Archive for November, 2012

Mass Effect 3’s Omega or No Thanks!

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on November 28, 2012 by Rabidgames

So, one of the world’s most-hated couples, Bioware and EA, have released Mass Effect 3’s latest DLC, Omega. Awesome, isn’t it? No, it isn’t. (By the way, if anyone sees any value in Omega, please feel free to share your thoughts and to nullify this rant.)

Mind you, Rabidgames has not bought Omega and here’s why:
1200 MS points for a couple of hours of nothing more but another collection of the same linear corridors and more of the same shoot-outs?
No thanks!

There are reasons the gaming world has loved, or rather once loved Bioware:
Stories. Characters. Lore.

Throw in Omega, a Mass Effect 3 DLC focusing on combat alone and allegedly neglecting all of the above, and you get a precise definition of Bioware’s new shiny but dull image: The sad descent from the RPG throne to a mere provider of quick-cash services in any way the pimpish mother company sees fit. True, Omega is neither the reason nor the origin (no pun intended here) of Bioware’s downfall, but if we get a loveless DLC where we cannot even revisit Omega after completing it (remember being able to revisit the base after completing Lair of the Shadow Broker?), and then Aria allegedly sitting in her comfy seat in the Purgatory once again afterwards, Omega might be a sure sign of Bioware’s omega – the exodus of the company’s founders surely not the first sign of decline.

As of now, Bioware is on 2 strikes in Rabidgames’ book of gaming violations: First strike was the incredible lazy level design and the absence of almost anything RPG in Dragon Age 2. Second strike was the clusterfuck called Mass Effect 3 – the good (Tuchanka, Rannoch, EDI) and the bad (MP effecting SP, that ending, Priorities Earth & Thessia, most events reduced to mere numbers) almost outweighing each other – but the scale has been tipped by this lame, lazy and loveless piece of DLC. Rabidgames does not even takes into account that Old Republic disaster, and that fucking Command & Conquer F2P travesty to come shall be forgotten, too. But remember, Bioware. 1 more strike, and you’re out!

Rabidgames is sad: Bioware fucked up big time with some decisions for Mass Effect 3. They tried to behave with the Extended Cut, and Leviathan was a tiny, tiny baby step in the right direction. But then we get a costly DLC with nothing but the same linear battles, and worst of all, Omega adds nothing to the game in any way – lore, a new hub, new characters, you name it. It’s a shame how this once beloved company has fallen.

Give Rabidgames Far Cry 3 already!

Posted in News with tags , , , , on November 22, 2012 by Rabidgames

So, the first reviews are out, and as it seems, Far Cry 3 is getting universal praise. Here’s the thing though – why are the reviews a whole week ahead of release (mind you, NA launch will be later than EU and AU launch this time)?

It seems cruel, especially given the fact Far Cry 3 looks amazing, has a beautiful open world full of fun things to do (from starting fires to fighting sharks, from Assassin’s Creed-like stealth to over-the-top firefights and explosions, from finding collectibles to drugged hallucinations), a story filled with sex, drugs and violence, an awesome antagonist, some RPG elements … damn, why do we have to wait one more week?

Yes, Rabidgames might not be impartial after having played and enjoyed Far Cry 3 at the Eurogamer Expo a couple of times … but this game could be each sandbox games lover’s dream come true … and we have to wait one more damn week (we as in we Europeans, sorry, our North American pals, you’re late this time)!

If you’re not sure what Rabidgames is rambling on about, just check out this awesome trailer:

Rabidgames sharpens the blade: Far Cry 3 could well become the surprise of 2012. The reviews are positive, the game looks good, the gameplay is fine – looks like we found our Skyrim with guns! If – and that’s a weighty if – if Ubisoft does not pull another Assassin’s Creed 3 bugs galore again! Remember, no fucking review mentioned how bug-ridden Ubisoft’s big one would end up … but hey, let’s not get ahead of ourselves, let’s rather look forward to punching sharks in the face underwater … next week!

