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2:28 PM on 02.24.2011

Coming Out of Retirement: KZ3 Multiplayer

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.   read

3:11 PM on 05.17.2009

B-Radicate has a Surprise, Bitches!

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?   read

10:11 PM on 04.08.2009

My Dreams May Indeed Be Coming True! (PD on XBLA)

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!   read

9:50 PM on 03.24.2009

Quick Ass Rant: Addendum to KZ2 Review + Boobs

This is an addendum to my previously posted Killzone 2 review, just so you know.

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.   read

6:54 PM on 03.22.2009

Quick Ass Review Time: PoP and KZ2

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

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.**   read

7:27 PM on 03.14.2009

Quick Ass Review Time: Mercenaries 2 and R&C Future: ToD

So, this week my blog reviews return for a double whammy! This review covers Mercenaries 2 and Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction. Enjoy.

Mercenaries 2

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.**   read

7:11 PM on 03.14.2009

Quick Ass Review Time: Mirror's Edge and Too Human

So, this week my blog reviews return. This time I tackle everyone's favorite free running hottie and the game everyone loves to hate. Enjoy.

Mirrorís Edge

Mirrorís Edge is game I really wanted to like from the very first time I saw it. Iím a huge sucker for games that try new things or adapt certain mechanics for unconventional means. A first-person action platformer, a genre traditionally reserved for third person games (and arguably rarely done well anymore), is one such type of mechanic/perspective switch that interests me to no end by default. Luckily the game didnít disappoint me in the grand scheme of things.

The key to ME (fuck yeah I abbreviate shit) working for me was always going to be the controls and the fluidity of the action. I feel the results were sort of mixed. The controls on one hand were as simple as pie to wrap my head around. They became second nature within an hour or so. However, the actual gameís fluidity was archaic at best.

Too bad you can't actually do that.

I do believe part of the reason I had trouble adapting to what the game requires is because we rarely, if ever, have played a game with such open mechanics. You can jump off, run across, boost over, etc. over almost anything in the game. Thatís new. Getting my brain to think outside the box in terms of what the game would allow me to do was a big step. I was often stuck places because I didnít always realize I should even consider some crazy run-jump-swing combo, which is admittedly more my fault than the gameís fault. However, this fell apart after I made the mental leap and did begin to think more acrobatically (so to speak) when I would be slapped in the face with a maneuver that the game would let me do. Wait, I can run up the side of buildings and leap and bound like a gazelle but I canít jump over that shrub? Or box? Huh? It pretty much made me hope DICE gets another chance to try and marry the controls and play style to a more polished sequel with an even more robust list of moves available.

Oh. Hai.

The story was meh but should have been much longer. The in-game graphics were awesome. The cut scenes wanted to be an Esurance commercial but couldnít if they tried. Iím not a huge fan of racing games and an even lesser fan of time trials in games, so the ďadditionalĒ game modes were not very thrilling to me in the slightest. I played a few until I realized I could spend my time better elsewhere.

Quick ass review score: 7/10

Too Human

Too Human is a game I have followed through all of its development announcements and eventual woes. I am a huge fan of ancient mythology, with Egyptian and Norse being my two favorites. Getting a Norse-themed game drenched in futuristic technology was just too much for me to handle. I was steadily a giddy schoolgirl every time a new announcement was made. Then Denis Dyack decided to be a douche and ruin any hope the public had of giving the game a fair shake. I held out on passing judgment until I played the game myself and Iím glad I didnít buy into the hype because, despite Too Human wasnít the epic RPG experience Dyack and company claimed, it was a fun hack Ďn slash adventure with some gameplay quirks that were worth looking past.

The control and camera system are the two things people will be torn between loving and hating while playing the game. The attack controls were pretty much all mapped to the right analog stick, which is usually reserved for camera controls (more on that in a minute). The idea was that moving the stick in a direction would let you attack enemies in that direction and it worked pretty effectively. After a few hours I learned that some finesse with holding and flicking the stick allowed for more powerful combos. Laying waste to an entire mob of goblins never got old (although the goblin designs did) and I had fun throughout.

Fuck you.

Speaking of fun, when I played I was REALLY in the mood for a hack Ďn slash game where I could level up and equip crazy weapons and armor and lay waste to goons. TH delivered that experience in spades. I ran around with giant hammers and swords, whippiní out pistols and laser rifles, slaying countless enemies. The augmentation of weapons and armors could have been more fluid, but I got a hang of it an hour or so in, so it didnít prove too big of an issue by the end.

