster, and there is less time to maneuver him. Part of that is because the new maps aren’t built to allow hunters maximum damage.
That may have been a concession for the survivor team. With three new special infected and the quirky uncommon infected to think about, survivors have their work cut out for them. In a single player or co-op campaign any difficulty above normal the situations to keep on top of may prove to be unwieldy. In versus, however, the uncommon and common infected are easy to ignore.
I enjoy the director panic events in L4D2. The beginning of the event and the end are typically not in the same place. This forces the survivors to run through a huge wave of zombies. In campaign mode this is a huge challenge; you can never be sure that you’ll make it through.
The new weapons aren’t everything I’d hoped for. In your secondary slot you can carry up to two regular pistols, a desert eagle, or a variety of melee weapons. The melee weapons have varying degrees of damage, effectiveness, and gore. The primary weapons basically break down to hunting rifles, machine pistols, shot guns and a variety of amped up versions of them. In my opinion the variations within those six groups is negligible. Some of the assault rifles fire in different spreads and bursts, but most of the time you’re shooting at enemies in close range so it doesn’t matter.
All of this changes the way a competitive game plays out. In L4D the infected team tried to keep the survivors off balance or separated while launching a continuous assault. In L4D2 before any assault can begin you must first force the survivors to stop or at least distract them at a bottleneck. The new method Valve employs for crescendos allows for a few minutes of the old gameplay. Thankfully these events happen frequently enough that at least once a map the infected get a chance to lay in to the survivors.
October 29, 2009
I played a few rounds of the coop L4D2 demo, once alone and once with three friends. On the solo run I played on normal, just to get a feel for the map.
This time around they seem committed to providing multiple paths through the environment. The longer path generally appears to be more dangerous, but there are usually better weapons available for the brave. For example you’re given an option to cut through a diner to get into a back alley. You’re given tons of cover to clear the horde, and the only real danger you’re in would be from a boomer or spitter willing to go kamikaze to do modest damage. Or you could go around the corner on the street, out in open under high pounce perches, ledges, and open windows. At the end of the street you’re treated to a desert eagle, a pistol that will one shot kill any common infected and is more accurate when incapacitated.
The other new weapons seem to be high-res models ripped from counter-strike. So far I found an automatic sniper rifle (rifle 6 for Counter-Terrorists I believe), a heavier auto-shotgun, and the much requested AK-47 (or possibly the Defender). I found the recoil on the AK-47 hinder the gun beyond being useful in hordes, but I imagine the range for two shot bursts will make it effective against special infected. It’s nice to have more options, but my initial impression is that the balance is off. In versus I think people will rely on the deagle and autoshotty.
I haven’t had a chance to figure out how to play as the special infected yet, but from what I observed in game roles have changed slightly. The jocky is a great hybrid between the smoker and the hunter, but the AI never attempted/landed a damage pounce; I have to wonder if they can. The spitter is a direct-damage boomer; she’s seems to be pretty straight forward to play. I think it’s interesting that the AI controlled charger behaves exactly as the AI controlled tank did in the last game. The tank is now smart enough to try to incapacitate multiple survivors instead of pounding one to death. The charger doesn’t seem capable of that kind of flexibility.
At this point the PC demo does still have some bugs in it, but I didn’t run in to anything game breaking.
I did get annoyed with the ad that plays every time I finished the campaign. I decided to do something about it.
This file will replace the long ad that reminds you to buy something you’ve already paid for with five seconds of the image you see here. I thought it was best to leave some ad in, as Valve obviously wants there to be one. Let’s call it a compromise.
Download the file and put it in \Steam\steamapps\common\left 4 dead 2 demo\left4dead2\media\. You may want to back up the original l4d2_upsell.bik just for posterity’s sake.
The file contains no audio in the interest of file size.
May 17, 2009
I haven’t seen an announcment on this, so I assume it’s leaked. Caleb gets credit for digging it up, but since he couldn’t be bothered to post it… here you go.