Delayed Responsibility

I Shouldn't Be Gaming Right Now… But I Am!

Archive for April, 2008

Blog Banter: Quitter!

Posted by deckard47 on April 30, 2008

Welcome, welcome to the 5th installment of Blog Banter, the monthly blogging extravaganza headed by bs angel! Blog Banter involves our cozy community of enthusiastic gaming bloggers, a common topic, and a week to post articles pertaining to said topic. The results are quite entertaining and can range from deep insight to ROFLMAO. Any questions about Blog Banter should be directed here. Check out other Blog Banter articles at the bottom of this post!

I don’t quit many games, to be honest. I don’t normally buy games unless I’m sure I’l like them, and even if they’re flawed, I generally plug away until they’re done (see all the Jedi Knight games, Rebellion, Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb, Thief 2, etc.). However, just today I quit playing a game, and I don’t plan on picking it up again any time soon. Thus, the memory of its faults is fresh in my memory.

The game is Grand Theft Auto IV, and I’m not sure why I thought I’d like it that much in the first place. The 3rd game (I only played the first two a bit, and sucked at them) was impressive, scope-wise. Driving around and finding jumps and hidden packages was pretty awesome, as was chasing/being chased by the cops. Then of course, there was the fact that Rockstar had purposefully gone out of its way to make an offensive, stunningly stupid game. I mean, if there’s a game that makes your I.Q. drop faster than Halo 3 Deathmatch with the beer bong crowd, it’s the most recent form of GTA.

It’s sad, because Rockstar, when they aren’t being gigantic assholes, racists, homophobes, or misogynists (or really any other kind of horrible “ist”/”phobe” person), are obviously a talented team. This new Liberty City is pretty fancy to look at, and it’s incredibly immersive. The effects, the people wandering around, the city, it all delivers at a very high level.

Thank goodness Rockstar stuck to their guns when it came to story and game features, huh? It’s so pathetic that there are so many perfect or near-perfect scores out there. It’s equally pathetic that so many reviews are lauding this game for its “humor,” “writing,” and “plot.” For instance, this is from IGN: “Don’t worry, GTA’s famed over-the-top action and tongue-in-cheek humor are intact.” What?! I can’t really stress how wrong they are. If you like offensive, 2nd grade humor, terribly hackneyed plot twists and characters, and a “big budget” story that plays out like an amalgam of “Goodfellas” and “Eastern Promises” as written and directed by Michael Bay and Eli Wroth this is your game.

What I mean to say is, this game world is brilliantly created, and then they have to go and add in alarming little-boy-fantasy strip clubs. They have to make it so the only people who you can pay for sex are women. They have to make it so every single character is absolutely terrified of being called gay. I guess people think this is “authentic?” Um, so are male strip clubs, gay and lesbian bars, and any number of other non status quo-acceptable meeting places or social venues, that will never appear in a Rockstar game except as the butt of a joke about hilarious gay people. Also, every character is a horrible racist or sexist stereotype. Every one. Which doesn’t make it ok (as some contend), it makes it stunningly thorough in its cruel depictions of whatever group or person.

Honestly, I should save this all for a review, but I have this Blog Banter post, so this is it. This game stopped me from playing its better parts, because the only way to enjoy it would be avoid the story entirely. I could do this, and it would involve some effort, but even avoiding the story leaves me with Niko’s cousin, Roman, and his constant narrative on the merits of “titties,” college girls who just want to have sex, and other exciting yet forbidden things having to do with the ever elusive Woman. Children shouldn’t make games! This game makes me realize how much the game industry is being held in thrall by 14 year old (maturity-wise and age-wise) and otherwise emotionally stunted males. I know they aren’t the only ones buying and making games, but people think they are, and it’s ruining one of my favorite pastimes, for me and all people out there with brains, taste, and a sense of how damaging this material is.

Until someone else makes an incredibly intuitive open sandbox modern city simulation, that respects all of its viewers, Rockstar can forget about me buying their shitty games. I haven’t felt this stupid, offended, unclean or pissed off in a while. Thanks, Rockstar, here’s one more game I’ve quit before finishing. Happy?

