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“Deus Ex: Human Choices” or “Online Gaming Overload”

October 7, 2011 3 comments

Deus Ex: Human Choices

I just finished Deus Ex: Human Revolution after my second time through. My save files were corrupted right after I completed everything in Hengsha the second time around (about 80% of the game completed). As much as that had sucked, that actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because it turns out I had made some fairly silly augmentation choices.

Loved:

  • The various augmentations. Despite there being some really foolish augmentation choices, the overall system was well-thought out and true to the Deus Ex experience.
  • The stealth aspect was superb. I learned to take out entire groups of enemies using just single takedowns and the cover system (no double take-downs, no noise reduction, no forced distractions, no invisibility). You can upgrade your abilities to further augment the stealth play-style, eventually turning into an invisible killing machine. But I loved the fact that you could use stealth to your advantage from the very beginning.
  • The game offered multiple paths to reach your objective. I think it is a little misleading to say the game offers multiple options to complete an objective, because at the end of the day, you just need to get from point A to point B. The game does offer multiple paths to get there though. You can run and gun. You can use lethal takedowns and stick to the shadows. You can use non-lethal takedowns to pursue the path of being a pacifist. You can bypass most enemies en route to your objective.
  • The moral dilemma upon landing in Hengsha the second time. I had played as a pacifist the entire game, and I had to choose to remain a pacifist or to save a character’s life. I ended up choosing the later. It is moments like these that make great video games, when you are forced to make genuinely tough decisions, where the  option you choose isn’t the easiest or the most moral of the presented outcomes.

Did not Love:

  • The damn boss fights. They sucked. They didn’t offer “choice” in how to handle the boss. Each boss fight was “pump boss full of lead till it keels over”. As a stealth player, I was sorely disappointed.
  • The story, though well-written, can be summarized in about seven sentences.
  • Stealth gameplay adds artificial length to the game. If you shoot your way through and don’t engage in side-quests, I don’t think the main story would take you more than 5-6 hours. Which is a little lame.
  • The choice at the end was to literally press one of four buttons to see a different ending. I felt cheated at the end. I felt like the game had engaged me to make all of these decisions during my adventures, and none of those decisions eventually mattered because in the end I could simply flick the switch for whichever ending I chose, regardless of the logistical or moral choices I had made up to that point. I didn’t like that one bit.

Overall it is a great game, and one I would recommend for any RPG/Stealth lover. It has it’s flaws, but they can be (largely) overlooked. Give it a try if you haven’t yet.

Online Gaming Overload

WoW Leveling

I had slight MMO overload over the last few days. I played WoW almost compulsively, because it was so easy to invest just another half hour into it and get another level for your character. I had a small episode of a burnout, so I decided to purposely stay away for a few days. It worked. It has been three days and I am itching to play it again.

Superhero Simulators

I have been dabbling a little into Champions Online. I am level 11 now, but the I am not quite happy with the Archetype I picked. I also read that this was probably the most balanced of the offered Archetypes, so if this is the best they have to offer without paying, then maybe I ought to focus my attention on City of Heroes, which has recently transitioned into an F2P model as well.

Global Agenda

Good game to start off in, the tutorial levels are very well laid out, and I had a lot of fun with the smaller skirmishes. But I have my hands rather full these days and something’s got to give. That something has turned out to be Global Agenda. Not that it matters, because where I dropped Global Agenda, I picked up…

League of Legends

God damn whoever made this game because it is addictive as hell. I have only played two games so far, but my DOTA flashbacks have effectively ensured I will be screwing around in this title for a while. I am going to try out all the free to play characters for now, just to get a better handle on the game, and I am not touching Dominion yet, simply because I must wrap my head around the basics first. I will also continue to research the paid characters and see which one best suits my play-style. All in all, good game, and I am glad (wroth) that I got coerced into giving it a try. Because now I am hooked. Damn it.

StarCraft II

I am steadily getting better as a Protoss player. I have made it a rule to get at least four to five 1v1 matches in a week so my macro game continues to improve. But my true love in StarCraft II right now is playing with a friend in ranked 2v2. It is a treat to play and I am very happy with everything it has to offer so far.

“Why I am Glad Diablo 3 is Delayed” or “EA Won’t Let Me Play SW:TOR”

September 25, 2011 6 comments

Why I am Glad Diablo 3 is Delayed

There are a lot of high-profile titles coming in the next few months that will keep me quite occupied. Dead Island and Gears of War 3, two titles that I’d like to play, are already out. I just haven’t had the time to play anything else, so I have not bothered purchasing these titles yet. I am still working through my second run through Deus Ex: Human Revolution, still leveling my scantily clad made in WoW, and tinkering with the stupidly cute Shakes and Fidget browser game.

