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Crysis 2 review posted

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"Summary:

Crysis 2 is a technical marvel both when it comes to graphics and sound and it even has the gameplay to back it up along with a campaign that will last you quite long with today's shooters' standards. It is only the bugs and some other oddities and inconsistencies that hold it back from being the one of very best at what it's doing but it still remains one of the most compelling single player focused shooters to be released for PC in a really long time.

Essential Facts:
Superb graphics along with an absolutely amazing soundtrack
Some online issues mostly involving cheaters
Feels a bit buggy and rushed
The Nanosuit provides many different ways to play the game
Very lengthy, excellently paced and also a very replayable campaign

*If single player is what you value the most in a shooter then Crysis 2 is a no brainer, it is one of the best you can find right now when it comes to gameplay and its technical presentation will wow you. However if you are looking for that next multiplayer fix or you demand a compelling story in your shooter, you are better of looking elsewhere."

Link to full review

Are Crytek taking inspiration from F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin?

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I'm personally very exited for Crysis 2, the original is one of my favorite shoothers of all time and I have really liked the footage I've seen so far from the single player campaign and the MP demo wasn't really all that bad despite limited settings and less then ideal working menus. Anyways I've noticed some things I find rather interesing.

Things F.E.A.R 2 and Crysis 2 have in common

Play as a new, previously unknown character? Check

Redesign the look of the weapons and the enemies you are fighting? Check

Make avatars appear during voice com? Check

Change the setting to a more urban environment? Check

Remove dual wielding? Check

Remove leaning? Check (it's still there in Crysis 2 but in a more limited form)

Make it feel like the player is running at a slower speed? Check (Although this can be fixed by increasing the Field of View value in Crysis 2)

Add extensive bloom, motion blur and film grain? Check

Just things I've noticed, I might even have forgotten some things.

Thoughts?

"Consolization" in games

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First, let me apologize for not updating this blog for over 2 years and even leaving a part series unfinished. Sure I have been busy like everyone is these days but really I don't have a good excuse for this to be honest. Anyways I'm back now and hopefully you won't have to wait this long ever again. Enough about that, off we go!

With the consoles of this current generation stepping up to HD resolutions and putting serious focus on online gaming many of their games are now being shared with the PC.
The positive side being that no matter what platform you are using it's a very likely chance you will still be able to play that upcoming game that the public and your friends all seem to be talking about.
The potential negative though is that their may be a noticeable drop in quality when the developer has to focus on many different platforms instead of optimizing and building for just one from the ground up. May it be graphics, controls, user interface and so on as one platform might not handle a certain thing as well as the other.
This is nothing new though, for example a multiplatform game on the original Xbox didn't often have the visual fidelity as an exclusive title and even earlier than this we have seen this kind of thing.

But it's not until this generation and very recently I've started hearing of "consolization" or "consolized", meaning that a PC title feels and play like a console title. Actually it's not just limited to this I also keep hearing over and over how the Xbox 360 are holding back games on the Playstation 3. One may think though that these three platforms are so similar so what are people really talking about? That is true they are becoming more and more similar but there are still key differences between them.
But are the differences big enough to matter in multiplatform development? And if "consolization" exists is it as bad as some make it out to be?

Well speaking from personal experience, yes it does exist. Multiplatform development this generation has made more and more games both feel and look different compared to what you been used to. And is this a bad thing? Well most of the time this has not bothered me but there are instances were it has become overly noticeable but there are also cases where multiplatform development has been done really well. Here follows examples that covers a bit of both these things.

________________________________________________

The F.E.A.R. franchise



The first F.E.A.R. was a game that blended both horror and intense first person action really, really well. And with the sequel that was schedueled for a simultaneous multiplatform release many expected it to continue in the same fashion.
But something just didn't feel right. The artistic design of the weapons and the enemies got a major overhaul. The HUD was implemented with a visor like effect perhaps a way to make Halo and Metroid players feel more at home. Instead of continuing from where the first game left off with its cliffhanger ending you were put in the shoes of a new, previously unknown character and with a story that vaguely resembled and referenced the one from the first game.
Perhaps this was done to target a new audience unfamiliar with the first game even though ports of that game had already appeared on the consoles a few years back.

