Deus Ex, Starcraft and Nostalgia.

So, I just got Deus ex on steam. Seeing as everyone harps on about what a brilliant game it is, I reasoned that I'd give it a try. Honestly, I was underwhelmed. The presentation is pretty off, and I don't mean the character models, low quality is to be expected of a game of this age (more on that later, but graphics are one of the few things I will forgive). It's so dark I had to ramp the brightness up to stupid levels just to see what I was doing- and before you start whining about how it's supposed to be dark, no, it isn't. When you can't see a game it means some thing's fucked up. As it stands I had to crank the brightness up to the point where the colours looked retarded just to be able to play the damn thing.

The stealth was a joke. For my first mission I was given a prod, a pistol and a crossbow (as I like to try and play these games tactically). I should have gone with the rifle, as the crossbow requires a pixel perfect shot to take down an enemy without them going apeshit and shooting you to death. Ammo was non existent, meaning that the pistol was useless after taking down three enemies, and the prod... Hah, what a fucking joke that was. Limited ammo on a melee weapon? Okay, I can dig that as it's a one hit kill, but really, four uses and it's gone? That's not a joke, that's just cruel. Plus, it turns out the thing doesn't kill your enemies anyway. It just makes them do a little dance for 20 seconds, then they come up behind you and shoot you in the head. As previously stated, ammo is so scarce you can't do a frontal assault, and to cap it all off the game bugged out and I couldn't select anything but the (now depleted) prod.

I don't think I've ever been so quickly driven to hate by a game. Even Vampire rain managed to hold my interest for at least an hour or two before I gave up. In Deus ex I completed the tutorial (swearing over and over again at the stupid lighting levels), then the moment I start the game proper, I can't do ANYTHING.

I've actually gone back to take another shot at Deus ex four times since I started writing this. I can't actually comprehend just quite how irritating it is. Surely it must be a problem with me. After all, everyone else treats this game like its the fucking messiah or something. You know what? It 'aint. Maybe, back in the day this was a good game, maybe back in the day this was revolutionary and not just a mess, but I have to tell you people, Deus ex has NOT aged well.

It's nothing to be ashamed of, very few games do hold their appeal for more than a few years after their release, but sadly I think this mess is highly overrated, with people's views being coloured by how brilliant it was back when it came out. Nowadays it's honestly just a mess of a first person RPG. I still can't quite believe it, I'm going to give this mission another shot. This time, sod all stealth, I'm just going to go in all guns blazing.

Nope, still shit. Lack of ammo boned me time and time again, and even when I lined up head shots at point blank range half the time I still missed. And yes, I did wait for the reticule to close, I played the tutorial remember? Seriously, you can only find one maybe two bullets per defeated enemy? Not clips, bullets. On the plus side I did manage to figure out how to get around the empty prod bug. You need to throw the prod away, then after a few second of it still being in your hand and on the floor at the same time, you can switch weapons. I got further this time though, but still... what are they playing it? You can't use stealth. You just can't. There's no way of keeping track of your enemies while you're hiding, and if you stick your head out to check they'll see you and start shooting. You can't go into a fire fight because you have no ammo. You can't use the crossbow because unless you are absolutely perfect with your aim it just alerts them...

Anyone still reading this is probably chomping at the bit about how I'm judging this game based on all of ten minutes of game play. But that's not really a point in the game's favour is it? If after ten minutes something has already wound you up to the point of distraction, why would you bother to keep playing? Just in the hope that something better is around the corner? Sorry, but no, it doesn't work that way. If you start something and it's immediately hateful, you stop. Perhaps you give it a few new chances (I gave Nier enough), but it doesn't take long before you start thinking 'It's not going to get better'.

There is one other thing that compounds this though, and that's something I've touched on- age.

Back when it first came out, I was a huge starcraft fan. I completed the entire game, and the expansion pack, I created my own levels and I played online. I lived and breathed starcraft. A year or so ago, I reinstalled it and what do you know? It was awful. I had major difficulty just playing the bloody thing. The RTS genre had made such leaps and bounds that being used to the newer games had utterly destroyed my enjoyment of the older game. It had not aged well.