The camera really wanted to be cinematic but often failed. For a game that tried to be so epic in scope, you were often fighting in close cramped quarters and the camera took a shit on you in the middle of a battle more often than not, which was sad to say the least. Having to press two buttons to manually move the camera was just not acceptable in the heat of battle.

And how heated the battles got! Often times I would run into a room and simply get slaughtered. Enemies would attack you while down (or standing back up) and barrage you with attacks. There was often no chance at tactical reasoning. A lot has been said of the Valkyrie death animation, so I wonít speak to it, however I will say that I have come to believe that if a game starts you back exactly where you left off after dying it is blatantly telling you the developers KNEW youíd have no chance of making it through certain sections. That reeks of bad mechanics, bad development, or a combination of the two. Games shouldnít be hard because the game literally wonít let you through a section without dying two or three times. They should be hard because it takes thought on the behalf of the player to navigate the gamescape. Too Human was more the former than the latter, sadly.

If only you could actually wield both at once, maybe they would have given us a traditional control scheme.

The graphics were decent, despite Silicon Knightsí hatred of the Unreal engine. The in-game graphics werenít stunning but they got the job done. You were often running around with a giant hammer smacking shit in the face. How gorgeous does it need to be (and it was gorgeous artistically speaking)? However, the use of the in-game engine for the cut scenes showed how powerful the engine could be. I was often taken aback by the fidelity of the cut scenes. I drew the conclusion the engine was great for a gameÖ just not this one. The camera would need to be closer to the character to show off the graphics, which TH didnít do.

Sadly the gameís creators were so assured the game would ďchange the way we play gamesĒ and that it would warrant a number of sequels that they didnít bother tying the gameís narrative threads together by the end, instead leaving it open to the sequels that at this point will likely never see the light of day. Thatís sad because the best part of the whole story was the last series of cut scenes setting up the coming action. Sigh.

Quick ass review score: 6/10

Thanks for reading!

Up next will be Mercenaries 2 and Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction. Stay tuned.

**All images provided by/found via Google Image Search.**   read

12:32 PM on 02.08.2009

Quick Ass Review Time: L4D and Gears 2

So, this week takes a slight turn from my other blog reviews, because these two titles are ones that I purchased. Not saying they are more notable because of it, although that may be, I guess all it means is I can play these whenever I want Ďcause theyíre on my shelf full-time. I took my time playing them and was in no rush to beat them. Take that as you will.

Left 4 Dead

Alright, so what can I say about L4D that already hasnít been said? It won Dtoidís GOTY as well as being near the top of almost every other website and publicationsí lists, as well. Itís a phenomenal multiplayer experience and has one of the highest levels of combined replayability and visceral thrills. To sum up how I feel, it has yet to get old.

However, for this review, knowing that I think itís the best multiplayer game since CoD4, knowing the graphic fidelity isnít as high as a title such as Gears 2 (and that I donít care), knowing I think itís one of the best zombie games to come outÖ ever, or that Iím not bothered by the ďlack of contentĒ some people talk about, Iíve decided to focus on something else entirely. Iím going to focus on the one thing that pisses me off Ďtil no end every single time I play the game. It pissed me off when the game was announced and it pissed me off the other night when I played with my old college roommate over Live. No, itís not the AI Director. Itís the fact that no single enemy in the game is a zombie. Yeah. Not one.

Most needed weapon: Tums.

See, Iím a huge zombie fan. I love zombie movies, books, games, everything. And Iím not a fan because of the recent mainstream revival of interest in zombies. No, Iíve been a huge fan for many years. The best horror stories involve zombies. Iíve read the Zombie Survival Guide and have a plan of escape should they rise while Iím at home or at work. Yeah, I think about it too much.

With that, however, comes the fact that I am a zombie traditionalist. Iím no pre-300 Zack Snyder loving zombie fan. No no no. Iím the slow, dumb, frighteningly eerie zombie fan whose fears arise more from stories of Voodoo culture than anything else. Another summation, zombies donít run.

While I think L4D is a great ďzombieĒ game, I feel itís much more akin to recent films like the hinted at Zack Snyder remake of Dawn of the Dead or the 28 series (a set of movies I actually love, but for different reasons). I always have to think of L4D as ďinfected,Ē not as zombies (which the game even says they are, which is why I think itís a copout sometimes for the press to just call them zombies instead of appreciating them for what Valve wants them to be). This helps me get around two huge suspensions of disbelief for me so I can become more engaged in the game as I play.

