Alt+Print screen is a weekly (depending on my motivation) screencap documentation of my game night.
We split the evening evenly between a round of Killing Floor and Demigod. While the map may be unforgivably ugly, we re-played Nursing Home because it offers so many good vantage points, and is just a helluva lot of fun.
For instance, one of us can easily drop down from the safety of our balcony snipe-point and run amok at ground level while the rest of us provide suppressing fire:
And for the most part, the entire playthrough went really well:
Until the Patriarch showed up and delivered a well-placed rocket to me and Fyamand's faces. With the two of us knocked out, the other guys held their own:
Unfortunately the screencaps of Zinco nailing the Bonster with a crossbow didn't turn out, but he ultimately won the match for us, MVP!
Next up we played some Demigod against 5 hard AI opponents. For reference, our character breakdown is thus:
It was definitely great to get back to this game, although my ultimate score was pretty pathetic, not my best work. Also, the map we chose didn't exactly lend itself to easy screen captures. The fronts of battle were divided, usually with Fyamand and myself on the right side and Qrnef, Zinco, and Thomasthecat covering the left flank.
Here's Fyamand giving Unclean Beast what-for:
At one point, they recaptured our experience flag on the right hand side of the map, and it took some doing to reclaim it. Fyamand bit it for the team:
And then I came to backup Thomasthecat, and we successfully retook the flag:
Meanwhile on the other side of the map, the rest of the guys had their handful with the motherf*ckin' Cowboss (aka Oculus, aka game-breaking cheat character):
Also, this is what it looks like when he dies:
The opposing Demigods seemed to hammer the left flank the entire game. This left me and Fyamand open to steadily chip away at their defenses. Eventually we were able to recapture their trebuchet, and the Citadel was in sight:
The assault on the Citadel was over fairly quickly:
Victory! And for all the internet to see, here's my piss poor performance:
There was a fair amount of lag for me last night. Yeah, that's it, I'll blame lag.
Alt+Print Screen will be a weekly (depending on my motivation) screencap documentation of my game night.
So last night was nothing but Killing Floor again. And nothing but fail. We didn't win a single match, but we did try a couple new user generated maps: Nursing Home and Bunker. The former being very fun albeit ugly, and the latter being nicely designed but broken in ways that were both fun and aggravating. We also jumped back into Ganja farm for a bit:
Things were going ok for a bit. But Zinco got a wild hair up his ass and decided to take the fight to the specimens. It was fun trying to snipe for him, but...
...it did not end well.
Moving on to Bunker; a very large, very dark map. We began the mission by hauling ass in one direction...
Not realizing that the enemies had piled up behind us. We flipped around and got to pistol-killing this shload o' dudes:
At some point I straight up popped a Bloat with a bolt action, note the floating head in pic 2:
Then we found some Biocola! Taste the Hazard:
Eventually Zinco became a firebug (flamethrower) and we held up in this here green hallway:
Fyamand got intimate with a chainsaw:
Then we decided to camp their spawn, and eventually Zinco moved onto being melee class, brandishing a katana:
By far the best part of this map was the unfinished section, which makes you trip balls - HARD:
My, oh my! What magical land is this?
I'm freaking out!!!
After our fucked up acid trip in the bunker, the fellas and I hit up the Killing Floor nursing home. This map was a blast because of the huge open field for sniping, and balcony you can exploit. Choice for head-poppage:
However, as advantageous as the balcony was, you still have to guard the giant hole behind you. This worked ok for awhile:
Till a couple chainsaws said 'nice to greet ya' to Fyamand - may he rest in pieces:
Time came to fight the Patriarch, so per usual, we doused our defense area in pipe bombs:
The bombs didn't kill him unfortunately, and the ensuing fight did not go too well:
Aw, for fucks sake!
Listening to the shouts of my squadmates, I took cover in the nearby (very crudely drawn) cemetery:
Alt+Print Screen will be a weekly (depending on my motivation) screencap documentation of my game night.
Screen captures fucking rule. If you're a pc gamer and you haven't downloaded Screenshot Pilot yet, do so. Now. Last few weeks I've started documenting game night and emailing the results to the guys I game with. Figured it'd be more fun to share on my c-blog (and less work, frankly - formatting pictures in outlook is a pain in the ass).