Such is, I believe the case with Deus Ex. When it came out, it was probably a brilliant game. But now it's just awful and I think heaps of nostalgia are the only thing that keeps people harping on about how excellent it is. Honestly, mass effect 2 beats it hands down in every way.

“You can't say that!” I hear fanboys shouting, “You can't compare an old classic to a recent release!” to which I reply, why the hell not? People tell me it IS a great game, not it WAS a great game, so naturally I assume that when I start playing it's going to blow my socks off and leave me begging for more. But the fact is, and I can't stress this enough, very, very few games age well. Deus ex is not one of them. Telling me I need to judge it on it's own merits is redundant, I can't just forget the last ten years of gaming. If I give you a car from the 1930's and ask you how it drives, you're going to say it drives like a fridge on pram wheels. Asking you to forget eighty years of automotive advancement is not an option- you've driven, or at least been driven in a modern car that handles much better. True, the 1930 Model A ford may have been great in its time, but nowadays a go kart is probably a superior machine.

I didn't play Deus Ex when it first came out, so I don't have the lashings of nostalgia that so many people do when they think of the title. Consequently, all I see is a hodgepodge of poorly executed ideas, that wasn't worth the £7 I spent on it. I'm sure if you played it when it was first released, you may still enjoy it, but my advice to anyone who hasn't played Deus Ex is simple- avoid it. You won't find anything here that hasn't been better realised in a more modern game. It's just lots of smoke and hot air blown by nostalgic gamers. Sorry to be blunt and harsh, but it's the truth- anything Deus ex had going for it has been far out stripped in recent years.

Yahtzee on nostalgia
Nostalgia critic (Made a career out of pointing out how nostalgic stuff is actually technically bad)

Dear Square Enix, please go back to churning out JRPGs. Thanks.

Okay, I suppose a little justification for that is in order.

It may have escaped the notice of less astute gamers (Those who simply look for the amount of blood and tits a game has and nothing else), that Square Enix's name is appearing on a lot of titles lately, and not the standard JRPG titles that SE is known and (at least partly) loved for. This is due in part to Square acquiring companies, including Eidos interactive as well as entering into deals with developers such as Gas Powered Games (The brilliant guys behind supreme commander, one of my favourite RTS titles ever), and Avalanche studios (Relative newcomers but quite popular).

In and of itself, there's nothing wrong with this. Developers and publishers merge and split all the time, sometimes for good, sometimes for ill. Often the most hotly contested issue in such events though is how it will effect the games.

Case in point, Westwood studios. Westwood are the guys who created Command and Conquer and the various sequels to said game. They where bought up by EA, and then released what is in my opinion their opus, Tiberian Sun (Another all time favourite). Afterwards however, due to a long and complex story involving money and EA being stupid wankers (at the time), Westwood was dissolved and absorbed into EA. The Command and Conquer series went on to become a souless husk- still very good games but lacking any of the charm and character of the Westwood titles. Until CnC 4 which of course sucks donkeys.

The problem I have is that Square Enix have only ever been good at one thing- JRPGs. Now, in the videogames industry there is nothing wrong with being a one trick pony. For example, if I see a JRPG with Square Enix written on it, I know it's probably going to be a pretty good title. Likewise, if I see Rockstar's name on something, I will buy it because Rockstar are currently the Gods of gaming. In contrast, I have no idea what to expect when I see EA's name on something.

So what happens when a company who focuses mainly on publishing JRPGs branches out? Well, so far nothing good.

There was supreme commander 2, the bastard love child of SupCom 1 and CnC (in all fairness not a terrible game, but certainly a less than worthy successor). There was Nier, which I maintain is still an atrocity against gaming (but not as bad as Vampire Rain though). What else do we have... ah yes, Just Cause 2.

I hear a thousand angry gamers getting ready to flame the comments section. But honestly, I found Just Cause 2 to be utterly boring. It's possibly one of the worst sandbox iterations I have ever played. Why? Because NOTHING HAPPENS. So much time is wasted travelling around the ludicrously huge map that I just get bored shitless and turn it off. Trying to make something happen just results in a dull by the numbers firefight against a constant stream of enemies until you get bored and go back to what you where doing.

