Thursday, February 28, 2008

Games VS Movies

Time for another Games VS Movies post. So far I`ve seen bad movies made after good games, this time, the movies have not yet appeared but they are made after really good games.
The first movie is none other than Far Cry, inspired by the island shooter with the same name, the first Island first person shooter which, back when it appeared, had tons of system requirements, at least we won`t need too many graphics cards to see the movie. Trailer impressions : poor action movie. What can i say ? Another would-be hero named Jack (Who the fuck is Til Schweiger anyway ?) trying to save the day fighting would-be bad guys with bullet magnets in their pockets. I guess making a good movie asfter a game is just as hard as trying to get an emo to tell jokes. I guess we`ll see this movie sometime this year, after summer no doubt.

Another announced movie makes its way to today`s post: the one, the only World of Warcraft. A movie after the most played MMO so far, a big name indeed. The only thing i know for sure about this one is that it`s announced for 2009. The movie is supposed to be about the World before the MMO launched. Excuse but last time i checked humans and orcs were somewhat communicating and all the living races joined forces to beat off the not so living, and now, in the World we can see boneheads in Ogrimmar, allied with Blood Elves. So many twists and turns which need explaining. I guess emos can really tell jokes, sad jokes, but still, jokes.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A Gaming Life - part 1

Weeks back while i was brainstorming, and while my attention was pointed in all the wrong directions ( i was at work ), a juicy idea spawned in my thoughts making me yell : LE FUCK !!!

A gaming life, my gaming life. It`s been some time now, since i wanted to do a post like this. This is less of a review about a particular game and more of a review about most of the games i ever played, more precise, about the sweet, yet banal factor in all games, the one factor i love the most : the enemies/monsters/AI. Though storylines/graphics/gameplay and other elements are important, i always liked a "challenge".

