So, I noticed that I’ve picked up a few games lately that I have played. I want to break down my thoughts on them.
First off, this game is very good visually and conceptually. However, there are some fundamental flaws the game has. Let me start with the most basic and that are the controls. They have been remarked as revolutionary and very ahead, however, holding down RT eighty percent of the time I’m playing is very annoying. RT is used to be in high end mode or, more accurately, run. Combat is extremely flawed in the game unless you can perfectly assassinate everyone. Killing someone with the sword is an extreme hassle and the swordplay looks so…awkward. I’m no expert on middle eastern swordplay, but with my current training it still looks extremely awkward. The conceptual story is not half bad, but it seems very hollow and without meaning. The gameplay is repetitive. It’s the same thing every time you are given assassination orders. What drove me nuts the most was the flags though. Why in hell are all the achievements centered around collecting over 500 flags in the entire game? To me that sounds silly and pointless. I want to play a game to accomplish something. What do flags get me? Achievement points? No thanks. Overall, rent and beat, then put away. It’s not worth it. Though, my friend Alan actually completed the entire series of flag achievements for 1000/1000. He is crazy.
Five games in one. How can you go wrong? You cannot. Especially with this wonderful package. For the unenlightened, this package contains the following: Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2: Episode 1, Half-Life 2: Episode 2, Portal and Team Fortress 2. Let me break down these for you.
Half-Life is an interesting series of games which center around a person who does not fit a hero stereotype. When you look at the main character of a First Person Shooter game, who do you think of? Master Chief John-117, a Marine in heavy biomechanical armor? A generic solider from the US army with all the gear? Duke Nukem? The main character from Wolfenstein? Doom? Guys from Unreal Tournament? Perhaps. But then comes Dr. Gordon Freeman a…scientist in theoretical physics? Wielding a crowbar? Yes. Probably the most bizarre protagonist to ever grace a video game of this type, he actually suits the job very well. As general comments, the Source engine is very smooth and very pretty. It works great for the game and is quite pretty where it needs to be. Controls are smooth and fluid, as most FPS games are, with special attention paid to squads and interaction, particularly with the little event scenes. What really impressed me is that there is an actual 64-bit compilation for this game and it works! The only real complaint about the engine is not really the engine so much as it’s adoption. Looking at Unreal Technology you can see that the engine is used practically everywhere. In fact, buying a copy of Unreal Tournament gives you a high quality 3D modeling kit capable of creating environments and whatnot as well as custom maps. Where is this with Source?
I digress. Back to the game. It’s very satisfying and has a difficulty that’s just about right for any player. With three options of difficulty this game fits for everyone. For starters, the Gravity Gun was a very interestnig addition to the game. It made some things like getting that powerup you really need a lot easier to get your hands on and later it’s really fun slinging bodies around. The story is compelling, while not incredibly epic and very good. While on a small scale feels like the weight of the world is on Gordon’s shoulders, but at the same time it does not feel extremely high stress. Things can seriously get done. The addition of developer’s commentary added a wonderful touch to parts of the game and giving insight to the way things worked.
Next I played Portal. This…reminded me of Metroid Prime. But it’s only because it’s the only other game I know of that is a first person puzzle game. The execution is good. Really simple to learn and surprisingly believable, even with the psychotic A.I. that serves as the antagonist for the entire game. The addition of challenges kept replay value stable, but after a while it does loose it’s charm. Good and fun and worth probably a day or two’s worth of playtime. Source really shows it’s adaptability in this game with the portal and portal gun system. From a programmer’s perspective it’s wonderful and great.
Team Fortress 2 I didn’t play much because of how much I hated Counterstrike. While it definetely takes a more cartoonish feel than Counterstrike and doesn’t use a system that rewards skill as much, it still didn’t appeal that much to me. It can be fun in some cases, but I’m not one for playing objectiveless multiplayer games. (Though, FFXI can feel that way, it really feels like I go somewhere with it and be chum with people.) So I did not play it very much, but the part I did play I didn’t like all that much. Let it pass.
Overall the Orange Box was a great pickup. I recommend it for any kind of FPS or puzzle gamer. It has got me excited for Episode 3.