But it didn't just look different, it played differently too. The moving speed of the player felt greatly reduced. You could no longer lean even though your enemies still could. You could no longer do cool stuff like shooting grenades mid-air to make them go off earlier and the enemies didn't seem as smart overall as they were in the first game among other things.

Did these changes that were perhaps made to appeal to a new audience on consoles make it a stronger game there compared to the ports of the first game made a different developer? Well looking at the reviews for these games here on Gamespot certainly doesn't indicate that and the original fanbase on the PC were just left off angry and very disappointed.

Now F.E.A.R. 3 ( or F.3.A.R.) is on its way and to me it doesn't look like it takes place in the same universe anymore. It might prove me wrong and return to it's former glory found in the first game but I very, very low expectations. Damn shame for a series that was off to such a great start.



The Dragon Age franchise



Dragon Age: Origins released back in 2009 by developer Bioware was a fantasy RPG many considers to be one of the very best in years and here on Gamespot the PC version scored a whopping 9.5. It was a multiplatform title but the PC version still felt like a PC game thanks to it's interface and mod-support among other things. They had also bothered to give the the console versions their own user interface and controls.

However it still felt like the console versions got the short end of the stick due to some annoying performance issues and the visuals were simply behind the the curve even by the platforms standards and especially in the 360 version. So this is almost a case "anti-consolization" or "consolization" in reverse or whatever you wanna call it.

And now with the sequel Dragon Age II it seems like instead of bringing the console versions up to the same standards as the PC version of the first game it appears they had them both meet half way in a weird blend and scaling back on a few things. Although to be honest I'm just speculating here and basing this from what I've seen or heard as I have yet to play the sequel myself.



The Call of Duty franchise



I think you have all have heard of Call of Duty now considering how extremely it has become with its latest iteration Call of Duty: Black Ops being the best selling game in US history. Though the series actually started on the PC and started going multiplatform with Call of Duty 2. Although despite this the series managed to maintain high quality on all platforms it appeared on including Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.

After that game however PC players started to loose things such as the ability to lean, dedicated servers and mod support. The lack of dedicated servers leading to more widespread cheating and hacking on that platform. The game however still feels and plays great on the consoles and now a franchise that once started on the PC has now turned in to a mainly console oriented FPS franchise.



_________________________________________________

I can't really blame developers for focusing more consoles though as sales seems to be constantly increasing and of course companies go where the money is and while at the same time PC games being sold in physical stores is becoming more and more a rarity and they are instead being shifted to online stores and services such as Steam and Direct 2 Drive. However the changes the developers make to established franchises to make them be better suited for consoles doesn't always feel warranted to me as they they don't always make the games actually play any better, just differently and might just end up really disappointing the original fans of that franchise.

Also if you have been hanging around here on the forums lately you might have noticed big complaints about the upcoming game Crysis 2. Many now fear this series will also go down the road of "consolization" due to things such as smaller environments compared to the first game and very limited graphics and controls options in the PC version of the Multiplayer demo not to mention stuff like "Please adjust your TV settings" and being greeted with "Press start to begin" (that was recently changed to "Press enter to begin" in the latest patch for the demo).





Me personally though am still extremely excited about the game and I'm gonna hold of any final judgment until the full version has arrived.

Now I wanna hear your thoughts. Have you noticed "consolization", Yes? No?
If you have does it bother you or not? Heck, do you even care? :P

Discuss!

The ZimpanX 2008 Game Awards, Part 1/2

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Well hello there. I was originally going to sum the past year like I did last time with one of lists of 10. But I noticed like every year, most of the big gaming sites are handing out there awards so I thought I might as well experiment a little and try it myself.
I will be using the same type of awards as the Gamespot crew if that's ok? Though I will using far from all of them, as I simply have not played enough games to fill each category. So if you guys would wanna help me out with the awards I missed that would be great, or you simply just want to disagree you're free to that as well.