The first is that within the context of the game there is no explanation of why there are five boss zombies, only five boss zombies, and all of them look exactly alike. Any real zombie looks like the person they once were. While L4D ďnormalĒ zombies may, too, they come too fast and frenetically that you pretty much canít tell. To have multiple people all turn into the same type of boss, though, is odd. I understand itís for gameplay reasons so you can become accustom to listening for smokers or witches or what have you, but from an objective standpoint, it is just unlikely. I feel Valve missed an opportunity in the campaigns for the survivors to find out what actually occurred over the course of the four campaigns. I think itíd be neat for each campaign to have a small open-ended story piece (perhaps at the end as you escaped in the vehicle) began to hint at what occurred. Then youíd have to put the four puzzle pieces together in your own head and try to fill in the rest. Or maybe some hints in secret places, kind of like ďthe cake is a lieĒ from Portal. You know itíd be cool, admit it.

Seriously, who farted?

The other thing I think would have been real neat is the inclusion of melee weapons. I know the general pace of the game is slightly too quick for melee, but everyone gets swamped from time to time. Shove is cool, but shoving with a bat in hand or a crowbar (as a nice homage to Half Life) would be even cooler. Maybe make the melee weapons more powerful when used, as compared to shove. One hit kills with them against normal infected or some such thing. Make them take the place of an extra firearm for balancing sake, I donít know. I mean, just like Max Brooks states in the Zombie Survival Guide, weapons like machetes and bats donít run out of ammo.

Iíd be willing to play a slower-paced game with a much smaller prevalence of ammunition if it included slower zombies and melee weapons. I think it would go a long way to make the game feel more ďauthentic.Ē I know the gameís sold well and all, and Valve has no reason to listen to anything Iíve said, but I still donít think weíve seen the best possible zombie game possible (I hated Dead Rising, sorry but shitty gameplay mechanics and controls shouldnít get overlooked Ďcause you kill undead). Iím waiting for a zombie game that blends the forced perspective of games like Mirrorís Edge and Farcry 2 with open-world survival like Fallout 3 all gift-wrapped in the perfect package. Arenít you?

Authentic zombie score: 6/10
Quick ass review score: 9/10

Gears of War 2

I was a big fan of the original Gears. I thought it was a great new sci-fi world with a load of backstory possibility. It was a fresh IP that the Xbox needed at a time when the system didnít really have too many killer apps beyond the Halo franchise. What I didnít like was the short single player story and the busted ass multiplayer that, coming from a development team like Epic, which is known for smooth online play and fast frenetic games like the Unreal series, just wasnít acceptable to me. No number of patches or over-priced downloadable map packs (aka one) was enough to hold my interest for more than two months or so.

Luckily, Gears 2 arrived and addressed, at the very least, all of my single player story gripes. The story was deeper, the characters more fleshed out, and the scenery expanded to a degree that was just mind boggling in comparison to the first. On-rails shooter levels, vehicle levels, you name it and Gears 2 delivered. Best of all, it was wrapped around the same stellar pop and shoot mechanics of the first, but which were fleshed out with human (okay, Locust) shields, mobile cover, new weapons, more varied enemies, and overall polish. Letís just say it was good enough to warrant a co-op play through on Insane from me and my buddy. Great stuff.

No one can argue the game is the graphical king right now.

At first glance, the multiplayer components also received a nice upgrade. With two extra people thrown into the mix and larger more varied levels (on top of the new shield and weapon mechanics mentioned previously), not to mention more gameplay types, the online play felt fresh and worthy of my limited gameplay hours. Unfortunately, after a few weeks I realized the game really wasnít that much more different than the first, with players eking out glitch strategies that destroyed the experience for everyone that didnít know how to cheat. After a few patches from Epic that did nothing to address the gripes and actually made finding a game slower for some, the game fell by the wayside for me and I havenít picked it up since.

