Archive for February, 2013

The New Tomb Raider or Poaching in Uncharted Territory?

Posted in News with tags , , on February 26, 2013 by Rabidgames

Sometimes, life’s ironic. Remember when folks used to say that the Uncharted series drew inspiration from Tomb Raider? It seems the tables have turned, or rather, they’re about to turn pretty soon …

Yes, Rabidgames has pre-ordered the new Tomb Raider game, which features a younger and improved yet somehow distinctly reduced student/heroine. The isometric platformer Lara Croft and The Guardian of Light aside, it’ll be his first purchase of a Tomb Raider game. Now, if you remember, Rabidgames did not exactly fancy Uncharted 2 – too linear, too constrained, nothing more but an enjoyable yet shallow popcorn-action game. So why pre-ordering a game that steals back some inspiration from Uncharted?

If you take a look at the reviews, it becomes clearer: Yes, the new Tomb Raider tends to offer linear paths and action-ladden climbing stunts, too. However, it also features exploration in its calmer moments. Judging from the reviews, lots of exploration, most of them likely having something to do with, pardon the pun, raiding a tomb or two …

There’s also a decent RPG system, upgradeable weapons, gory kill animations (fairly shared between Lara and the enemies) and unfortunately and a possible dealbreaker, quite an abundance of those loathsome QTEs, especially in the beginning phases of Tomb Raider. Let’s hope it is just to illustrate that Lara has to learn to survive step by step (translated as button per button), and then, it’s game on. By the way, dear dev teams around the globe: Have a look at The Witcher 2, look closer and LEARN: It is possible to make QTEs purely optional, so please, fucking DO IT! Thanks.

Speaking of reviews, this hilarious video review from no other than Conan O’Brian is definitely … original:

Rabidgames hopes: It’s about time we get a solid game in 2013! Lara’s reboot might lack in gravity-defying size of boobs, but hopefully the size of the game will make up for it. If Tomb Raider turns out to be another digital medium of disappointed aspirations, it can still be sold to make way for Bioshock Infinite. And if that one bombs as well, all hope in gaming is lost anyway …

The PS4 Presentation Aftermath

Posted in News with tags , , , , on February 21, 2013 by Rabidgames

First of all, it is interesting to see that a live stream form a company which has been big on streaming services lately is not able to give many a stable stream … guess it ain’t time for that kind of technology yet, is it?

Anyway. In a nutshell, it was a conference with mixed emotions: The good, the bad and the useless.

The Good

But anyway, let’s start with the good news. The best news definitely is Sony’s answer to Eurogamer’s question about blocking used games: It was a million-fold gasp of relief around the world uttered by gamers (and the likes of Gamestop and CEX, of course): We will be able to sell our finished or bad (think about the fraud fiasco involving Aliens: Colonial Marines) PS4 games. Phew.

Remember Nintendo’s disastrous E3 presentation – tech demos, confusion and basically no games shown? Sony delivered here full-scale. And the following games are just the ones announced – think of the rumoured Battlefield 4 or The Last Guardian, which is also in the pipeline … Ubisoft highly anticipated open world hack’n’shoot Watch Dogs looks still impressive, and it looks even better in the gameplay department:

A real surprise was the presentation of a previously unkonwn fantasy game called Deep Down. It looks good, yes. But it also has potential to cream some pants – could it be Dragon’s Dogma 2? There are some similarities to be found when watching the trailer:

There’s more, of course: A race game called Drive Club, the action-platformer Knack, a new Infamous game, the Myst-like open world adventure The Witness, the rather controversial Diablo 3 including 4 player split screen (cheer) and probably the auction milking barn (boo), Bungie’s MMO shooter Destiny and a new Killzone which admittedly looks stunning (just look at how far you can see!):

The Bad

From the looks of it, the PS4 controller has improved – a tiny bit. The analogue sticks look improved. However, those triggers … no Sony, your design is worse than that of the 360 triggers. GET IT! And then, a touchscreen. Why oh why? Let’s hope it can be turned off.

Sadly, no footage of The Last Guardian was shown. The absence of Battlefield 4 did not pain Rabidgames though. But a word of advice to Square Enix: If you have nothing to say or show, stay the fuck away from the stage! Don’t show us some old shit no ones cares about.

