So I decided to send out the following as an e-mail to Kotaku’s tip line in hopes of someone taking a look into it… Continue reading Plea for Inquiry: PC versions of Blur and Split/Second NOT optimized
For those wondering where I have been… I have been gaming to relax my mind from the worries and battles of months before. For those curious of what’s been going on: Continue reading Summer Projects
These aren’t final thoughts… but it’s more my current evaluation and hopes for later on.
So… today I got my invitation to play in the Need for Speed World beta. I will say, it’s a little interesting seeing MMO aspects in a racing game. The selection of cars is quite sparse but it is a beta… However, balance is an issue that I hope they address as I hated ending up dead last in the first few races. Controls really need work… The awkward scheme of driving with the arrow keys, hand brake to be operated with space-bar, and power ups to be managed by the 1 – 4 keys on the number row… It just doesn’t work. The inability to configure a controller properly really irks me… As the 360 controller works, but the only buttons that work are the left analog stick to steer, A for your throttle, B for your hand-brake, and X for your brake pedal. The directional pad sadly doesn’t work, as it would be nice for managing the power-ups…
Multiplayer is a little broken… That being said from me trying to join a few races and it can’t reconcile the users together. The single player races need some work on matching up the level of opponents… I mention this as the Lotus Elise later on and I am somehow matched up to 2 Nissan GT-R (Tier 3), 2 Lamborghini LP640 (Tier 3), and a few cars around my tier (Tier 2). The gameplay is a little frantic, but well thought out… The power ups are pretty balanced out. I would rather they work like the question boxes a la Mario Kart, but that could change. Graphically, the races feel pretty cinematic at some points.
Kudos to the Need for Speed folks for venturing into the multiplayer realm. The leveling system will definitely have to be cleaned up, as leveling up for more car access and a few skill points is rather weak. Hopefully a tuning system will be in place, cause I’d love to hop-up cars with better engine parts, turbochargers, superchargers, etc… On top of that, adding in things like adjustable suspension, being able to custom tailor out the attack-angles or racing wings would be nice too. I look forward to the development to the Need for Speed World off-shoot and leave you with a screenshot of me taking on my computer opponents.
A while ago, I picked up both Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and Modern Warfare 2 (to be abbreviated as BC2 and MW2 respectively). Sadly, most of the big commercial blogs were riding the crotch of MW2 but the one fundamental fact they didn’t understand is that both games are quite different from each other. I want to take a more critically personal evaluation of the games as I want to be fair to both games. I’ll say this right now… I rather like both games, but for different reasons.
Continue reading Shoot-Out – Battlefield: Bad Company 2 vs Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
I’ll confess… I love the first-person shooter (abbreviated with FPS) games a little more than RPG’s some days because of the fact that when I score a kill, I feel great from hunting my opponent down in game. I was schooled a little with Doom 2 and LAN games on the middle school’s networks… But my “formal” training was during the days of Quake (1996) when my friends would hijack my junior high (9th and 10th) school’s LAN just for us to play when we blazed through our school work faster than our inept peers in computer classes. This would even continue through my senior high (11th and 12th) years when I was in AP Computer Science class as well.
Through out the “training” I’d still get into the games that were coming out for home consumption. I know soon after Quake came out, I’d venture onwards. Quake 2, Blood, Hexen, Hexen 2, and then the Half Life series. When people began to modify the Half Life engine and came up with Counter-Strike, it got my attention. A game that was tactical and challenging in the FPS genre. For once, I couldn’t take the same tactics like I did with Quake and Quake 2 of going bat-shit insane. It make me a more tactful shooter fan… Then Unreal Tournament (1999) entered my world and made arcade shooters refreshing. It wouldn’t be until about late 2002 that my PC couldn’t keep up with PC gaming anymore. I lamented that day… I would then have my many years of Guild Wars to keep my sanity around, but that’s another story.
