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6:20 AM on 10.29.2009

Left 4 Dead 2 preview/demo review

Ah that sweet Louisiana air, the sun the sea the burning ferry boat in the distance......wait what!

Ok so here is my first impressions of the new LFD2, I'm quite impressed.
Since the last one which was sort of love hate to love to really hate relationship I stumbled into this newer version with a little more caution, imagines of a roaming landscape to explore with a array of various weaponry to take on the zombies was how I had envisioned the first one would work out. However it turned into a series of short very repetitive levels which for the most part didn't really have much to offer after clocking it for about the 20th time, the director didn't really do that much difference, the weapons were limited and the enemies were after a while pretty nerfed. But that was then and this is about the new and improved Left for Dead (2).

Ok so to start off with the levels looks a whole lot better in the day then at night, you get a feel of the environment much more now that you have the ability to actually see the city your running through, the wreckage strewn about and sections of the town left as if it had been inhabited just moments ago give it a fairly creepy aspect, it would be interesting to try and play the level with little to no zombies in it as it would push the creepy vibe you get from the places around you. The randomization aspect comes into play pretty quickly as you reply the level, your made to take one of 3 different route through a section of street, at first I thought this didn't really make much of a difference till I fond that on the second try I had to wade through a horde of the blighters where as before I was able to bypass them and get to a safer location. The area has also been given a multiple path option which although is nothing more then a mirror of the original route gives you a chance to outfox the zombie horde in the future released versus mode and gives you a chance to see the areas that you would have just pasted by in the previous game (ie the corn field section).

The zombies are a welcome remix now with the inclusion of the jockey ( a riding zombie that straps to your head and stops you being able to control yourself effectively) and the charger (who defiantly has a wtf factor when you don't spot it coming at you in time), but some of the lesser zombies are fun to fight against, the police zombies are a pain to take down due to their bullet proof armour at the front leave you with the option of having to shove and circle them to shoot their exposed backs. The old versions have had a face lift, the boomer got a girl friend in what can be best described as a beached whale trying to fit into a dental floss bikini, the smoker looks like he really needs to cut down, and the poor stalker looks like hes starting to need a new wardrobe ( I though they could have done a little work on having his hood be removed or flappy but its a little niggle). The variation of clothes and different zombie types this time show that the company has tried to remove the sameness the original, it feels more varied and less like a load of copies coming to attack now, more like you are up against a ex-living city. Also the zombies body parts now seem much more independent with scenarios where I blew arms clean off or legs from under the zombies and having them stumble and then recover (well the arm one did the leg less one just toppled and fell)

The weapons are a nice improvement, the standard weapons have been modded into more home improvement versions, like a radioshack version of a weapon, with bits stick out and the noise it makes being more in dirty and used somehow. The firing rate has also been slowed on the weapons, making it more important to get your shots right first time, as the time in which the next shot fires is gives the horde a split second more to cover the distance and have you in its clutches. The hand weapons are a nice inclusion giving you a meaty thwack when you hit a group of the walking dead. There are also a variation of smaller weapons and guns now, I currently found a nightstick, a guitar, a magnum, frying pan with another inclusion of a baseball bat that will become available once the game becomes available. The upgraded weapons are modified rifle that has a short burst setting, a multiple bullet shotgun and sniper rifle, each are a slight variation on the older models from the L4D with maybe the sniper rifle being the least converted. The surprise inclusions are the added adrenaline shot, which replaces replaces pills (PILLS HERE! sorry....) and the boomer bile bomb, which gives the survivors a chance to infect a zombie and have the horde attack it instead (word of warning don't try and use it on the witch unless you fancy being chased by that killer and a horde by yourself)

So you're probably wondering now if this is worth your time, after the last slow start by L4D this might seem like more of the same, but I see it as more or a redux, this is what I wished L4D had been, a varied challenging game that I (I really hope) will allow for people to add their own maps too sooner and with luck will include a server browser to allow for you to choose your own servers to play on, but for now the game is a much solid creation and I look forward to the release date.