Assassin’s Creed 3 or The Good, The Bad and The Bugs

Posted in Hands On with tags , , on November 18, 2012 by Rabidgames

Patience is a virtue they say. If you play Assassin’s Creed 3, this virtue will be tested. A lot. And beyond lots. Yes, Assassin’s Creed 3 is strong GOTY material, but it also makes you want to furiously smash your controller, your copy, your console and at the screen almost at the same time. At times, it is a schizophrenic clusterfuck of good intentions, weird ideas and horrible execution (you can change those 6 variables in any way you like and you’d always be right):

The Good

On many, many levels, Assassin’s Creed 3 is a good game. One thing which stands out is the fact Ubisoft did not shy away from portraying the French, the British and the American as greedy white men all the same, only united in their zest to rob the Native Americans of their land. This might not go down well with patriots in all three countries, but in this case, all the talk about artistic integrity would mean something for once. Speaking of art, Assassin’s Creed has managed to tell a complex story of different shades of grey (in the past as well as in the present), and Assassin’s Creed 3 is no exception. It’s hard to distinguish the good guys from the bad ones, and you know, that one twist at the end of sequence 3 was amazing – Rabidgames did not see it coming.

Ubisoft did not rest and just tweaked the movement and fighting system a tiny little bit, it has been rehauled completely. It takes you some time to get used to it at first, but the number of deaths by jumping for no reason at all has been reduced drastically. Mission accomplished. The controls of Assassin’s Creed 3 feel a bit streamlined, yes, but since they’re more precise and intuitive for the most part, that’s fine with Rabidgames. Also, diversity is key – not only do we have different cities and environments, there are countless ways to spend your time – try to find collectibles such as feathers, trinkets, flying pages and chests (they all serve a purpose), or what about hunting legendary enemies or trying to find out what Bigfoot really is? You can do it – and the Frontiersmen missions, which ask you to solve a myth, are some of the best and funniest missions ever! Another cool addition, maybe stolen from Arkham City, is looking for clues; this feature is used for finding animals as well as in some missions, and it does a decent job of mixing up the gameplay.

The real star of Assassin’s Creed 3 is neither Desmond nor Connor though – it’s the game’s world. Boston and New York are different from Rome or Constantinople (thank fuck for that) and filled with amazing details (pet animals, conversations – sometimes even in German, tons of Redcoats patrolling the streets, the amazing tunnel system etc.), the homestead is interesting, but the Frontier is where Assassin’s Creed 3 really shines! Climbing cliffs and mountains is just the overture for climbing mountains and traversing through the world from treetop to treetop (well, not literally treetop but who cares?), stalking prey. And then, the hunting … if you want to shoot some mammal with your bow (do that) or a rifle (don’t do that), if you want to lay a bait and a snare, or if you lurk in some safe hideaway, waiting for your prey – it’s all fun, great fun to be had. Of course, Ubisoft had to ruin it with the scourge of modern gaming times:

The Bad

Oh boy, QTEs. This fucking disease almost ruinsthe otherwise perfect hunting experience in Assassin’s Creed 3. Why the fucking hell are melee fights against animals QTEs? Red Dead Redemption managed to do it way better – by incorporating those fights into the gameplay. When you kill a cougar in Assassin’S Creed 3, you’ve done so by pushing randoms buttons. Boofuckinghoo. In red Dead Redemption, killing a cougar meant something. You’ve vanquished a lethal beast in an epic battle, you prevailed against the primal rage of a predator by skill, not just by quickly pressing random buttons which have nothing to do with their normally assigned function – and so on, you get it. QTEs are shite. Let’s get rid of them for good!

Apart from that spreading cancer, Assassin’s Creed 3 has more issues: Remember when Ubisoft was proud of their huge battles? Yes, they’re alright, but they glanced at Call of Duty – there is an infinite amount of enemies sometimes so there’s no use aiding your comrades at all … shame. Generally speaking, while the missions are diverse and fun, they feel compartmentalised and way too linear; there is one way or maybe a second one, but that’s about it – and for a game which waves the flag of freedom, that ain’t a compliment. And then, there is the most boring form of video game entertainment ever – picking locks. Come on! It was boring before, it is boring now, and it will always be fucking boring! Enough! Oh, and the idiotic system of using both analogue sticks AND RT might be good for training some finger flexibility, but honestly, why? Who thought that’d be a good idea?

