Tag Archives: games

#25 – Dead Space 3 (PC)

Well. That was a video game.

I love Dead Space and Dead Space 2. I’ve read plenty of less than stellar reviews of Dead Space 3. Those reviews were not exaggerating. With the exception of the introduction, which is more or less still tutorial territory, the first third of the game is mostly the Dead Space I enjoy. You’re in space, there’s monsters, and a lot of cramped corridors. Then you land on the planet, and there’s no space, and still tons of the same monsters, and human enemies are shooting at you, and it gets real repetitive.

The Dead Space series really transitioned from survival horror to straight action game. I noticed from the start that I was picking up health packs and ammo like this was Doom. Although I enjoy a good action game, I preferred the survival horror aspects of the first two games more than their action. I mean, Dead Space already has good action! I didn’t really need more focus on it.

The weapon crafting system is neat, until you min-max it to the point where you carry and use only one gun. Universal ammo is almost always frowned upon, and it still applies here. Why use any other gun when I’ve built the one that does the most damage halfway through the game? You can only carry two, and each gun can have two functions, so one gun was my close-range gun, and one gun was the long distance gun. The use of the same two guns for huge portions of the game really contributed to the repetitiveness.

Speaking of repetitive, I skipped the last two or three optional missions. I couldn’t bring myself to slog through more of the same enemies any longer than I had to at that point, which was about 3/4th through the game.

And the ending. The ending actually made me like the entire product less. The ending is stupid. Not good, not what the fuck, just stupid. And then credits roll over some real generic nu-metal. Remember the end of Dead Space 2? I do. It’s memorable. And when credits rolled, it was over a track called “Lacrimosa” which was so perfect, so fitting, that I immediately looked up the Dead Spce 2 soundtrack so I could hear it again. The credits music in Dead Space 3 is awful. And then there’s a tidbit at the end which further emphasizes that the ending I just watched was stupid.

I don’t know, man. Definitely play Dead Space and Dead Space 2. But maybe, you should skip Dead Space 3. It’s easily the weakest of the three and maybe not even necessary.

One of my favorite moments in Fallout 3

After wandering the wasteland and exploring countless buildings and locations, I stumbled across a clean toilet. Every other toilet was post-apocalyptic: broken, dusty, dry. This one was a normal toilet, full of water.

Curiously, you could “use” this toilet. Surprising because you can’t use the broken toilets, but there’s plenty of precedent for usable toilets in video games. So I press the use key and expect a stream of video game urine, or at least the sound of peeing.

Nope. Just a slurp. As if I had found any other water source. Because if I had been wandering the wastelands and drinking dirty, irradiated water from puddles, and fighting mutants, and struggling through a world where clean water is a commodity, I’d probably drink clean toilet water too.

I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard at something in a video game in my life.

BUILD engine games have the best opening lines.

I’m playing Shadow Warrior, and it has reminded me that BUILD engine games always start with the best lines. Not that these are the best lines in their respective games, but the first spoken line really sets the tone for these particular games.

Duke Nukem 3D

Blood

Shadow Warrior

Assassin’s Creed

Why Assassin’s Creed is Awesome

  • The process of investigating a target leads to some interesting options. You have to do at least half of the investigations, but doing all of them give you a clearer picture of how you should go about killing the dude you’re supposed to kill.
  • The Middle East crusades setting is a nice change from the typical game setting. Despite being in the Middle East, it’s actually less brown than some other games!
  • The game is really beautiful. Climbing to the tops of tall buildings is required as a gameplay mechanic but it’s also an amazing view.
  • I like that the bulk of gameplay is (in the game) a guy basically playing a video game. It’s a sci-fi premise in a historical fiction setting!
  • There’s a fair amount of non-english spoken dialog, even if all the non-background dialog is in poorly accented english.

Why Assassin’s Creed Fucking Sucks

  • The sword fighting is god awful. There are essentially two options: mash the attack button and hope you win, or hold the block and wait until each attacker takes a swing so you can counter it. And sometimes the counters don’t result in a kill, so you have to do it again.
  • This game is so, so, so repetitive. To complete those investigations, you have to find informants. To find informants, you have to either search every corner of a large city or climb specific tall buildings. Even then, most of the objectives are saving citizens, which involves sword fighting between three and five soldiers. Saving people gives more options to help escape soldiers, which becomes important post-assassination when you’re trying to escape.
  • Some of the actual investigations tasks suck. Stealth archer assassinations are awful because if you fail one, you have to start all over. Escorts, like all escort missions, suck because it’s just more sword fighting spread out into four or five small fights.
  • Beggars, drunks, and crazy. They’re people in the streets who are there to be obstacles. Did you know a slight female beggar can stop a deadly assassin from walking past her entirely? Me neither! And forget about getting past two or three crazies in an alley. because they just push you into each other. It’s awful. And if you punch them to get them out of the way, the city guard takes offense and then it’s time for more sword fighting!
  • The final sequence of events is a series of sword fights. But by that time I’d spent so much time sword fighting that it really just ate up my time as I waited to counter attack 20 separate attackers three or four times in a row.
  • The “real world” ending is really underwhelming. It’s like they just stopped the game right where it was without a lot of resolution.