So that title is actually a misnomer since screenshot pilot lets you set a hotkey for captures, but screw it, I thought it had a nice ring.
Just some background: I game with the same four guys every week - FyamanD, Thomasthecat, Qrnef, and ZincoBX. We have a decent amount of games in our weekly rotation, but lately we've been hammering Killing Floor, Demigod, and Sins of a Solar Empire.
Anyway, last night was all about Killing Floor. We downloaded and tried some of the white-listed user maps last night. We got Elementary School, Ganjafarm - Reweeded (tee-hee), Evilresidents, and a Doom 2 map. All of very good, and if you play Killing Floor at all I definitely recommend giving them a shot.
We started the night on Ganjafarm which, while a very nicely realized map, has one of the most ridiculous background "stories"
We found that the level has a nice two tiered fortress design that allowed us to funnel the specimens quite nicely.
But after a bit, Fyamand and I got the itch to go hunting.
With 100 enemies left in the wave, this is a slight breach of protocol. But protocol be damned! Shortly after, we faced what Killing Floor calls the Patriarch, and what we call The Bonster. Mainly because he slightly resembles Bono. So Bono + Monster = Bonster.
We stomped his ass good.
Elementary school was an ok map, functional, but not really anything special. We rocked this one too.
Same goes for EvilResidents, not the most inspired level, but entertaining nonetheless. This is us barricading ourselves into a creepy room, awaiting the Bonster. We're also doing the Bonster Dance, which is done by crouching repeatedly.
Next we jumped on the Doom stage, which proved an incredibly accurate recreation:
The stark, bland colors also make the bloodiness of Killing floor all the more apparant. I dig it.
We also double-popped a couple "Fireballs" as we refer to them. Assholes who shoot rockets at you.
We won on the Doom map, but not before Fyamand died and went all crazy-dangly in the sky.
Lost all your lives while playing Contra? Just steal some of mine. That goes for any Mario game, too. Got your ass handed to you by that last horde in Left 4 Dead? Here, use my first aid kit. Yeah, I know my health is just as low as yours, but just take it. What's that? Now you're being strangled by one of those stealth ninja douchebags in Uncharted 2? Worry not, I just bear tackled him and broke his neck. You're welcome.
Call me selfless. Call me a martyr. Call me a team player. Call me Jesus. Call me whatever you like. I'll be the one saving your ass.
I may not have the highest kill count at the end of an Uncharted 2 co-op match, but I will always be the one keeping my teammates alive and in the action. One particular survival match on the Village level comes to mind in which my teammates consisted of an experienced Level 40 player and a Level 1 noob. The L40 acted like he was playing single player, focusing solely on racking up kills and generally ignoring the two of us. This left me to babysit the noob, and babysit I did. The poor kid was running around on ground level getting consistently dropped by the flooding enemies. This meant I had to continually endanger myself to bring him back up. After a while though, I was having to snipe those strangly ninja fucks off of both of them in addition to reviving the noob every so often.
It's definitely a thankless job. I've noticed especially in U2 that some people never seem to extend the same courtesy.
Hyperbolic image intended to better illustrate my point
Another time during a 5 player Killing Floor match, one of my squadmates was attempting to reach the safety of the bottleneck we had created when he fell from our 2nd story base into a pile of specimens lingering on the first floor. I didn't think twice. I jumped down into the fray with him (losing around half my health from the fall alone) and opened fire. They were everywhere, and back-to-back we emptied our magazines into the gnashing wall of flesh until we were both killed.
I will rescue you or I will die trying.
While that may sound noble, it's actually quite neurotic and borderline stupid behavior. Again, with Uncharted 2 or Left 4 Dead, I'll always save people even if they don't return the favor, or don't share their first aid kits, or if they continually act stupid and repeatedly get killed. Sure, I'll be pissed about it, but I'll still do it. This is more masochism than nobility.
While I'd like to claim that it's just my good-samaritan nature, I'm not actually sure why I feel compelled to always be the one rescuing people. Maybe I'm like an autistic kid and it's the control that I desire. Or it could be that annoying idiosyncrasy where I need to make sure everyone is having fun or I won't have fun. Or perhaps it's just an attempt to make up for my lack of skill in other areas. I'm an above average marksman in any given FPS, but can't compete with the twitch masters.
