I am coming out of blogging retirement (it's been almost 2 years since my last for various reasons) to make an argument I feel needs to be made: Killzone 3's online suite is lame.
After having read Jim's glowing review of Killzone 3, I was pretty stoked. I know he's an adamant fan of the series, so I expected a high review score. But going so far as to call it, "...the shooter to beat," was praise I didn't quite expect. After having played plenty of KZ2, I knew the series had a particular flavor. Hearing it was the top dog (for the moment, I'm sure) was great news. Going up against the likes of Halo, Black Ops, Bad Company 2, Gears, MAG, etc. I was surprised to hear KZ3 was the winner, or at the very least a serious contender.
General character and gun design remain top notch. Too bad that doesn't equate to a good user experience... but 3D!
I've been clamoring for a PS3 game to grab my interest for ages. All my Christmas titles were for 360, so I hadn't played a good PS3 game since God of War 3. I anxiously awaited KZ3 to take up my multiplayer time until Brink launches later this year (love me some character customization). I had become bored with BC2 and Black Ops and Reach, so KZ3 looked like a new contender for my limited online hours. Too bad loading up the game and playing online was a joke.
Playing was like going backwards in a time warp. The base nature of the online experience is appallingly limited. How bad is it? Let me count the ways...
1) Three Game Modes
Three. That's it. Sure, one of them (Warzone) is comprised of four different game modes in any given match (sorry, but calling "S&D offense" and "S&D defense" two different modes doesn't count), but why are players not allowed to play the modes they want to play?
Just look at Black Ops or Halo: there are tons of modes and they are split out into different playlists and sections so the player may choose whatever modes they like. Being forced to play Warzone and trudge through the completely boring Assassination modes just because I love playing Capture the Flag is asinine and infuriating to me as someone who has played plenty of other shooters with the option. The hit detection is asinine and infuriating to me as player, too, which brings me to...
2) No hardcore Option
I've only played for 4-5 hours thus far. I will admit. However, I cannot count how many times an enemy has run straight into my hail of LMG gunfire only to wind up getting my throat slit. Huh?
I hate normal Halo and CoD. That's why I play SWAT and Hardcore modes exclusively: when I'm faster on the trigger and put bullets in your chest (or head, for SWAT), you go down. I don't. That's how it should be. Killzone's COMPLETE LACK OF THE OPTION is baffling to me. Speaking of (basic) options...
Just bleach that flag white and give up, man...
3) Map Voting/Lobby System is Awful
There are roughly 12 or so maps offered. I even got some free ones thanks to my pre-order, too. Too bad when I go to vote for them I have NO CLUE which is which.
The entire right half of the map voting screen is just red graphic nothingness. Why isn't there a picture of the map I'm voting for available? Guess what, Guerilla, I HATE the map with the green haze filter all over the place. I NEVER want to play on that map. I have yet to learn which map that is, though, so I never vote because I don't want to accidentally elect the wrong map. Thanks a lot!
Also, last night I got stuck in a match where there was no voting. I played the same map three times in a row. Going back to #1, if your servers are going to offer matches where there is no map voting and people only play on one map of their choice, it would be nice to be able to NOT GO INTO THOSE MATCHES. And no, I never touched my map preferences, because I want to play on them all anyway. So I didn't accidentally put in "Random Broken Industrial Setting #5" as my preference and got sent to that map.
4) It's Not a Cover Button... It's a Crouch Button
I was really excited when I double checked the control scheme and saw there was a "cover" mechanic before hopping online. The one thing I really felt could have made KZ2's online play even better was the inclusion of the cover mechanic from the single player campaign. I was really let down it wasn't in the multiplayer. Too bad I was completely wrong.
The "cover" button is apparently the worst cover system ever. It's the crouch button. Call it crouch. There is no geometry adhesion or blindfire or shooting around corners. It's simply crouching.
I was really hoping Guerilla was going to take a cue from Activision and Goldeneye 007 and refine their cover mechanic and turn into something fluid and usable. Hey, maybe they did for the single player campaign, but it sure didn't make its way online.
[Note: I have since put in an hour or so into the campaign and can say that the cover mechanic is awful. Once you take cover you're awkwardly stuck behind that point and have to exit cover manually to move instead of being able to pull away from it dynamically. Not quite the smoothest in the industry, that's for sure. Should have looked at what Goldeneye did...]
