First off, let me say it’s been a while since I’ve last blogged. Since November in fact. And the reason I’m writing here now is, yup you guessed it, I need to rant yet again. So here’s me getting my rant on…
SimCity 2k was the source of countless hours of fun for me back when I first started getting into PC gaming. I remember numerous nights of playing till 4 in the morning, trying to build the “perfect” city. Since then, I’ve played SimCity 3k and SimCity 4 and loved them all. There are plenty of facets to the SimCity games for there to be an appeal to most gamers who play sim or micro-management type games. Network management (traffic), city layout, finance management, and market manipulation are just a few I can think of off the top of my head. What I really loved about this game though, was that the sky was the limit. You were the mayor/God. You could transform the earth. You could rain down destruction/disaster if one of your sims even looked at you funny. You could demolish an entire row of high-rise condominiums without even evicting the tenants first, just to build a new shopping area with a nice medium-sized park so your sims could have their own Tysons Corner Galleria area. If you could imagine it, you could at least *try* to build it.
Fast forward to today. SimCity 2013 has been out for a bit now and the reviews that were originally positive have since turned negative. Maxis did some initial damage control going so far as to have a Q&A on Twitter with the head of the company, Lucy Bradshaw, back when the focus of the problems seemed to be on server issues and players couldn’t get online. Now that the initial launch week stress has cleared, players have come back with new grievances which the company might not be able to just throw more servers at, including pathfinding issues as well as an overly simplistic agent model which might end up causing more problems than it solved. Couple these problems with the anonymous simcity dev who earlier this week said in an interview that the company’s claims of the game depending on online connectivity are exaggerated (take with grain of salt), and you have a recipe for hell week in the PR department at EA/Maxis.
As for me, I’ve returned the game for a refund because it was just unplayable and I wanted to send a message with my wallet. Do I think they’ll listen? Probably not. Do I think the game was worth $60? Nope. I’ll most likely pick it up when it goes on sale for like $10 (which is probably going to be sooner rather than later I’m guessing given the current bad press around the game).
GTA4 in the wild wild west. That is essentially the entire game summed up in a nutshell. If you didn’t like GTA4, I seriously doubt you would like RDR, but who knows. It’s an open world 3rd person action game with a main quest line and optional side quests.
RDR handles just like GTA4, so depending on what you thought of that, you may or may not like it. For me, the controls were straightforward and the gameplay was smooth. I’m not the best at handling myself in Rockstar’s games (ie. bumping into sides of door entrances, etc), but I think that’s a fault of my own and not the game’s. The aiming system made much of the combat effortless, but you still had to duck and find cover if you didn’t want to get pumped full of holes. One thing that annoyed me was the lassoing. It could be my fault too, but it just seemed like it wasn’t as smooth as it should have been. Perhaps I was hitting “Y” too many times though because I’d catch up to someone, lasso them and dismount, but then the lasso would not stay and if I wasn’t fast enough at lassoing them while dismounted, I’d have to go back on my horse and try to do it again until I got them on the ground and hogtied them. Again, it’s most likely my fault, but it sure was annoying since you’re enticed into bringing in bounties alive to get more money.
I thought RDR looked and sounded fantastic. There were times when it almost seemed like a movie to me. The cutscenes weren’t as crisp as they could have been, but the in-game graphics were great. I loved the little audio snippets John would throw out while in combat as well. Trash talking in the wild wild west? Yes please! Also, I know I’m not the only one who would occasionally ride between locations (instead of fast traveling) just so I could watch myself ride into the sunset.
I’ll admit that it took me a few hours to get into RDR initially, but after that I was hooked. I don’t want to spoil anything, but the game’s ending was just extremely poetic to me and opens up the possibility of a sequel (which I hope Rockstar is working on right now). If you’re not a fan of the GTA series or of open world sandbox games, RDR probably isn’t for you. However, if you are a fan of those things, pick this up. I’ve heard the multiplayer is also really fun, but have yet to play that.
