Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Gears of War 3’

“Assassin’s Creed: Comparisons” or “Sins of Video Game Predecessors”

January 12, 2012 Leave a comment

Ready for a rant? Here we go.

It happened with Gears of War 3. It recently happened with Assassin’s Creed: Revelations.

In of itself, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations is a great game. It certainly plays a lot better if you have the previous games at the back of your mind, the mechanics are easier to pick up, the button combinations are familiar and the complex story continues from where it left off. However, even if you never played another Assassin’s Creed game, Revelations is a fantastic title. It is well-designed, the graphics are top-notch, and iterations of the same formula implies that Ubisoft has improved the game over the last five odd years into a smooth, entertaining, unforgettable experience.

What irks me though, is that nearly every review of the game incessantly compares it to previous titles in the series, and complains about how there has been “too little improved”. The same reviews give the title fairly high scores and say how well it plays, but at the same time complain about how familiar it feels. What is wrong with feeling familiar I ask? Why is it that we as gamers, and critics alike, cannot see a game on its own merits, irrespective of previous iterations. Sure it must be difficult at times, especially if it is a continuous story arc (like Creed or Gears) as opposed to separate stories (like GTA), but if a game is good, why does it matter what its predecessor did or didn’t do right?

I don’t think that practice is fair. I don’t think tinting the review because of a previous title gives us an accurate idea of the merits of the title under review in an unbiased fashion. And I think we should collectively stop doing that. So say we all!

“The Holy Trinity of Modern Shooters” or “Do AAA Developers Care About Critical Success or Commercial Success?”

January 4, 2012 1 comment

The Holy Trinity of Modern Shooters

I haven’t played a shooter in nearly two months. I finished Modern Warfare 3 the day it came out, not because it was oh-so-good (it wasn’t), but because there was a story that has been in the making since 2007, and I wanted to see it to whatever (largely bitter) end. I also played Battlefield 3, which was shockingly similar in premise, up to and including playable Russian operatives, but moderately more enjoyable and equally unlikely. Gears of War 3 is sitting somewhere around my Xbox, ready to be played, but I think at this stage, I am just tired of shooters.

It seems to be that shooters these days rely primarily on the three factors:

An on-rails experience: Everything these days seems to center around playing the role of the developer’s puppet, a well-trained mouse making it’s way down an elaborate maze while an invisible hand guides it and ridiculously over-the-top set-pieces fuel it.

Over the top action sequences: You can survive bullets to the face, you can outrun a nuclear explosion, you can survive at least three separate helicopter crashes, you can jump from the tallest buildings without breaking bones. And while we are at it, why is it that 90% of the time, the chopper that was supposed to rescue you, crashes right before, during, or immediatly after the rescue attempt?

Shock value: This is perhaps the most critical of these elements. Every major shooter suffers from the need to create the biggest shock value, a controversial scene that will create airwaves, and fuel the next the right-wing anti-video-game-pundits tirade of why video games lead to artificial insemination or explosive diarrhea while simultaneously burning holes through our social and moral fabric.

Do AAA Developers Care About Critical Success or Commercial Success?

At this stage, I am just tired of the endless clones that result from the unholy amalgamation of the afore-mentioned three factors. Oddly enough, the best games of 2011, Portal 2, Bastion, Skyrim, did not need to resort to these elements in order to be critically successful. So perhaps all these developers care about at this stage is commercial success. Critical success and audience satisfaction be damned.

I am not trying to say that this is the only motivation. I am sure as a labor of love, most developers feel they are creating something of value that will be remembered for some time to come. The latest trailer for Rainbow Six: Patriots is a stark reminder of this. There is a scene where a civilian is instructed by a terrorist cell to go to Times Square to detonate the vest or his wife will be killed. Team Rainbow intercepts this man, realizes there is no time to diffuse the bomb, makes the split/second decision to chose the life of one over the lives of many, and throws him off of a bridge with seconds to spare. The bomb detonates before the poor bastard hits the water.

