DAMSOG / Member

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Gears no-more.

I can remember a games journalist once writing that "3rd person shooter will never be mainstream", he was referring to the game "Brute Force" on the original xbox, how wrong he was! Since that statement gamers have been blessed with a plethora of 3rd person carnage, real world and pure sci-fi. When the original Gears of War stormed onto the 360 it was applauded for it's grittiness and storytelling, likeable characters and a fantastic backdrop on the planet Sera. The following two titles built a wonderful picture of a world in turmoil, an evil presence that lurked beneath your very feet, ready to spring up and eat your face should you drop your guard. Epic games built a world full of stories, war torn friendships and tragedy, took us through some truly terrifying moments and faced us off against some monstrous aberrations from the darkest corners of our nightmares. Fans of the series embraced the setting, the characters and the story, we even shed a tear when Marcus lost his best mate, we grew attached to the struggle of the COG trying to survive. Karin Travis wrote some wonderful books that fleshed out the universe to a much larger degree, eager fans snapped up every little detail.

Comparing the new game Judgement (or judgment if you prefer) to the older titles was inevitable, for a series that has such strong roots this new game fails to live up to it's predecessors in the most simplest ways, what went wrong?

1: The story. 

Sure Dom is dead and Marcus saved the day (Carmine survived as well!) so that part of the story is done and dusted, but fans of the series deserve better than the simple offering coughed up by People can fly. What about E-day? Surely fans deserve the horror of that first hole in the ground opening up and spewing forth a bunch of monsters? The first reactions of the COG and Gorasni soldiers as the darkness descended? The series has a wealth of back stories to draw from so why do we get a simple chase down the monster and blow it up story line? 

2: The Characters.

Baird isn't an unlikable character is the first 3 games, his wise cracking, smart arse comments (an obvious way to relieve the tension of their predicament) endeared him to many a gamer, he got the job done and was a pain in the arse to all those around him, a genuine character. Augustus Cole played the perfect side-kick for Baird, the books flesh out a relationship between the pair starting back when the Cole Train first enlisted, they looked out for each other and helped each other through the good times and bad, none of which is portrayed in the new game. There is no interaction between the pair on any other level apart from the obvious dialogue to drive the narrative. For a franchise that built such a strong bond between the main characters of Marcus and Dom it seems strange not to capitalize on this again, we know Baird and Cole are buddies but show us why! Give us the background to establish the connection. The new characters are similarly shallow, very little interaction during the game and horrid writing in the cutscenes (why are the character models worse than the previous games?) trickle feed us tiny tidbits of story in which we are supposed to fit all the pieces together in order to work out what the hell is going on. They could have focused purely on Baird and Cole and gave you random COG soldiers to help out, the additions of 2 new characters dilutes the already weakened story.

3: The settings.

A whole planet they have to work with and we get the same settings? Ambling down yet another back alley/burnt out building/industrial warehouse would be fine but we have been there and done that 3 times already! The lack of vehicle sections in the game (didn't notice that did you?) means the confinement of your surroundings gets tiresome very quickly. Why confine the game to just one city? Why confine players to suburbia when you have a whole planet at your disposal, open fields, sun drenched beaches, nasty swamps and dark holes in the ground? Oh and they used the same lost cat picture on the walls...we know you ate him.

4: The weapons.

There is an old saying that "If it's not broke, don't fix it", why then have they reduced your load-out to 2 weapons? Pistols are pretty much an afterthought here, why swap a primary weapon for a sidearm? What exactly was wrong with swapping weapons on the D-pad? We all knew that you can't bash something with a lancer, only rev it up first and slice your way to victory, why then make this an option? If you wanted to bash something like a ticker you had to swap weapons first, it wasn't broken but yet they fixed it, apparently. The chainsaw takes so long to wind up now it's pretty much useless as a melee weapon unless the hapless victim is crawling across the ground. The new weapons are OK but players will carry a lancer from start to finish, none of the new additions do anything special to warrant dropping the COG standard. What happened to the iron sights on the Locust rifle? 

5: The AI.