The classical way to start a "menu"-like post about mobs would be something about the most common emo`s in most games : humans.
The best way to describe the humans (and a few other RPG races ) would be something like this : Humans are versatile, yet incompetent. This average and unremarkable race can choose any job, which it will always perform in a halfassed way. This race is a perfect choice for new players and people in a hurry. Humans can pick any job but they excel as warriors, mobsters, farmers and estate agents. A good definition indeed but yet, incomplete. After generating an image about the complete gaming world one can safely say that humans can be found in most of the games doing most of the shit and still sucking at it - from miners, farmers to sharpshooters, snipers and demolition experts. Humans are remarkable ... but only when it comes to dying: they can be hacked, slashed, shocked, vaporised, shot, kicked in the balls/head, blown up, thrown of high places, poisoned, frozen, burned, pissed on, squashed, smashed, ran over, polymorphed into shit, sent into bizarre parallel emo worlds, etc, etc. The list goes on forever but still, when killing a human, I actually have FUN, therefore killing people is fun. If it`s either Postal, Manhunt, Grand Theft Auto, Red Faction, Jedi Academy or whatever ... humans always will die in a funny way. Take Red Faction for example, the "guards" may seem tough, but after planting a remote bomb on them they`ll run and act like crazed fags. In most of the shooters the humans will drop dead in the most gay/emo/funniest possible positions ever. I still think that a shotgun + human enemy = art.
It`s only natural to continue with humanoids, big or small, human like creatures i encountered mostly in RPGs and sometimes in RTSs. According to Wikipedia the term "humanoid" refers to any being whose body structure resembles that of a human. In this sense, the term indeed describes primates, as well as mythological creatures and artificial organisms (robots), especially in the context of science fiction and fantasy fiction. An android is a humanoid robot designed to look like a specific gender(mostly gay). When it comes to gaming I have to think about humanoids as trolls, primates, goblins, mutants, ghouls(Fallout power !!!) and shit like that. The thing about humanoids are pure and amazingly simple: they all and yes i mean ALL of them have one thing in common: a great strength and a greater weakness. For example: trolls have great strength therefore doing tons of damage but they run/walk really fucking slow, making them kiteable(shoot and run), motherfucking goblins usually represent one hit kill only because they have low hit points, low strength, mediocre speed but to compensate all this they will try to ZERG the player (waste of pixels if you ask me). In theory there should be tons of text here about humanoids but frankly i don`t see the point.
Since i got my mind filled with info about "nature"`s freaks i`ll carry one with nature itself. Mother nature must really be a whore, because if i try to generalize all the shit it can throw at the occasional gamer in a game or real life i have a real chance of getting hit by a lighting or something, but hey ... here it goes. Animals are one of the most common enemies the whore can trow at a gamer, but ... because we gamers are unnaturally smart we can summon animals to our cause, sometimes. These four(more or less) legged beasts try to be a pain in the ass in most types of games but in my opinion they represent a real threat only in FPSs and RTS, while being attacked by a dog in most first person shooters my target/pointer will try to jump out the screen, so try to be a little more careful when you hear a bark or a growling. On the other hand in a strategy game, a well placed dog can do wonders, on infantry(humans mostly), just think about Command and Conquer : Red Alert / Tiberian sun. During the creation of animals in FPSs and some RTSs mother nature surely used a condom because when i look at other games i can barely believe it, in Warcraft 3 there actually is a race devoted to hugging trees, whom you can also see in other games, mosty RPGs and MMOs. Other farts also known as animals appear in the gaming life, but, again, mostly in RPGs and MMOs. The good part about the farts in RPGs is that game developers managed to add series of quests with nice rewards ... quests that involve killing animals, quest like : bring me 9999999 rat tails for a nice pair of pants or a better weapon which you`ll use to kill other animals and ... eventually save the world. The thing about animals is this, they are either fast, either strong, either unworthy of being noticed.
During the obvious buttfuck with a tree the treehugger race spawned like crazy, they are called Elves. The elves are a race of gimps and (if i include the Dark/Night elves) porn stars. This race is amazing, visually speaking the males are nothing more than fags, nazis and whelps. World of Warcraft and Lineage 2 are the best example, possible if you want to see how an elf male looks like in any kind of armor (heavy/light/robe) in L2, you can see for yourself here. Females however seem to have all the power in this would-be society, they look good in any possible armor and in any possible situation. Enough about how they look for now, in the gaming world elfs excel in dexterity, stealth, intelligence and wisdom, therefore the only good classes for them are : archers, mages and healers/buffers. But even in most of the RTSs i ever played it`s easily noticeable that the elf "army" is made mostly out of females, the males in ones army are either workers/builders, healers/druids or crybabies. But this doesn`t have to mean that males can`t use weapons or cast spells ... it just looks bad if they do. I guess ... that`s what you get if you worship nature`s creations instead of eating them. Sadly nature means life, therefore... thinking about this from the start, don`t be amazed if a tree tries to kill you or some strange treehugging hybrid between plants and skinheads. I guess it`s a safe bet that insects will also try to kill you, but at least the insects are special in the gaming life, they are either giant, strong and fast or small and insignificant but travel in swarms and occasionally try to explode once they`re near you (thinking Half Life and more). But you don`t have to worry about them... the only good place to find them is a HIVE or near a hive. Besides the usually resistant shell you don`t have to worry about anything so feel free to explore a nearby hive and ... if you`re lucky you might find the boss of the hive(Queen usually). After all of my encounters with hives and queens i managed to draw the conclusion : getting to a queen is a lot harder than defeating it.