That's right, this game has a better cover mechanic... and it's on Wii. Eat it, PS3 (and 360, actually, as your top FPS games can't compete either).
Side Note: Goldeneye 007's cover mechanic is, if you haven't tried it, the most elegant FPS cover mechanic I have ever experienced: simply crouch wherever you want and if you happen to be behind something blocking your vision, when you aim down your sights you automatically pop up from behind it to shoot. It's genius! It's even included in the online suite!
5) No Easy Way to Squad Up
Maybe I'm just missing it, but I can't seem to ever find a way to enter a squad without inviting my PS3 friends (none of whom play online FPS games and thus don't own the game) to enter my squad in a match. What happened to the Bad Company 2-esque ability to join open squads with random people in your match and have a go like in KZ2? I know the feature used to be there, I used it all the time. It was right on the pre-game lobby screen. That screen is gone, though, so... yeah.
I have looked far and wide for this ability at the beginning of every match and have yet to discover it. If I'm just stupid and missed it, someone please tell me. If they could make the option a bit more apparent that would help, too.
6) No Video Capture Ability
Seriously, I just figured this had become standard on all top-tier shooters by now. I may not use it, but I know lots of people who do. Why not include it and stay up to par?
I can't even complain anymore. I'm so depressed at what this game lacks. Sure, the unlock system is cool and the guns all look awesome. The team-based gameplay is cool, too. But the overall experience is simply... lacking. Lacking in basic features in the clearest of senses.
If this is the best online shooter that PS3 has to offer, it's no wonder that 360 is the console to go to for shooter fans. I'm sorely disappointed thus far in what KZ3 offers. I expected this game to last me until Brink arrives. I'll be surprised if it lasts me another week or two.
So, I know I haven't been very active on Dtoid as of late, but I am still alive. Also, I have a huge surprise.
That was one of the top Google responses for the word, surprise. I swear to you.
Anywho, the big surprise is that I will be attending this year's E3. That's right. I managed to get a ticket through work (my firm consults for some of the larger developers), so I will be out there the Sunday before and I'll be there all week.
I'm hoping that I'll finally get a chance to meet some of the awesome editors of this lovely site and anyone else who somehow managed to get tickets themselves. Please PM me if you're attending and want to meet up for some game playing or drinking or what have you.
Any other good Dtoiders out there going to be making the trip?
IGN is reporting on a Rare blog post that includes a tiny thumbnail on a user's 360 blade that shows a blurry photo of Joanna Dark before she became a punk ass teenager. Does this mean that Rare's long-awaited HD conversion of the N64 classic is on its way? Have Microsoft and Rare been fucking with us? Have they settled their rights issues with Nintendo?
I remember begging my parents to buy me this as an early birthday present when it released and then my copy was a blank cartridge and it sat around in my collection for 2 years before I ever picked it up and sent it back to Nintendo to replace it, but let me tell you, when it came back... shit. The rest is my gaming history!
Sweet merciful Jesus I hope so! Perfect Dark on the N64 is still my all-time favorite multiplayer game. I played 120 hours of it one summer years after release by myself against bots just 'cause I fucking could.
The proverbial money shot.
Give me the same game, HD graphics, and online multiplayer (with bots) and Rare, you can go ahead and charge me a full $60 worth of Microsoft's magic money. I don't care. MAKE IT HAPPEN.
PS - As anyone who knows me realizes, this would complete my "repurchase trifecta" of Rez, MvC2 (assuming Capcom's hints and rumors aren't smoke and mirrors), and PD, of the only past generation games I'm willing to shell more money out for (since I still own all my original copies and systems. I'm really excited. You should be, too!
In my previous write up I did a lot of praising on Guerilla Games for their work on KZ2, and while I wholeheartedly stand by my assessment and score of a perfect 10/10, I do have one MAJOR beef with the game. Donít worry itís not with the awesome multiplayer. Itís solely with the single player. This rant is partially with KZ2 but veers into general game design for a time. Playing through KZ2 just brought it to the forefront of my consciousness, so I need to vent it.
As anyone whoís played the game knows, KZ2 uses a cover mechanic somewhat similar to that of the recent Rainbow Six games. Itís a cross between them and Gears-style cover. You run to a position and pull the crouch button (yeah, so much for trying to crouch while in cover) and you get pulled into cover, but unlike RS games or Gears, the camera stays in the first person perspective. This sounds cool except the game still wants you to be able to see where your enemies are, so they have you peak over the edge of whatever youíre hiding behind rather unrealistically. Oh, and you canít blind fireÖ at all, which sort of destroys your ability to lay any sort of distractive cover fire of any kind.
