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?
Last night, the evil dragon aspect Deathwing burst from the core of Azeroth, forever changing the face of the world that millions of people have been adventuring across for the past six years. After journeying to Outland and then to the frozen wasteland of Northrend, adventurers are called back to the main continents of the World of Warcraft to see how the Cataclysm has changed the planet.
As we all know, World of Warcraft: Cataclysm brings some big changes to “vanilla WoW”, as the base game is also known. The landscape, which had remained mostly static for the game’s lifetime, has been radically altered by an apocalyptic event. While the expansion does add a bunch of things under the hood, increases the level cap to 85 and re-tools a bunch of quests, this virtual face-lift is the most noticeable aspect of the the changes WoW has undergone.
While I’ve manage to avoid being sucked back into the hype, I know there’s a couple users here (like SK Beans and my friend The Nage) who are busy flying around Azeroth grinding out levels until they reach 85. Amazingly, someone has already reached the level cap for Cataclysm, so no pressure. If you’re playing Cataclysm, what are your impressions? Does it breath new life back into the World of Warcraft? What do you want to see from future expansions?
Reviewing game experiences is a tricky business. Often times, my opinions about a game change and shift over time. I’ve found that more often than not, I really need some time to step away from an experience to see what sticks and what ultimately fades away in my mind.
For instance, I reviewed Heavy Rain several months back, and while I enjoyed it, I did have some strongly negative feelings about how the game unfolded at the end. Oddly enough, now that I look back on it, I find myself feeling more positive about it overall, and actually dying to go back and play it through. I know this happens for me in the opposite way sometimes as well. This happened after Metal Gear Solid and more recently, Alan Wake. With both of those, my initial impressions gave way and I now look back much less fondly on them.
So what about you guys? What games have grown on you over time that you didn’t like as much at first? What games did you feel more negatively about over time? Go!
If any game series in the history of our pastime has a penchant for over-promising and under-delivering, it’s definitely Peter Molyneux’s prized creation Fable. From its first inception, Fable promised to bring us a fully realized world that would change according to our actions, where trees would grow from tiny acorns to mighty oaks in real time. Of course, since the original game debuted on the Xbox, the console’s processing power couldn’t harness the time-warping ambition of Molyneux’s design so the final product was somewhat neutered. It was still a fun, addictive game, but nevertheless far from what we were promised.
Thus the stage was set for the series where a new game would be accompanied by Peter Molyneux leading the hype train making all sorts of wild boasts that we knew would never, ever come true no matter how badly we wanted to believe. Fable 2 has come and gone and now we’re on the third title. As the old saying goes, is the third time really the charm?
Call of Duty: Black Ops is finally out my friends, and it’s getting good reviews across the board. From what I’ve seen, the praise is ranging from “best Call of Duty yet” to “It’s OK, but it’s Treyarch so it’s better than I expected”. Honestly, I think by this point that Treyarch have proven themselves to be a competent studio. Sure, Call of Duty 3 was a little rough, but for a franchise off-team, they’ve managed to turn things around pretty significantly (I mean, they’re no Obsidian).
In honor of this monumental release, I thought I’d get a little roll call going. Who has Black Ops, and what do you think of it? Have you tried the campaign, multiplayer or zombie mode? What do you think of all the new additions that Treyarch has made, and what about the omissions? I was a little disappointed to hear that Spec Ops mode isn’t making a return. Lastly, what platform are you gaming on? Personally, I’m going PC, but I’m tempted to pick up a 360 copy just for the achievements. I know, I know, I’m terrible. Alright, hit me!
I got to try out Kinect over the weekend, and I had enough hands on time with Microsoft’s full-body motion controller to get a decent impression. This isn’t a review, per se, but it’s still going to be a decent summary of my thoughts on it.
Kinect, if you’ve somehow managed to avoid the copious amount of information about it over the last year, is a sensor bar that hooks up to your Xbox 360 and uses an infrared scan of your body as input in specific games as opposed to the remote-wand set up used by the Wii and the PlayStation Move. The major hook of Kinect is the lack of any extraneous methods of control: it’s just the game and your body. There are no complicated button combos to remember, no dual analog sticks to fumble around with. By making the game an extension of yourself, Microsoft hopes to tap into the casual market by removing arguably the largest obstruction for new gamers: controllers. Does Kinect work in this regard, or was Kevin Butler right about the need for buttons?
Video games, how I miss thee. Over the last several months, I’ve been swarmed by all kinds of things that have been taking away my gaming time. Some of these distractions fall into the realm of that general nagging living life thing (working, broken down vehicles, etc), and others are chosen (Krav Maga, personal writing).
Needless to say, I’ve been itching to play some games. When I’m not overwhelmed by these non-gaming nuisances, my time is being thrown into the following: Angry Birds and NBA 2K11. A basketball game may seem like an odd choice, but NBA 2K11 has already given me hours of sporty goodness. My brother and I have played countless games against one another, talking trash and throwing down sick jams all the meanwhile. If you’re into sports games at all, I’d suggest picking it up. On my radar are Fallout: New Vegas, Black Ops and Dead Rising 2 in the near future.