Sure, the game was fun for the few weeks that it lasted, but being touted as such a tent pole franchise only to have half the experience gimped by the development team (not to mention the quick release of another insanely-priced DLC map pack from a company that gives more stuff away to PC players than most companies can afford) is both shocking and stupid. To me, Epic just doesnít ďget itĒ anymore. I truly believe few companies do. The sad part is theyíve developed a fan base that buys their titles and only their titles and plays them Ďtil the next release, so $10 for three maps isnít insane to somebody that buys a single game every two or three years (I literally played with a guy who had only Gears and Gears 2 in his played games list and couldnít stop talking about how awesome the game was and how it was the best everÖ give me a break). For anybody else that wants to enjoy other titles, itís disheartening and sad. The game shipped with what, twelve new maps? Fifteen if you count the flashbacks? That means the multiplayer levels alone were worth 83% of the original cost of the game? Seriously? Thatís just insane to me.

Fuck these things in their alien butts. Seriously.

Until Epic works out a formula wherein they can deliver solid experiences throughout their game packages (meaning multiplayer canít be gimped for months on end) starting on day one of sales, Iím simply not into buying their titles. There are much better purchases available and games more worth my time and effort. Gears 2 is a fun solid single (or co-op) shooter, but donít go into the multiplayer thinking youíll have fun with people crab walking and shooting you through walls, Ďcause you wonít.

PS Ė For anyone that says they released a patch fixing some issues, do the gene pool a favor and shoot yourself in the head now. Itís called QA/Beta testing. Epic needs to learn what that means before they release their next title.

Single player review score: 9/10
Multiplayer review score: 6/10
Quick ass review score: 7.5/10

Up next will be Mirror's Edge and Too Human.

Thanks for reading!

**All images provided by IGN and Google Image Search.**   read

10:59 PM on 01.24.2009

Quick Ass Review Time: Far Cry 2

So, a few months ago I started a blog series where I reviewed games I rent from GameFly. Unfortunately, working in the real world sucks and I find myself with little time to blog any more. I prefer to play games rather than write about them. It's why I'll never make a living at this. Oh well.

To catch up, I've reviewed all the games I've played since then and will post them in blocks of two (save for this instance, apparently), to catch up. Last time I wrote about Star Wars: The Force Unleashed and Quantum of Solace and before that was Dark Sector and Saint's Row 2, if you're interested. Without further ado, here it is...

Far Cry 2

I never finished the first Far Cry. I had it on PC and it kept crashing when I entered a certain room halfway through the game and I never bothered reinstalling it. Luckily, Far Cry 2 came out before I ever thought twice and now I have no need to ever go back and play the first. (I guess it also helps the game has NOTHING to do with the first after all the Crytek/Ubisoft legal bullshit that occurred, too.)

Given a different story (totally unrelated to the first, thank god), a host of playable characters (how much they each effect the game is unknown), and a HUGE unnamed African country to explore, Far Cry satiated my FPS hunger for quite some time. Let me repeat the coolest factor: the game world is HUGE. Something akin to 25 square miles or something like that. FUCKING HUGE, alright?

To go along with an entire country to explore, you get a beautiful engine that made me stop in awe multiple times and just enjoy a sunset or drive a Jeep (whose registered vehicles are throughout) alongside some zebras. That engine also allows for you to set fire to most of the scenery, too, something played up in the trailers. Unfortunately, when adding interaction to a game world such as fire, you bring to the forefront of the playerís mind not what you can interact with, but what you canít, namely everything else. If I can burn a large swath of grasslands with a flamethrower, Iíd also like my RPGs to do something to the grass huts, Ubisoft. Thanks. On that note, where were all the predators in the game world? The only animals were zebras, buffalo, goats, and chickens. I guess they wanted to avoid lion or gator poaching, but come on. Is zebra bowling (driving a Jeep into a herd as fast as possible and chasing the runners down) that much better? Didnít think so. Gimme my lions, damn it.

Straight up breathtaking.

Not much can be said for the multiplayer, itís an okay CoD knockoff with an interesting upgrade mechanic, but it has a robust level editor that can potentially extend the longevity infinitely. Luckily the single player was a solid 30 hours or more (I didnít even complete all the side missions and logged over 30 hours) that at points really pulls the heart strings (and at others doesnít mean a damn thing, quite frankly). For me, I was so engrossed in the world I didnít mind what I was doing was sick and disgusting morally (essentially playing off both sides of a war, people getting in my way be damned) or that I put a bullet in a friendís head instead of saving his life. The fact I even had that choice was cool to me (and the forced first-person perspective made it even more engaging).

