I started Faster Than Light last night, just to see what all the fuss was about. Four hours later, knowing I really needed to get to bed, I still wanted more… Blow-by-blow coming soon! This comic from Virtual Shackles, completely nails nails the inherent bias towards Rockmen being natural fighters!
In this month, which is about to end, I have already reviewed Counter Strike: Global Offensive, Tiny Troopers and Torchlight 2 for Hooked Gamers. In October, I will also have reviews for Faster Than Light, ARMA II: Army of the Czech Republic, Realms of Ancient War and Of Orcs and Men.
One would think getting free review copies would be awesome, but once you settle into the routine of reviewing pretty much a game a week in a 1500-2000 word feature, you realize that it is an incredibly difficult, and often thankless job! Better get to it then!
1. Four classes, 120 skills
But don’t be fooled by this. Each class had 30 skills, spread across 3 different trees. Each skill takes 15 points to max out. So even within a single class, you can have several builds that play radically different from one another. Now, multiply this by four classes. That is a lot of replay!
2. New Game+
New Game+ is not just your standard repetition of content, upgraded to match your level. You can also buy dungeon maps for gold, complete with their own set of variables, to mix things up. With a shared stash, you can keep exploring content to better equip your alts. Did I mention there are 44 dungeons to choose from?
3. Amazing graphics and sound
No review that I have seen so far, claims that the cartoony style of graphics detracts from the experience. That is because the graphics are amazing, sculpted with care and attention, and enhanced by Matt Uelmen’s riveting soundtrack.
4. Fishing and your Pet
Your pet fights by your side at all times. You don’t have to direct it, beyond setting its demeanor (aggressive, defensive, or passive). It is pretty smart about what to attack, and packs quite a punch. It automatically retreats when hurt, and does not die on you. The fish you catch can radically transform your pet into a wide variety of beasts, monsters and other colorful characters to expand your combat effectiveness. Depending on how much time you invest, you can catch fish that transforms your pet for short lengths of time, or permanently.
5. Surprises in every boss fight
Boss fights are crazy, intense affairs, and I have found myself being consistently surprised by their various abilities, fight mechanics and environmental hazards that stand in my way. Boss fights will make you think on the fly, making critical decisions in a split-second, and leave you breathless by the end of it. I guarantee, you will let out a “whew” at the end of quite a few of them.
6. Ton of loot
There is no way to express this in words. There is a nonsensical amount of loot. The deluge starts from your first swing, and never ends. You are literally showered with items, and you are constantly upgrading. It is akin to the proverbial carrot on a stick, but man I have never had so much fun chasing the carrot.
7. Enhancements: Charge Bar, Transmutor, Enchanter
There are several other elements that help enhance your game. A charge bar, uh, charges up when you are in combat, enhancing your statistics. It depletes when you are not in combat, subtly forcing you to constantly smack monsters around. A transmutor helps you craft new equipment from old items. The enchanter imbues your equipment with additional magical properties. A respec NPC restores your last three skill points. You have a personal stash. You have a shared stash for all of your characters. The list goes on and on.
8. Crunchy Combat
Combat is amazing. It is meaty and crunchy. Every blow, every shot, ever strike connects with a satisfying visual reaction and accompanying audio. You feel powerful, able to dish out devastating waves of destruction, obliterating everything in your path. Well almost everything. You will die, but that will help you learn.
9. Time spend on Not Wasting Yours
This a phrase from a review that I have been unable to find since, but its rings true. Torchlight 2 does not waste your time. The areas are huge, so you barely need to see the loading screen to begin with. When needed, loading times are practically non-existent. The character selection process is quick, intuitive and gets you in the game in 3 clicks. When you start a new character, you can get into combat, literally, within the first 10 seconds. In end game you can buy maps to get to dungeons instantly. This is a game that spends a lot of time ensuring it is not wasting yours.
10. It’s $20.
You really need an explanation for this? Go buy it!
In November, World of Warcraft will celebrate its 8th anniversary. It would have been eight years since we walked, awestruck, through the frozen tundra of Dun Morogh, and the bleak terrain of the Barrens. Spawning endless memes, giving birth to a new revolution in the MMO industry, defining and redefining what an MMO could be, WoW continued to climb in both popularity and subscription numbers for nearly seven years.
