Archive for October, 2011

Rage (PC) Review

Posted in Reviews on October 30, 2011 by Matt

It took roughly 13-14 hours to finish a play-through on Hard difficulty, but I finally did it. This review covers single-player only, as I really didn’t care about the multi-player in the game. That and when I tried, I couldn’t find any matches.

What was done well in Rage? What did I like? Graphics, Voice Acting, AI, Racing + mini-games, Building Items

It’s almost needless to say that Rage has some pretty nice visuals. It’s been in development for quite a long time, so it’s nice to see that it paid off. The facial animations while talking to an NPC and the movements of enemies as they take a hit, or duck behind cover are fantastic and are fluid. Explosions are wonderful, and the lighting effects are top-notch. I am looking forward to seeing what else they can do with this engine.

The voice acting is done extremely well, and if you didn’t know, the voice of the very first person you run into in the wasteland is done by John Goodman. Everyone you speak with has had a good voice actor behind them though, and the way the people of this world are animated, coupled with the caliber of voice, is excellent and it is not a chore to talk to everyone. It’s actually interesting.

The artificial intelligence in this game is actually good, and there is a wide variety of different behaviours that you will experience throughout the wastes. Some enemies just charge at you, as mindless mutants would. Others jump off of walls, or dodge side to side, or find cover and shoot from there. Sometimes they retreat or push forward. It does get predictable after a little while, but it’s still a good variety. It forces you to adapt and ensure that almost every fight will be different. Which is a good thing.

The racing is a nice little break from the shooting, as are the mini-games (namely the card game). Racing allows you to win points and earn new upgrades for your vehicles. This is crucial, as you do need armour and guns for your vehicles to survive your travels. There are different events, from racing, to rocket rally, to rocket races, and time trials. The card game is easy to learn, and if you are an explorer, you’ll find various cards laying around. You can earn money by playing cards, so it’s definitely worth playing a few hands. There are other mini-games, such as five finger fillet, but they didn’t really appeal to me very much. Racing and cards are all you really need.

During your journey, you’ll stumble across items and blue prints. These can be used to build items and ammo that are extremely handy. Do not over-look this stuff. Later in the game, you can build explosive arrows and shotgun shells, sentry turrets, remote bomb cars, bandages, grenades, and whatever else.

What could have been better in Rage? What did I dislike? Story, Fun Factor/Limitations, Game Feels Short, Combat: Head Shots Glitches

The story in the game isn’t exactly engaging. It’s just sort of…there. It holds the game together, but that’s about it. There are some plot twists, but nothing really exciting. I’ll keep it at that, and save for spoilers.

Even though there is a wide variety in enemy AI and there is racing and cards to play, and things to shoot, I really had a hard time sitting and playing the game for extended periods. It felt like a chore sometimes. I’d play for 30 minutes to an hour, and then I’d turn the game off and play something else. Maybe it’s the lack of compelling plot, or maybe it’s the fact that the world wasn’t really one to explore. It’s an open world and it’s big, but it doesn’t feel big when you just drive around in it. It just doesn’t give me the same sense of freedom and exploration of games like Fallout, or Oblivion. A bit more quest variety, or the ability to wander around and explore a bit more would have been nice. Maybe I just missed something?

There is also the fact that the game just ends abruptly, and it really doesn’t leave you feeling like anything was 100% resolved. I’m not sure if id left this as an opening for another game, or they were just being lazy. I just didn’t feel satisfied when the game was over.

Combat was fun and all, but the issue I did have with it was that head shots rarely ever killed someone in a single shot. This is ridiculous. Unless they have armour over their face, then why does this not instantly kill someone? I’m talking ordinary human bandits here. A bit strange and annoying.

Glitches in this game, at launch, were fairly bad for most people. I didn’t experience any real problems. During driving, I still get pop-in textures, but I just ignored it. Before they added in the ability to change your visual settings in the game, I was able to get rid of the horrible screen tearing problem that I was having, but the game still doesn’t save my video options. When the game started, I’d always have to go in and turn V-Sync on. That is really annoying.

Overall

I’m not saying that Rage is a bad game, because it isn’t. It’s enjoyable, but it’s just not amazing and it does have it’s issues. It would be a good rental, or even a decent purchase, but wait for a price drop first. With that said, this is the PC version, and any glitches I mentioned are non-existent (as far as I know) in the console versions of this game.

