Now that we’re right in the middle of the fall of gaming, it’s probably good for us to take a moment to talk about expectations for the games we’re wanting to play. I know a few people who get so worked up over what they want out of something, there’s absolutely no way it could hit the target they’ve set. Every new movie or game becomes a unicorn hunt, and we all know how hard it is to bring one of those things down unless we’ve got some kind of homing missile.
However, it’s always nice when a game you pick up goes beyond what you hoped and expected for it. A recent example for me would have to be Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, which far out shined anything I could have anticipated for the title. In past years, other titles that did the same thing would include Beyond Good and Evil, Grand Theft Auto 3, Metal Gear Solid 3, Final Fantasy IX (and XII), and Left 4 Dead 2. These were all games where I didn’t know what to expect when I played them, and then happened to pleasantly surprise me or blow me away.
What games in recent years have done the same for you? What games have disappointed you? What games left in the fall are you still looking forward to, and what do you think of the ones you’ve gotten to play? Go!
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I’m an achievement whore. I get the biggest kick out of earning new rewards, trophies, unlockables, points, you name it. I’m not really sure what bone in my brown body makes me this way, but some primal and awful thing is triggered in my core when I see that “achievement unlocked” bumper accompanied with that sweet melodious noise. While I’m not as into trophies on the PS3, the principle is the same and I love accomplishing these goals.
However, lately I’ve been noticing the way developers are handling the doling out of these rewards, and it’s been a curious study. While early games of this generation were heavy on rewarding players with achievements based on a certain kind of behavior (be it in a solo or multiplayer setting), I’m noticing a new trend. Take Mass Effect 2, for example. The first game rewarded players for reaching certain good/evil (paragon and renegade, to be more precise) levels, while the sequel does not. Honestly, I’m finding that this makes for a better experience the second time around, as I’m not feeling like I have to always lean in one direction to be sure I don’t miss out on the achievement.
Likewise, multiplayer games are dropping the focus on weapon-based achievements (with the occasional ludicrous exception), and are leaning more towards gameplay and gametype exploits. I think one of the worst offenders of this early on was Gears of War, which offered achievements based on what weapons you killed with. This lead to irritating matches with people doing nothing but using one kind of weapon like the torque bow or the pistol, and lead to lots of grumbling when players couldn’t find the weapon they wanted. This is different than say, Left 4 Dead 2’s achievements which rewards playing as a team (spitting on somebody that is being smoked, etc).
So what about you guys? Do you find that this kind of design lends itself to better gameplay styles? Do you even care? Or am I just that much of an achievement nut?
This Spring is going to be an usual one for us gamers. Heck, even this January is going to be odd. With some well-reviewed games like Bayonetta and Darksiders already hitting the shelves, as well as Mass Effect 2 dropping this week, it seems that we’re going to have our hands full with more than our Christmas gaming purchases. And that’s not even considering that Heavy Rain, Bioshock 2, Splinter Cell, Final Fantasy XIII and Crackdown are all on the way before the summer.
So, before (yet another) flood of good gaming options, what are you guys sinking your time into? Are you still working on the games you just got, have you purchased new ones, or have you returned to the old favorites?
Right now, I’ve been playing Left 4 Dead 2 on the XBox 360 and really enjoying the enhancements to the game. As much as people griped about its release, I’m impressed with just now how much content there is, and how well some of the new mechanics have been implemented. Really, kudos to Valve on proving some people wrong. In addition, I plan on starting some Brutal Legend tonight or tomorrow while I wait for Mass Effect 2 to be in my sweaty and anxious hands.
Many people joke about something called “Valve Time”, an imperceptible chronological measurement visible only to the revered developers themselves. Games of all sorts, even episodic content, seem to take forever to be released, but they are always of the highest quality. The original Left 4 Dead was also subject to the whims of Valve’s crazed machinations; it suffered delay after delay before finally being released to a heap of praise. Now, after only a year, the beloved zombie-killing co-op extravaganza has gotten a sequel. With such a short turn-around time between the original, is a year enough time for Valve to work their magic? Continue reading Review: Left 4 Dead 2
The holidays are coming up. The games are coming out. And here we are, with all these new toys to play with. What’s more important, though, is that some of us are going to have lots of time on our hands to play them next week, due to the wonderful thing known as Thanksgiving break.
Right now, I’ve been pouring my whole life into Dragon Age: Origins. It’s a very deep RPG with some great writing, a fascinating world, cool characters and a fun story. I have to say, I’m starting to hit the near obsessive point with it, wanting to play it all hours of the night and during the day. I don’t know if it’s that it’s such a wonderful game so much as I’ve been needing an RPG fix for a long time, and this has just what I’ve desired. We’ll see how I feel when I’m done.