After all that chitchat about treehuggers and bush-humpers it would only be fair to jump to not-so-emo-life-hating undead bastards. You can find the living dead everywhere ... if you are either a shotgun expert or a bow master you can bet your sweet ammunition that the number of the bastard zombies will be a lot greater than the number of you bullets or arrows. Skeleton, zombie, lich, MMO player, ghost, hippie or vampire ... the name barely matters.. they all have one thing in common: they hate the living and want to see them dead. For example : if you have an undead race character i`m sure you hate the living people because all of them are trying to tell you to get a life or something like this. The main undead foe seems to be the skeletons, they are fast, they can handle just about any class(even my blind neighbor saw skeleton mages/archers), travel in groups ... if they travel at all .... and most important, they are a good source of xp for RPG and MMO players. These boneheads require one or 2 hits to die (unless it`s a mother of a skeleton from Warcarft 3 or the frist boss in Painkiller), again (in theory), and their dying animation is usually fun. Unlike the skeletons the zombies seem to have some flesh on their bones, thus making them heavier and therefore slower but they seem to hit harder, a lot harder and they also seem to be more resistant to damage, not too much damage but at least they can take a hit. Out of all the undead units these bastards are the most interesting. They seem to evolve and it`s a clear fact that they want to take over the world. The signs are everywhere: In the beginning they seemed to be mindless wastes of flesh moving extremely slow. Later, after probably realizing that the only thing destroyable for them are the trees and the occasional window, they started throwing things at me (lifeless objects or even parts of them). Against all odds, after realizing that they are farmable, the sacks of meat began using weapons (axes/swords/branches). It won`t be long until I`ll be seeing them doing human-like stuff, such as adopting little abandoned zombie dogs as pets, writing their own blogs,etc etc. I didn`t want to believe that the gaming world could be threatened by zombies until i saw this, this can sound really hard to believe but it`s for real. Zombies can already be found as main characters in Action/Adventure/RPG/MMOs games and more : movies, comics and anime series. Seesh ... i wonder if the bonehead Grim Fandango is their idle. Also, zombie-like bastards appeared in the gaming world, mummies, the fallout ghouls ... etcetera ... etcetera. I don`t care if a bored necromancer wanted to wake up the dead, if any alien bug has taken control of any emo on it`s way to self destruction, if any virus went loose in some underground secret facility or if hell is full ... i just want them dead... for real !!!
All this evilness makes me thirsty of some real evil, Demons, the best of the best, and only because ... "It`s good to be bad!" When i`m thinking demons i think : destruction, chaos, DEATH TO THE EMOs and all that sweet pain and cruelty. Unlike the undead who would rather curse their enemies, the beloved devils tend to nuke their foes, fact which is usually bad for the player because he`s one getting nuked. Demons are a rare race in the FPS world but they seem to excel in RPGs, MMOs and RTSs (ahhh Dungeon Keeper never gets old). As a foe the only demon enemy not worth too much effort is the Imp, unlike all the other Demons the imp is really weak and a good hit will kill him. But where`s an imp there`s a HellHound or... in the worst case scenario, a dragon who is playing with the imp. No worries here also because if you find yourself fighting with a dragon .. well heh ... welcome to the undead, this unless you have IMBA pro skills and tons of pure luck.
Too much talk about the sugary demons can get me diabetes so it`s only healthy for me to change the subject to a more salty race: The Divine Motherfuckers, and just like a party member from the 7th hell once told me in NWN 2 : His aura makes my skin itchy ! as we encountered a emo with a stick in his hand and a cross on his shield (most of you might know this kind of emos as Paladins). While the demons are masters of offense (super strong attacks, great nukes, and a good aim) the Divine pieces of shit are mostly known for their defensive ways, i think it all started when a dude turned his other cheek after receiving a hit (probably to balance the pain). What i`m trying to say here is : LE FUCK !!! The divine bags of diarrhea are good shield and mace users, using their holy powers to heal and protect themselves and others. The only good damage dealing unit are monks and Angels.
Angels have proven themselves time and time again as the ultimate foe (except bosses). Having good offensive, an even better defensive, they can really pack some damage. The thing i can`t really understand is: why based on defense ? Sure they can use the holy strength and light to do damage, and in some cases tend to come back from the grave after killing them (Lineage2 for example). It`s a well know fact that the best defense is strong offense, the strongest offense a divine shitbag has is in most cases is a wannabe hint filled with riddles, LE FUCK!! .. why give me hints and quests when they could join up, literary speaking, it`s like donating a wooden sword instead of a good one and the player has Bow expertise. The only good fight against an angel-like foe, as i recall, it`s from Devil May Cry 3, my sweet keyboard didn`t have a chance against them, but that never stopped me. The ArchAngels in Heroes have proven themselves to be good enough in a fight ... but, my money is on the Devils. Fallen Angels are also very common these days, fighting like berserks, dying like morons.
Good and Evil ... Black and White ... Ing and Yang ... it`s all about the point of view, so it`s time for a more neutral point of view, an extraterrestrial point of view, in other words: Aliens, big headed ugly fucks with no point of view and a secret agenda as big as hell. But i guess not all aliens are ugly, there are a few cases in which alien chicks look almost good, if you can ignore the tentacles. Aliens seem to have beaten the zombies when it comes to evolution: hi-tech weapons, big round spaceships and a nice advertising line: We come in peace !!! MY ASS !!!. They all seem to come in peace and tend to leave in pieces. These fucks always want to take over or destroy Earth in just about any game, i can`t really blame them, destroying a planet filled with emos is a good thing in my agenda. Their appearance seems to vary from big headed skinny fags to brute-like motherfuckers. I can say that some of the best games in which aliens can be found are: StarCraft, Half-Life, Advent Rising, Destroy all Humans, Alien vs Predator, StarWars, and so on (this list can really be big). In first person shooters the best way to get rid of the alien freaks is to add a few bullets to the head or a grenade at the right time and place. In strategy games aliens even develop bases, they seem to lack luck in RTSs though ... every place, where they build a base, gets nuked, don`t know why, it just seems to happen. However they look or act like they all seem to evolve ... if it`s instinct (ZERG/Alien) or technology (Protos/Predator). In other games they can be found using instincts and technology, like in Advent Risingfor example, but no worries there ... at least one human survived, and he`s only 30% emo, and did i mention he`s a god?
Aliens aren`t the only ones using high-tech weapons and toilets, if it comes to high-tech, the Robots are a real threat. All sizes, all models, all the possible ways to eliminate a player. Though they sounds complicated, as enemies they are remarkable weak and simple. Bots follow a precise pattern and have various weak spots. Most of them are directly guided by emos but the smart ones like to evolve. In Mech Warrior and Mech Commander for example the bots are controlled by brain-dead humans, meaning that they will try to avoid damage and at the same time will try to eliminate the threat. When self aware(AI) bots turn into target practice, usually they stand still and fire, but this happens mostly in RTSs. I can barely call the bots a race, but they sure make a good faction. In most self respecting action/shooters if you destroy a vital part of a bot, it`s only normal for it to accept it`s faith and blow up, in Mech Warrior i used to aim for the "leg", in the strategy games i couldn`t really aim but I still saw some nice explosions.
This should be enough for now, i really need some time to digest some ideas for part2.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

