Posts Tagged ‘First-person shooter’

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.

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.

You can find plenty of FPS, RTS, action-RPG, racing, and platforming games, but trying to find a good turn based strategy, or turn based RPG is like finding a needle in a hay stack. Most developers will not touch turn based combat with a ten foot pole. Many people have suggested that turn based combat is obsolete, and only ever existed because of hardware limitations. I don’t buy that excuse, but if its true, I should be very grateful to hardware limitations, for making some of my favorite games possible.

Turn based games and real time games both have a number of pros and cons, but there’s no reason to dismiss turn based games as obsolete when they offer something that real time games do very poorly, planning ahead. Putting aside RTS for a moment, its pretty clear to see that games like FPSs and fighting games for instance, may have some tactical considerations, but there’s no room for any long term strategy. If you tried to plan out a long term strategy in those games, you’d probably get killed, for not acting quick enough.

No RTSs have a bit more strategy to them, as the name would suggest, but where exactly does this come from. There’s a related genre of games called real time tactics, and what separates real time strategy from real time tactics. From wikipedia “Typical real-time strategy titles encourage the player to focus on logistics and production as much as or more than combat, whereas real-time tactics games commonly do not feature resource-gathering, production, base-building or economic management”

That’s it! What separates RTS from RTT? Gathering resources, constructing a base, building units. Gathering resources takes time, building a base takes time, building units takes time. Any thing that slows down the game, and delays a confrontation makes the game more strategic, gives you more time to plan. Its what separates RTS from RTT. Without those delaying mechanics, people playing RTT games don’t have the luxury of taking their time to plan out a long term strategy, and will mostly think in the short term.

Turn based games, are by their very nature the slowest games possible, and give you all the time you need to plan your next move, adding depth to the planning and strategy. RTS games, through various delaying mechanics give you a bit of strategy, but fall short of turn based games. There is another group of games that comes to mind, that uses delaying mechanics, to try and add a bit of strategy, and still have the urgency of real time games.

If you know me you can expect me to bring up Final Fantasy. Several games in the series used an Active Time Battle system, where you must wait for a gauge to fill up before you can attack, and the enemies also have these, and if you wait too long to attack, your enemies will keep attacking you. I can see the appeal of trying to capture the urgency of real time games, but putting in delaying mechanics to give you a chance to come up with a strategy, sounds good in theory, but in practice it failed. It was just too urgent to really think about your moves, and might of well have been real time.

So whats the point I’m trying to make. Games that mix strategy and urgency can be really fun, but no matter how many delaying mechanics you put in a game, it will never have the same long term strategy and planning as a real time game. That’s why turn based games will never be obsolete.

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.