What about you guys? What are you playing this weekend and this week? Go!
The user interface is incredibly important to a person’s gaming experience, yet it often seems that this particular facet of design is either over looked or included as a last-minute thought. Even games with amazing visuals elsewhere have generic menus and head’s up displays, marring their otherwise perfect visages.
As a group, I think that gamers have gotten used to average looking UIs and we usually block them out. However, there are some that stand head and shoulders above the rest. Fable 3 is one of those, the few and the proud. This is a game that eschews the idea of traditional menus entirely and replaces the pause screen with your Sanctuary, essentially a magical bat-cave. There’s no long, arduous trek, or even loading, just a simple press of the “start” button brings you back to your John Cleese-staffed retreat. To me, this is a masterful solution to the multitude of clothing, weapon, spell, and quest menus that cluttered up previous games of the series and similar titles in the genre. I spent a good ten to fifteen minutes looking around seeing what it offered, and I’m anticipating the options that will come along to pimp it out as the game progresses.
It’s human nature that sometimes we become so stubborn about certain things that nothing can change our opinions. Video games seem to be one of the most divisive topics when it comes to people’s stances on them, second only to movies. Some people are so sure of their perception of a title that, even when the reviews come out one way or another, they turn a blind eye to them.
The most recent example I can think of is The Force Unleashed 2, which comes out today. The game is universally being panned for having repetitive gameplay, a meandering, pointless story and a short length. Should I have shifted my pre-order money onto something else? Possibly, but I’m so sure that I’ll enjoy TFU 2 that I marched resolutely into GameStop and picked that game up with pride. Sure, the clerk may have looked at me like I was crazy, his arched eyebrow saying “have you read the Internet this morning?” but I am willing to look past the reviews and try it for myself, consensus be damned.
That little rant brings us to you guys, and whether this little phenomenon has ever happened to you. Have you ever been so enraptured by a game that, for whatever reason, you choose to clamp down on the part of your brain that regulates common sense and proper spending and just buy that sucker?
We all knew that Microsoft had deep pockets, but I would have never pegged them as the kind to go hog wild with their limitless font of cash. Apparently I was wrong in that assumption, because the software giant has pledged half a billion dollars to promote Kinect, the controller-free peripheral launching November 4 for the Xbox 360.
According to the New York Post, Microsoft began planning the multifaceted launch of Kinect almost 18 months ago with the help of Stephen Spielberg. With such a large amount of money dedicated to getting Kinect on everyone’s minds, we can expect to see the little black sensor pop everywhere from soda cans and magazines to the TV shows Glee and Dancing with the Stars. All this is going towards getting Kinect in the minds of parents for the upcoming holiday season, where it will be squaring off against the Wii and Sony’s newly launched Move controller.
If you thought the ad campaigns for Halo 3 or Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 got annoying leading up to launch, just wait until you can’t round a corner without seeing Kinect. To be fair, we’re not really the target audience for the sensor, but I’m sure there will be some “core” gamers out there picking it up.
I think this makes it more than clear that Microsoft is in love with the technology behind Kinect, and they’re really throwing the whole Xbox division behind it. Now, I don’t consider technically consider myself a Microsoft fanboy, but I’m kind of worried what the possible failure of Kinect will do to the console. While I think that Microsoft can take the hit overall, we may see the end of the Xbox if this doesn’t work. Half a billion is a lot of money, even if it is just a drop in the bucket for Microsoft.
This kind of news is just begging for your comments, so let us know what you think! Can half a billion guarantee a good showing for Kinect this holiday? Will a possible failure spell doom for future versions of the Xbox?
Whether we like it or not, Halo is a game that changed the FPS landscape forever. It can be argued that this is for both good and ill, but the fact remains that the epic FPS sci-fi series from Bungie typically constitutes a natural disaster in whatever year it arrives. Halo: Reach has made landfall, gentlemen, and it’s time to sort out the damage.
After a couple weeks of reading other Halo: Reach reviews, there seems to be a general consensus. One, that writers like to use the phrase “swan song”. Two, that Bungie’s final installment into the Halo series culminates in what might be its greatest and most critically acclaimed title yet. Reviewing a Halo game carries with it a tricky balance of managing hype, expectations and fanboy glee, but in Reach, it’s hard to ignore all of the wonderful things that Bungie accomplished, and how they’ve changed the game yet again moving forward.
So, just how good is the game? Read on to find out.
Although I think I’m going to know the answer for the half of the comments on this one, I’m going to roll with it anyway. It’s been a few weeks since we’ve asked what you guys were up to, and now is as good of a time as any.