I’m also playing Modern Warfare 2, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2, and I’m hoping to be knocking out some Assassin’s Creed II or Left 4 Dead 2 next week. What about you guys? What will you be playing during Thanksgiving week?
Though they might have been slightly overshadowed by the walking titan we know as Modern Warfare 2, two rather large games are making their presence known this week. One of them is a title that has had some silly controversy around it, and another is a sequel to a less than stellar but promising original IP that might turn into something more. I’m speaking of Left 4 Dead 2 and Assassin’s Creed 2, of course.
While I’m not one of the boycotters for L4D2, I still don’t have much desire to pick it up at all. I kind of burned myself out on the zombie slaying with the first game, so I’m having trouble mustering up enough gumption to go out and buy the thing. And while I was one of the few who enjoyed Assassin’s Creed, the sequel doesn’t intrigue me all that much, though I’ll probably give it a rental.
So what about you guys? Who out there is getting either of these games?
With all the new games coming out every year, it becomes tricky to negotiate which games you should/shouldn’t buy. Already this Fall, I’ve bought a game I didn’t expect to (Halo: ODST) and I’ve been tempted by two other titles I didn’t have any plans on buying (Forza 3 and Borderlands). However, there is inevitably the game that everyone else seems to love, but you don’t necessarily drink the kool-aid for the way others do.
For me, that might be Left 4 Dead 2 this year. In previous years, games like Bioshock and any of the Devil May Cry games have failed to catch my fancy. Same thing with Mario Galaxies. Also, and this one might get me yelled at- Ocarina of Time. Though others loved them, I just never caught the fever. What about you guys? What recent great games do you not drink the Kool-Aid for like everyone else does? Flame on!
Guess Valve didn’t get around to checking out the report that states the PS3 is experiencing a surge in popularity because Left 4 Dead 2 Lead Writer Chet Faliszek, in a recent interview with CVG has come out publicly to state that Valve views the 360’s online capabilities as “head-and-shoulders” over the PS3’s. In the same sentence, he also puts Microsoft’s console on equal footing with the PC, thus pissing off the Valve’ most fervent supporters at the same time.
Valve doesn’t really strike me as the muck-raking kind, but this statement has set off all kinds negative backlash from not only the Sony Defence Force, but also from Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford. Mr. Pitchford has in the past stated that he views the Steam platform as a less-than-ideal way for small developers to get their games onto the market, and now he’s got something to say about Valve’s posturing towards the PS3.
In a recent interview with Official Playstation Magazine, Randy equated Valve’s attitude to be comparable with that of fanboys, implying that they’ve become “X-bots”. Randy also thinks that the PS3 version of the Orange Box being handled by another company, and Valve viewing it as the “step-child” just speaks of “underlying sleaziness.”
The catapults have been loaded and fired by Gearbox, so it just remains to be seen if someone from inside Valve has anything to say about this. Frankly, I think that Valve’s comments are a bit out of line, but the venerable company clearly has some issues with Sony’s black monolith. This little game of back-and-forth could go on for a while, and it’s pretty ironic considering that Borderlands topped the Steam sales charts for a while.
What do you guys think, though? Is Valve just trolling, and is Gearbox just trying to catch them riding dirty? Can’t the developers just play along nicely?
As the self-explanatory title above states, both Left 4 Dead 2 and the upcoming Halo Waypoint, your X-Box hub for all things Halo, are going to feature Avatar Awards, little pieces of clothing and other accouterments that your creepy cartoon doppelganger can sport.
Avatar Awards are earned by completing specific achievements in the corresponding game; i.e. getting the “Dark Times” achievement in Halo 3: ODST will unlock an ODST hoodie. Tougher achievements will earn you some cooler pieces like a Drop Trooper helmet or the body armor.
This strikes me as a better endeavour than the current model of paying for Avatar items. Sure, a lot of people don’t really care about their Avatars, but I’m glad to finally be getting something back for putting in all that time to getting those achievements, or “cheevos”, as the kids are calling them now.
What do you guys think? Are Avatar awards a good way to start giving back to the gamers, or would something else intrigue you? What kind of games would like to see star giving awards? I’d like a Brotherhood of Steel power armor suit for my Avatar personally.
OK, I’ll be the first to admit that we’re probably getting pretty close to the Borderlands saturation point around here, but this story was too good to pass up. Three weeks ago, Borderland’s Creative Director Mikey Neumann promised that he would play the post-apocalyptic Role-Playing-Shooter with you and drop some rare loot if you could provide a picture of yourself pre-ordering the game via Twitter. It turns out that this little boast kind of back-fired on him as over 200 people took him up on the offer.