It's broken to say the least. The rush tactics of the locust seem to be a simpler AI version taken straight from horde mode, you friendly AI is no better. In previous installments a Theron guard with a torquebow was an enemy to be feared, now he's happy to rush into the front line and get shotgunned at close range, they display none of the tactics from previous titles and rushing seems to be all they know. Halo showed us how dangerous decent AI can be, Gears wasn't far behind it but it's missing here, the simplified actions and tactics used by both sides is broken, it's not uncommon to see friendly and enemy AI units running around in a little circle together, amusing to watch, disappointing to endure. Larger enemies have adopted the COD routine, fire at you and only you unless your hidden, then they wait untill you pop out for another shot, Reavers are a classic example of the single minded nature of the AI enemies. 

6: The multi-player

This will be short! It's missing everything that made this game series what it is today, limited load-outs, missing game types, omitted locust vs cog matches, none of it's here. Why produce a new game and then strip away everything that gave it longevity? When the short campaign is done you only have the multiplayer right? Why remove massive sections from the players? Where's horde mode? Where's beast mode? Where's locust vs cog deathmatches? Where's wing-man? The multiplayer is so lacking in content it's not even remotely funny, you would complain if it were DLC but in a full game is inexcusable.

All in all the game is a let down, missing content, broken AI and generic settings do nothing to attract new followers to this once great series, if anything it will turn them away. Fans are disappointed and I even heard one gamer remark that this was the "Jar jar" of the series, a mighty insult indeed. GOW3 wasn't that long ago, some of us were still happy playing horde and wingman or co-opping it through the campaign on insane, was there really any need to bring out this new title so quickly? and so lacking in content? Like angry star wars fans we are bitter, we deserve better than this, the Gears universe deserves better than what's being offered here. A recent article on GS stated that cynicism was killing the industry, can you blame us? We pay our hard earned dollars for products that are giving us less and less, games that rely on big names to drag in unsuspecting consumers to watered down products. We already know studios are in the game to make money, we don't like it, however, when we are taken for granted. We vote with our wallets and rubbish like Judgement is an example of how not to retain your fan base, rip them off, give them less, change the product and then tell them how good it is.....or was.



Gaming peripherals.

At long last I got some hands on time with STEEL BATTALIONS massive 40 button controller and I was impressed. Now let's get one thing straight, the game is rubbish but the controller, wow. The level of immersion was immediate, the number of buttons just to start the bloody thing made you feel like you were in the machine and ready for war. Just walking this lumbering behemoth around with joysticks, foot pedals and lot's of blinky switches was pure magic, pity the gameplay was such a letdown, I could have easily spent many an hour just having fun walking this thing around and getting used to the controls but my time was limited, it got me thinking though.

It was a big gamble to produce such a complex controller for one game but kudos for giving it their best shot, fast forward to today and with updated graphics/gameplay there is an opportunity gone begging. A lot of gamers complain these days about the sameness of modern games so how do you keep the masses happy?

Car racing games have their controllers, I have a my Logitech wheel and spend many happy hours flapping about in all manner of racing titles creating four wheeled mayhem. Stick on a motorbike game and? It's a crying shame that a set of handlebars aren't available for two wheeled racing, wouldn't need to do anything special but the immersion would be there. If the eyetoy/kinect has taught us anything it's that's gamers like to be comfortable when playing their games, we don't want to be jumping around our living rooms just to enjoy a story. However put my behind my steering wheel and I'm more than happy.

Is this a market gone begging? Motorbike handlebars are just one idea, any mech game can/would benefit from having a unique controller, shooters could have seperate hand sticks instead of tiny ones on traditional controllers, flight games teach us how much fun it can be with a unique controller and they don't cost the earth. These are but a few ideas but the mind boggles to think what may be possible. I think I just want my handlebars for starters.

The death of a franchise.

Oh how the mighty have fallen, the much anticipated Ghost Recon future soldier hit the shelves and I raced out and secured a copy only to be bitterly disappointed. Here's why.

Firstly the graphics are terrible, washed out and blurred textures and colours. Grab yourself a sniper rifle and have a good look at the enemies in the distance, no faces. That's right, instead of a human face you get an alien pig face with little features resembling a human being, why put a sniper rifle in with that sort of zoom if your graphics engine can't keep up. Then there are the numerous and tediously long cut scenes, poor character models and ropey animations with even poorer lip sinc give the whole game a unfinished look, add a ludicruous storyline and you're complete. The "tender" moments of the reality of war are laughable and you will care little for any of the characters.

Gone are the tactics and planning of previous ghost recon games and no, I'm not referring to those god awfull modern warfighter games, I mean the "real" ghost recon games that gave you realistic scenarios and real tension throughout the missions. In an effort to make the game more accessible for everyone they have dumbed the game down to an almost on rails experience. The in-game hints tell you to flank enemies but with the linear nature of all the levels this proves to be somewhat of an impossibility, run to the next available cover and tag enemies is what we get instead.

