Today I went and saw the latest Michael Bay robot-fest, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, in theaters and something struck me on the way back home: this movie reminded me of Crysis 2 to a great degree. An ancient alien threat, hectic ground-level combat and amazing visual effects? Given that most of the final hour of Transformers 3 is seen from the perspective of Special Forces soldiers rather than Autobots, my brain couldn’t get away from Crysis 2 and the image of hopping around lower Manhattan killing vaguely robotic aliens in the ruins of a famous city (even though TF3 takes place in Chicago).
Like most Michael Bay films, Transformers 3 is too long, bloated and full of forced, painful humor, but the actions scenes are top notch. Still, I couldn’t get it out of my head that I was watching someone play a video game. Video games have been trying to be like movies for years, but it occurred to me today that they might already be there, or at least have attained the level of Summer popcorn-flick. People complain about the Hollywood-ising of the industry, but we’re too late: every big action game is essentially a Bay movie with threadbare plots and engaging action.
I know that video games are hoping to move past this phase, but in a medium where it’s easier to give the player a gun and turn them loose, are we ever going to get past this stage? Crysis 2 was a pretty fun game, but given that a mindless movie like Transformers 3 can evoke it so heavily, it kind casts a dark shadow over the aspirations of many a development studio. Even games that we decree to be better than movies, like Uncharted 2 or Mass Effect 2, would ultimately fall flat on their face if they ever transition to the silver screen.
Past all my rambling thoughts regarding Transformers 3 and Crysis 2 lays a question for you guys: are video games becoming like movies or is it the other way around? As computer generated effects become cheaper and more believable, will we see more big set-piece films that try to wow our eyes instead of appealing to our brain? Will these movies become the Call of Duty of the film world, or are they already there? Am I just crazy? Go!
After avoiding the game for some time, I finally picked up StarCraft 2 last week. Part of the reason I did my best to thwart the temptation of this popular RTS is because I know what these kinds of games do to me. They take away my life and they make me an angry person.
You see, part of the problem is that whatever genes are required to be good at micro-managing units, I just don’t have them. This makes me generally terrible at any and all RTS games. On top of that, I do happen to have the genes that make one an obsessive compulsive stat monger. So, naturally, these two things are at odds with another, and I inevitably tumble down a voracious toilet bowl flush of addiction. I suck, I obsess about build orders, I still suck – and so on.
Anyway, I’ve spent most of last night playing (and losing) to pretty much the entirety of BattleNet. So here are my questions for you lovely people. For you StarCraft 2 players, do you have any advice for a guy trying to get his Terran on? And to everyone else, what do you do when you continually lose at a game you play competitively? How do you handle it? Go!
Note: This series is a correspondence between fellow writer Anthony Taylor and myself about one of the most critically acclaimed games of all time, Half-Life 2. In the first HL2 file, we talked about our history with Half-Life and the opening of Half-Life 2.
This week, we cover the levels Root Kanal through Ravenholm.
Not to overload everyone with impressions on L.A. Noire before a proper review goes up, but I’ve had a few thoughts about games as a whole while I’ve been busting through it the last few nights. You see, as much as I love the game (it’s already one of my frontrunners for GotY, even halfway through), it’s got quite a few bugs and glitches that I’ve run into.
In one case, I was told to immediately return to the Coroner for urgent news, so I went there instead of the next place on my list of locations. When I arrived, the cutscene that played essentially pretended like I had been to the previous location, and actually spoiled some of the case for me by assuming I’d already done those things. Later in the game, I had the choice to charge one of two suspects for murder. However, the game wouldn’t allow me to pick the suspect I really wanted to nail for the crime. I had to pick the other one by default, and yet, all the cut scenes since then have acted like I picked the suspect I couldn’t pick to begin with.
Needless to say, these outcomes are a little annoying, for as much work as the cases are, particularly when you’re as meticulous about finding the clues and exploring every avenue of the interrogation as I am. The interesting thing is, these issues don’t keep me from loving the game, even though they tend to be frustrating. I remember feeling the same way about Mass Effect, a wonderful game with lots of glitches. One particularly keen review I read of that game had the reviewer seeing those bugs as the sweat on an Olympic athlete. I feel the same way here with L.A. Noire.
So my question is this: at what point do we stop forgiving a game all of its faults and bugs? For other games, I probably would have been fed up after some of those story issues happened, but L.A. Noire has me so enthralled I just kept playing. When do you guys get too fed up with games to continue? What bugs and issues would you consider game breaking? Go!