NEWS: Red Alert 3

Ok… This is my first post here and I’m going to talk about Red Alert 3… Yeah, that’s right… Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3, one of the most anticipated games since the beginning of the Red Alert series. The thing is, I don’t know THAT much about this upcoming game. I don't even know it's release date, and I won't find it out until it's announced.

The features that have been confirmed are:

- Will feature a new faction, something (“UNLIKE ANYTHING YOU’VE EVER SEEN BEFORE!”)
- It will probably be about World War III
- Naval combat will be pretty meaty (it should be, considering C&C 3’s lack of naval activity)
- I heard it will feature parachuting BEARS
- Dolphins will be intelligent as hell (hmm…)
- Tesla-tech returns
- The campaign will be playable in co-op.

As one of my friends said (quoting MisterDevil): “Red Alert 3. An anticipated game. The holy grail of RTS”. I'm not saying it will be good just because it's Red Alert 3. Many gamers around the world will probably buy this game just to see it's power and new features. In my opinion, if they keep the original aspect of the units plus that feeling that Red Alert 2 gave me everytime I played it, it will be a great game for me and sufficent just to keep my eyes sticked on the monitor for a couple of hours.

Some screenshots are available as well. Here are two of them.

Game Comparison: Hellgate London vs. Titan Quest

This is a new type of review in which i'm going to compare two games between them by analyzing key elements and seeing which is better. I wanted to do it a while ago, but since i didn't have that much experience in these 2 games, i decided to play through them a little more to see if anything changes later in the game. Note that at the time of writing this, i have yet to finish any of these games, so my experience is mostly mid-game. I could go and finish them, but frankly i don't think i ever will (at least not Hellgate). Now let's proceed with the comparison. Note that from now on, Hellgate will be abbreviated as HG and Titan Quest as TQ. When talking about Titan Quest, i'll have the expansion (Immortal Throne) in mind.
Why HG vs TQ? Because they're basically clones of the same game (Diablo 2) while being pretty much different in how they work. So who's the better clone? I'll try to detail an oppinion as unbiased as possible.
The outside of the game are the elements which directly influence you as a player, such as graphics, sound and feeling.
HG: the game takes advantage of Directx10, that and the fact that it's about 2-3 years newer than Titan Quest makes Hellgate the better one to choose for graphics. I played it with all settings to max except AA, and i can say that the graphics are somewhere along the lines of "pretty nice". Even with Directx10, i don't feel that the game makes the most out of the graphics engine... faces are pretty sharp when you look at them at a close distance, and the game has this omnipresent blur that not only makes you dizzy, it's also unnecessary.
The design of the armor suits is awesome though, and is one factor i really like more than TQ. The mobs could use some work.
TQ: not much to say here, the game has nice graphics for its age, the lawn bending as you run through it is a really nice touch, and the producers have made sure that we'd see it. TQ follows Diablo in its viewing perspective, but it's 3D and gives a pretty "clean" view, isometric as it is.
The armor and weapon design tries to replicate those of ancient times, but i found it pretty weird that my male character has to wear a skirt for the whole damn game, even an armored skirt like the Romans wore. Monster-wise, it's about as interesting as Hellgate, nothing really out of the ordinary.
One thing about TQ though: it suffers from rubber-banding, the phenomenon where the game starts to slow down, then fast forward again for a second. This apparently happens when your system is BETTER than the reccomended requirements. No fix yet, and i doubt there ever will be one.
Neither games had an impressive soundtrack, in fact i found it so boring that i resorted to external music (for the record, HG with Nightwish playing is significantly better). I lasted more when it came to TQ, though it's nothing special. I guess they copied Diablo pretty well on that part. As for the normal sounds... well, hack&slash games never had GREAT dialogue, but TQ does have better lines for its NPCs, and they do actually say what it's written in that little box over their heads. HG has some lines which attempt to be funny, but take away a lot of the feeling through that, at least i didn't like'em.
Ambience is the feeling you get when you look around in a game world, and how much what you see/hear/etc affects you. Games with a strong ambience tend to base themselves heavily on exploiting human emotions to make you like them (i.e. horror games), others (like arcade shooters) tend to not concentrate so much on the surroundings.
HG: the ambience in this game is apocalyptic, in fact it reminds me of Fallout when i think of it (but not in a good or bad way, mind you, it just reminds me of Fallout): destroyed buildings, dark skies, demonic ships patroling those dark skies, remnants of a war fought long-ago with conventional weapons, abandoned barricades, demon-infested sewers and metro tunnels, no sign of humans, at least until you reach the safe zones. All this, mixed in with British architecture and style, and Sci-Fi elements. The blend is far from perfect, and there's something in it that doesn't really attract me. But it's good enough for a hack&slash game.
TQ: Ancient Greece, China and Egypt are some of the locations which describe this game. While in HG you have abandoned and defeated war outposts, in TQ the war is fresh and there's hardly any damage to the enviroment. The game's sights, while pretty, mostly don't have any connections that make you stop and say "wow, so this is what ancient Greece was like" because they're mostly simple: greece is mountains and green grass, egypt is desert, china is snow... though you do visit some interesting places like the Acropolis and the Pyramids. All in all, ambience is better in HG than in TQ.
Ambience's bigger brother, feeling refers to the emotion you get when you're right in the middle of things, blasting away at enemies and doing whatever the game wants you to do. Feeling is the strongest emotion you can get out of a game, takes a lot from the soundtrack, and is closely related to FUN.
HG: The feeling in hellgate isn't intense. Actually, there's hardly any feeling at all in that game... unless you're listening to Nightwish. I swear, that music is the only thing that kept me playing it.
Without it, it would have been headache heaven. So i can't really have a pure oppinion on this, but i can surely say that the feeling in HG isn't quite much... even after trying several characters.
TQ: the feeling that you're overpowered prevails, and if you choose the right class, this game can be pretty much thrilling even as a normally dull class like a healer. TQ is a game made to make you tell your friends "dude, i kick ass so much with that char" and that gets major points from me. The gameplay styles are enormously diverse, and you soon grow attached to the character. One element that adds to continued feeling is the better customization options, i'll get into that later.
A game's inside elements are the ones happening to the game rather than to you personally, both behind and in front of the curtain. These are mostly game mechanics.
Complexity isn't what should be discussed in a hack&slash, but this is a comparison, and all games are complex, when looked at in relative terms. Some are just less complex than others. And some gamers, like me, appreciate the level of complexity even in a simple game.
Basically, complexity means diversity and amount of content.
HG: this game is complex, in that i don't really know what some things mean even by now. I don't know how the damage mechanics are calculated, nor do i know how many types of damage there are in the game. The skills are of very specific use, and even if they don't have many practical applications, even if some skills are totally useless, i can't say Hellgate isn't diverse. The item enhancements are mostly Diablo-ish (normal, magical, rare, unique) just with different names for them. To do stuff with items, you need to first dismantle unneeded items(destroying the item in the process, therefore eliminating selling items for money), which nets you some materials with which you can upgrade your weapon damage (or armor value), or create new items. Since you don't sell the items, money is pretty scarce (which isn't what you'd expect from a hack&slash but from an MMO, but in my book it's definitely a good thing), and you're left with even less if you choose to add some stats to your item.