Diamond formations, Oh my god what a joke, just because a bunch of soldiers form up in a diamond pattern we are supposed to swallow the fact that now the enemies can't hit them? It's laughable to see an enemy soldier firing round after round into 4 guys in "diamond" formation and not hit one of them, although they are now standing in the open with no cover! Gone are the squad commands too, now your soldiers run about cloaked right past enemy soldiers to get into position when you get spotted lying in the grass 100 feet away and cloaked! Enemy soldiers now have th ability to spot bodies through buildings and over hills, instant mission failure starts to grate when you have to reload a mission for the tenth time.

The missions are terrible, the pace is way off and the consant barking objectives to hurry you up are not befitting a ghost recon game. The story is weak at best, America saves the world, yet again. Did Tom Clancy have any input into this game other than lending his name to the title? The tiny linear maps gives you no room to improvise or adapt, follow the path and tag another group of soldiers, inspired? I don't think so. Time limits do not, I repeat, do not make a game more exciting or add tension to a scenario, they are the lazy developers way and no previous ghost recon game had them so why now? Breeching sequences are horrid because the camera confines you to "your" sector so if the AI fails to take a guy out in his view it's lights out for you, lazy and uninspired.

The multiplayer is rubbish, tiny maps combined with the ability to spawn onto team mates make the game play more like a 3rd person COD or GOW game. It's very possible for one team to simply hold the other team at their base whilst a one soldier on their team captures all objectives, don't think it's possible..have a go and you will see. Ignoring the objectives the other team simply positions themselves to cover the exits to your spawn, good luck getting out of there if you run into a switched on team that simply holds you in your base. The pace is wrong, tension is non existent and your left with...hell I don't even want to say what it is but it's not nice. Lag and drop out connections round out the dismal offering for online fun.

Ghost recon 1 was my first experience on XBOX live and it was great. Huge maps that gave room for every tactic in the book, not just sniping mind you, but flanking and rush moves as well. Weather effects added poor visability on some maps and this just added to the tension, lying under a tin roof listening to the "tink tink" of rain overhead untill somewhere in the mist a rifle barked and a team-mate went down was truly terrifying. I can remember some games with no respawns where 20 minutes elapsed before the first shot was fired, now that builds tension. Now it's all rush rush rush for this objective and now rush for this and....it's just not recon. As you have probably picked up by now I am not having a lot of fun with the new recon, I gave it a 2.5 on review and I stand by it. It's just not a recon game, it's something else and bears no resemblance to the games that built it's audience with reality and tension. They could have called this game super stealth soldier or something but by adding the "ghost recon" to the title they instantly added a market of die hard fans to the sales department.

RIP Jack Stone and friends, I'm glad they aren't here to see what depth this once mighty franchise has sunk to.

Turn 10 trouble.

Racing games are a niche market, you either race or you don't, it's that simple. I fall into the "lets race" group and Forza motorsports has given me many hours of enjoyable tinkering and tweaking, it was then, with great anticipation I waited for the 4th of the series to be released. The graphics have been tweaked (not an easy task considering how sweet 3 looked) and the sound is sterling, the handling remains solid and the tweaking returns, what could I possibly compaign about then right?

Games are all about choice right? What gun to use with what sight? What armour to wear and what sword to swing? What car to drive with what wheels, where...choice gives gamers freedom and control at the same time. We choose our settings to tailor make the game to an enjoyable level comparable with our skill/motivation etc. Why then has Turn10 studios chosen to take away the most simple of decisons? How hard to make the game.

Failure of a game burns deep for some gamers, not being able to finish a level or beat a boss has some gamers tearing out their hair in frustration or hurling controllers across rooms. Others persevere where some may quit, some games you have to admit simply rip-off gamers by imposing ludicrous time limits or ramping up the numbers of enemies to a rediculous level, whereas some games you have to agree foil you with intelligent AI or clever traps. Racing games are no different. Turn10 has taken away the choice for you and the game selects the difficulty for you based on your performance, sounds simple enough untill you suffer the consequences. First thing was to customize my driving style, gone was the auto gearbox and the racing line, traction control was turned off and....um where to set the difficulty? A quick troll, er search online revealed Turn10's new strategy, the above formentioned "auto" difficulty. First 5 or 6 races revealed how good racing games can be, glorious tracks/car/noise etc all combined to create a pleasurable racing experience, then a wake up call. Somewhere inbetween race 7 or 8 the AI got a wake up call, gone was the respectfull racing group and in came the destruction derby crew. Cars now ram you in the corner and ride your side on the way out, they move over into your racing line at any given speed and now possess carbon fibre brakes much to your dismay. They pay no attention to your placement on the track and some could even be accused of running blocking manouvers for other cars. But the worst was yet to come.