Then April 2009 hit and I built my gaming machine, Byakko. I would finally have a machine that was strong enough to play my Source powered games without choking on itself. From there… I began exploring what the new era of gaming had to offer me. The funny thing is… Nowadays, shooters have more cooperative modes than they did in the past. However… the fight over arcade style and realism style have still remained with even some blending. I know my initial dive would be Team Fortress 2 and Left 4 Dead. Eventually… My dear friend Ivy (not my staff/guest editor, oddly) had said I needed to give Call of Duty a try, cause she’s rather fanatical about the franchise… So Ebongrey had surprised me one day with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and I admit… I was rather charmed by the tactical, yet arcade-style game play. Granted, military war simulations should be a little more tighter with tactics… but sometimes the casual part makes it nice for days you don’t want to get too involved in. While the Left 4 Dead franchise focuses on tactical gameplay with cooperative tactics (be you human or zombie team) and Team Fortress more on the arcade side. I sought for more. Borderlands caught my eye as a fun from merging the great part of an MMO (“phat lewtzing” or items) with a FPS game… Which brings to the main point: Where do I, Zero, stand on shooter games?
My dear friend Ersatz a while back had got me into Bioshock as he realized I do appreciate a good story. I spent close to probably 20 – 30 hours in Bioshock just absorbing story and finding secret weapon upgrade stations via the Fontaine Futuristics “Power to the People” machines. When Bioshock 2 came out this past February 9th, I played the ever living hell out of it. Sure, it took me 28 hours to complete the story, but probably one of the best stories I have ever played. The multiplayer is interesting, but as 2K had made a big disclaimer of that portion of the game was more bonus material than their primary directive. The short-comings of the multiplayer are (in my opinion) the flawed controls for PC. The story modes control set-up is great! It all makes sense… yet on the multiplayer one, they didn’t let you use those, it’s completely messed up. If you have a gaming mouse that has side buttons for your thumb and loved assigning commands in Bioshock 2’s story mode, the rude wake up call… Not usable in multiplayer. The mouse wheel is also not assigned by default to the duty of cycling through weapons like in story mode, but it’s designated to a key. The final issue is that servers and matchmaking are peer to peer while using the Games for Windows Live system to “match” you to appropriate players. For the fun moments I have had in it… It’s a refreshing arcade style shooter on the multiplayer side of the coin.
On the tactical side… Battlefield: Bad Company 2 has really wet my whistle on that front. The Frostbite Engine that powers the game’s environments is really something. The big thing that has really sold me on the series is the destructible environments as well as being able to try everything in the PC Beta as an incentive to pre-ordering. The ability to use vehicles and perimeter defense weapons are there much like many of the other Battlefield games. However, for a modern combat FPS simulation, I have reason to believe that it may possibly usurp the throne from Call of Duty (6): Modern Warfare 2 on the PC from the fact that there is a dedicated development team for PC. Rather than running the game from the xbox 360 version through an XNA translator and coming back out as a regurgitated console port for PC… The PC version of BC2 is its own animal compared to its console cousin. I like the 4 classes and how there are proper ways to use them. The whole ideal that kills don’t make a player and even tactical assists (healing, spotting, repairing) still score you points is great! Should EA and DICE really work hard to keep BC2 tight and clean, this may be the game that upsets Activision’s hold on the PC gaming realm with Modern Warfare 2. I think Hip Hop Gamer’s show (episode here) said it best…
I will say that Alien vs Predator gets an honorable mention, but I will shoot the technicality that you must have some aptitude for the movie realms to love it.
For my official stance on shooters… I do enjoy arcade style “twitch shooters” as well as the tactical side. I will say that the future of shooter games will really depend on how publishers market the games and as well as remix gaming mechanics.
Current Active Shooter Game Cycle: Battlefield: Bad Company 2 beta, Bioshock 2, Call of Duty: World at War, Left 4 Dead 2, Team Fortress 2
By the grace of Jamie, I was presented with Gyromancer a few weeks ago. To her, I thank her for it, because without her… I’d probably still have a bit of a hard time getting the game. =D
Gyromancer as many blogs like Kotaku and Joystiq have posted that the idea of the game started off basically as a joke, but somehow got taken seriously. The polish of the game is something very unique… The combination of both Square-Enix and Pop Cap Games is quite a fusion. The game has simple Pop Cap game mechanics of Bejeweled Twist but the story line of a strong Japanese fantasy RPG as you’d expect from Square-Enix. It’s truly a game that is easy to start, but hard to master.