Maybe If I can keep my teammates alive and functional, and we still lose, then I can say that at least I did everything I could.
Regardless of my reasons, saving other players is a metagame at which I excel. So if you want to stay alive, I'd best be on your team.
I have not yet had the pleasure of making your acquaintance, so please consider me a humble fan. I'm writing you today on behalf of myself (and likely others) in order to rectify a most troubling situation. For reasons I shall expound upon shortly, it has become quite evident to me that the online portion of your remarkable shooter "Borderlands" appears to be a scrotum-hammering flameshit fucktastrophe.
I'm aware of the severity of this accusation, so Allow me to delineate:
I refer specifically to the timeouts my would-be vault hunting partner and I encountered when attempting to establish a public or private game. Regardless of who hosted, the issue was constant. And clearly this was our fault, make no mistake about that. I'm certain a triple-A title producing behemoth such as yourself has an unfathomably rigorous QA department, and every possible connection error was accounted for prior to release. The failing was almost certainly due to our sub-normal intelligence.
Despite our evident down syndrome, my compatriot and I endured. We pored over forums for over 2 hours clinging desperately to thoughts of your glorious apocalyptic playland seemingly within our reach. We forwarded ports, reset routers, disabled firewalls, tried fixes that worked for others but did not work for us. We restarted the game, tested, restarted, and tested again.
And as a brief aside, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you for making the 18 distinct logo screens both blaringly loud, and entirely unskippable. Watching claptrap become dismayed at the non-functioning Nvidia logo remains a delight, I'd hate to give in to the temptation to cut to the chase and get into my game quickly. A tip of the cap to you.
In the end, we were left with no option but to employ a 3rd party piece of software titled GameRanger. I'm overjoyed to inform you that I have since had no issues establishing a game, and have been gleefully scouring and destroying every square inch of Pandora.
Yet there are those I've spoken to who brashly declare that the use of Gameranger should not be required. These ne'er do wells often say they should not have to be a "goddamn systems administrator to play a game (they) paid $50 to fucking play". I take great pains to explain to these ill informed few that forwarding ports and exhaustively searching forums for glimmers of hope is all part of the experience for those wishing to engage in online frivolities. My tireless adversaries then counter with: "Left 4 Dead works perfectly because Valve doesn't have their heads up their asses and actually spent time creating solid netcode".
I fear I am out of answers. I implore you, Gearbox: extend your benevolent hand and bestow upon me a fragment of your not inconsiderable wisdom that I might allay the antagonism of this naysaying rabble.
Or maybe just...I dunno. Don't develop in a fucking vaccuum.
Assassin's Creed is one of the most polarizing series in all of gaming. But it doesn't always boil down to you love it or you hate it. It seems like the majority of people recognize the flaws of the original, but loved the concept enough that they gave the sequel a pass on many of the lingering issues. For both games I nodded along with positive reviews glowing with praise, and nodded along with negative reviews overflowing with vitriol. I recognized that I loved what I had played, but couldn't turn a blind eye to the glaring faults. Like an adorable puppy that just pissed on my PS3, I would just smile and say "that's my Assassin's Creed."
Let's get the love stuff out of the way first, because frankly, that's always less interesting. (We're gamers, we criticize. Praise is not our forte):
Here's the thing: I'm never going to have the opportunity to visit the city of Acre circa 1191. Or Renaissance Era Venice. Ever. Thankfully, Ubisoft recognized how much the stunning architecture and culture these times and locales had to offer gamers, and have not only created an entertaining gaming experience but also provided a slice of (albeit embellished) history to explore and enjoy. It may not be History channel to the letter accurate, but that's not what I'm asking for. I won't ever get to dive into the canals of Venice from 2 stories up, so I'm damned appreciative for the chance to do so as Ezio.
And the draw distances...well, just holy shit.
Mirror's Edge may have refined the formula, but Assassin's Creed was the first game to give us true free-running joy. Bounding over beams and store fronts until reaching a jumping off point to tackle/stab your mark is an experience that Assassin's Creed has perfected, and I can't get enough of it. AC2 ups the ante by pitting your parkour skills against those of fleeing pickpockets, and good lord, bear tackling one of those bastards is rewarding.
