Archive for November, 2013

The Legacy of This Console Generation

Posted in Gaming these days ... with tags , , , , , on November 18, 2013 by Rabidgames

With the launch of the Xbox One and the PS4 dawning, why not take a look back at what this generation of consoles has brought us? Surely there was tons of fun to be had in virtual worlds, but it wasn’t all that great …Let’s start with all the shit that has tried to dampen the fun and to ruin our hobby.

THE BAD

1. Business wankers in suits run the industry

Well, we’re talking about the video game industry, the behemoth of the entertaining sector today. Billions of pounds to be made, shareholders to satisfy, target groups, business plans, blablabla, all this kind of corporate bullshit. And it kills off creativity, innovation and the willingness just to give something a try. Many of the following points are a byproduct of those fucking assholes in suits who now run the big companies – and their prime target is not creating a game with longevity, innovation and fun, it’s just to make shitloads of money with the least effort possible.

2. Shoehorned multiplayer bullshit

Yep, market analysis result no.1: this game needs multiplayer. Clearly, Tomb Raider, Bioshock 2 or Assassin’s Creed need multiplayer – based on the fucked up logic that COD or Battlefield sell well because of their multiplayer … What? That doesn’t make any sense to you? Well, maybe you’re not a wanker in a suit then … This generation, we had to witness time and time again how precious resources were wasted for needless MP crap. Even if the MP turned out to be fine – Mass Effect 3 comes to mind – you can see the shortcomings virtually all the time. Of course, it also works the other way round (Battlefield 4’s abysmal campaign comes to mind) Dear devs, stop believing those shitsticks in suits and abandon ticking all “must sell well recipe” boxes, and listen to what gamers want: Single player only for games like Bioshock, Skyrim, The Last of Us or Tomb Raider, and mutiplayer only for stuff like Battlefield and its buddies.

3. Patching up beta versions

It is a good thing Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo have internal QA departments where they test the games before they are given to us, the customers. Reason is, a game should not be a broken mess. This worked most of the time during the console eras of old. But these days, we pay full price for a game and yet, we end up fucking beta testing them! If the 3 manufacturers are not willing to properly test games, or if they’re happy being bribed doesn’t matter: It is a fucking disgrace we end up shelling out cash for a broken mess, or best-case scenario, a game riddled with bugs. Rabidgames asks you: Which was the last game released without many bugs or glitches?

4. The DLC epidemy

DLC is a big issue. A massive cause of annoyances and outrage – and most of the time, absolutely justified. It all started with Oblivion’s much-ridiculed Horse Armour and evolved into massive rip-offs. Sad thing? We are mindless, drooling idiots accepting it (yours truly included), giving the impression being milked is the right thing to do. Well done, us. Here’s a list of the crimes we’re willingly participating in:

  • Ripping content out of the game. Remember the Prothean in Mass Effect 3? Remember the 40 weeks of DLC for Saints Row The Third? Hey, what about the 20 wrestlers in all WWE games? You know, the DLC is alright if it’s done the GTA IV way … hours of new content, released half a year after the release of the game. But it’s wrong if it is announced before release, if we end up paying for costumes and weapons, it is wrong if a game doesn’t cost 60 but 110 pounds after all.
  • Pre-order DLC galore. Yay. A gamers’ dream come true! Who wouldn’t agree that ripping content out of a game and giving portions of it to various retailers is a good idea for everybody? Well, us gamers, of course! We pay full price yet are deliberately cut off from some content unless we buy the same game thrice. But hey, we can opt to buy the stuff later on, for just some extra quid …
  • Disc-Locked-Content. Capcom reinvented DLC: Let’s lock varying amount of stuff already on the disc and make customers pay for a game trillions of times. Hooray.

5. Super uber graphics mimicking good games

Let’s take a look at Crysis 3: Amazing graphics, an awesome world. It just looks awesome! But that’s about it. Or what about GTA IV? Good graphics, a pretty cool physics engine (well, apart from the cargo ship car controls), but the game was devoid of much fun after the initial hype had died down. Final Fantasy XIII, the Uncharted games and Battlefield are just some of the many games where style has killed substance – and if we take a look forwards, Ryse or Killzone look to be more of the same graphics over gameplay stunt …

6. The lies about second hand games – and the always-online scams

Online passes, offline passes, Uplay, DRM … for some unfathomable reason, developers have been fighting second hand game retailers in the last 5 years. Why unfathomable? It’s simple: Gamer X buys game A, completes it and trades it in for game B. Rinse repeat until game D. X bought 4 games because he could trade them in. Without the chance to trade or sell games, X would have bought one game, 2 max. As you see, second hand games mean more game sales. That’s not to say retailers ain’t without flaws (GTA V used 5 pounds more expensive than new next door … really?). Even if we accept the battle, we surely don’t accept it is fought on our backs – online passes force us to type in endless codes. And DRM and always-online are the scourge of gaming – especially since the servers are not working properly as Diablo 3, Sim City and GTA Online evidenced. Why, you wonder … well, to battle piracy (which is pointless that way) and of course, to make sure you have to buy the game new.

