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We’ve got to go back!

March 2nd, 2016 1 comment

Ok, so I slowed my Steam roll a little this week.  That’s because of all the Alphas and Betas I’ve been playing.  I never thought it would come to this, but I am testing too many games.  Paragon was the most recent, and due to NDA signatures, I cannot talk about it.  Suffice to say it is a third-person MOBA which gets you closer to the action.  I also played The Division, Dreadnought, PvZGW2, and a host of others on both PC and PS4.

With all that going on, I didn’t want to keep barreling forward with my Steam backlog, as several people have said my ‘reviews’ were a little lackluster.  This is true, because I’m trying to play through a game a night.  I’m not really set up for that, and my family hates the idea.  To satisfy myself, I went back and played some games.  This is mainly because I finally threw off the yoke of Destiny.  The latest Iron Banner was a travesty and I happily stopped playing after reaching level 5.  It has just become too difficult to find good people to play with and the RNG aspect is grating on me.  So, I freed up some hours to just sit back and enjoy some games.

Game #A: The Witcher 3

I liked it.  I didn’t feel pressured to blow through as much as I could and I just wandered around looking for Gwent opponents.  I modified my deck a bit and just dominated my competition.  I think the funniest part is when you place a weak soldier on the battle mat and then instantly Decoy them out next turn.  I have had several opponents just quit at this point, where I play a slightly tougher card and win.  It’s silly and fun.  The graphics of The Witcher are great, and the controls are pretty good.  I’m still not very adept at the fighting aspects, but everything else about the game will have me coming back.  The voice acting is wonderful, the character development is top notch, and the roleplaying element is fully fleshed out.  The conversation choices are both entertaining and accurate.  I very much enjoy being Geralt, the jerk.

 

Game #B: Just Cause 3

So, I had played Just Cause a few times and never attached myself to it.  I recently picked up the newest version and found that while it installed the massive files (12GB!?), I got to run around a tiny little island populated by goats and explosive canisters.  You have unlimited ammo and grenades (and I don’t think you can die, but I didn’t push it) for running around and just getting used to the controls.  There were a few vehicles you could drive around, but the real star was the tether gun.  I know that this is a standard in Just Cause, although I don’t know why.  It allows you to rock climb, rappel, and attach various objects to the wall or each other.  I attached a tether to an explosive canister and to another canister.  Then I attached two more intertwined with the previous two.  I shot one canister until it arced into the sky and exploded in fire.  The additional canisters flew around and exploded in spectacular fashion.  It really puts into perspective the bizarre videos you may have seen on the internet using the Just Cause tethers.  I think my favorite was the connection of a tether to a windmill and then a cow.  The windmill just started swinging the cow around and around and around.  Hilarious.

 

In other news, I still play Critter Crunch most days.  It’s still challenging and cute.  I still won’t buy The Division, but the commercials and trailers have me passively forgetting what I didn’t like about the game.  The bottom line is that I hate playing with other people most of the time!