Few games rival the visceral, intimate bloodiness of Assassin's Creed. AC2 kicked it up even more in the cathartic violence department. The combat is fluid, natural, and a joy to watch. Perfectly timing a counterattack and watching Altair impale a foe on his blade, then thrust it further for good measure before kicking him loose...well, that's just good old fashioned entertainment.
And if you can honestly say you don't find the combat that great after watching Ezio leap down from a beam and slam two guards heads into the ground, his blades piercing their skulls with satisfying puffs of red mist....well then I don't even know you anymore.
I admit that the combat got repetitive in the first given the limited weapon list, but AC2 did an excellent job remedying that by giving you a lot of tools to play around with. I fell in love with throwing sand in the faces of my opponents, smacking them around a bit, then performing a disarm and killing them with their own swords. And you just can't beat going berserk on some peons after stealing a giant ax from one of those armored fuckers.
Now that we got that gushy garbage out of the way, let's move onto the hate:
Parkour - Yes, I may love the parkour mechanic, but honestly: it sucks. Consider for a moment that to simply determine whether altair walks, jogs, or sprints there are THREE (3) different buttons required. Pushing the analog stick full tilt makes Altair/Ezio walk. Pressing the X button allows him to...Walk fast? Am I reading that correctly? Then pressing R1 allows him to jog, while holding R1 and X at the same time makes him sprint.
Hold two buttons and push forward to sprint? Maybe this wouldn't be needlessly complicated if you didn't have to sprint/freerun that often, but it's what 90% of the fucking gameplay is based on. I'll fix this for you right now: full tilt on analog = jog, then just hold X to sprint/freerun. We don't need to hold a seperate button to fucking jog. That's called a bad design decision that should have hit the cutting room floor by round 2.
And while we're fixing, why don't we go ahead and snazz up our parkour animations, shall we? Ezio and Altair are very agile, no doubt, but why are they limited to such utilitarian moves? I want to have more fun getting from A to B, seeing as how getting from A to B is huge part of every mission in the game. Take the following video for example:
Note the fancy flips and spins. These are purely thrown in for aesthetics, but they are entertaining nonetheless. Consider the brilliant style system implemented in Spiderman 2 - pulling off tricks while web slinging didn't affect the gameplay in any major way but made for a fun little mini game while in transit through the city. If you're worried that including such flashy moves might impinge on our suspension of disbelief, I wouldn't lose sleep over it. You've already taken a sledgehammer to it with this whole "the sun is the enemy" business.
Combat - Simply too easy, especially in the first one. The counterattack in AC1 is so overpowered that it nullifies all other moves in the game. The second only exacerbates the issue by giving you health packs that can be used mid battle. I never died once from combat while playing AC2.
The relative ease of combat plays into my next complaint, which is much more salient to the series as a whole...
So, you're supposed to be an assassin in this game...right? Not a barbarian fighter warlord? Ok, if you say so.
Stealth (lack thereof) -
I got news for you: Ezio and Altair are awful assassins. Truly the worst possible men for the job. Oh sure, they always kill their marks, but if you want it done quietly you're better off doing it yourself. With a lawnmower.
These two "assassins" subscribe to the mindset that the best way to kill someone is to kick their door down, run straight at them while brandishing a weapon, and then chase them through crowded city streets while their soon-to-be victim screams for guards. Real subtle, fellas. Nimble Assassins? Not so much. Hired Guns? That's more like it.
Pictured: Ezio and Altair
Let me crouch Ubisoft. For the love of god, I just want to crouch. As a trained assassin, I don't think this should be out of the question. Uncharted 2 has an infinitely superior stealth system to your game, and, well, that's just unacceptable. You see, Naughty Dog's game is about a treasure hunter and it's like an action movie with a ton of gunfights and explosions and car chases. Your game is about Assassin's who stalk their marks from the shadows, waiting for the perfect time to strike. Just to reiterate: It's about Assassin's, not action heroes. And there is no stealth system to speak of. Oh, you knew? Oh, alright I just wanted to make sure somebody had mentioned that to you.
