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Monday, November 15, 2010

I had a chance to play the Playstation Move

Yesterday I was inside a Fry's Electronics and they had a PS Move set up to try out. I figured it was a good of time as any to try it. They only had the "wand" part out and no controller attachment to use. I had to do the calibration which I felt worked really well and was very easy to do and I was ready to play. The game they had to try was the Move Sports Demo with only a few events unlocked to play. I decided to go with the already loaded table tennis.

I was able to play one full game. The control of the paddle with the wand felt nice but to me it didn't feel any different than the Wiimote and suffers from the same problems the Wiimote has had the entire thing has been out.

The game itself looks nice but I can't shake the feeling this is just a HD Wii Sports. My biggest issue with it was the AI woman you play against. She kind of cheats and then just rubs it in your face with her stupid little cheer when she scores. The whole time I was playing I was wishing it had a button to throw the paddle at her for being a jerk.

Here's where I had my biggest problem, while I was playing this random guy walked up to me, pouring sweat and basically told me I was doing it wrong and I should try an easier game. After that I decided I had had enough of Move and put the wand down, never to be touched again. It wasn't really hot in the store and it was really nice outside so I don't have any idea what he was doing to work up this amount of sweat. He wasn't just sweaty but it was just pouring off of him. It was really strange but whatever.

In the end I think Move works for what it's suppose to be. The paddle moved with my movements on screen and the tracking was great. But it doesn't change my opinion on motion control in general and I really think it's come out way to late to get on the motion craze, the craze I think is kind of dying and being replaced by the 3D craze.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Cryostasis: Sleep of Reason - The Ice Cold Review

Over the last couple days I decided to finally finish Cryostasis. Cryostasis is a horror FPS game that was released for the PC in May of last year. I picked it up during a Steam sale late last year after hearing a lot about it on other sites. Developed by Action Forms and published by 1C Company, this is one of the best horror games I have ever played.

Basically, Cryostasis is a first person shooter, you play as Alexander Nesterov a Russian meteorologist, who comes across the nuclear icebreaker North Wind while dog sledding in the north pole. After some events you end up aboard the ship and start to explore it. The crew is dead and in there place you find some crazy people who are out for blood.

The action in Cryostasis is a very slow paced game. You do not move extremely fast, even the sprint you can do isn't the fastest run I've ever seen. With the game taking place in the north pole your character is bundled in heavy winter gear which explains the slow pace.

The combat is interesting also. You get a combo of melee and firearms. The melee weapons work well enough but you eventually get your hands on a gun. The shooting feels really good but it like the moving is slow paced. Reloading in particular can be excruciatingly slow, but it ads to the tension when you have some monster running at you, it's so much fun. The game is set in 1981 but the guns all come from the WW2 era, like the Mosen and PPsh-1 but they're all fun to shoot. One thing to note is the game does a great job of making sure you have ammo. I never had an issue with running out of ammo. I remember having one time I was down to one clip for one rifle but I never had to go back to melee after finding my first gun. I like that balance. When a survival horror game or any FPS in general has a ton of ammo management it can take away from the experience but Cryostasis nails it perfectly.

Cryostasis has a very interesting visual style. Taking place in the cold, Cryostasis actually feels like a cold game. When the snow is blowing and the screen starts to ice up you feel like you're in the game. The way the ice clings to the walls and frosts up the weapons is amazing but all this comes at a price. Cryostasis is a real resource hog. To run it at max you'll need a pretty beefy machine, but it's really worth it. This was also the first game to use the Nvidia PhysX graphics features and it adds a lot of graphical effects to the game but also comes at a performance cost. The one thing that really stood out for me was when you're outside the boat, the blinding nature of the snow is unreal, clingy to life as you watch your health slowly run down.

Health in the game is handled in a different way. In this game heat equals health. As you explore the game you can find heat sources, be it a lamp or something on fire. You have to walk up to the heat and warm yourself to gain health. There are areas that are exposed to the extreme cold and you will slowly lose health until you get back to the "safety" of the inside.

Cryostasis is a scary game. I don't tend to really jump at horror movies but games are another story and this one is at the top of this heap. I had started playing this last year but after one part in particular I jumped so bad I had to quit. Like many horror games though once you learn it's tricks it's easy to see the scares coming but with Cryostasis even when the jumps gone it's still a creepy game. I'd have to put this one up there with the first Condemned as being the scariest game I've played.