Well then off we go!


Best Story


Lost Odyssey
Grand Theft Auto IV
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
Dead Space
Valkyria Chronicles

And the winner is...
[spoiler]
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

I think this was actually a no brainer for me, sure the scipt is not flawless and the story perhaps takes center stage a bit too much. But Hideo Kojima somehow managed to tie all up all the loose ends from the past games and did it in such a way that you could not often help yourself but to sit there with controller in hand, eager to find out what's going to happen next.
[/spoiler]

Best Graphics, Technical


GRID
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
Crysis Warhead
Dead Space
Gears of War 2

And the winner is...
[spoiler]
Crysis Warhead

All of the nominations may be highly impressive game to look at, but when it comes to technical graphics there is nothing that even threatens Warhead when being played on the higher settings except the original Crysis. The arts tyle improved too, but that is unimportant, this is technical graphics and here Crysis Warhead is king.
[/spoiler]

Best Graphics, Artistic

Fable II
Little Big Planet
Valkyria Chronicles
Mirror's Edge
Prince of Persia

And the winner is...
[spoiler]
Mirror's Edge

While all of of the nominations are beautiful games, I have often seen the graphical s tyle many of them use before in some way or form. Mirror's Edge on the other hand that uses white and colors that are so vibrant they are just on the edge of being too much makes the game look like something different, something rarely seen. And on top of it all it looks great while doing it.

[/spoiler]

Best Atmosphere

Grand Theft Auto IV
Dead Space
Fable II
Fallout 3
Left 4 Dead

And the winner is...
[spoiler]
Fallout 3

It was a tough call for me between Dead Space and Fallout 3 on this one. But in the end I chose to go with Fallout 3 since it actually succeeds at making you feel you're walking around a post-apocalyptic Washington D.C.
If that's not a sign of a truly great atmosphere I don't know what is.

[/spoiler]

Best Original Music

Lost Odyssey
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
Fable II
Mirror's Edge
Prince of Persia

And the winner is...
[spoiler]
Lost Odyssey

Metal Gears Solid 4 has an awesome soundtrack don't get me wrong, but some of the tracks are some I've been listening to for years while Lost Odyssey had a soundtrack that was just as rockin' and it was all new, even though it remided me of Final Fintasy (Gee I wonder why). Those who claim Nobuo Uematsu has lost his touch have no idea what they're talking about and have likely not played Lost Odyssey. Because this is the best sountrack he has composed in years.

[/spoiler]

Best Sound Design

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
Battlefield: Bad Company
Dead Space
Fallout 3
Left 4 Dead

And the winner is...
[spoiler]
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

Dead Space manged to put up a really good fight here. But Guns of the Patriots wins this category for me because everything in this game sounds like it should, the music, the voices, the effects, everything. The sound in this game is uncompressed from what I understand and it definitely shows. I would not be suprised if more than half of the Blu-Ray disc is dedicated to the sound because it simply sounds that good.
Want to know what your surround system is capable of? Then simply boot up MGS4 because it's not only the technically best sounding game of 2008, or this generation but perhaps ever.

[/spoiler]

Best Voice Acting

No More Heroes
Grand Theft Auto IV
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
Dead Space
Fable II

And the winner is...
[spoiler]
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

With so many actors playing thier role and doing so well as in Metal Gear Solid 4, there is no doubt for me that this game has the best voice acting. Sure there are some wierd moments, but what game doesn't have those? And David Hayter may sometimes sound like he needs to visit the bathroom when doing the voice of Solid Snake but this is just nickpicking that gets completely thrown out the window when each and everyone f the actors help to make you feel that their emotions are actually believable along with the action that is happening on screen, just like in the best of movies.