Shortly after the release of Cataclysm however, there was a decline. Wired magazine’s Game|Life has a very strong argument for why World of Warcraft has lost its cool, and how evidence suggests that the Goliath in the MMO world may be the cause for its own undoing. Many reasons are cited, from aging technology and a subscription model that audiences no longer connect with in a post-F2P world, to a decline in the mental maturity of the general player base.
It is worth a read, take a look.
Personally I think they need to innovate beyond better looking dungeons, world events and pet battles. The new expansion has a lot of cool features, but it seems to me these features were implemented begrudgingly, only after other MMOs beat them to the chase. For example, in WoW, pre-MoP, you would need to loot everything manually, which was a major time-sink for players of the farming persuasion. SW:TOR came out with AoE looting, and weeks later it was announced as a feature for MoP. Lame.
I think WoW needs to make a big, bold change, and soon. Or Goliath won’t need a David to fall.
Jim Rossignol, one of the the stupidly intelligent (can that be a term?) folks over at RPS has an interesting argument, that PC games are “all about the terrain”. Well OK, it is less of an argument, and more of a thought, further fueled by the veritable Twitterati. However, I have played two games on the opposite end of a spectrum that I much care(d) about, which make me think that the best terrain alone does not a game make, and lack of other critical features can make it not worth your while.
Recently I played the first three episodes in season 1 of The Walking Dead. Stellar story, incredibly tense world, terrifying sense of dread. Now that I think back to the game in the context of this little piece, I realize that I remember little of the terrain, or if it had any major effect on me. I am sure it enhanced whichever situation it served as a backdrop for, but at the end of the day, story is what drove The Walking Dead, and I love the title for this reason.
On the other end of the spectrum is the excellent Torchlight 2, with a story so convoluted and under-developed, I literally stopped reading quest text by the second quest. The game won me over with incredible gameplay, deeply satisfying combat. Once again, when I look back at it, I have a vague recollection of the terrain, but that pales in comparison to the frantic button-mashing that took up 99% of my time.
What do you think? Do you think good use of terrain, or well-designed terrain can actually make a shoddy game passable, or it is just a background element for you?
The DayZ craze for me wore off almost as quickly as it engulfed me. There was a point when I played DayZ for 16 hours straight. At the end of those 16 hours, I had a character with damn near nothing, having recently spawned on the coast. Even then I couldn’t get enough.
I have not played DayZ in several weeks, and I haven’t thought much about it either. The reason is fairly simple. With the announcement of the standalone, and the obvious diverting of resources, including the mind of Dean Hall, into its development, DayZ has sort of died. There used to be patches in quick succession, tweaking with weapon ranges and accuracy, fiddling with items, adding new content, experimenting with new ideas. That core philosophy seems to have taken a back seat, as the team behind the mod is working hard to create alpha build of the standalone.
I suppose subconsciously I made the decision that I will just play the standalone version when it is out, instead of suffering through an alpha that the developers have little to no reason to invest in any longer. Are you still playing DayZ? How is Chenarus faring?
Kickstarter is amazing. Not only is the movement allowing those with limited resources to pursue their ideas and explore their creativity, it is also giving us new games. In fact the first one is already out, and another just shot past the $2 million mark when all it needed was $990,000 in funding. You should be excited about both, and I will tell you why.
Part of the reason I love post-apocalyptic fiction is because I find it fascinating to get the various takes on how civilization would go on if there was nuclear war, a zombie plague, a natural plague, or a synthetic virus that threatened to wipe out earth’s population. I don’t think I have ever seen a post-apocalyptic event play out where the protagonist was completely prepared for the end of the world. Mostly they are just shocked and trying to survive, or they wake up in a world gone to hell (28 Days Later, The Walking Dead comic).
So here is a thought, if such a catastrophic event were to take place today, what would you do? Where would you go? Who would you save? How would you survive?
I just got done with the third episode of in the phenomenal first season of The Walking Dead from Telltale Games. I bought the title during a Steam sale, and I have been very pleasantly surprised and thoroughly satisfied with my purchase.
When I first started playing, there were a 24 achievements to be, uh, achieved. I have two problems with this. The first with the way the achievements have been “designed” and the second with the way developers have laid these out in Steam.