Add these while you're at it, too, Guerilla.
Now, I donít mind games that keep you in a forced first person perspective. I loved me some Mirrorís Edge and Farcry 2 (very much so, in fact) but I donít want a game like KZ2 to destroy playability and tactics in an effort to keep me ďimmersedĒ in the experience, especially not when Iím armed with a defibrillator gun that can revive people with lightning from across a room.
I donít think there is any sane reason why the cover system in KZ2 positions the player the way it does beyond just wanting to be ďdifferent.Ē I mean, what purpose does it actually serve? Does the game want me fully immersed as my character? Hmm, could be but then that raises the question as to why all of the cutscenes are seen from a totally third person perspective and highlight my character doing things I have no control over whatsoever. If they wanted to go that route, they shoulda pulled a Half-Life and at the very least kept you in the first-person perspective (if not kept the antagonist silent throughout the titleÖ a huge non-no with their HIGHLY talented writing team, those fuckity fucker fucks).
The issue of cover raises another HUGE issue I had with the gameís general design because, when in cover, your only option is to pop up (or over) to shoot. However, if you watch your enemies for more than two seconds they can clearly blindfire from cover and even go prone. Hell, they can even roll in/out of cover while running, kneeling, or prone and provide a much wider variety of shooting positions than the player character. This raises some tactical issues for the player, because those tools are literally not at your own disposal. They apparently didnít teach the advanced LAYING ON THE FUCKING GROUND tactics at ISA boot camp. How the hell did they ever expect to win a war against such an advanced military might as the Helghast, what with their inhuman ability to KNEEL?!
Best skill in the game... of life.
Why game companies allow AI opponents to have access to a wider variety of abilities is beyond me. Maybe itís a matter of complex controls, however after playing Mirrorís Edge, I know for a fact some relatively complex (and amazing) moves are capable (and easy to understand) in a first person perspective specifically (hell, CoD4 just makes you hold the crouch button longer to go proneÖ hmm, novel concept, the ďget closer to the ground button,Ē when held longer, makes you go closerÖ to theÖ groundÖ GENIUS!). Maybe itís a matter of trying to make a game more challenging, but what it really does is prove super frustrating AND send a clear message that the game could have been better than it is. The controls could have been more refined, ideas could have been fleshed out, etc. Going prone, tucking/rolling, blindfiring would have made KZ2 a better game to play there is no doubt about it. I donít even think it arguable, quite honestly.
If Guerilla wanted their game to be truly original and memorable for more than its graphical prowess, then they should have taken the time to even the playing field while simultaneously expanding it to provide an even better playing and realistic experience (not to mention allow the same maneuvers in multiplayer matches). I understand this would have taken some more clarity on their part in terms of what experience they wanted to provide the player with (i.e. either including first person cutscenes or providing a third person cover camera and/or adding the same maneuverability for players) but I think it would have proven its worth tenfold.
Clearly the gameís sales numbers mean Guerilla has no reason to care about what I have to say at all, but maybe, just maybe, if theyíre listening they will realize they missed some easily obtainable opportunities for greatness.
PS - Fuck me, I dunno how to resize photos on this site anymore... damn it.
So, this week my blog reviews return for some fairy tale lovin' and the PS3's latest killer app! This review covers Prince of Persia and Killzone 2. Enjoy.
Prince of Persia
The only PoP game I had ever played before the current-gen title was Warrior Within back on the Xbox. And, while I liked it, I wasnít blown away by it. Luckily Prince of Persia totally blew it out of the water in terms of story, art design, pretty much everything about the latest PoP screams quality. It easily stands as one of the most memorable titles of the last year or two.
From the moment I started the game up I knew I was in for a treat. The graphics are what I consider magical. They sucked me into the game world and never let me go. I often called to my ex-girlfriend (we were dating at the time I played through it) and told her to come watch because I felt like I was playing a fairy tale. The fact the engine held up the entire game without a hitch of slowdown was a testament to Ubisoft. To me, the game world was as enchanting, if not more so, than my favorite atmospheric game of all time, Shadow of the Colossus, and thatís saying A LOT.
Truly fantastic character design right here, folks.
