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Archive for June, 2011

“New” Infinity Ward-esque games in the future?

Following litigation and lawsuits from the two ex-heads of Infinity Ward and Activision, the two that departed (Jason West and Vince Zampella) have created a new studio entitled Respawn Entertainment.

This website popped up sometime yesterday, and it’s pretty mysterious. But since these two founded the Call of Duty series, I expect some kind of new, innovative game that the industry truly needs.

http://www.respawn.com/games/

I have NO idea what the blurred out picture is, but hopefully it’s something awesome. These guys really know how to create buzz.

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Review: Episodes from Liberty City

Information about the game:

Developer: Rockstar North (UK)

Release date: October 29th, 2009

We once again jump into the world of Liberty City and the seedy underworld of it with Episodes from Liberty City. In an effort to reduce costs on my behalf, I rented this game from Netflix instead of paying outrageous amounts of money through the Xbox Live Game Marketplace (both 1600 points, seems a little bit steep for my pay). I was excited to play this game after all the effort that I originally put into GTA IV, and how this studio pushes how in-depth you can become in video games.

First, I played through The Lost and the Damned, one of the two “episodes” from the standalone game. It introduces you as Johnny Klebitz, a member of the biker gang The Lost. As an interesting aspect of the game, you are allowed to do many more activities with this new additional feature. Throughout the city, you can participate in various Gang Wars or Street Races with members of The Lost, putting an interesting spin on this already in-depth title.

When the game starts, your ex-President of the gang (Billy) regains control of the biker gang, as he is released from prison and sent on parole. As you were long standing president while Billy did his stint in jail, gains occurred all over for The Lost (truces with the other biker gangs, deals made for economic gain). Billy seeks to destroy these as soon as he gains control of the gain again, and the tension is apparent in the first missions of the game.

The story mode is another addictive part of the game, where you are consistently running from one mission to another in order to advance the story and see how it plays out. Another big improvement over the original GTA IV storyline is the complexity and action pushed into each mission, with never-ending waves of police, to cameos of Nico Bellic from GTA IV. Rockstar took the time to make all of these complex interwoven story-lines, and they get so in-depth that it hurts my head to think about all of the time it took to produce this game.

The short side of the stick with Lost and the Damned is that it’s quite terse, and seems to be a bit repetitive when it comes to side missions. It only took me about two days, three to four hours per days, and the ending of the game seemed a bit abrupt. Gang wars are interesting, but the races seem damn impossible. Maybe I am horrible at them, but get ready to really let your rage loose when you play these missions. Seriously, I got beaten off of my motorcycle several different times just trying to do one of the first races. Learning curve seemed intense, but racing is never my strong suit.

The Ballad of Gay Tony seems to be better in almost every way. Sure, the gang aspect of Lost and the Damned is interesting, but the other innovations for the GTA series seem to be more relevant in this “episode”. The replay mission features lets you replay all of the the missions in order to get a 100% rating in an arcade style, which is really well done. Different objectives for different missions will keep you entertained over several different playthroughs.

As was evident in the last game, the missions are larger than life in this addition as well. The element of skydiving in this game adds a new dimension to the airborne aspect, where the ladder missions in the game will take you in trains, helicopters, and even airplanes. With the complex intertwining of stories, Gay Tony has its core centered around Tony Prince and his bodyguard, Luis Lopez. You are Luis Lopez, and you help to manage the club for your coke-addicted, binge drinking gay nightclub-owner-boss. The writers of this game worked extremely hard on creating a human element for the characters, which seems to fall a little bit flatter with Lost and the Damned. For example, if you go on the computer, you can get more information on your family (brother and sister), and even email ex-girlfriends who are stalking you. In your apartment, there is a picture of your dad in the army, and this is also explained later in the game through the E-Mail system. As well, your main character’s friends and family are complex, weaving stories of their own through missions. Story drives this game, and it seems to be extensively longer than Lost and the Damned.

Both of these games should be played by anyone who enjoys Grand Theft Auto, or is even interested in the title. The coarse language and content throughout both games is pushing the M rating that it has received, so it’s most likely not for everyone. However, I highly recommend playing through both of these games on the disc, or if you are feeling excessively rich then buy it off of Xbox Live (or give it to me instead).

Breakdown of different areas:

Audio: 95

With the addition of new radio stations, this add on makes driving even more fun and politically incorrect. More hilarity ensues with this release, and the gun shots, ricochets, random swearing, and footsteps make the game seem quite real. It makes it so I can’t take real radio seriously anymore. Bravo Rockstar, I love you and the effort into the radio stations in these two games.