Even when you are blowing stuff up it feels boring and uninvolving. There's never enough ammo for a start, and given the crappy auto aim, that's an issue. You never seem to have enough explosives meaning you need to spend ages emptying clips into things, furthering the ammo problem, and to be honest the entire combat just feels... clunky. A good action game should flow, you should be able to move from point to point, shooting targets, switching weapons and doing whatever you need to do without feeling as though you need to wrestle with the game to get it to co operate. Red Dead Redemption, Gears of War and (especially) Arkham Asylum all managed to do this, as did Mass Effect 1 & 2 to a slightly lesser extent. Just Cause 2 feels horrible in comparison to these games.

I don't know, maybe I just suck at it, but there's no appeal there for me to practise and get good at it. Now when most of my time is spent wondering around doing sweet f### all. And yes, I know there's a fast travel system... but doesn't that defy the point of a sandbox? If you'd always prefer to use the fast travel system, then why bother creating a big open world to explore in the first place? In Just Cause 2's defence though, I was playing Red Dead Redemption too, and compared with that any game goes down a few pegs.

Anyway, back on topic Square Enix's acquisition and partnership of/with several companies means their name is getting around, and sadly I think many of the games are sub par. My reckoning is that this can be attributed to what I call “I Know Better” syndrome. IKB is very common, especially among managers and editors who think they know people's jobs better than the person doing them. It's best explained through example.

Let's say you're a publishing company and want to make more money by buying a smaller company who is producing profitable games. After the acquisition do you:
A) Get High
B) Let them keep making money for you.
C) Interfere with the way they work and change the product.

Organisations suffering from IKB will do C. Anyone with half a brain will do B (possibly followed by A). The reason you bought the company was because it was successful- why would you want to change what they're doing when they're clearly doing it right?

My EA being wankers remark earlier is linked to this.
“Hey, we bought Westwood, a company that makes great RTS games!”
“Brilliant, have them make an FPS Game!”
(not much time later)
“The FPS game flopped.”
“What? Clearly these guys are not profitable after all! Seize all the intellectual property and get rid of the company!”

Wankers. Total, utter wankers.

IKB isn't just linked to the videogame industry though, You can see it in comic books and other media too, when people further up the chain screw with people further down just for the sake of trying to give their little lives reason.

Now I don't think Square Enix is that bad. For one thing, none of this 'new wave' has been awful, and Nier was developed by Cavia, the people behind Bullet Witch (Which I've not played, but has been condemned by everyone who's opinion I care about). So you can't blame SE for that one.

It just really, really worries me that SE are doing such a hamfisted job with these new titles. Even if they aren't developing them, as publishers they have a lot of control over what the final product is like, meaning whether it's brilliant or balls, they need to shoulder some of the blame. Let your companies do their thing in peace. Or if that's the approach you're taking (as I suspect may be the case with Nier), then give them a kick up the jacksee. I don't know how Square Enix is operating at the moment, but they 'aint making great games.

To be fair, it's not like they've brought many franchise down a notch- yet. Remember that Square Enix own the rights to Tomb Raider and Hitman. Not so big on Ms Croft, but I'm a big fan of number 47, and I'd hate to see his games brought down a few notches.

On the other hand, that does offer some great cross over potential...
“Hello 47, I hope you are recovered from your last mission. Your new target is a young man hiding in the dream-future-past. You will recognize him by his crappy lederhosen, sub size T-shirt and Meg Ryan hair. He answers to the name of Tidus...”

That would KICK ASS.

But if you're still not worried about the fact that Square Enix seems to be swimming in too deep water, and cocking up other people's titles- remember this.

They own the rights to Deus Ex.

And Deus Ex 3 is in the works at the moment of writing, being developed by (the SE owned) Eidos and published by Square Enix.

I'll leave you with that thought.

The Fallow Is Upon Us.

