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FIFA 11 (World Class) - Impenetrable Defense, Worthless Attack, Hive Mind...

So I'm revisiting FIFA 11 after my review. Straight to the point: I hated it at first. It took me forever to get my game working. I'm an Arsenal fan, and as such, I like passing, flowing games. To me the most beautiful goal is not the one scored after a dazzling run (even though Nasri has just scored two of those on the last game, against Fulham). In my book, the most beautiful goal is that scored after a full passing move that ends up with a simple yet effective finish. Fifa 11, at first, didn't allow me that. Then I got used to its system.

"But wait!" you say "Are you retracting your negative review?"

No... Not by a long shot. You see, the thing is after playing hours and hours on Semi-Pro and then Pro and turning my Virtual "Me" into a pretty good player, the game then forces you to play for achievements in World ****difficulty, or Online. Since I have no interest in online play, I say: to hell with it, let me try to work my game in WC difficulty. Needless to say, it didn't work.

FIFA 11 still has annoying bugs and glitches that make you feel like you've been playing the beta of a game. Yet the worst thing is still its unrealistic gameplay. It troubled me at first in Pro difficulty, now, at World **** it's just plain horrible. Teams rated one star have midfielders and strikers run my defense ragged with skill moves they under no circumstances would be able to perform, their defense is so well coordenated it's like they're being controled by a multi-tasked overlord in the sky and unlike your team, they always, always have a perfect solution to everything you're able to throw at them. Your best players will likely be on he ground with a short injury at least once every match and a defender will forget his duties to complain about a foul not given (which in turn prevents you from being able to control him).

The defense is psychic. They read not the move itself or the possibility of a move. I'd be willing to bet that on higher difficulties, the opponents are hotwired to react not to the action your players perform, or the possible outcomes of a move, but to the button you press. It's pretty friggin lame to try to dribble past an oposition player only to see him (in 90% of the time) beat you to the move you started. That's not good reaction timing, that's a next gen console reading my mind. They know which way your ball is going the second you press your button, which is bad enough in a flowing move, but is even worse when something (probably an opposing player) makes your player lose his balance for a second, at most, but is more than enough time to see the man you want to get the ball to miles ahead of where your pass was aimed, and the opponent that was marking him is now at the very spot where you're sending the ball. This is worse at free kicks in the defense or near the middle, where in the short time it takes for the camera to change from behind the player to the Tele camera I use, there's already a player rushing in for a clean interception. Add that to an opponent which apparently shares a mind, it's so perfectly integrated. (just to make it clear: we're still talking about one star teams)

And if attacking isn't bad enough with these problems, forget about trying to form a cohesive defense with the absolute worthlessness of the full backs. Their only purpose on the field is to be on the midfield line when you need to defend and on the defense when you need an offensive option. Add to that, the useless use of the L1 button, which, on most cases will change your cursor to a player further away from the ball. Once, playing as Arsenal against Aston Villa (and that on pro difficulty), I had a corner poorly cleared from the right which resulted on the ball innevitably reaching the attacker on the left. I desperately pressed L1 to reach, Clichy, only to see (in order) Sagna, Fabregas, Koscielny, Vermaelen, my Virtual Pro, then at last Clichy at my command. Meanwhile, no one did squat to try to clear it.

This whole thing (and there's probably more, I'm just not thinking about it right now) just made me think: I'll probably eventually get better used to World ****difficulty. But should I get used to it? Is it too much to ask, for instance, that when a one star team is facing a four star team in a league, the World ****of it mean they have the brains to be thankful for a point and put five center backs on their team, parking the figurative bus in front of their goal? Is it too much to ask that their attack would be better at World **** by making sure that if you f-ed up and gave them a shot at goal they'd capitalize on it? Is it too much to ask their midfield, again in World **** to be smarter and closely packed, instead of on crack and everywhere?