I hit a wall, not a literal one but a figurative one, I found myself in a race where I wasn't competitive. It must be the car I told myself, a quick check revealed the winning car to be a Lotus Evora, nice car. Quick purchase, little in the way of modifications to keep it in the same class and back off to race again. The horror, the very same car I had just purchased couldn't keep up. The AI driven Lotus blew me away down the straight (same car) and then pitched into a corner with just a tap on the brakes, I had to gear down and ride this twitching animal through the corner like it was on ice. Corner after corner it screamed and slid whilst the 1st place Lotus drove around like it was on a rail. Even when I did manage to get close to the AI his car (same car) developed another 50hp and simply accelerated away from me. Back to the tuning menu where I managed to set the car up to a reasonable standard, no upgrades could be purchased due to a lack of available points in order to keep it in the same class. Back to the race and...same result. His Lotus was faster, simple as that. His showed no sign of sliding or squirming under brakes, nor did he generate any wheelspin coming out of the corner, good driver. How then am I supposed to fathom the fact that his car now gernerated another 30-40km an hour down the main straight for no apparant reason? Even sitting in close behind him on exiting the corner and sitting in his slipstream for the entire main straight I couldn't keep up, he pulled away like I had a caravan on the back. ??? Just out of curiosity I had a quick peek at the leaderboards. Wall to wall American muscle cars dominated the entire leaderboard without a Lotus in sight. Am I supposed to believe that an ageing V8 muscle car can lap a circuit quicker than a state of the art Lotus or Nissan? Turn10 would have me believe so.

Back to purchase a muscle car then. AMX Javelin filled the void and after some hasty tweaks for horsepower and acceleration I returned to the series. My aptly named Javelin was fantastic, out accelerating every car in the pack and with the relevent tweaks slid though corners just nicely, it was good for bashing every other small car into the next paddock as well. I tried to make other cars to compete with that Lotus, modern cars with precise handling and rock hard brakes, nothing I could come up with could match that Lotus, back to the muscle car.

Good now I was on a roll, mid season and I had found a car which was fast and competitive, what's that? Next race in the season changed class and I was no longer able to use my AMX. Back to square one as the Lotus was now replaced with an A class corvette. Many A class cars were tried, including the same model corvette the winning AI driver was using, same problem persisted. "My" Corvette wasn't as fast as the AI's. His simply generated another 40km and hour from somewhere and mine was left floundering (same car). Back to the cars, pick up another AMX Javelin and tune it up into the relevant A class. Now I can at least keep up with the pack. A quick check on the leaderboards unveiled yet another list of American muscle cars dominating the race times. This Corvette was special though, I'm not sure what I had done but the AI driving the corvette had a contract out on me I'm sure of it. He costantly rammed me on every corner, he jumped ahead into corners to slam on the brakes, he even cut across a grassy corner to slam me broadside and knock me flying off into the weeds that slowed my car down but not his. Whilst mine struggled to speed up and return to the track his continued on its way like the grass was made from tarmac itself.

On and on this continued throughout all the classes, I had an AMX Javelin for just about every class now as it was the only way I could remain competitive, then I hit another wall. Race class R2. No option to pick anything other than a handfull of similar cars with equally similar statistics, this should be easy right? Watch in dismay as the AI driven cars roar away and leave me behind, in the same class car. It's my only option left, race R3 or go home. No options for other classes as it's the only race available to me to continue on with my season. I can't even build up a Javelin into an R2 class car because of the limitations placed on the entry cars, no options, race R2 in the cars they tell you or go home. Ok I will just set the difficulty lower so I can pass this.....er.....sorry can't do that. My choice has been taken away. I am reluctant to go back and fail that race over and over, I have tried but after 10 or so attempts I haven't even come close. Is my only option to fail this race and move on? I downloaded some tuning setups from the storefront and yes, my car handled better but still wasn't fast enough to keep up (with the same damn car). What did I do? I went and played some Gears of War 3, CHOOSE my difficulty level and had a ball. Turn10 didn't grant me that freedom.