DLC

I am, for the most part, okay with downloadable content (DLC). They usually expand the game, and are typically cheap enough to more than warrant a purchase for their content. However, I do not like reminders that some DLC exists because it was carved out of the game so that it could be sold later.

Case in point: Dragon Age: Origins. I know DA:O is an enormous game. I know it. I know it is chock full of content. So I find it odd that when the game opens up (as in, once you’re past the tutorial stuff), a conversation with a random person in your camp ends in a dialog option for “download new content to begin this quest”.

At first I thought that maybe it was one of those pieces of DLC that is offered as an incentive to people who buy the game new (which I did), and thus free. But when I opted to download it, the game pulled up the DLC menu, attempted to purchase the addon, and found I had insufficient Bioware points. So it wasn’t free, and this guy is hanging out in my camp as some sort of living advertisement for this non-free content and probably won’t go away until I buy it.

(Entirely-too-long-sidenote: why does every company need their own form of moon money to sell their DLC? Seriously, why can I not exchange American dollars or Euros or Zimbabwe dollars, or some other real currency for it? I don’t understand why they insist that I convert my cash into their limited-purpose currency, except to coerce me into buying more of it than I can spend. If my American dollar converts to 80 moon dollars, I can guarantee that those moon dollars will only come in $12 blocks, and that the content will sell in nice, clean $5 increments, thus leaving me with 160 spare moon dollars that are completely fucking worthless. It is irritating.)

Is this necessary? When the game starts, there’s a Downloadable Content menu option right there next to Load Game and Options. If you read any video game news site regularly, you will be beaten over the head repeatedly every single time a piece of DLC comes out. And if you don’t have regular internet access, and you’re playing DA:O offline, you can’t download any DLC anyway!

What I’m getting at is that for an immersive, and well thought out game such as Dragon Age: Origins, being given a dialog option that says “Download New Content” is entirely unnecessary and detracts from game’s experience. It’s a reminder that I’m not playing the whole game, because this piece is missing; a piece so vital that I’ve being given an opportunity to fill it in at first stop, in exchange for more money than that I’ve already spent.

Two Worlds: What is up with this game?

This game is kind of blowing my mind.

+ Every line is voiced. All of them.

– The voice acting is god awful.

– The dialog is plagued with “medieval” words like “forsooth” and “verily”.

+ Huge open world, no load screens unless you teleport or enter a dungeon.

– Everything is kind of glued to the roads so there’s not much point in wandering around.

+ Tons of quests

– Quests come in three varieties; collect things, kill someone, item delivery

+ Some really neat effects such as light coming through tree tops and fog.

– Monster animation is super awkward.

I’ve put 4 hours into it. It’s still boggling me.

Gunplay in Metro 2033

I recently reinstalled Metro 2033 in preparation for the upcoming release of new content. I fired it up to futz around a little, and decided to start cleaning up some achievements.

I loaded up the level “Outpost”. It’s an outdoor level, and it’s crawling with Nazis. Nazis everywhere. I check out my inventory and I’ve got a silenced, scoped revolver, a scoped AK-47, and a double-barrel shotgun. I know the shotgun isn’t going to be very effective, so I opt for the revolver while the Nazis don’t know I’m about.

I poorly line up a shot and hit one in the chest. It doesn’t kill him, and it attracts the attention of his buddies. They’re shooting at me from three different directions, so I quickly swap the revolver for the AK, and blast the closest ones. They drop with a couple quick bursts. After I’ve cleared the floor of the decrepit building I was in, I check my ammo.

Metro 2033 has two kinds of ammo: military grade, and low quality. Military grade is accurate, and does a lot of damage. Low quality is less accurate, and does less damage. There is a noticeable difference between the two and there is a reason why military grade ammo can be used as currency in the game. With how quickly I dispatched the Nazis in what was basically a botched encounter, I was convinced I was shooting my money away.

But I wasn’t. It was cheap ammo the whole time. The rest of that level consisted of some small scale encounters, primarily two or three Nazis at a time. This really gave me an opportunity to examine the gunplay that nearly every single review for Metro 2033 complained about.

It is entirely false that weapons in the game are wholly inaccurate. Each weapon has varying degrees of accuracy, and the ammo you use has an effect on accuracy, but if you’re using an accurate weapon (like a scoped, silenced revolver), and you aim down the sights, and you pull the trigger when it is pointed at the Bad Guy’s face, they die with one shot. This works with the revolver, with the AK, and pretty much every weapon in the game.

I am no sniper. I’m awful at it. Sometimes I get lucky, and catch some Bad Guy’s off-guard, and I get the time I need to line up those headshots that make life so much easier. Usually, however, I’m relying on putting enough bullets in things to kill them.