It’s that time of year again, a period in videogaming I like to call the fallow. It’s summer time, so gamers who are so disposed go out and enjoy the sunshine, it’s far away from Easter or Christmas, so parents are not badgered as much for new releases, and the end result is a barren few months with few to no videogames being released, except for minor titles.

What do you do in the fallow?

I’m always at a loss as to what to do in this time of year. Videogames and writing are pretty much my only hobbies (Aside from brewing and drinking), and these hobbies are not seasonal, even if in the case of videogames, supply is.

I’ve completed Red Redemption (One of the best games ever, full stop), and Just Cause 2 is…. Meh. I’m not really feeling it. Its not a bad game by any stretch of the imagination, but there’s just something missing, something that stops me really getting into it.

Last night I plugged in Fight Night 4, and I have to say I’d forgotten how much fun it was. The fight night games are easily the best beat ‘em ups ever, breathing new life into a genre that’s almost as old as gaming itself. Plus it all comes down to skill and timing, not how quickly you can mash your buttons. Let’s face it, that’s the case with most beat ‘em ups. Spamming buttons is usually about as effective as learning to play the game properly.

Except for Gundam Battle Assault 2 on the PS1. That is a beat ‘em up that KICKED ASS. Go and buy it. Now.

Maybe I should go and complete final fantasy 12? I really should get over my hatred of that game, but I’ll need a keg of super strength or a palette of old speck to do that. To be honest though, I’ve been pretty good at completing my games lately, and I don’t really want to put myself through FF12 again just to get through the fallow.

We do have plenty of things to look forwards to soon though, there are many new games on the Horizon including Assassin’s creed: Brotherhood and dead rising 2 (I’m really looking forwards to that one). I’m still not getting worked up about Fallout: New Vegas though. Obsidian have a history of… well… churning out games that end up good, but are so badly f###ing bugged on release it’s a rip off.

So, what do you do for your gaming fix during the fallow? Any suggestions?

Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood- Retrospective On Initial Reactions.

It seems my fears about Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood may well have been unfounded. When I discovered that Ubisoft where not advancing the plot, I assumed padding was afoot- however, after reading through an article in OXM, I am satisfied that Ubisoft actually feel this is the best way to proceed.

For starters, the changes are nowhere near as serious as I thought. The combat is getting a major overhaul, but the emphasis seems to be on higher stakes with higher rewards, as well as making enemies tougher through better tactics and AI. This I support- a good challenge is the key to any good videogame, and a good payoff makes it even better. In this case, Ubisoft have mentioned something called a ‘rage combo’ whereby you can insta-kill enemies over and over until one breaks your flow.

I do enjoy the way combat flows in Assassin’s creed 2, and if that concept is being built on, so much the better. Of course, this will also tie the ‘feel’ of combat more closely into the rest of the games free running ethos.

Visually, the game also looks very sharp, but to be honest I think we’ve reached the peak of 360 graphics. Saying a game looks good anymore is pointless- unless of course the developers have gone for the tricky (yet potentially rewarding) route of stylized graphics.

The multiplayer too, appears to be looking strong. The article mentions one mode, hunter in which players are all disguised as civilians and must locate and kill each other without giving themselves away. This sounds very interesting, even to a misanthrope like me who loathes playing on XBL.

I'm still not happy with the fact there's no hint as to how, or even if, the meta plot will advance in any meaningful way. But I'm sure Ubisoft know what they're doing.

I won’t go into this any further, as otherwise I would be essentially reproducing OXM’s article ad verbatim, and plagiarism is not something I condone for any reason. Go out and buy the mag if you want more info, but the bottom line is this- I’m now actively looking forwards to Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood.

I Have A Bad Feeling About This.

Oh dear.

I don't like the sound of this AT ALL. Assassin’s creed II was a brilliant game owing to the fact it took everything that was crappy in the first game and discarded it, then built on the positive elements.

Now it seems they're changing stuff just for the hell of it.

I've gone into rants before about developers who just release the same games over and over (Halo 2 syndrome), but at the same time, sometimes what's needed is more of the same. I hope to God they've not changed the game around too much as to be honest I thought it was nigh on flawless as it stood. I also notice we're not getting any info about the metaplot...