Assassin’s Creed 3 also suffers from some half-baked ideas – the in-game economy with you producing shitloads of stuff on your homestead sounds like a good idea – but there’s no point to it. Money ain’t that hard to come by without it, navigating through the menus is a pain, and half the items are useless and dealing with it is a massive waste of time. So yeah, what’s up with that? Even worse, the assassins … fucking hell, they are virtually useless in Assassin’s Creed 3! Send one of those moronic, inbred dipshits to fight 3 or 4 regulars … he dies. While the enemy AI ain’t the best, you’re assassins are driven by AS (Artificial Stupidity)! Fuck, they don’t dserve to be called assassins. And while it is alright we can send them on missions, those missions are ten steps back from Revelations’ refined Mediterranean Defense system – appointing den leaders, sending assassins to watch over a city, training new ones – all gone. Instead, there are only 6 assassins with randoms hints of a weak personality who can’t fight better than a week old kitty. But hey, they come with some rather useless special ability … such as inciting riots, shooting from afar (not a new ability, by the way) or bodyguard (no use with AS) … O yes, Rabidgames misses his dozens of assassins, who actually were useful.

The Bugs

Assassin’s Creed 3 is a big feast for those little critters. It’s hard to play 2 missions without ever encountering either a minor glitch, an annoying but minor bug or a big fucking bug queen who forces you to abandon the mission, starting it from the beginning once more. Sometimes you simply can’t proceed because a trigger is dead, sometimes you kill your target without the game realising your deed, sometimes you have to do a liberation mission which is neither displayed on the map nor activated as a mission in any way. Oh, and missions sometimes end without any notification whatsoever. Quite frankly, it’s a fucking disgrace – and one of the reasons why Assassin’s Creed 3 can only be tolerated in small doses – restarting a missions over and over again because some triggers are missing over and over again, yep, that’ll break motivation. Mind you, we’re not talking about some ambitious Molyneuxesque indie experiment, we’re talking about a motherfucking AAA+ game with a million dollar budget – such bugs, and the amount of such bugs, are simply inexcusable. What about QA? And what about Microsoft and Sony – have they ever tested Assassin’s Creed 3? Are their standards worth anything these days?

Rabidgames sighs: What a clusterfuck! On the one hand, Assassin’s Creed 3 delivers – a huge world, many options, exploration, a good story. On the other hand, there are some flawed design decisions (assassins, economy, QTE), way too linear missions and a terrible AI. And those bugs and glitches which ruin the game … But damn, you always go back to it! Yes, it is great, and yes, it is fun. It’s just a huge fucking shame Ubisoft failed to make Assassin’s Creed 3 perfect. The game is a precious rough diamond, but honestly, someone should have wiped it clean from all that horseshit before opening the exhibition!

WWE ’13 or Finally, Attitude is Back!

Posted in Played & Explained with tags , on November 11, 2012 by Rabidgames

It’s a dream come true. WWE says goodbye to PG and welcomes back the controversial yet successful Attitude era. Real stories, real characters, blood, sex and the real Degeneration X!
Sadly, it’s only a video game.

But WWE ’13 is not exactly bringing some Attitude to today’s WWE, it’s a time travel back to the defining moments of that legendary era: We relive the iconic Montreal Screwjob, the birth of the DX (the real one, not that ridiculous kiddie cheerfest post 2000), the ever-shifting tale of the Brothers of Destruction, and of course, the rise of two of the three (the third one is too obvious to be named) most famous wrestlers ever: The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin. And yes, WWE ’13 manages to make it fun – no stupid backstage handicap brawls all over the place, less scripted events – and the scripted ones implemented way better, and most importantly, you get rewarded for recreating the best moments of the Attitude era. All this stuff is supported by original commentary, music and entrances, and emphasised by video clips which highlight the feuds from back then.

Boy, we’re talking about damn good times. You know, these days they call it a story if Punk wants some respect or if AJ (no, not AJ Styles) has some dinner with our dearest posterboy John Cena and it’s a huge scandal … and honestly, that’s about it at the moment in WWE’s happy PG teletubby playground. Back in Attitude times, Stone Cold won the title from Michaels, who had inherited it thanks to the Montreal Screwjob, then lost it to Kane, won it back, fought the Undertaker … and so on. Oh, and that amazing build-up to Wrestlemania XV! You know, it was possible for 10 guys in main event regions to have intertwined story lines. But, erm … alright, alright back to WWE ’13. The Attitude mode is not only fun, but also unlocks tons of locked content – from new wrestlers and extra outfits to bonus matches and Universe cutscenes. Yes, we know what happened – and even though, even if we watched it more than a decade ago – it still might give us goosebumps. The presentation work has been done perfectly … almost. To avoid mentioning the now forbidden name WWF (as WWE was called once), the F is silenced in some of the original commentaries – and it really, really sounds awkward. By the way, Rabidgames recommends playing it on easy to unlock everything, then replaying the most iconic battles on a higher difficulty. Why? For once, some objectives are insane on normal – beating some guy within 2 minutes within 10 seconds after a finisher, or a Triple Threat match which actually is a Handicap match.

