Hello gamespot friends! I have returned to the land of blogging, this is my biannual blog. Its going to be "bigger, better and more badass" due to my infrequency of blogging. Rest assured I am still alive and I have been playing loads of games.
Mass Effect 3 came out in March and most people would be aware of the controversy surrounding that title. Of course Im talking about the ending which was disappointingly abrupt and unfitting for a huge series. Fast forward to June and Bioware listened to the fans, ate their cupcakes and came up with something better. The extend cut is longer and ends up being a decent finish to a great game. If that ending was original included then I would probably have little problem with the way it ended. I ended up writing a review for ME3 a few months after release, this review changed far more than anything else Ive written. Consequently I reshuffled, deleted and redid a large portion of it. You can read it here.
Max Payne 3 came to PC a few weeks ago and I have to say that it is my least favourite of the series. Not a horrible game, not a great game. I found it merely average with multiplayer I could not get into. One of the problems I had with the game was the frequent, pointless and interruptive cut scenes. I dont understand why the game needs to take control from the player so often and for so long. Many cut scenes cant be skipped so its clearly a design decision to show bald Max walk through a door and hide behind a tiny piece of cover in the middle of a room. Max has always been strong on narrative but the older games flowed so wonderfully without these scenes. My review can be found here.
Red Ded Redemption Unded Nightmare has been on my wishlist for a while but I havent been playing much PS3 so I only got it recently when it was quite cheap. I must admit my first reactions were on the poor side. The first horses you get constantly pulls to the right or left, making navigating windy roads pure garbage. After I got the flame horse, navigating became satisfactory again. I also realised I totally forgot that this game has focus mode (slow motion aiming) which obviously vastly improved shooting zombies who really only go down when shot in the head. Also Ive had some quite awful framerate problems, mostly when Im riding a horse into a wall of zombies, it feels like it drops to something like 10FPS
The good news is that the expansion is absolutely hilarious. Probably the funniest game Ive ever played because of how it deals with the zombie characters and weird occurrences with individuals who are non-zombified. Marston is pure sarcasm in human form and its awesome.
Alan Wake has been a long time coming on PC. Remedy apparently persisted with Microsoft to have it released on PC. Then not long after that, they brought across American Nightmare. I really enjoyed both games, the combat remained good throughout. The unique feel is quite important in terms of it standing out, also liked the tv shows and the bits of humour. I would look forward to the sequel coming to PC, hopefully its not held back by the overlords at Microsoft. My review on gamespot is found here
Pretty early on I had low expectations for Diablo 3, just the way it looked but also because they didnt include the Paladin (ok not really). The beta came out and I enjoyed it enough to pick the game up at launch. Ive played through the game a few times now with Monk and Demon Hunter. My Monk is finding it very hard in Hell and I just finished normal with my demon hunter.
I think I appreciated it a little bit more after replaying segments and seeing things change. I also enjoyed the action for both classes. Act 1 is definitely my favourite of all four. I dont like D3 as much as the original or the sequel but I guess with all the hate in the forums recently Ive almost gone the other direction. Many people really had high expectations for it, expecting a 9/10 game and receiving something less will always turn the hate on. Instead I think its a good solid game but it wont change the world.
Journey is touted as one of the greatest games ever made, well at least it rates that way on metacritic. This short game failed to really impress me to those levels. Technically its very proficient and the art team really did a great job with the sand and the wind. It works so well because its minimalistic, it doesnt explain anything and I will do the same in case people are looking at playing it. It was quite enjoyable but, in similar ways to Flower, I fail to see what all the fuss is about.
Dear Esther is a pretty good contrasting game to Journey. Dear Esther has basically no real gameplay. Its walking and swimming and listening to some guy talk nonsense. It sounds like a waste of money but I actually enjoyed the ride. The real thing that appealed to me is actually trying to make sense of the visual and audio clues. Trying to link the pieces and work out what is happening, then talking about those theories with others. Making you think about a game for days or weeks after you finished playing is an achievement. My review of it here.
Guild Wars 2 beta hasn't been off to a good start for me, certainly not as good as the GW1 beta. But I'm happy that the beta weekends finished better than they started.
First Beta Weekend (BWE) terrible performance, not fun at all as warrior norn, cluster**** in all dynamic events, balance pretty terrible.