Check out these other Blog Banter articles! Silvercublogger, Unfettered Blather, Triage Effect, Gamer Unit, Delayed Responsibility, Man Bytes Blog, CrazyKinux’s Musing, Zath!, Draining Souls.net, Game Couch, 8-Bit Brigade, thoughts and rants, Hawty McBloggy

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Wake Up!

Posted by deckard47 on April 29, 2008

I must now write more essay, but I thought I’d relate this:

GTA IV is very fun, very dumb, and not well-written at all. But it’s GTA, so the driving is solid. Which is all I need right now. More later.

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Blog Related/VG Related: A Bit of a Break

Posted by deckard47 on April 27, 2008

I have to go work some more now, but I thought I’d mention two things. First, Kotaku had a very interesting post up today, linking to an interview at BLDGBLOG with a man named Daniel Dociu, who is the Chief Art Director of Guild Wars. I don’t know how many of you have played that game, but among other things, its architecture and overall design are both impressive and beautiful. Here is one of his pictures, which I thought was rather nice. The interview is about how he designs architecture and landscapes for games, and it’s really interesting.

Second up, I added a new blog to the Blogroll, it’s called “Insult Swordfighting.” The guy who writes it is really smart, and the articles are good, much better than mine. I suggest you go check it out, especially if you are interested in the more contentious issues facing the gamer community right now.

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Now and Then: Sieging Dungeons (and other brilliant titles I made up)

Posted by deckard47 on April 25, 2008

Look, a new regular posting idea! I’m going to find a game from my past, preferably one I enjoyed, and see if it holds up under scrutiny today. I’m not just talking about graphics or gameplay either. Some games just aren’t interesting, not when whatever their novelty was ha worn off. Which games remain fun and interesting, and which bore me to death? Exciting!

First up, we have a game that I’ve revisited in one form or another since I first bought the original way back when. The game in question is Dungeon Siege. As I recall, I got it at about the same time I picked up NOLF 2 and Weezer’s Green Album and Cake’s “Motorcade of Generosity.” I really can’t separate these in my memory; I remember blasting through endless Ice Caverns listening to Photograph, Island in the Sun and the rest, and escaping from the Russian research facility while listening to “Satan is my Motor.” Not only does that make me sound like a dork, it makes me feel and sound old. Yes!

Dungeon Siege was viewed (rightfully so) as Baldur’s Gate + Diablo. It had a large party like BG, but it was much more of a click-fest with action RPG elements, like Diablo. It’s main selling point (bizarrely) was the ability to load everything seamlessly. You could enter a building and the roof would melt a way, or enter a tomb, take an elevator 10 stories down, then take a flight of stairs down even deeper into the ground. And this was really exciting back in 2002. Bare with me for a minute, because that probably sounds really dumb.

To be honest, I was just excited for a big group RPG, especially one that featured big environments and area continuity. I was tired of Diablo II. The fact that the game looked fantastic was a bonus. I was, however, put off by the leveling technique, whereby only used skills leveled (think Oblivion). It really restricted character construction, and meant that all multi-class characters were hideously weak.

Still, there were cool weapons cool spells, cool armor, cool enemies, donkeys (to carry stuff! What a revolution), and a beautiful world to explore. I played all the way through, saw the stupid plot to its end, and even played their rather interesting multiplayer offering (a whole new world to explore, a rather cool idea for multiplayer). Anyway, it was fun, and long, and I rather enjoyed it.

But that’s not all. Later, I picked up the original game and its expansion, thinking I could hop back in. Unfortunately, I had to start from the beginning, and I never could get the will up to get to the jungle-themed expansion.

Recently, I bought Dungeon Siege 2, which was a little better (it had way more options for character customization and leveling), but still almost the same game as the original. I got pretty far in that, but was eventually bored. The story was just as bad as before (they claimed that they had spent more time on it. How exactly did they spend that time?), the graphics look ancient, and the game is basically a 2002 game remade for present times. Linear, uninventive, and almost completely lacking in any redeeming qualities.