Hello, GamerSushi faithful, did you miss me? I know that you guys probably didn’t even notice I was gone for a couple of days, but I was off in Vancouver watching a hockey game (pause for Canada jokes). Unfortunately, this little getaway clashed with the release of L.A. Noire, and I only got to try that out last night. While I’m finding the controls a little too clunky for my liking, the interrogations are super awesome and the facial animations continue to astound me.
Besides L.A. Noire, we’ve also seen the release of the Witcher 2 on PC, and I’ve been hearing rave reviews about it both here and other places. It’s definitely on my list of “must haves”, so I’ll hopefully be able to pick that up soon. Based on the screenshot I used for this article, the game should be titillating in all the right ways.
So what are you guys playing? I know we already have a whole thing about L.A. Noire, but if you’ve got any Witcher 2 thoughts, this is the place to put them. Hit me up with those comments, son!
L. A. Noire is here, folks. Team Bondi and Rockstar have delivered the last big release before the summer drought, and now the entire world is immersing itself in the harrowing mysteries of 1940s L.A. Or at least, that’s what’s going on in my house, anyway.
I’ve only played a few hours of L.A. Noire at this point, but already it’s made a great impression on me. In the same way that calling Red Dead Redemption “GTA with horses” was a bit off the mark, calling L. A. Noire “GTA in the 1940s” misses the point as well. The game plays out like a much more polished Heavy Rain in some ways, and in other ways feels like playing through a pulp mystery novel. The investigation mechanics are a nice change of pace from other Rockstar releases, and the whole thing has already sucked me in a bit. And of course, as everyone’s saying, the facial animations are astounding. We’ll see how well the whole thing holds up over 20-30 hours.
What about you guys? Who else is playing some L.A. Noire? Roll call!
In case you didn’t notice, Playstation Network has begun its return. It seems that the resurrection of the downed PSN kicks off with a Customer Appreciation program leading the way. Once the PSN Store is back up and running you can snag yourself two free games from a list of several titles (within the first 30 days) such as Little Big Planet, inFAMOUS and Super Stardust HD. I personally will pick up Little Big Planet and inFAMOUS. You can check out more Q&A about the PSN restoration here.
There are some other bonuses too, including some “on us” movie rentals, and some PSN Plus time as well. It’s all a fairly gracious package from Sony to try to smooth things over, but there are obviously going to be people that come down on both sides of this. Does two free games and a “we’re sorry” make up for the time lost and possible personal information damage? What are your thoughts on the whole issue? Still trust Sony?
Alright nerds, it’s time to get real around here. When I’m not busy slamming beers and stealing your girlfriends, I sometimes play video games. As a guy who really knows his stuff, I thought I’d do all you dweebs a favor and tell you which of these upcoming games are worth your time and money. I’ve been convinced by the other dudes around here to use the grading scale to rate these games, so let’s pop those collars and get down to business. This is gonna be boss.
Well, it was only inevitable that when we all finished Portal 2, the next podcast would be mostly dominated by that discussion. So, Episode 27 is the fruition of that idea. In it, we chat for a very long time about Portal 2, and then we move on to other big topics from the last couple of weeks, including Nintendo’s Project Cafe and the crazy huge hack of PSN.
After all of that tomfoolery, we jump into an exciting game of Fill in the Blank that was extremely well-played by myself. Trust me, you’ll want to hold onto your butts from my amazing vocabulaciousness. Anyway, be careful of the Portal 2 section, which makes up the first half hour, because the discussion comes complete with single player spoilers. If you’re not wanting to hear those, feel free to skip about 30 minutes ahead, as indicated by the time chart below.
What are you waiting for? Listen, rate and enjoy, yo.
Portal 2 is out today as we’re all very, very aware, but there was another release this week that’s been overshadowed a bit by Valve’s behemoth: the Gears of War 3 Beta. I know that we’ve been talking about it a lot here on the site, and thanks to my Epic Edition of Bulletstorm, I got to hop in and try out the multiplayer flavor of Gears of War 3.
So far, I’m really impressed with the Beta. There are, thankfully, few glitches and I can actually get into matches, which is a big improvement over Gears of War 2. The progression from cover based shooting to close in melee combat feels natural, and it’s a real thrill to run your chainsaw through someone’s back when they aren’t expecting it. I’m finding the sawed-off shotgun a little over-powered, but that’s probably because I keep running into it like a moron.
Even though I’m loving the Gears 3 Beta, I ran into the angriest gamer I’ve come across in a long time last night. As I’m usually in a party with whomever I’m playing online with, I don’t get to hear the braying of the masses, but last night I put on my headphones and listened to the fury this man had to offer.
He got mad at me for reviving him, got mad at people for not reviving him, was pissed off that he ran into places with no backup, and made one player quit when he wouldn’t stop telling him that he was worse than a bot. I get that it’s a little frustrating when you’re stuck on a team with a bunch of ineffective players, but I could never fathom getting that angry about a match that’s ten minutes at most.
