Archive for the ‘Game Review’ Category

Before I even start talking about Fear 3, I should mention a larger trend which seems to be poisoning the entire FPS genre except a few specific games. That problem is that they are all pretty much the same. The so called “realistic” FPSs, with the same boring weapons, and you can only hold 2 of them at a time, and of course when you get shot your screen turns red until you take cover and then your health regenerates.

Now I know people see Call of Duty sales and want a piece of that, but it doesn’t exactly seem like copying CoD as much as possible is really a good idea. Now I’m no expert but I imagine if people like playing CoD, they will just continue to play CoD, and they do, they don’t have any reason to waste money on some crappy knock off.

So Fear basically gave up its greatest quality, actually standing out from a sea of generic FPS games, and decided to make its primary design decision was to abandon anything that set it apart from the crowd, and to make a cheap CoD knockoff. The biggest change from previous games in the series is that your health now regenerates like in every other FPS, rather than having to rely on a limited number of health packs to restore health. So of course any tension at all is completely lost, in exchange for fast paced action.

Another change is that rather than holding 3 guns at a time you can only hold 2, obviously because the generic FPS club must have made some rule that you can’t carry more than weapon at a time and Fear 3 wants in on that club. Now I prefer the “unrealistic” games that let you carry every weapon in the game at once, but even still the games that let you carry 3 or 4 weapons are usually okay too. For some reason the difference between 2 and 3 weapons feels really big to me. That’s the difference between hanging on to a rocket launcher or some other super weapon with very little ammo, even if I don’t need it anymore, and saving it for later; and dropping it in exchange for a gun with more ammo. Its just too limited to waste a gun slot on something that only has a few shots, if you only have 2 weapon slots.

Another thing about this game is that they really don’t want you to play this single player. Like Army of 2 or Resident Evil 5, this is part of another, thankfully less common, trend in video games is that the developers want you to play co-op and will make the game a hellish experience if you want to go solo. You can either play as the moronically named “pointman” or Paxton Fettel. Pointman is just generic FPS gameplay, with the slo-mo ability from previous Fear games. Paxton Fetel is a bit more interesting, he can possess the bodies of enemies.

Now for most of the game its a lot easier playing singleplayer as Fettel, but there are a couple parts that are ridiculously hard as Fettel. There are some enemies, that can’t be possessed by Fettel, and his only recourse is to shoot some weak, I don’t know, blobs of spirit energy at enemies, and its not very effective at all. And these enemies that can’t be possessed charge at you and can kill you in a few seconds. So when you get to sections of the game that have tons and tons of that type of enemy, its just ridiculous bullshit. This and so many other things clearly indicate they did not want people playing singleplayer.

And another thing is that the story is complete bullshit. Paxton Fettel is the villain in the first game and for reasons never explained he is now working together with pointman. And even stranger he came back as a ghost, for some reason. I mean lots of people get killed in these games, who haven’t come back as ghosts. Even the slightest hint of an explanation for why Fettel specifically came back would be cool. And even stranger is that Fettel is a ghost who can be killed by bullets somehow. I guess it makes him double dead, which is twice as bad. The story is just nonsense piled on top of more nonsense.

Unlike previous Fear games which were shown entirely in first person, this game has cutscenes in between levels. Unlike other games where your characters might have conversations to drive the plot forward, we are given something even better, long monologues by Fettel while pointman silently stands there like an idiot. Silent protagonists can work in games, but it usually hinges on not showing long scenes of people talking to them while they just stand there looking stupid.

So that’s all I have to say about this game. It a generic mediocre FPS. Although admittedly playing as Fettel and possessing enemies is kind of fun, once you possess them your back to the same generic FPS gameplay, so it doesn’t really improve the game a ton. Almost forgot to mention, previous Fear games at least had somewhat spooky atmosphere with weird visions and some long stretched without enemies to build up tension, but thats pretty mcuh all gone in exchange for more nonstop action. Only a very few spots in the game have anything approaching the spooky atmosphere of previous Fear games.