Another diverse factor in HG is the playstyle: HG offers 3 completely different (as opposed from the usually slightly different) playstyles, based on the class you choose. You can play it mostly like an FPS (engineer and marksman), a 3rd person shooter (evoker and summoner), or a 3rd person action (guardian and blademaster). Overall, HG is complex, too bad the complexity doesn't add much fun to it.
TQ: attempts to bring originality to character building in that it lets you choose one speciality tree in the beginning, and ANOTHER later on. There are about 10 of them, so the class combinations in this game are huge. Even more so, each combination gets its own unique name, and as far as i've seen, most of them work quite well with any other, provided you know where to put your points. In the skills chapter, TQ owns HG hard since it has a lot more skills, and even though the uses are not so diverse, you don't get bored that fast and there's always the decision-between-what-to-choose that has to be made. Regarding items, they're the same complexity as diablo and HG, TQ only having broken items as a plus compared to Hellgate. I've yet to see a set item in HG, but there have to be some. Items in TQ can be customised with special charms that you get from mobs (charms of the same type can be combined for additional bonuses) that only work on "magic" or less quality item. Charms and spell scrolls can be combined with a special recipe to form an "artifact" type item, which fits a certain slot in your equipment and gives passive bonuses.
Overall, TQ is more complex than HG. HG should have extra content added in multiplayer soon though.
Gameplay refers to the interface's user-friendliness, the rate which you progress through the game, repetitiveness, and generally how the game doesn't feel like work. An "easy" (light) game is casual, fun and generally replayable. A "hard" (heavy) game usually makes you work or wait a lot for an item or for progress, can sometimes get frustrating, but is usually more rewarding. Note that ease of play is not related to difficulty. Examples of light games: Diablo 2 and Quake. Examples of heavy games: most MMORPGs.
HG: this is not a light game. Hellgate's ease of play can rival even that of MMOs, and is maybe one of the reasons why i didn't like it so much. You level absurdly slow, abilities don't get much boost from level to level (even if you put points in them), the levels are repetitive as hell and everything you do seems to drag along. For a hack&slash game... that's not a pretty good sight. To progress in such a game you need to really like the playstyle or the visual. I didn't find any playstyle that i really liked, since all 3 of them seem to meld into the same thing soon enough, but it may be enjoyable for someone else. Good thing the graphics are ok.
TQ: i loved how easy TQ was to play... beside the class combination, you also get 3 skill points per level instead of one, and level up pretty fast compared to HG. Both games take repairing items out of the picture, so that's a load off, TQ makes it even easier with unlimited town portal scrolls that take up no inventory space (you just press a button). Still, poor class balance in the early game can make some classes easy as pie, while others can be dreadfully hard, at least with a melee weapon.
Overall: i have to give TQ the prize here, it's much less frustrating and dull than Hellgate. If you like games that feel like work, or that challenge you to spend a lot of time farming and doing repetitive stuff, or if you are willing to bear it all just for the sci-fi theme, HG is your game.
Interaction in single-player refers mostly to dialogue, quests and characters. In a hack&slash game, quests are the only relevant factor out of the three.
HG: quests look like they're abundant, in fact they're the incentives to enter other areas instead of the one you normally enter to progress through the main quest. Sadly, i found myself skipping through most of what the quest-givers say, because it's both monotonous and there are a crapload of lines, most of which look like they're just put there to annoy you (when the NPC say things like "hmm..." or "what did you say? where?"). Quests give both XP rewards and items/cash, though the xp reward was never that great.
TQ: not a lot of quests, TQ stays very close to Diablo 2 on this, but still, wouldn't hurt to have a few extra quests here and there, especially considering the rewards are shit except for 1 or 2 quests which give you stat and skill points. TQ has some NPCs whose only role is to talk to you, and sometimes they say interesting stuff, like a short version of greek lore so you understand better who Zeus is and where he came from (if you don't know already).
Don't expect a single bit of realism in both games, that's not the genre's forte. Items practically jump at you in HG, fleeing peasants can take a hell of a beating in TQ, well... not much to say here.
Difficulty Curve
HG: kinda steep. The game starts with mobs that don't even hit you, continues with mobs that try to hit you, and then it starts getting full of mobs that come at you in groups of 5, and not just melee mobs. The game was easy until lvl 9 or so, after that, i found that (probably) my poor choice of skills (since i didn't really know what to choose, and all i chose turned out to be useless) coupled with the mobs' rising difficulty were making it pretty hard... doable, but hard. If the game wasn't such a drag, i wouldn't have quit, but it is. To me at least.
TQ: the game keeps the difficulty in check most of the times, the mobs are usually at your level, and dispatching them isn't a problem. The problems are boss fights and hero-monster fights. Still, shouldn't be any problem for an experienced gamer, the end-chapter boss fights are actually enjoyable in that you need to apply some tactics to beat them.
Both games keep up to Diablo 2 in terms of AI, which means shitty AI, so it's not enough for an in-depth analysis. The AI in TQ is more scripted than intuitive, and some mobs know how to retreat and use special attacks in HG, but that's about it.
Following Diablo 2 closely, both games consist of the same character bring-up type: you start as a nobody, and become somebody.
HG: The story does its best to appear sophisticated, but it's still shallow in the end: demons attacked earth, earth lost, earth wants to win now. The intro is poorly narrated by some british chap whose only quality is the accent, and shows a young girl separated from her father who's off to fight the demons, then 20 years later (rough estimate) she's off to fight the demons as well. Of course, there must be some more depth in this, i just couldn't find it. I have no idea what relationship you have with that girl - maybe the game will tell you when you've reached the final stages.... or maybe not.
TQ: We're in ancient greece, and every monster ever depicted in lore just thought to drop in and ravage the place a bit. Humanity is cut off from the gods by 3... demigod somethings, who were imprisoned... somewhere, at some time. Now they're not imprisoned anymore, and they want to burn the whole world. Their names are Diablo, Mephisto, and... whoops, wrong game.
Apparently they were some of the Titans who got imprisoned by Cronoss for trying to be better than him, if you're into greek mythology, i know i am but the game doesn't really let you "feel" the story. The intro is better than Hellgate's, i'll give it that.
The third aspect of the game, one i'm not particularly fond of but has managed to bring many games forth from the pit of obscurity. Comparing the multiplayer of these games is pretty hard since you have to pay a subscription for one of them (Hellgate) thus allowing you to play on dedicated servers, and also subscribers get extra patches with extra content and stuff (though i wouldn't pay for that crap if you gave me money for free), whereas TQ is totally free. You can play Hellgate online without subscribing however, but you still can't play it in LAN mode, unfortunately.
As for class balance and roles: Hellgate has 6 classes, none of them are so complex to warrant a healer/tank/DPS combo like you see in normal MMOs, but the skill tree is pretty well tweaked for a multiplayer game, some classes having skills that benefit the party and so forth.
TQ has a lot of classes, so multiplayer diversity is something you'll see there, you'll probably have some fun trying out different combinations too. May i add that the only tree that has healing spells in TQ can also become overpowered by stacking multiple "-%cooldown" items (there's also a skill which dramatically reduces it) thus bringing the cooldown to effectively 0, allowing the heal to be spammed continuously at almost 0 casting speed for as long as you have mana. Did i mention you can make it a chain heal?
Both games look appealing enough in multiplayer, with downsides for HG's no lan play and the nerve to ask us to pay more money to play online properly. Yet from my point of view, i'd sooner immerse myself into TQ's universe than HG's.