BRP signing off   read

8:11 PM on 05.09.2009

A review of Cryostasis

How long has it been since you heard a good ghost ship story?

How about a book that you couldn't put down because the situations within were so intriguing that you just have to read just one more page.
These two questions can be answered if you play Cryostasis.
To call this a game is putting it to shame, you're not really playing it as much as being thrust into a story from which you play the eyes of the audience gazing at the drama as it unfolds in front of you.
Your beginning is a mystery, your arrival at the ship a question that isn't to be answered easily. You are a observer, a survivor and a instrument of hope.
As you travel through the ship you will meet the past, it will consume you and make you choose a path, one which will change the very existence of peoples lives and events. You're fighting within the game is secondary, your not there to shoot at monsters, your there to save people, and with luck, yourself as well.
There are few games nowhere days I can say have drawn me to sit non stop for a whole day and want to finish to its completion. They generally haven't the atmosphere or story driven plot to keep my interest peaked enough to see it to the end, Cryostasis I can happily say did just that.
Not only did it have all the charm and draw of a excellent action horror book but it kept that pace clear and fresh throughout the entirety of the game. This I can only put down to it being pulled along by not one but three key stories, each interwoven so tightly that they push you to want to keep hunting the next chapter of the story.

There are niggles in the design, as I write this I did come across a few errors in the game, the odd crash here, the sudden death there, but they didn't subtract from the story. They were obstacles that needed clearing to allow me the find out more about the nuclear icebreaker called the North Wind and its ill fortune crew.

The story is also clever in its approach to telling the story, you aren't privy to all the events in chronological order, and views are seen through the eyes of those that make them. You will find yourself switching sides on regular intervals, sometimes you'll see the view point of the 2nd mate, sometimes the captain, even sometimes that of creatures of the non human variety. Your actions on seeing these events and what you do when you take over the body will effect the world around you, a wall covered in ice will disappear from existence as you take over the body of a ship mate and work to repair or remove it.
Also we have the characters less talked about, the glacier that traps the ship in the first place, the icy wind that tears at your body and vision and even the character of the ship. A being in its own right, that as you progress within seems to gently push you towards the places you are most needed.
Also something that hasn't been mentioned as the visuals on offer, from the costume designs of the crew and creatures, to the ship itself. Both being cleverly created to give you the right mood for each situation. The creatures are even better as they are made up of selections of the crew and should be given a look after you have pumped them full of lead.
In the end this is a great game, I think of it in the same way as similar games in the genre such as Call of Cathulu and Eternal Darkness, they are diamonds in a sea of rubbish horror shooters and I can only hope that this isn't the last we hear from the developers in terms of this style of game play.

8.5/10   read

2:09 PM on 02.18.2009

Burnout Maxium Overdrive Paradise

Maximum Overdrive a film about from a short story by Steven King about automobiles taking over the world.
Burnout Paradise a racing game where you have a whole island to play in but no people in sight.
The connection? Strangely quite a bit if you start to break the game down.
But first before I delve into the world thinking of my psyche lets look at the game as a whole.

At first glance the game has all the glitz and glamor of a racing game, its fast, its flashy and most importantly you can crash your car. But somewhere along the line the game became a little too good. Like having a 99 flake ice cream but then smearing it with chocolate followed by toffee, followed by more chocolate and enough flakes to fill every inch of the top.