The Unnecessary

One word: Move. This motion control crap which has plagued this generation will also plague the next one. Sigh. Even worse, the controller will now have some built-in Move sensors. Sony, why? But even worse, that Kinect rip-off camera thing … Let’s call it Sauron’s, pardon, Sony Eye. What for? “Player identification”? Living room measurements? What the fuck is wrong with both manufacturers? Are there any gamers who want to be watched when playing games? Let’s just hope this CCTV Orwellian big corporate dream is just an optional nightmare.

And now to Sony’s dumbest move. Yeah, let’s eradicate the START and SELECT button. We have a touch screen, after all, haven’t we? But you know … what the gaming world needs is a SHARE button! Seriously Sony, FUCK OFF! Sharing some dumb gameplay videos is deemed more important than pausing a game, and therefore, it deserves a button? Someone there must have lost it completely!

Rabidgames puts aside some money: Yes, there are some terrible flaws which can be seen in the PS4: Touchscreen crap, motion control shit, social media nonsense … But at its gaming core, the PS4 seems to be able to give us what we want: Games. The lineup presented by Sony also shows a diverse mix of games – and some new franchises as well. It is safe to say that Microsoft is on its guard now, and it is even safer that those new games pose a more than serious threat to Nintendo. In all likelihood, the Wii U won’t be able to technically deal with next gen games, and the PS4 line-up looks several times stronger than the Wii U line-up NOW!

Crysis 3 or Full Price for a Five Hours Game?

Posted in News with tags , on February 20, 2013 by Rabidgames

Apparently, Crysis 3 can be beaten within 5 (five!) hours. Now, let’s make it 8 or 9 when you’re taking things slowly and enjoy vistas or studying enemy movements very, very meticulously. Yes, there’s some tacked-on multiplayer Rabidgames does not care the slightest bit about, and yes, you can play through the game a second, a third, hell, as many times as you want. All true.

But still. Compared with Dragon’s Dogma, Skyrim, Borderlands or Sleeping Dogs … any one digit hour number seems ridiculous, doesn’t it? If you look at the pounds/hour ratio, where does it take you? Mind you, if we were talking about a rather traditional shooter such as The Darkness 2 or Max Payne 3, it would be one thing, but Crysis has wanted to be more than a linear shooter – we were promised a more open world than the way too linear Crysis 2

Honestly, Rabidgames’ gripe doesn’t stop there: Judging but the reviews, Crysis 3 is a lacklustre experience. Hunting enemies via stealth and bow seems to be fun but wait a minute: Have we not experienced the very same thing in Far Cry 3 – without a Nanosuit, and set in a real, huge, open world? Thinking about it, aren’t bows the new AKs of the 21st century? Assassin’s Creed 3, Far Cry 3, Crysis 3, Tomb Raider … lately, we have been witness to a renaissance of the art of archery it seems.

Apart from nitpicking arrows, way too many reviews point out that open warfare is simply not fun and the game was clearly designed for stealth gameplay. Again, Far Cry 3 did allow stealth, open warfare, and well, burning everything and letting animals do your dirty work. Plus, the last level seems to be a linear and horribly generic shootout gallery, just like any other shooter, yet less refined. All those things combined, Crysis 3 is a game Rabidgames is definitely interested in. However, 5 hours, no sandbox and a focus on stealth which gets stabbed in the back in the last level do not equal a full price purchase. Half price around 15 to 20 quid sounds more like value for money in this case.

Rabidgames saves a lot of money: This year has been disappointing so far. Omerta, Dead Space 3, Crysis 3 and especially that Aliens: Colonial Marines joke have been let-downs, and Metal Gear Revengeance or Devil May Cry are simply not Rabidgames’ pints of beer. We’ll see how Tomb Raider will fare, but the bets are on that Bioshock Infinite will be this year’s first big highlight … presumably!

Spec Ops: The Fine Line Between Aspiration and Gameplay

Posted in Played & Explained with tags , on February 16, 2013 by Rabidgames

First of all, a confession: Rabidgames does not like linear shooters. That’s why he does not like Call of Duty or Max Payne 3. To be fair, while Call of Duty is nothing but patriotic bullshit advertising the supremacy of American warfare, Max Payne 3 did at least not fail in this regard. However, the gameplay was stale.