I wish I had recorded this guy’s outbursts, because they were seriously hilarious. I think that abrasive gamers have passed beyond offensive and into hilarious because we’re so used to the weirdness of the Internet as a whole. Have you guys ever ran across a gamer so angry that it stuck with you? Is anyone playing the Gears of War 3 Beta, and what do you think of it?
Fresh off my little essay on how war gaming needs a break, I decided to flex my hypocrisy muscles and try out Magicka: Vietnam, the new war flavored expansion for the co-op monster slaying fest. The neat thing about Magicka: Vietnam is that only one person needs to have the DLC; everyone else can join on them and play through the levels, although they don’t get access to the fatigue and helmet wearing wizard skin. Kitted out with an American flag staff and my trusty M16A1, I hopped into a Huey and prepared to face the hordes of Goblin-Cong that no doubt awaited me in the jungle ahead.
Magicka: Vietnam takes the crazy spell-casting insanity of the main game and plants it firmly in a battlefield setting, giving all your enemies firearms and having you fight alongside infantrymen. You can use a gun, much like the M60 in the main game, and you can duck behind cover, a replacement for the block move that was rarely used. If you’ve played Magicka proper, you can pretty much guess how the expansion plays, but add a rocking 60′s soundtrack and some summonable napalm strikes and you’ve got a great recipe for a few awesome hours doing co-op. The expansion includes one scenario based mission and one survival map, but they can be replayed for quite a while as you try out the new guns, and it’s always fun to see how many goblins you can nail in one napalm hit.
I’ve been playing Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood again because of the recent release of the single player centric ‘The Da Vinci Disappearance’ DLC. The content itself is quite fun, and a darn sight better than the expansions released for Assassin’s Creed 2. As I’m once again firmly ensconced in the Assassin’s Creed franchise, I decided to look around at the various other properties that UbiSoft has put out for the series, namely Project Legacy, the Facebook game connected to UPlay, and through that, the Assassin’s Creed games.
I can hear you groaning already about the fact that I’m playing a Facebook game, but Project Legacy isn’t Farmville. While the interface is really simple (you spend Action Points on a given sequence to achieve 100% synchronization) it really feels like an Assassin’s Creed game, boasting an Animus-like interface and featuring some shady dealings on behalf of the Abstergo Corporation, who’re putting you through the Project.
The above image may or may not have happened. It’s mostly for the lulz.
So I finally got to see a 3DS up close and personal. I’ve honestly been excited about this since the handheld was first announced last year. It’s kind of weird to me that Nintendo keeps putting out trailers for it, because it’s really one of those things that can only be evaluated firsthand. During my trip to Best Buy yesterday to purchase Evangelion 2.22 (woot), I got my chance.
Saw this while browsing Maximum PC the other day. It’s a quick look at some essential games with 3D characters from the last 19 years (gosh I feel old now) The focus is on a picture system starting with Wolfenstein 3D from 1992 moving up to todays big hitter of Crysis 2. It’s a cool history of how 3D characters have changed over the years, giving you a good look at the evolution of character graphics.
Hark and rejoice (and other fun things) friends, for Dragon Age 2 has been bestowed upon our collective brows, adorning us with epic RPG action and signature Bioware storytelling know-how. That last bit was an unintentional rhyme, but I don’t feel like editing the sentence. It seems you’re stuck with my accidental poetry.
Anyway, Dragon Age 2 is out, and I happily plunged into it last night for a couple of hours. After more than half an hour of fiddling with some ridiculous online EA garbage to redeem my preorder bonuses (which didn’t work), I was finally able to play the game proper. I was admittedly nervous about this game after the review embargo lifted yesterday, because so far everyone seems to have it pegged at about the same scores the first game received. Not that that’s a bad thing, exactly. I loved the first game, it’s just that I was hoping for a Mass Effect 2 style improvement.
It seems that the biggest complaints being leveled (get it?) against Dragon Age 2 would be that in terms of its story, it replaced the grand, sweeping 60 hour tale of the first game with a more local, small scale story that only spans about 20-30 hours. Instead of Ferelden-hopping and dealing with a massive conflict, the game focuses on one city and the political events inside of it. Other complaints about the game deal with its inventory system, which, while benefiting from a good old-fashioned streamline, makes almost all loot generic. And we all know we love us some RPG loot, yes?
Today is a big day for EA Games as they not only drop Dead Space 2 on us, but also unleash the multiplayer demo for Crysis 2 on the Xbox 360 and Bulletstorm on both consoles (no PC, sorry fellas). Since there’s really not much else going on in the world of gaming (and I’ve got a lot of free time) I decided to check out both demos and report on them for you. Ain’t I thoughtful?