So there you have it, a long-ass, in-depth comparison of the two games. My goal was to make you decide which one you like more while not having actually played them, and if i reached that, then mission accomplished. If i didn't, then see ya next time.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A Challenge

Still ... if i`m thinking about a challenge ... there`s no point in NOT to add a little review here about the most challenging game i ever played : Devil May Cry 3 : Dante`s Awakening - The PC version of course :)

DMC3 can be easily described as a Hack&Slash game, with tons of monsters to kill, some interesting bosses and the occasional puzzles to progress. To put it simple : Dante has to pass through a series of missions ( which are nothing more than levels ). At the end of each mission the player has to face his ranking, the players performance is ranked from D ( lowest ) to S or SS (the biggest). The rank is based on the orbs collected during the mission, the red orbs (currency used to buy items or to increase weapon/attack levels ), the time taken to finish the mission, the damage taken and the items used and stylish points. The stylish points are gained during combat by performing a series of unfuckingbroken combos on the nearby enemies. This is where the cool part starts ... thought it`s an action game and Dante has to be pretty aggressive to get from point A to point B .. you must have at least one tactic when fighting ... because not all the enemies will fight the same and surely you can`t expect to finish a level using the same attack. When attacking a stylish meter will appear on the screen, if you want it to grow from Dope to "SSStylish" you`ll have to keep attacking the enemies without taking any damage whatsoever and without repeating the same combo :)
But that was all about the fighting ... After defeating a boss Dante usually gets a new weapon, during the missions Dante may carry two meele weapons and 2 pairs of a ranged type of weapon .. guns to be exact :D. Besides the nice variety of weapons Dante can also choose a fighting style, because i`m way to lazy to type all the shit about the styles here`s a nice quote : Style selection is available at the start of each level, as well as during gameplay at checkpoints. The styles available are: Trickster, for dodging and agility; Swordmaster, with extra abilities for swords and other melee weapons; Gunslinger, which has more techniques for firearms; Royal Guard, which allows the player to repel attacks with a properly-timed button press, and thereby charge energy for retaliation; Quicksilver, which slows down enemies while the character attacks at normal speed; Doppelgänger, creates a shadow double that fights alongside Dante. I personally liked the Swordmaster style, pure hack & slash and a lot of nice effects and style points ;)

I guess this is all just bullshit, bullshit which can be applied to any other hack&slash action game. Devil May Cry had something special (besides the fact that it is the special edition playable on PC ), the more you play, the harder it gets. For example to unlock the HARD difficulty level you had to finish the game (storyline) in the with the "normal" difficulty, and because of the nice variety of weapons,levels and styles ... the game actually becomes replayable. The harder it gets, the stronger my will to play it. When it comes to DMC try not to underestimate the meaning of the word HARD: if at the normal level you encountered dumbass blue projectiles then you can bet you sweet keyboard that at the ultimate "Dante must die" difficulty level that monster will launch those projectiles (which are now homing or i think they are homing - i didn`t really get to watch them closely since every time i had to fight the EMOs shooting them you can be sure that the other mobs nearby had my full attention) a lot faster. Since the game offers a slight chance of boredom DMC has a nice "Bloody Palace" for all those mob killing action loving gamers :D. The Bloody Palace is actually a medium sized arena where mobs just keep spawning at 3 varieties of difficulty leves, as the player desires , but still hard. It`s really hard to get bored of Devil May Cry, even the game`s soundtracks can make you wanna kill something . Also if you finish the game at harder difficulties, besides the bonus features which will be unlocked, at some point you get to play with the evil character in the game, Vergil, Dante`s twin brother. Unlike Dante who kills for fun apparently, Vergil only seeks power, the power of Sparda. Here`s a little history lesson about devils going good: Sparda apparently was a demon who turned against his own kind for the sake of the emo world, sealing the demon world, but by doing so he sealed his mofo demon powers too, thus .. turning into Jesus. 2 more characters appear in this game, it seems that Dante and Vergil aren`t the only two members from a family here, for the first time appearing in the Devil May Cry series Lady also gets sucked into the story, a bit too much even, as Dante has to fight her at some point, Lady trying to be a BOSS ... trying indeed and also Lady`s dad appears giving Dante an unfriendly "invite". While Lady only appears only in some cinematics, Arkham, Lady`s dad tries to get the power of Sparda thinking he`ll turn into Christ or something and also turns Dante, Vergil and Lady against each other. Though as a nutjob he`s pretty tough, appearing a few times as a clown and fights Dante a few times and also appearing as and end game boss as the BLOB, a testicular like boss who, after taking some nice damage, turns into a few dozen sperm like leeches draining Dante`s health. I guess that it`s good to mention stuff like : against the blob Dante and Vergil fight together ... hard to control both at the same time but hey ... they`re brothers :D