Purchase for Thursday, October 27, 2011: Haunted: Hell’s Reach (PC)

Posted in In The Mail/Purchased Items, Initial Impressions, New Releases on October 27, 2011 by Matt

This game caught my attention a little while ago, since it was only $19.99 at release and it reminded me a lot of Shadows of the Damned when I saw the gameplay videos.

It’s a bit different than that.

It’s focus is almost completely on multi-player, and it pits you against demons and monsters that generate randomly throughout each level. It’s an onslaught of killing and gore. It’s actually a lot of fun, or I can see it being so. I really only invested a measly 10 minutes into the game so far, so you’ll have to forgive me. Once I try out the online multi-player and a few of the other maps (which it seems that there are quite a few of), I’ll update this posting.

Recent PSN Purchases: Infamous: Festival of Blood, Pixel Junk Sidescroller, God Hand, Odin Sphere and Ring of Red

Posted in In The Mail/Purchased Items, New Releases on October 27, 2011 by Matt

I’ve been meaning to purchase a few games on PSN, namely the PS2 classics I have listed here. The other ones just seemed…necessary.

Infamous: Festival of Blood is a stand-alone expansion for Infamous 2. It sees our hero, Cole, turned into a vampire and he has until day break to kill the vampire that cursed him or face losing his free will to a vampire queen. I haven’t played it yet, but it was only $7.99. We’ll see if it was worth it soon.

Pixel Junk Sidescroller looks like Pixel Junk Shooter, but with some differences. I wasn’t sure if I was going to buy it, just based on the trailer, but I figured why not. It was only $9.99, and again, I haven’t tried it out yet, so we’ll see if it was worth it sometime soon.

God Hand was a PS2 game that I never played, but I’ve heard some interesting things about it. All of the PS2 classics are $9.99 so it wasn’t a huge gamble. We’ll see what it’s like when I finally try it out.

Odin Sphere is a rare PS2 game, and it’s an interesting one at that. It’s a side-scrolling RPG, with some very clever level designs and spectacular art work. I own this game for my PS2, but I think it might see more play from me on my PS3, since it’s more convenient.

Last, but not least, Ring of Red was the final purchase of the week on PSN. This game was one of my favourites on PS2 back in the day. It features tactical combat, giving you a mech and a couple of squads of infantry to fight with. Each mech has different tactics. There are short range, long range and close combat mechs in this game. The infantry provides support by using a mix of different combat skills and weaponry. It’s been a while since I last played, but I believe there are cool-down times between attacks. There is a degree of customization as well, allowing you to use different ammo types, and skills. It’s a great game and if it sounds at all interesting, definitely worth a download.

Update: The following are my initial impressions of the games above.

I’ll start with God Hand, and I’ll say that it is fun and interesting. It’s a beat ’em up, and you beat up punks in the street and sometimes demons (or whatever they are). I only played the game for about 20 minutes, but it’s a cool game and you can kick guys in the nuts. It’s a tough game though, but I’ll play it a bit more soon.

Ring of Red is just like it was back in the day. Good ol’ stategy mech fighting fun.

Infamous: Festival of Blood turned out excellent, and fighting vampires is a good time. Also, draining innocent people of blood is fun too. You can also turn into a swarm of bats and fly for a short time, but it used up your blood gauge (which means you must feed!). I’ll be playing through this completely in the coming days towards Halloween.

Pixel Junk SideScroller is sort of like Shooter, and has some of the same sounds and mechanics, but it’s not Shooter. It’s something more difficult and arcade like. The power ups allow you to shoot in all directions, there are shields, and you have three different weapon types right off the bat. It’s easy to control, and challenging, and I like it. I only played through one level, so things could change, but we’ll have to wait and see.

Recent Purchases: Battlefield 3 (PC+PS3), House of the Dead Overkill Extended Cut (PS3), and Assassin’s Creed 2 (PS3)

Posted in In The Mail/Purchased Items, Initial Impressions, New Releases on October 26, 2011 by Matt

It’s likely no surprise that I picked up Battlefield 3, but I decided to get 2 copies and make a comparison. That and I’ll be able to play with more people.

BF3
So far, the difference between them is the graphics. The single-player campaign is all that I’ve touched on the PS3 so far, and it’s alright. On the PC, it’s the same thing. No difference, just graphical enhancements (running it on Ultra) and a mouse and keyboard (better).