The one thing I didnít like quite as much as the gameplay itself. No matter how you look at it the whole game is really just one giant series of QTEs with some fights thrown in to mix it up, which themselves quickly devolve into a smaller series of more frustrating QTEs after your enemies start blocking with more frequency. Sure, you look awesome as you do everything, but there was never a point outside a fight that allows you to truly do anything you want (and as stated before, fights quickly become a series of more QTEs anyway). If you want to go somewhere, you have to do exactly what the game wants you to exactly when it wants you to. The fact you never die just goes to cement the fact that, to me, you donít ďplayĒ PoP, it leads you down a corridor and holds your hand the entire time, making sure you see everything it wants you to with little free will on behalf of the player. Itís worse than BioShock, in my opinion. At least in BioShock they used that tactic as a plot twist. Everything you see is gorgeous and everything, it just canít be mistaken for a non-linear game. You choose where to go, but everything else is in the hands of the game. I still liked it, but it has to be noted.
The inclusion of Elika (aka the ďYĒ buttonÖ fitting) was a mixed bag for me. Sure she was attractive for a female videogame character and some of the banter between her and the Prince is legitimately heartfelt and at times funny, but it often annoyed me when I wanted to go somewhere and Iíd have to wait for her to catch up. The chick can fly and whip you around levels by the end and shoots magic out her hands but she never learned how to cling to vines. Odd design choice.
I'd press his Y, if ya know what I mean.
The story itself was somewhat forgettable, but the manner in which it was presented was certainly enjoyable (the ďendingĒ sequence was fantastic). The main enemies were amazing designs and often sad to have to kill, but they posed an interesting threat and the game made me want to learn more about them before their falls from grace. Iím more excited to see how Ubisoft can flesh out the story for the next game in the series than anything else (and maybe give us a few more places where we can do whatever we want, to boot).
Quick ass review score: 8/10
Killzone 2 is what the PS3 was made for. This is the game that made my system earn its spot on my entertainment center (forgive me, for I havenít played Uncharted yet, haha). Up until KZ2 my PS3 has mainly been a Bluray player. Not anymore. Now it is a legit piece of gaming hardware that deserves all the accolades it garners. Good job, Guerilla.
All simultaneously playable next time, maybe, please?
Having never played the first KZ title, I was a bit worried going into KZ2 that Iíd miss something. The only thing I ended up missing were hours in my day because Iíd play for such long lengths of time. The story in KZ2 is pretty basic realistic/futuristic science fiction, but the way itís presented is truly commendable. The levels are fast-paced, offer a decent amount of variety, and do a better job of hiding enemy spawning than even CoD4 did, something that constantly annoyed the shit out of me in that title. It offered a decent challenge, fantastic weapons, and nice diversionary sequences with tanks and a kickass mech. Good stuff. The only complaint I have is that the check points were somewhat misbalanced at times. Sometimes coming every 3 minutes, other times requiring 10-15 minutes worth of progress to be lost.
The controls in KZ2 have gotten a lot of flack, but I can honestly say I have grown accustomed to them. I think people jumped on the ďhate the controlsĒ bandwagon before giving themselves time to get used to them, much like what happened with GTAIV. All it takes is a few hours online, though, and everything becomes second nature. I mean, I can now hop online and slay bitches with the best of Ďem and boy do I enjoy slaying bitches. The multiplayer is absolutely fantastic. The ranking system rewards quality play and the manner in which objective game types switch on the fly is ingenious. It forces you to stay on your toes if you want to win and keeps things fresh throughout your play time. It even throws in some interesting twists on objective/class-based play with cool little touches like special ability swapping, squads, and squad spawning, all things I have never seen in an online game (maybe Iím just behind the times). Guerilla should also be commended for keeping the graphical fidelity in multiplayer on par with the single player and the net code smooth. Iíve rarely experienced slowdown during play, which is more than can be said for the vast majority of other online shooters out there. If there is anything I find unfair itís that Helghast players tend to stand out more due to their giant red glowing eyes than the ISA players. Iíve sniped quite a few people from across the map solely because I could hone in on their heads more easily. Oh well. They should have been ISA, haha.
Truly iconic. Good work.
In the end, Guerilla games have created the current killer app for Sonyís big black box of Bluray. Itís a must-purchase for every PS3 owner out there and is a tremendous value. I must admit I canít wait to play KZ3 seeing how fantastic Guerilla has handled KZ2, if only for the fact I want a co-op campaign. Whatís here is downright amazing, though, and should not be missed.
