2011 May

May 31, 2011

Random though of the day: Insert Battlefield 3 into the “What-if” machine…..

During my long and boring morning I was reading an article on the Call of Duty’s stat site dubbed “Elite”. I love how they pass off something that Halo has been doing with Bungie.net for years, as new. Anyway, I recall reading that EA is putting 100 million behind Battlefield 3 to topple Modern Warfare 3, they want BF3 to be the bees knees of the “modern” FPS bout. Well let’s jump back to 2005 when EA had another contender in the ring challenging their beloved Madden franchise. ESPN football 2k5 is still widely considered one of the best football games to date. 2K went ballsy on 2k5 and priced it right at $19.99. 2k5 went on to crush Madden that year in terms of sales and critical acclaim. It pushed EA into a corner and made them shell out millions of dollars to secure the NFL rights and cancel any future 2K football games (with a NFL license). Now here is the “what if”. What if EA was to pull the same card 2K did against them but against Activision. Price Battlefield 3 at $29.99 and, give or take, makes the first DLC free (not including the preorder maps). If this would happen I could see a humongous upset more so than I am seeing already. Price never dictated quality, so why should it now? No, this is not really going to happen but it is an interesting scenario none the less. So should EA bite the bullet and take the gamble?

May 31, 2011

Hands-on Preview: Dungeon Siege 3…..

I wasn’t always a fan of RPGs or ARPGs, but that has been changing as of late. I have enjoyed Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance and its sequel, all of the Bethesda games (Elder Scrolls (starting with Morrowind), Fallout 3), the Fable series if you want to call them RPGs of some sort, Torchlight (which I may start my second play through here shortly) and of course anything that comes from that great place in the sky called Bioware as of late (yes, I am still currently enjoying Dragon Age 2). Normally my key genres of choice are action/adventure, racing, FPS, and some sports titles here and there to round it my gaming portfolio. As I grow older though, dungeon crawling, gathering large amounts of loot like swag at a convention, and stat and skill tracking are becoming more and more satisfying. I feel I am keener on these elements because I feel like I am getting more out of my game and building characters instead of taking on predetermined avatar. Enough about me already lets to the game.

Dungeon Siege 3 marks the first DS game to be published by SquareEnix and to be developed by Obsidian Entertainment. To get this out of the way because I heard quite a bit of groaning when I mentioned Obsidian, always know for great ideas but failed execution and QA, this game is coming along quite well  and from the demo I played, fears can be put aside. Now, that is not to say that there are some gripes I had, but the demo of DS3 was less buggy than all of Fallout: New Vegas (zing!). It’s your typical hack and slash with loot and character building abound, and enough lens flairs to make J.J. Abrams jealous. The combat system is close in comparison with Dragon Age 2s system, (mind you I played this on the 360 early this morning) A would be your typical attack button and X, Y, B would be your skills that you would acquire from leveling. The Left trigger blocks while activating a new tray of traits mapped to the three buttons previously mentioned; the left bumper switches between attack styles. I played as Lucas Montbaron, one of only two characters available in the demo, which plays like a typical warrior class. Lucas has two load outs, one using a sword and shield, the other using a larger two handed weapon. While equipping each weapon type your powers tray loads with custom attacks and spells for each type. The right bumper is used as an action button and to pick up loot and is by far the best idea to come from this game. Playing a lot of Borderlands recently, I can’t stand having X pick things up, reloading, and opening crates at the same time, this small concept works wonders in this game. While whaling away at an enemy just a tap of the bumper and just like that nab some loot while not doing something stupid amongst a hectic battle. The camera pans out and makes the game look reminiscent of Baldur’s Gate or you can have it up close via Dragon Age. This observation was taking during my time with the game alone. I have yet to try the co-op and have no idea if the camera is static with more people to concentrate on. The action is solid, there is little I have to gripe about in the combat department, my main gripes come from the menus; there are just TOO MANY DAMN MENUS! I know it is a RPG at heart but has streamlining menus ever hurt anyone? There is a main page, then a page for armor and weapons with around 8 to 10 tabs on that page, a page for upgrades and those have tabs on them as well. I know the game wants to be deep but make it accessible without a learning curve for your menu system. The only other real gripe I have and this is just a personal one, new armor you acquire does not change your appearance. I know this is stupid to complain about but damn it, if I pick up a dragon helm, I want it to look different than the turkey I am wearing. All of the weapons have a different aesthetic approach to them but really? Is armor that hard to conjure up?