The basic game play mechanic is to rotate sets of 4 gems clockwise and when you match 3 or more gems vertically or horizontally, you generate power for your monster to cast spells. Once your monsters fill a spell bar with energy, then the monster is able to cast its spells. The caveat is that to empower your beast’s spells, you have to match the gems that are aligned with your beast. If you match gems of the enemy monster, you risk empowering them much more. In addition to this, there are also different monsters you can collect, but if you want to switch monsters… Your old one is considered “erased” in favor of the new monster. Thankfully, monster levels are based off of your character levels. Early in the game, they do not penalize you for “Idle Rotations” where you don’t break gems… However, later on, it becomes much harder as an one poorly thought move can completely botch your game. You do have items that can help turn the tides of war to your favor, but these come by so few and far between.
I’ll spare the details and cut to the chase… If you like puzzle games, Gyromancer may be for you as long as you’re fully aware that there is a challenge element to it. Knowing that the challenge element could enrage you, know you may have to take breather breaks from knowing parts of the game are all purely based on luck. If you’re fine with that, then by all means do get this game! However, if you’re expecting a deep RPG just because you saw the hallowed Square-Enix logo, this is not what you’re looking for…
Gyromancer is currently available on Steam and Microsoft’s XBOX Live Arcade for $14.99 and 1200 Microsoft Points respectively. However… For the 360 version, the challenge maps are an extra 240 Microsoft Points (about $3 – $5) and healing items in-game are purchased for 20 Microsoft Points (about $0.50). I would recommend the PC to avoid being nickle-and-dimed as the challenge maps are included.
Just a quick update before I hit off to class…
I will be having a guest editor making an appearance here. It’s my buddy C0nc3pt from JarretRedding.com and he will be reviewing the Motorola Droid from Verizon. That post should be up soon for those curious on Android phone coverage here. I will leave him to give an introduction if he so wishes, but I will say he’s by far one of my great friends who is also technology minded while embracing my philosophies. I am very glad that he took up my invitation to provide a guest article and it is an honor to have him as my guest here. I hope that my readers will give him a very warm welcome when he posts up on ZeroXR 13mg!
I will be making a review for Square-Enix + Pop Cap Game’s fusion puzzle game Gyromancer later today soon. It won’t be too long, but the version in question will be the PC/Steam one as I don’t have an Xbox 360. I have my girlfriend Jamie to thank for Gyromancer. =D Other than that… Next week you may see me blogging more often as I have a 2 day school week and then it’s Thanksgiving holiday for me. For those of you who do game with me… You won’t see me in game this coming Sunday – Tuesday morning as I will be leaving Byakko (my gaming PC) at my office at my parent’s home. For those of you who do want to keep in touch while I am unavailable to game, do feel free to add me to any IM clients as I will be on my Linux laptop =) I will say that I will miss you all for that short time in games of Team Fortress 2, Left 4 Dead, Left 4 Dead 2, and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.
Keep watching the site today soon for Gyromancer! Those curious of the demonically addictive puzzle game… Please see the following links:
[SPOILER WARNING] If you do not want to know the ending battle to “Dead Center”… DO NOT READ MY REVIEW!
I like many other gamers awaited for Steam to bless us with the arrival of Left 4 Dead 2 at 11pm CST that would be as specified per the Left 4 Dead/Valve blog’s time of “12am Eastern time”. Well… 11pm hit and there was silence… The forums exploded! Stuff like “Where’s my #$%^#%$ game, people?!” and the like were spewed. I then scanned for a topic with news regarding a delay… then I got one. Some users in the Steam Community forums were in the Official L4D2 group saying that Mike Blas made mention in the L4D2 group chat that the game was delayed due to a last second bug that was causing the game to crash so they were trying to fix it before officially letting it out. So the time kept going until 12:10am CST when Mike Blas in the L4D2 chat made the announcement “L4D2 is officially out!” At this time (12:27am), I am currently decrypting the files at 48% and counting until I can get full access to play it… For me, it’s like being 7 again on Christmas day! The suspense is MURDER~!