Unreal Tournament 3
Good game, but highly unstable. Unreal Technology is a great system. It is always awesome and to be brutally honest it is probably a great game. If it didn’t crash when not set to the lowest settings. For some reason nVidia PhysX engine doesn’t translate well when using an ATI video adapter, which is not cool. To be brutally honest, alienating probably half the gaming community because of their choice of card is a real waste. Granted, it’s been shown to me there’s a hardhack for ATI cards, I haven’t actually used it. Graphics, for this reason alone, are weak. 640X480 looks like trash on a screen/card combination capable of 1440X900. Otherwise the game is okay. The story was…decent, but not really believable. The story mode also overuses gametypes that really are just about ground control and vehicles. I wished for more stuff that was akin to team deathmatch or even assaults. Those from 2004 were fun. Removing objective based gameplay was really lame. Additionally, there was no actual tournament. It follows a group of mercenaries on their quest for revenge which seems out of place for the game. I mean, Tournament is in the title. What in hell happened to it? Game earns an average to below average rating from me. Too much wrong with it. I think I will be returning to 2004.
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
Yeah. Why do I keep doing this? Okay. From what I heard this is actualy an excellent game, not just for multiplayer but the game as a whole. Boy was I in for a ride. Gameplay is excellent, however, it kinda falls under the pitfall of something I call “The Halo Effect”. Halo hit, the genre as a whole changed drastically. Suddenly every game is racing to do something right like Halo. Like the elimination of healthpacks and institution of a recharging health system, no ammunition crates, the ability to carry only two weapons, dual wielding, melee button and grenades at a touch. Halo was Revolutionary? Yes. Was it a good thing? Not in every case. Example: Perfect Dark Zero. Halo hit, game got drastically redone to be more like Halo. Did it work? No. Controls were stiff and sloppy, the health system sucked hard and certain things just didn’t work, not to mention the story being totally out of line with the original game. Call of Duty 4 took the concepts and somehow made it work. While I’m still not a fan of recharging health, (though Halo makes it believable) I let it slide in this game. You start the game with a quick little training course to familiarize yourself with the system and show you proper tactics in the game, like switching weapons is faster than reloading and putting some points into using your knife. The game itself is decent in it’s own right but has a number of flaws at higher difficulties. At lower difficulties, you will find a modest and believable number of enemies as well as pretty generous ammunition for good weapons. The only flaw with any difficulty is that sometimes it’s really hard to distinguish friend or foe if you’re not watching. At higher difficulties enemies become superhuman. The kind that can not only see through walls, but can not miss for any reason, have weapons that are unnaturally powerful and they never stop coming. Okay, it’s supposed to tell you that you have to keep pressing on the fight, but at times it becomes highly overwhelming and for someone like me who likes to wipe the room clean then make my advance. At the moment, I tried doing the whole game on Hardcore for Achivements. However, I’m stuck on the the one level after the sniper shot with the M82 waiting for a helicopter. I cannot seem to pass this point. Online play is not for me. I’m not much for devoting myself to a game like this so I play with my friends and only have level 5 or so. What really impressed me was the story, in paticular, what people reffer to as the nuke scene. It almost made me cry it was so well done. It was made to instate horror on the gamer and damn does it do that well. Good game for the reason I play a lot of games and that is story. Pick up and enjoy.
Then I did the unthinkable. I bought a Playstation 3. This means I have all three consoles from this generation. Meaning, if I want a game, I can have it. So I bought it and decided to get some games for it. First up was the entire series of Xenosaga. I played the first and did very well with it, beating it and enjoying the hell out of it. This was when I was fixing a friend’s Playstation 2. When I got the 3 I picked up the Xenosaga series and Metal Gear Solid series (2 and 3). I figure when I’m done with all this I can do Final Fantasy X, X-2 and XII as well as Kingdom Hearts (Eh, hopefully I won’t turn into the weaboo fanboy when I’m done, but I’ll take a chance).
