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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Maximum Review! Crysis and Crysis: Warhead

Crysis the system killer, the game that's suppose to bring a PC to it's knees. Even today four years after the game was released people still want a PC that can run Crysis at max settings. Recently I played through Crysis for the second time and I played Warhead for the first time yesterday.

Crysis is the story of Raptor team. They're sent to this island to investigate the Koreans who have some bad stuff going on. They've uncovered a relic and they're completely unaware of what they have in their possession. You play as part of Raptor team either Nomad (Crysis) or Psycho (Warhead) and you experience the same story from both of their perspectives. I really liked the way this was handled. There is a certain part in Crysis where Nomad and Psycho split up and this is where Warhead picks up. Both games reference each other with Warhead really bringing the Crysis references as you play through it. As far as the story goes though it's not something we haven't seen before. The military is sent to fight another military and then crap goes south when all of a sudden aliens!

Crysis is a FPS game, you run and gun your way through the jungle fighting your way to the end. This is where Crysis is probably at it's weakest as it's a basic FPS game, it doesn't really bring anything new to the table as far as gameplay. If you've played a PC FPS you've probably played a game like Crysis. The gimmick in Crysis is the Nanosuit which allows you to do some really cool things. You have the basic armor upgrade which is just like armor in any other game. You also get access to super speed which lets you run fast. You can cloak like the Predator which does add something to the gameplay. Cloaking and hiding from the enemy only to sneak up on them for a surprise attack is really cool. Lastly we have the super strength which is interesting. Not only does this give you the power to jump really high it also helps with your aiming. Putting on super strength helps with the weapon sway and reduces the recoil from your guns. I really like the way the strength was implemented in this and for anyone who likes to snipe it's extremely useful.

I don't want anyone to take me saying Crysis is just another FPS to take that to mean it's a bad game because it's far from that. Crysis is at it's core a really fun game, an extremely fun game. The thing I love about the whole thing is the feel of it. The way your character moves and handles his gun is just really nice. The weapon sway as you aim and shoot the little details like your iron sites becoming misaligned as you strafe is a great affect. Crysis unlike many FPS games models the whole character so you can look down and see your feet and legs, it just adds to the immersion.

You can't mention Crysis or Warhead without mentioning the graphics. Both games look amazing. They are both to me still the best looking games out right now. The jungles look amazing but the real star of this show are the snow levels. As I was playing Crysis I was in awe of the snow levels, especially the first one you're in it just looks so good. You do still need a decent machine to play these games at the max settings. While that doesn't mean what it use to meaning you can have a pretty hefty machine at a good price, you still need a good PC. One thing I heard about Warhead when it came out was how it ran better then Crysis but for this this wasn't the case. I had Warhead set up the same way as Crysis and for me it ran worse, with a lot of stuttering and hitching up. Your mileage may vary with this.

The differences between Crysis and Warhead aren't that varied. You get more weapons in Warhead but most of them weren't that useful to me. You have access to mines and claymores but I didn't use either of them my whole time through Warhead. One thing about both games I couldn't stand was how the default weapon was handled. You're given a version of the Scar and it's actually a good gun but the ammo is extremely limited, especially in Crysis. Once you run out of Scar ammo in Crysis you are forced to switch to the KPA assault weapon and I only remember one time where you get access to another Scar but by then you have so much KPA rifle ammo you won't want to swtich. Warhead gives you more Scar ammo to find but it's still to far and between to make much of a difference. It's like all those WW2 games where you're forced to use the German guns. To me it's not as much fun to use the same guns the enemies use all the time but it doesn't really break the game or anything.

Back to the story for a moment Warhead tries to be different than Crysis. While Crysis is a pretty straight forward war story with aliens Warhead also does this but they try to get inside the character of Psycho. We're given some back story and some characters from his past to bring us deeper into his world. None of this was hinted at in the first game so now all of a sudden Crytek is expanding on a secondary character from the first game. It didn't make a lot of sense to me. They try to portray Psycho as a emotionally damaged soldier but it just doesn't work. I don't know how I would of handled it but the way it's presented is just weak. I can sum Psycho up in three words, he is British.