By 12:40 (after file unlocking and decryption) I would be able to get my game on… I decided to take a leisurely pace on single player Easy mode and grab some pretty screenshots for you all in a nice 1600 x 900 size image to boot, because you all deserve the best! I know my buddy Mobius from Clan Avalanche had requested me to screen capture my first kill with the baseball bat, which I have done, but there’s so much more! Do feel free to give the gallery a gander! The “movie” in question is the “Dead Center” movie.
I will say one thing for sure… If you initially had problems with the demo, like I did, the final copy works PERFECT! I had an odd sound issue where there was a constant buzzing or hissing which is not present on the game. I actually applaud Valve for delaying the game to ensure a smooth release…
With the melee weapons, they are actually pretty fun! If you pre-ordered, the baseball bat is available to you immediately on the “load-out” table. You get your basic selection of gear at load-out… So a melee weapon(s), hand-gun (should you change your mind on melee), secondary weapons (machine pistol/shotgun), and first aid kits. The melee provides a fun element that even books like The Zombie Survival Guide mention “Blades don’t need reloading“. I got to witness this first hand with the katana or as the game characters call it a “ninja sword”. You can hack up swaths of zombies but you have to be careful and time the slashes right or the hordes will claw at you. Of the fun melee weapons, the chain saw is more of a psychotic spree good for the swarms. I will provide the disclaimer that the chainsaw does run out of fuel and if you’re trying to do the achievement of an entire game without using guns… The game will auto drop the empty chainsaw and instead give you a hand gun! As far as the guns go, the selection was pretty good in “Dead Center”! I personally loved the AK-47 and the FN-SCAR for your secondary guns. For primary guns, the option for the semi-automatic Magnum with its excellent stopping power was impressive. It really put the stopping power of the pistol from the original Left 4 Dead game to shame. The weapons can be “modded” so to speak as you can pick up laser sights for sharper accuracy and incendiary ammunition. The balance for the weapons is quite appropriate… Power guns will have killer recoil, but immense power. Your classic grenade items are back, in addition to the Boomer bile! The Boomer Bile being hilarious as when you smash it against a Tank, you not only get the achievement “Septic Tank”, you get to see the ravenous horde devour the tank~!
The enemies are a remix of the old but with some of the newer special infected such as: The Jockey, Spitter, Haz-Mat Zombie, Charger. The newer infected to take a strategy of breaking up your lines. This makes it vital for you and your friends to stick together or you will get pwned! The revision of AI Director 2.0 is rather good! If you dawdle around, the hordes do come out to play! The zombies also are more attentive to the strategy of trying to overrun you by surrounding you when you’re separated or with your comrades to boot. Smarter zombies make for a bit more challenging game play, that is GREAT to have!
However, should you get turned into a zombie silver-screen dinner… Your friends can rescue your corpse provided one of you in the team has a defibrilator! This and the adrenaline pen are new additions to the game… The adrenaline pen is really great for things like rushes to hit a switch, as it gives you a small bump in health and for a short duration, any actions performed (melee, switch activation, etc) are sped up. The addition to the new health items brings about a tactical aspect of gameplay as you have to decide with friends who will be carrying a defibrillator, adrenaline, pills, or first aid kits. This is one challenge I rather like!
The last bit is incorporating aspects of the scavenger mode to the in-game story… At the end of “Dead Center”, you find out that a modded stock car is on a pedestal but it needs gas before you can escape! So you have to find 8 gas cans, fill it up, while battling out the hordes and special infected. I could see stuff like this being hectic fun with good friends online! I will share my tactic… For the gas cans on the second floor… throw them down to the first as it will make life a little easier for you.
