Archive for June, 2009

New, Used, Abused: Prototype

Posted in New, used, abused on June 18, 2009 by Baggie

Right. 3/4 exams complete, will now attempt to write about something that MATTERS. Hopefully this all makes sense.

Prototype is a game I picked up last weekend. Developed by Radical Entertainment.

It’s a rather simplistic style of game, you’re presented with New York. You are a super-human tentacle monster thing. Due to the minimal plot that’s about all I can reveal without giving massive spoilers.
You have an impressive range of abilities, from incredible aerobatics to incredible feats of strength to the ability to disguise as anyone you’ve ‘consumed’. Think incredible hulk mixed with Hayabusa with a dash of TF2 Spy. And tentacles.

First off I’ll say it’s not a nice game. There an excessive amount of gore, and if you square the amount of gore the fear series had you might be coming close. You gain powers, evolution points (EP, cause XP wasn’t good enough), health and discuses by beating the SHIT out of people and then absorbing them into your tenticle mass. There’s zombie monsters that run around eating people, covered in blood. There’s enormous infections that’s consuming most of the city. There’s corrupt private military organisations.
And for some reason they made it all SERIOUS. Sometime a little more lighthearted would have been nicer, might have intruged the player a little more. All the gore and seriousness made me wonder if everyone in the company has the sense of humor of a wallnut.
I’m wondering if the entire non-seriousness of the game is actually a subtle design choice to appear ironic or something, it’s just confusing to me that they either stumbled upon a good game design entirely by accident or they decided to make fun of the serious game stereotype.

But there’s two sides of the coin. The game is incredibly fun. So much fun that when people play it a crowd forms around them and everyone there laughs maniacally. I saw one guy play for a good 30 minutes using the ‘Body Ride’ power where you jump at a person, grind them into the ground and slide on them for a good distance while it rains blood behind you. It’s so awful, yet somehow it’s just so hilarious.
Maybe we’re just desensitised to blood and gore, I’m not sure if a regular person would find it so funny. But bravo to them for designing for their audience anyway.

The gameplay itself is surprisingly well done as far as the player character systems go. You get EP by doing basically everything, can complete side missions for EP, rain military bases for EP and upgraded weapon abilities, all of which goes towards your character’s powers. You can transform your arms into a good half a dozen weapons, all pretty awesome, and can upgrade them with new abilities and other awesome add ons.

However they screw everything up in a main aspect. While technically the game allows you to choose your own playing style, this gets screwed up by an addition to the game a couple of missions into the storyline where they add machines that can detect you in a certain radius. They then proceed to put them in all vital locations, effectively killing the stealth aspect of the game. So you’re essentially forced to go all out assault. Fine.

THEN they add a pink cloud of death which consistently damages you while you’re in it, and put THAT in practically all storyline missions. Now you’re forced to do hit and run attacks. Then they make the missions much harder and harder until I’ve stopped playing the storyline because the more I progress the worse the game becomes. This is after the initial novelty of the game wears off as well.

On a more personal note I’ve got an issue with the game on my computer that should be noted. It’s running pretty well most of the time, but after particularly hard boss battles they insist on showing some in-game cutscenes. Fine, except the game decides to crash before I can save and then I’ve got to do the boss battles AGAIN. Which means I may be being a little harsh on the difficulty curve as I have to do the hardest missions twice.

I’m pretty intrigued by the moral-system in the game, or rather lack thereof. You can kill anyone you wish, pick up cars off the street and hurl them down the road. The game even encourages this to an extent by giving you targets you can consume for EP, adding to the web of intrigue.
Speaking of which it seems like an interesting plot-development idea, when you consume a target you get their memories. This means you can learn things about the plot, which sounds like something that’d appeal to me greatly.
If it worked. Which it doesn’t for me because they’re pre-rendered movies and the video pauses for minutes at a time so I just skip these. Don’t the developers test their game on anything but high powered machines? I mean my laptop is no slouch and it still fails at these videos.

Anyway, prototype is a fun game, however it could definitely have gone with a lighter tone and better storyline progression. But the gameplay is terrifically open-world. I spent about an hour running up skyscrapers and jumping off the top to see how big a crater I could make. I made a pile of cars and then blew them up. I stalked random civilians in the street, grabbed them, ran up a building and then proceeded to EAT them. So it’s really what you like in a game that determines whether you’ll like Prototype, but it’s certainly not perfect.

Random Rants: Game release pandemonium.