You know you had a great gaming moment when you, sit there, mouth open, and just whisper “Awesome!” to nobody in particular. Lee was at the farm, mending fences (literally and figuratively), along with Mark. At one point they have to step out of the fence to try and lift the posts back into place because one zombie knocked it down as it fried.
Three things happen in quick succession.
- The electricity is turned on, and the fence goes live. Lee and Mark are trapped outside.
- Mark is nailed in the shoulder with an arrow. Assailants in the forest start raining arrows down on both Lee and Mark.
- Lee and Mark hide behind a tractor and push it as moving cover to get to an opening in the fence. The torso of a zombie that Lee has just torn in half chases them.
It is tense, it is heart-thumping and it is terrifying. It was also one of the best moments I have had recent gaming history. Well done Telltale Games!
There is a new one. It’s called Nuclear Dawn. Its being developed by Best Way. It is set in a post-apocalyptic world. So what do we have so far?
- State of Decay
- Nuclear Dawn
- The Last of Us
- Metro 2034
Ah yes. This is beautiful. We have a ton of post-apocalyptic titles coming out in the next few months/quarters, and I couldn’t be happier. What a great time to be a fan of the Post Apocalyptic genre.
Via Joystiq, Blizzard confirms that players in Iran have been denied access to Blizzard servers to play any of their games. This is allegedly part of a larger strategy to make the company, based in the US, more compliant with US laws and regulations. The US currently imposes various economic and political sanctions on Iran because of its controversial nuclear program. As such, Blizzard is refraining from engaging in any trade or economic activity with residents of the country.
Can you imagine how many WoW players just put their fists through their monitors?
This is probably smart move, but there is a part that really annoyed me. Big Blue is unable to provide “refunds, credits, transfers, or other service options to accounts”. For a company that made a hundred billion and stupid thousand dollars from its games, it seems strange to me that it was OK to take money from people when they were buying your games. Was that not engaging in economic trade with Iran and its residents? If that too was wrong, shouldn’t you return said money? Note that I am not trying to support the dickhead regime that believes the holocaust didn’t happen, just saying it isn’t really the players’ fault.
It is a sad day when an MMO, especially one that has been in development for almost a decade, that generated so much hype, and that had so much potential, seems to be in the news for all the wrong reasons.
According to Funcom’s Q2 2012 financial report, The Secret World has been purchased by over 200,000 players so far, a number far below the 700,000 sold for Age of Conan in its first months. The report claims several initiatives are being launched to attract a bigger base to the game, but the ugly truth is self-evident: The Secret World has failed to garner the following that it frankly deserved.
It is unfortunate really. I have yet to try The Secret World. This is not because I am waiting for more reviews, or because I am trying to sidestep the early adopter blues. I simply don’t have the time to invest in another MMO. I was hoping that post-summer I could clear up my schedule a little and give this and Guild Wars 2 some time and see what all the raving lunatics are scream on about. The Secret World has been given a very respectable mid-70′s overall score by critics, and a more grounded mid-80s score by players on MetaCritic.com. Clearly, years of hard work and dedication to creating something unique yet familiar, novel yet adaptable, organic yet linear has paid off. But despite everything that the studio did, somehow it was not enough. I suppose that is the nature of the business, sometimes no matter how hard you try, it simply won’t stick.
I will do a full-blown review and try to dent what I can when I try it, but as it stands, it seems that The Secret World is done for. And it is yet another nail in the paid subscription era’s coffin.
Ah yes, what a wonderful time to be a gamer. And within gaming, what a wonderful time to be a fan of the post-apocalyptic genre! Reverb Publishing has announced that it will publish yet another kickstarted game by 2Dawn Games, a PC shooter by the name of Ravaged. Minor details and trailer after the jump.
DayZ’s popularity is undeniable. From hundreds of thousands of YouTube videos to million and some change players running and gunning for their lives in the 225 square kilometers of the fictional state of Chenarussia, DayZ has taken the industry by storm. I would even go on to say it is the new MineCraft. It is novel. It is a lot of fun to play. It redefines open-ended. And it allows you to set a goal and follow it without any one telling you to do it.