I haven’t gotten to try multiplayer campaign, Realism mode, and versus modes yet… But if I get to within the next 48 hours, expect another mini-review! For now… I leave you to enjoy the picture gallery!
If you want my official verdict on this game: 9/10 as the only thing that bothers me is how the AI for the teammates can be rather sluggish. It’s worth the $50 or if you were lucky to pre-order it $45!
This week was the blockbuster release of Modern Warfare 2 for XBOX 360 and PS3 (Tuesday) then Thursday midnight for PC folks via Steam. The game has no doubt made headlines everywhere… From the number of copies sold to even things like the controversial undercover American agent working for the Russian Ultranationalist terrorist killing innocent American civilians in an airport… However, I will admit, the console release is rather good! It does the console features well, for consoles of course… However the PC folks (like me) got ripped off as did the PC player community…
There are threads like this one from the Call of Duty Boards titled: More IW Thievery (Link) If you don’t want to read or see the screens… Here’s the Cliff’s Notes version: IW runs a map-making competition for e-cred for new maps… Apparently community members threw tons of maps, winner announced and e-cred given… Fast-forward to now, community member Zeroy gets MW2 and finds community maps were added and NO credit given to community developers.
Then you have this amazing breakdown I found on Amazon from a guy named Nathan Risto
Here is a break down of the differences between Call of Duty 4 Modern Warfare and Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2. Take notice that almost everything is a downgrade for a higher price.
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
Avg Ping: 25-40ms
Console Commands: Yes
Custom Maps: Yes
Number of Players: up to 64
Competitive Mods: Yes
Mod Tools: Yes
Ability to Record: Yes
Kick/Ban Hackers Immediately: Yes
Profiles Saved Online: No
Manually Select Server to Join: Yes
Control Bad Language: Yes
0 ping Advantage for Host: No
Lan Play: Yes
Free Demo: Yes
Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2
Networking: Peer 2 Peer (downgrade)
Avg Ping: 100ms+ (downgrade)
Console Commands: No (downgrade)
Lean: No (downgrade)
Custom Maps: No (downgrade)
Number of Players: up to 18 (downgrade)
Competitive Mods: No (downgrade)
Mod Tools: No (downgrade)
Ability to Record: No (downgrade)
Kick/Ban Hackers Immediately: No (downgrade)
Profiles Saved Online: Yes
Manually Select Server to Join: No (downgrade)
Control Bad Language: No (downgrade)
0 ping Advantage for Host: Yes (downgrade)
Lan Play: Yes
Free Demo: No (downgrade)
Price: $60 (downgrade)
For me as a PC player and part time server admin… Running my own server is quite fun! I can make a private practice ground for my “n00b” friends to piss around and learn game mechanics… Then there’s stuff like being able to manually boot/ban griefers that some admins like to have, which is very important on family servers when you have clowns yelling stuff like “You %@#$!#$% noob! #$%#ing come back and fight me like the little gay bitch you are!!!” and not understanding some parents do not want their children exposed to coarse language like that on a server. The PC community developer tools are no longer available to users and we basically got a glorified console version port with only the options to play with a keyboard and mouse and resolution tweaks.
I for one am disappointed… I do confess, when I have my “realistic combat” thirst come up Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare hit the spot quick. However, I think the invitation that DICE/EA has offered in the form of Battlefield: Bad Company 2 has enticed me. The prospect of a huge battlefield, epic battles not limited to 9 vs 9, and dedicated servers is enough to have me look at it and probably consider it. The pre-order is plenty enticing to boot: 6 load-out perks and and 3 guns! The PS3 beta is LIVE while the PC beta is due in December… The game won’t be out sadly until March 2nd, 2010, but the footage from the PS3 beta looks really good!
To fill the void… I have Dragon Age Origins and Left 4 Dead 2 for the time being…
Found this little gem via Kotaku, that the big reason Blizzard was killing all the pay-to-use and free-to-use Armory apps for the iPhone and iPod Touch was that they were working on publishing their app for free to the masses!
For you WoW + iPhone/iPod Touch folks… Click this link for the World of Warcraft Mobile Armory to get your copy for FREE!