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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.

Steaming ahead

February 16th, 2016 Comments off

I am currently playing through my massive backlog of Steam games.  Here are the games I played recently.

Game #3: The Witcher 3

Ok, I missed the boat on this series.  I was never truly intrigued with brutal, bloody, gory, monster-fighting games.  In fact, I hated (HATED) God of War.  Yes, that will totally turn many of you away from my future columns, but it really shouldn’t.  I’m sure there are people who hate games that I love.  That is the beauty of games: we as players can make our own decisions.  One of my favorite games of all time is Timesplitters 2.  Some of you may also love that game and some of you may hate that game.  Others of you may have never even heard of the game, and that’s also fine.  I don’t hate many games, but I certainly hate God of War (the entire series).  I felt that the controls were super clunky, the graphics were overtly mature for no good reason, and the storyline didn’t make any sense.  Those are my personal opinions, and you can agree or disagree with them.  I also didn’t have fun playing the game.  That’s why I avoided the Witcher series for this long.  It looked similar to God of War with the very gory animations and the gameplay looked to be the same (link up heavy and light attacks for combos and chains while killing monsters).   After playing The Witcher 3, I can say I didn’t love it.  The game is a third-person game, which I loved in the Elder Scrolls series.  The game is also a hack-and-slash, which I am still in love with in the game Castle Crashers and, more recently, Fat Princess Adventures.  The game is also an adventure game, which I love in Fallout 4 and Uncharted (also third-person).  I guess we could say I just don’t love third-person hack-and-slash adventure games.  I played it for a few hours because I wanted to give it a fair shake.  My favorite part of the game was Gwent.  Gwent is a card game built in as a side-mission thing.  It is very similar to the card games included in Final Fantasy 8 and 9.  I spent the entirety of my gameplay in Final Fantasy 8 actually playing Triple Triad.  I never left the first town (therefore, my review of FFVIII is: “Triple Triad is fun”).  So, The Witcher 3 has Gwent, and all I wanted to do was sit in the Inn and play Gwent.  I went out in search of other Gwent players in the realm of Temeria, and the game is just too big to realistically achieve this without progressing.  So, I spent a while playing Gwent, went on a few quests, and then looked up the CD Projekt RED website and applied for jobs in Poland.  It was a pretty good day.  I’m sure I will pick it up again when I have tons more time on my hands.

Game #4: Boson X

After playing The Witcher 3 for so many hours, I wanted a quick game.  Boson X is quick because of the punishing difficulty of the game.  You are a scientist trapped in the Higgs-Boson supercollider, and you must run and jump through puzzling platforms simulating the experiments done in the actual supercollider:

I played most of the game as Erik, the nerdy scientist dude.  You must jump between platforms and time spent on the blue platforms increases your overall ‘study’ of the particles in the ‘experiments’.  The gameplay is reminiscent of Tempest, where you are constantly running towards the middle of the screen:

As you can see here, this level (the graviton particle level) has just begun and I’m going to have to jump to the left to continue running towards the middle of the screen.  There are some blue platforms coming up, and I might be able to catch the double blue by jumping to the left four times.  I probably didn’t make it, as this level was the majority of my hour-long playthrough.  The game was a great distraction from the sprawling roleplay of The Witcher 3, and you can grind through a dozen plays in a short amount of time.  I very much enjoyed the game, even though it has quite simplified graphics, the gameplay was rewarding (if a little slower than my actual reflexes).  We did notice (while my wife watched me play), that there was a pronounced delay in the push of a button and the resulting action of the character on screen.

Additional Items:

I played in the Destiny Crimson Doubles tournament and finished a few matches with wins.  I got a surprising delivery that I doubt many others did get: a 290 Exotic Hawkmoon.  That was pretty cool!  As for the rest: if you played seven matches (each match was a race to winning 5 rounds), you will also receive a 320 chocolate or candy ghost shell.  Bungie realized the drop rates for these items had been messed up (even though I did get one), and they wanted to apologize to players.

Lastly, I was invited to play in the Dreadnought Alpha.  Dreadnought is a seriously intense space-battle game where you command a massive battleship in an ever-expanding sci-fi universe.  I personally plan on piloting a Corvette or Destroyer into battle.  I was really excited to be invited to play, and I look forward to talking about it once the NDA expires.  I apologize that I will be unable to post any screenshots or gameplay videos until a later date, but I will certainly collect them now and post them when (and if) I can later.