Second BWE actually playable on low settings, balance better, slightly more enjoyable even though instances (personalized story) are weak and downed state is not fun
Third BWE First time I actually enjoyed the game, possibly because I left my norn warrior in the gutter and played around with Slyvari Elementalist and Charr Necromancer. Dynamic events show more potential, better balance and some more interesting locations. They still need to basically redo the introduction / tutorial sections which arent good. At least this weekend has me hopeful that my money was not wasted and will attempt to sink some time when it comes out in late august.
Tribes Ascend is Free to play. Yes you heard that right, costs zero to play the game. Its a multiplayer shooter with jetpacks and skiing. Hi-Rez gets money from people buying boosts (non-boost XP earn rate is painfully slow) and buying weapons/skins with gold. In general the weapons you can buy are not better than the free ones, just better at a different role. Ive spent a meagre $30 and already got 70 hours of entertainment. Im impressed with how they have translated the series into a modern feel, appealing to casuals without losing that insanely high skill ceiling.
Its the first F2P game that has changed my perception about F2P games, they certainly can be relevant to me. With many more F2P games coming in the next few years Ill be checking out more thanks to Ascend. The game is still growing, which is actually a big plus, more maps, weapons and even modes etc. It has some teething problems, partly because they are a small dev team. I havent played it for a few months but I still recommend checking it out.
Darkness 2, Syndicate, Spec Ops and Sniper Elite v2
Linking these all together because they are all average shooters which will be basically forgotten in GOTYs and in years from now. Spec Ops has an awesome setting in Dubai with sand storms but pretends you have choices when you dont. Sniper Elite v2 has some satisfying long range sniper skills with moronic AI. Darkness 2 has an interesting art style, solid shooting and probably the best of these games. Syndicate has a pretty poor single player with a ridiculous overuse of Bloom, the co-op aspects are quite good but barely anybody is playing on PC. Apparently Syndicate sold like 150,000 copies across all platforms worldwide. These games more or less fill my shooter quotient no more, no less.
DiRT Showdown is like a party / demolition derby spin off for the popular racing series. They developed the whole game in under a year and I think it shows. Its really thin on content and quite unsatisfying. Not sure exactly what they were trying to achieve with it but they failed pretty badly. They should have made it more arcade or copied the formula from something like FlatOut.
Still playing Battlefield 3 recently broke through the 200 hour barrier which means its my second most played Battlefield game after 2142 (327hrs) . BF4 coming late 2013 or early 2014 sounds ok but I was really hoping for a futuristic Battlefield game. The new close quarters maps are pretty good but I can already see most people going back to normal rotations. Armored kill has some more potential for longer life but hopefully they are not ridiculously big just for the sake of being big.
Picked up Prototype 2 recently and its good to come back to this franchise. Just quietly I rank the first one up there with infamous. P2 continues that fun, its just really enjoyable to run around consume bad guys, slash groups of enemies, perform powerful attacks with tendrils or hammer fists. The powers are awesome and the story has lifted in quality. Few new enemy types which so far are quite good. Visually it looks a lot better too, the city is more detailed and less washed out. There are three zones in the game world and so far Ive only been to yellow and green. Ironically the green zone is far more dangerous. As far as PC ports go I dont think its horrible. Performance could be better because I get a playable 30-40fps. There are some strange mouse jitters but they dont bother me enough to switch to my 360 controller.
Steam sales were back this year and I must say I missed the achievement hunting activities. They did replace them with some smaller activities that go towards permanent badges so its not all bad. I picked up a few games some of which I have yet to play so my backlog grew a little bit. Im working my way through Rayman Origins which is a decent platformer with some really quirky music. Finished the free DLC pack for Hard Reset which was really great and much appreciated freebie from the developers. Three cheers for Flying Wild Hog!
Now we are getting into the business end of the year for games, its a shame quite a few were pushed back into 2013 but there are still plenty of games that look to be coming along nicely. Hitman, Torchlight 2, Ass Creed 3, Far Cry 3 and Dishonored all have the potential to be the best of the best.
Well that was quite a long blog, it's been forming for a few months now though. I've been writing bits and pieces on the games but never actually got around to posting a blog which I should have done months ago. Better late than never I suppose. I hope everybody is going well even though I don't see many blogs on my feed anymore. :)