I mentioned it. This time around I did things differently. First off, I saved up all of my T-Points for the all enemy attacks. To the effect of I had an extremely deadly X-Buster by the time I got it. Game was great fun, but the final boss was made easy by my foresight. Then I moved on to Episode II. Sofar, the game is almost horrifically bad. They took everything that made Episode I fun and easy and threw it out the window. For starters, the addition of zones was a bad idea to add to the game. As if attack types (there were I think twelve in the original) weren’t confusing enough, they had to take it then multiply it by three. Okay, bad idea. Now all skills must be purchased with points and a skill level/class system. My thoughts on this? It’s not bad. It actualy works. The problem with it is the following: All characters need to focus on healing. Mobs are far too powerful in general. Even with the perk of having old Episode I data giving me bonus skills I cannot go far without grinding. I have barely started and I am not optimistic.
Metal Gear Solid
You think I bought the PS3 for Final Fantasy XIII? Hell no. It’s no longer exclusive. I bought it for Metal Gear Solid. Sofar, I have played and beaten 2 (Sons of Liberty) and 3 (Snake Eater). The games are both pretty good, but I have a few problems with them. Starting with 2, the sword control was really interesting and accurate, but not for this game. In other words, the control of the sword was made too complex to make it all that useful. Considering you have to eliminate the final boss with this thing it is not something to really relish in awesome. The game does somewhat suffer from not having a decent map system. When you use it all you get is an shell of the outside of the area you are in. Which does not provide any useful help in getting around. In 3, the map system got a serious improvement and generally was a better game, except that you are missing Soliton Radar which made the game far more challenging than I really wanted it to be. The system for managing your health I think was very interesting and overall seemed to work. I mean, it’s certainly more fun than chomping down cans of meals ready to eat (ration). Getting food was not really a chore and keeping yourself patched up was pretty simplistic. Only real issue was that supplies seemed a bit overly plentiful for the injuries sustained. Like almost never needing splints for anything but always having med kits with them around. That isn’t to say there aren’t enough medical supplies for everything else, like cuts, bullet wounds and burns, but it’s a bit wacky. Story is decent, however it falters from not having the same feeling of Science Fiction that Metal Gear Solid games are good for. I am going to play 4 (Guns of the Patriots) when I get Xenosaga finished.
Impressions of Soul Calibur IV
So I picked this up as well. Overall it’s not too shabby. A good game but has a pretty ridiculus learning curve. Only a short number of characters maintain their fighting style similarly to II. I do have some major complaints about some characters, namely, Ivy. Why in hell is she suddenly so hard? What made Ivy so beautiful as a character was her ability to flow between stances, short and long range attacks and her impressive command throws. Aparently Bandai Namco thought this was bad and made changing states way too hard for practical use. They also made her boobs like helium filled ballons, aparently they were taking hints from Dead or Alive here. So I use Siegfried now, which isn’t too horrible since juggling with him can be useful and he plays alot like the Nightmare I was used to. The addition of equipment is kinda cool, but makes some characters look pretty ugly when geared for stats only. I’m going to need a lot of practice before I become as good as I am with II.
Final Fantasy XI
Obligatory. Let me see what I have done. I have gotten myself two awesome items since the last update (Pictures!)
Both toys are a really nice boost to my Paladin, which has been stalled at 74 for some reason. Apparently other stuff like Soul Calibur and whatnot is keeping me distracted. As well as myself leveling some more useful jobs. First up is Beastmaster. Considering a lot of time I have I cannot spend looking for parties, I wanted to take it up to have something to do when either waiting or just when I have not the time to party. While EXP is definetely slow, it can be quite relaxing because the pacing is determined by me alone. Overall pretty fun to play as, but the best thing is not feeling like a gimp warrior by using an axe. Additionally, I can skill up a number of weapons with no restrictions on needing a party. Axe and Scythe at the forefront as well as dagger for the hell of it. It can be a fun job to play with. I am also doing another job that does not take much to get a party and that is Bard. Since most of my charisma gear bleeds over from Beastmaster, there wasn’t much to buy other than instruments to get the job done. It is an okay job, but I notice people really start to slack off when I’m playing the job, thinking I am a replacement for good gear and food. I seem to get levels and parties quickly, but I’m really trying to static it with Beastmaster so I don’t have to lug around tons of gear waiting for the other job to catch up. I guess that has been it for that.
I think my next post should be about Otakon. I mean, it’s only been over two weeks ago, why have I not said anything about it?