So I’ve been on a console game kick lately and have a slew of reviews to write up, but since I just finished ME2, I wanted to get my thoughts out before they start to fade. I’ll try not to include any specific plot points so I don’t spoil anyone’s fun. Having played the first Mass Effect, I was already a bit invested in the series and when I finally started the sequel, the opening sequence got me hooked. It felt like I had just started a movie and was already at the edge of my seat when the opening credits started.
One big annoyance I had with the first one was that there was far too much planetary exploration. You’d come across an unexplored planet and have to set down in your dune buggy vehicle and roll all over the place to gather up resources and occasionally kill some baddies. They’ve streamlined that in the sequel. There’s no more dune buggy exploration (unless you download the Firewalker DLC. protip: not worth it) and you can do your resource mining from space. The “hacking” and “bypassing” mini-games are a little better this time around.
I played as soldier class, but my friend who played through as adept told me that the adept biotic skills have undergone significant improvement. You can now “bend” your abilities and can even use them around corners. If I ever make it to a second play through, I’m going full renegade adept.
The game did seem a bit short as you’ll find that most of your side quests are just “loyalty” missions to get individual crew members to become loyal to you. I wish there was a bit more variety, but I guess that’s what DLC is for nowadays… Another complaint is that the game is still ultra linear and your paragon/renegade choices don’t seem to do much to vary the plot. I hope Mass Effect 3 has a bit more variety and maybe multiple endings depending on your in-game choices.
In conclusion, I’d have to say that I liked the game (despite my gripes) and it kept me entertained for the week I played it. I’m a fan of the storyline so I can’t wait to see what happens in the next game. There’s even rumors of an online version of Mass Effect which would be kinda cool. Bioware has succeeded yet again in making a fantastic product, but perhaps they’re leaving some of the biggest surprises for the 3rd game (more weapons, better quest variety, multiple endings, etc). I give this game an A.
Since I’ve quit WoW, I’ve ended up playing a bunch of single player games that came out recently. Dead Space was one of the more hyped games to come out so I thought I’d give it a shot and install this huge sucker.
It starts off like a typical sci-fi action thriller. You’re on a ship sent to investigate a mining station after radio contact went dead. You are an engineer-type guy, not they typical commando role that these games normally have you play. This plays a big part in how the game is actually set up. The suit you wear is more of a utility suit than a battle armor suit and your initial weapon is a welding tool and not your typical “ZOMG BIG FUCKING GUN” type deal. I also enjoyed the fact that the perspective is third-person over-the-shoulder as opposed to the standard first-person.
I have to say that while the game’s graphics are quite awesome and the creature hitboxes are complex, I’m not really getting into it at all. Of course, I’ve only played the initial chapter (I won’t ruin anything with spoilers) so there is probably a lot that I’ve not seen yet. There are some pretty tense “GOTCHA” moments and some awesome scenery, but nothing’s really captured my long-term attention. Maybe I’ll change my mind as I continue playing, but I still think it’s definitely worth checking out.
Having never played either Fallout 1 or 2, I’m basically starting Fallout 3 oblivious to the inside jokes and references that Bethesda has included in their latest game. But that hasn’t stopped me from enjoying what I’ve played so far! Coming from Bethesda, the game definitely reminds me of Oblivion in terms of the feel and UI. I remember seeing screenshots of the earlier two games, and I’m glad they chose to move from the top-down-at-an-angle perspective to first-person.
One thing I liked off the bat was how they integrated the character creation process with the storyline (if you haven’t played it yet, you’ll see what I mean). It gives it more of that RPG feel, but I sense it could get annoying after multiple game starts. The first level, Vault 101, is your typical get-to-know-the-game type setting where you’re expected to do quick and easy missions in order to familiarize yourself with the UI and game mechanics. I also noticed that the game responded to your situational decisions offering multiple paths for different choices. If you kill a particular person, the storyline is somewhat affected and that gives a good illusion of non-linear play. I haven’t gotten too far yet so we’ll see how far that “non-linearity” goes further into the game. I didn’t have much time to play, so I stopped about when I reached Megaton, a main city in the game outside the vault in the wastelands. Hopefully this weekend will give me more time to mess around and try things out for a better review.