Crysis is awesome. It looks great has great combat and some really cool set pieces. Warhead is good but what Crytek tried to do with it for me hurt the game. trying to flesh out a character in an expansion when the first game didn't have anything like that just feels out of place. Maybe if the first game had gone into the past of Nomad or something, I don't know. You should play Crysis and if you love it then check out Warhead to get more of the story. If you play Crysis and you only liked it or are indifferent then pass Warhead by.

Crysis - 9 out of 10

Crysis: Warhead 6 out of 10

We Dare - What the hell?!?

We Dare for the Wii is apparently a game where people get together and put the Wiimote is their pants then spank each other. Uh yeah, good luck getting four people together to play the Wii. I'm also going to go out on a limb and say the Wiimote condom finally makes sense.

Just watch the trailer...

And I'm calling it right now, this game is fake as hell.

ARES!!! God of War 3 - the review

So finally I had my chance to play God of War 3. I had put it off and put it off but I was able to get my hands of it and blew through the game in a couple days. I'm a gigantic fan of the whole series, absolutely in love with everything that's come out so far. So how does Kratos' first Playstation 3 outing hold up on my judgment? Read on and find out!

God of War 3 finds Kratos right where God of War 2 left him. Riding on the Titan Gaia as she climbs Mount Olympus with the rest of the Titans to finally end Zeus' reign and destroy the Gods once and for all.

GOW3 like all the other games in the series before it is an action hack and slash type of game. You control Kratos and move him from area to area leaving a trail of dead bodies in his wake.

First off the graphics are just simply amazing. Everything is the world of Kratos is so detailed. From the basic mountain side to a whole horizon filled with war you can make out all the smallest details. I'd have to say this is in the running as the absolute best looking game on the PS3 with Killzone 2 and Uncharted 2. It takes these PS3 exclusive game to truly show off the power the console has, it's just stunning. I do have one issue with the look of the game. In most games when you can interact with something or it's a place you can climb it looks a little different from the rest of the world, this isn't the case in GOW3. The game just looks so good it's hard to make out places to climb or a part in the wall you can just barely slide through.

The controls as always are very tight. Kratos responds very fast and it is extremely easy to get him to do what you want him to. In this action genre I've always felt the GOW games have the tightest controls and in part three it is still the case. Some mechanics have been changed and it's probably up to everyone to figure out if it's a good thing or not. First off they added in an ranged grapple. You can now grab enemies from a great distance which either has Kratos pull them to him or pull himself to them. I really like this addition,as I am a very aerial player in GOW it helps keep him in the air and still engage new monsters. They have also given Kratos a new set of abilities, in the form of "items." Through out the game you'll find these items like a bow and arrow. These are used with the L2 button and one of the face buttons. You also have a new meter with these that runs out as you attack with whatever it is you're using. With this addition the use of magic is also changed. It use to be the magic was selected with the D-pad and the L2 button used the magic. Now all the the magic is handled with the R2 button and one spell is assigned to a weapon.

You select the various weapons with the D-pad like you did the magic before. One thing I've always noticed in GOW game are the Blades are the best weapon. They're the most fun to use and the most useful. I'm guessing the makers of this game thought the same thing as three out of the four weapons you get are all like the Blades. This makes them all more fun to use but the standard blades are still the best. You use to be able to play through a whole GOW game just using the Blades but you can't do this in GOW3. Some of the functionality of the Blades have been taken away and given to the other weapons. The most notable is the ability to break an enemy's shield. No longer does , square, square, triangle break shields, you must use another weapon. Something cool with this is the real time weapons switching. You can be in the middle of a combo and hit the d-pad to switch it up and then just keep going. I think it works really well and it's nice to be able to switch so fast.