Speaking of plot, it looks like the actual history may not be advanced very far either. Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but I'm seriously starting to worry that that Assassin’s creed: brotherhood is going to serve a single purpose- profitable padding. It's being thrown out to make money and eek the series out longer than it should be. The issue here is that once this sort of thing starts, it can seriously blight a franchise.

Well, It's a long way off yet so time will tell. Either way I'll be looking forwards to assassins' creed Brotherhood with trepidation.

Turns out, I may have been wrong in this jump.

Red Read Redemption- The Ending.

Well that was… a downer. A real, REAL downer. We’re talking the same league as the death of Aeries levels of downer. As I sat there and watched the whole sorry scene play out, I knew there was only one way this story could end. Rockstar’s final twist was to give me a glimmer of hope, a final ray of light to hold on to… then they creuly snatched it away, casting me from the light into the grim void of reality, and then- oblivion.

So yeah, it's depressing, but in the best possible way. This is the sort of ending that makes a classic movie, and I think it’s a shame that so many gamers are not going to appreciate the sheer brilliance of Red Dead Redemption’s writing. Those of you who’ve been paying close attention to the game’s morals and ideas- at their core the idea of safety and civilization versus freedom and ‘barbarism’, will probably figure out how the game ends.

The last days of the old west. No developer, save Rockstar could have created this masterpiece.

Honestly, this game deserved to be deconstructed and analysed in the same way people pick apart great films. There is so much going on in this game, and it’s easily Rockstar’s finest. It’s not always happy, and as previous intimated, the ending is a kick in the balls- but that’s life. It’s not always happy and sometimes you get kicked in the balls.

People have often accused Rockstar of being immature, and to be honest it is at least partially deserved, (remember hot coffee anyone?) but I honestly believe these guys have the best writers of any developer or publisher. They create real, complex characters, engaging stories and spin their tales with wonderful levels of metaphor, moral and subtext.

These guys tell a better story than Bethesda, Obsidian or even Bioware. Only black isle and interplay ever managed to reach the heights that rockstar have (and yes, I know the origins of Obsidian- but they still suck donkeys).

All this is of course placed in a wonderful world, with the remit of trying to create a realistic, believable open world, and maintaining that idea despite populating it with clichés and references to classic westerns. The result is a creation all of its own, immersive yet entertaining, new, yet familiar.

Videogames are growing up- and Rockstar seems to realise that. Red Dead Redemption has something special, the fact the ending is sad, that it has not even a candle of happiness to it underpins the moral of the whole game- Rockstar didn’t want to give us a happy or satisfying ending. They wanted to use the ending to drive home the point of the story. If that means a sad ending, so be it. Not every story ends well, especially the story of the old west.

Like I said, it’s a shame so many gamers don’t appreciate this sort of thing, as this truly is a work of genius. Kudos to you Rockstar, keep ‘em coming.

Alpha Protocol Video Review

Here it is for you, one alpha protocol video review. Share and enjoy!

Take it out in trade...

I really, really hate trading in my videogames. The big problem is that I can't shake the feeling that I'm going to want to play these games again after I've traded them in. Given this worry tends to translate into thoughts about what I've just done, then I inevitably end up thinking about these games, and of course, want to play them.

Still, I have no money for the next week or so, and red dead redemption must be mine.

To that end I've sifted through my pile of games and picked out a few that will hopefully net me enough cash at trade in to get RDR. Below is a list of the titles that I will be parting with, and why.

Battlefield bad company (£5 trade in?)

This is relatively recent purchase for me. I don't like FPS games but this one came very highly recommended for its strong characterization and story. It's not bad if you judge it by videogame standards, but honestly the characters are just walking clichés. The redneck, the geek, the hotdog and of course, the black sergeant. Now, it's staple in bad action/horror movies and games that the black guy always dies first (ever seen the comedy evolution? If not, GET IT), but another standard that people always seem to miss is the fact that in movie-world, there are more black sergeants than white ones. And yet, the rest of the ranks (both commissioned and non commissioned), are all filled up with white guys. I suppose it's due to some sort of equal opportunities thing, trying to post racial minorities into positions of power, displaying that we are striving towards and equal society. Anyway, I'm not complaining about it or anything, just making an observation.

