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6:58 AM on 05.15.2009

Killing Floor - First Impressions



Killing Floor is a first person, co-op survival horror shooter that is based on the UT2k4 mod of the same name. However, for the commercial release Tripwire Interactive (the guys behind Red Orchestra: Ostfront 41-45) promise to have greatly improved the production value and gameplay aspects of the mod so it can be a competing product in todays market. Featuring co-op gameplay and zombies, which seem to be all the rage (no pun intended) at the moment and with a self called “agressive pricing strategy” behind their back, can they deliver?

First off let me say that I have never played the original UT2k4 modification. I’ve heard about it several times and seen it on some websites, but not being active in the UT2k4 community I’ve never played any mods based on it. Red Orchestra was an instant buy for me when it came out because I love slower paced, more realistic approaches when it comes to shooters. Not being disappointed by Tripwires first offering I began looking forward to Killing Floor when it was announced last month. Being a big fan of zombies and co-op gameplay certainly helped, too. After some launch problems (the Steam activation was delayed by several hours) Killing Floor is now available and ready to play. I’ve put some hours into it and here are my first impressions:




If you expected this to be some kind of Left 4 Dead clone, go look somewhere else. This isn’t. The mod has been around since 2005 and the games share some aspects, mainly co-op and zombies, but the gameplay is radically different. Rather than progressing through a linear string of maps or a campaign, you only play a single, open map in Killing Floor. Another difference is that instead of four players, you have the ability to play with up to six people at the same time. You are playing as a squad of special forces that got dropped into the target zone with a helicopter, only one goal in mind – clean this whole place of the specimens. Here’s one of the key differences to Left 4 Dead, because instead of being about survival, this game is purely about the killing. Gameplay is divided into waves, a set number of enemies spawn and you have to kill them all. Upon doing this, you’ve got one minute to shop at a trader for new weapons and ammunition. The weapon selection is quite nice, ranging from your standard fare shotgun and dual Pistols to some more exotic weapons like a crossbow and a lever-action rifle. Depending on the difficulty and duration of the game (both can be set before starting) you repeat this procedure until the final wave, in which you face a boss zombie. He’s armed with a minigun and can go invisible, so you better watch out. Enemy types vary from smaller, faster zombies that try to grab and eat you, to big, fat slow zombies that vomit on you. Sounds familiar?




The gameplay certainly isn’t deep but it’s fun. It’s a mindless, bloody co-op zombie shooter with a metal/rock/industrial soundtrack featuring bullet time. What’s not to love? At the moment I can only recommend buying the game for it’s current price – this is a developer who got their pricing right.

[embed]132204:19332[/embed]

[embed]132204:19331[/embed]

[embed]132204:19345[/embed]

More impressions to come. Well, maybe.   read


3:26 PM on 04.10.2009

Braid for PC out NOW! (short)

Yes, Braid for the PC has finally been released. If you don't know what Braid is, I just have to say BUY IT DAMMIT. Need more info? Check out the review here. It's probably one of the best games you will play in a long, long time.

Braid is available through Greenhouse, Impulse, Gamersgate and later today via Steam.

If you're still unsure, there's a demo at these links available, too. So check it out, buy it, be happy!   read


4:06 PM on 03.06.2009

CeBIT '09 Gaming Impressions



On March 3rd, 2009 the CeBIT 2009 opened it gates in Hannover, Germany. Citing the official press release it’s the place “where 4,300 exhibiting firms from 69 countries are on hand at the No. 1 marketplace for digital solutions, trends and innovations”. This means there surely is some gaming, right? By attending the event in 2008 I knew I could expect at least something, as last year marked Rock Band’s European Premiere and the Electronic Sports World Cup (ESWC) held it’s official qualifiers.

Well, that was last year. This year, everything’s different.

Arriving this morning, the exhibition halls seemed....empty. At least from the outside. A very unusual thing, considering the CeBIT is one of the world’s most important IT conferences. Cheking in at the counter I got my fancy little nameplate and entered the compound, which connects all the halls.



This building surely seems impressive (and useless) for an exhibition of this kind. You may notice something else, too. Yeah...it IS pretty empty. But this isn’t going to stop me, my goal is hall 22 where the gaming area is supposed to be. Of course it immediately started to rain 5 seconds after I took that picture. So let’s head to hall 22 quickly.