I really like the game other than my few gripes I had, I am going to give it another shot later today and hopefully can get some friends to join the loot hunt as well. I was looking for a good action RPG to play with some friends over the long summer months and this may be the one I choose, Daggerdale was in the running for this until I got my hands on that unpolished turd. Dungeon Siege 3 releases for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC on June 21st and the demo is out now on Xbox 360 and will be available for the PS3 and PC come June 7th.   

May 26, 2011

MASS EFFECT WINNER!!!!!!!!!!

And we have our winner for a FREE STEAM COPY OF MASS EFFECT……………………………………………………………………………………..ZERO_19 is our winner this go around!!!
Congrats ZERO, hope you enjoy it! youll be getting an email from me in the email account associated with your gamers blog acct. with instructions on how to claim your game. Let us know how you like it 😀

May 25, 2011

If you know the ending why bother playing?

*(Read with caution, spoilers abound)*

I finally did it. After putting it off and off again I finally bought The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. I know, I know the game has been out since 2006 and I am on my second Wii (sold the first); but I always thought shelling out $50 for a five year old game was kind of absurd (at least since it was still readily available). Well, on Sunday Nintendo released their “hits” line in the form of “Nintendo Selects” and Twilight Princess just happened to be one of the four titles they released for the right price of $19.99. So with a coupon and $15 gift card I got the game for free (technically), and started to play it. The only thing about this story is I have seen and played the ending of this game, so why buy it?

There is more than meets the eye….

Why do we play games? Is it for the escapism, the stories, the gameplay, a means to an end, or all of these wrapped up in a great experience? (Or we are bored completely out of our minds?) I play for the experience, that encompassing whole that provides entertainment and satisfaction that movies, books, or TV can’t provide. They all have endings but are they really the most important piece? We all knew how Halo Reach was going to end, all of Noble Team would be killed and Reach would fall to the Covenant, but that did not stop millions of people from enjoying the great experience that preceded the ending. I plan to purchase the 3DS version of Ocarina of Time when it drops this June and I have played through that game multiple times and I know the ending, but it is the experience of that game as a whole that takes my breath away (and to this day, I still consider it the seminal Zelda title, I am going to get flack for this). Transformers: War for Cybertron is another example. If you’re a Transformers buff you knew Cybertron was doomed from the get go and that the Ark would eventually show up by the end of the game (and leading into one of the greatest credit songs ever, next to “Still Alive”), but the greatest part was the raw juicy center with a tale that showed you the destruction, bravery, and the dedication of each faction trying to reach their end goals. Some endings come as a surprise, some come as expected, and then others are pure disappointment (Bioshock I am looking at you, Fontaine was shit; Halo 2 was a ball buster).

A wolf, a princess, a dragon fight, and an epic ending…..

Buying Twilight Princess was to finally see the journey leading up to the epic show down with Ganon. I helped a friend play through the introduction in Ordon village and the Forest Temple. I came back into it around the City in the Sky and the fierce boss battle with the dragon Argorok and from there helped finish the game, but there is a huge chunk of game that I missed, and I want to experience. In every story there is a beginning, middle, and an end; but the middle is what I find most intriguing. Mass Effect 2 had a hell of an opening, with in the first 15 minutes the savoir of the galaxy was dead, the Normandy a floating piece of space junk, and the survival of supporting characters is in question. For the next 20 something hours (and that’s if you rush through the game) you span the galaxy and beyond finding answers about who you work for and what the collectors and reapers have planned. During this time I never wanted to sleep, eat, or put the controller down. The only gripe I have with ME2 was the ending; you face off against (drum roll please?), a human reaper that looks like an oversize terminator and is just as lame as it sounds (queue the fail music from The Price is Right). ME2 was like a hamburger, where the top bun was warm, fluffy, the size of a car tire, and topped with a pickle. The center was a juicy medium rare delicacy that was the size of New York City. The ending was a stale, mold infested bun the size of a quarter. Needless to say they could have thrown away the bottom bun and left a “to be continued…” sign and I would have walked away pleased. But the middle was good to the point that the ending really didn’t matter, that the story progressed to an ending but never really had to. Open world games are great for this type of model. Grand theft Auto 3 was a defining game of the previous generation. The beginning of the game you broke out of prison and started up a life of doing odd jobs and climbing your way back up the gangster ladder. I had so much fun going from mission to mission, driving around, what was then, a massive city only to be disappointed with a crummy ending. Open world games have such a huge middle span in their stories because so much goes on between the narrative and sub plots that no matter how good the ending is, at least in my opinion, I feel let down; because it does end. Open world games though can be a double edge sword though; you have games like GTA that have great and fleshed out narratives and most of the time the open world is just the back drop. On the other hand you have a game like Just Cause 2 which the narrative is so lame it takes a back seat to how wonderful the world around you is and story missions get left in the dust.

