I'm Playing (Subscribe)
Video games, PC games, or other interactive media that's currently caught my attention ...
Sunday, May 02, 2010
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Sunday, January 10, 2010
MAG (PS3)With MAG doing an open beta this week (through today), me being a shooter fan, having access to a PS3, and wanting to see if they could pull off 128v128 online play, I spent some time tooling around the game.
Brass tacks is the game has tremendous promise, and I hope people look at for what it is: A PS3-exclusive massive military-based shooter, who's promise lies in its premise -- a large-scale game where squad combat and communication is key to success (and having fun).
That's where the game fell down a bit for me. Since friends and I were trying the game, and not everyone had a bluetooth headset, we actually used our Xboxes and party chat to stay in sync as we played the game on the PS3. Irony aside, this helped us keep tabs on each other and at least try to work in tandem between us to accomplish the goals (basically a Team Fortress or Modern Warfare version of "sabatoge" / "demolition"). Other people in our squad ... not so much.
This is a game where coordination and cooperation are key to winning; you can't be a lone wolf without getting yourself killed, everyone else killed, and failing the mission. Unlike some competing titles, it also allows friendly fire, so we had some dillweeds in our sessions that were running around killing everyone, friend or foe, really marring the experience.
But it was still an engaging experience; while you have to scale up to 128v128 (the demo may have gone up to 64v, but it may have been just 32 in our sessions), large-scale combat and frenzy felt really good -- an evolution over EA's Battlefield franchise.
People will make inevitable comparisons to Modern Warfare 2, the current reigning online military-themed juggernaut -- but that's unfair. Because of its shear scale, MAG will not have the graphical fidelity of the smaller scale competitor, though that won't excuse any gimped gameplay. It's also single platform, so it won't have the gamer penetration of the every-platform MW2.
Jumping into a game was wicked quick -- a welcomed change from losing entire Friends lists in Modern Warfare as people go do other things waiting to connect to a session. I think that comes at a tradeoff to any genuine skill level matching, though, as I (as a level 1-3) was getting matched against level 22-24s who had been playing all week -- and they had waaaay better guns.
The other thing I'm concerned about is how they're hiding lag in online play. The game felt smooth and lag free, but I found myself emptying 5 rounds from a sniper almost point-blank into an enemy's noggin, then have him stand up and cap me with a single shot. I like to know when I'm lagging, so I can compensate.
Overall, the game has great promise, and I'm looking forward to how the shipping version addresses problems and feedback from the beta, though since the game launches at the end of this month, improvements will likely be limited to the server side of the product.
Sunday, January 03, 2010
Legend of Zelda: Spirit TracksI've been playing Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks since it came out, and I'm pretty sold on it.
It's a great little adventurer that fits into the Zelda canon, with intuitive but clever puzzles that are for the most part challenging without being frustrating. It's got the trademark fun and humor inherent with the franchise (Princess Zelda is particularly a hoot).
I'll save my larger write-up for when I'm further into (or finishing) the game, but there are a couple of rocky spots in Hyrule.
First, I'm not all that thrilled with the train mechanic. It feels gimmicky, and while core to the story, I wonder if it was a good design choice, or maybe fast travel has ruined me and my patience.
Second, I dislike requiring the stylus to make a player move, because it gets in the way of being able to see what's happening on screen. I like having the D-pad as an option to move around the screen, and since there are (at least right now) unused buttons that could be assigned to the map and menu screens, using the D-pad for these functions (and requiring the stylus for movement) feel like forcing the DS mechanics for the sake of enforcing the DS mechanics.
Lastly (for now), the sketchy directional control of upgrades like the whirlwind are sucky at best, causing frustrating battle moments and required replays. Not fun.
But these are nits compared to the overall game, and that's why I call them out -- the whole game is great, so these shortcomings shouldn't be seen as taking away from the overall experience.
More later ....
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Halo 3: ODST (Xbox 360)(Here are my single-player impressions for Halo 3: ODST. I'd like to give co-op and Firefight impressions as well, but my yahoo friends who also bought the game never have time to play this title, so updated impressions will have to wait.)
First, to get things out of the way, I'm a bit of a Halo Whore. This is partially because of the gameplay, universe, and mythos; partially due to my being impressed with the cohesive marketing juggernaut behind the franchise; and partially due to my affinity for alliteration.
That aside, Halo 3: (I-should-have-been-called-Recon) ODST is a great game -- and an uneven one, all at the same time.
The game is genuinely fun, has some depth, is genuinely different than the previous Halo games, and has more polish as well.
Those strengths are also weaknesses, though, because there are expectations around the Halo franchise, and losing the über-bad-assery of Master Chief takes some getting used to, in addition to the gameplay feeling a bit gimped by removing the the Halo 3 "X-button specials" (especially since enemies still have them).
But I've admittedly got a bit of a skewed perspective, because you have to play a bit more cautiously as an ODST than as a spartan (health doesn't regenerate), and I recently started playing on a level above normal on games (so, "Heroic" on ODST), which made the gameplay and "easy-to-die" experience waaay more stark than it might otherwise have been.
And while the engine feels visually tweaked, and for the most part I really liked things like the HUD mechanics, Modern Warfare or the Frostbite Engine are kind of the technical bars for cutting-edge FPS games, so I'm really looking forward to Microsoft's and/or Bungie's making a break from their current tech to do something technically even more exciting.
Going back to the positive aspects of gameplay, there are some intense, almost amazing moments where you have to retrench in intense firefights that genuinely made me feel good when I finally busted loose and wiped the floor with wave after wave of Covenant. My criticism is I wish the checkpoints were more deterministic, because while playing the game on "normal" mode would make replaying inconvenient, replaying on "Heroic" or "Legendary" is a non-trivial time-suck.
And while I said I mostly like the HUD mechanic in the game, it is a bit confusing, and I can't tell whether the mechanic is slightly different for each ODST member, or if it varied based on environment, or what the issue was, but there were times when it felt like both the standard and enhanced HUDs were versions of unusable in the heat of battle. Which sucked a bit.
Oh, and game designers (all of you), please stop with sucky-ass escort missions. I get irritated enough at bone-stupid AI either running too far ahead or falling too far behind, but when I'm doing a mission where Buck is my gunner, and it's not an AI, but a pathing issue that gets him stuck for 15 minutes in a box corner? Give me a break.
This a rambly, back-and-forth assessment ODST, but make no mistake, it's a really good title, and I'm glad Bungie tried something variant from their previous formulas, and included a lot of the mechanics from other titles (theater, file share, etc.).
Is it worth $60? No -- no title is. But wait until I try out the Firefight and online co-op modes before I decide whether it's any worse than other over-priced sixty-buck games. Oh, and no one should pay $60 for games, between promos, Amazon pricing, etc. -- I try not to spend more than $40-50 for 360 titles, and $30-40 for Wii titles.
And for Halo 3 fans who haven't bought all of the add-on maps, you do get 24 additional maps as part of buying the game -- the 21 previously released, and 3 all-new jobbies. Not bad.