Phew...that was a rave. Here are some other points I would like to make in relation to Forza4 and racing games in general, some you may agree with and some will just make me sound stupid.

1: In a race with 12 cars around a tiny, twisting circuit with slippy, sliding cars is it wise to limit the number of laps to only 2? With cars that now swerve into your driving line no matter what the speed and bash you through most corners is it reasonable to suggest the only way your going to win the race is to bash and smash you way through the field in order to get to the front?

2: When games try to be "realistic" shouldn't this include difficulty? How are we to swallow AI drivers that can make their cars faster for no apparant reason.

3: Why should we be "forced" by our chosen game to play how "they" want us to play it? Like I said ealier it's a right of the gamer to choose his/her difficulty to suit themselves, to make the game enjoyable depending on skill level or motivation at the time. Removing this option dictates how the game "must" be played, I don't like being told what to do by a computer game, I payed for it so I should be able to dictate terms to it. (my head hurts)

4: How in this modern day do we have to swallow the same racing circuits over and over? Adding 5 new tracks does seem like a 3.5 upgrade rather than a complete new game. Without the constraints placed upon actual racetracks surely the developers can manufacture as many tracks as they want to? Forza 1 had wonderfull fictional tacks and Forza 4 has 1! Without having to physically go out and build a racetrack or secure land or funding or sponsers surely the freedom of making new tracks would be a pleasure. With actual racetracks requiring permission to use likeness and signage and often requiring payment to use said licences surely the money could be better spent giving your development team open slather to create new tracks wherever they wanted to? No one owns physics or black paint so you could have a racetrack on the moon if you wanted to, keep the racing real but make the scenery unreal. Race on a track suspended around a city, underwater, on top of a mountain, the possibilities are endless but no...regurgitate the same tracks.

5: I like cheese.

Cheers to all......Damsog.

I have now grown to officially hate this game, round after round of cars with seemingly extra horsepower over yours. Toyota cup, pick a supra and remove some weight, it accelerates faster now than the standard model, add some bigger tyres, it now handles better than the standard model, bigger engine size and hey presto, it now has the edge in top speed over the original. Back to the race and ......WTF!! Watch in dismay as the standard supra driven by the AI can now out accelerate you with the standard car, he carries more speed down the straight and corners better.....HOW? Turn10 if your listening and I doubt it, you have ruined the experience for me, this will be undoubtebly the last Forza title I purchase ever. Not only frustrating but rediculous considering the wealth of tuning options designed to make your car go faster, how are we then supposed to swallow the fact that the AI can make their cars go faster for no apparent reason. Congratulations on ruining a good experience, I am now going to sell the game and buy something that doesn't rip-off gamers for no apparent reason. Goodbye Turn10, you levels of suckyness knows no bounds.

Out of the trenches.

I'm not usually in the practice of buying downloadable arcade games but something about Trenched had me intrigued. Reviews gave it a modest to good score with the emphasis squarely set on the fun side of gaming. Congratulations to the developers (doublefine I think?) for making what the gaming industry has been sorely lacking, games that are fun to play. Too much attention these days is directed towards realism and hardcore experiences at the expense of the "F" factor, cast your mind back to the N64 and most games had fun gameplay in spades. Nowdays every FPS has a hardcore mode with sharpshooter enemies and time limits to make the average gamer rip out his/her hair in frustration. Am I just a lazy or incompetant as a gamer? I completed WAW on the hardest difficulty and screamed and yelled all the way through it just to get the realative achievment, fun? NO.

Trenched on the other hand brings back fond memories of fun gaming, you and three of your greasy mates stomping around the battlefield blowing seven bells out of everything that moves and loving every minute of it. The co-operative nature of the game means it's best played with friends, some issues have been noted when joining random rooms with laggy gameplay and frequent drop-outs but with friends I found no problem. Mech shooters are rare these days and to find one with decent customization is a bonus, triple machine guns with an artillery gun? You bet. The levels are fabulous, starting off soft and accommodating and then brutal and nasty come the end, hopefully you have unlocked enough firepower by this stage to give the nasties some decent lead poisoning.

If you haven't checked out Trenched yet do yourself a favour and have a look. Congratulations to a studio for making a game that reminded me why I play games in the first place. FUN.