Speaking of difficulty and the gameplay, WWE ’13 is again an improvement over its predecessor and namesake, WWE ’12. On normal, epic matches can be … well, really epic. It goes back and forth, reversal after reversal, and when finishers hit, the tension rises. Sometimes. You can have a great match, and if you replay it, it’s a lame one-sided, not that epic match. Come on Yukes, it shouldn’t be like that. The same problem is to be found when we talk about the AI in WWE ’13: Sometimes, opponents are pretty smart. They wrestle less repetitive, leave the ring when they need to and even AI controlled tag team partners seem to be an intelligent life form. Again, sometimes. If some stellar constellation is awry however, the AI is dumb as chicken shit and just seems to stand around, waiting for you to attack a dummy. It really is a shame – a constant AI, and WWE ’13 could have become a great and challenging game. Speaking of challenging – please THQ, please Yukes, difficulty can be more than just forcing up the counter rate. In spite of the flaws, WWE ’13’s gameplay is mostly fluid and fun, and if you encounter a 6 time leverage pin reversal orgy, it can be pretty epic as well.

Another plea – please don’t call bringing back match old match types NEW – I quit and Special Referee are not NEW, they’re just BACK. Remember this next time, please. That being said, Special Referee is simply the best match type there was, the best there is, and the best there ever will be. It’s just too brilliant! Play it with 3 of your mates, and see who’s best in bribery. But there are some new gameplay additions to be found in WWE ’13: There are catch finishers – certain moves can be used to counter a flying attack from the top rope – which look amazing. Sadly, it’s just a handful of moves. And then, there are OMG! moments – special actions which most likely decide a match – be it a finisher on the commentators’ table, smashing the corner barricades or two super heavyweights leveling the ring (which grants the “Holy S**t” achievement). There are also some new moves (limb target moves can now be assigned), new animations and overhauled backstage area gameplay  (thank fuck for that one!).

The myriads of creation option return in WWE ’13 – and as expected, the game delivers. Creating a whole arena, a whole show with all-new championship belts and with CAWs*? You got it. Well, the championship belts can’t be created from scratch (which sucks), but still, all we want is to get rid of Cena’s fugly spinning belt, don’t we? CAWs* look alright, but there is one ever-recurring issue: long hair looks shit. Not just shit, it looks like hair-like diarrhoea; formless chunks of hair clipping into bodies. This fucking problem has existed since Smackdown 1! FIX THIS SHIT! Sorry, back to work. Apart from hair, CAWs* are alright. Big people look really big now, you can play around with damage modifiers, but there’s nothing revolutionarily new under the sun in WWE ’13. Mind you, the creation suites have always been a strength of THQ’s wrestling games, so there’s nothing to worry about.

After you have unlocked everything in the Attitude mode, after you have created and/or downloaded all CAWs* you want, it is time to buy some beer and crisps (or pizza or whatever floats your boat) and lock your social life safely away. WWE 13’s Universe mode is a fucking beast. You can run up to 6 shows a week (what about RAW, Smackdown, Attitude, ECW, WCW and TNA?) and you can assign one PPV each Sunday if you feel like it. You can follow developments by studying your expansive statistics section, manage your titles for all your shows, book shows in advance, change matches on the spot and so on (Cena is nothing more but a lousy jobber in Rabidgames’ Universe, by the way – and Heath Slater for WWE Champion!). There are some new stories in WWE ’13, but don’t expect to see all of them that soon. Stories take some time to unfold. But even without stories, the Universe mode is still long-term fun.

Online … well, let’s be honest, the WWE games have the worst online community … ever. CAWs* with super stats, spamming the same moves all over again, expolitation of moves, you name it, it happens. WWE ’13 is no exception. Online is not fun. But at least, there is good news in the Download department – it is now possible to reliably search the database for stuff the community has created – and as usual, there is some great stuff to be found. As a result, it is possible to download 10 wrestlers within 10 minutes instead of 1 wrestler in half an hour.