Enemies in Metro 2033 react to being shot in a manner in which you would expect them to. When you shoot human enemies without killing them, they go through a pain animation. Obviously, when they’re writhing in pain for one or two seconds, you have the advantage of being able to dump more bullets into them without them shooting back. You can’t really use this to “juggle” multiple enemies because the pain animation simply isn’t that long, but it is a significant advantage and rewards you for focusing on killing one enemy at a time.

Most of the monsters in this game, more animal than man, react how you would expect an angry animal to react if shot; they charge at you as if they don’t feel pain! Yep, it’s going to take a few more bullets to kill a charging beast, and you’re going to have to do it a little more recklessly than if it were a man, but just because most monsters don’t react to being shot doesn’t mean your weapons are ineffective against them.

There is really no point for me to write all of this, except that it is my hope that it convinces one person that Metro 2033 is worth playing. I got a bad vibe from most of the reviews I read that kept me away from it for several months, but I absolutely must say that the reviews are wrong. 4A made a fantastic FPS that will probably not get the attention it deserves. And that’s a damned shame.

How good is Borderlands?

I beat it on Xbox 360, getting nearly all of the achievements. I beat the Zombie Island of Dr. Ned DLC. I quit on Mad Moxxi because that DLC suuuucked. But between the main campaign and Dr. Ned, I put a load of time into it.

I just beat it again on PC. 14 hours, 30 minutes. I just started Dr. Ned. Then I’ll do the Secret Armory of General Knoxx.

I’m still amazed by some of the weapons this game throws at me. A lot of them are garbage. Then you get something absolutely fucking magical. Like an accurate shotgun with high damage, fast reload, large magazine, and ammo regeneration. This is the gun that Zombie Island was made for. I can’t lose with this thing.

Brutal Legend

Oh boy, I sank some time into this one this weekend. Brutal Legend is the definition of a mixed bag. When it starts out, you’re hacking things to death with an axe and blasting them lightning bolts out of your guitar. Soon after, you’ve got a car and it’s an open world game where you’re driving around and doing side missions and collecting stuff. Then you start collecting followers and guiding them into battle. About halfway through, you’ve got a handful of units, you can fly, give orders, build stuff, and it’s a full blown console RTS.

The transition from simple action to RTS is very smooth, and you never lose the open world aspect when you’re not in the middle of a story mission. What is kind of a jarring is that the whole first half of the game is the tutorial into the RTS side. The game has three continents and that whole first half of the game takes places on the first one alone. On top of that, there are two other factions in the game, but you spend that first half fighting against the same units you’re using. You then spend almost the rest of the game fighting the second faction, and you only really fight the third faction in the absolute final mission.

It’s pretty obvious to me that a lot of time and effort went into the first continent and first half of the game, then the rest was cleaned up and rushed through. Everything about the pacing in the second half of the game is off and rushed, and the end drops like a hammer. There’s that final RTS mission and one final action sequence and then you’re done.

Despite this, Brutal Legend is a ton of fun. It’s fun to drive around in. It takes place during the Age of Metal and the backstory and environments and soundtrack are all fantastic. It’s simply a fun world to exist in if you’re into metal. I’m pretty horrible at RTS games, and I still enjoyed the RTS battles. The controls kind of take some getting used to because they focus on your character as a leader, and so you can only issue orders to your units if you’re near them. This is probably why the first half of the game feels like a tutorial, but by time you get off the first continent, you’re definitely proficient at commanding your units.

I don’t know how to recommend this. I was turned off of it when it was released by reviews saying it was half-baked, and not that fun. It is true that it was definitely a rushed release, but it never feels incomplete. Everything is there, it’s just paced poorly. And I definitely had a lot of fun with it. I guess it boils down to whether or not you like metal. If I didn’t enjoy the setting so much, I probably wouldn’t have spent so much time playing it.

Metro 2033

This game caught me by surprise. It didn’t get much hype and what it did get didn’t excite me. Crawling around in tunnels in the dark, who cares? Then I found out that the developers are the engineers who made S.T.A.L.K.E.R., which I loved. It got pretty positive reviews, with some complaints being about the difficulty and poor gunplay and dumb AI.

I’m pleased to report these complaints are mostly unfounded. Metro 2033 is a beautiful game with a strong narrative, even if Artyom’s motivations are somewhat unclear. I beat the game on normal difficulty without much trouble. The weapons in the game are no less responsive than those in S.T.A.L.K.E.R. I knew from the start that bullets were currency in the game, and that crappy bullets existed, but I didn’t figure out how to use those crappy bullets until halfway through the game. The crappy bullets really are crappy, being much louder, less powerful, and more inaccurate. It really makes you value those money bullets and forced me to decide when it was worth shooting my money away.

Around the halfway mark, there’s a vendor who will sell you either heavier armor or stealthier clothing. I had spent nearly all of my good bullets on a better gun, which was poor foresight on my behalf because guns are everywhere. I was duly punished for it though, as I was never offered the opportunity to buy a different armor again.

I got Metro 2033 on sale, and it’s one of those games in which I wish I had bought it on release. The game is short, but it’s really immersive. I hope 4A made enough to keep developing, because I’ll definitely get their next title the minute it comes out.