19 August, 2013

Dead Space 3, your mother and I are very dissapointed

written by Blain Newport on Sunday, 18 August 2013

I haven't finished Dead Space 3 yet, but my completion percentage is over two thirds, so I think it's safe to say I'm not a fan.  There are worse games, but Dead Space 3 feels so much less awesome than Dead Space 2 that it makes me sad to play it.

The opening space section feels like tons of pointless padding.

The crafting system is a huge step backwards.  I played through DS2 three times, leveling up most, if not all of the weapons.  And they were mostly awesome.  I made a bunch of guns in DS3, and many of my initial efforts were pretty weaksauce.  That's partly because in the midst of different frame types, upper and lower tools, upper and lower tool tips, and two different types of attachments, I didn't realize that if you don't slot upgrade circuits with damage and spend the tungsten to slot _all_ the circuits, your guns will be weak.

Even still, giving my guns decent punch didn't really solve things as many ambushes would see a stream of enemies attacking from multiple directions faster than I could kill them.  Just like most of the scares are cheap cat scares, most of my deaths in combat were cheap swarming.  I get the feeling that I'm being punished for not playing the game co-op where I'd have a partner to watch my back.  Worse yet are some of the boss fights and "puzzles" where the mechanics are poorly communicated.  There are three different ways you activate devices in the game and only one is explained, so you will encounter puzzles and think you're doing it wrong when in fact you were never taught what to do in the first place.

And last, but certainly not least, DS3 feels tame.  DS2 showed bad things happen to good people in horrifying detail.  DS3 does not, and the stakes feel so much lower and more generic for it.  Yeah, yeah.  We're saving the human race.  Who isn't?

I could go on. DS2 has pacing and variety and a sense of escalation not present in DS3.  And it's probably got a bunch of other stuff DS3 doesn't have either.  I just... I wish I knew why they let this one get away from them after the hundreds of millions of dollars and hundreds of person years of work invested in this franchise.

14 August, 2013

Sale Alert! The Humble EA Bundle

written by Blain Newport on Wednesday, 14 August 2013 

The Humble Bundle was originally just about indie games, but it supports charity, so they don't turn their noses up at large corporate games.  So if you want to buy a bunch of cheap games from Electronic Arts (Burnout: Paradise, Dead Space 1 & 3, Battlefield 3; The Sims 3) but give all the money to charity because you hate EA, stick it to the man by buying his games!

10 August, 2013

Review: Mortal Kombat Komplete Edition

written by Blain Newport on Saturday, 10 August 2013

Mortal Kombat Komplete Edition (3 of 5)

 There are very few surprises in MKKE
 Here's a colored, elemental ninja doing a colored, elemental thing.

Here's a fight in front of a bunch of monks

Here's some brutal violence that won't mean anything in three seconds.  Oh video games.

The most impressive achievement in this game is that it reboots over a decade of Mortal Kombat history and makes a fairly cohesive (if still full of plot holes) narrative out of it.  I personally don't care about any of it, but for fans of the series, it's probably very satisfying.

Other than that, the experience is largely forgettable.  Fighting games are one of the most demanding genres and if you don't have a community at your skill level, it doesn't seem worth it to get invested.  Still, I wanted to see what had become of Mortal Kombat, and it appears to be getting along fine.

05 August, 2013

Review: Space Marine

written by Blain Newport on Monday, 5 August 2013

 Space Marine (3 of 5)

Space Marine was a bad purchase.  I knew because of the demo that I wasn't going to be getting anything with the same feel as Gears, but I wanted it anyway.  Overall it's a very pretty game, but the combat is closer to God of War than Gears of War, but even less sophisticated.  It's a simple game, design-wise.  But it did give me a chance to put some thought into one my favorite subjects, why Republic Commando's Delta Squad are the best. :)

Here I am cutting my way through a group beside one of the two AI companions.  The AIs will occasionally kill a minor enemy for show, but you basically have to kill over 95% of the enemies yourself, which makes them feel like window dressing more than companions.  Actually that's not fair.  Here's a situation where they're useful.

That's a lot of orcs including a ranged attacker who will prevent your shields from regenerating and a minor armored boss.  But because the AIs are incapable of going into a "downed" state and don't follow the player immediately, I was able to simply back around the corner and deal with the trickle of enemies that weren't wasting time attacking the AI.  But at this point I'm gaming a ridiculous system, hiding behind my battle brothers, instead of living the fiction the game is trying to put me into.

03 August, 2013

Anticipating Saints Row 4

written by Blain Newport on Saturday, 3 August 2013

I picked up a used copy of the original Saints Row.  Unfortunately the first game doesn't respect the player's time like subsequent entries, so I bailed and watched all the story missions on YouTube.  I now know the back story on Donny and Luz, who appeared in SR2.  And I know more about Benjamin King, who will be reappearing for the first time in SR4.

People who only know SR3 might think I'm crazy to care about background characters in games that they think are "about" giant floppy purple wang bats and zooming around in VTOL jets with lasers.  But the previous games did a much better job of giving the background characters just enough personality that you'd remember them, just enough to make it feel like the world didn't exist solely for the benefit of the protagonist.  SR3 felt kind of empty that way.

SR4 is a game in which the protagonist begins as President of the United States, so it's likely that it will suffer the same emptiness.  I guess at some level I'm hoping that by experiencing all three games I'll be able to make up for the emptiness with extra appreciation for the fan service.

The truth is it's going to be a very different game, though.  Saints Row has moved on from an open world crime game to an open world super hero game, where the super hero happens to be a criminal.

That could still be awesome.  But I'll miss what Saints Row used to be.