Back on topic though, Battlefield bad company was disappointing. The destructible environments where poorly done with buildings never actually falling down, I don't like the health bar mechanic, there was way too much meta going on, and while it did make me laugh from time to time I just found it very frustrating and dull.

Banjo-Kazooie, nuts and bolts (expected trade in, £5)

'Family' videogames are often overlooked by most gamers. But seriously, you don't need buckets of blood and entrails to make a good game. Banjo-Kazooie, nuts and bolts had some really good ideas, but was also crammed full with lots of peripheral crap that it didn't need to be. All it needed was a shop screen, level selection and the garage where you build your vehicles. The premise of the game is simple enough, you have a series of puzzles in which you use vehicles. However, you BUILD these vehicles specific to the puzzle. The degree of freedom involved is brilliant, and a sarcastic twist of self referential humour permeates the entire game making it a joy to play. The vehicle building mechanic and engine rivals that of spore's creature creator. So, why am I getting rid of it?

Well, the aforementioned peripheral crap just wound me up to no end. The game clings to the idea that it is still a Banjo-Kazooie title like Gordon Brown clinging to a seat at number 10. This means lots of exploration and pointless dead time. If you can stand the endless wondering around between levels then you will have a blast with this game, provided of course you have a mind capable of doing more than twitch shooting. Sorry to see this one go, but rare needed to make it a game in its own right.

IL2 Sturmovik, Birds of Prey (trade in, £10?)

Started out fun, but got dull pretty fast. To enjoy a flight sim, you really do need a joystick. The other problem was a single mission where I was flying a Russian plane that was essentially a barrel with wings tied to it, loaded with more machine cannons than it had any business to fire. This bitch of an air plane stalled at the worst moments (as in, engine failure), rocked like punching figure on a rowing boat in the middle of a hurricane, and consequently I couldn't hit shit with it.

The problem with this title was that it was trying to straddle the line between hardcore flight sim, and arcade style flying game. It was very fun for most of the time, but got dull and downright frustrating during the soviet campaign. IL2 Sturmovik is worth a look, but it's too picky for flight game fans, and too arcade like for flight sim fans.

Prototype (Worth f### all probably)

Darksiders (£10 maybe)

It's hard not to like Darksiders. Okay, it's a rip off in every sense of the word, stealing EVERYTHING from the zelda N64 games (Seriously Vigil, did you think we wouldn't notice?) but it's good clean fun. It's over the top action, dripping in cliché, machismo and cheese, all wrapped up with solid control and great level design. This game is just mindless fun. There's no real depth, the story is inconsequential, the characters are pulled from B rated action movies (and are all the more funny for it)... it's just sheer, mindless, instant gratification- and in its own way that's just as rewarding as new ideas, deep plot or interesting characters.

So why part with it? Well to be honest I'm never going to play it again. Out of all the games in this list, this is the one I'm most certain to never come back to. It's brilliant, but it's a one hit wonder with no replay value whatsoever. There just isn't anything to do. I mean there are collectables, but I've never given a hoot about them, so why bother returning to the game? Sorry to see the back of Darksiders, but it's had its time.

Dante's Inferno (£10 maybe?)

Meh. Not arsed about the new level editor, no reason to replay it as I can't be bothered grabbing all the collectables, and the game itself is passable. It's not a bad game, and provided me with a weekend of solid entertainment, but beyond that there's just nothing here to warrant playing Dante's Inferno again. Like Darksiders, Dante's inferno just doesn't have anything to draw me back.

Prince of Persia, the forgotten sands (£15 hopefully)

This was another easy choice. Criminally short, lacking any ingenuity and having no replay value whatsoever. It was a rather expensive few evenings of entertainment, and not worth paying full price for. There is no reason to go back and play it again, so I'm getting rid of this one while it's still worth something. Again, not an awful game, just didn't bring anything new or interesting and dear GOD was it short.