Normally I can tolerate old games (hopefully I’ll prove that to you in later posts), but in this case, the game was never that good to begin with. It’s sad, because many of the ideas that Chris Taylor and company espouse interest me. However, their new game Space Siege, really just looks like Dungeon Siege in Space. Which will not be impressive.

All in all, Dungeon Siege was even more boring the second time round, and the third time round. Even its sequel was boring, and basically was a remake of the first game. Oh well. Next time, I think I’ll pick something more fun, like NOLF 2 or F.E.A.R.

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What’s Next?

Posted by deckard47 on April 25, 2008

So now that the big GTA IV is about to hit us, I was just wondering what will pique my interest next. I suppose Spore is coming out this summer (right?), but I frankly don’t care, not in a paying money for it way. I’ve been thinking of picking up the second Longest Journey game for Steam or Xbox Originals, so maybe that’ll be it. Of course, I still have to try the new TF2 stuff, finish Vampire: Bloodlines, Jade Empire, Ratchet and Clank: Tools of Destruction, Darkstar One, Oblivion (hah!), COD4 single player, unlock all of the songs on Rock Band, and who knows what else. It never gets done, does it? Too bad I have, you know, school to do too. And then this summer I’m going to be taking a 4 nights a week 3 hour class (what’s up with that, that’s 12 hours a week… wtf?), plus two other classes.

By all that, what I mean to say is – when are Fallout 3 and Force Unleashed coming out?

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News/Hype: It’s aaah meeee!

Posted by deckard47 on April 25, 2008

I don’t know how many of you have read the PA post for today, but it pretty much sums up how I think I’ll be reacting to the game. I liked Kart 64, I liked Double Dash (especially co-op driving, against two other people), and it looks like I’ll like this game. It’s fun, an important quality, and once Sam and I do get a Wii (it’ll happen!), we’re going to be rocking mushrooms and green shells all the fucking way.

Oh, and in my boredom, I found out that Dead Rising 2 might be on the way, but from a western developer. Honestly, if they can keep the same scope and feel, but polish the thing up a bit, I don’t care who develops it. Oh, and I have to go confirm this, but I heard that CD Projekt (the weirdos behind The Witcher) are looking for 360 talent. What could that mean? I really hope it’s not the Age of Conan port. Who cares about that. Now, The Witcher 360…. Interesting. Maybe they could produce a functioning game?

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Fallout Tactics: BoS

Posted by deckard47 on April 25, 2008

Let me say first of all, I have played the first two Fallouts, and I liked the S.P.E.C.I.A.L system, the gameplay, the combat, the gore, the humor, and just about everything else. I am one of those people who is still worried about Bethesda and Fallout (when by all rights, they’re going to make a great game). So, it surprises me to recall that I bought Fallout Tactics: BoS (the PC game, not the atrocious Xbox games) when it first came out.

Sidetrack time: do you remember old PC game boxes? They were huge! I loved those boxes. They just had more room for awesome artwork and cool features, like see-through sides or multiple foldouts! Plus you could fit a Baldur’s Gate II (novel-sized) manual in there without breaking a sweat. Good times.

Sorry about that. Anyway. Read the rest of this entry »

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Not Video Games: Guillotines and Zombies!

Posted by deckard47 on April 25, 2008

Every week, I’ve decided to implement the “Not Video Games” post. This will be a post that reviews or covers a game that is not a video game (or possibly video games based on board games, card games, etc.). Hopefully, this will help convince people that I am two kinds of dork, not just one! Also, it’ll introduce you to games you might not otherwise play. Enjoy!

The above is a bit of a lie, but whatever. This week (I think the last not video games week was over a month ago, but that’s alright), we have Guillotine and Zombie Fluxx. Guillotine is a quick, amusing card game that becomes more fun as you add players. Zombie Fluxx is a variation on the Fluxx line of card games, which relies heavily on clichés and mainstays from zombie fiction. They’re both fun, but Guillotine is the better game, I think.

Guillotine is set during the French Revolution. Your goal is to collect heads (each card has a picture of a person), each of which is worth a different amount. Servants and such are worth nothing, but cut off a noble’s head, and you’ll score some real points. Of course, high religious officials and royalty are worth the most, but you only have 3 days to collect them (like Dead Rising! Kinda). Every day you place 12 heads face up on the table.