The racing for one is a bit of a let down, the A.I. isn't really all that impressive, unless your playing marked man you wont really have much in the way of trouble with your opponents. In fact it would go as far as to make it as easy as possible for you to win a race each time, Once I was in 8 place with less then a mile to go and knowing I would lose only to find on the map that all the cars had mysteriously started slowing down and even suicidally crashing into objects to give me a clear run to the goal. This once you start noticing it is the general ai tactic it seems in the races. The only deviation seems to be when you do Marked man and then have to go up against ridiculously fast cars that have been chiseled from granite (ah Carmageddon how I miss you). But these are generally no bother as they only seem to take cheap shots when your about to crash anyway in a wall or tree or wooden fence. On that segway I would like to mention the lack of realism in this game when it comes to destroying stuff. True we are dealing with ghost cars and machinery that is hell bent on killing itself (more on that) but it seems that the developers forgot to maybe place the right type of scenery in certain areas. Why is it that in the wind farm sections that consists mostly of wood and small fences, all is indestructible, but visit the city and you'll be happily moving down cars, metal fences, traffic cones and anything it seems that by most normal situations would give a little more resistance then a 2 by 4 piece of plywood pushed into the ground.

Also on other problem with the game is its openness, its nice to be able to visit all the areas from the get go but this does pose a problem when you realise that you could cover the entire island in under 8mins (one mission even gives you this challenge) on a bike, one of the first bikes I got int he game did this in just under 6mins 20. It would have been better for it to lock down certain scenes to give a goal to the user, as it is the scenery gets pretty tiring after traveling from the club house to the shoreline from the 20th time.

Also with the game acting as a huge map that you can travel at you pleasure I noticed that there wasn't nearly enough junk yards at hand to change your vehicle. You can end up in the corner of the map with blistering fingers from holding down the accelerator and boost buttons for what feels like half a hour and discover that the only way to get to the junk yard in your nearest area will take a further amount of traveling the twisting areas, which by that time I just give up and turn the game off completely.
A option int he menus would have been nice (ala NFSMW) where you could just warp to the nearest junk yard would save a lot of numb thumb and fingers.
The problems stem from the company trying to muscle in on several games that I could see in this one, NFSU being one, Flatout ultimate in a smaller degree and the bikes from Midnight club racers 2, this thrown into a sand box-esk setting with little in the way to actually sandbox.

Car games are few at the minute(Im in the B class section at time of writing) and all the levels are exactly the same, even going as far as allowing you to do the same levels from previous matches to bump up your score, meaning less work on making racing settings for the developers and boiling down the races to nothing more then grinding sessions. (oh great I passed the stunt run again, only 24 more of these and I get a shiny piece of chrome and a card with you pass on it).

Also the crashes have their own weaknesses, the clipping on some cars is a little odd. in some cases you can come off with nothing then a small dent, other times you can ( as I managed with some eyebrow raising as I watch in slow motion my car apparently clip another npc car and become wreaked by having its drivers mirror taken off). This goes even further when you get the bikes as they do not even give any animation to crashes for driver of bike (but as I said before I have a theory on that).

I summing up the game as it is its ok, its probably one of the best conversions to the pc I've seen for a while.
However with annoyances such as written above and the menu system being far too long and flashy (instead of just letting the player choose his settings without having to wait for it to cycle through each screen and make it all animated and glamorous), and the fact that instead of giving a section for joypads they instead just have you experiment with trying to press various keys on the keyboard till you realise you just have to press the config button and press the controllers buttons for it to start displaying the joypads existence. (if you aint using a microsoft joypad you'll know what I mean) Also I believe there are adleast 10 loading screens to get through each time you boot up the game for the pc, including a news section with its own browser and several notices about the enter key and the HD reading that you've read about several fucking times already.

And for you number whores out there I give it 999 out of PIE.