Game of Thrones: Genesis also comes out in four days. But I am not sure about that one. I am a hardcore fan of the excellent series by George R.R. Martin, and from what I have seen in the trailers, I have a bad feeling about this in my gut. Over the course of time, I have learned to trust my gut.

October will bring id Software’s latest foray into first person shooters in the form of Rage, the much-anticipated and pre-ordered Battlefield 3, and Batman: Arkham City. Rage is exciting because the studio is finally going for a new IP after so long. Battlefield 3 just looks sick, and Batman: Arkham Asylum was too good to pass up City.

In addition, one of the MMOs that I have always wanted to play extensively but the monthly subscription cost kept me away was Fallen Earth. The MMO is going free-to-play on October 12, so I will definitely be checking it out.

November will be hell month. We have Modern Warfare 3, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim will release within the span of about a week. This, coupled with the releases in September and October (along with Champions Online, WoW and Fallen Earth) will keep me quite busy through the holiday season.

Hence, I am glad Diablo 3 has been delayed!

EA Won’t Let Me Play SW:TOR

“Hi EA, would you like my money?”

“No, we don’t like where you live.”

QQ, etc.

“Champions Online: Superhero Simulator” or “Global Agenda: Superagent Simulator”

August 10, 2011 2 comments

The wait for the next generation of MMOs is unbearable at this point. I have quit WoW. World of Tanks simply wasn’t my cup of tea. I dabbled in Lord of the Rings Online, but it was a barren wasteland, and I rarely came across any players in the first 22 levels in a “well-populated” server, so eventually I just got tired of playing solo and quit LOTRO as well.

I have now downloaded both Champions Online: Free For All, and Global Agenda: Free Agent, partly because I am itching to play an MMO, and partly because they were in my Steam “free to play” section, and it was just convenient to download and install both clients.

Superhero Simulator

I had a lot of issues, I mean a LOT of issues, with Champions Online. I despised the title to the point that I could not bear to play the game a month past the initial “free” month. Even back then, must have been September/October of 2009 or thereabouts, I thought Champions Online would have benefited greatly if it was a free-to-play title, because it had a lot of things going for it. I am not saying free-to-play titles are allowed to have broken game mechanics or unpolished gameplay, not at all. I am just saying that it didn’t make sense to call it a AAA title when the game was dramatically and drastically altered on launch day itself because of blatant balance issues.

When I logged in this time, using the same username/password that I had used nearly two years prior, I was surprised to find my original characters still intact. Now because those characters no longer fit into the free archetypes that free accounts have access to, I could not load the world with those characters and play to my heart’s content, but I was grateful that my old characters were still intact after all that time.

I made a new character. I should rephrase, I am in the process of making a new character.  had actually forgotten how incredible complex, deep and fun the hero builder tools could be in Champions Online. With literally thousands of combinations, even with in the free account, you can create a truly unique looking hero.

Superagent Simulator

A lot of people who play this game had remarked that you could play Global Agenda for any length of time without feeling like you are tied down to a raid or dungeon run at a designated time. You could jump in and out of missions on the fly and play as your schedule suits you, not the other way around. Given the sheer shortage of time that has become the bane of my existence lately, this was a major plus point for me.

I have only played the tutorial of this game so far, and I have been quite impressed with the way the single-player (near) obligatory tutorial section is designed. It has a cool storyline, plenty of interesting cut-scenes and it introduces gameplay mechanics in interesting and unique ways. So far I have had a blast and I will continue to play it until I have a good enough handle on the game to start tackling mission and get into the MM part of this MMO.

“Tore Telara a New Rift” or “Superheroes Squabble” or “Battlestar Galactica: In-browser”

January 28, 2011 4 comments

RIFT

The new Rift trailer kicks a lot of (rift) ass. The battle between the Ascendants comes full circle, birds get caught on fire, and it is revealed that if you have giant tusks, you can kick some serious ass! Seriously though, it is the most ambitious trailer for Rift to date and although my work schedule not permitted me to play at all, I was really glad to hear they were expanding the beta window to Saturday. That implies I can squeeze in a few hours and hopefully get a good idea of what Rift is all about. I will have a full write-up over the weekend, as soon as I figure out whether the NDA is in effect because there seems to be conflicting information on this. (Perhaps you can answer this one Scott?)