To aid you in your bloody quest, you have action cards, which you pick up every turn. Each turn you can play an action card (to shift the heads, add new ones, discard some, steal opponents’ cards, enact new rules, or give yourself a bonus), and then you must draw the top noble card. Some cards give you negative points, like martyrs, poor people, or heroes of the people.

With two people, the game is fun, but predictable, but with more people, you never know who will pick up what card, and who is going to get screwed. It’s a fun game, the card artwork is cute, bloody and hilarious, and it doesn’t get old.

Zombie Fluxx is either a much faster game, or a much slower game than Guillotine, depending on how the game unfolds. The Fluxx games rely on constantly changing rules. You’ll have a large number of rule cards that can be played or discarded. This means that at any point in time, you could be drawing 5 cards a turn, groaning whenever you pick up a zombie, or be forced to discard all of your cards.
Besides rules cards, there are Creepers (zombies), Keepers (human friends, weapons, and food), and Goal cards. Once a goal card is played, all players try to reach that goal to win. Sometimes, the goal can be something to avoid (if all players have at least 4 zombies, everyone loses, for instance). Weapons can be used to kill zombies or complete goals (zombie baseball, say), and all cards can be discarded, stolen or moved. The game can last a minute or two, as the result of a lucky goal/Keeper combination, or it can last forever.

Zombie Fluxx is fun, but it lacks Guillotine’s character, but that might be because it is one of a series. While these games are fun for small groups, they suffer in large groups. That is why next week (or a month from now!), I’ll review Loot, one of the most awesome card games ever, if you have 5 or six people. Until then, wish me luck at the GTA IV midnight opening. Pray that I won’t get capped by some suburban gangster rising sideways in his Prius., looking for his next urban thrill.

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Dead Rising Review

Posted by deckard47 on April 25, 2008

Dead Rising is an interesting game. I read one article recently that said that it and Oblivion were the only really “next-gen” games so far, that did things that older games literally could not do, design-wise. I can see why you would think that. Dead Rising takes the original Dawn of the Dead and makes it a reality: a sprawling mall, survivors holed up in a security room, thousands upon thousands of the living dead, and an insane amount of violence.

The game’s story is surprisingly not bad at all, especially considering it’s coming from Capcom, creators of the amazingly well-written Resident Evil games. You play Frank West, a completely unattractive and annoying photojournalist. I mention this because you don’t see ugly heroes like this very much in games: you’ve pretty much got your craggy soldier dudes and your effeminate youth dudes. Which is to say, I like the fact that your character is annoying (to other characters) and not too pretty.

The story involves government experiments (no!), revenge, and cover-ups. It’s pretty well presented and well implemented, and I hardly ever felt like anything didn’t fit. Frank gets dropped off at the zombie-infested Willamette mall, in a town overrun by zombies and quarantined by the National Guard. You have three days to get a great scoop and meet you helicopter ride out. If only things were that easy, right?

You soon meet up with a group of survivors, some of them governments agents sent to investigate. They have their own motives, but after zombies break in to the mall and the survivors are pushed by to the security room, the Feds will realize that Frank is an asset. They’ll feed you info if you help them find a mysterious professor.

Unfortunately, many of the people in the mall have gone crazy; these “Psychopaths” are the game’s bosses. A large variety of people have gone nuts: a gun store owner, a clown, a Vietnam Vet., a mall cop, a mysterious brother/sister duo from out of town, and the local butcher, among others. Each psychopath is a different kind of insane, and each has different weapons and attributes. The psychopaths and regular humans are all written pretty well, and don’t exhibit the normal video game issues: i.e. the main black character, Brad, is a normal person, and the main Hispanic bad guy isn’t too hideously stereotyped. Still, some of the game is a little weird (I’m not sure what they’re trying to say with Jo the cop and her captives, but it seems like they’re scared of people “like” her), especially the way Frank reacts to the two main female characters. I know he’s an asshole, but it just seems like the game designers wanted to provide the (apparently 13 year old mouth breathing) audience with a sketchy main character. Classy.