At the end of the day, WWE ’13 is a series of small improvements, and more of an evolution than a revolution. And still, it is the distilled essence of the last couple of years, refined with the best single player mode for quite a while (actually, Here Comes The Pain is the best one in this regard). If you don’t like wrestling or wrestling games, you should have stopped reading a long time before this paragraph. If you love today’s WWE (by the way, why do you?), you can experience glimpses of the golden times of McMahon’s empire. If you love the Attitude era and if you love wrestling games, drop everything and buy this game. And that’s the bottom line.

Cause Rabidgames said so: Yes, WWE ’13 is not the perfect wrestling game, but it is easily the best of this generation. The awesome Attitude mode, tons of wrestlers from then and now, a massive creation suite, online working fine and the impressive and improved Universe mode will chain you to your console for countless hours – if you’re willing to forgive WWE ’13 for a series of nuisances. 

* By the way, why do we call them CAWs? CAW means Create A Wrestler … we could say CWs (Created Wrestlers) or, politically correct CSs (Created Superstars), but CAWs does not make any sense. Think about it – “hey look at this awesome Create A Wrestler!” Please, let’s stop using it for logic’s sake.

Mass Effect and its incomplete Trilogy bullshittery

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on November 2, 2012 by Rabidgames

Oh boy, it’s Mass Effect time again, which means, EA and Bioware have rightfully deserved another rant from yours truly.

What happened this time?
The greedy bastards have announced the “Mass Effect Trilogy” – you can buy all 3 games at once. So, is it just like another GOTY/Classic/Complete/all-in-one edition, you know, including DLC?

Mind you, we’re talking about BiowarEA here. The very same guys who introduced a reaperfucking Prothean in an expensive (and by no means expansive) DLC pack, who chose to implement multiplayer (including micro-transaction crap) into a singleplayer franchise which influenced our beloved singleplayer experience, and who created a bullshit ending which obviously was the result of some delirious brainstorming of a 12-year old on the crapper.

Anyway, long story short, the Mass Effect Trilogy will contain … well, the 3 core games. DLC? Forget it. IGN has a nice list which shows what each version gets … You’Re done comparing? Yep, 360 gamers are fucked the hardest. No Overlord, no Kasumi, no goddamn Shadow Broker … PS3 gamers can look forward to the irony they’ll get all story DLCs of Mass Effect 2 – except the most important story-related one, Arrival. How the fuck does this even make sense? On another obvious note, Mass Effect 3’s From Ashes won’t be included in any version. What did you expect?

But here’s Rabidgames’ real raging point: That Mass Effect Trilogy will most likely cost the same price on 360 and PS3 – but then, PS3 gamers will get several hours more content. Or if you translate it into money: if 360 gamers want to buy all the DLC packs, they have to shell out additional 2240 Microsoft Points … almost 20 pounds more!
Of course, everyone might end up buying stuff such as Arrival, From Ashes, Leviathan, Omega and so on … It’s safe to say while it’s a good chance for PS3 gamers to finally play the original Mass Effect, PC and 360 gamers should stay away from that daylight robbery.

Then again, you might say, BiowarEA need the money … after all, we live in hard times, we all suffer a financial crisis, don’t we all have bills to pay, and the bosses might need golden swimming pools … But wait a minute! If EA really needs our money that bad, aren’t they shit at planning then?

Just look at The Witcher 2: An independent studio can manage to release a game on PC, release it for the 360 a year later, including free(!) DLC, and the PC gamers get the updates and DLC for free(!) as well. How on earth can they pull it off? If a small Polish developer can pull this off without going out of business, why can’t the big dogs?

Rabidgames rages: Seriously, fuck Mass Effect. BiowarEA have managed to collect more negativity around the series in 2012 than everyone thought was ever possible. And they’re still going on and on. And the worst thing is, there are still people out there – gamers, not PR cunts – who fucking defend EA for greedy bullshit like this! That’s the worst of it! Expect many copies of the Trilogy rip-off to be sold.

Mass Effect taught us one lesson: If you are looking for mature and responsible customers, don’t bother looking at gamers. It seems the likes of EA, Activision and Ubisoft have brought up a generation of brainless moronic drones who drool over shelling ever more money for stuff that should have been included from the beginning in the first place. And there is no end in sight!