Pixel Count: Great Expectations

Between Sim City, and the new announcement of Assassin’s Creed 4, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the way gamers set and manage their own expectations when it comes to new games.

The disappointment for Sim City comes from knowing that a ridiculously good game might be lying beneath the surface of some extremely frustrating mechanical issues. From the servers not working (I was put into a 20 minute queue last night in the middle of a session) to the ancient-feeling social interactions, and some of the really odd rules of gameplay (too-small cities and some unhelpfully helpful Sim guides), I’m disappointed because Sim City might be a masterpiece completely stepping on its own feet.

With Assassin’s Creed 3, I felt a little lured into a game that was ultimately a total bomb. From carefully selected vertical slices of gameplay for hands-on previews to unbelievably cleverly edited trailers, Assassin’s Creed 3 looked set to put the series back to what it was with Brotherhood, while simultaneously striking out in a bold, new direction. What we got instead was a total mess, and it made me evaluate the way I take in my gaming news, which I’m already pretty strict about to begin with. Needless to say, I won’t be excited about AC4 anytime soon.

So I figured for today’s poll I’d ask you guys where you derive most of your expectations for upcoming games. Hit up the poll, and then the comments!

Where do you get expectations for an upcoming game?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is a Cut Above

metal gear rising revengeance

Given that Kojima Productions couldn’t turn Metal Gear Rising into an actual game, I’m kind of surprised that Platinum Games (makers of Bayonetta) were able to take the basic premise of “Raiden slices stuff up” and make a pretty kick-ass title.

Taking place about four years after the events of Metal Gear Solid 4, Raiden is back in his cyborg body, working for Maverick Enterprises. A surprise attack on a convoy he’s protecting leads to him adopting an even more powerful cyborg frame and vowing to get revengeance on those who wronged him (such as Jetstream Sam, and yes, that face is even better when you see it in-game).

Revengeance is a serious departure from the stealth-oriented gameplay of the MGS titles; when you hear the iconic Alert sound “!”, you know it’s time to leap into action, as opposed to running and hiding. Raiden can chop up foes with a light or heavy attack, and you can use the new Zan-Datsu mode to slice foes open and steal their spines, which allows you to heal yourself on the fly (more accurately it’s a container of repairing nano-paste as opposed to a spine, but that doesn’t sound as cool).

Admittedly, I’m having a lot more fun with Revenageance than I thought I would. These types of beat-em-ups aren’t usually my cup of tea, but Metal Gear Rising is so bonkers I can’t help but be drawn in. I did reach a pretty serious road-block last night with some enemies that run counter to the mechanics that you’ve been taught up to that point, but I’m eager to jump back in. Has anyone else played Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance? What do you think? Anyone going to pick it up?

Bringing Back Space Combat with Strike Suit Zero

strike suit zero

Welcome back to “What We’re Playing” Monday here on GamerSushi!

I grew up playing the old X-Wing game for the PC and it’s been sad for me to see that genre fall out of favor with gamers at large. True, that game was perhaps a little too complicated, but even simple space combat games have been few and far between the last couple of years.

Born Ready Games, with a Kickstarter backing, has decided to reboot the space combat genre and bring us Strike Suit Zero, a game for the PC that has not only spaceship dog-fighting but also lets you pilot a kick-ass mecha. Yes, you read that right: about an hour and a bit into the game, you get access to a Strike Suit, a prototype fighter that has the secondary function of transforming into a giant robot.

The controls for the game a pretty straightforward: as a fighter you get plasma cannons, a machine gun and a variety of missiles. Using the machine gun to strip the shields of enemy fighters and finishing them off with your plasma cannons keeps your fingers busy and doesn’t make you reliant on one weapon as the plasma guns tend to drain fast, especially when they’re linked. Once you get the Strike Suit, a simple tap of a button (or key, but I really recommend playing with a controller) turns your snubfighter into a death-dealing, missile spewing machine. Continue reading Bringing Back Space Combat with Strike Suit Zero

Mass Effect 3: Omega is a Non-Essential Side-Story

mass effect 3 omega review

As excellent as Mass Effect 2’s Lair of the Shadow Broker was, BioWare might have shot themselves in the foot when it comes to post-release DLC. While it would be unrealistic to expect that every piece of Mass Effect DLC would be up to the same standards, it kind of laid the implication that any quests given to the player outside of the main game would advance the story, or at least fill in some background information.

To BioWare’s credit, Mass Effect 3: Leviathan did dredge up a more fleshed-out history of the Reapers, but the newest effort for Mass Effect 3 DLC, Omega, doesn’t add anything new to the story, or change your perception of the established characters you’ll be interacting with.

Shepard is contacted by Aria T’Loak, the Pirate Queen of the space station Omega, to help her take her throne back from Cerberus, who threw her out before the main campaign of Mass Effect 3. Because of Aria’s dislike of your squadmates, you’re going in without any familiar faces from the Normandy. I’ve never bought into the character of Aria as much as BioWare seems to want me to, and being saddled with her for a couple hours just demonstrates how one dimensional she is. While the end of the Omega campaign has her softening a bit, for most of the time she grunts and threatens her way through dialogue sections, being so predictable that a new character, Nyreen the female turian, calls her on it. It doesn’t help that the voice actress behind Aria, Carrie-Anne Moss, sounds like she’s collecting a paycheck for most of her lines, only occasionally dipping into having any emotion besides bored anger. Continue reading Mass Effect 3: Omega is a Non-Essential Side-Story

GamerSushi Asks: Biggest Recent Disappointment?

assassins creed 3

If you’ve listened to the most recent podcast, then you’ll know that Assassin’s Creed 3 left one of the worst tastes in my mouth in recent gaming history. Not only did the game fall short of previous titles — it was flat out bad, something I rarely even say about a game I played all the way through.