All in all, you’ll have to kill several psychopaths throughout the course of the game. I say “have to kill” several because Dead Rising has a peculiar game structure (which most of you probably know about). You have 72 hours in the mall, and this takes place in real time (besides the pause menu). Scoops (missions non-main plotline related) and other points of interest only appear for so long a time, as do main story quests. Thus, if you’re killing zombies in the movie theater and forget to meet the FBI agents at 4pm, you’ll lose the ability to complete the story, for the rest of the 72 hours. You can just keep on playing, killing tons of zombies, or you can restart.

This makes for frustrating gameplay, especially considering you only have one save, and you can only save in bathrooms and the security room. Suddenly, what appears to be an interesting design decision (a time limit and set mission windows) becomes extremely annoying). For instance, if you save in one bathroom, and then realize that you can’t make it to the security room in time for the next mission, you’ll never be able to get to that mission.

Even worse, most of the scoops involve escorting survivors back to the security room. This makes sense, but what this means in-game is that you have to manage large groups (up to 7) of survivors with the worst A.I. and pathfinding ever. If you give them weapons, they’ll stop in a crowd of zombies, attack a zombie who is totally out of the way, or just be dumb in general. When this happens, they’ll start to yell “Frank, Frank!” The number of times I nearly killed survivors because of this… Some survivors can be carried or lead by the hand, but when you have 4 other numbskulls in tow, you don’t appreciate that one piggyback rider.

If you want, you can save all of your experience (Frank levels up his speed, attack power, health and such) and restart the game. This is practically mandatory at first, as the game is nigh impossible at your starting level. You’ll be mowed down by psychos or eaten by zombies way too fast.

This is all obviously meant to encourage replay value. You’re supposed to restart, over and over, to get higher levels at earlier stages, and you’re supposed to miss missions, and get bad endings (there are endings rating from “True” to “A” to “D”), all so you can play the game again. Eventually you can unlock overtime and unlimited modes, but it takes a bit of doing.

That all sounds rather annoying, right? Well, it is, but once you get used to it, you’ll forger about it. Once I got a handle on the time limit, how long it took me to cross the mall, and how to level up Frank quickly, the game became much more fun. This is when I began to realize that Dead Rising is really an amazing game.

Controlling Frank is easy, as is shooting, punching or swinging a sword. The map is easy to use, and you can make any mission objective appear as a big floating arrow, guiding you. There are tons of weapons in the mall, conventional an otherwise. There are also bikes, cars and skateboards to get you around a little faster.

What this game really boils down to is different ways to kill zombies, and weird stuff to do along the way. Want to make your spit acidic and then go around spitting on zombies? Go for it. You can pick up a bunch of novelty masks and then plop them on zombie heads, blinding them. You can learn killing moves like disembowel, whereby Frank literally goes Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom on any bad guy.

Coupled with the amazing number of shops to be found, and the photo shooting aspect of the game, there’s a lot to do. Photography feels a little superfluous, but you get more Prestige Points (XP) for more interesting (mostly violent or dramatic) pictures, and for photographing special objects, so there’s a bit of depth there.

As regards the shops, you can use most of them, mostly for weapons, food, transportation, clothing or hairstyles. It’s a lot of fun to pick up a suit, some nice glasses, shave your head at the cutlery store (why the cutlery store? Who knows), and then progress through the storyline, watch Frank Diesel rock some zombies. Likewise, you can dress up in a bear costume, wear funny hats, or assemble a Mega Man costume.

Weapon-wise, you have knives, pistols, katanas, lawn mowers, chainsaws, hammers, baseball bats, two-by-fours, anything, really. As is apparent, this game has a ton of content, and luckily, it has the graphical power to pull it off. The zombies all look reasonably different, and their divers character models look cool. The human characters all look good and act pretty well, and the lighting effects in the daytime are very pretty. At night the game looks really bad, with a bunch of dark stumbly things on a dark background. If you want to do dark games well, check out Splinter Cell, F.E.A.R., Condemned, etc.

Best of all, the sound, blood and guts effects rock. I know this shouldn’t make that big a difference, but when I smash a zombie’s face into the floor, rip his heart out, shoot him in the head, or cut his leg off, I want it to look and sound right. And it always does.