For me, I’ve been dealing with Mass Effect 2 DLC, which, seriously, Lair of the Shadow Broker is incredible. In addition to that I’ve also been doing a little bit of Lego Harry Potter (yes, really). And most importantly, the title that has sucked away my life for this entire last week: Halo: Reach. Hopefully a review will be coming soon, but I really love the game, and haven’t been this absorbed in one for as long as I can remember. It’s owning my sleep, my interactions with people, everything. Just the way a good gaming binge should.
So what about you guys? What are you playing? And on top of that, who has Reach and would be up for a community play date sometime soon? Go!
Every generation of gaming seems defined by either new pieces of technology or something else that broadens our definition of what a game entails. One of the new advents that’s become more widespread in the last few years would be what is now known as DLC, a bit of an adaptation of the expansion pack from PC’s gaming glory days. It’s yet another example of the transition of gaming as it has moved from the desk to the couch, and it’s taken up its own shape as a result, both on the console and on PC.
Only in the last few years have developers started to show exceptional treatment in the handling of DLC, finding ways to extend the life of the games we love in a variety of ways. In no particular order, here are our top six games with great DLC:
It is with a heavy heart that I write this post, loyal readers. As a huge fan of the Metroid series, beginning with the very first game back during the NES days and continuing through all the sequels, even the Game Boy version, I was looking forward to Other M with no wariness whatsoever. After all, even though I didn’t care for Metroid Prime 2 and 3 all that much, I thought the return to a non-FPS point of view would give Samus the jolt she needed in order to revitalize the franchise. And with Team Ninja adding their power to Nintendo’s, what could go wrong?
So, PAX 2010 has come and gone, and I’m glad that I finally took this year to go down and experience it. I saw a lot of games before their release and some cosplay that I could have gone without. Of course, such a big event deserves a bigger write up, so steel yourselves and jump into my PAX 2010 Round-Up Spectacular! In this post I’m going to be covering the games that I saw with the pictures going up in a separate post once I sort out and re-size the photos.
So, StarCraft 2 is finally out as of last week. You’ve been playing it, I’ve been playing it, and Eddy wishes he’s been playing it. Now that we’ve had a good amount of time to digest Blizzard’s long-in-the-making sci-fi RTS follow up, I thought I’d start a little topic where we could discuss our thoughts on the single and multiplayer portions and maybe start a little Battle.net group so you can wail on me as often as you like.
Starting with the single player, I have to say that the game is very, very solid in its design. Blizzard has been tweaking and polishing the balance on all of their games for a long time, and it really shows in the tightness of the units and how they counter-act against each other. While you do get access to a wider variety of troops in the single player game, they’ve all been assigned a specific role much like their multiplayer counter-parts. There are no “god-units” here, just one that might happen to do better in a given mission. While so far the designs of the missions themselves haven’t really stood out, I’ve been able to do fairly well and I haven’t become frustrated with impossible goals or cheap AI tactics.
Between missions, you can explore Jim Raynor’s battlecruiser The Hyperion. Along the way, you’ll stock the ship with various characters who will aid you in your quest or provide you with missions and upgrades. Exploring your ship is a cross between Mass Effect and an old-school point and click adventure game in that you can talk to or click on anyone and anything, but it’s all done without ever taking direct control of Jim. I liked this part of the game a lot as it added a lot of personality to characters we’re used to seeing from a top-down view. The ability to augment units with Protoss and Zerg tech is also a welcome addition because of how it changes the dynamic of the units. Again, it won’t make any one unit over-powered but the upgrades do give you a nice edge. Like I’ve mentioned before I’m finding the mission design a little samey, but it is improving the farther I get into the game. Once the story starts rolling, you get hooked pretty easily.
Now, I’m going to let you guys go to town on multiplayer, because StarCraft has always had a steep learning curve. I’m not exactly terrible at the game, but a competent player could wipe the floor with me easily. I’ve been doing a few comp stomps with a buddy, and those have been great fun in addition to letting me practice my build orders and hotkey commands. So what do you guys think of StarCraft 2?
As you’re all probably aware, most of the GamerSushi staff are in the throes of Alien Swarm addiction. The game is really engaging, and it manages to wedge itself nicely into the niche left in my gaming life by Diablo 2. Valve was even kind enough to give it to us for free, and judging by how their servers got the crap beat out of them on its release day, they’re probably kicking themselves for not charging at least five dollars for the thing.
Even though we all love Alien Swarm, it’s not a perfect game. There are a few issues I’ve had with it, but my mind keeps glossing them over because of the price tag (or lack thereof). So I pose this question to you guys: can you even review free games? Price is definitely something that has affected the perception of past titles (ODST comes to mind), so will something that only costs us hard drive space be given an automatic pass in the grading department?
Something else I’d like you to consider is DLC. I’ve played all of the Mass Effect 2 content packs, and, when stacked against ME2 proper, they come up very poorly. Even Overlord, the most recent and best of the DLC, is kind of lack-luster compared to the main game and its selling price. Can DLC be rated on its own merits, or does it have to take the larger picture into account?