Now onto my conspiracy theory, this game isnt really nice, its in fact about the future of the human race being wiped out and replaced by suicidal cars, a crazed radio show man and holograpic boobed biker. This my friends is Burnout Maxium Overdrive Paradise. You start as a soul trapped in the body of a trash heap, forever watching the next batch of fucked up mind crazed cars roll in, taking your shot you jump and possess the buggered cars and high tail it out of the crazed asylum of the "THE YARD" and escape to wonder the abandoned city of "Paradise",a once thriving city left in semi ruin to its car over lords. Left to travel around aimlessly searching to find one remaining person to mow down in a twisted hell bent emotion of diesel/petrol rage. The only sound other then crashes and engine revs is the sound of the crazed radio man, no one know what his motivation is with staying in the city, however some whisper in their tail pipes that hes in fact a recording and there is no man left to destroy or have maintain over the cars. Thankfully the cars are not alone in their daily pursuits, as various shops have been possessed and happily refill the cars with the neccessary items they need to keep running, ever aware that sooner or later they will begin to wear down and lose their own products and abilities to serve. The newest edition are the bikes, having come later they develop a system where they can generate a holographic rider to sit on them, having little to do with the bikes actual performance the bikes can travel at ridiculous speeds, and when they crash they simply lose the signal of the rider and all that is left is the sad bike stuck forever to floor as even a holographic rider cannot pick them up. What we have isn't paradise but hell my friends, hell on earth. The world is controlled by the machines and like us they too will find that the end is closer then they realise. All the while the radio man shouts out his taunts of a better time, when people still roamed the world.

Comments suggestions welcomed :)   read

1:45 PM on 02.04.2009

News reviews Tech and rants

Gah its been a while since my last post and since the last comments I decided to stream line the things I have been wanting to write up. So here's what I have to talk about:

First off go listen to Cagcast's Podcast 147, after a little baby pooping stories from the podders we get to hear about their thoughts on the current state of business and how each console is doing in terms of sales and more importantly attitude to each other. A excellent episode and pretty much covers my thoughts on the current state of affairs in the console world.

Secondly I think I see the future of gaming, and its possibly not completely digital. Daily tech comes with a article of the new SDXC, a flash card that stores a massive 2TB of data, true the speed of reading and writing at the moment is slow but being this is technically beta this is to be fixed in future versions. Also the price as with most media will drop from what it will be priced at right now (my guess about 400 for one) once its gone through a few generations and competitions has caught on.
This could be huge in terms of solving the digital only issue with future consoles and storage in general, imagine taking several of these small chips around with you, you hook it up to your (sigh) updated/future iphone or portable media device (DS2 or PSP2?) and you would have a very big step up in the way you do business or play games.

Next some quick reviews:

I just bought Flatout Ultimate Carnage for the PC on Steam, its cheap, fast, has physics spread on physics with a small physics cherry on top for good measure. Also runs on max settings on my machine which is nice to see after the sadly poor conversion I seem to suffer on Saints Row2, Also a good game, but it needs a update soon to fix some its mission bugs.
Also Gamecam has had a update being now up to v2.2, after trying out the various version of cams that can record games I think this one has been the best at capture whilst play. I have some nice recordings of my stints with GRID and whilst playing suffered little in speed or frames.

Ok small list of my most played/favorite driving games to date on the PC:
Midnight Club 2
Need For Speed most Wanted

PC FPS Ive still got installed on my pc
Sniper Elite
Call of Duty 4

So what lists of games are still living happiliy on your pc's and even stored on your consoles?

And that's about it for now.   read

2:29 PM on 01.05.2009

Games Vs Consoles Whos at fault?

This is a odd article, Ive been thinking it over how to write this up and figured that just getting the main question out of my head onto paper would probably work out the best way.
So here goes :

Are the failings of consoles the fault of consoles or the games developers that create for them?
Sub question: i.e is the PS3 to blame solely to blame for the PS3 failing so far or is it also the games developers.
Sub sub question: And are consoles using their equipment to best effect (looking at you Wii and 360)