The developer jargon accompanying the trailer says the game will confront the player with similar tough choices, which begs the question: do they understand what ‘choice’ means? Choice implies that I have two or more ways of resolving a situation, and each of these paths has it’s own set of advantages and disadvantages. If one choice ends in one man dying, and the other includes him and everyone around you (including you) dying, is it really a choice? My point is that the entire thing is created for pure shock value, and the illusion of choice is stapled to it to give it illusion of meaning.

An article I read recently by a gentleman called David Burroughs on Sabotage Times called into question the need for such shock value, how it has diminishing returns and how it ultimately doesn’t add anything of value.

Is it right to expect the player to abstain from ‘murdering’ the ‘people’ in the airport when the only means of communication awarded the player is engage with the game and shoot, or do nothing?

Can something as intentionally controversial as ‘No Russian’ carry any real weight when the entire narrative is experienced down the barrel of a gun?

This is a very subtle but significant point. The whole point of the No Russian mission was to paint a picture of the atrocities of war, and how it would affect us if the horrors visited upon people in warzones were inflicted upon the ‘civilized’ world in a single act of mindless madness. But how can something like that carry any weight when the narrative involves you committing the atrocity. The whole point of identifying with the victims is to be able to paint on a face for the antagonist, but when you are the perpetrator yourself (or at the very least a silent observer) how do you create the impact? Ostensibly, the whole idea then, is to create controversy, an act filled with such a horrendous premise that developers know it will attract the ire of critics almost universally. And perhaps they welcome it. For no publicity is bad publicity, right? Except this strategy has exponentially diminishing returns.

Ever wonder why a small child getting blown up, while on vacation in Europe, in Modern Warfare 3 didn’t create nearly as much hype?

“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.

“Looking Forward” or “2011 is a Good Year to be a Gamer”

January 10, 2011 2 comments

General

In general, 2011 is shaping up to be an amazing year for gamers, especially MMO players. The MMO industry is continuing to grow at an exponential rate and it seems every time to blink, a new MMO has popped up somewhere. 2011 will be no exception, with several well-hyped AAA titles shipping throughout the course of the year.

2011 is also exciting because F2P will continue to grow. With Turbine announcing that their revenues tripled once they decided to go F2P, it goes to show that high-end MMOs (excluding industry-giant World of Warcraft because let’s face it – that is a category in of itself) can make bank by relying on F2P models. I don’t know about you, but given the limited number of hours I have in a day, I don’t know if ‘first free month’ is an appropriate amount of time to adequately experience the title enough. F2P can solve that. If I don’t have the unnecessary pressure to play the game as much as I can in the first month, and given you have done the good job, yeah, I’ll engage n micro-transactions and play your title. 2011 should see several others switch to the F2P model, and that is music to my ears.

Most importantly, I am just glad to be back with and playing with my merry band of vagabonds that I have been playing with for the last several years. It makes the whole thing worth my while, irrespective of all other drawbacks or shortcomings.

MMO Titles

I’m Batman!

There will be a few superhero MMOs out this year. DC Universe Online will be launching in just a few days. I was initially quite excited about this title, but then Champions Online came around and ruined the whole sub-genre for me, and now I have my guard up. I think I will see how the player base reacts to this title before I invest in it. Speaking of Champions Online, the F2P version of the cel-shaded-superhero-simulator is also going to go live this year. Again, despite my issues with the title, and on a larger scale the studio, F2P is a very enticing option, and I was genuinely interested in coming to the game and trying it out for myself. That is until I came across this article from Massively.com, and now I am not so sure again. The archetypes seem a bit off, and being restricted to only so many options for so long doesn’t exactly float my boat. Being able to mix-and-match powers was one of the high points for Champions Online; I don’t understand why they wouldn’t let F2P players experience it fully. It was one of the few things they got right.

No one can hear you screaming in space

Eve Online has left a gaping hole in my heart. I love the game, and I have tried my hands at everything in-game from null-sec farming to high-stakes trading and even some pirating here and there. But the true heart of the game is high-end null-sec fleet PvP, and that is something I didn’t had neither the stomach nor the time for. Fortunately in 2011 a few space simulators will also be launching. The first of these is Jumpgate Evolution, a game I am personally quite excited about because of its rich premise and frankly because I was a diehard fan of the original game. The second is Black Prophecy, and although in all honesty I am not as well versed in all that BP has to offer, it sure sounds nifty.