Graphics: 90

While the graphical componenets of this game being not the newest, I will over-inflate the score a bit. The scale on which the cars, motorcycles, even the planes were rendered in looked beautiful. While the core gameplay is still the most important thing to Rockstar besides story, the attempt to improve and smooth out graphical issues was there.

Play-ability: 85

The Lost and the Damned had its own cool aspects to it, but frankly there wasn’t too much replay involved. However, this is not the case with The Ballad of Gay Tony. With multiplayer apsects, skydiving minigames, arcade-style replays of missions, and even stranger missions all over the city, this game does deliver, as well as a GTA game can, replayability.

Delivery: 92

The strong story writing, coupled with all of the other perfect aspects of a game like Rockstar puts out, makes this game seem like a classic. Sure, it is downloadable content, but it a testament to the effort that this game studio pours into its creations. Without games like this, other people wouldn’t be as pressed to keep innovating and turning the wheel, pushing the boundaries of what is possible in video gaming. The size and scale of gunfights and car chases is mind-blowing when compared to its predecessor only one year previous to its release. Minor flaws take some of the awesome away, but all in all its an excellent series of games, unique in their own right. Also, a bit of a warning, watch out for the penis in Lost and the Damned. Really surprising.

Overall: 94/100

Episodes for Liberty City Review coming soon…

Since I just got my new job, being settled in has took a while and work has therefore been hectic. However, don’t worry, I am playing some games in the spare time that I get every now and then. With actual weekends off, I can get real work done on these games. Episodes from Liberty City came in the mail, and being a huge fan of Grand Theft Auto since the third, Vice, Andreas, and the fourth, I can’t wait to tell everyone how the game is. I should have a new review up by Friday (?) for it, depends on how time consuming it is.

I know the game is a little old, but I’ve been excited about it since they have released a bit of information that GTAV is coming, so I figured that it would be appropriate.

Also, I hate people that drive 55 in the fast lane. That is all.

Categories: Updates

What can improve from Oblivion to Skyrim

So, if you are like me, you’ve put way too many hours of your time into The Elder Scrolls series, most recently the fourth installment in the series: Oblivion. It has been an exceedingly long time since the last release of an Elder Scrolls game, when Oblivion came out in 2006. However, for the hungry fans that we are Bethesda has revealed they have a completely new game for a November release at E3 earlier this month. Well, they released most of the details around the time of E3. And I cannot tell you how many different days of time were lost to me in the immersion of the virtual world Bethesda created. Here are some key things that Bethesda should change in their next game:

1) Glitches

I had several different save slots that were overwrited by the auto-save as soon as I got stuck in a rock. I understand the massive amount of information any area in this game has, but it would be nice if this issue was at least improved or worked on in Skyrim.

2) Voice acting

I wish that there was more of a variety of actors that were for each of the characters in the game. It seemed like in Oblivion there was only a couple of different actors to do the work for everybody. Some of the games (Mass Effect, for example) that have many different characters seem to all be done by different actors. Bethesda has the money and effort to implement more actors, and to not do this reduces the immersion and realness of the game.

3) Slow loading screens

The loading screens were ridiculous in Oblivion. Maybe they can go for a game that is spread across three discs like L.A. Noire, but seriously it has to change. Or if I download it to my hard drive and it will run as well as people can run it on PC’s. And the loading screens that would happen when I was running too fast through an area were super long as well.

4) Big Cities

There were a lot of small cities in Oblivion, but none that were truly BIG in the sense of geographical area. Imperial City was large, but I wanted there to be more shops, people, and buildings in a single area. If they incorporated more people in a certain city, it would make the world seem more real than just small little towns strewn across a giant land mass. The big city in Morrowind was more of what I would like to see in Skyrim.

5) Graphical Issues

I got tired of the errors in the game when I would come across an area that still had lower images loading on different textures. You have the technology, please make the new game without this. Not sure if it would improve if it was installed on the hard drive, but I don’t care. It seems inexcusable with the new technology of today.

6) Seemingly useless items everywhere

Want to break into a building, scope it out when nobody is around? Well, you’re in luck. And in the desk drawer is…APPLES FOR 1 GOLD COIN. Everywhere. Oh wait, here is some paper scrolls. 2 gold. YES FUCK YEAH I GOT SOME MORE GOLD COINS HOLY SHIT. You go to sell it, you might get 1 gold for it. I wish there was more useful things in people’s houses.