Entering hall 22, dubbed the “Intel Gaming Hall”, I had to show my ID card, confirming I am older than 16 years. Yeah, german laws and game ratings. At least this raised my hopes to see something worthwhile, which got quickly shattered as I took a look around.



“Gaming? What? WHERE!?”. I think these were my exact thoughts. Well, they were more like “Spiele? Häh? WO!?” but...that really doesn’t matter. All that matters is, that this is not what I expected. Yes, the CeBIT isn’t a gaming event but there has been a LOT more gaming in the last years. I don’t even know if there is something gaming related in that picture. Walking around the hall for a bit I spotted four games. Guitar Hero World Tour (for the PC, I was told by Activision that this is the world premiere. Is that true?), World In Conflict: Soviet Assault, Live For Speed and Unreal Tournament 3. You may notice that two of these games are old and one is a port of a console game. At first I tried my luck with Guitar Hero World Tour on the PC and played guitar on Coldplay’s “Shiver” (scrolling through the tracklist I couldn’t spot a new song that may be exclusive to the PC). Let me tell you that I’m not a bad Guitar Hero player. I play more Rock Band, but I know how GHWT works and own the game for the 360. “Shiver”, beeing an easy song, I chose Expert difficulty and...had quite a few problems. Not because of the song though, but there were some serious frame drops on the system we played on and the game was probably calibrated wrong as it was nearly impossible to hit more than 20 notes without failing one. It simply wasn’t fun and they need to optimize the framerate badly. That, or the system we played on just sucked....which would be embarrassing. Passing by the “Patriot Memory” booth I noticed it was....empty. Except one PC, which was running UT3. And one guy playing it.



I hope he had his fun. Going further into the hall I came across the World in Conflict: Soviet Assault booth (picture taking not allowed), entered it and watched somedoby else playing the game for about 10 minutes. It looked a lot like the regular World in Conflict (well, it’s just an addon) and you probably need to know WiC to really see the differences. I’ve got to say it looked very nice for an RTS, though. A shame the console versions got cancelled, it reminded me a lot of Tom Clancy’s EndWar, except...better. Leaving the booth I turned right and spotted some F1-simulators. As a big racing and F1 fan , I hoped this would be the best thing to happen on this day.



They had Live For Speed running on a fantasy track with five other players in a three round race. After getting into the cockpits we would get our steering wheels attached (Logitech’s G25), the functions explained (gas is right, brakes are left!) and they started the race. My competition was... pathetic. They crashed all over the place and after three rounds I finished 1st... Again, this was lacking the fun factor I hoped it would have.

I left the hall, headed back to the bus I came with and went on my way back home. This day truly was not worth it, but at least it build up some anticipation for this years “gamescom” in Cologne. I’m really looking forward to it now as it probably is the only gaming event I’m able to attend this year.   read


5:48 PM on 02.28.2009

Tabula Rasa: I just came to watch you die.

Richard Garriott’s Tabula Rasa took it’s last breath today, beginning at 8 PM GMT, with an invasion by the Bane (the games enemies), resulting in a shutdown at midnight. We all know the story of the game and it’s terrible failure. Tabula Rasa was free to play and download since December 23rd, 2008, so I decided to take a look. Well, not a look to the game itself. I just came to watch it die.



I logged on today around 1 PM GMT for the first time, with the account of a friend who had gained some levels before, so I could explore and get into some higher level areas. On my first login I noticed something.



Seems like people didn’t even care for the ending. After walking around for about 20 minutes I finally got into an area where I met some people. It was the starting area and first map of the game, the only place where people seemed to be active. There were around 10-20 players at the first outpost fighting some NPCs. Speaking of NPCs, they were the only ones doing anything in the game. Walking around searching for other players, the only thing that moved were NPCs which shot at other NPCs. Interesting. I logged off.

Coming back at 8 PM GMT, people had gathered at “Foreas Base”, an outpost still controlled by humans. The event was about to begin and suddenly more people arrived. A lot more.



Eventually the invasion began and the Bane took over each planet, resulting in the evacuation of players to a hideout. The developers actually prepared some nice stuff there. We would have a last stand. On Earth.