No doubt people will read this and disagree. If you do actually like the game I would be interested in what it is that you liked about it. The main reason for writing this is to refute an argument somewhere else. Jeff Dunn from the Escapist has written an article tearing down a straw man argument for why fans don’t like FF13. Get this, the reason fans don’t like it because it tried something new, and didn’t fit into the classic template of final fantasy games.

Now if you’ve ever played more than one game in the  Final Fantasy series this might seem like a pretty odd. Doesn’t every game in the series try new things? Some more than others. Final Fantasy 13 tried more new things than some games and less than others, but on the whole its pretty average in that regard, not some huge paradigm shift the article makes it out to be.

I could list every single game in the series and list the new things they tried, but that would take a long time so I’ll just go over a few games in the series, for more details about Final Fantasy games check out this series of articles I randomly found online, which goes pretty in depth into each game and should give you a better idea of how each and every game was unique ans tried things never done before in Final Fantasy.

Well I should start with FF2. Right from the start they were trying things not done in the first game. Gone were the set classes and instead every character could use every weapon and use every spell. And instead of just gaining experience and leveling up, each stat leveled up on its own. The more you used magic the better you got at magic. The more you used physical attacks the better you at physical attacks. and so on. Although they had some similarities the differences led to a very different experience in the first 2 Final Fantasies.

Final Fantasy 4 was the first game in the series where the player had no control over the abilities of the characters. In 1 and 3 you could choose the classes of the characters, and in 2 there where no classes but you decided which spells the characters learned. Taking all the control out of the players hands was a significant change, but its overshadowed by the real game changer of FF4, the active time battle system. No longer could you just wait around all day to decide what to do on your turn, now enemies would continue to attack you. The ATB system would be a part of every final fantasy in the main series form then on, with the exception of 10. Even though 12 and 13 have made some changes to the battle system its still based on the ATB system at its core. Final Fantasy 4 was a greater paradigm shift than anything 13 has to offer.

And what about Final Fantasy 8? Most people either love it or hate it, because it had a lot of really strange changes. Like 13 there is no MP. You have to first draw magic from enemies or special draw points, which will give you a stock of magic to cast later on. Or you could junction magic to your stats to increase them, with different spells increasing stats by different amounts. It was really weird. And you could summon GFs which are basically comparable to summons/eidolons/espers in other Final Fantasy games. However rather than just being instantly summoned and doing damage like in previous games,  it would take some time to summon and while this was happening, the GFs could be attacked and even killed.

And another change is the stripped down equipment in FF8. There is a lot of variance in the equipment in the series. Some games let you have helmets, body armor, gloves, boots etc. Some only let you have a single slot for armor and one for weapon, and maybe an accessory. FF8 was the most stripped down with no armor at all or accessories, and only a weapon. You couldn’t buy new weapons but you could upgrade them if you had the right parts and found the magazine that tells you how to make it.

And really this wouldn’t be complete complete without mentioning FF12. No more battle screen where your guys stand on one side and the enemies stand on the other and you take turns walking over to attack them and then running back to your own side. No this game you fought monsters right in the dungeons with no transition to a battle screen, and you could move you character around during the battle. Some attacks had an area of effect, so where your characters where standing could make a difference. I mean FF12 was a far greater departure from the supposed Final Fantasy template than 13.

So that pretty much destroys the straw man that fans hated FF13 just because it tried new things. I don’t know what sort of template he thinks Final Fantasy games fit into but if it includes games as diverse as FFs 4, 8, and 12, then it must be broad enough to include FF13 as well. It just so happened that the new things they tried in this game mostly sucked. But before I get into that I should mention one change in the game that I did like. There is no MP for using magic in this game. There is an ATB gauge that fills up as in most previous games but its divided into several sections, and more powerful actions take more sections of the ATB gauge. So basically you have to wait longer for powerful actions. Its a new twist on the classic ATB system and I thought it was pretty interesting. So much for hating things just because  they’re different.

Now lets get into some problems. The straight line dungeons of course being they main issue people complained about. Unfortunately this problem has been a long time coming. Way back in the playstation era FF7 had far shorter and more linear dungeons than previous games. It wasn’t quite as bad as the later games and there was still a world map in between dungeons and towns to give some sense of exploration, but anyone who played the older FFs would notice a huge difference in the complexity of dungeons in FF7.