With the end of the previous year and the beginning of a new one now on us the results for the PS3 seem pretty bad, its sales are worse the previous 2008 year then 2007, even against itself in terms of how many units were sold per year.
The games in the past year have been lack luster or worse (Mirrors Edge) and yet I cant shake the feeling that the reason for it all is that people aren't being allowed to push the ideas that could really sell the consoles. The PS3 is the powerhouse (adleast from what I remember) and the Wii is waggle-tastic, but Why haven't they both been trying to use the technology to better effect? The Wii's controller for example is capable of some startling 3d effects, the trick was discovered by a Mr Johnny Lee ( for video example) a fantastic idea that supposedly had the Nintendo group damn near wet themselves in astonishment (check out to see his lecture on the tech and the supposed game that might (but didn't ) have it incorporated). PS3 seems only capable of some seriously shameful coping (same goes for 360 for that matter, except the 360 seems to have adleast tried to use the technology), Home is a disappointment, and games wise it has some hard core favorites (MGS4) but its not selling to itself well enough to make it more appealing. It kind of reminds me of the Sega Saturn and PS1 war, systems that were pretty good for their time, but the SS having more problems with its build and at basically trying to sell itself, where as the PS1 seemed to have been sold so well that nothing touched it till its successor turned up.

So what we have is console's that have the power and tech to entertain but don't use it fully, and games developers doing nothing but taking the easy route for a easy sale.

So whats the solution?

Well one could be just a big restart, ie a new console selection and new ground rules.
We need the console creators to allow people more freedom with their games and allow them to create thier concepts. It might be a little like the mass games flood they had back before the last big game crash. (My apologise's for the lack of a date I just remember it being around the time of Atari 2600 and Nes). We have become stagnent, its even become a bit of a joke, sort if like Heavenly Sword and God of War, Pacman and Hot Dog Maze. Games that are similar but have one small bit changed and repackaged as something extraordinary brilliant. I love my indie games, without them we might have had a games crash by now. Its a tiny trickle of ingenuity that keeps people wanting to create something that will take peoples time in exchange for entertainment.
At the minute the flavour is coop, its coop this coop that, we have a single player game with a single main character! "Thrown in a secondary pointless character and we can double the fun" "But its pointless it'll....." "COOP DAMMIT!"

What we need is good story telling and pick up and play dynamics. We need to bring back the feeling of late nights playing Street Fighter Alpha 2 in the dark with Ryu and Akuma on Sagat's stage ( the lightning level with flowing grass), we need people having adventures that directly effect the games story and time lines (Chrono Trigger). We need Cock games like Boner Quest and really old porn games like Mc Pop (Like boner quest but built for the pc and looking like Atari graphics). We need to feel emotions to characters and a feeling like each time we die it matters to us. At the minute I haven't felt these things much, maybe its my age, or just the fact that I look at things with a much more clinical eye nowhere days. I have played some good games, even some that I will remember till I forget to start powering up my cybernetic limbs via usb due to my original biological organs wearing away due to too much gaming/bodily massaging and 3d modeling over the countless eons. But if the games console creators and more importantly the games developers don't start getting their acts together it might just all fall into a odd shade of beige.
And all that will do is piss off Billy Connolly.

Again Id like to say I'm sorry if this article isn't up to standard (like I have one after 3 posts but never mind), but I thought the main question and its subs where worth pondering over.

Also is there any chance we could get a category for games philosophy? I couldn't really pin down what my article falls into, maybe a category for "A bit of Nothing" or "Pondering's from a nerd"?   read

7:45 PM on 01.02.2009

Sonic Unleashed for the Wii, better then the rest?

This is a copy pasta of a comment I made on Mr Sterlings blog of the new Sonic Unleashed game, it has only been spaced out for easier reading and had some minor spelling corrected.

Were I agree to a lot of the problems that seem to be present in the 360 and ps3 versions, Id like it if Mr Sterling would do a separate review on the wii version, it does seem to have had a lot of things removed that seem to speed up the game.

The scenario with the extra life after a check point doesn't seem to exist in the Wii version, as lives are more like continues in the racing and werehog levels, and can only be increased outside of the levels in the temple sections.