However, this foray by Dean “Rocket” Hall into the post-apocalyptic zombie-survival genre also seems to have had the fringe benefit of snowballing this little niche. Promptly after the mod gaining immense popularity, came the WarZ reveal. The equally silly-named title claims to have little to do with DayZ, and the work on it so far seems to indicate that this may well be the case. My guess would be that they rushed the reveal, fearful that they might be pegged as copycats the longer the delayed the announcement. So after gilding the lily a little, some screenshots and a makeshift website was released. But then again, this is all conjecture on my part. The point is that I don’t think we would have heard of WarZ so quickly, if DayZ had not existed.
And now we have another contender entering the ring. State of Decay is an open-world zombie survival game that has vehicles, a ton of guns, vicious zombies and ridiculously over-the-top action. It actually sort of sounds like Undead Labs’ zombie MMo codenamed Class3, doesn’t it? Well that is because it is Class3. The MMO is no longer. This is what remains. Instead of trying to tell you how clunky the animation looks, or how good the world looks because of CryEngine, why don’t you just take a look yourself?
I have ten alpha keys for City of Steam. I have a full preview pending over on Hooked Gamers, but suffice it to say, the game already shows a lot of promise and polish. The alpha is only available this weekend and can be accessed via your browser (the game uses Unity’s engine). So if you want to spend some time testing out a great little title in alpha, Saturday through Monday morning, just leave a comment below by Friday night. I will pick 10 at random, or if there are less than 10 comments, everyone will get a key!
“Trailer for new PS3-exclusive Rain is as unique, beautiful and sad as a clinically depressed snowflake.”
What a great time to be a gamer. Team Fortress 2, the now completely free-to-play war-themed hat-simulator from Valve is getting a major update: A third faction. Of robots. That you can Co-op against! WHAT?! That is bananas. I love Team Fortress 2, and Steam tells me I have clocked in over 200 hours into this game and if I might say so myself, I am pretty damn good at it. Team Fortress 2 is that rare “perfect” game, that has been balanced and honed over many years to craft an exquisite player experience (the new map Doomsday notwithstanding). So I never expected that they would actually take this big a step.
In addition, they have been teasing this for nearly two years now:
Then the comic was released, that finally featured the third of the Mann brothers, complete with his own sinister agenda. You can also download the comic as a PDF document. And finally, Valve used their own Source Filmmaker to make the official announcement. There is a third faction. It is made up of robots versions of the nine classes in the game. You can team Red and Blu up against said third faction.
It’s called the Mann vs. Machine mode. “United, we can fight the Metal Menace” claims Valve new Team Fortress 2 page dedicated to this update. Here are some cool facts:
- Robots, when killed, explode in a shower of money. Said money can be used in Upgrade Station, which is exactly what it sounds like.
- There are five canteens that provide different boots. Ubercharge gives five seconds of personal invincibility, Critical Hit Boost gives full critical hit power fopr five seconds, Ammo/Clip Refill is an instant ammo refill canteen, Return to Base ports you to home base, and Buildings upgrades helps get those level 3 buildings up in a jiffy.
- All classes have various upgrades available to help fight the robot menace better. See spy link below, or visit this link for more info in each class.
- There are two new maps, Coaltown and Mannworks.
- The robots are based on the nine main classes, but they have sub-classes. Bowman is a sniper-bot that uses a bow and an arrow. The Sydney Sniper shoots Jarate coated darts.
- The robots are trying to destroy facilities in the two maps. Some will be carrying bombs. the longer they are alive, the more powerful they get in stages. Stage 1 is a defensive buff, 2 is health regeneration and 3 is never-ending full critical hits. And yes, they stack!
- There are robot giants.
- There are robot giants.
- One giant robot uses a massive minigun. That fires rockets.
- Sentry busters are armored bombs on two legs that beeline for sentries.
I gave in to my need for some MMO indulgence, and Steam’s incessant need to flash me with the free-to-play titles that they feature, a list that is expanding at a fairly respectable pace. So I installed Fallen Earth, I played the tutorial and I got into the first town. And then nothing made sense! There are so many buttons, so many menu items, interface windows and sub-systems that I felt thoroughly overwhelmed. I was even given like 10 new skills without warning or explanation, apparently they are temporary and will go away when I level up with my real abilities, but the whole thing is a little daunting.
So here is my question. For those of you who play Fallen Earth, what resource sites would you recommend? I am a big believer in doing background research and using third-party tools/information to help craft my player experience. Help a brother out?!