Something I would of liked to see put into this game were the PSP style GOW controls. Using the shoulder buttons to toggle the analog nub to a dodge to me was brilliant. Once I did that it made using the right stick to dodge a real chore. I did end up using the dodge a lot more in this game than the others though. As GOW3 is overall a harder game than it's predecessors. It's not insane hard or anything like that it's just a tougher game. I guessing it just assumes you've played the other games in the series and you should know what's up but some of this challenge is a little tacked on. The basic checkpointing in this is a little busted at times. In a few places you'll solve a puzzle only to miss a jump and die or fight a monster and die. Instead of starting back up past the puzzle you have to redo the whole thing. This is really annoying to me, it's just padding the difficulty to me putting frustration where there shouldn't be any. Another gripe are the unskippable cutscenes. Many, many times in this game you'll get a cutscene before a boss or get one during a boss fight as it moves to the next stage of said fight. If you die you have to watch the scene again, it's usually only a few seconds but it really gets tiresome to have to see these over and over again.

The GOW series is something known for it's massive boss fights and GOW 3 is no exception. Some of the bosses you fight are gigantic and this game has two such fights that are two of the best the entire series has. The rest of them though, they go between just okay to down right annoying. Most of the bosses are just a pain to fight and aren't any fun at all. It's not always clear how to damage them and even when you're doing damage you can't tell. For me it really drug the game down and it was sad to see the end of the "trilogy" have so many weak boss entries in it.

This is probably the most violent game I've every played. Kratos rips people apart, disembowels things and just goes on being as ultra-violent as he can be. It's really cool to finish up with a group of monsters and see Kratos standing there covered in blood.

So finally the one thing I want to mention without giving anything away is the story. For the most part anyone who's played GOW 1 and 2 will know what's up but I really did not like the ending. Just the way they try to explain what happened in the series was really weak and I felt as though it took a complete turn from the feel of the past games. This may not be the way you feel but I just wanted to share my thought.

God of War 3 is a good game, it plays well and it is a lot of fun except for most of the boss fights. For what is suppose to be the end of the series (Yeah right) I think it went out on a low note. For me God of War 2 is the pinnacle of the series and as of right now it's safe in that spot.

God of War 3 - 7 out of 10

Monday, February 21, 2011

25 Years of The Legend of Zelda!

So today (It's still the 21st as I write this) marks the 25th anniversary of the release of The Legend of Zelda. It made it's debut on the Japanese only Famicom Disk System then in 1987 it came to the US on the NES. Since then we've all helped a young swordsman named Link save a princess named Zelda from the thief Ganon.

I remember when I got my NES and along with it were two games (Well four if you count Gyromite and Duck Hunt) Super Mario Bros and The Legend of Zelda. SMB I had played before in the arcade and on a friend's NES. LOZ on the other hand was something completely new to me. I didn't really have any experience with RPGs at that point so playing Zelda for the first time I was blown away by the massive scale this game had. Pretty much the whole world is available to you from the start of the game and you're free to explore and find your way in the land of Hyrule. Wooden Sword in hand you guide Link out into the wilds to fight Octoroks and Moblins. I was in awe of everything this game had.

Legend of Zelda was also a game I struggled with for some time, it actually holds my record for taking the longest time to beat. A little bit into the game I became hopelessly stuck unable to locate the raft and get to the fourth dungeon. I knew the raft was in the third dungeon but for some reason I couldn't find it. Eventually after about a year of playing it on and off I finally found the item I so desperately needed! As anyone who's played this knows Darknuts are some of the worst enemies in the game and in the third dungeon they are everywhere. Well there is a room that is completely filled with these monstrous knights and past that room is where the raft waited for me. I was still really young when I played this in 1987 but I'll admit I felt dumb when I found the raft. I was just avoiding the Darknut room not wanting to fight them and eventually I decided it was the thing to do and BAM, RAFT! After that I sailed right through the rest of the game in a couple days. The one thing though through all of that searching was that the game was still really fun.

After I killed Ganon I was surprised to find a whole second quest ahead of me! I immediately jumped back into the game and did it all over again. This time nothing stood in my way and I plowed my way to Ganon a second time. This game also has one of the first secrets in a game I ever found on my own. If you take a empty save file and name it Zelda you start on the second quest. My sister had wanted to play so I gave her a slot named Zelda as I was Link to only discover the game was different. I don't remember how I found out it was the second quest but I did and I really happy with myself for finding this out on my own.