I just don't get it. We're meant to be playing guys who lurk in the shadows and strike when the moment is right, yet 90% of the time they wind up surrounded by guards and have absolutely no issues fighting their way out. Does this not strike anyone else as odd? It's called cognitive dissonance. My brain is saying Assassin's should behave this way, Ubisoft says they behave that way. I wish Ubisoft would put a bigger emphasis on fleeing from battle and hiding. I suppose a historical Splinter Cell is what I'm looking for, and what I kind of assumed the series was about prior to playing. No, It may not be as "badass" to flee from a battle with 20 guards, but it's what an effective assassin would do, and could potentially be just as fun.
Courtesans/Thieves/Mercs - While cool sounding in theory, the hired help mechanic was really just thrown in to add a bullet point to the back of the box. All 3 groups perform the exact same function, they cost the same (incredibly cheap) price, and are essentially just a way to skip a fight if you're lazy. Spend the measly $150 to hire them, point them at the guards, and wait for the area to be clear. *yawn*. If I wanted a game that played itself I'd buy Wii Music. Fix this, Ubisoft. Differentiate the groups at least a little. For instance, why couldn't the thieves actually steal from the guards and cut your character in on the loot? Bottom line: a broken mechanic that is far too effective for how inexpensive it is. And speaking of broken mechanics...
The Money system - Money systems are notoriously tricky to pull off, so I appreciate that Ubisoft at least gave it a shot. On one hand I'm glad that acquiring cash in AC2 isn't the Sisyphean task that it is in Fable 2. The problems begin with upgrading the Villa. As soon as renovations became available I became so psyched by the prospect that I did nothing but run side missions until I could afford to max the thing out. Assassination contract here, beat up mission there, and bam. Done. Renovations complete. I still had about 3/4 of the actual game to go through at this point, and money was NEVER a problem after maxing out the Villa. Any new weapons, armor, or paintings I came across I could instantly purchase. This killed the fun of the system for me. All it took was running a few side missions and I'm set for money for the rest of the game? That doesn't seem right. Either make the renovations cost way more (as the benefit for renovating early on outweighs any other expenditure in the game), or simply make money harder to come by.
Also, shortly after it's introduced, the concept of looting bodies and pickpocketing becomes useless. And by shortly after it's introduced, I mean before it's introduced. Sure, you can grab some throwing knives off of dead bodies, but again, not really necessary when your pulling down Scrooge McDuck money.
Storyline - True story: there was a point during my playthrough of AC2 when Erin (my lady) came and sat on the couch next to me. Ezio was talking to someone about something.
Erin: So what's going on in the game, plot wise?
Lindy: I...well, this guy...umm............yeah, honestly I don't know 'cause I don't really give a shit.
Erin: Hmm...then why are you playing it?
Lindy: Because I really enjoy the gameplay, I just couldn't care less about the story.
While I don't want to diminish the effort put into the story of either game, the bottom line is that I just don't care. I'm not playing these games for the Rubik's cube of intrigue and conspiracy they inevitably present, I usually just want to stab something. Or jump off a building. Preferably both at the same time. While I appreciate that someone toiled away for hours building this complex tree of characters and dialogue, it really is just white noise between gameplay segments.
And don't get me started on the Desmond bits. I'm sad that Ubisoft didn't have the confidence to create a purely historical adventure game, that they relied on the crutch of sci-fi epic garbage permeating all of gaming lately. I just shook my head at the "twist" ending of AC2 and reminded myself that I was correct in disregarding the story from the beginning. It just proved that the narrative in these games is hackneyed, stilted fluff that isn't worth my attention.
In summary There's so much double think going on when I play these games. Part of me loves running across the rooftops of Florence, deftly dodging an archers arrows and, when he draws his sword and attacks, kicking his weapon away before double-blading him in the face. These are experiences unique to Assassin's Creed, and I cherish them.
The other part simply cannot stop seeing the flaws. There is a better game buried beneath the clutter of flawed systems, loose controls, and filler missions, and until that game is unearthed I'll continue to have a love/hate relationship with Assassin's Creed. Here's hoping the third entry is something we can all agree is great.