And yes, Spec Ops: The Line does feature the stale gameplay known in military shooters: Corridor, shooting 20 enemies, round places, 20 new enemies, and so forth. Even worse, there are two big flaws in Yager’s shooter: The first one is the unbelievably awful team A.I. – even on normal, your two comrades do not behave like elite soldiers, but rather like insane ADHD crackheads. They simply run ahead whenever they feel like it, they don’t care for any kind of formation, and if they are flanked, they prefer not to get rid of the bigger threats for some weird reason. Second is the flawed tactical aspect: You cannot give your team orders to defend or follow you, oh no, you can only mark individual enemies. Coupled with the A.I., this means you mark an enemy they could easily shoot at from their position … and yet, they try to run across the battlefield, most likely getting killed in the process.

Now those two flaws can be combined with one devious tendency of Spec Ops: The Line; it is tough to unfair at times. Following the “haha, we make you lose all your equipment and comrades again and again” theme of many games, you end up defending yourself alone with crappy weapons and hardly any ammunition against 20 enemies at times. At one point, one of your mates is heavily injured and bound to defend you against attacks from flanking enemies. Yeah … another example of nice idea, flawed execution! If you wait for him to get rid of them, you’re dead already. Needless to say he’s back up to fight some more straight after this battle …

So why all the fuss about a subpar shooter then? Because Spec  Ops: The Line does take the well-known formula of military shooters and develops it into something different during the game: Ladies and gentlemen, witness the world’s first anti-war game! The stale gameplay is part of it, the boring and obvious “brave American soldiers fighting dark-skinned Arabs” story in the first couple of missions as well … the turning point in the game is the infamous “white phosphorous” mortar attack. Think you did something to be proud of, kid? Where Call of Duty makes you bomb little figures from up high, Spec Ops: The Line makes you wade through a sea of dead and burning bodies. It makes you see the consequences of your actions – and this is even more devious because of the same old gameplay mechanics. All of a sudden, the mood changes. And it keeps changing – from a heroic story, it’s a steep ride down hell full of violence, hallucinations and insanity. Spec Ops: The Line also manages to hit home the dark and twisted ending … Rabidgames did not see  THAT coming! Mind you, there are several endings, but thank fuck, there is not one real happy end in there – you can choose between hopeless and bleak.

After the credits, you want to play Spec Ops: The Line a second time to get to witness the downfall knowingly – where went it all wrong, what is real, who is real, who did we fight? But, and here’s the but: Is it worth it? Yes, it makes sense to lull and wrap us into well-known mechanics just to hit us harder, but it could have been done better. Somehow, by following genre conventions too closely, the game loses some of its impact. Why not making us look for one or two enemies who are well hidden? Why not adding more cinematic scenes in the beginning of the game, before the hallucinations set in? There is some wasted potential in the gameplay department, potential which could have enhanced the story side as well …

But make no mistake, Spec Ops: The Line is absolutely brilliant when you take one step back and look at the bigger picture. In fact, it manages to succeed where Far Cry 3 failed: It does not only portrays war as it really is, it also asks us gamers why we play military shooters – do we want so kill enemies, do we want to have fun doing so … and why. Fortunately, this is done subtly and not in a preachy way. There is a slow process of the line to become blurred, of us questioning what is going on, of another virtual adventure turning into a nightmare. And this is an accomplishment Yager can be proud of! We need more games which dare to ask uncomfortable questions – not only about the American dream, about war or about society, but also about the part video games play in our daily lives.

Rabidgames reloads: Spec Ops: The Line works on two different levels: The sublime story and the commendable intention of the game hide behind stale gameplay and worn-out paths. And yet, Spec Ops: The Line is not an enjoyable game – but for the wrong reasons. It is not the harsh and brutal reality of war, it is the boring and repetitive way to face this reality. And still, despite all bland gameplay, it is the narrative that shines through and will be remembered. Kudos to Yager for showcasing war in a video game as a nightmarish descent into hell, not as patriotic acts of honour and duty. Spec Ops: The Line is a step to enlightenment. And who knows, maybe it will be remembered as gaming’s Apocalypse Now.

The Games Industry: More than Lies, Corruption and Quick Bucks?

Posted in Gaming these days ..., News with tags , , on February 14, 2013 by Rabidgames

Enough is enough.

Again, we have been lied to. And this time, it’s not about tiny details such as DLC on discs à la Capcom, multiplayer affecting singleplayer the Mass Effect way or comparable trivial odds and ends; this time, it is about the core experience: A game itself.