Since the first Legend of Zelda we've been given plenty of sequels on all manner of platforms but this is also part of the series weakness. Every Zelda gave is really the exact same game, especially story wise. I guess it works but I would of liked to see the story evolve into more not just become rehash after rehash. There are a few entries in the series that deviate from this mold but they are few and far between.

Over the years I've had a lot of fun with the Zelda series and I look back on all those games fondly. The original introduced me to a completely different type of game that I had never played before and it remains to this day one of the best games ever made for any platform.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

60 Dollar PC games

For the current generation of consoles the games on the 360 and PS3 have been 60 bucks. For the first part of this generation their PC counterparts have been 50 sometimes 40 bucks. We PC gamers were happy to be getting the better looking, sometimes mod-able versions of these games at a better rate.

In 2009 this was about to change. Activision thinking everyone wants to pay more for games decided to release the PC version of Modern Warfare 2 at a 60 dollar "premium" and lots of PC gamers were sad but they still bought it. Then EA decided to follow this up with a 60 dollar Medal of Honor which some people bought but not as many as Modern Warfare 2. These two games alone were proof enough for EA and Activision that PC people will pay 60 dollars for a game.

In the last few months we've seen Black Ops, Dead Space 2, Bulletstorm and Crysis 2 at this 60 dollar price. It's getting a little crazy. I know these companies sell these games to make money but some companies do the right thing and keep these PC games at a reasonable price. Capcom is one of these companies. They've released some of their big name titles on the PC for 40 bucks, Dead Rising 2 and Lost Planet 2 are two games that come to mind.

Recently I've decided that some of these games especially the PC version don't need to be bought the day they come out. I have a crazy backlog and will be busy for awhile. The solution to this is to simply wait for Steam to have a crazy sale and get these 60 dollar games for 30 or less. I love Steam!

Red Faction: Armageddon losing the open world of Guerrilla. (Some thoughts on sandbox games)

When I played the demo for Red Faction: Guerrilla I was blown away. I absolutely loved everything about what they showed us in it. The destruction was on the top of my list as being one of the coolest things in a game ever and then there was the world. From the demo I thought Guerrilla was not so much an open world type game but something like the first Far Cry or Crysis. In those games it wasn't so much an open world as it was larger levels that gave you some amount of freedom to go through as you wished but still kept you contained. When I picked up Guerrilla and put it in the 360 I was completely shocked to see it was a sandbox open world game like the GTA series. In the end I thought it really hurt the game to have the open world aspect but that was one of a few flaws this game had.

Reading this past week that the follow up to Guerrilla, Red Faction: Armageddon will not be an open world game. This time around it will follow a linear path. There will still be destruction but this time the developers are going to try and guide you to it and with the enclosed environments they will be able to set up huge set piece demolition moments for us to hopefully enjoy.

Some people may not like the game going linear but for me it's a welcome improvement. I think the whole sandbox open world thing is kind of in a rut. Aside from the FPS games I think it's one of the most saturated genres in gaming right now. Everything needs to be open world! If it doesn't have 500 miles to explore it's crap! I really think the open world games need to be closed up some and the genre needs a retooling. After GTA4's ridiculous use of this mechanic it doesn't even look like Rockstar knows what to do with these anymore. I haven't played Red Dead Redemption yet and it has a ton of positive reviews and word of mouth but I don't know about it yet. Remember GTA4 was the second coming when it was released and about six months after that everyone started crapping on it for the crap game it was.

Though some games get the open world thing right and it's funny but they're mostly FPS games. Two that come to mind immediately are Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl and FarCry 2. Both of those games are fantastic examples or how to do open world right.

When Metro 2033 came out I know it received some crap for not being open world. I was so happy to play a new game that kept a linear path. It told a story and you had to follow it until the end. You could vary your path a little bit but for the most part you followed a path. And I hope we see more games like this that buck the trend and stay linear.

Open world games have a place in gaming and that genre has had some amazing games but it's becoming a little stale. Someone needs to come along and re-energize the world of well, open world.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Guinness World Records Gamer's Edition - Top 50 Video Game Characters of ALL TIME!

