Archive for August, 2009

Random Rant: You’re doing it wrong

Posted in Random Rants on August 31, 2009 by Baggie

Don’t get me wrong, I love developers. They make shiny new toys for us to play with, without them we’d not have the gaming scene we see today.

However there’s a small problem in that they always do something not quite right. Whether it be a lack of multiplayer or a lack of depth, there’s usually something they could have changed that would turn the game from good into some sort of super game that people would still be playing consistently for many years to come.

While these flaws are by no means gaps in evil villan plans that could have been spotted by a 3 year old child, they are things that, while maybe not so obvious to the developer, are pretty obvious to people who actually play the game.

Therefore I present so problems that prevented games from being truely great.

Mirrors Edge

Mirrors Edge is one of my favorite games. It combines high movement control with interesting environments, and some really fun gameplay. Unfortunately they had the idea to not use the awesome backstory of the game to it’s full potential, where super athletes ran around rooftops and delivered messages to people trying to bring the evil government down.

Instead focus on it’s downfall. It’s like they decided to build this terrific world with a realistic ecosystem and all that good stuff, only to destroy it and show you the ashes. My favorite mission in the entire game is the second last one, where you’re going through this nearly abbandoned building a lot of the time, free in a construction site to play on the scaffolding. Somehow they can’t grasp that people can have fun WITHOUT being shot at.

What they could have done instead is taken it one step back, made it about what came before everything went to bollocks. Have a open world game that you run around in, delivering documents and getting in trouble with the police. I guess I’m describing a fusion between current mirrors edge and GTA, but dammit, it would be AWESOME. Throw in multiplayer and Co-op and instant Game of the Year status.

Farcry 2

Farcry 2 had this big open world to explore. I can respect that, and an African environment would be a very interesting place to explore. But the game doesn’t let you. The game instead breaks up the peaceful bliss of exploration with “THERE’S GUYS OVER THERE SHOOTING AT YOU” every 12 seconds. I don’t mind combat, but let us take a BREAK every now and then. Please? I mean even if you manage to avoid the clone-producing outposts you get the enemy comming to YOU. Who thought that constant combat throughout the entire game was a good idea?

What would have been better is a little less checkpoints, and the faction you keep doing missions for? Maybe you could make THEM you allies? What would be so wrong with that? You do it right and you end up having half the map where you can explore to your hearts content. Maybe even encourage people to replay the game to see the other side without constant gunfire ruining your body.

Fallout 3, Oblivion, a lot more open world games

There’s this problem with open world games, where you can choose a profession, travel around doing quests, joining guilds etc, that you have this one constant storyline that is central to everything you do. Why, after all the freedom you give us, do you randomly decide that you need to plonk inĀ  a linear storyline? The entire point is that you make your own experience. While I’ve got nothing against linear storylines in a, I don’t know, linear story line game, the point of having one in a open world is kind of pointless.

The answer is quite simple, don’t put one in. I don’t want to find my father, close the gates to oblivion, etc.

Instead concentrate on the world you’re creating, make it more detailed, make a few more kilometres of open land, make another city, give the player more options for their character. Ultimately they’ll enjoy these additions far more than a campaign they’ll only play once.

In conclusion

Very briefly, you don’t need to be shot at all the time to have fun, and you don’t need elements in your game that don’t make sense to the grand style of your game. Always make sure that the game you are making is as much fun as humanly possible to yourselves and others.

New, Used, Abused: Farcry 2

Posted in New, used, abused with tags , on August 11, 2009 by Baggie

Foreward: When I bought this game at the GAME store in Bathurst, they gave me a copy of the Fortune’s Pack DLC for free, which gave me new vehicles and weapons (as well as Multiplayer maps, but the multiplayer community is dead). Woo GAME! Buy your games from GAME! I just wish they had a better name.

Farcry 2 is a game by developers Ubisoft, in stark comparison to the general formula of sequels the game actually has nothing to do with Farcry, besides shooting people really.

You start off the game as 1 of 9 different playable characters, tasked by a US Government divison to kill a chap called ‘The Jackel”, who’s been supplying arms to both sides of the conflict (I chose Andre, he had the most similar hair and name to me, always a plus.) However within your first few seconds of precious cutscene you contract malaria somehow and passout. Then you awake to find the guy you were sent to kill NURSING you back to health, though he seems a little pissed that you’ve got orders to assassinate him. He however seems like a genuinely nice guy, you know, past the psycotic arms dealer thing. He then lets you live, telling you you’ll have to find something else to do with your time.

Genuinely, I felt I wanted to keep out of his hair. For a guy you’ve been sent to assassinate to mend you up from the brink of DEATH, it seemed like the least I could do. Unfortunately I was swept up in a cascade of storyline, and was rescued from death by one of the warring factions, the ULFF. At least I THINK it was the ULFF. It was pretty difficult to tell, both sides don’t have that much difference between them.After a couple of missions I was pretty much released into the open world, to enjoy the diverse forests, barren deserts, etc.