[/spoiler]

Best Cooperative Multiplayer

NHL 09
Little Big Planet
Resistance 2
Gears of War 2
Left 4 Dead

And the winner is...
[spoiler]
Left 4 Dead

Both Gears of War 2 and Resistance 2 has some really good co-op modes but none of them manages to nail cooperation as well as Left 4 Dead does. Cooperations is simply key in this game especially when taking on a zombie Tank on the higher difficulties or you'll likely be dead within seconds before you know what hit ya. Once you start giving out commands and aid eachother even in panic making you all scream like little girls you will eventually succeed and feel the satisfaction and joy you'll want to do it over and over again and thanks to the AI director you will never know what's going to happen either.

[/spoiler]

Best Competitive Multiplayer

Burnout Paradise
Sins of a Solar Empire
Grand Theft Auto IV
Resistance 2
Gears of War 2

And the winner is...
[spoiler]
Resistance 2

60 player online matches...do I really need to say more? Something that has been previously unheard of on a console. Sure it may be really hectic at times but boy is it fun.

[/spoiler]

Most Improved Sequel

Saints Row 2
Fable II
Fallout 3
Resistance 2
Gears of War 2

And the winner is...
[spoiler]
Resistance 2

To be honest I didn't really like Resistance: Fall of Man all that much, sure it was by no means a bad game but I felt the pacing was off, the enemy AI leaved a lot to be desired among other things. Resistance 2 fixes many of these issues and thank to this I actually would like to call it a great game and now I think I want to see more from this franchise which is something I didn't feel just a few months ago.

[/spoiler]

Best Original IP

No More Heroes
Lost Odyssey
Dead Space
Valkyria Chronicles
Left 4 Dead

And the winner is...
[spoiler]
Dead Space

I did not see this comming, I basically thought it was going to be a generic Resident Evil 4 ripp-off set in space, boy was I wrong!
Dead Space is simply amazing, and what surprises me even more is that it's developed by EA, a company that usually just puts out these sports and racing games every year and what not that are generally the same with slightly updated graphics, rosters and some new gimmick.
So it's really refreshing seeing a product like this from them and that it's so full of great qualities. Sure it may borrow elements from the already mentioned Resident Evil 4, Doom 3 and others, but it does it really well and puts it togheter in an excellent package that should not be missed.
[/spoiler]

I will post part 2 by the end of the week were I discuss a few disappointments of mine and also hand out the bigger awards.
And I aplogize before hand of possible grammar issues, I'm posting this right before I'm going to sleep lol.
//ZimpanX

NXE Impressions

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So I've been playing around with the so called New Xbox Experience for a while as I bet many of you have too, for me it's ends up feeling kind of like a mixed bag.

The look

The dashboard now sports a simpler and more cleaner look which is always welcome of course, the only downside to this is that it's looks a lot like say Windows Media Center and the Apple TV interface and doesn't really do much to set it self apart.
At least with the blades the dashboard had a a slight touch of identity and that the blades had different colors was also a nice touch so you could instantly tell where you were on the dasboard.
Also there is this grey area on the lower part of the screen that cuts of your old aka "non premium" themes, and option to remove it would certainly be welcome.
Overall though the actual look of the new dashboard is still an improvement over the last one and probably easier for a lot of people to understand.


Functionality

With the new dashboard also comes with a few new functions, like the new and improved guide menu, live party and the ability to install your games on to the harddrive.

I'm really fond of the new guide button as it's pretty much a mini version of the old dashboard. Now you can instantly jump to the marketplace, redeem codes, change your systems settings etc. Even in game, though some action will unfortunately force you to quit your gaming session. You can now also finally delete all your arcade trials from your gamercard trough the Achievements section which I know many have been waiting on doing for quite some time. You can't change your theme via the guide button anymore though, hmm.

Live Party is another great addition as it let's your group together with up 7 other people and chat and interact with them and none of you don't even have to be playing the same game. Awesome! 