But the scariest thing of all in this game are the bugs. I've heard that unpatched when you get to level 12 you can get stuck in a no clip mode and just fall out of the level. They did fix that and I never saw it in my play through, I did see other issues though. These were mainly in the form of crashes. I didn't have a single crash until the aforementioned level 12. It crashed once in level 12, then in level 13 the game would constantly crash. I kept playing, and in the levels 13, 14, and 15 I must of crashed about 30 times. It would happen maybe every 5 to 10 minutes give or take a few minutes. I did some research and didn't find the exact solution to my problem but some other tips helped me out. I verified my files on Steam and it found one that was broken, redownloaded it and all that stuff. I heard it was the patch that was redownloaded but I'm not certain on that. I also turned my Shader to 4.0 which is what the game calls DirectX 10. I took a frame rate hit, not much but it was noticeable. In the end it stopped the crashing and I was able to finish the game level 15 on, without a single crash. I have to take a point or so away due to the crashes being there to begin with but the game's story is so interesting I would of tried my best to finish it with the crashes going on.

In the end Cryostasis is a great game, I really enjoyed my time with it. The setting is unique and the story is extremely interesting. You can get this game on Steam for 12.99 at the time of this writing and I highly recommend it if you have the PC to run it.

Cryostasis: The Sleep of Reason - 8 out of 10

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Co-Op, I think we need more of it!

When most people think of online gaming they tend to think of the competitive side of it. Team Deathmatching it up in games like Halo and Call of Duty. I like many other people do enjoy the competitive side of multiplayer but in the end I really do prefer a online Co-Op experience. I've spent many, many hours playing COD4 and Team Fortress 2 online, Halo 2 sucked up a good chunk of time when it came out for the first Xbox. It even goes back to playing Quake over my 56k modem watching it chug under lag trying to play.

Like I said above though, I usually prefer a co-op experience over the competitive side of gaming. That goes back to games like Contra, Bill and Lance side by side fighting the alien invasion, Smash TV, Ikari Warriors all kinds of classic co-op goodness. We had those type of games for awhile then it seemed to kind of vanish in favor of the competitive games, I really started to notice it when the consoles went online. Online deathmatch just seemed to take over everything and a lot of people thought co-op was dead but we did see a resurgence.

Games like Gears of War, Left 4 Dead, even Halo has it. It feels so fantastic to be able to play through a game with a friend or even a random guy from online it's still a blast. But sadly, some games that I think really needed to have some kind of co-op in them did not have the feature.

Call of Duty 4 with all the awesome online multiplayer did not have a co-op mode. I think it could of been a better game with co-op. Infinity Ward had said they thought co-op would of ruined the experience but most of the time you're with a bunch of AI teammates which could of easily been replaced with some real players. Story line wise and with the way some of the levels are built you can still make the argument for not having co-op but it should of still been there. World at War had co-op in it and it was a lot of fun to play and didn't really take anything away from the game to play with three other people.

STALKER one of my all time favorite games ever but missing co-op play. Now Shadow of Chernobyl is a story based game, you're a central character doing your thing in the Zone but I have an idea. How about a co-op free roam mode? You can get into the game area and play with some friends but just explore the Zone, taking down Bandit camps with your buddies planning and being successful in your raids. STALKER has the competitive multiplayer which I've never played and I've never heard of anyone even playing it so why waste the time with it? You'd probably have more success with a co-op mode in this series.

And the big game, the one that made me want to write this article, that game is Far Cry 2. One of the core mechanics of Far Cry 2 is the buddy system. You have a buddy that will come and save you from combat if you lose all your health. They blast in guns blazing and pull you out of the fire. How amazing would it be if this was a real person? You could have a lot of people playing this game at the same time. The map is gigantic and without the loading screens it could be super immersive. The key point in Far Cry 2 that made me want co-op were the boats. You can ride these little fan boats around and they have two seats. One to drive and a gunner post. As I was riding down the river all I could think of is someone should be on that gun watching out as I drove but alas, it wasn't meant to be. If they make a Far Cry 3 and it follows the path of Far Cry 2 then it absolutely needs to have co-op.