Ultimately, this game is a lot of fun, and I’m still having fun with it, in unlimited mode. It may have design flaws, but they aren’t all completely incomprehensible. The time limit makes sense for the story, and escort mission would be fun, if your comrades weren’t all insane and stupid. This game perfectly realizes zombie apocalypse movies, and does so in a fun and engaging way. If you like zombies, or zombie movies, or sandbox games that don’t involve the words “Tamriel” or “DJ Lazuras,” check this game out. It’s brilliantly realized setting is only the tip of the iceberg.

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Echochrome PSN Demo and COD4 Map Pack

Posted by deckard47 on April 25, 2008

Not much time to mess around with the bloggy, but I think there will be a Dead Rising review up soon. Fun times. Right now, I have just downloaded the COD4 map pack (I have no idea when I’ll actually give these maps a try), and the Echochrome demo. In case you don’t know what that is, check this out:
Vodpod videos no longer available. from www.youtube.com posted with vodpod

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Cool huh? The music gets a bit tedious, and it can’t always detect when you’ve made a perspective change. Still, I am in need of a peculiar, small PS3 time-waster (I just finished the extra amoebas for Flow). I wonder how expensive it is? Finally, GTA IV-jour is drawing pretty nigh, and I think I may have to go at midnight and pick it up. Weird huh. I need to review it in a day and a half for my paper. That’s going to be a frantic period. Awesome.

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Super Awesome Ronald Moore News

Posted by deckard47 on April 22, 2008

I don’t know how many people who read this blog (how many of you are there now?) like BSG, or the latter seasons of DS9, or “First Contact,” but for those of you who liked those things, look at this! Ronals Moore, the creator and producer (and basically one of the main creative forces) of Battlestar Galactica is apparently all set to make a sci-fi trilogy of movies. Oh, and he’ll be making a prequel to John Carpenter’s The Thing.

This is truly cool news. I’d love to see what kind of sci-fi universe he comes up with, despite the fact that this new season of Battlestar is taking some weird fucking turns (really Ron, a mostly female Baltar worship cult…. plus the creepy sex scenes with Torrie and Baltar, and then Cally’s death? Is this really what you want to be doing?). Still, I’m excited about this, and you should be too.

And if you haven’t seen The Thing (the Carpenter remake), you should go see it, right now. It’s honestly one of the best horror movies I’ve ever seen, and it also features a badass, taciturn Kurt Russel nursing some Jim Beam in every single scene. Really though, it’s a great horror movie, especially compared to the shit that’s pouring out now (ahhh, “Prom Night”).

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Halo 3 Review (because I only just finished the campaign)

Posted by deckard47 on April 17, 2008

Halo 3 was probably the biggest release the Xbox 360 had ever seen, and the only game likely to unseat it from its Xbox throne is GTA IV. It came out amid absolutely giant clouds of hype, got pretty good reviews (for a guaranteed well-reviewed AAA title), and is now the second highest played game on Xbox Live (COD 4 recently beat them out).

I haven’t played a Halo game since attempting to like the second one, so I approached this one with trepidation. Sure, I had fond memories of the first one: I had a good time with my friends on the co-op campaign, and the amount of time we wasted on Sidewinder, Blood Gulch and other maps was alarming. After all, it was the first truly amazing LAN-ready console game.

Considering I now have games like Team Fortress 2 and COD 4 to play online, and Half Life 2, Portal and Bioshock to play single player, how important could Halo 3 really be anymore? Kind of important is the answer I came up with.

The single player hasn’t changed, at all. You can now dual wield (you could do that in Halo 2), hijack vehicles (another Halo 2 holdover), use special battle items (droppable shields, portable grav. Lifts, etc.), use all-new weapons, and you employ all of these items through extremely linear levels that play exactly the same as those from the first game.

Some of the settings may be different (I liked the opening setting, particularly), but it’s still the same “30 seconds of fun” idea, which got old a while ago. I mean, games like Bioshock and Half Life 2 have hours of fun, you don’t have to wash, rinse and repeat.