Posted in Random Rants on June 8, 2009 by Baggie

Game developers are always trying to make maximum profit out of a project, it’s how the financial world works. This results in the mass release dates about a month before christmas so appropriate hype can be created when it’s needed and everyone buys it for christmas. While this normally is fair enough because most people are only interested in a couple of titles, this year there seems to be some multi-corporation conspirisy where everyone is releasing sequels to extremely well done games that have had a good thousand extra interesting features put in. All ending in ‘2’.
Bioshock 2

Bioshock was a FPS released back in late 2007. It was based on the System Shock series back in the 90’s, and blended steampunk and biopunk with moral delemas and philisophical questions, as well as having some extremely pretty environments. All at the bottom of the ocean. There were a good hundred tactical plausablilities and was extremely satifying outsmarting your enemies.

Bioshock had these roaming bosses called Big Daddies, which you could kill to get the little girls they protected so you could either save them from their horrible slavery and get a little bit of magic fairy liquid (used to buy new plasmids, which enable you to shoot things out of you hand, such as bees) or kill them to get maximum magic fairy liquid. It was no easy task though, these guys were 2.5 metres tall and either shot rivets and beat the shit out of you, or had an enormous drill for an arm to beat the shit out of you.

In Bioshock 2, you get to PLAY as a Big Daddy. Not just any Big Daddy though, the prototype that was deemed too costly to be plausable to mass produce. This comes back to a point I made earlier that what’s more fun than making the game harder by upgrading the enemies is having the same enemies, just making more of them. So you’ll be stomping around a not-quite abandoned ruined city underwater shooting fire and bees out of your arm and generally killing anyone who decides to attack you. YES.

Oh, and Coop and multiplayer, which I’m cautiously optimistic about.

Assassin’s Creed 2

Assassin’s Creed was released november 2007, and involved you parkour’ing around several different cities in the 11th century, being tasked to Assassinate a couple of templars but in general free to do your own thing as well. You had multiple ways to approach a target, could climb buildings and had a mechanised blade that you could use to do some IMPRESSIVE inhumation. It also had interesting characters and a decent storyline, however the cutscenes that could take upwards of 5 minutes and you couldn’t skip got a little repetative.

In Assassin’s Creed 2 you play as a different chap in 16th century italy, with improved parkour mechanics, combat mechanics, and you have 2 mechanised blades that are also now guns. While not much is known right now if it’s anything like the old game it looks to be quite a good deal of fun.

Mass Effect 2

The first Mass Effect was very nice, you went travelling around the universe blowing up robots and questing to your hearts content. There were several different classes all with fun abilities and had dialogue trees whenever you taked to someone. It was pretty and had an interesting storyline, and the harder difficulties were extremely fun, following the “harder = more enemies” rule. There was an INCREDIBLE amount of content, which is nice but it ends up being more of the same, with the storyline missions being vastly more fun.

Mass Effect 2, is a lot more focused on the story than the original, and has vastly improved combat mechanics where you can blow parts of people off, as well as see them try to crawl away. The characters look better, and it uses your save games from Mass Effect 1 to determine if certain characters are alive, as well as putting into effect the choices you made last game. Again, if it’s like the original it’ll be extremely enjoyable.

Left 4 Dead 2

This one’s an interesting one, suddenly I wake up one morning and valve has created a new game while I wasn’t looking. “Where the hell did that come from?” was my immediate response. Apparently it’s going to release 364 days after the original was released.

At this stage the game looks largely finished, and I’m cautiously optimistic about this game, it has melee weapons and new special infected, as well as new characters and new campaigns. I’m a bit concerned this idea is half baked though, for one it’s set in daytime now, which is a bit of a risky change. The special infected from the last game are kind of conspiuous at this stage,the incendry ammo seems cool but means the tank is now even MORE useless than before, the melee weapons are kind of overpowered, and while it’s not a finished product it seems lacking something the original one had.

It’s created a bit of a stir with customers though, there’s even a sizable movement to stop L4D 2 and have it released as DLC for the original, which confuses me to buggery, they still need to make a profit and it’s a lot of content to just give away for free. I think it’ll probably be fun, though I don’t know if I’ll preorder it as I did the last one.

The issue is, most gamers and a sizable amount of people that aren’t know about the quality of these original games, and practically everyone I know who plays games regularly has played these games. So how is it any kind of fair they release all these games within the same month? I mean I want all of them, but can’t really justify buying them ALL at the same time!
Market forces make me cry sometimes.

(Fun fact: Curiously 3 of these games were released in 2007, so apparently 2009 is the new 2007.)