Arriving in New York City, it turned into a lagfest and the servers lagged out several times. Eventually more instances were opened so players could enjoy their final battle.



Yeah right, they do! At least the standard server software is still intact! More and more enemies spawned until the humans couldn’t take it anymore. They got defeated.



All this happened 5 minutes ago.
Richard Gariott’s Tabula Rasa died at 12 AM GMT.




Anyone want to buy my boxed copy which I got back in 2007? Might be a collectors item some day!   read


11:53 AM on 02.14.2009

It's Saturday, so here are your Quake Live Beta invites.

Alright, time for more Quake Live Beta Invites.
This time I got 10 invites to spare.
You want one, just send me a PM on the forums, post in the comments or send an e-mail to "[email protected]" containing your full name and a valid e-mail adress.

Also, everyone who got an invite last time should have 5 invites to give out, too!
By this time we should have enough people who can give out invites to hook up the whole community if we organize it properly.   read


5:58 PM on 02.06.2009

Just take them: 20 Quake Live Beta Invites [all gone!]

Alright, I'll make this one short:

id Software seems to be spamming invites at the moment so:
You want a Quake Live Beta invite? Send me a PM on the forums, post in the comments or send an e-mail to "[email protected]" containing your full name and a valid e-mail adress. I'll invite you. 20 invites available.

Update:
I invited everybody who got it right, invites should arrive during the day. Remember it's FULL NAME + mail adress. I don't care for your names but apparently id does. So, 11 invites remain.

And don't forget to add each other as friends!

Update 2:
No invites left. I'm making a new blog post as soon as I get new ones to give out.   read


7:41 AM on 02.03.2009

Win: Quake Live Beta Invites. [Update 2 + Closed!]

After giving out 3 invites in the forums and another 3 through a glorious "guess the number" contest it's time for 5 (!!!111) invites this time!

For those of you who don't know, Quake Live is the in-browser version of the classic Quake 3 Arena and Quake Live plays just like the original. Every map and option from the original is in there (yep, picmip).
More infos at http://www.quakelive.com/.

This time the contest is MUCH harder, though. Seriously, like incredibly hard.

Just post a reason in the comments why you want the invite. I don't care if it's a good reason or not.

id Software is fuckin' around with the invite page though, so this contest has to end quickly before they decide to turn the invites off, again. If everything goes wrong and they turn the invites off, you'll get your key as soon as they turn them on the next time.

And now get goin'!   read


10:01 AM on 01.29.2009

Win: Quake Live Beta Invites [Winners inside!]

I gave out 3 invites in the forums yesterday and today's the chance for the front-page only readers ;)
I'm giving out 3 invites again.

For those of you who don't know, Quake Live is the in-browser version of the classic Quake 3 Arena but Quake Live plays just like the original. Every map and option from the original is in there (yep, picmip).
More infos at http://www.quakelive.com/.

I'm terribly uncreative so here's the challenge:
I got a number in my head, between 1 and 100. The first 3 who guess a number that's at least +/- 3 numbers close to mine get an invite, post it in the comments.

Winners!
The number I was looking for was indeed 69. I'm not kidding.
So the winners are Char Aznable, Benefactor and JTHomeslice. Congratulations!
Please send me a PM on the forums with your full name and a working e-mail adress.

Want some more invites? Maybe I have some more during the weekend ;)   read


1:15 PM on 01.09.2009

Socom Confrontation Patch Impressions

Just to let you know, I never played any Socom game before Confrontation. So there will be no “Socom 2 comparisons” and I can’t answer any questions like “omG, is it finally more like Socom1/2?”. My impressions are solely based on what’s changed between Patch 1.20 and 1.30.

I played Patch 1.30 for about 2.5 hours now and so far I’m enjoying it. They made some small but necessary changes to the gameplay. You can now finally dive into prone, grenade launchers and RPGs can no longer be used in ranked matches and the frag grenades got a respectable upgrade in their effectiveness.

The biggest improvement, for me, are the new controls. Leaning is now assigned to the D-Pad (thank god!) and you can quick-switch to your secondary weapon without having to use the awful radial menu. If you're playing the new shoulder cam though, you have to hold X to change the shoulder which takes longer than before. Slant 6 also included a lefty control configuration for those of us who need it. Holding select will now open the scoreboard temporarily while tapping select will open the persistent scoreboard as usual.