A few that nearly made this list:
Tales of Vesperia: I may want to play through it again. Plus Namco JRPGs tend to end up fairly rare.
Wet: Still good for a cheap thrill.
Resonance of Fate: I want to play it. I just can't bring myself to get past the schizophrenic writing.
Dead rising: Owning an xbox 360 without owning this game would just be wrong.
Armoured Core For Answer: I need at least one good mech game in my library
GTA IV: It's GTA IV! Why did I even consider this?

Metro and Chaos rising

I bought chaos rising last weekend in a special offer on steam, and I finished it a few hours ago. I have to say that I'm Petty impressed. I do really like DoW II, it reminded a lot of the old commandos series- squad based tactical warfare, minus the heavy emphasis on stealth. Speaking of stealth though I think my favourite unit in the game is Cyrus. It's odd because my lineup nearly always consists of My commander, Tarkus, Avitus and option 4 alternates depending on the mission, Cyrus if I think I'm going to need to take down enemy buildings, and Thule if its going to be a straight up slugfest.

Despite the fact he's not in my permenant line up, Cyrus represents the best tactical unit in any RTS I 've played- he works like a special ops unit should- sneaking ahead of the main force and tearing down the enemy's defences before the main strike finishes them off. Sure he needs micro managing, but plop the rest of your strike team nearby and somewhere out of the way, and that isn't an issue. If the shit hits the fan, they can come in and rescue him.

He gets even more fun as his level goes up. sneak in at full speed, chuck a demo pack into a bunker and then sneak off without being seen, saving the main strike team a whole lot of hurt from a hardened firebase. the inflintration skill is reliable unlike commandos in many other RTS titles, and with the correct wargear and a few levels he can cripple an enemy line before you attack. Brilliantly done.

The story is solid, basic, but very well executed and very much in keeping with 40K as a mythos, the controls are pretty good, but squads can sometimes ignore your orders entirely. The game crashed a few times, but that might be my PC overheating in this hot weather. All in all, Chaos rising was a very good expansion pack, but being the puritan that I am, I didn't use any of the chaos wargear, so I think I missed a trick there. But the wargear I had worked fine, so it's not like I NEEDED to use it.

Metro 2033 on the other hand is proving to be a dissapointment. It has a lot of the same problems that STALKER had, somewhat ironically. To be fair to it though, I don't generally like FPS games anyway, so the chips where stacked against it to begin with. There's nothing in it to really keep me playing, and now the training wheels have coem off, I'm just finding the game too hard. This isn't metro's fault though, it's becuase I don't play many FPS games, and so consequently suck at them. I've already talked about my likes and dislikes of metro in my last post, but to be honest I think I'm going to give it back to Betamax, who was kind enough to lend it to me.

It's not a bad game, it's just not for me. That said though, I would very much like to read the novel.

Nothing is comming out for a month or two that even vaugley interests me, so I'm going to buy red dead redemption on payday and take that for a spin. Sounds like it's got some real potential.

Metro 2033...

Well.. it's a bit meh really. I've been playing for about 2 hours now, and to be honest I'm glad I just borrowed it. It's by no means a bad game but Jesus H Christ it's BORING.

You're wondering through the ruined subway system of Moscow after a nuclear war, shooting mutants and bandits, and somehow it's so utterly mind numbingly BORING.

The game has several problems, none of them major, but all of them arsey. First of all, the controls are weird. Left trigger aims and right trigger shoots like most other FPS titles, but apart from that all the controls are just randomly arranged on the pad. B is crouch? What was wrong with right stick click? Oh, it's given over to the flashlight... okay. So why not assign it to a shoulder bumper? Because RB is given to reloading... WTF? So what's X then? X is interact with objects. So what's A? Jump. Oh...kay.

Now, this isn't a bad thing, the controls are perfectly functional, but it does beg a single question- why? Did you think that the controls we've been using for the past 10 years where just not good enough?

Okay, granted that's a nit picking, but it is something that annoyed me time and time again. When I want to reload I naturally press X, so most of the time I just end up getting my face chewed while I suddenly remember I need to hit RB.