Dirty tactics 3.

Ah codemasters you almost had me fooled. After purchasing a copy of Dirt3 I was appalled to get home and discover the need to input my VIP pass to play online, buy the game second hand and you have to "buy" one. Nowhere on the case was this information disclosed, why? The game has been returned and Codemasters have been added to the list of studios who will not recieve my support.

If the developers have a problem with the huge numbers of games being sold second hand why not address the problem directly by lowering the average price of their games? If the problem lies with gamestores and their profit margins regarding used game sales why not direct your anger towards them? Why not, because it's easier to make us (the consumer) pay for the shortfall. We support these studios by buying their products and how do they repay us? By blaming us for buying second hand products and lining the pockets of gamestores instead of them, fair? Hardly. Just remember it was us who helped many of these studios attain the lofty heights they now sit.

I allready pay for an xbox live subscription, I buy games new and pay full retail price because I want to support my chosen developers in their quest to make better games, I do not, however, want to support those who's only goal is to meet shareholders expectations at the cost to the consumer.

Sorry Codemasters but you and Red Faction and MW3 have made my list, I don't care how good your games are because I will not participate in your gouging tactics aimed squarely at the consumer. Be warned gamers that this is just the first sign of things to come, as more and more studios employ these tactics and profits increase the likelyhood of similar practices will increase as well.


E3 not all it's cracked up to be.

Am I the only one disappointed with this years E3? All the hype surrounding this media event and we get dribbled tiny snippets of games and mere seconds of actual gameplay. If you game is good enough and you expect it to sell then why keep the gaming public in the dark? Are game developers scared of showing off their wares? The takings at the shop counter will determine if you game is succesfull or not, it doesn't hinge on 10 seconds of gameplay versus 25 minutes of developer interviews.

In years gone past E3 was a showcase for all things good in gaming, now it seems to be a public horn blowing exercise about how good your game is without showing the public any real footage or gameplay. The only people watching these videos are gamers, your potential customers. How are we expected to make up our minds when all the new games are so "secret" they can't reveal anything of a worthwhile nature?

This posturing between the developers has gone on long enough, you want people to buy your game? Then show it too us! We don't want interviews, we don't want to hear how long it took to make the grass look uber green, we want to see the game, the gameplay, the action.....bah I'm wasting my breath.

I am yet to see anything from this years E3 that couldn't have just been released to the gaming public without the hype surrounding it, for shame.


Greed Corp.

The first barrage has been fired in the second hand game war, the newly released Red Faction Armageddon will require you to purchase an unlock code to play online if you purchase a used copy, this will not be the last we hear of this. The new MW3 is now offering exclusive deals with those who purchase their online tracking software, another shot in the face of gamers everywhere.

Where does it end? Where does the gouging stop? At roughly $100 a game here in Australia, plus xbox live fee's, my chosen relaxation has taken on a very sinister twist. The gaming industry has grown and continues to do so thanks to us, the gaming public, why then are they ripping us blind at every corner. Games are getting shorter, sequals using same engines and AI etc are commonplace yet the developers still think we should cough up more for our chosen hobby.

Apply this to the movie industry and it's like studios putting their hand out everytime you rent a movie, after the initial box office takings. Does your car manufacturer ask you for money when you sell your car? Do you have to purchase an unlock code to make your car run if you buy it used?

The gaming industry is setting a dangerous precedent, big money is attracting more and more unscrupulous types who's only interest in the bottom line of share holders pockets. How much more can we expect to shell out to the gaming developers and publishers?

I for one will not be purchasing or supporting any developers or publishers who promote or use these tactics of ripping off gamers. I don't care that games like FABLE3 are being hurt by 2nd hand sales, if the game was worthy in the first place then people would be less inclined to sell it in the first place. Rubbish titles deserve rubbish returns, only then will they realise that the gaming public is not to be bullied by these heavy handed cash grabbing tactics. To say this makes me angry is an understatement, I'm furious. Why? Because some gamers don't understand what it means to the future of our hobby. Punishing those who can't afford to buy brand new games is stealing, the game has to be purchased brand new in order for it to become second hand doesn't it? What about the rental market? Why would someone in their right mind purchase an unlock code for a game they have hired for maybe a week? Alienating gamers is all thats going to happen, those with money your welcome those without bugger off. Its easy to see past what the gaming industry is trying to do because it's simple really, greed. The games industry is closing the gap with the film industry to be the biggest money earner today and their doing it off our backs.