7. The impending extinction of physical games

Well, if you’re like Rabidgames, you prefer physical stuff, be it games in boxes, DVDs, CDs or actual books. Digital is fine, yes, but physical is better. Why? It will always belong to you, no matter what. Imagine purchasing PS3 games digitally. What will you do if your PS3 breaks down in 5 years? You might want to buy a new or used PS3 – and then you have to download the games once more – IF they’re still available! And that’s a big IF – just look at EA switching off servers, Too Human now impossible to buy digitally, and who knows how long the 360 and PS3 servers will be online … In contrast, you can still play your Mega Drive and SNES games today. Phyiscal 1, Digital 0.

7. The demise of the JRPG

Let’s face it, JRPGs are basically dead. 5 years ago, there was still hope: Star Ocean, Eternal Sonata and Lost Odyssey were decent games. But then, the flagship Final Fantasy sunk … a 20 hour tutorial, narrow corridors, annoying characters and no innovation whatsoever were the nails to the coffin. Afterwards, there were shimmers of hope; Resonance of Fate was interesting and the Tales series is till around. The weirdest thing was the idiotic wii exclusivity of The Last Story and Xenoblade Chronicles; promising JRPGs only on a console for casuals. Smart move, guys! The sales were what you would expect: Even the ordinary, nothing special Blue Dragon outsold both games. The JRPG heydays are over, and for fans, the only thing to do is mourn. There’s not much hope left for a next gen resurrection, partly because the likes of Square Enix don’t seem to care anymore (FF XIII-3 looks extremely bland and boring), partly because most companies care even less and have departed to new shores. Well, there are still some JRPGs appearing on the 3DS, but let’s face it, they’re nothing compared to Final Fantasy VII, Suikoden 2, Star Ocean: Till the End of Time or Grandia 2

8. Casualisation

Tutorial, button prompt, tutorial, hey, do not forget to press X to jump, tutorial, phew, lucky you your health recovers automatically, a big fat arrow in your face, tutorial, button prompt … rinse and repeat. These days, the first quarter of a game is usually a tutorial, we get button prompts all the time in case we are forgetful, and of course, let’s not make a game hard … As said before, market analysts know what gamers want, so we get it – it’s just, why are 99% of all games the same now? And why is everything so dumbed down even a 5-year old cannot fail? Yeah, yeah, it’s due to another wanker in a suit …

THE GOOD

1. Diversity

At first glance, there’s just shooters everywhere. Every fucking game is a COD clone, right (and too many of them share the pathetic patriotic America fuck yeah! approach)? Fortunately, that is completely not true and there are many different kinds of games; from easy-going party games for casuals to open world adventures to all kinds of sims (from Forza to Tropico to questionable Trucker Europe Sim ideas …) and brutal games such as Dark Souls. And past AAA, there’s a vibrant indie scene even on consoles, there’s Kickstarter … it’s safe to say we’ve never had more options. It just means we have to look for them.

2. Open world greatness

This generation truly unleashed the power of open world games. From renaissance Florence, fantasy Skyrim to the bustling metropolis in GTA V or Saints Row insanities to the idyllic Just Cause or Far Cry landscapes to the metal fest Brütal Legend or maybe back to school wit Bully … name a scenario, it’s there. Of course, the star still is Red Dead Redemption, Rockstar’s amazing dying Wild West saga, where you could feel the melancholy at the end of an age, the solitude soon to be gone, and the signs of a new era looming … sigh. If you liked open world games, you must have loved this generation!

3. Gaming has come of age

Well, partially. Yes, there is still the immaturity of Lollipop Chainsaw or Bouncing Beach Boobies aka Dead or Alive, the pure violence of , and sadly, the patriotic pathos of Call of Duty, Medal of Honor etc. But there’s also Rockstar filling its games with social commentary dressed as dark satire or even dick jokes, Bioshock dealing with corrupting ideologies and showing us a racist “utopia”, and of course there’s Spec Ops The Line, the first proper anti-war game. It’s still a long way until games are on the same level as books or movies when it comes to story depth, character presentation or drama, but we’re on the right path.