Let me also say that I was very pleasantly surprised that a representative from Trion Worlds actually responded to my ill-advised gripe about installation and launch problems I had with Rift. Not only that, he actually offered to help and look into the matter. I don’t quite know what I like / dislike about Rift just yet, but I have to say, they’ve got mad customer service skills yo!

Watch the new trailer embedded below:

Superheroes Squabble

DCUO launched mid-January. The game seems to be doing fairly well, considering new servers are being added to the game days into the launch. Champions Online also went F2P, and I don’t think anyone has any confusions about their decision to announce a launch date right around the launch of DCUO. I am going to try my hands at Champions Online again. I have had my reservations with the game, but it has been out nearly a year and a half now, and I am hoping most of the bugs have been filtered out by now. And if Patrick’s post is any indication, the launch went a lot smoother than the disaster we faced on the original launch day back in September 2009. The option to play F2P is also quite welcoming, despite the fact that Massively.com doesn’t think the locked archetypes are a true representation of what the game may have to offer. If you want to know anything and everything about the revamped title, you can read Massively’s write-up here.

Will I try DCUO? Not yet. I’ll give it a few more months. The initial response is, admittedly, enticing. But I don’t want to get burnt again by spending my heard-earned doubloons on a sub-par game because I got sold on the hype.

Battlestar Galactica: In-browser

While we are on the subject of trailers, the folks over at Big Point have released an in-game trailer, crafted from 100% in-game footage, and now with more Vitamin C! I have to admit, despite my initial reservations about a Farmville-esque botched attempt at re-creating the fantastic universe, I am a little surprised at how detailed, graphically rich, and accurate an in-browser game can look these days. Am I confused? Did they decide to go with a full-blown 3D engine and I missed that memo? Or are those graphics a little ridiculous for an in-browser game?

I haven’t yet, but I will sure as hell sign-up for the beta now! Take a look:

“DC Universe to Come Online” or “The Real Superhero Simulator?”

June 2, 2010 1 comment

I don’t know what it is about superhero simulators, but I am inexorably drawn to them. I played City of Heroes when it first came out, actually grinding my way to the 3rd level50 character on the server. Then WoW came around and everything went south. A few years later, they released City of Villains, which was a delight in its own right, but again my time with it was short-lived, as WoW had sank its extensive claws deep into my gamer nerves, unrelenting, holding on for dear subscription.

Then came Champions Online, and for what it’s worth, it was an enjoyable joyride for a while. I had my fair share of grievances with the game, the lack of polish it exhibited and the lack of content that forced grind sessions. It still amazes me how modern MMOs can get that one most critical aspect wrong: not having enough content forcing players to grind mobs till they can tackle the higher-level zones/quests again. WoW got that right the first time and perhaps that is the single biggest reason they are so successful. That and the fact they continue to innovate and, you know, not suck.

Sony’s DCUO has been making the rounds of the MMO world lately, and has now been announced to be out later this year, in November to be exact. Part of me is hesitant, seeing as how the last three superhero simulators I invested in didn’t manage to keep my attention for any conceivable length of time. Yet, there is that inexplicable itch to try it out, see what its like, and hopefully find my dream superhero simulator.

I can dream I suppose!

“Champions Online: Six Months Later” or “Super Powered Fiascos”

April 1, 2010 Leave a comment

I played Champions Online for a good three months last year. For those of you that actually read the blog know I was not particularly fond of mess the game had made, and the sheer lack of polish that Cryptic had the audacity to release unto the masses. I haven’t played the game in a good three months now, burnt out on lack of content, repetitious quests and in-game events that made me want to cry tears of blood.

Champions Online had a lot going for it, some of which I have even highlighted in the past, but does it have the chops to become a strong AAA title in a post-WoW arena? The fact that this question was posed by Patrick Mackey six months after the launch is enough of an indication that Cryptic made a lot of atrocious mistakes in the first six months. But perhaps there is still hope. Mackey over at Massively takes a look at the game and how it fares half a year after launch.

Worth a read
, especially if you are looking to indulge.