DMC leaves me speechless, just thinking about it makes me wanna play it, so .. to end this : combining great action with a nice story about a cool devil somehow growing up you get Devil May Cry 3 : Dante`s Awakening.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Gaming History: Deus Ex 2

Ah, at last, i get to play the sequel to one of the games which marked my life as a gamer. Obviously, i was waiting for this since the game appeared, dreaming of the days when i was going to grab my sniper rifle and once again wage war on power-hungry beauraucrats with a taste for world domination. What i got was...
Well, it's pretty hard to describe, but i'll try to make a comparison: what do you get when you eat a really tasty, creamy cake, so tasty and unimaginately delicious that you order another slice, and just as you're happily munching the first bits of it, you realise that the second slice is full of SHIT? You get Deus Ex 2.
Honestly, this game is so retardedly different and simplified from the first, that it left me with such a bad taste in my mouth that i felt like vomiting over the first few hours. Remember how you used to memorize door codes? Not anymore. Inventory management? Not anymore. Every item occupies one slot now, so a nice small can of soda weighs and has the same size as a rocket launcher. Skills? Nonexistant. IFF? Comlink? No mention of them. They're still there, but they don't show up in your augmentations list (which are now called Nanomods). Notes window? Not anymore. HP related to specific bodyparts? Hell no, you now have 1 HP bar (which doesn't even show numbers, or even a percent) and 1 "mana" bar (the old energy bar, but bastardized now so that each energy item you get recharges it to full). More than one type of ammo!? GOD FORBID! There is only one type of ammunition in the whole game. The only difference is that some guns take more ammo to shoot. Lockpicks? Hell no! Multitools can open doors now, so your retarded console-gaming mind doesn't have to grasp the complexity of carrying 2 security-bypass objects at once. A log window? What's that? Needing a medbot to install augs? Pfft, that's old school.
And many, many more... it's hard to describe how i felt when i saw this weak attempt at a game before my eyes, beaten down, bludgeoned, mutilated, sawed-off, ripped apart, teared to pieces, hacked open and trimmed to a dim, retarded shell of its former self. It felt like Thor's hammer suddenly dropped at maximum velocity down on my balls. Not even the music managed to get me, aside from a few songs played in bars by some chick, the soundtrack didn't stand out one bit. Where was that corporate tune, those songs that made you feel like you were an agent of the state, strolling through office buildings in some hi-tech world... gone. All gone. The game went down before my eyes like the Titanic, so much that i was ashamed to even play it. But i did... and i finished it, gathering what little respect i had left for the first title in the series. It felt shallow... i wasn't "there", i felt like some prick shooting his way through tight corridors without having any idea what the hell's going on. I mean, the game doesn't even tell you... you're dropped off at some facility, with some doctors and shit, and stuff starts blowing up in your face as some guys in hoods infiltrate it and manage to get past the ARMORED guards with the greatest of ease. Then people start suddenly acting like you were the one, and somehow you were really, really special. At least they don't ask you to save the world, though i kinda wonder why.
I'll admit, once i got past the first few hours of the game, it started to suck a bit less. Either i got used to it and stopped giving it the title "deus ex" and playing it like i'd play some other retarded shooter (focusing on the gameplay elements that ARE there more than on the ones that aren't), or the developers started to suck a bit less at level design, i don't know. It's possible that i also became a little more retarded due to my brain not being able to take all the virtual kicks to the balls. Meh, whatever... the game still has dialogue, though you never get too attached to any character (like you did in deus ex 1 with paul, for instance, or even Alex Jacobson and the crew at UNATCO), not even JC Denton himself, which appears in the game like some enlightened AI consciousness merged with human mind, capable of freezing entire oceans but unable to stop a bullet coming his way. What's "new" about the sequel is that you're not forced into doing what other people tell you now, you are given a set of objectives from different factions which often collide with eachother, so you have to choose who to piss off and whose ass to kiss. The beginning major factions are either the WTO (don't ask me what it stands for) or the Order (order of what? beats me), and you have to do stuff for them throughout 80% of the game. Now choosing a side is like choosing between a giant douche and a turd sandwitch: one seeks financial domination and optimisation of the world (no matter how many people they step on by doing it), the others are a bunch of mumbo-jumbo tree-huggers who want me to get in touch with my "spiritual self". Right. Moving along, the game still tries to integrate stealth into what seems like an action shooter, and make it a bit more dynamic by adding canisters (nanomods) that give you certain abilities once installed, most of which are taken from the first game, but with some new ones like emp damage on melee attacks, or even first-person control of enemy bots. You now need to choose between 3 nanomods in each slot, the slots being considerably fewer. Concerning this: WHY IN THE NAME OF FUCK CAN'T I GET BOTH REGENERATION AND OPTICAL ENHANCEMENT AT THE SAME TIME!? These were my 2 most favorite augs back in the first game, and now i have to choose between them. Gah.
So to close this, if you like first-person shooters with a tint of stealth, and (most importantly) have never played deus ex before, give this game a try. Then go play deus ex 1, just to raise your standards. If you have played deus ex 1, then don't bother.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


Crysis. That name should say so much.... anxiety, disappointment, fascination, disgust, and so on and so forth. You all know it, and if you don't, suffice to say it is one of the most controversial games of the year 2007 and 2008. And at the same time, THE most graphically advanced game ever made. A review to it is pretty much beating a dead horse, since i don't think there's a magazine on the planet which hasn't reviewed this thing. But at the same time, not reviewing it would be like saying Doom never existed. So here's my review to probably the most anticipated game of 2007.
I said before that i got a brand new pc, and it didn't let me down when i tried to run crysis on it: basically, 64bit, vista, directx10, all settings to very high, 30 fps. Playing the game like this got me a pretty nice experience with the game, so apart for a few words at the beginning, i'll try to review this thing without saying a single word about the graphics. Now, to get them out of the way:
This game is absolutely STUNNING, the graphics often causing you to stop and just STARE at the thing for like 2 minutes before moving on. They really make you forget about the game entirely and just see it like the closest thing to a CG movie you've ever seen. I swear, not even Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (cg movie if you never seen it) looked THIS good. Incredible. Wow.