My answer: No, I shouldn't do that. There's just no joy to be had on that dragging experience. I've always played against my cousin (and he's the champion on his neighbourhood) and it's always a close contest. I consider myself to be a decent player, and on my old days of Pro-Evo, five stars was a piece of cake for me. Then, it demanded skill. Here, it demands patience.

I have patience for strategy, adventures and even RPG games. For FIFA? I don't think so...

Alright, rant over. 'Till next time.

Enough suffering...

Enough is enough... After days watching every Brazilian online shop in search for Empire Total War, at least on pre-sale, I've finally ordered the damned thing through Steam.

So far: 10% of the download complete, and I hope my international card isn't turned down (never bought anything using US dollars). I'm biting my nails and cursing my internet connection, which isn't slow, but it's miles from being fast.

So what if I won't have enough money to eat before I go to work? I need to loose a couple (dozen) pounds...

I just won't frigging check the net every day for the next month in expectation for a DVD (or a few DVDs, since it's apparently 14GBs of game).

Enough suffering...

'MMORPG's - Triumph of the Souless

Massive Multiplayer Online RPG - MMORPG. There is no bigger hype, no bigger hit in modern gaming than that. FPS games like Crysis and Call of Duty pale in comparisson to 'WoW' or other franchises when it comes to sales potential. The 'FIFA's and 'PES's would only dream half the crowd currently playing World of Warcraft were interested in their products. What's my view? A poor comparisson made by a metal fan like myself: MMORPGs did to RPGs what New Metal did to traditional Heavy Metal. It is the popularization of a genre, driving it into the waves of mainstream, further and further away from its original haven. What have games like World of Warcraft brought into the gaming world, if not sales, downloadable content and the eternal forsaking of one's personal life in favor of online interaction?

For starters, it's important to clarify: I have nothing against online gameplay. I still do it occasionaly with my old Age of Empires II or with Battlefield: Bad Company over my XBOX live. It's fun to crush my friends over the internet at a good game of Pro Evo. My main concern is the constant flow from single-player mechanisms to online gaming, in which, for the most part, you're required to pay a monthly fee to play a game you've already bought. Adding from that last bit of opinion, I'm usually sad to see a now frequent drive from charismatic characters, excelent plots, emotional content, in RPGs towards cooperation, interaction, and replayability

Addicting games are usually those so focused on gameplay that you're able to overlook everything else in favor of another fix, another click on your mouse, another hour spent in front of a PC screen. And all for what? A man that spends ten hours in front of his monitor playing WoW accomplishes what, exactly? A real RPG has engrossing characters, deep narrative, imaginative world. WoW has only one of those, the last, the least important, in my view.

Where are those games' souls? Where are the characters whose histories mark you for years and years (Revan, Cloud, Sephiroth, Squall)? Are they now so easily replaced by mediocre characters that will only stay on your memory until the next checkpoint? Where is the impossible love story of Shakespearian proportions? RPGs have always been book-like tales, and even interactive twists such as presented on games such as 'The Witcher' (a breath of fresh air in the midst of blandness) still maintain inner turmoils and moral dilemas that make the character's interaction to the gaming world an unique feature of the genre. Apart from old-fashioned adventure games, where can we find it, this depth, this texture-laden plot that threads itself as you play it?

MMORPGs have made it their mark to present a character with, as the name says, a massive world, which's history you must unfold as you play. In a common RPG, you are part of the story, deeply enrooted within the lines of this 'book', while on an MMORPG you're a witness of history, a mere spectator of the facts presented to you in a 'All-flash-but-no-substance' game. You yell 'For the Horde!" for the sake of belonging to a clan/sect/race, not for any particular relation to its cause or its ideals. Surely, there are those in love with the Warcraft world since its first release, and grew even fonder of them with the amazing Warcraft 2 (and Tides of Darkness). But now, more than ever, it's crowded with guys plaing for the sake of killing pals online. Again, there's nothing wrong with that, but it's something ever absent of RPG's.