Speaking of choices, the weapon selection in the game was, in my opinion, spot on. There was a solid mix of assault rifles, sniper rifles, pistols, SMGs, and heavy weapons like machine guns, rocket launchers, grenade launchers, the aforementioned flamethrower, and even a damn mortar. The fact you could ďknock overĒ gun shipments as a side mission and unlock weapons on the black market (conveniently located on an Ď80s-era PC with internet access to said black market and the fastest shipping since DHL) was also a neat idea. Each series of gun had several tiers of guns, from wimpy pistols to Desert Eagles, bolt-action rifles to .50 caliber semi-auto behemoths, buying the guns opened up more options and made you want to play for them, which was nice. Not only could you approach situations from more angles, but you wouldnít have to rely on enemy weapons, which wore more prone to jamming (!) or breaking entirely (!!!).

Just as beautiful, but in a gun porn kind of way.

The worst part of the game was the respawning enemies at their bases all around the map. Youíd knock off an entire camp and if you left the map region and came back it would already be refilled with enemies. Plus, constant patrols and instant-kill battering rams (aka cars) made avoiding fights preferable to engaging in them more often than not, which can kill the vibe of a shooter for some people. I dealt with it and accepted the constant barrage of attack as practice for the next big mission, despite the fact it got on my nerves some times.

All in all, Far Cry 2 is a phenomenal title that truly should be played by any FPS fan or adventure game fan in general. Traversing that much game world is just a neat feeling and really made me get lost in the experience. You should take the time to get lost, too.

Quick ass review score: 9/10

Up next will be Left 4 Dead and Gears 2.

Thanks for reading!   read

10:51 PM on 01.24.2009

Quick Ass Review Time: The Force Unleashed and QoS

So, a few months ago I started a blog series where I reviewed games I rent from GameFly. Unfortunately, working in the real world sucks and I find myself with little time to blog any more. I prefer to play games rather than write about them. It's why I'll never make a living at this. Oh well.

To catch up, I've reviewed all the games I've played since then and will post them in blocks of two, to catch up. Last time I wrote about Dark Sector and Saint's Row 2, if you're interested. Without further ado, here they are...

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed

Unleashed had some potential. All the technology that was touted as changing gameplay blah blah blah really made me want to witness it for myself. As a huge Star Wars fan, I also wanted to kick some ass with Jedi Force powers unlike I had ever experienced before. Unfortunately, the game suffered from some horrible design decisions.

For one, the controls SUCKED harder than any game in recent memory (yes, even worse than Overlord). The act of using Force Grab to lift objects was tedious and, in the heat of battle, almost impossible to perform on the intended target. The camera was the single worst Iíve ever seen. And, to top it off, the much-touted technology had no legitimate impact on my gameplay experience. Sure, some shit reacted ďlike it does in real lifeĒ (not like I ever had time to stop and watch it, most of the time that would result in being shot by a cheap enemy), but when I swing a lightsaber at a fucking tree or bush I expect some shit to get cut down. Fuck force fields or armor, Stormtroopers should coat themselves with the plants from half the planets in the universe and theyíd be totally immune to a Jediís blade of hot death. Plus, ďenemies flailing for their livesĒ really doesnít matter. In hindsight, I never once saw a single enemy ďtrying to save themselvesĒ from a Force Grab that looked realistic, let alone one that couldnít have been a simple canned animation. The technology just didnít impact my experience in a noticeable manner whatsoever.

Probably the only time the player Force Grabbed the intended target the entire game.

The story was good enough to warrant a play through, despite the fact you sorta kinda mess with the mythos by the end, which, if youíre a hardcore fan (as many players of the game probably are) it only ends up pissing you off anyway. However, on the way there it was compelling enough to wade through the bullshit. Not really the best of compliments.

PS Ė Fuck Star Destroyers... you'll know it when you see it.

Quick ass review score: 6/10

Bond 007: The Quantum of Solace

Quantum of Solace was not the return to James Bondís Goldeneye days as many hoped (and as Activision hyped it to be). However, it was the best Bond game Iíve played since Goldeneye (I skipped the third person shooter ones last generation, mind you) and I was pleased I decided to rent it.

The story follows both movies (in a compelling fashion, since the events of Casino Royale are played out via flashback part way through, adding a nice twist to the narrative) and allow you to play all the cool scenes (being drugged in Casino Royale has to be my standout favorite). The weapons were fun and responsive, the QTEs werenít nearly as bothersome as I feared, nor as plentiful, and the graphics were more than serviceable. The addition of a cover mechanic was also nice, considering the new flicks are supposed to be ďrealisticĒ and, letís face it, taking cover in the midst of firefights is simplyÖ realistic.