From the controls to the story to the overall bugginess of the title, Assassin’s Creed 3 was a failure on multiple levels, and I pretty much have no qualms about saying that. It was an active step back from the excellence of Brotherhood, and even the good-but-problematic Revelations. The one redeeming spot in the game’s 10 hours or so that I spent with it would have to be the naval battles, which were an absolute joy — even more so when you consider how frustrating everything around them happened to be.

But enough of my ranting about Assassin’s Creed 3. I think one of the reasons I was so thoroughly disgusted by the game, aside from it being kind of crappy, is because of the wasted potential. We were given a new setting, a new character, a chance for resolution with a number of story threads and an actual revolution (pardon the pun) in terms of setting, gameplay elements and the like. And it was all a mess. After Revelations came out last year, I was ready to be done with the AC franchise for awhile, but the promise of AC3 lured me back. I don’t know if I’ll make that mistake again, after seeing all the wasted potential that this game lived up to.

So what about you guys? What’s the biggest recent gaming disappointment you’ve experienced? What’s the biggest disappointment of 2012? What made the game disappointing? Go!

PlanetSide2 Offers Three-Way FPS Action for Free

planetside 2

One game that always had potential but hit too early was PlanetSide, Sony Online Entertainment’s sci-fi MMO shooter. When it originally came out, the computers of the time were barely able to keep up with the huge environments and massive firefights that the game had to offer.

Now that computing technology has become a lot better, Sony Online Entertainment is taking another crack with PlanetSide 2, this time making the MMOFPS free-to-play. Having the ability to fight as one of three factions over three giant continents with and abundance of vehicles and player classes may seem like a crazy amount of content to give away for free, but the game pulls it off without finding a way to beat you over the head with microtransactions.

Don’t get me wrong, those exist, but they’re mostly cosmetic. Upgrades to your character and your weapons are bought with Certification points which are earned by killing enemies and taking capture points. While the base level attachments are fairly cheap, higher-level purchases can run upwards of a hundred points which take a while to earn. Fortunately, basic modifications like small increases to your base health are not that cost prohibitive.

Each of PlanetSide 2’s three factions have their own theme and style to go with it, like the Vanu Sovereignty which is all purple body suits and lasers or the New Conglomerate which look and fight a lot like the Browncoats from Firefly. Straddling the line between them is the Terran Republic, so no matter you fighting style (or taste for clothing) you can find a faction that suits you.

The battles in PlanetSide 2 can range from small skirmishes to all out war between the three factions with dozens of players on each side. Tanks and air support mix it up with infantry and all the classes have their role to play.

The only downside of the game right now is the lag and the fact that the UI is extremely cluttered, which might be intimidating for some new players. Figuring out how to take down bases is also a little tricky, but watching the tutotrial videos will help clear that up.

I’m really enjoying my time with PlanetSide 2, and I recommend that you check it out. It’s free, so the only thing you’re wasting is hard drive space. Has anyone else played PlanetSide 2? What do you think of it?

Star Wars: The Old Republic is Free-to-Play Done Wrong

the old republic free to play

Despite The Old Republic failing to grab me during its initial launch (and the error I had with getting my purchased copy of the game to actually validate so I could play past the first month) I was willing to check out its new free-to-play option. Besides clogging up my computer’s drive with gigabytes of game files, I wasn’t wasting money on it, so I figured there was no harm.

While The Old Republic might not suck up your hard-earned dollars, it has no problem with begging for them anyways. Right from the outset, you’re bombarded with the many awesome features that paying customers get access to, including the different playable races for the classes. I understand that BioWare and EA have to make money somehow, but beating players over the head with it just seems wrong. Even the Legacy system, which I unlocked during my first month as a Bounty Hunter, was closed off to me unless I was willing to plonk down some cash.

That’s in addition to the really weird gating that The Old Republic places on its free users, such as being unable to hide your helmet, send in-game mail or use more than two tool bars. For an MMO structured so similarly to World of Warcraft, you will need to have at least four bars available for use once you’re past level 30.

You can buy all these option of course, but those cost Cartel Coins, TOR’s new in-game currency. The amount of Coins you get and if there’s a discount (or free Coins) depends on whether you’re a free user or a preferred customer, someone who had subscription time paid for up to two months before the game went free. Of course, if you had the Collector’s Edition, there are more Cartel Coins for you to use.

Blocking out such basic things for free users as helmet toggling (which is necessary because the armor design in TOR is laughable) and action bars means that this MMO will do everything you can to get you to pay a monthly fee. If you’re looking for a way to experience The Old Republic’s decent player stories, you can do that, but anything beyond there is for paying customers only.

Has anyone else gone back to TOR? Have you reactivated you subscription, and if so, why?