4. We have the power!

First of all: Fuck all this bullshit about “whining entitled gamers”. We have the right to air our opinion (hint: personal abuse is not an opinion), and if Bioware rapes Mass Effect 3 in many ways, hell, even lies to us, why on Tuchanka should we keep quiet? Without the three-coloured shitstorm, we wouldn’t have the extended ending which resolve at least some of the plot holes. Also, remember Diablo 3’s ill-fated always-online and the rip-off auction house? Is it possible it is thanks to the outrage after rotten servers and giving items rarely so we had to buy them in the fucking auction house that the console versions do not need always-online and that the auction house will deservedly die? Who knows. But let’s not forget we can do more than just ciritcise: If we stop buying games like COD or basically anything from EA (when did they release the last good game anyway?) and instead start buying games from developers that listen to us like CD Projekt RED’s The Witcher games, we can make a difference! Let’s start doing it!

Rabidgames’ verdict: Yes, there’s more negative points than positive ones, and it might get worse pretty soon. But still, we’ve had lots of fun this generation as well. Gaming has matured, and while it is sad that the naive charm and the willingness not to give a crap and to just do whatever the dev wants have been lost, and while the age of physical storage mediums seems gone, we still have many games to choose from, for each and every taste.

This generation truly was a schizophrenic one – hate and love, pain and joy, disappointment and happy surprises, it was all there. We have also gone from one core market on 3 platforms to core, casual, inbetween, indie on several platforms (from smartphone and Ouya to high-end PCs). If this whole development is good or bad … time will tell. But whatever happens, we know we can always go back to play these games – maybe we are the last generation to remember how life was before the digital age where you have access to many things, but you end up owning fewer …

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Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag or The Best Pirate Sim

Posted in Hands On with tags , , , , , on November 8, 2013 by Rabidgames

Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag is one of those games where you expect the same old, maybe some improvement here or a refinement there. And then BOOM, out of nowhere, you find out the old gameplay and the new elements work together perfectly.

Black Flag is only an Assassin’s Creed game in the second place. First, it is a pirate sandbox, and a damn good one at that. A good sandbox game makes you do whatever you feel like for hours, without caring about time flying by or missions. And this game does exactly that: Rabidgames has spent hours on the open sea, lurking behind enemy ships, attacking, sinking and the occasional fleeing – without thinking about Assassins, Templars or pieces of Eden. Why? Because Black Flag invites you to explore the seas, to weather the storms, to take a risk against two frigates, to take on a massively defended fort or to fight just one more hunter before finally losing notoriety …

And then, there’s Kenway’s Fleet, a simple yet addictive mini-game where you send ships you’ve just captured minutes before in the Carribean seas to various destinations in return for some coin. You also battle enemy ships to unblock your trade routes. If you liked sending assassins to missions in previous games, this will be your main pastime in Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag. There’s just one issue: Since it is online (you can speed up friends’ ships, and they yours), it keeps you throwing out all the time. Well, just most of the time. Okay, sometimes. Yet again, we witness the age of always-online is not ripe … yet.

But what about the core Assassin’s Creed experience, like stabbing and shit, you ask? Relax, it’s still there. You get to assassinate, eavesdrop, fight and stealth your way through Templars, Englishmen and Spaniards in Black Flag as well, and it is mostly fun so far (the controls are not perfect, and there are too many “follow these guys and spy on their conversation just like the NSA” type missions).

Let’s not give any spoilers for the present day stuff, but rest assured it’s interesting and you’ll get to know some background info about Desmond – and more, including some poisonous propaganda twists.

Rabidgames preys upon Abstergo: Black Flag is surely a pleasant surprise. Instead of pulling another Revelations, Ubisoft listened to us and gave us an adventure full of naval battles AND our annual dose of Assassin’s Creed. It might not be perfect, but so wasn’t private life, matey!

South Park: The Stick of Truth Delay Hurts … Cause It Looks Awesome!

Posted in News with tags , , on November 2, 2013 by Rabidgames

As we all know, the ambitious RPG South Park: The Stick of Truth, aka Skyrim with swearwords, bad graphics and jews, has been delayed until March 2014. Shame, but if it’s about a bug free game, all the better.

However, the issue is South Park: The Stick of Truth looks fucking amazing. The game is full of awesome ideas, and it looks like great fun with a South Park twist, as the following seven minutes of hilarity prove:

Rabidgames laughs: Damn, that looks fun. Let’s hope four more months of waiting will result in a polished ride to South Park.