The problem got worse in FF10 when the world map was done away with entirely and all you had to explore was the dungeons, which were shifting to be a bit more linear. Really, FF13 is only a little bit worse than FF10 in terms of linear level design. Its not some huge paradigm shift its just a trend started in the PS1 era finally brought to its ugly conclusion.

So what other changes were made? Well buying items is basically meaningless. Stocking up on items doesn’t have the same impact as it did in previous games. There are far fewer items, and since you get restored to perfect condition after each battle, the items you do get are basically superfluous. Generally in FFs preparation is more than half the battle. With the exception of a few bosses you can skate through the games pretty easily as long as you are prepared, with the right items and equipment. The preparation aspect is completely destroyed in FF13. That alone wouldn’t be so bad if there was some areas of the game that were actually interesting, but there aren’t.

The combat is hopelessly dull, where you can autobattle most of the time and win without thinking. Any enemies that are tough enough where you have to spend some effort are only interesting the first time, and once you figure out how to beat them, its the same every time. Now you might say the previous Final Fantasy had repetitive battles, and you’d be right. The difference is that previous games the battles slowly wore you down. You tolerated the repetitiveness because it wasn’t about the individual battles, but about preparation and endurance. Now the only reason for the battles is gone, and they are just an annoyance that will never have a chance at defeating you.

This is turning out to be a lot longer than I expected and I could just go on and on, but this might go quicker with a quote from Sid Meier, “A game is a series of interesting choices.” So what are the interesting choices in FF13? There really aren’t any. This isn’t some new direction for the series to go, the combat is still built around the ATB system, and it has only minor differences from previous games. The only difference is that they stripped out all the interesting choices. No exploration, no wandering around towns talking to NPCs, and stockpiling items to prepare for a dungeon, no conversation choices, extremely limited choices in battle and in most cases autobattle is the ideal choice anyway. The leveling system is basically the sphere grid from FF10 only less interesting and more restrictive, which I scarcely thought possible.

I’m not one of those people who hated Fallout 3 because it was an FPS rather than a turn based RPG. If Square-Enix wanted to make some completely different gameplay for FF13 it may have pissed a few people off but me and plenty of others would have been happy with it if it actually had interesting gameplay. It did not do anything new, its just a stripped down version of the final fantasy core mechanics, and what was left had no interesting decisions. If they want to make a more streamlined game, okay I’ll give it a shot, but they’ve got to give me something, anything. Some aspect of the game has to have interesting choices.

Sequels are very hard to do right. Looking at games like Fallout 3 or DragonAge 2, its obvious that changing too much will seriously piss off the fans of the original. The most notable exception being Final Fantasy, which is the only series that has an overhaul of the main mechanics, as well as brand new setting and character, in every single game, and people still accuse it of doing the same thing over and over again. Aside from that notable excpetion, the general rule is if you mess around with core gameplay too much people will be pissed.

DeadSpace 2 is pretty much the best that can be hoped for in an environment hostile to change. The gameplay is pretty much the same, everything that was in the old game is still here. It also adds a few new guns, a few new enemies, and of course new levels to explore. Of all the new enemies that they added the most shocking is probably exploding babies. It’s just so edgy. The worst part is that they don’t even drop ammo like all the other enemies do.

The gameplay, like the first DeadSpace, is quite similar to Resident Evil 4 or 5. The main difference being that you can still walk while aiming a gun. Another thing that really sets it apart is that you have to cut of the limbs to kill the enemies. For this reason, the line gun is one of my most used weapons. its available fairly early in the game, and it can hurt two limbs at a time.

I didn’t have the luxury of buying all the weapons in the game, maybe cause I was spending my money on stupid things like ammo and health, so the only new weapon that I tried out on the first playthrough is the javelin gun. Its primary fire is incredibly powerful, and was invaluable for killing the final boss quickly. It secondary fire causes an electric shock of surrounding the place where you just fired a primary shot. I often use this to take out crowds of weak enemies, but it is also useful for taking down stronger enemies. No doubt the expensive weapons I didn’t buy were incredibly awesome and would have made the game much easier.