The plot is silly, overblown, and presented with a ludicrous and undeserved weight and grandiosity. The acting keeps pace with the writing (when Commander Keyes is asked where squads should meet up, where they should go, she says “To war.” No, really), and Bungie still thinks the Flood are fun. I don’t know why.

All this amounts to a rather forgettable experience, one you chug through to unlock achievements. It’s made more fun by co-op, and the ability to play a kind of challenge co-op where you try to beat your friends to points and kills.

Now comes the time to briefly mention the graphics. In single player, they are nice enough, but you get the weird sense that you’re looking at an older game. All of that is forgotten when you fire up multiplayer: online, in the Forge and the Theatre, you realize how impressive this game is. There’s so much going on, so many different players and effects, it’s impressive the amount of detail that Bungie pushed into this game. The water on High Ground, for instance, looks strangely real, compared to other games. The lighting effects are subtle, effective, and oddly “realistic.”

The Forge and Theatre are the best place to witness this. When you pause playback on your most recent match and see a character flung across the room by a rocket, you’ll appreciate the technical achievement before your eyes. Oh, and the Theatre and its file-sharing portion are great fun; I love looking at other people’s weird moments, deaths or screens. The Forge is even cooler. A really fun map editor, familiar maps can be completely changed with this tool. You can add platforms, boxes, ramps, and other items that change the topography of the level. You can also change weapon and vehicle placement, which can drastically alter the flow of a map. It’s a great community tool, like the Theatre, and Bungie deserves credit for that.

So there’s the multiplayer, which is amazing. All of those gadgets I mentioned earlier? In multiplayer, they’re fun, new, and useful. Honestly, gameplay-wise this feels like what Halo 2 should have felt like. There are new maps, and you can tell that they’ve been tested to perfection. Personally, I enjoy a couple of maps more than the others: the Heroic map pack includes Standoff, a fun outdoor map that is best played as a CTF map. Next up is High Ground, a good Team DM map that includes a long, sloping hill. Finally, my favorite straight-up DM map, Snowblind, an indoor/outdoor/underground map where the bodies pile up at an amazing rate.

Character models start out boring (Spartan/Elite Covenant), but as you win matches, rack up kills and start earning experience and ranks, you’ll unlock new armor pieces for both sides. You can customize your character’s colors and emblem, all of which are cool.

It really is surprising that I enjoy multiplayer so much. Most of the people with mics are hideous mouth breathers; the best people I meet are just silent. It’s sad, because voice chat can be used for such cool purposes (see Chromehounds, or any mildly tactical game), but on Halo 3, it becomes a forum for the witless, the racist, and a surprising amount of the time, what sounds like 5 year olds. Maybe I’m just being silly, but it’s weird how many young kids play this game (and they are all totally better than me).

Still, it’s obvious that Bungie has their multiplayer formula down to a science. It may not be the same adrenaline rush as COD 4, or provide the same amount of fun as Team Fortress 2 does, but it has its own place. It’s fast, fun, perfectly balanced, and always entertaining. I’m still surprised by the scores out there. This game has amazing multiplayer, but its single player is pretty basic and boring. I realize it’s Halo, and people love it, but it makes Die Hard 4 look well plotted. Still, if you like shooters, and you like deathmatch or CTF, you’ll like this. Oh, and if you like Halo, it’s a safe bet you’ll like it even a bit more.

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More of the Dragon Age!

Posted by deckard47 on April 14, 2008

I was attempting to not work, as is my wont, and over on 1up I found this piece they did on Dragon Age, back in 2007. It’s nice and long, and covers stuff I didn’t put in my last post. If any of you care about this game and read 1up, you may already have read this, for the rest of you, check it out. I’ve included some of the more interesting (to me) bits in the post, so read on: Read the rest of this entry »

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I’m Suddenly Impatient

Posted by deckard47 on April 11, 2008

I know I recently, posted a somewhat skeptical bit about Fallout 3, but there are some new pieces up on news sites about it, so I thought I’d write a bit more. A lot is being made out of the ways in which you create your character (being born, growing up, learning your skills and creating your appearance), which is supposed to be organic and interesting. I’m not quite sure if that really excites me. I mean, I remember how excited people were about Morrowind’s character creation system, and then I remember what it turned out to be… Maybe I’m just less romantic about telling people where I’m from and what my name is.