Sorry Red Faction Armageddon and MW3 but you have just been scrubbed off my list. So is this plan of theirs going to work? Not if people like me refuse to purchase any of their titles, my money will go to those who value their customers and show respect for the community that supported their rise, not take advantage of them for a bottom line quarterly report.


The industry going backwards.

I recently reviewed Operation Flashpoints RED RIVER and gave it a 4.5, as a sequal it fixed many of the problems associated with the first but failed completely on so many levels. I am going to point the finger directly at the testers for this one. The development team relies on the testing team to point out problems with all aspects of the game, from graphical glitches to horrendous AI routines they shouldn't miss a single thing, its their job. How can RR (red river) then be released with so many obvious problems? The AI routines of your friendly troopers are probably some of the worst yet, ignoring simple commands and doing what they feel like doing instead, often getting themselves killed in the process. Why give you command when your troopers take no notice?

There has been some great examples of friendly AI over the years, Rainbow six vegas had your boys gunning down terrorists and storming doors like true professionals, Republic commandos would have taken over the death star in less than 24hrs and my favourite, Ghost Recon the 1st. Jack Stone and friends from Ubisofts Ghost Recon launched years ago on the PC and found its way onto consoles with decent ports, the AI was precise and deadly without feeling overpowered. They went where you told them too and they had the common sense not to walk into a machine gun nest or in front of you whist firing. Fast forward to RR and you cringe, they walk in front of you when firing, they ignore cover and stand in the open, they push you out of cover so they can run around you (back into the firing line) abysmal to say the least. I can see why they made the game 4 player co-op as on the harder difficulty its your best option, the friendly AI just can't keep up. How did this make it past the testers I ask? Did they not get it in time to correct the problems? Were they instructed to ignore the blatent stupidity of the AI? Did they all go out for coffee the day they tested the AI? What is the point of having testers when its obvious that their recommendations are not be used or ignored?

What I would like to do is have a programme in which I could pit the AI routine of one game up against the other, imagine the possibility of Ghost Recon Vs Halo marines, Gears of war Vs Rainbow6, RR Vs Republic commando. I can guarantee one thing, the AI from Red River would be the first to die horribly.


Industry of YES men.

You worked hard at school, got the right grades and got accepted into university to get the qualifications you need to work in the gaming industry. After what seems an eternity you land a job at Rebellion studios, you start from the bottom and begin working on your first major title. The jobs given to you are menial but hey its beats digging a ditch for a living and your doing what you have allways wanted to do,making games for a living.You have played games all your life so you know deep down when a game sucks and what makes a game great, you can decide a games fate in less than a minute of gameplay. Some of the people you work with have been in the industry for years, you try to learn all you can and follow the lead of the senior employees as they surely know best, right? After what seems like an eternity you finally get to work on a game that you have dreamed about, Aliens Vs Predator.

One day your asked for feedback on the progress of the game, you get to play an early code of the game and you realise your worst nightmare has come true, the game sucks. You want to complain about re-using levels over and over, you think the campaign is too short and uninteresting, you would love to change the control style of the alien, you feel the balance between the different species is way off, the list continues and the boss of your department in now sitting accross the desk looking at you waiting for a response. You know you havn't been in the industry that long and your thrilled that your boss wants your opinion on the games progress but, you have just bought a new car and the payments are huge and allthough you didn't really need that huge plasma tv you went ahead anyway because your working right? You can afford stuff like this, thats why people get jobs in the first place.

Your boss is still looking at you waiting for some feedback, he wants to know what your honest opinion is, at the same time telling you how much the game has cost so far and how much the studio needs to make in order to make some money off this title, its a fickle industry and no-ones job is really that secure, if the game fails layoffs may happen. You desperately want to say that the game is bugged, you want to say that fans of the series are going to be bitterly disapointed by this release, you want to say we should start again but allready its been a year and a lot of hard work has gone into the development of this game, deep down you still know it sucks. So you take a deep breath, swallow your pride because you have bills to pay, and give him the most honest answer you know he wants to hear.

Yes....its great. The campain is brilliant, the animations superb and effects are something fans are going to be talking about for years to come, the balance is just right and its going to be the best game of 2010. Your boss smiles and lets you get back to work, deep down the game still sucks but you still have your job in the industry of your choice, beats digging ditches for a living.

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