That ugly mug is barely worth hiding behind a wall, but at least he can do so, right?!

One thing I noticed was that the multiplayer was a decent knockoff of Call of Duty 4 (the engine itís built off of), with purchasable upgrades and gadgets and such available and a good mix of levels and modes. One thing that sort of sucked was that at no time in multiplayer did it feel like a Bond game. ďGadgetsĒ are actually Perks from CoD, so instead of having laser watches and grappling hooks like some of the previous EA titles, you get increased sprint distance or reduced damage. Not really what I would consider a ďgadget,Ē but whatever. Also, the servers were mostly British people. Just so you know, in case your Live connection suffers when connecting to people not in the same country as you, which happens.

Quick ass review score: 7.5/10

Up next will be Far Cry 2.

Thanks for reading!   read

10:42 PM on 01.24.2009

Quick Ass Review Time: Dark Sector and SR2

So, a few months ago I started a blog series where I reviewed games I rent from GameFly. Unfortunately, working in the real world sucks and I find myself with little time to blog any more. I prefer to play games rather than write about them. It's why I'll never make a living at this. Oh well.

To catch up, I've reviewed all the games I've played since then and will post them in blocks of two, to catch up. Without further ado, here they are...

Dark Sector

Some people called Dark Sector a poor manís Gears of War. Even a poor manís Resident Evil 4. Well, let me tell you, Dark Sector was one of the biggest surprises Iíve had in the past few years of gaming.

Iíve followed DS since it was first announced way back when as a futuristic spy/action game. I was honestly upset when it was announced it switched to a gritty contemporary shooter, but I was still pleasantly surprised. The graphics were much better than I anticipated with nice effects throughout and no slowdown whatsoever. The controls were tight and featured a cover mechanic I feel was even more intuitive than Gearsí, which it is clearly borrowed from. The gameplay was fast enough to never get boring and the glaive was a truly unique weapon that made battles interesting. I also enjoyed the slight bit of weapon customization that was present.


The story was nothing Oscar-worthy, but it held my interest Ďtil the end. It also left itself open for a sequel, which I honestly would not be upset with. There could be a lot more done with the characters/world and I look forward to anything that follows, if it ever should see the light of day. The worst part is, as much as I liked the game as it is, I couldnít help but feel the original space age sci-fi concept would have been way cooler and much more original. Oh well.

Quick ass review score: 8.5/10

Saintís Row 2

I was a huge fan of the first SR. I accepted it for the GTA3 knockoff it was, but was pleasantly surprised with the little refinements to the gameplay like free aim and side missions that felt worthwhile. The sequel was no different for me.

While the graphics didnít seem all that improved, the engine was smoother, although it still had issues from time to time (mostly when a ton of shit was blowing up, mind you). The city was pleasantly expanded, the customization was more in depth than ever (my character was a spot on Joker a la Batman the Animated Series with a British accent), and the gameplay was flat out fun, which is much more than even the mighty GTAIV can say for itself. I laughed more playing any given session of SR2 than I ever did throughout all of GTAIV. The game accepted itself as a B-level action flick with crude humor in playable form and played it up to great effect. For that I applaud it.

I swear to god, I looked exactly like him. Suit, trench coat, hat, and all.

The best thing SR2 has going for it is that the side missions. While GTAIV had side missions, they never seemed relevant to anything but my Gamer Score, which is sad. The only reason I sought all the unique jumps was for a few points. SR2, however, ties side missions to everything else in the game. You need respect points to play story missions, which are earned by finishing side missions. However, you also earn in-game rewards such as prolonged sprinting, extra guns, and reduced notoriety (to name a few), along with the almighty GS points. This makes the reward for completing them two-fold. It makes sense in the game, Ďcause they will help me play later missions, PLUS it will make my e-peen larger. Itís a win-win.

Quick ass review score: 9/10

Up next will be The Force Unleashed and Quantum of Solace.

Thanks for reading!   read

7:01 AM on 11.04.2008

Shout out to Hamza. It's a fact.

I know I haven't blogged in a while. It's a fact.

I also know that as a good community member (or any community member for that matter) we're not supposed to write one or two line blogs. It's a fact.

But I also know, and here comes the tricky part, that Hamza got a subtle shout out of sorts on the Questionable Content web comic strip today posted below.

Notice the fifth panel down.


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