Categories: Champions Online, Review

“Massively Sneaky” or “Cryptic’s Cryptic History”

March 19, 2010 5 comments

Massively, in their regular segment The Daily Grind, asked players what they thought of Cryptic, developers of the superhero simulator Champions Online and the space-based Star Trek Online. You can find the user comments here. Here are some interesting snippets:

  • “After 3 MMOs, I firmly believe that they do not make good games. I think of them as the “bench players” and BioWare or Blizzard are the “star players”.” – gerkshz. [Bronte: I agree with the fact that they don't make good games for the MMO genre. But I think it is unfair to compare them to BioWare. Although Star Wars has a rabid following and astronomical hype, I still don't think it is fair to judge a book by its cover. Especially if that book isn't out yet!]
  • “They are good at giving players customization options and individuality. They are bad at putting in interesting content to keep those individuals engaged. They are good at making visually appealing worlds. They are bad at hiding the real reason they make their games is to squeeze every penny they can out of you.” – FrostPaw. [Bronte: I think this encapsulates my feelings on Cryptic the best. Cryptic is all about sticking to harsh development schedule without paying nearly enough attention to what the players may want. Also, although I only played Star Trek Online beta, I think this review from PC Gamer sums up my experiences with the MMO the best.]
  • “Cryptic are the “own brand diet cola” of dev houses in my experience. They make pretty enough games, but seem convinced that writing a handful of missions and then vaguely re-skinning them is enough to keep people long term. It’s not, and at least for me I’d rather go back to “the real thing” after a couple of months in a Cryptic game (CoX, CO, STO… the similarities are glaring… and not in a good way).” – whitcombe. [Bronte: This is precisely the kind of thing I addressed in my experience with Champions Online on Are We New At This. Read up on some of my past posts on CO here.]
  • “When Cryptic makes a mistake (and they do that often) they hold up their hands and admit to it. A lot of other MMO companies could learn from this.” – Renko. [Bronte: I agree. Cryptic may push unpolished content out the door, be insidious when it comes to squeezing every dime out of your pocket and may provide uninspiring gameplay and rehashed content, but they always admit their mistakes. That being said, what's the point in accepting a mistake and having an open dialogue on it, if the next iteration suffers from the same inherent issues?]
  • “I think Cryptic needs to take their in their development and not rush. Two years of development for STO is not enough, they need another three or four years to develop the game. For Champions, maybe another two or three years. Both of those games still feels like it’s in alpha and beta.” – Vlo. [Bronte: That is one of the biggest concerns I had with CO. It always felt like the product was in beta stage, being tested live, but with paying subscribers.]
  • “Personally, I think they make solid games but not good subscription MMOs – nothing they’ve made (including CoH) has had any lasting appeal for me.” – Vulturion. [Bronte: Again I have to agree here. Champions Online could have been a great single player (or even multi player) game. It had decent lore, an incredible costume creation tool, and other innovative elements. However, it was a terrible MMO. Social interaction was limited, you could solo 95%+ of the content and the zone chats were densely populated with crickets.]
  • “Having experienced Cryptic at its finest, I will never waste my money on a cryptic product ever again.

    (I) Massive game changing patch with no warning => i.e. the infamous Champions Online launch day patch. Way to break player trust from the very beginning.

    (II) Perception of greed. Full sub + item shop for a game that offers significantly less launch content at launch than its competitors? Now that’s just silly. Every announcement about cryptic seems to be another money grubbing news item, Charging for ‘mini expansions’ which most other games include in the cost of subscriptions, charging for races like the Klingons and Ferengi, what a public relations nightmare.

    (III) The perceived firing of Community managers. Once upon a time Cryptic had a pair of very excellent community managers. In spite of seeming to receive contradictory messages from their superiors, they worked very very hard and maintained a positive outlook. Then one day they disappeared without warning! What did the big bad Cryptic do to them? We will never know children. we’ll never know.

    (IV) Lack of content. One should never have to chose between grinding mobs or completing every single quest in the game. *cough* Champions

    (V) Some bugs should be caught and addressed quickly. If you have a bug that causes player mail to be eaten, it really should not still exist two months after launch.

    (VI) Dismissive attitude towards players => certain Devs are more responsible for this than others.

    I’m just going to stop the list right there. I went from a player who had been following STO from its development at Perpetual and prepared to plop down the cash for a lifetime sub product unseen, to someone who will never touch another Cryptic product ever again. If the two months that I played out of my 6 month Champions online subscription was worth anything, it taught me two things: That first that customization is something that every MMO company should put more effort into, the second is that I now know the true value and quality of a Cryptic product.” – marquis.montrose. [Bronte: I think this guy absolutely nails it. Well said sir!]

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