A pretty big difference between DeadSpace 2 and the first one are the zero gravity areas. In the first DeadSpace, in the zero g rooms you could look at the walls and ceiling, and press a button to jump between them. But no matter what you were always restricted to moving along the floor, walls and ceiling. In this game you can actually float around the whole space of the room, so its much more interesting to have real zero g battles

People who are used to regenerating health may find this game frustrating because it doesn’t have regenerating health and you have to consume items to get your health back. I played on normal difficulty and even I was starting to get frustrated by the last couple chapters. They really pile on the bullshit, with an invincible regenerating enemy that you have to run from, while still killing the regular enemies in the path ahead.

Aside from a few frustrations late in the game it was overall a good game I think. The same solid gameplay mechanics of the first with a few new things added to keep it interesting. If you were a fan of the first game, or a fan of similar games, you should definitely check it out.

This is about the game Bulletstorm obviously, and its really hard to do justice to this game in writing. Its really something you have to experience for yourself.

So first of all the game begins with a bunch of quicktime events. I know many people complain about these, and they are common throughout the game, but just bear with it, because when you get to the real gameplay its incredibly amazing. At first it might seem a lot like other cover based shooters, in style of Gears of War. You shoot guys and when you get hurt your screen flashes red and you hide behind cover. My experience playing on normal difficulty compared to Gears of War on normal, is that you don’t spend as much time behind cover. If you step out of cover in Gears of war you die pretty quickly, and it basically suicidal to d anything but to shoot from behind cover. In Bulletstorm, I might have to run for cover when injured to regenerate health, but I spend most of my time moving around outside of cover.

Now the ting that really sets it apart from other shooters, melee, the leash, and tons of environmental hazards. The leash is an important tool, that lets you pull (most)enemies toward you. This can serve an number of useful purposes, the most obvious being that instead of running up to an enemy, and putting your life at great danger, to perform melee, you can just use the leash to pull them toward. Running out of ammo is  a pretty rare occurrence but if it happens it not really a big deal cause a leash and melee combination is usually sufficient to deal with most enemies. However another useful way to use the leash is if there are hazards between you and the enemy, some sharp bits of metal, or hanging electrified wires, and pull them into it. All these hazards can be put to use by your melee attack as well, cause when you kick them they go flying, into an explosive ball, or maybe a cactus. There are numerous ways to kill people without even firing a shot. I really can’t overstate how important the leash and melee are to give Bulletstorm unique gameplay.

Another interesting thing is the varied levels. The game starts on a high tech ship, with a brief flashback to a futuristic city, but the first real level is a brown wasteland, not to different from something you might see in Gears of War or Borderlands. Now a lot of people complain about the dominance of the color brown in modern shooters, but it would be hasty to judge Bulletstorm on the beggining of the game. After leaving the brown area which, despite the bland color was actually pretty cool looking, you go through a number of different areas with different color palettes. Some areas have lots of water, some have lots of vegetation, some have lots of ruined buildings, but by the end of the game, you’ve traveled through several environments that are all visually distinct.

Some things that people have criticized the game for, are the story and the crude dialogue. First of all the story isn’t exactly a masterpiece, but its not really all that bad either. Without giving away too many spoilers, a team of guys finds out the guy the work for is having them kill innocents, so they decide to kill him. And they spend the game trying to get redemption, for the innocents they unwittingly killed. As far as video game stories go its pretty solid, and I haven’t seen any major plot holes. Crude dialogue is a different matter, and its really a matter of taste. If you like crude humor this game is for you. If you can’t stand it this game is not for you. If you don’t particularly like crude humor, but think you can get past it for some awesome gameplay, than you should consider playing this game.

There’s also some skill shots which I didn’t really mention but basically killing people in different ways will earn you more points which you can use to buy upgrades and ammo. I didn’t really care too much and just kill people how I want and manage to get enough points for all the ammo I need. Overall an excellent game.

So here’s the story, I was on newgrounds and I found out someone had created Doom in Flash. Now its not like they just made it from scratch and tried to make it as close to the original as possible. If they are to be trusted, they took actual Doom source code and converted it into flash action script. As far as I know, all of the textures, enemies, and level design is exactly the same as in the original Doom. It might not be, so if something I’m saying here doesn’t sound quite right, it might be because it wasn’t a perfect copy of the original, but I do believe this is a faithful copy of the original.