From 2006 and still holding up…..

I am now around 10 hours in, I have finished two dungeons and I love every minute of it.  The game does look dated. There are times where the game looks like a premier Wii title and then other times where it looks like a slightly upgraded N64 port, I am enjoying the style but some of the textures look extremely dated. The gameplay is what is winning me over and I can’t stop playing when I have the chance to thoroughly enjoy it. The parts I missed are worth my time and money as to this point, from seeing the ending I can tell I will enjoy the rest as well. I eagerly await my time in Hyrule, saving the good people of that kingdom and enjoying my adventures until it is time to face the prince of darkness.

May 25, 2011

Random thought of the day: why do numbers mean so much?

Thought I would try something new and just write something little to get our minds as a community going and hopefully have a good discussion in the comments, so this may turn into a daily thing, who knows. Good philosophy, try before you buy, so we are going to try damn it!

K/D spreads, win percentages, head shot counters, stats galore; that is all I hear about in competitive multiplayers and frankly, I am sick of it. I play my fair amount of multiplayer gaming, putting in a couple of hours each night on top of what else I played that day, but for the life of me can understand why people get up in arms about pointless numbers that have no effect on my experience. I play Battlefield, Halo, Gears of War, Homefront, Medal of Honor, Brink, and Section 8: Prejudice (I avoid the CoD series like the plague) but never found myself caring about K/D spreads, or how my personal stats held up, what I cared about is did my team work well together and did I have a good experience doing so. Before you say “oh this guy sucks and he is just trying to justify why he does”, I don’t. I have my good games and some games where I don’t do as well, I just hate that people have to play by the numbers and ruin my experience so they can pad their useless stats. Death match of any sort, whether it is team based or solo, is my least favorite mode, in any game. I like my co-operative team based game play. I would rather have a .01 K/D ratio and have helped my team win countless matches due to my sacrifice, rather than have a ridiculous K/D and look like some (to quote ScrotusKilmystr) “sniper bitch deluxe”. Since playing Brink and Section 8: Prejudice I must say I applaud Timegate Studios and Splash Damage for hiding these stats behind their website (you need to get a code in the games menu and activated it online to access your stats). I wish more developers that have team based game modes would follow this model of stat hiding to try and route some of the people, that don’t want to play nice, out of these modes. So, do you sit there and strut around your numbers like the alpha gamer or do you think they have no relevance and would rather enjoy your experience with the game and the people you are playing with?

May 25, 2011

Gamer Chat? Nope, This is Gamer Rant!