Categories: Columns Tags: , , , , , ,

The Division Beta

February 22nd, 2016 Comments off

I was never going to play the Division until a friend of mine said it was a Destiny killer.  I am here to say it is NOT a Destiny killer.  In fact, I spent more time during the beta of the Division playing Destiny.  The controls are fine.  I’m not great with third-person shooting games (as mentioned before), and the Division didn’t change that.  The Division is a cover-based game where you push X to hide behind stuff.  You can open car doors for cover and move between cover types.  You can push O to jump over cover and hold X to dive into the next cover.  You can hold X and run to the next cover.  This portion of the game was fantastic.  You could see the path your character would take to get to the next cover.  My problem with this system was that I was in cover a few times and just getting murdered.  It makes sense that enemies above you can shoot down into cover and get you.  That makes perfect sense, right?  However, if you can’t pop out of cover and see them, then it is a little unfair.  We’re not talking game-breaker here, I’m just pointing out that I was killed a few times because some sniper could shoot me, but I couldn’t shoot him.  Also, there were a few times some guy on the stairs in front of me could shoot down into my cover and a few times when he couldn’t.  That just seems a little inconsistent.  The rest of the game was really nicely done.  The graphics are truly amazing.  I played on the PS4, and I was very impressed.  The weather and time passing was fantastic.  It snowed on me a few times, and the snow falling was a great effect.  The bullet damage was spot-on.  I saw individual shots through glass, metal, brick, wood, and tile.  The game is set in New York City, and the map is supposed to be true-to-life.  I wasn’t sure of this, but I did walk around a ton.  The map feature was one of my favorites, as the graphics pop up through the street below you in 3D and surround you.  As a mapper by trade, this was really awesome to see.  The inventory system was a little iffy, and when I went to sell my stuff to a vendor, I had to select each individual item, sell it, then go back into the sell tab, choose the next item, sell it, then go back into the sell tab, ad nauseam.  When you start running out of backpack space, this selling problem can be bigger than you think.  I liked the coloration of items because it was familiar to me (white=common, green=uncommon, blue=rare, pink=epic, gold=legendary).  I only saw a few blue items and never a pink or gold.   You get the normal item stuff: guns, gloves, armor, kneepads, facemasks; but then you also get pure display items like hats, coats, and shoes that add nothing to your armor.  You can get modifications to guns like scopes, laser pointers, grips, and silencers, but I didn’t find they added much.  If I had a silencer and shot one guy, every single enemy knew where I was and started firing on my position.  That was kinda lame.  There are set pieces where you go in (like a Strike in Destiny, or a raid in World of Warcraft) and have to battle the same types of enemies across the same level.  You can increase the difficulty on these missions to get better items, but increasing the difficulty is punishing.  For player versus player (PvP), there is an area called the Dark Zone.  You can shoot other players in here, which marks you as a rogue agent, and then steal their ‘dark’ items.  The dark items have to be extracted by helicopter and ‘cleaned’ as they have traces of some sort of debilitating virus.  In the beta, you aren’t really told what the virus is or what it does.  There are also enemies in the Dark Zone who have basically 100% more health and cause 100% more damage.  When killed in the game (whether Dark Zone or not), you can select your respawn point and your previous death spot is marked on the map.  This is useful if you are in a Dark Zone and need to pick up your junk.  A few times, I was in the Dark Zone and saw a player die and I just went up and robbed their corpse.  This also happened to my dead corpse a few times.  People are just jerks.  All in all, I didn’t really enjoy the Division, and this highlights a sticking point of allowing potential customers to play your game in beta.  I will not be purchasing this game.

In other news, I couldn’t play the Dreadnought alpha this weekend because my computer didn’t reach the insane specs to play.  Sadly, my i7 computer doesn’t have the DirectX 11 video card with 2GB dedicated memory since it’s a laptop and I can’t just throw a new video card in there.  Also, I don’t have a video card that supports DirectX 11 with 2GB dedicated memory anyway.  I was really excited about playing the game, but I guess I will have to wait for lesser specs.  That’s my bad, Grey Box.  However, if you’re looking for a gaming job and live in Texas, this is the link to jobs.

Uncharted 3: Multiplayer Beta

July 19th, 2011 Comments off

I’ll be honest.  I love Nathan Drake.  I know that in this day and age of “open” sexuality, it’s still odd for a man to say he loves another man, especially if that other man happens to be a fictional video game character.  However, I love Nathan Drake.  I played through the first Uncharted in a few days.  I’m not saying I took my time.  I’m saying I got my first platinum trophy in a few days, and I loved every minute of it.  Well, I did yell at the television a few (dozen) times, but in the end, it was possibly one of the most satisfying game experiences I’ve had since defeating Ruby and Emerald Weapons in Final Fantasy 7.  It was satisfying in more than just a gratification of platinum though.  I didn’t have to slog through hours of farming exp with the right leveling gear to do it.  It was just enjoyable.  Uncharted 2: Among Thieves was just as enjoyable as Uncharted, with the same unparalleled graphics and storyline, but it is important to mention the introduction of multiplayer.

            Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception looks to be another breathtaking game.  One of the most exhilarating aspect of Uncharted is the dizzying heights, and as someone who feels dizzy on the third floor of an apartment complex, I can tell you, I loved being able to rock climb the sheer face of an old Spanish fort from the safety of my living room.  I also liked hanging on for dear life while clinging with my fingernails to a train destined to lie at the bottom of some very high cliffs.  Drake’s Deception will have similar vistas, but it’s the multiplayer that I’m interested in reviewing now.  When first introduced in Uncharted 2, the multiplayer aspect was a poorly-implemented system of “run around, shoot some bullets into the air and hope your Internet connection is fast enough to register the kill first”.  I still enjoyed it, but the leveling up was long and drawn out, the ranked system didn’t seem to have any rhyme or reason to it, and you could choose your character, but not customize him or her (or it, if you know what I mean).  That’s where Uncharted 3 is beginning to shine.  You can choose what hat/sunglasses/Hawaiian shirt combo looks best on your good friend Sully, and then whip out your customized M9 and waste some noobz while knowing you look like a fashionable gentleman.  I also liked the cursing allowed to some of your actions.  If you happen to throw a grenade against a wall and it lands at your feet, your character yells, “Shit!” just like YOU just yelled (though I’ve heard the f-word a time or two as well…in both settings).  You also get to design your own emblem, which will be displayed around the map if you are the number one score in the game.  I designed a sideways hand with a ring around it to indicate a slap, but I’m not good enough to have spotted my emblem during gameplay…yet. 