The first one that I tried was the multiplayer demo for Cyrsis 2. I played a lot of the original on the PC, including some very fun stints in the multiplayer mode. While the original version emphasized large-scale maps with vehicles a la Battlefield, the sequel drops you into small arenas like those found in Call of Duty. Both teams are equipped with the series’ iconic Nanosuit and there are several load-outs to choose from, unlocked via ranking up through the in-game progression system.
Gameplay wise, it’s exactly as I imagined Crysis would be if I played it with a gamepad as opposed to a mouse and keyboard system. As an old-school PC guy, the mouse and keyboard set up is far superior for fast-paced gameplay, so I ended up with more deaths than kills. Watching everyone else use their suit powers to leap around the map and absorb bullets was pretty wicked though, and the game definitely looks gorgeous. Crysis 2 on the 360 doesn’t look anything like the videos parading around on the Internet, but it is one of the better looking game I’ve played in recent memory. Suffice it to say that, while it was fun, I’d much prefer to get it on the PC come release day. One thing that did irk me about the graphics is that the level I was playing on, Skyline, features a lot of brown textures, and the opposing team was decked out in brown colored Nanosuits. Seeing as my team was wearing white, this struck me as a little unbalanced. Hit the jump for my thoughts on Bulletstorm!
Yesterday, I got off the late bus and finally picked up Call of Duty: Black Ops, joining the masses currently playing through another one of Treyarch’s well-received stabs at the CoD franchise. So far, I’m a huge fan of the campaign, and it’s managed some intense and epic moments, and the pace never lets up on you from the moment it starts with its memorable opening missions.
However, during the first Vietnam level, S.O.G., I’ve run into a bit of a problem with some bad game design. It turns out I’m not the only one, either. If you haven’t played the game (and even if you have), there’s a point in the mission where your objective is to take a hill back from the NVA. They are storming across and hopping down in trenches, and your mission marker tells you to get to the bottom of the hill.
If there was ever a title out there scampering about with a question mark firmly planted above its head, it would definitely be Dragon Age 2. While the original game in the newly birthed fantasy franchise was a slightly revamped cross between the combat sensibilities of Bulder’s Gate and the dialog system of older BioWare games like Knights of the Old Republic, Dragon Age 2 is, to further use our phrase, “Mass Effecting” it a little. Gone is the very mutable player character: you now control a human named Hawke, who’s only variables are gender and class. How is this going to work in a world that was defined by your actions and not necessarily your character? BioWare has just dropped some relevant knowledge on us in the form of a developer diary which I’ve embedded below:
BioWare is playing Dragon Age 2 very close to the chest this time around, causing a lot of Dragon Age: Origins’ fans to raise a very justified eyebrow. While we’ll see for certain on March 2 whether Dragon Age 2 can live up to the original, at this point I’m certain that BioWare’s pedigree speaks for itself. Who’s got Dragon Age on their must buy list?
With the break we took on GamerSushi over the last couple of weeks, I suddenly played more video games than I’ve played in a long while. Correlation? Probably.
One of the games I sampled in my several week long buffet was Enslaved. The game was good, but not great, although I would still recommend it for anybody looking for an Uncharted fix with not-quite-as-good gameplay. Sadly, the game underperformed like crazy, and is reportedly one of the bigger busts of the year in terms of sales.
Part of me wonders how much of this has to do with the game’s demo. Like many games, Enslaved’s trial covers the first level of the game, which provides a basic introduction to the world and the main character, Monkey. And when I say basic, I really mean it. It’s meant as the set up for the story rather than the gameplay, with incredibly linear platforming sections and only the slightest of combat. Much of the game revolves around the co-op aspect with the AI partners you encounter, and the platforming and combat grow from there. The first level is in no way representative of the game as a whole, so it’s baffling to me that Namco Bandai and Ninja Theory would choose that as the sample that they wanted people to play.
I’ve made no secret about my love for Battlefield: Bad Company 2, and on more than one occasion I’ve referred to the multiplayer as the best I’ve ever played. How fortunate for me, then, that after months and months of free maps (hey, most weren’t that great, but they didn’t cost me a dime), Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is a getting a full-fledged expansion with Vietnam. Since I’m a total sucker for anything CCR, this trailer is right up my alley, and maybe it will be for you too.
Apparently this multiplayer add-on is blowing critics out of the water because IGN gave it a 9.5. PC players are getting access to Vietnam on Saturday, three days in advance of the console players. I’m picking this up for sure, but what about you guys? Are you going to run through the jungle?