Ok so Gamer Rant is going to be my little outlet to unleash the frustration in the gaming world. This rant is about good ol’ Call of Duty. First things first. When I played Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare I was blown away. That game raised the bar and set a new standard for first person shooters and it was a fantastic game. There I said something nice. We fast forward to now and we have Modern Warfare 3 on the horizon. Here is the problem, with the exception of zombies (great idea) what exactly is new about the next Call of Duty titles? You get a new story right? Run through maps shooting everything and blow stuff up. Multiplayer is different? No…you pay for a glorified map pack really. My point is since Call of Duty hit gold with the first Modern Warfare, they haven’t shown us anything new or different since. Yes zombies was a good thing, but now Black Ops gave us a shopping style leveling process. Ohh I get to buy things now. They gave us playercards so kids can make a rough image of a penis next to their name. Ohh the creativity! Still not with me on this? Ok try something for me. I am sure everyone has seen the newest MW3 trailer because it plays on TV every 10 mins. Step one: watch the trailer. Step two: take out anything that says 3. Step three: realize that trailer could be used for any other CoD game because its nothing new! “That wouldn’t work for World at War because it was set in WW2.” Absolutley correct…..I see my argument has failed miserably. Now don’t get me wrong this is a problem for all shooters alike. I only use MW3 because its what they are trying to shove down our throats this time. I really hope with a new game will come something more interesting than the usual dismal repeat of the previous year. I want to see what Battlefield 3 is going to do. I as a gamer, just want something new. I don’t want to pay $60 for a new video game case.

May 25, 2011

Portal 2 Review Part 1: Single Player

^MC Escher and Portal. Both hand-in-hand with mind-blowingness.

This game is so huge, I’m going to have to split the review into two articles. Now, I know I’m quite late on the scene here, but this isn’t a review for people who wanted to know whether the game was buyable instantly. Rather, this is my opinion on the game as someone who was hesitant and forced to wait, and it goes out to others who were also hesitant and/or forced to wait. So, here it goes.

Graphics: Shame on you for even inquiring about this. Graphics, in my opinion, really bear no pertinence to game quality. However, I must say that Portal 2 is beautiful. The atmosphere of the story in every area is perfectly matched by the colors and textures of your surroundings. Even on low resolutions and graphic settings, the game is still pretty. When cranked up, it’s amazing.

^It looks nice even in places that are supposed to be ugly.

Sound: The voice acting in this game is also superb. Ellen McLain returns as GLaDOS, and two new frequent voices (I won’t spoil it for those of you who are saving the plotline) by Stephen Merchant and J.K. Simmons also perfectly fit their roles. The ambient music and sounds work together to create an amazing atmosphere. If you’re still not sold, how about the fact that Jonathan Coulton (my absolute favorite white boy musician) returns for the final song?

^This lady is GLaDOS. And the turrets. And the announcer in TF2. And the Combine Overwatch Announcer in the Half Life 2 games. And she sings opera.

Gameplay: Portal 2 is the perfect sequel to Portal. All the physics-bending you love is still there, along with all sorts of new modifiers, including three different colored gels that modify any ground or walls they touch, cubes that redirect lasers, and many more fun new toys. The game starts off fairly easy, but the head-scratchers come quickly. By Chapter 6, you feel like a genius every time you solve a single chamber. It’s smooth and doesn’t really lag, and any sort of damage you take is balanced enough. If you’re unfamiliar with Portal, close this window right now, open up Steam (download Steam and set up an account if you haven’t already done so), and purchase Portal. Portal is beyond worth the money, runs on most computers, and you can finish it in about four hours. I’ll wait.

—-

Welcome back. I’ll let you wait another four hours to de-blow your mind.

Yeah. Now, Portal 2 is just like that. Only BETTER.

The Story: Holy. Balls. This is the best story I’ve gotten out of any game in over a year. I’m not going to spoil any of it for you, so just trust me on this. You will not be disappointed with Portal 2’s single player story. It’s truly amazing. The whole single player story is just perfect. I have not a single complaint. It’s perfect. The humor is there, and it’s darker and funnier than before. Creepy semi-hidden areas? Check. Other random creepiness that really adds to the whole game? Check. It’s just unexplainable. Play it.

^Cake. Description. Recipe.

Now, so far, I’ve done nothing but praise Portal 2. The whole game itself is perfect. The only problem I have with it is the price tag. I haven’t finished the Co-op mode yet (expect a review by next Tuesday), but the game is still too short to deserve the full $60 price tag. I’d draw the line at about $40. Eventually, there will be a sale, and you’ll be able to get Portal 2 for a more appropriate price. I’d advise waiting until then, unless you’re deathly afraid of spoiling the plotline. In that case, go ahead and buy it. Play it through a couple times; there are quite a few interesting quirks you might not notice on your first runthrough.