Back to my earlier analogy: MMORPGs is to RPGs what New Metal is to Heavy Metal. It's a way to take a formula (a gameplay) and insert it into mainstream media. It takes turn-based combat or the eternal search for magical items and hidden quests, and throws it to the popular culture. Some may say: It's a step forward for RPGs, others will say it's a step backwards. I'll call it a step sideways. It may take the banner of RPGs from its worn-out, somewhat stagnant, road towards different pastures, but its soul is still very much at that crossroad. The RPG essence is still on its Single-Player branch, and while I hope I am able to shut my mouth with the arrival of a compelling, engrossing MMORPG, my beloved genre is agonizing, moving along the same road with the speed of a turtle, carried on by sparse, unpopular title that are able usualy to breathe some life, but never to fully heal this gaming bastion.

Friday Night at the Movies...

The result? Payne... A lot of Payne.

After returning from the mall, where I watched the new Max Payne movie with my girlfriend, I found myself pondering the question a gamer will more often than not ask himself through the course of his game-addicted life: Why can't Hollywood get one right?

So, however low my expectations had been, for I saw angels and creatures in the teaser, those were not even the low point on the whole experience. If you consider that my girlfriend, who, exhausted from work,  slept halfway through the movie, was the one that actually took some pleasure from the money she payed (popcorn, coke, air-conditioner environment fit for sleeping), you'll notice how bad it was.

For starters, remember the amazing plot about a cop that found her wife killed by a few drug addicts, who then surrenders his social life to the cause of wiping that drug from the streets, staying 2 years undercover in the process, only to find the only thing linking you to normal life, your partner, the guy you answer to on the DEA, dead and you as the sole suspect, making you run across frozen New York City driven on blood, coffee and pain killers? Remember that amazing tale of revenge that guided one of the most charismatic characters ever through his bloody path across the Italian Mafia and pharmaceutical corporations? Well, throw it all in the trash.

For starters, B.B., backstabbing bastard, the guy that actually killed your partner in the game, and blamed you for it, is now an old man working for Aesir Corporation and, tah-dah, he's the main villain. No I'm not spoiling anything here. It's so blatant, this shallow bit of plot they called a movie, that you'll guess it within the first fifteen minutes into the movie.

Jim Bravura, the NY, donut-eating, white fatty, dirty mustache, standard good cop who's chasing you all across the city is now portraited by Ludacris (holy s...!), and he eventually becomes your ally (utter s...)!

Mona Sax, gun-for-hire, employed by the mafia, in the game, is now a mafioso, a leader of her own gang. What the hell? Why turn a great character, an expert assassin, into a gang boss who's really a nice lady who's just trying to look after her sister (who you meet in a party(????).

Basically, the movie attempts to take everything that made Max Payne appealing to gamers (its lack of moral judgements, it's basis on revenge, on Lex Talionis, eye-for-an-eye, blood soaked 'Noir York City', a tale in the underworld) into something appealing to the average public. How? By using the single most repeated formula in cop thrillers since the genre was invented in the early 1930's...

One killer got away...

Wow... One killer got away. Never seen that before... Oh, wait.

And the creatures, angels? Well, turns out they're quite possibly the one thing that saves the film from being a waste of time. They're a result of Valkyre, the drug from the game, and are overall a nice add to the feeling of 'a man torn apart', fully absent for the majority of the film.

2/10 for the film, and with the semester's finals coming up next week, I wondered if these three hours spent on the mall won't come back to bite me at my grades.

Right. Rant over, time to dive into that civil process book.

No... KOTOR... 3....

Today a bit of news ruined what could have been a wonderful week or so, with my Xbox 360 (yeah!!!) kicking a*s with GTA IV. Bioware and LucasArts decided that the follow up to Knights of the Old Republic (or KOTOR) franchise, the single piece of Star Wars game that hasn't sucked for the past decade or so, would be a MMORPG, set 300 years after the events on the pair of games. Claiming that the content of their game would be limited by a single player storyline, they decided that the best way around would be to make a next-gen online multiplayer game, which means subscribtion fee and monthly payments.