The other problem is that it is 0nly the first third of the game. Since the beginning of the game is free, its perfectly okay to make a free flash game to let people play it, but the other two parts must be paid for. Right now I’m still trying to see if there’s somewhere to get the other two parts of Doom, but so far no luck. It may very well be impossible. I do think that playing the first third of the game does give me the ability to make some observations about it though.

First of all, the graphics. They are pretty horrible and it bothered me at first, but after playing for awhile I was having too much fun to even care about graphics. If you are trying to make a game that immerses the player in a new world, than good graphics are something to strive for, but for a game like this, immersion isn’t really a big deal. If you can tell who the enemies are and shoot them, then the graphics are good enough.

Another interesting thing about this game is that it doesn’t use the mouse at all. WASD for movement and the left and right arrow keys to look left and right. Which brings up another point, there is no way to look up and down. No mouse for aiming and no looking up and down at all, might seem like it would be quite bad for an FPS, but it turns out to be okay, because Doom is quite generous with the aiming. If a guy is sorta close to the middle of the screen when you shoot, you’ll hit him.

You might be wondering, whats the point of playing an FPS if the aiming is so dumbed down. Well there is another area that Doom does quite well, which I think makes up for this. Movement. Most FPSs I’ve played recently go something like this, you and the enemies sit behind cover taking turns taking potshots at each other until they all die. Since the player has regenerating health and the enemies don’t it would take amazing levels of incompetence to actually be killed. After killing all the enemies you can run to the next cover an repeat this process.

So clearly movement is not very important in most modern FPSs, but in doom it actually is. Many enemies will shoot fireballs or other projectiles that you can avoid if you react quick enough. Rather than staying behind cover, moving around is the key to beating your enemies. I actually wish more games were like this.

Level design is pretty good. If I had one complaint about this game it would be that sometimes I have to flip a switch and backtrack through an area to find the door that just opened, but its not too bad. It certainly isn’t Halo levels of backtracking so I can’t complain too much. For the most part, you keep moving to new areas without a lot of backtracking.

Another good thing about the level design, is that it isn’t as linear as some modern shooters. There are branches off the main path that have things like, health, armor, guns, ammo. Its no surprise that after FPS games widely adopted regenerating health that they also became incredibly linear. Without the  need to find health and armor, there’s really no need to have anything but one long, linear path to go down. I actually quite enjoy looking through the levels to find all the health, armor and ammo I can. Its much more fun than just advancing through a linear shooter.

Weapons. Sadly I didn’t play through the entire game so I didn’t get to use all the weapons. I understand this game has a BFG, which sounds pretty cool. Of the guns I did use, there’s a pistol, which is nothing too special, but its gets the job done against the weaker enemies. There’s the shotgun, which is awesome. Before I said the game was quite generous with the aiming, if the enemies are sorta close to the middle of the screen you’ll hit them. This goes double for the shotgun. The spread of fire is ridiculous and it does a good amount of damage. Sometimes I could kill multiple people with one shotgun blast if they were standing close enough together. And lastly there’s the chaingun, which uses the same ammo as the pistol, and for all I know, it does the same damage per shot as the pistol, it just fires a lot faster. Very useful against tough enemies.

This game had quite a few types of enemies, and if I’d played all the way through, their probably would have been more. Of the ones I did see, their were some that looked human, zombies maybe? There were some that didn’t look human, but were humanoid and brown. They shot fireballs and were a bit tougher than the human enemies. There were some sort of rather large monstrosity, that I can’t really properly describe, but they tend to use melee so its best to keep moving when they are around. And most surprising was that there was an invisible enemy that can barely be seen, except that there’s blurriness wherever they go.

At the end of the section I played there was an epic boss battle. Two really tough guys shot fireballs at me. It actually wasn’t too bad. They had a ton of health and it took most of my ammo to kill them, but there was plenty of room to move around, and they only hit me a few times with the fireballs.