Overpricedness aside, this game is amazing. Were I using a numerical scale, I’d give it a 42/42. Why 42? Because, it’s the answer to life, the universe, and everything.

May 24, 2011

Qwop Challenge Winner!

Although it was technically four days late, I still did receive one submission to the QWOP Challenge! With a grand score of 101 meters (metres if you’re European), and TWO rule bends, our winner is….

Dr. Pixel!

He requested that I write an article about “indie games in general”. Pretty broad of a topic, but I’ll definitely nail together an article for him. I’d like to thank everyone who attempted QWOP, and I’d like to encourage everyone to get in on my next challenge! I’ll give you three hints as to what it is:

  1. It involves significant amounts of luck.
  2. It involves a console that is not current-gen.
  3. It will give me a chance to practice my casting skills.

I’m currently fairly busy (I graduate the 11th of next month!), but I’ll have plenty of time to post the challenge this weekend! Once again, congratulations Dr. Pixel, and thanks to everyone here at TGB!

For an enlarged version of the winning screen, check HERE.

May 24, 2011

The Witcher 2: The Review

Back in October 2007 relatively unknown developer, CD Projekt with Atari released The Witcher.   The original provided one of the most authentic, original and captivating RPG experiences ever to land on the PC or any platform for that matter.  The game was not without its problems however as it contained many graphical glitches, extremely long loading times between sequences and a censored version released in North America.  The company responded to these issues by not only releasing an updated version of the game but adding in new quests, graphical enhancements and reduced loading times but providing it free to customers who had already purchased the game.  In fact CD Projekt spent over 1 million dollars resolving the issues its customers presented to them.   Ever since The Witcher was released fans have been anxiously awaiting a continuation of the epic story which was The Witcher. 

The wait is finally over and The Witcher 2 has arrived and the question on everyones mind is “is it worth the wait”.  The answer to that is most definitely yes.  The Witcher 2 picks up immediately where the first left off and we take up our role as Geralt of Rivia as he travels the lands attempting to clear his name after he is wrongly accused for the assassination of King Foltest. 

Before we begin let’s get the bad, and yes there is some, out of the way.  The biggest issue this game suffers from is the ability to break quests.   You can do things in such a way that you will actually break key part of the quest to where you will have to reload the game and start over.  Remember the gamers montra “save often and love it”.  This can be incredibly aggravating when you have spent 45 minutes doing things around the world only to find out that you have to repeat them.  I actually found myself having to do this.   The difficulty in the game seems to be… off.  Even on normal I found myself getting trashed early on in the game to the point where I had to switch the difficulty to easy just to pass a certain stage.  We also have the problem that ATI/AMD owners have run into where there are numerous graphics problems abound.  Most of these issues, assuming the company follows its trend, should be fixed shortly in an upcoming patch this week. 

Sorry Crysis 2, step aside, you are not the graphics king on the PC.  With the possible exception of Metro 2033, The Witcher 2 is probably the best looking game on the PC or any other platform for that matter.  Some of the long distance visuals you encounter during your travels will leave you breathless.  The sun filtering through the forest tree tops will make you stop and admire the visuals.  The burning fires you will see while you move through the game looks freakishly like the real thing.  The Witcher 2 steps up the graphics across the board.  PC enthusiasts will be in for a treat as The Witcher 2 offers a wide range of graphical settings that you can tweak and set to your heart’s content. 

The story as with the original is top notch and the decisions you make are just as important as they were in the first game if not more so.  The story is so captivating that you will find that you have been playing for 5 hours and not even realize it.  The game has multiple beginnings, ways to progress and over 16 different endings depending on how you play the game.  The Witcher 2 does not have good or bad choices like your standard RPG and it can make some of the decisions that you make incredibly difficult and in some cases you may regret them *remember the gamers montra*.  The decisions you make not only affect the immediate situation but changes the way the entire game plays out.  RPG fans will not be disappointed with this. 

You are able to import your previous save game, however if you are like me you probably don’t have it anymore since you’ve probably upgraded or changed computers since them. 