The multi-player is where the game was meant to shine and it does. I’ve been enjoying the conquest mode, as it is what I enjoyed playing in Battlefield 2 (not Bad Company 2). It brings me back to the good old days, only it has a huge graphical make-over, which is obvious. The maps are huge, and the games can have up to 64 players, which is big enough for me. The only problem is that people camp the helicopter and jet spawns, and I can never get one in time. I’d really like to practice and increase my skill with them again.

There have been a few issues with lag, but at least I’ve only been disconnected once so far out of 11 matches. Better than the beta, where I never finished a game before it crashed or booted me out. There are no real glitches with the game that I have noticed yet either.

I’ll be playing it on PC more than PS3, but I have the option of playing with friends on PSN at least.

HotD Overkill Ext
House of the Dead Overkill Extended Cut was released for $39.99 and I loved the original on the Wii, so I picked it up. It still hasn’t been played, but I’ll get around to it.

Assassin's Creed 2
Since Assassin’s Creed Revelation is coming soon, I decided to pick up Assassin’s Creed 2. It’s about time to play through the series completely, so I need to finish 1, 2 and Brotherhood before starting Revelation. This might not ever happen, but it could.

Purchase For Tuesday, October 18, 2011: Batman Arkham City Collector’s Edition (PS3)

Posted in In The Mail/Purchased Items, Initial Impressions, New Releases on October 18, 2011 by Matt

After getting home from the midnight opening of Batman Arkham City, I decided to open my Collector’s Edition and take a look at what I got. It pleases me to say that I got more than I thought I would. Check out the video below for details.

The game itself is excellent so far. I’ve really only played for around an hour, but I can see already that this game will be a fun adventure. The playing area is huge and there’s danger around every corner. The controls are tight and responsive, the graphics are gorgeous, and it seems that everything I enjoyed in the first game is here. Only it seems like there’s more of it.

Recent Purchases: Ace Combat: Assault Horizon (PS3), Aliens: Infestation (DS), and Forza 4 Limited Edition(360)

Posted in In The Mail/Purchased Items, Initial Impressions, New Releases on October 16, 2011 by Matt

The last week has seen even more big game being released. Forza 4 being the huge one out of the bunch, but don’t let that take away from the others. Ace Combat and Aliens: Infestation should not be over-looked.

Ace Combat AA

Ace Combat: Assault Horrizon leads the series in a new direction. Some people are having a hard time with this, but I am finding it refreshing. The game is set in real world locales, and it not only let’s you fly jets, but also helicopters. You also get a chance to be a gunner as well in a gun ship. It also includes a new dog fight system that sort of throws you in an auto-pilot chase with your enemy. You do have some control, but mostly it’s over speed and dodging debris. It’s intense, and fun, and I like it!

Aliens: Infestation

Aliens: Infestation is a game I knew about, but it sort of just came out of nowhere at the same time. I’m a huge fan of the Aliens movies and games, even if some of them aren’t as widely loved as some. This game, however, is not to be disliked. It’s a solid side-scroller, or so it seems so far. I haven’t had much time to play it, but rumor has it that it’s a bit of a tough game. Finally, a new excuse to play my DS!

Forza 4 LE

It’s been a while since I played a Forza game, but it just felt like it was time. Forza 4 screamed for me to buy it, and I gave in to it’s roaring engine-like voice. The fact that Jeremy Clarkson (from Top Gear) is in the game talking about cars is a cherry on top of a very large and delicious cake. The amount of cars and tracks in this game, and the amount of tweaking you can do to your cars, and all of the different options you have are just boggling at time. I. Love. This. Game.

Contents

Forza 4’s Limited Edition also comes with a steel case, and a book with some details and pictures about some of the more exotic and sportier cars in the game. There is also additional tracks, and some extra cars that come along with it. It’s definitely worth it if you’re a fan of the series, considering it’s only $20 more than the ordinary copy.

Dead Island (PC) Review

Posted in Reviews on October 16, 2011 by Matt

Dead Island had me worried as it approached it’s launch day, but I decided to purchase it anyway. Since my expectations were a bit lower, the game was a nice surprise. I’ve invested around 36 hours into the game, and finished it with one character, while still playing a little bit the with the other 3 playable characters. It’s still got some life left in it, due to multi-player.