Star Wars: The Old Debate

Of course no upcoming 2011 MMO list would be complete without the mention of everyone’s favorite (punching bag), Star Wars: The Old Republic. Cyberspace is abuzz with information and opinions about SW:TOR, and the hype generated by the fan-base, the developer and the critics is reaching deafening proportions. Not to mention that this is a colossal IP and nearly no venture in the long-running space opera ever comes close to the fans’ expectations. Hell, 1Up’s Kat Bailey says the title may already be too late. But you have to remember that the title is being developed by industry giant BioWare. Not only are they notorious for over-hyping a title and then miraculously meeting expectations, they have already produced two award-winning RPGs set in the Star Wars Universe: Knight of the Old Republic and its inevitable but equally good sequel. My thoughts: screw the critics, I can’t wait!

Villagers get the shaft

Two titles in 2011 promise to feature worlds that react and morph based on player action (or inaction for that matter.). Rift plans to accomplish this by, wait for it, rifts. Elemental invasions from another dimensions can pour into otherwise peaceful idyllic landscapes, altering terrain and wreaking havoc on the local population. In Guild Wars 2, the developers plan on doing this by introducing monsters that do what they intend. If you get a quest that says goblins may attack the village, and you chose to do nothing, barbaric hordes of goblins will flood the village and take out the local population, and the villagers get the shaft yet again. Rift already has a release date of March 1, 2011. I would be surprised if Guild Wars 2 was delayed past 2011.

The (Super) Secret World (Shhhh)

I have to admit, Ragnar Tornquist is one tight-lipped son-of-a-gun. To say that the morsels that comes out of The Secret World camp are tiny and infrequent would be kind saying “I’ve heard of three of four people who play WoW”. Jesus man, share some details already. We know the game has three factions. We know their names. We know the starting locations. We have solved all puzzles in the forums. We have watched the zombie CCTV footage four million times. It is time to give us something new. Please! No? Well screw you! I don’t want to play it anyway! No I was kidding, I didn’t mean it. I was upset and it just came out. I’m sorry, please come back!

Massively Multiplayer Stabby Stab Stab?

Assassin’s Creed Online? Say it is so!

Other Titles

In addition to MMOs there are so many titles out there that I am excited about in 2011. Here is a short list:

  • Brink
  • Bulletstorm
  • Deus Ex 3: Human Revolution
  • Diablo III
  • Dragon Age II
  • Gears of War 3
  • Homefront
  • I Am Alive
  • Lara Croft
  • Max Payne 3
  • Portal 2
  • Rage
  • StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm
  • Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II
  • The Witcher II
Categories: Bronte

“Games Radar” or “Too Many Tracked Titles”

June 27, 2010 2 comments

I updated my Games Radar to the left today. The following is a list of games I am looking forward to in a few months. I will talk about them individually over the course of time as well.

One thing that stands out to me is that my interests have diversified considerably over the course of time. Which is a good thing because diversity is the spice of life, and bad because, well, I have such limited time between family, work and social as it is.

I guess I better figure out how to operate on an hour of sleep a day!

MMOs on my radar:

  • Black Prophecy
  • Jumpgate Evolution
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic
  • The Secret World

Non-MMOs on my radar:

  • Assassin’s Creed II: Brotherhood
  • Brink
  • Bulletstorm
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops
  • Crackdown 2
  • Crysis 2
  • Deathspank
  • Deus Ex 3: Human Revolution
  • Dragon Age II
  • Fable III
  • Fallout: New Vegas
  • Gears of War 3
  • Ghost Recon: Future Soldier
  • Halo: Reach
  • Homefront
  • Hydrophobia
  • I Am Alive
  • Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days
  • L.A. Noire
  • Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light
  • Mafia II
  • Max Payne 3
  • Medal of Honor
  • Portal 2
  • Privates
  • Red faction: Armageddon
  • R.U.S.E.
  • Singularity
  • Spare Parts
  • Spiderman: Shattered Dimensions
  • StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty
  • Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II
  • The Witcher II
  • Two Worlds II
Categories: Bronte