The biggest standout in this game for me was the voice acting.  It’s top notch all the way through the game.  From the passer by comments you hear while walking down the street to the scream on the battlefield the voice acting is superb and that combined with the superior graphics and top notch story The Witcher 2 offers a really captivating and immersive world for you to get lost in and trust me you will get lost in it. 

The Witcher 2 improves upon everything that made The Witcher 2 and in my opinion is a better game than the original in many ways.  Anyone who is on the edge about buying The Witcher or The Witcher 2 I would urge you to do yourself a favor and pick them both up as you will not be disappointed.  The Witcher 2 is a fantastic game that should not be missed and it is one of the best games on the PC platform.  I should also note that this is a PC exclusive release and that is rare these days.  If you are looking for an excuse to build a new computer then The Witcher 2 is that excuse.  So tell your girlfriend goodbye, drop out of your classes and say goodbye to your social life as The Witcher 2 whisks you away to another world.

I should note that this is NOT a kid friendly game.  If you are a parent and considering to get this for your child I would urge you to not  as this game is brutal and violent and has several sexually explicit scenes throughout the game. 

The Witcher 2

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May 20, 2011

L.A. Noire

Ok so L.A. Noire came out last Tuesday and I dove right into it. Now I am sure people see the Rockstar Games and go “Ok, more GTA and Mafia type games.” Well here is what I say to that person…Shut up. Yes Rockstar published the game but L.A. Noire only borrows driving and combat from GTA, after that it is a completely different game. Noire goes back in time to L.A. in the 1940’s (1947 to be exact).  The premise is pretty easy to grasp. You’re a cop and you’re solving crimes. The best thing about this game is the story telling. As you play you feel like a detective and you start to run the outcomes through your head trying to solve the case. You start as an average patrolman and work your way up the ranks to traffic cop, homicide, etc. A neat feature is as you progress you have a partner who helps out with giving you directions, driving, or giving an opinion on the current case.

The gameplay works like this: you and your partner get assigned a case. You go to the crime scene, look for clues, and question witnesses or suspects and that will then turn into other leads to continue the investigation. Each case plays like an episode, but as you go you will start to see a bigger story ark. The attention to detail in this game is something you would only think t0 find in a great rpg. When your collecting clues you can look all over the crime scene finding things useful and finding things not so useful. Whether examining the body or looking in the bushes for more evidence there is always something interesting to find.

After you have collecting all the clues (or what you think is all of them) you can interview a witness or other P.O.I.’s (person of intrest). This is a really fun and new feature to the game. As you ask questions you really need to pay attention to how the person reacts and talks. Everything from eye movements, facial movements (yes they can show expressions) to body language needs to be considered. They really did a great job and making the faces look real and have the lips matched up with the words they are saying. After they give you an answer you can select three options: Truth, Doubt, or Lie. Truth is simple. You think they are telling you the truth. Doubt is the option you pick if you think they aren’t telling you the whole truth. Then my favorite, you can call them out on a lie. However if you pick this you must back up your claim with a piece of evidence you have found. Now if you pick the wrong option you will not revieve xp points and I will reduce the points you can get at the end of the case. As I have found out, calling out people on a lie and being wrong makes them very, very angry.

At this point in the investigation, after clues are collected and people are questioned, is usually when the action kicks in and let me tell you I have seen it all. Running perps down on foot, car chases, and good ol’ fashion shoot outs are usually how cases get solved. Besides the main story, as you play you can respond to dispatch calls and go do little side missions which can consist of a shooter or a bank robbery. You can also commandeer vehicles incase you for some reason ramped a curb into traffic and destroyed yours…….you know, in case. You also unlock outfits along the way to change up your normal look.

So yea, L.A. Noire is a slower moving game. Not to the point of boring you but to the point of great storytelling. You mean I can’t just shoot everything and kill hookers?? Go back to playing Call of Duty please….this review is for big kids. I am not a kid! Ok then take your simple mind back to GTA and spam more rockets because that doesn’t make you have to use your brain and we know how bad it hurts you to use it. L.A. Noire is a fantastic game all around. I  am already willing to call this at least one of the top 5 games of this year. The stength of this game is the story and I hope that other games will see this and take note. L.A. Noire could be the beginning of a new way to play video games.

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