First thing that’s notable is the game is in first person the entire time. No 3rd person cutscenes, no vehicle-cam, just straight FPS. And it’s really immersive, especially with the fully visible character body, the expressive 1st person animations of your character, and the minimal HUD. It draws you in very skillfully, which makes it pretty decent to me already.

The first couple of missions were pretty standard, go to certain place, destroy certain object/person. It’s a tried and true method. But the first thing that struck me when I left the local mission-town, the outpost I’d wiped out a couple of minutes earlier had mysteriously repopulated.

First thought was that I felt the game had cheated me somehow. Though I slowly realised that in an actual war places of strategic importance generally don’t go left alone, especially since the opposite force had proceeded to drive away at breakneck speed after clearing the place out.

Made sense, so I figured I’d do my best to stay out of the people’s way. But that was easier said than done, most of the place is contained within heavy bushland, meaning that it was more or less unavoidable that I’d have to fight some people in my travels.

Now normally I don’t have a problem with fighting. Hell, it’s why I play games in the first place, but the idea of killing enemies when they’re going to be replaced in 5 minutes just feels so… pointless. I mean in most games you can clear out an area and bam, you’ve got a safe zone. You’ve made the world, particularly this 20×20 metre square, a better place. But here, you’ve got to slog your way through countless hordes of people, and while realistic, it just feels irritiating. Of course the other option would be to have the camps stay cleared, but frankly that’d lead to me clearing the world in a couple of hours and somehow there’s a war going on after all the troops have died.

I kept on with the missions, but they had a bad case of being very similar too. I mean the objectives were different and there was always a reason for them to be done, storyline wise, but they boiled down to killing the people in the area, pressing ‘e’ on or blowing up the object in question.

This game has a bad case of what is referred to as ‘combat fatigue’ (Coined by the nice chaps at Valve). It’s when the player has been fighting for far too long, and it begins to make them feel frustrated, of course how much too long is is different from person to person. Typically you can break this up by giving the player some constructive puzzles or something similar to release the tension, but this game can’t really pull that off, being a Sandbox game. They have a fun mechanic where you can hunt for dimonds hidden around the world, and the exploration, though annoyingly limited in some areas, is very fun, but there’s a big wall for me when it comes to driving.

Africa, being a very large place, will require you to do some driving if you want to get places. I mean you can walk, but it’s probably faster to drive. While the driving is alright in itself, it makes you wait a fair ammount of time until you can get to your desination, which kind of irks me. I mean I play games to unwind etc, not to practice a driving simulator.

The storyline, is truely intruiging. I crave more, which keeps me going through this game, which at times I feel like a bit of a slogfest. The Jackel is someone that, while seemingly evil, there’s more to his intentions than initially revealed, and I can’t help but think he might be onto something. The only problem is to get to these wonderful parts of story I must go through missions that become pretty much all the same and travel that feels like I’m doing the 2 hour drive from my Uni to home. And because I want more of the story, the more I try to rush through the missions and combat, which makes me more frustrated

All this frustration and hopelessness though makes me feel like it was at least partly intentional. Maybe they were trying to illustrate how pointless war is, or emulate the feelings of the character who’s seeking revenge on the person who robbed him of his career.Though this may be silly to assume, it could equally be they thought that players like constant combat.

The buddy system is quite good, you have NPCs scattered around the world, guys you didn’t pick as your character, and guys that’re just there to hang around you. How you find them can be pretty cool, I rescued some random chick that’s plane fell out of the SKY. They can rescue you when you die, a sort of backup system, but when they’re in the world with you there’s a chance that they could die.
First they’ll go down, and call for help. From there you can choose to heal them, leave them, or put them out of their misery.
Though sometimes it’s not enough. They’re not uberhumans (well maybe they are, but they have limits), they can die. I was raiding a treasure stash with my buddy Josip, and it ended up in a massacre. They died, and he was there, crying for help. I put in 3 syrettes into him, before he passed out and died. And I felt genuinely sympathetic to his demise, which is a landmark for me personally, it takes a lot of effort into making people feel for a charcter they know doesn’t exist.

Something random I’d like to mention are the fire physics in the game. They’re absolutely stunning. I’ve never seen fire that’s been programmed so well. You throw a molotov at a patch of grass, the grass will burn down. And any trees, people, wooden buildings etc that’s in it’s range. It’s really pretty and actually serves a tactical advantage as well, the AI coming to investigate and try to put it out.

This is a really good game, and there’s so much to like about it, but personally I find I can’t play for too long without getting so bored with the compulsory travel sections and the constant fighting. The environments are stunning, and everything fuctions really well, and the storyline is really intruiging, but it’s a bit of a slog to get to the good parts. Pick it up if you can stand constant fighting and are partial to a bit of high quality storyline.