I really hope that some of these changes will be implemented in the new game. Bethesda makes such great games, they don’t need little things like this holding the games’ true potential behind. 141 days.

Categories: Skyrim

GET OVER HERE

June 18, 2011 1 comment

Currently I’m playing through Mortal Kombat (the new 9th one) and it’s pretty good. When I finish playing it I will put a review up here. I have been so god damn busy, just finished my first week of work at a new job where I have to get up at 4 am. It would be nice to get some downtime, I suppose. At least I don’t have to work on Saturday and Sunday.

Also I went to go see Super 8 and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides last night. I wish that I wasn’t up for almost 24 hours when I was home, BUT Super 8 and Pirates were solid movies. I was surprised by both; thought I was going to be sorely disappointed. I recommend that people do see Super 8, it’s an interesting idea with how they revolved the story around children instead of clueless adults. Good job JJ Abrams or whoever directed that.

Still haven’t played Episodes from Liberty City, really want to beat MK first. Decisions, decisions…

Categories: Mortal Kombat

Okama Gamesphere

So I have been watching a bunch of old South Park episodes, thanks to Netflix, and I stumbled on this old favorite. The okama gamesphere, which absorbs the boys entire attention, it made me wonder: what’s the next level of innovation that a video game can produce?

When the Nintendo N64 came out, I got it for Christmas shortly after. I remember this because I was so happy I got the most innovative, exciting video game system. With new multiplayer features, awesome titles like starfox 64, and the rumble Pak, it was the best Christmas ever.

When I saved up money from birthdays, allowances, and odd lawn moving jobs, I finally got an Xbox in early 2002. The newer features in this game system were mind boggling. Internet play, open world exploration, you name it, Xbox most likely innovated it. Same with playstation, although I never played it.

When the 360 came out, I considered it gimmicy until halo 3 came out. Since then, I have enjoyed so many different innovative and unique features in these next generational video games. My question is, where can it be taken next? And don’t tell me playstation move or kinect, those are idiotic and nothing more than a device where you feel like a badass, while in reality you are nothing more than a raging douchebag.

I’m not sure when there will be a new strand of video game systems, but I am content with the innovation of current generational systems without another 500 dollar pricetag.

 

Categories: Vidya games

What pisses me off about video games

So, I am getting pretty tired of playing video games that everyone says is good, I go to get said video game, and then it is so crap. This has happened with several video games that I have recently gotten, and I am unsure why people trick me into getting them. Even worse, the replay value of games is drastically dropping off, with the incentive of “DLC in the future” keeping me from throwing it down a storm drain.

DLC is a complete ripoff and really needs to stop being made for a month, sold for 10 dollars, while the game has been in development for two or more years and is sold at 60 dollars right out of the gate. If there was a satisfactory addition that the DLC brought instead of two hours of my life gone on something that barely had any effort given to it, it would be different.

I’m tired of games turning into Call of Duty. Call of Duty is an excellent game in it’s own right, a compelling story base while adhering to similar gun mechanics and multiplayer modes. Infinity Ward has set really high standards with its’ 60 frames per second video quality. However, so many games have been copying the red-dot scopes and multiplayer aspects, it’s starting to really grind my gears. Can’t people who spend years getting into the industry come up with an original idea?

Why does every game have to include some unnecessary sexual content or bad dialogue that detracts from the story? I have no idea how many times I’ve gone in to play my Xbox, and come across some fourteen-year old kid’s fantasy in my video game. With blood and guts spewed about the room, a scantily-clad woman approaches you and mentions something vague and dirty. Surely I cannot be the only one who feels a bit insulted when they target me with women and violence. Sorry, your video game still sucks, nice try.

Also, I am tired of cliffhangers. Why can’t game studios just finish a god damn video game correctly? Alan Wake, for example, was a truly innovative experience and furthermore an excellent story. However, the ending of the game (no spoilers, don’t care enough to mention) left such a sour taste in my mouth because it was only going to be explained by future DLC. Another example: Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood. Yeah, probably going to get some shit from this, but are you serious? If anybody watched the ending cinematic…seriously? Really? You’re not even going to try to veil your cliffhanger you are going to jump straight to the credits? Wow. Fucking wow. And the new announcement of Halo 4? Surely this is a giant joke. I’m not getting trolled again, I remember playing Halo: Reach.

I call horseshit on these things in the video game industry, and hope they change some of these things before I get a fucking heart attack.

Categories: rants, Vidya games