Now, I'm not going into the merit of monthly fees so you can play a game you already bought. This isn't the purpose of this rant. What irritates me beyond belief is the fact that one of the most entertaining and original storylines in the Star Wars universe will not get a closure. Revan, Dark Lord of the Sith and most charismatic character to greet us SW lovers since Kyle Katarn, will not get a closure. A question mark will remain on his romance with Bastila, on the fate of the 'True Sith', on the fate of every one involved in the first two games.Other than, perhaps, a phase or mission in the middle of a MMORPG which means that you'll only learn from 'history books', nothing but 'expansion' on the storyline will be provided, which means: Endless hours of paid playing. The purpose of a MMORPG is to keep people playing, after all.

Once again they fail to listen to what every single SW gamer was begging for: KOTOR 3. It raises the question if single player RPG is actually dead. If stories of heroes battling evil with a noble goal will cease to be, replaced by your character fighting with other characters or monsters in the middle of a big scenario. More and more MMORPGs are being hurled into the market, some quality like Age of Conan, but the amount of dung in their midst is unbelievable. Will the book-like storyline of single player experience be replaced by endless interactivity? That's something to be discussed at another time, another rant.

For now, a KOTOR fan is in mourning.

New chapter begins...

Today was voting day here in Brazil. We voted for mayor and... something else I can't quite remember how to translate to English. But as important as that decision was, I made one far more important to my life (gaming life, that is) last wednesday. I've been saving some money for about six months, now, forsaking my social life (apart from my girlfriend, who's still able to spend almost every single cent I make) and concentrating on college only. My mother told me to spend it with maturity, to take what I saved and make something out of it. So I bought a XBox 360...

I had been craving for a PS3 since I first heard about the wonder that was Metal Gear 4, but here in Brazil it's cheaper to get a transplant than to afford one of those, so I thought, hey, what the hell. It looks like it isn't such a big hit anyway. So in the same batch, I've ordered the 360 and GTA IV. With my birthday coming up next friday, I think I'll isolate myself from the world a bit, and just enjoy the graphs.

So to anyone reading this I ask: Any games for the 360 (or games that are 'also on' 360) that you'd like to recommend? I'm thinking of buying Saints Row, and perhaps even the Bourne Conspiracy game. And I know I'm picking up the new Spider Man as soon as it comes out. But apart from that... I'm a bit clueless here.

First Rant

So I've spent a while without updating. I haven't played that much, to be honest. I've played Mass Effect (awesome) and Crysis (awesome) and I've finished Assassin's Creed. But I've spent most of the time working on updating my Rome Total War story, and writing the first chapter of my Mass Effect (I kept starting the game over and over again, as I'm writing a novelization of the game storyline) fic on Fanfiction.net. I haven't published either of them yet, as still I need to work a bit more.

This is my first rant on the blog. What should I talk about? I don't know... I'm counting the days to the release of the Max Payne movie, so I can be disappointed in big screen (I think it'll flunk badly). I'm hoping Arsene Wenger will grow some sense and buy more players for Arsenal (Arsenal FC is my team in the English Premiership) and I'm waiting to see if my team here in Brazil will be relegated for the first time in history. (I'm talking about Football, aka Soccer.

I'm playing old goodies at the moment. Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale. I'm thinking of installing Neverwinter Nights again. I'm playing Max Payne with the Kung Fu patch and it kicks a*s.

I'm also playing Rome Total War in three versions: the original (or Vanilla, as it is known in the gaming community), the Fourth Age: Total War (which puts Lord of the Rings settings into the game. Forth Eorlingas!), and Lycans Rising (Vampires vs Werewolfs vs Talamasca. Yep, weird it is)

I'm waiting for Force Unleashed to be released (no PC! Why?!) and I'll buy that one for my PS2.

Ah, what else... That's it for now. Rant over, 'till next time.