Regardless of the feral screams of my newborn avatar, there is the fact that your mother dies in childbirth (I think). It’s too bad that they made it this way; honestly I’d be more interested if your mom was the one who was mentoring you and then disappeared (then again, maybe there were no famous, female Irish actors who wanted to voice a video game character). Plus, it’s a bit odd to have you start out the game being expunged from within a character that then dies shortly thereafter. It’s an uncomfortable way to take control of the character. It’s not like your father falling into the ice and dying, or your father being “killed” by an evil nemesis, or you unleashing ancient sandy undeath on your father, or any other number of early plot father deaths. I think it would have been cool to have a mother character that was someone secretive, who left, and have that be the reason you left the vault. I mean, how often have we dealt with wayward/mentor/evil/whatever fathers in games? Lots of times.

Regardless of that concern, on to how the actual gameplay sounds. I like how the new turn-based (partially) combat sounds, and that they’ve given you the option to play encounters in real-time or in TB mode. The effects sound pretty extreme and bloody, which is good: I think that it would be weird for Fallout not to be extremely violent (plus I love how inventive the death animations were). I like the fact that you’ll get Dogmeat back as your companion, although I don’t know how useful he’ll be in the long run (it’s obvious he isn’t meant to be as integral as a certain other canine). I like the screenshots of regular mutant (the super mutants look a little orcish), but I hope we’re going to be seeing more than mutants and BOS guys (radscorpions, robots and deathclaws, please).

As some commentors have pointed out, the game seems to be focusing on mutants = bad, humans = less bad. In the games, there may have been evil mutants, but there were always good mutants or neutral mutants or sympathetic mutants to round things out. Just like most of the humans you met were hideous people.

As regards the 500 endings or whatever, that could rock. I like the idea of them taking a ton of elements, and working them into a final cutscene or montage. That way we feel that all of our actions actually did make a difference, not just the big ones. I hope they do that well, because it actually sounds like it could make for amazing game endings.

Finally, their idea of mixing 30s and 40s stuff with modern weapons and style is cool. Sure, it might seem like cribbing from Bioshock, but remember, Fallout and Fallout 2 were mixing Mad Max, Louis Armstrong, and other elements long before Ken Levine and his team showed up.

In the end, I am much more excited than I used to be, the inclusion of a companion (who better not get lost), the idea of mixed endings and mixed art, all of them sound good, and in keeping with certain aspects of the Fallout cannon. They seem like they’re on the right track to paying homage to a great game while creating a unique new franchise of their own. I wish them all the best of luck.

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Waiting for Stuff

Posted by deckard47 on April 11, 2008

My last post was absolutely humongous, which I apologize for, that’s what happens when you have a lot of tough work. It’s so much easier to procrastinate by writing angrily than it is to actually work. I’ve been lazy in my review posting and article linking; I’ll get on that soon. More importantly, I have my (long-awaited) Halo 3 review, for those of you like me who live under a rock/don’t have a 360/don’t like Halo. I’m not sure whether to give it the Mobygames treatment or just put it up on the blog. I like my format better to be honest, so that’s probably what it’ll end up being.

Today I’m going to read up to page 75 or 100 of ‘There Ain’t no Black in the Union Jack,’ which is rather more difficult than I thought it would be. As a result, there will be no Oblivion playing, and no puzzle solving with Professor Layton and Luke. This makes me sad. I may be able to get my hands on a review copy of GTA IV though (for the paper), and although I’ll have to wait until the release date to talk about it outside the paper (I think), I’m still looking forward to it, and to letting you know how awesome/not awesome it is.

Finally, the wait for three things I’ve been looking forward to is finally over. The COD 4 map pack, the Halo 3 Legendary map pack, and the standalone Rock Band guitar (oh, and GTA IV). I don’t know which of these I’ll be picking up, or when, but I’ll try to post impressions of all fairly quickly.

It’s time to actually go read that book, but once I’m done with it, it’s definitely Professor Layton time (unless it’s actually going to be Comp. Sci. time).

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