Of course, Rabidgames is talking about the biggest fuck-up since, well, Duke Nukem ForeverAliens: Colonial Marines.Thankfully, Gearbox and Sega find themselves in the middle of a massive shitstorm, and this time, the media have joined gamers in asking what the fucking hell went wrong at some point in development of Aliens: Colonial Marines.

At the centre of the raging shitstorm is the fact that the demo of Aliens: Colonial Marines shown to journalists looked and played roughly ten times better than the actual game. See for yourself:

Of course, everyone is playing the blame game; perhaps this disgruntled former Gearbox employee is telling the truth, maybe Timegate fucke dup their part, maybe Gearbox didn’t care, maybe Sega just wanted to finally release Aliens: Colonial Marine. Probably, we will never get to know what happened.

But whatever the truth be, it doesn’t, or at least shouldn’t, matter. Gearbox and Sega lied to us, and even worse, they deceived us by showing us data FROM A DIFFERENT GAME. Honestly, everyone who pre-odered or bought the game due to the hype should be allowed to return it, and above all, Gearbox and Sega should be dragged into court and they should get a damn hefty fine for fucking fraud!

Well, that won’t happen. But anyway, we (as in gamers, journalists and the industry alike) should learn from this. We gamers should be more careful before pre-ordering or buying – sure, we can still sell turds like this one, but in the end, there was reason for doubt regarding Aliens: Colonial Marine. Plus, Gearbox earned its second strike! What about boycotting companies like Gearbox (or any other company which is out there to milk us dry)? Journalists should not succumb to the hype -although in this case, they were cheated and deceived. But think about Mass Effect 3, where all reviews failed to mention the ending debacle. The industry … well, stop playing games and get serious (just metaphorically, of course)! Stop spreading misinformation, lies and tell us the truth!

Rabidgames is tired: Seriously, gaming has become a tiring hobby. Too many times, a promising outlook gets wiped out after release, and way too often gaming media keep quiet about it. Too many times, we are made to pay ten times for one game. Too many times, we are lied to and deceived by companies whose only purpose seems to be to satisfy their shareholders. But dear industry, there is a risk to that strategy: Disappoint one too many times, and your customers leave. Mind you, we are not forced to buy your products. We can choose with our wallets. And it’ about fucking time we finally DO!

Moving Impressions from Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen

Posted in News with tags , , on February 12, 2013 by Rabidgames

Ha! Finally, proper gameplay footage for Dragon’s Dogma’s expansion, Dark Arisen!
Without further ado: There! Watch!

Rabidgames is torn: Isn’t it what we wanted: New, huge enemies from flaming saurians and Nazgul-like shadows  to armoured ogres and even minotaurs. But then again, there are still some questions remaining: Why is the expansion that expensive (and why are we forced to buy the game once more)? How much new content is in there – and given Capcom’s record, how much on-disc DLC? And how long will it be? Let’s be honest: Length will be a decisive factor if Dark Arisen will rise or fall.

Remember Me – Innovation or Stagnation?

Posted in News with tags on February 9, 2013 by Rabidgames

Capcom’s Remember Me surely follows an intriguing idea: Walk around the world (a dystopian New Paris), find your prey, and alter the memories. Altering or “remixing” memories will be a puzzle sequence in someone’s brain (sounds a bit like Inception) where you have to fulfil a certain task, which when fulfilled makes people go nuts. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Take a look for yourself:

Looks good, seems interesting, and there’s some stealth and climbing buildings included.  Now, it would be interesting to know if Remember Me features an open world, a semi-open world à la Dishonored, or if it is a strictly linear game. Also, it would be amazing if there were different ways to remix memories …

However, you can also take a look at the one thing Remember Me does not need in a video from VG24/7 – a combat system:

Why? Why oh why does each and every game has to have a fucking combat system? Why not making it an adventure instead? Remember Me does not need a combat system, and dear Ubisoft, I want to be able to finish Watch Dogs without firing a single shot, please. Some settings simply don’t need combat! Back to the Arkham-like combat in Remember Me … alright, building your own combos can be interesting, agreed. We’ll soon see how combat, stealth, climbing, gathering information and remixing memories come together.

Rabidgames remembers: This game seems to be under the radar of many players, and honestly, it could go either way: It might be a stale repica of Assassin’s Creed mixed with some Inception sequences, or it manages to combine those two influences to enhance gameplay. Oh, and a good story would be great, too. We’ll see if Remember Me will live up to its name…