As for the city sections they have been cut back to screens of short text and don't seem to be a problem working round to get tot he next level. The were hog levels themselves aren't bad, I like the change of pace it offers after briltzing through the china and Arabian levels at top speed. There are a bit too many dark levels, but its not really difficult to navigate through them with the GC controller.

Graphics wise I think this is a spectacular visual treat on the racing levels. It reminds me that I don't need to be able to appreciate the scenery when I doing mach 2 on foot. The bosses are impressive and the game feels very pick up and play, even making me go back and replay older levels that i have clocked just to try and find faster paths to beat my previous level section times.

Overall I'd give the game a 7.5/8 on the Wii version. The characters are well animated and voiced (even dare I say it funny in moments), the music is good enough for me to hunt down a cd version of it and its got replay value after finishing with the missions. So go on Mr Sterling give it another look on this (supposed) weaker console, it might just bring a bigger smile to your face. (Oh and its only got Sonic as a playable character, no tails levels even).   read

7:41 PM on 01.02.2009

Left 4 Dead post why my opinions going to annoy people

This is a copy pasta of a comment I made about Left 4 dead, I just fixed the spacing that's about it.

As a huge fan of Steams games, and it system. I had bit of a bitter taste in my mouth on buying this game, I had thought that the concept of a game which joins game mods such as Zombie Master and Zombie Panic! and a smidgen of Hidden:source would make for a interesting game on the pc. Unfortunately Ive been left feeling like its missing out on some features whilst hoping it would have the players rely on each other to fill in the gaps that give me the impression of a very boring walk.

The levels themselves are in some respects ok, they are too short and when advertised as each a separate level makes me feel a little cheated as they can be clocked with a reasonable team in a few minutes.
They also don't give much of a choice on paths, they may offer a divergence in some areas, but these rarely make much of a difference and even seem pretty pointless to any player, as anyone playing isn't going to go searching for secrets, when the quickest route is often found on the first go. It all plays a little too much like a corridor game mascarading as a out doors game. Also there's the fact that most people cant be bothered to play the game in anything other then versus when not playing with friends, this is problematic as versus has some of the weirdest ai setups due to the director ai messing up sequences in certain levels (elevator section in the hospital, or when its supposed random section being easy to remember after about the 5th go.

Also is it me or did they remove the last 2 levels on the pc in the versus mode due to DLC for the 360? I could have sworn I had played the last two levels (Airport and Boat levels) in versus when it was released on the first week, only to have some patches come along and remove the options for pc goers.

Then there's the way it sorts out players going into the game, why do we have to funneled like console gamers to games ready to play. What happened to just giving us a level screen where the pings and amount of people play were displayed and let us decide where we go to the next game, I get bloody annoyed at the quick match button doing nothing but telling me that I cant get in because the levels already full, well why take me there then for pity sake.

Also I understand the reasoning for the no story as people will feel left out, but it just feels now like we are being thrown in without any reasoning. I get that these people wouldn't have knowledge in the game of what happened to the cities or how the infection came about but we could adleast have a section for the single player game where we could play as each character(with their own individual level ie one player zombie runaway level) and see how they all met up and joined into the fantastic four.

The game is fun for short bursts, but it was I admit the first game I actually requested my money back on when I got the demo, (which didn't turn up anything as the request was ignored till the open day, from which I just decided Id be stuck with it and just hope for the best). Frankly if they want to keep people interested in playing the game for much longer they need to start giving us the levels they are seemingly holding us back on and then move onto getting more levels for this game out. 4 levels just in not cutting it, this isn't team fortress 2, we aren't going to play the same level again and again just because Ive got a German playing with me instead of a Norwegian this time around on the Hospital level for the 35th time.

This in the end feels like a pc game converted to work for a console, then finally thrown back into our faces as a pc game but with all the controls left for console players. I hope that the mods that come out for this in the future will help it along but for now Ill stick to playing the mods its based on. Ill adleast get kicked off less and get a decent ping whilst playing.   read

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