I think the big problem is the music, or rather the lack of it.In my full reviews I always include a section for sound because of games like this. Music is VITAL to creating a good game and it's so often overlooked. Without some pumping baselines to accompany it, a fight sequence just feels hollow. Without some morose strings to pluck at your heart, sad scenes don't invoke anywhere near as strong of a reaction.

Metro 2033 has no soundtrack. Aside form set pieces I didn't notice any music at all. This little oversight is a major contributor to the sheer boredom factor.

Infact, the sound in general is a little wanting. It's hard to make out what anyone is saying, and the guns don't sound like guns. They sound like little firecrackers going off under someone's pillow.

There's a game mechanic whereby you need to wear a gasmask in certain sections to avoid dying. Problem is that the gasmask needs filters to keep it usable- I stopped playing when I ran out of filters halfway through a level on the surface an cacked it. If you're going to put some shit like this in then give us a good spread of batteries for our life saving mcguffin. Plus, why do I need to manualy take it off and put it on? wouldn't it make more sense to have this little ditty being automatic? Apparently not, as you start choking before putting on your mask, and can waste it when you've left an area you didn't know was 'hot'.

But that aside, lets take a quick look at the good.

The scenery and setting is well presented, especially the look of the guns. They look like home manufactured pieces of shit- just what you would expect from a post apocalyptic society with no mass production.

The levels are interesting, which is saying something considering the game mostly takes place in the tunnels under Moscow.

The graphics are pretty good too, but nothing spectacular. The fire effect from your lighter is laughable, but that's not a huege part of the game.

Characterization is pretty well done, in that the characters are not the usual cut outs you get in these games, and there's no assumed rapport between your character and the others. They act like people, not scripts.

Overall, metro 2033 has done nothing to endear me to it, and nothing to make me dislike it. I'll play it a little more before I make any solid judgements, but if it doesn't start to buck up soon, I'll leave it by the wayside in favour of something that is actually engaging. Provisional advise- get it if you enjoyed the combat in STALKER, but get it cheap.

Another Blog

Well, here it is again. Another blog I've set up, but this time it's going to be a little different. Normally I open a blog, and make about 3 posts before leaving it to rot, then delete it 3 months later.

However, in recent months, my various scribbles all over the internet have been helping to keep me in beer. so, I think it's time to open a blog dedicated to the topic that has brought me so much joy and booze money- Videogames.

What's so special about this blog? Nothing. It's just yet another blog by another gamer who's convinced that he has some deep profound insight into the digital world that needs to be shared with everyone. When will it be updated? Sporadically. Most of my writing goes to places like Triond and Bukisa where I can get some scran for it. But some thoughts need to be shared, and are not really suitable for professional articles.

Such intellectual skits shall find a suitable home here.

So, how about the title eh? Well, being a blog it needs some degree of pretention in the title, and the word is of course a play on the old trope of 'the last angry man'. Why content? Because juxtaposition is funny. Why a space marine? Because space marines, or some variation thereof appear in almost every videogame released these days.

Yeah, alright I just pulled the title out of my arse when I decided to open this blog. Why yes, I am British, why do you ask?

So, our first topic then is Alpha protocol. The new spy RPG from Obsidian. More specifically how this game typifies Obsidian's design philosophy. In short, alpha Protocol would be a brilliant game if it wasn't for the endless stream of bugs, second rate graphics, crappy AI and poor control.

Sounds like a self defeating statement, but there are some brilliant ideas under the hood in Alpha Protocol. The issue is not the ideas and principles of the game, but rather the fact it feels rushed and incomplete. The engine shakes like a Parkinson’s victim on an arctic voyage, the graphics are like half life two on a Sunday and the whole feel of the game is very stiff and there's a distinct lack of polish. Oh and bugs out a lot too.

I'll have a video review of Alpha Protocol up for you soon, but in the meantime if you want to see some gameplay, here's a quick video guide for one of the bosses I made (you can bump it up to 1080 if you like):
Powered by Blogger