What was good about Dead Island? Multi-Player, Different Weapons, Controls, Dismembering/Crushing/Running Over Zombies, Idea and Setting

The single-player aspect of the game is alright, and is a bit more scary to deal with. You’re alone on a zombie infested island. That is all good, but the multi-player is where this game shines. Playing with strangers or a group of friends is a blast. It’s not as scary, but there’s nothing quite like being attacked by a zombie and having a friend run by and cut off the zombies head with a katana right before it gets to you. Or taking down a huge group of mutants and zombies together. It’s like Left 4 Dead, but it just seems…a little more satisfying. It is also a bit more dangerous, but the game doesn’t punish you harshly for dying. You respawn a few seconds later with less money. No big deal.

The variety of weapons in the game is fairly large. There are many different items to choose from. Broom handles, paddles and baseball bats, or knives, axes and swords. There’s also a lot of different ways to modify your weapons. There are ways to make them electrical, do fire damage, and poison damage (different weapons mods do these things to different degrees as well). There are also a few different guns in the game, from revolvers, to rifles and full-auto weapons. It seemed like the game was going to be more realistic before, but I realized and accepted that this was not the case after I made the purchase. Just embrace it and have fun.

Some people may disagree with me, but Dead Island’s controls are actually good. They did take a bit of getting used to, and using a keyboard is definitely easier than using a controller (though I have limited experience using a controller). Once you have it down, things go smoothly for the most part. I do like the idea of the digital and analog controls for when you use a controller though. Too bad they couldn’t implement that on the keyboard. The idea behind the analog controls is that you hold down the attack button and then push a direction on the control stick to allow you the choose what angle to swing at, making your attacks more precise. If you want to chop off an arm or a head, then swim your axe on the correct angle to do so. Or whatever weapon you use.

With that stuff being said, using the weapons and vehicles in the game is so much fun. There are not many things as satisfying as crushing a zombies skull with a bat, or killing it off with a sword. Hitting them in a truck is effective too. The damage models on the zombies are also excellent, showing flesh and muscle tissue as you chop away at an arm, until it finally comes off. This stuff was well done, and I commend the developers for it.

The idea behind this game was excellent, and the setting was a good one. I really felt like I was on a resort, or in a zombie overrun town. Atmosphere is the word I think I am looking for. There’s a good amount of it.

What sucked, or could have been done better? Characters, Story, Cut Scenes, Environmental Interaction, Character Development, Glitches

NPC faces and animation need a bit of work. It’s not all bad, but the faces just don’t show any emotion and it’s like they are always bug eye’d. It annoyed the hell out of me. It never really interested me what any of the characters had to say either. For the most part, I’d listen for a second or two and just not want to listen anymore. And not only that, but none of the selectable characters are all that interesting, other than maybe Xian a little bit.

Story-wish, this game is pretty…average. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone that hasn’t played it yet, but it’s generic. It’s only there for the sake of holding the game together. It’s something that is fairly predictable and that we’ve heard before. Nothing special. Have I made my point?

The voice acting and interactions between characters in the cut scenes is awful. It was cheese, and the animations combined with the blank facial expressions made the scenes laughable.

For a game with a huge environment and a load of weapons, I was hoping that there would be a bit more room for exploration and messing around the objects around you. Besides kicking around beach balls at the beach, objects did not move. Some buildings were accessible, but I had hoped for more. This was a small let-down, but not a deal breaker.

Character development was a small let down as well. I had hoped for maybe a little stat building as well as perks, but you only get some basic option. It’s not a big deal, but again, I just wanted a bit more than what they gave me. Basic damage increases for each characters weapons, and some skills like lock picking were there. It feels like they could have done a little more with this.

This game was not as bad as New Vegas for me. There was nothing that was game breaking, in my experience. Just some more glitches, some clipping errors, and rare crashes. The worst glitch was while fighting the end boss, and it got stuck inside of a wall. I’d have to wait for it to show a little bit and hack at the wall. Eventually it died. It was a bit of a buzz kill, especially due to it being the end boss. Most of this stuff was fixed with patches very soon after launch, so it shouldn’t be much of an issue anymore.

Overall

Though the game does have it’s problems and weaknesses, it is a very fun game. The 35-40 hours I spent in the game was not time wasted. It was a good ol’ time, filled with blood, guts and gore. If you’re sick of Left 4 Dead, and ready to move on to something else for a while, then this game could be for you. I was skeptical at first, but I am glad I took my chances with Dead Island. Just do your best to look past the horrible cut-scenes, generic story, and the creepy NPC facial expressions.