Since Borderlands released last Tuesday, Mikey has been ploughing through his list trying to get through as many of the lucky players as he can. The game hasn’t even come out on PC yet (it lands on Monday), so I bet that he’s got a ways to go.
This strikes me as admirable, considering the few weeks after a major game launches is when most of the studio’s development team takes their vacations. Essentially, Mikey is giving up the beach to play some Borderlands with the fans, so kudos to you good sir.
Borderlands itself is doing quite well; it’s topping the Steam sales chart, beating even Left 4 Dead 2. Every retail store I’ve visited has been sold out, too, but this is due more to a shortage in shipped products (so the clerk at EB told me, anyways) than overwhelming demand.
I’m waiting for the PC version personally, but are any of you playing it on the 360 or PS3, and what do you think?
Valve has bad luck with leaked videos, don’t they? First Meet the Spy got leaked, and now the opening cinematic for Left 4 Dead 2 has been snuck onto the internet via some digital skulduggery. Like the original opening movie for Left 4 Dead, it introduces the player to a whole bunch of game mechanics (what the new infected do, melee weapons, that type of stuff), while wrapping it all in an entertainingly gruesome package. Take a gander:
Not looking so much like a simple expansion now, am I right? I’m greatly anticipating ripping into some zombies with a chainsaw myself, but what about you guys?
We’ve got some good news coming out of the Left 4 Dead 2 front this week as it creeps inexorably closer to its November release date. With the demo coming up for pre-order customers (of which I am one), Valve has dropped information for another competitive mode called “Scavenge”.
In this new mode, the four survivors band together in an effort to gather fuel cans from around the level while the Special Infected try to choke, burn, and other-wise decimate the poor would-be escapees. Adding to the complication of having a whole passel of crazy zombies on your tail is the fact that the gas cans in Left 4 Dead are extremely fragile, and can easily be set off by either the Spitter’s acid or an errant bullet. “Scavenge” matches consists of three round at 120 seconds each, with each fuel can be collected by the Survivors adding twenty precious seconds to the clock. The Survivors need to find 16 cans spread across the level in order to win. The levels themselves are arena-like updates of sections from the existing campaign maps.
Now, this strikes me as an excellent idea. I used to play a Source mod called Zombie Master which had a similar mechanic to it, where the humans would collect various item from the level in order to rebuild an escape vehicle while the Zombie Master commanded his hordes in a bid to stop them. Granted, the role of Zombie Master was more of an RTS-type control scheme, but I think Left 4 Dead 2 can pull it off admirably.
So, what do you fellas think of this new mode? Does it strike your fancy, or are you going to stick to campaign and versus? Also, who else has pre-ordered this and for what system?
My brother, Evan, lives in the Seattle area, so of course he attended PAX. Nick, Eddy and I might have gone, except we were busily working on a Smooth Few Films mystery project. Maybe next year? Anyways, enjoy his extremely detailed report on the con! He only had to fight off a bit of the flu to bring it our way.
I think I understand what a journalist must feel like at times: There was so much going on that I just want the chance to tell people about it all, because you could go through the entire show for all three days and still not run out of things to see. Continue reading PAX 2009 Report
Poor Valve, they just can’t seem to catch a break. Hot on the heels of the Left 4 Dead 2 boycott debacle and the newly brewing Team Fortress 2 item-deletion snafu comes the news that the new Left 4 Dead campaign, Crash Course, is going to be free for PC users, but will cost 560 Microsoft Banana Bucks for 360 users.
Is Valve heading for another ill-deserved boycott? Maybe not, says Left 4 Dead writer Chet Faliszek. According to Chet, the decision to charge for the X-Box 360 mission lies solely with Microsoft. As Mr. Faliszek tells it, Steam is Valve’s distribution platform, so they can charge whatever they want, even give stuff away for free. Microsoft of course owns LIVE, so pricing for downloadable content there is a whole different ball game. Continue reading Microsoft Charging for New Left 4 Dead Content
At this point, I’m pretty sure everyone’s aware about Valve’s new mod, er, sequel for the popular zombie shoot-em-up, Left 4 Dead 2. There’s lots of controversy, whining and general bickering out there about the release of this game so soon after the first. Well, for anyone wondering what’s new, here’s a new video interview with Valve sporting a few highlights from the upcoming game. So, is it new enough for you?
After the surprising announcement of Left 4 Dead 2 for the 360 and PC a mere 7 months after the original game’s release, fans are up in arms. New Game Network is reporting that a boycott with a list of what is pissing people off has appeared on the forums over at Steam and there are already 2000 people onboard. What do you guys think about this? Joining the boycott or getting the game? Are these complaints valid?