And then there is the option to install games on to your harddrive. You still need the disc to play your game though so many of you may wonder "But hey! then what's the point?". Well you still need the disc of course to prove your ownership otherwise you could just be renting games and install them like a madman.
Anyways the benefit of installing is to cut down load times and make the console itself less noisy when playing.
I recommend you to do some research first though to see what games are actually worth the install.
I installed Ninja Gaiden II and it made wonders for that game. Before it took around 2 minutes to boot the game and load your saved game before you could play, now the same thing doesn't take much longer than 30 seconds, also mid level loads seems to have been completely eliminated.
Keep in mind though each install takes up around 6 Gigabytes of space off your harddrive, so 20gb owners... don't expect to have more than one game installed at a time.

So overall the new functions is probably the best part about the NXE. Hurray!


Avatars

I don't really know what to say about the avatars, it feels very much like a Mii ripp-off unfortunately just with less facial options but more clothing options, there are even "Wii-like" sound effects in the Avatar Editor. :/
Also there isn't really a proper use for them, I've heard there will be a bunch of so called "Community games" later on that will put them to good use, but why not simply wait with these avatars until these games are actually available?
Also the avatars clutters up your friends list to I tend to use the guide button to more quickly see who is online.

Bugs

As many times before, with new software updates come new bugs and NXE is unfortunately no exepction. Here's a few bugs I've managed to run into so far

Friendslist is shorter
For some reason the new update deleted some of my friends so it's not me just randomly starting hating everybody, so if you are one of those that used to be friends with me on Live but you suddenly can't find me on your friendslist anymore, just send me a request and I will accept ASAP. Gamertag is Mezziaz.

New game library won't list my full games
Yup, everyone time I go in to my game library I can't find any of my full Xbox 360 games, except the game I have in the tray...I hope they fix this soon.

New friendslist often freezing
This has happened close to 5 times already, I guess another reason to use the other friends list via the guide button instead.

Overall
Even with bugs and what not the NXE is still an improvement over the previous dashboard and some features have been worth the wait. It's just that all the changes made are necessarily not for the better as I had hoped. But it's still a thumbs up nontheless.

Going away next week, but where?

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[spoiler]
That's right...Disneyland
[/spoiler]

I've been there before though but that was 8 years ago and this time it will only be me and 3 friends. It's gonna be a blast! :D

I'm in this

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Right here

@ 0.20-0.21, 0.26-0.28 and 0.52-0.54

Most credit goes to my friend Zekalizer who filmed, edited and uploaded. But you other guys did a great job too, I hope we'll win. :)

Games of the Generation (so far)

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(The following is based on my personal opinion, and mine alone)

As pretty much half of this generation of gaming has now passed before our very eyes I have decided to stop for a moment and reflect and share with you what games has made the deepest impact on me so far. I plan to make another one of these when this generation draws to a close to see how much my opinion has changed and which games that stood against the coming combatants and which ones that didn't.

But now on to the games that I have found to be the most impressive ones for me personally since the end of 2005 back when this current generation kicked off, and they are all ranked in the order that they were released.


Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter

Ubisoft Paris
Released March 2006
Platforms: Xbox 360

GRAW for the Xbox 360 which is a very different affair from the others versions sharing the same name was the first real "next-gen experience" for me personally and it's thrilling moments, tactical control over the battlefield and its sound and visuals still holds up surprisingly well today. The sequel released the year after was great aswell but did not quite meet up to all my personal expectations. I'm hoping the third installment will be as good as the first one if not better.



Gears of War
Epic Games
Released November 2006
Platforms: PC, Xbox 360

I did not expect much from Gears of War at first, All i knew was that it sported some really impressive visuals and Microsoft was going to publish it. But I never expected it to be so badass and play so darn well with its fluid control scheme and be so fun to play with others. Especially when playing trough the campaign with a buddy sitting right next to you. I have probably played trough this game at least 10 times by now. No I'm not joking.



World in Conflict
Massive Entertainment
Released September 2007
Platforms: PC

One of the most innovatie strategy games in years. The tide of battle can change at any given second no matter how tough things get, especially if one player has been secretly saving up for a tactical nuke. It's also one of the most enjoyable multiplayer games I've played in years, on any platform.