AHEM. Now that that's out of the way, let's get on with the real review. The story is pretty thin and nothing spectacular, predictable, but not so shallow. Not shallow because it at least manages to explain why you end up being the single person who kills 2394287423458 korean troops single-handedly (something that few FPS games actually care to explain, it's usually because you rock so much or something like that). Basically, there's a new thing in town, and it's called the nano-suit. This prototype nanotech exoskeleton is the one you and your squad will wear during an operation in one of the (unknown) islands in the... i forgot what ocean it was. The operation involves saving some researchers from the mean korean army guys who now have control of that island. But of course, something goes wrong. Your squad starts to get horribly butchered as your team-mates get killed and/or kidnapped by some huge weird alien ship things, and in the end there's only you and your fellow scottish nanosuit-wearing bloke who happens to have better luck than the others and not get himself killed, or disappear. Meanwhile, you fight half of the korean armada. Fun!
Of course, that's only until about halfway through the game, when you accidentally stumble upon an alien spaceship (or whatever it was, seemed more like a base to me) buried deep within the mountain, which was awakened by the idiot archeologists and the koreans who were poking their noses where they shouldn't have. From this point on, bye-bye koreans, hello aliens. The spaceship itself is a brief encounter (about one level), you get thrown out of it pretty fast, then the fun begins. Basically, that's where the game turns from tactical, headshot-filled shooter to "give'em all you got and then some" as you can't possibly headshot the aliens' ships.
But i'm getting ahead of myself. Your suit is a flexible thing, having several "modes" you can switch between (sharing its regenerative energy between each of them) such as having your suit's energy act as armor, battery for a cloaking device (i.e. you can turn invisible, predator-like), increased strength or speed. This basically gives you several options to go through the game with, as the increased strength function makes it easy to kill enemies in melee and jump about 3 times as high, the cloak function makes getting near enemies or getting to better positions easier, and if it's too hard for you, you can always switch to speed and run through them. Switching to another mode is instant and doesn't cost anything, but uses the same energy, so your cloak will be pretty short if you're low. Normally, energy recharges pretty fast (unless it's draining), and the suit also recharges your health, meaning the game has no ways to restore hp other than the natural way. Weapons are also customisable, supporting many enhancements such as a grenade launcher or various types of scopes. You can also carry only 2 weapons besides the pistol, the rocket launcher and grenades (and another special weapon in the last level). Those weapons are conventional, such as assault rifles, shotguns, SMGs, a minigun, and there's an alien weapon in the later levels with unlimited ammo. What i liked about this game was the diverse ways you can finish it: for instance, i can skip about half of the first level by swimming (although that doesn't really happen later on) and just killing the guys in the boats (which may also be harder than killing the enemies, since the boats have miniguns attached). You can enter any vehicle and drive it, there's even a tank level later on which i really hated (i mean, i'm supposed to kill 10 tanks with one which is exactly as good as they are). Most buildings are destroyable, the physics in the game behaving very life-like (especially if you're running with the settings on very high), making you want to throw another grenade inside a house just to see how it blows up again. You have a map and a radar (you can use the binoculars to "tag" the enemies so they appear on it), the primary objectives being a green dot, secondary are yellow dots. All in all, great liberty in playing it, basically no matter how much you play it, you'll never do everything exactly the same thanks to the wonderful physics and the many ways you can kill your enemies. Now what i didn't like about the game was that those damn koreans need about half of my cartridge to die if i don't get a headshot in... which isn't very realistic since that's about the same amount of bullets I need to die, and i'm the one wearing the fucking exoskeleton. So the enemies die painfully slow if you don't headshot them... that isn't SO bad, until you find the koreans wearing nanosuits (yes, you'll find those too). Those motherfuckers are so freakin' hard to kill that after i wasted my entire minigun clip on them, i just quit and punched them to death with maximum strength (for some reason, they're awfully slow). At least the aliens aren't so hard... you know you're gonna need about half a clip, or even a full clip to kill them (i found it awfully easy to miss in this game), but at least you don't get pissed when you missed the headshot. So the game is basically headshot hunt until the alien level (yes, you do have a sniper rifle, but there's about 3 times as many enemies as bullets for it). Still, a well-placed grenade will usually give you a measure of satisfaction... sometimes. Oh, and another thing - how come a guy with a fucking machinegun emplacement can shoot and HIT me from a mile away? Aren't those things supposed to be inaccurate from that distance? I can say the same for the enemies, who must have went to Legolas's School of Heavenly Sharpshooting or something, since whenever they see you, they start firing those assault rifles in burst mode and ALWAYS hit no matter what distance there is between you and them. Gets frustrating after a while, but if you do it right, you probably shouldn't get hit at all.
So, to sum it up: good gameplay, great physics (occasional bug here and there, but that can't be helped i guess), average storyline (major cliffhanger at the end, has potential for the second game of the intended trilogy). Not the best game, once you take out the graphics. But even so, it's a game to be played, even if only for the freedom given by the modes you can choose from. Add the graphics and it becomes a must-have. Almost.
Multiplayer's already hot and running, and has promise. Won't beat counter-strike, but i find it a lot better than Halo's, for instance. Good game, all in all. A must-play if you're a gamer, since it's a staple of next generation hardware.
Until next time, i bid you farewell.