There are no one-shot kills unless you manage to pick up a power weapon, which is a little discouraging.  If I take my sniper rifle and put a bullet center mass, that guy is going down, but in Uncharted 3, I have to hopefully pump another round into him before he gets to cover.  As an aside…make sure to use your cover!!  I think one of the best ‘fights’ I had with someone was when the two of us were far from our teams and utilizing the cover to its fullest advantage.  He jumped above me, so I swung out on a ledge, jumped down, fired some rounds, threw myself behind a box all while he was chasing me down.  We ended up back to back against the same box, so I threw myself over the top while he rolled away to the side.  We both came up shooting again, but I rushed in and smashed him with my gun.  For once, the melee actually worked.  When I say that, it appears to have some problems.  If I melee someone, he or she just turns around and melees me back, so I smack him or her again for the kill, but for some reason, they get one last melee as well.  I can’t tell you how many “Retaliation” medals I got simply for the lag melee kills.  I’m talking dozens of these things, which affects my play ability when I’m kicking some ass and taking some names.  However, if you think this is different than Uncharted 2’s similar “feature”, you’re dead wrong…it’s just one of those things I had hoped they were going to fix. 

At least they gave the sniper rifles a scope this time.  In the entirety of the Uncharted series, your sniper rifle has a tiny circle for its “trajectory”.  You put someone’s head in that circle and squeeze off a round…they’re dead.  In Uncharted 3, you now have what appears to be a fisheye scope that zooms in with crosshairs.  I like the graphic change, but the usefulness has decreased with this new style.  The scope jumps around a lot!  One of the first week ‘best performances’ was a guy who whips out his sniper rifle and blasts three (or was it four) enemies in about a second.  Bang, bang, bang, everybody’s dead, Dave.  Now, to do that from a moving vehicle shooting at another moving vehicle while the enemies are ducking behind cover is truly a feat to be revered.  I know my skill doesn’t extend that far, but for the average player, I think the new scope system might be a hindrance.

They also added a new feature of ‘treasure hunting’.  Every time you kill another player, there is a small chance they will drop a treasure.  You can collect groups of these treasures to unlock rare clothes and accessories for your character.  Be warned!  Running out of cover to collect a treasure is an easy way to get killed.  Make sure you are completely safe before picking up your newfound glory.  A second new feature is the ‘buddy’ group.  Before a match begins, you may be randomly assigned a buddy.  If the two of you are firing on the same enemy and manage to kill him, you can perform a group celebration.  It may be a fist bump or high five to share in the defeat of an enemy.  Be warned!  Just as running out to collect treasure can be fatal, running out to perform a high five with your buddy can be just as detrimental.  I can’t tell you how many times the buddy system was active, and the first thing my buddy or I did was run out to celebrate…just to get gunned down.  Having mentioned it, you can also taunt the enemy, which has a new flavor of customization to it.  You can choose whether your taunt is a ‘point and laugh’ or ‘kiss’ representation of your feelings for deafeating an enemy.  If you can manage to level up your taunting abilities, your rewards are greater.

Overall, the gameplay hasn’t changed since Uncharted 2’s foray into multiplayer.  The “shopping” has changed, as the levels to unlock new weapons and attachments are fairly steep.  In the first week, I think I made it to level 10, whereas I had reached level 10 in one day on Uncharted 2.  My second complaint has to do with the odd height characteristics.  If Nathan Drake can jump two feet in the air and his reach is eight feet, he can theoretically jump up and reach the top of a ten foot wall.  However, for some reason, he can’t seem to jump over a two-and-a-half foot barrier.  He just keeps running up and putting one foot up while falling backwards.  Since Drake is the basis for the physics, ALL characters have a ten foot reach and the same propensity for getting stuck on heights between two and three feet.  The biggest example of this is on the Chateau level as soon as the “Villains” spawn, you can run forward and try to climb the stairs…but if you manage to get right in the middle, there’s a two-and-a-half foot wall.  To the right is a little planter that requires you to jump, and to the left is some wall-climbing handholds, but hit that middle and you’re stuck.

In conclusion, the new multiplayer beta shows a ton of replayability and customization for your characters.  The gameplay mechanics haven’t changed much, but you shouldn’t fix what isn’t broken.  Unless you wanted to fix the stupid melee thing…that might be worthwhile.

-Ben

Categories: Previews Tags: , , ,