Overall I’d say this is a good game. The title is slightly exaggerated, its not really awesome, but it is quite fun. Many modern FPS developers could take a lesson from Doom.

While wandering around the internet I found this pretty cool site, Game Trekking. He makes a bunch of games that are inspired by his travels around the world. These games or notgames as he often refers to them(though I prefer the term interactive experiences) are quite interesting in my opinion. The thing is, that you really need to play these with the right mind set. Most of these notgames aren’t really fun, so much as thought provoking. The good news is that they are really short. If you have  few minutes to spare, and you want to try a new experience give them a try, you might enjoy it.

Since they are so short I figures I could review a bunch of them at once. The first game is Freedom Bridge. Its pretty simple, you use the arrow keys to control a black square and you try to get to the freedom bridge connecting North and South Korea. It isn’t really a whole lot of fun, but the game, especially the ending, got an emotional response from me. Before you can get to the bridge your square must cross a few rows of barbed wire, and the trail of blood left by the square in his desperate attempt to reach the bridge, is more emotionally stirring than all the gore in God of War, DeadSpace, and Gears of War combined.

Next up is a little notgame called Loneliness. Controls are the same as the last game, use arrow keys to move around your black square. In this game there are other black squares, that are either immobile or move in simple paths. Whenever you approach group of squares they spread out and disappear. As the game goes on eventually the background gets darker and darker, until the player controlled square fades into the background. Not much to say about this one except that its pretty depressing, which is the point, I guess.

Next up is a game called Taiwan which is one of the most game like of all of them. There’s this big circle, and inside it is a smaller circle that you control. Your goal is to avoid hitting the edge or the center of the circle. So when it starts your circle will naturally get pulled to the center, and you can click to make it go toward the edge of the circle, but don’t click too much or it will hit the edge and you will lose. periodically it will reverse so that the circle will fall to the edge and clicking will make it go to the center. You just try to keep it from hitting the edge or the center as long as possible. It even tells you how long you lasted so you can try to to set a goal to beat your old time. I had a decent amount of fun with it for a few minutes and you might enjoy it as well.

The next notgame is The Kindness of Strangers, which is pretty nice. Its sort of a 2d Platformer/Maze game, with a twist there are people in the maze who will direct you exactly which direction you need to go to get through the maze. Needless to say there isn’t really much challenge in it, but I guess the point is to beat the game with the help of kindness of strangers. If you just want to casually jump around a maze without any threat or challenge this might amuse you for awhile. I got a bit of enjoyment from it, and it was a nice change of pace from the more action packed games I usually play.

The last game I’m going to talk about is The Killer. This is probably my least favorite of all of them. Although I liked the ending and it had a pretty deep emotional impact, but most of the game is simply holding space and marching a guy to a field to execute him in. The sidescrolling scenery is pretty nice, but I wouldn’t have minded if the walking part was a little bit shorter. Overall it was still a pretty interesting notgame.

I’d say this site is worth a look for anyone who wants a change of pace from the usual games that are available. He also has posts about his travels in other countries so that’s even more interesting stuff. Go on and give it a look.

Phun Physics Phighting

Posted: May 14, 2011 in Game Review
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Today my friend showed me this link to this game:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ag82wNXjYA

It looked so fun I had to try it myself. I did a Google search for Sumotori and soon found the site where I could download it and not wanting to spend any money so hastily I downloaded the demo(can it really be called a game review if its only a demo I played. Don’t care I’m putting it in game review category).

The first thing I noticed is that the main menu is a lot more fun than in other games. Menu options are selected by throwing blocks at wooden planks with different menu options written on them. Rather than go straight to playing the game I spent few minutes throwing blocks, trying to knock down planks in the background.

After that was over I started my first match against the Computer I walked over to him an knocked him over. Not really sure how I did it, my understanding of the controls in the game is limited at best. Somehow I manage to easily beat the AI without really understanding how to play the game. I wonder if the full version has more difficult AI than the demo.

After getting bored of walking over and knocking down the enemy I decided to drag out the confrontation a bit for fun, and it turns out the guy I control keeps falling down. Not sure how to keep him from falling down, maybe there is guide somewhere online on how to play this game properly.