I didn't know this voting was going on but the Guinness people put out a top 50 list for video game characters. The voting was handled by the internet fans who went to the site and well, voted. The list which is below is actually pretty varied more varied then I thought it was going to be. I do have a problem with a couple of the characters listed. Goku and Naruto are not what I would call "gaming" characters. They come from anime and have games based on that medium. In doing a top 50 characters in gaming I would think all the entries should be characters that came from games. I guess you could call that a nitpick but that's how I feel about it. \

Though I am super psyched to see Larry Laffer on there. Leisure Suit Larry, 1, 2, 3, 5, 6 and 7 are great classic adventure games. Those newer Al Lowe-less "Larry" game are evil crap and tarnish the good name of that wonderful series.

1. Mario (Donkey Kong, Nintendo, 1981)
2. Link (The Legend of Zelda, Nintendo, 1986)
3. Master Chief (Halo: Combat Evolved, Microsoft, 2001)
4. Solid Snake (Metal Gear, Konami, 1987)
5. Cloud Strife (Final Fantasy VII, Square, 1997)
6. PAC-Man (PAC-Man, Namco, 1980)
7. Lara Croft (Tomb Raider, Eidos 1996)
8. Gordon Freeman (Half-Life, Valve, 1998)
9. Kratos (God of War, Sony, 2005)
10. Sonic (Sonic the Hedgehog, Sega, 1990)
11. Crash (Crash Bandicoot, Sony, 1996)
12. "Soap" MacTavish (Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Activision, 2007)
13. Nico Bellic (Grand Theft Auto IV, Rockstar, 2008)
14. Samus Aran (Metroid, Nintendo 1986)
15. Ratchet (Ratchet & Clank, Sony, 2002)
16. Nathan Drake (Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, Sony, 2007)
17. Captain Price (Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Activision, 2007)
18. Kirby (Kirby's Dream Land, Nintendo, 1992)
19. Marcus Fenix (Gears of War, Microsoft, 2006)
20. Pikachu (Pokemon Red/Green, Nintendo 1996)
21. Yoshi (Super Mario World, Nintendo, 1990)
22. "CJ" Johnson (Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Rockstar, 2004)
23. Mega Man (Mega Man, Capcom, 1987)
24. Sam Fisher (Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell, Ubisoft, 2002)
25. Shadow (Sonic Adventure 2, Sega, 2001)
26. Jak (Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy, Sony, 2001)
27. Duke Nukem (Duke Nukem, Apogee, 1991)
28. Dante (Devil May Cry, Bandai, 2003)
29. Naruto (Naruto: Konoha Ninpoch, Bandai, 2003)
30. Altair (Assassin's Creed, Ubisoft, 2007)
31. Zelda (The Legend of Zelda, Nintendo, 1986)
32. Sephiroth (Final Fantasy VII, Square, 1997)
33. Donkey Kong (Donkey Kong, Nintendo, 1981)
34. The Prince (Prince of Persia, Broderbund, 1989)
35. Ezio (Assassin's Creed II, Ubisoft, 2009)
36. Leon S (Biohazard/ Resident Evil, Capcom, 1996)
37. Ash Ketchum (Pokemon Red/Green, Nintendo, 1996)
38. Guybrush Threepwood (The Secret of Monkey Island, LucasArts, 1990)
39. Spyro (Spyro the Dragon, Universal, 1998)
40. "Ghost" Riley (Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II, Activision, 2009)
41. Goku (Dragon Daihikyoe, Epoch, 1987)
42. Max Payne (Max Payne, Rockstar, 2001)
43. Jill Valentine (Biohazard/ Resident Evil, Capcom, 1996)
44. Princess Peach (Super Mario Bros., Nintendo, 1985)
45. Larry Laffer (Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards, Sierra, 1987)
46. Augustus Cole (Gears of War, Microsoft, 2006)
47. Bowser (Super Mario Bros., Nintendo, 1985)
48. Eddie Riggs (Brutal Legend, EA, 2009)
49. Ryu (Street Fighter, Capcom, 1987)
50. Sackboy (LIttleBigPlanet, Sony, 2008)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

So the Battlefield 3 reveal was leaked and so was the DLC?!? (A DLC rant)

We all knew Battlefield 3 was coming. It was inevitable that DICE was going to follow up it's extremely popular Battlefield 2 with a proper Battlefield game. Bad Company 1 and 2 were okay but they were console Battlefield games not the type we were use to on the PC.