Halo 3
Bungie Software
Released September 2007
Platforms: Xbox 360

Ever since 2004 when the ending scene of Halo 2 made me mad, leaving me wanting more I had been eagerly anticipating this game. And it when it arrived it was awesome, not very different which is often the case with sequels but it managed to take most of what made the prior games so awesome and bump it up to eleven. Sure the campaign dropped noticably in quality towards the end and many players online can be very difficult to deal with. But for the most part it is the great sequel to Combat Evolved (the game that once brought me back to gaming) that I always wanted and hoped it to be.



The Orange Box
Valve Software
Released October 2007
Platforms: PC, Xbox 360, Playstation 3

Not only does this package contain one of the most best shooters do date, Half-Life 2 and its two expansions. But also the innovative puzzle game Portal and the highly enjoyable multiplayer game Team Fortress 2 all for the price of one. That is reason enough why this very impressive package is mentioned here and is one of the best bangs for your buck out there.



Super Mario Galaxy
Nintendo
Released November 2007
Platforms: Wii

Finally over 10 years since Super Mario 64 this red dressed plumber is back on top with Super Mario Galaxy for the Nintendo Wii. Not only did this game play extremely well and was fun for all ages. It also proved that the Wii sports some technical muscle after all.



Crysis
Crytek
Released November 2007
Platforms: PC

Best looking game ever made from a technical standpoint...but all of you know that already. Crysis is actually also surprisingly fun to play with it's sanbox-like gameplay that lets you tackle pretty much every situation in any way you want no matter how you prefer to play. It packs a lot of variety, it's thrilling and will spawn many sequels, spin-offs or maybe even a movie. Only thing that could complain about is that this exciting adventure has an end and it requires a beast of a rig to play smootlhy at high settings. I hope the comming expansion will be even more optimized and pack the same dynamic gameplay that made this game so darn amazing.



Mass Effect
Bioware
Released November 2007
Platforms: PC, Xbox 360

Knights of the Old Republic on steoroids is quick and fairly accurate way to sum this game up. It looks surprisingly well for a RPG, it has a great story, music and the voicework is absolutely terrific. There are so many places to explore and all the choices you make will have an impact on how the game progress, both big and small. Only a few technical issues hurts what is one of the most impressive roleplaying games made by a western developer for years.



Grand Theft Auto IV
Rockstar North
Released April 2008
Platforms: Xbox 360, Playstation 3

Rockstar didn't do much different with GTAIV, and they didn't have to either. There is always something to do in Liberty City and thanks to some very interesting characters the story was very enjoyable to follow as well. There is also tons of stuff to to online with various different game modes even with the entire city open. And it renders everything at a surprisingly high quality. This is a game you can play for months, years even.



Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
Kojima Productions
Released June 2008
Platforms: Playstation 3

I had my fair share of worries regarding MGS4. I did not see how it was gonna live up to Snake Eater wich sported a very impressive setting and set of characters like The Boss. And could not imagine how game designer and producer Hideo Kojima was going to tie up all the loose ends. But he actually succeeded and this adventure is often just as exciting as Snake Eater was and it plays better than ever before and the production values goes trough the roof. The visual design is also near flawless and sports some very impressive tech for a Japanese developed title, making it not only one of the best looking Playstation 3 games but also one of the best looking games this generation on any platform. But not to forget, I've never experienced a game with such well executed sound mixing and the sound track is just terrific to listen to. There is no other game out there that sounds as good as Guns of The Patriots, period. PS3 owners finally got something to brag about, and with right.


Some other titles worth mentioning are...

Dead or Alive 4 (360)
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (PC, 360, PS3)
Company of Heroes (PC)
Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Wii)
The Witcher (PC)
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (PC, 360, PS3)

Along with many others as you may know. Can't wait to see what the comming 2-3 years has in store for us and how these games I talked about here today will fair then.

Now what have you enjoyed the most this generation so far? Comment bellow

//ZimpanX

Note: There are some key titles that I haven't played yet or enough of like SSB: Brawl (was released here 4 days ago give me a break), No More Heroes (need to find an uncensored copy), Age of Conan, Crisis Core: FFVII, The World Ends With You among others.