Quick ass review score: 10/10
Thanks for reading!
Next up will be de Blob and Condemned 2: Bloodshot.
**All images provided by/found via Google Image Search.**
So, this week my blog reviews return for a double whammy! This review covers Mercenaries 2 and Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction. Enjoy.
I never played the first Mercenaries title last generation, but had friends who enjoyed it. I played a demo on Xbox but was never enthralled with the idea of a war-time GTA. The sequel sounded more promising with a giant open world, the ability to lay waste to whole cities, etc. Unfortunately, the execution was so poor I gave up a few scant hours in.
The controls sucked, the graphics looked worse than some Wii titles Iíve played, the gameplay had almost zero variety, and the story and dialog were laughable at best and shameful at worst. I played through some of the missions in co-op with a friend and managed to get the majority of the Achievements without having to do much of anything, so I sent it back to GameFly within a week.
This character is in no way ironic and the game is sadder because of it.
Ho-hum. If you gaming hours are limited like mine, they can be spent on much better experiences of a similar nature including, but not limited to, Saintís Row 2 and even GTAIV. Yeah, I liked GTAIV more than Mercs 2 and I HATED GTAIV. That should tell you something right there.
Quick ass review score: 4/10
Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction
Yeah. I got a PS3. How crazy is that? (B-Radicate if ya wanna friend me, by the way.) So this is my first PS3 review. Cool. Now read on.
As a HUGE fan of the R&C titles since the first on the PS2, I knew Tools of Destruction would have to be not only my first PS3 game purchase, but also my first play through. There was never a doubt. Luckily the game retained all the fun and humor of last generationís titles however I was a bit upset with how little the title pushed the series forward.
So, seeing as Iíve played every R&C titles to grace the PS2 (except for the PSP port) I went into ToD knowing the basics of what to expect: gorgeous graphics, a fun storyline with great characters and voice work, and a bevy of weapons with which to assault my foes. Where the title failed me was in the actual execution of the mechanics.
One thing Iíve noticed throughout the R&C series lifespan, and something Iíve grown to hate, is how Insomniac cycles through game mechanics. One title is all weapons and platforming, another has a customizable spaceship with loads of space flight side mission, others have loads of arena battles, one has multiplayer, etc. The problem is none of them have ALL of the proven game mechanics. They cherry pick which ones to cobble together and make a game with instead of polishing everything all at once and presenting a truly outstanding and varied experience. Whatís worse is that beyond Sixaxis controls, the game literally doesnít introduce anything new to the series or the genre. A hugely wasted opportunity to show us everything the PS3 would now allow the developers to create.
Sure, it looks nice, but if you've played a R&C title, you've seen and done it all before, sadly.
It annoyed me to no end that ToD didnít have a multiplayer component (especially considering Insomniac clearly had a handle on PS3 online play with the release of Resistance). Instead of the system shipping almost out the gates with a great 3rd person action shooter (albeit of the more cartoony variety) they stripped the title down to its most basic form since the original title (a grand game, by all means, but showing its age in the wake of superior sequels), which is okay if you want to be the GTAIV of the action platforming genre (zing). However much I disliked GTAIVís decision to remove a lot of the variety that made me love it, it made those concessions in order to completely overhaul the strength and breadth of the storyline, something R&C didnít do or even try. It delivered a fun narrative, sure, but it wasnít revolutionary by any means. It wasnít even the best R&C story, if you ask me.
It also annoyed me that corners were cut in terms of playability to showcase Sixaxis controls. The ball rolling door unlock mini-game was like hell until I realized I could turn the motion control off and play the game like a sane person. I was also pissed the guns, when evolving, didnít change shape/form until the very last level. A small thing to nitpick, but after playing the first game that included the weapon experience system (forgive me, they all sort of blend together in my head) and having the sheer joy rush through me when my rocket launcher just grew a new silo, or my shotgun grew beefier, it was sad to only have the thrill reflected in some numerical statistics which meant very little to me.
All in all, I think the title was made more to let R&C fans that Insomniac knows the hardware, knows we want more R&C, and was building a base engine in order to deliver newer better titles in the seriesí (and systemís) futures. Ratchet & Clank Future is a fitting name change, to say the least. Maybe next time...
Quick ass review score: 7/10
Thanks for reading!
Next up will be Prince of Persia and Killzone 2.
**All images provided by/found via Google Image Search.**