But that besides the point while BF3 was announced/leaked another part of the game was leaked also. That would be the DLC, yeah that's right the game isn't even "Officially" announced and we already know about the DLC coming out for it. It appears to be a reworking of some classic Battlefield maps that you can get for free if you pay the extra money and get the special edition of the game. Or you can just get the normal version and pay extra down the line for these maps.

This DLC stuff is getting out of hand. It isn't uncommon for many games now to have day one DLC and most times you need to pay for it. So you have to lay down 60 bucks for a game and then another 5-10 bucks for the release day DLC if you want to be on par with the other players. Why don't the companies just start adding in this stuff and just do what they all want to and charge more for the game?

Remember when the NES came out and some of those games could be super expensive? Some SNES and Genesis games where 80-90 dollars. Then the CD format became standard with the PS1 and Saturn and those games could be 30-40 dollars, especially the games from Sony themselves. Now we're at 60 or 70 depending on if you need the special edition of a certain game. What will it be like next generation? Will all games be 70 bucks, maybe 80?

While I think the game companies are to blame for just being in general a little greedy, we the gamer are to blame too. Rushing out to pay the initial 60 bucks then paying for every little bit of DLC just let's the companies know we'll pay for it. If we just took a step back and didn't buy every set of horse armor or dog breed that we're offered maybe said companies will take a step back and think before they hold stuff back from the game disc and try to sell it to us later on. How many times have you paid for a DLC package and the download is only a few kilobytes, just an unlock for "DLC" that's already on the disc? How can they get away with this crap?

EA is getting really good with the DLC thing. I remember reading a April fools thing in Game Informer a couple years ago and they were joking that EA was going to start making the air from the footballs in Madden DLC but I don't think we're far off from that. Activision is to blame too with their 15 dollar map pack crap. Modern Warfare 2 was the first to have this ridiculous price for maps and 2 of them were old maps from COD4! Why do people pay this? It boggles my mind!

I'm not innocent in this, I've bought DLC before, I've bought DLC I never played. After I bought the first add-on for Red Faction: Guerrilla and never got around to actually playing it I realized what an utter waste buying that stuff was. Since then I haven't bought any DLC, no add-ons, no map packs, nothing. I am one hundred percent against the practice and I will NEVER buy any of this crap again. Anyone reading this should follow suit and do the same. Show the big game companies that we won't pay for stuff that should be included in the main game and maybe they'll go back to actually giving us what our 60 bucks should pay for in the first place.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Dark Souls

Today the follow up to From Software's Demon's Souls was given a real name and a release time frame. The game now known as Dark Souls will be coming to the PS3 and Xbox 360 late this year. As Demon's Souls is one of my all time favorite games ever I am so psyched for this to come out.

From what they're saying this is not so much a sequel to Demon's Souls as it's inspired by the former game. I believe since Sony had it's hand in publishing Demon's Souls they couldn't make a Demon's Souls 2 and have it go to both platforms so they did a name change. I like that they're doing it this way as I firmly believe Demon's Souls did not need a direct sequel.

While Demon's Souls had a hub world Dark Souls will not. The whole world will be connected. They're saying that everything you can see you will eventually be able to get too. So let's say you see a castle in the distance you will eventually be in that castle, that sounds really cool.

The other big change is the way your character is made. When you create your character you do not pick a class like in Demon's Souls. You're given more freedom on building your character. I really, really like this. In Demon's Souls you picked a class and eventually that class could do anything the others could do so starting with more of a blank slate is perfect for this type of game. I would love to see more RPG games take this route and not shoehorn you into what they think your should do.

Here's the trailer released today and it looks amazing. The art style and atmosphere in this game is like Demon's Souls but to me it looks like a bleaker, darker world. I cannot wait to play this.