Lag is a lot less present for me and the games I played were definitely smoother than before.

The new quick match is a bit of a mess. At the time I played you only had the possibility to play 16vs16 Ranked and 16vs16 Unranked with your party. No 4vs4 or 8vs8...but there’s still hope, maybe they have some playlist updates like Halo to fix that and are doing it soon.

Stats weren’t reset as planned and they’re “fixing” it now and reset them, which basically means the servers are down for at least another hour, as of now.

If you didn’t like the gameplay before, you won’t like it now. Wait for a future patch or give up on the game. The changes that were made are minor and didn’t drastically change the game. However, if you liked the core before and were plagued by bugs, disconnects and awful controls...take a look again. You might find yourself enjoying it quite a bit now.   read


10:41 AM on 12.30.2008

My (short) experience and a rant on: iRacing.com aka the best racing sim ever, aka microtransaction HELL.

iRacing.com is a racing simulation for the PC (and PC-only) developed by iRacing.com Motorsports Simulations which consists of people like David Kaemmer and other former Papyrus members. Papyrus developed great racing sims like Grand Prix Legends and NASCAR Racing 2003 Season.

The sim is aimed at real-world drivers or sim-racing enthusiasts which it clearly shows in it’s subscription model. Yes, the game is subscription based, you have to pay a monthly fee of 20.00$, 50.00$ for 3-months, 90.00$ for six-months or 156.00$ for a year. That’s a lot more than MMO games like WoW or Warhammer but iRacing.com doesn’t need the software to be bought separately.

Included in your first monthly fee are 2 cars, 7 tracks, a road license and an oval license. iRacing features oval and road racing in two seperate licenses. You get the Pontiac Solstice for road racing on the tracks Laguna Seca and Limerock Park and a Ford Legends car for ovals on the tracks Lanier National Speedway, Oxford Plains Speedway, Summit Point Raceway, South Boston Speedway and Lowe’s Motor Speedway.

If you want to get a good look of the game, it’s mechanics and graphics and the fees haven’t shocked you YET, I can recommend you the following preview by InsideSimRacing.
If you just want to know what the game and it’s developers got horribly wrong, read on after it.

[embed]116310:16696[/embed]

As said in the video, the gameplay is superb, the graphics are good enough for a sim and the handling is the best in a racing game to date.

But now let’s talk about our favorite gaming subject of 2007/08 again. It’s microtransactions! (No, not Ridge Racer.)

Additional tracks and cars cost between 15.00$ and 25.00$. Yes, they really do.
Assuming we buy 10 cars for 15$ and 10 tracks for 20$....that would make 350$ GODDAMN-FUCKING-DOLLARS. And it wouldn’t be even near the over 300 cars and 14 tracks Forza2 has...which costs around 25€ here in Germany at the moment.

Suprisingly, looking at the leaderboards of some of the pay-only series (for example the Skip Barber Racing series, which requires you to buy around 70$ of additional content to enter) there are over 3000 active people in the current season. Wow. People really do pay this amount of money for their games? I can’t imagine what happens if Microsoft or Sony realise this.

The Forza2 Motegi-Trackpack costs 400 MS Points. I guess we should prepare for the worst and should not be suprised if tracks for Forza3 will cost 2100 MS Points as people seem to buy them nonetheless. Uhm, wait. This is called “my experiences”, so that means I played and payed it too, right? Ironically, yes I did. I went for the basic 1-month subscription and chose to become a road racer. The game really feels that great and is so much fun to drive, the community is very help- and respectful and there are enough people playing to get a race started anytime. But I did not continue my subscription and cancelled it the same month. The included tracks just get too repetitive too fast and you want to play more. But I did not want to pay more.
If they don’t lower some of the prices and make it interesting again I don’t see myself coming back. There are just too many good alternatives for PC-Racing fans out there which are not as good, but nearly are. And they are much cheaper.

If you're a sim-maniac and are willing to invest an insane amount of money, go to http://www.iracing.com and subscribe, the sim really is just great.

For any other racing fan (and those who want to try a sim) buy Race07. It’s the predecessor to the upcoming Xbox360 game Race Pro. Biggest pro compared to iRacing.com? Race07 is just 4,99€ on Steam until January 2nd.   read


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