Archive for September, 2014

Shadow of Mordor – The True Start of the Next Generation?

Posted in News on September 28, 2014 by Rabidgames

We’ve had Watch_Dogs, we’ve had Destiny. Both were heralded as the true and proper beginning of the next generation of console gaming. And yet, both failed to that. They are enjoyable games, fair enough, but nothing really new or innovative. Not in terms of graphics, not in terms of gameplay, not in terms of A.I.

But Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor might change just that! Sure, at first glance it is nothing more than an Assassin’s Creed parcours with Arkham fighting set in Tolkien’s universe (time-wise, it takes part between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, you know, that time when Sauron returns to Mordor). But at a second look, thanks to the ingenious Nemesis system, Shadow of Mordor really shows some innovation in two key departments: A.I. and gameplay!

What’s that, the Nemesis system, you ask? Well, it is more than Diablo 3‘s fun yet hardly innovative Nemesis system. Way more.  In brief, it is the complex eco system of Orc society, constantly played in the background of Shadow of Mordor; like a game of chess, orcs always go up the ranks and kill each other to get there, and we can take part in it – either by killing (or maiming or burning) them ourselves, or by giving one orc we like some prestige after allowing him to kill us. Hell, we can develop a feud with one special frenemy orc throughout the entire game! Or we can dominate orcs and make them do our bidding. Or we just sit back and watch how the power struggles turn out – Shadow of Mordor allows all that. You want toi know mor? Here’s a looooong video with many details of the cool Nemesis system:

Or, if you want more info in a shorter time, there’s this trailer explaining lots of things about Shadow of Mordor within only 10 minutes:

Rabidgames can’t wait: Due to the early lifting of the embargo, most reviews are also praising Shadow of Mordor – and while we might not trust every review (Rabidgames surely doesn’t), it doesn’t seem the game has any major flaws. Which only means one thing: Day one it is!

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Will Final Fantasy XV Be a Rebirth of the Series?

Posted in News with tags , , , , on September 19, 2014 by Rabidgames

Okay, we’ve all been disillusioned by the lacklustre Final Fantasy XIII trilogy. The series was dead to most of us. It didn’t really help that Square Enix then renamed the long-awaited Final Fantasy XIII Versus (or whatever it was called inbetween) to Final Fantasy XV.

But then, this video happened!

Cars, vast plains, sci-fi and fantasy, a pretty damn impressive trailer, and all of a sudden, Final Fantasy XV is interesting again!

Rabidgames hopes: Yes, the trailer is looking good. But remember, the trailers for Final Fantasy XIII also looked good … This time, Square Enix better delivers solid gameplay beneath shiny graphics!

Destiny or Of Misconceptions and Truths

Posted in Gaming these days ..., Hands On with tags on September 15, 2014 by Rabidgames

There has been much talk and even more hype. Destiny was supposed to really fire up the next generation of console gaming. It was supposed to be a MMO-style co-op open worldish first person shooter revelation. But now that we can peel back the layers of hype, what exactly is Destiny?

It is not next gen. In any way. Destiny has some decent graphics, yes. But the gameplay is nothing new or innovative. It is extremely polished, it is fun, but that’s about it.

It is not as bad as many point out. Frankly, Destiny pays the price for years of stale Call of Duties, Battlefields & Co. Finally, many people are fed up with the same AAA formula: Always play safe, no risks, you know it. For some reason, reviewers and gamers take out all their frustration on Destiny, not on Call of Duty. True, the hype was too big, there were to many promises not kept, but remember how each damn Call of Duty is supposed to be new and different yet it never is?

It is neither MMO nor single player … Destiny is something inbetween. Sometimes you spot another player, sometimes even two. But that’s it. Compared to Defiance where you can meet dozens of players at some events, Destiny is barren. In the week of its release. So no, it is nowhere near a MMO. However, it is not really a proper single player game. First of all, it’s always online. No internet, no Destiny. Second, you can play the story on your own, no problem, but playing a strike and most likely a raid alone sounds like in-game suicide and real-life time wasting. You need a working team to beat these instances of Destiny.

The gameplay shines … except for the AI. In terms of gameplay, Destiny is as polished as polished can get. The controls are smooth and crisp, running and gunning is fluent, the frame rate is stable, and switching between vehicles and running is perfect. The weapons have some weight to them and feel and handle different from each other, too. Seems good … if it wasn’t for the broken AI. Sure, enemies take cover (especially shielded enemies tend to wait until their shields are up again), but they rarely try to flank you. Even worse, every enemy in Destiny has a radius it never trespasses. Fuck, you can exploit it perfectly in boss fights – there is virtually always a safe spot to retreat to, and a melee boss won’t even touch you if you play your cards right. Come on, test it out for yourself.

It is a Halo/Borderlands/Diablo/Mass Effect hybrid. It has the looks of Halo, the loot system of Borderlands, the leveling up structure of Diablo 3, the coop approach of Mass Effect 3’s MP. As said before, Destiny is not a revolution, not an innovation. But it combines all of the above in a compelling way. You want to explore, you want to find loot, you want to keep on playing. For the loot, mostly. To sum it up, Destiny is all about the loot.

The story is non-existent. We have a cinematic at the beginning, some lines from Tyrion, erm, our Ghost, and some lines inbetween. We know … next to nothing. Sure, you unlock cards in Destiny … cards you can watch at the Bungie website. Seriously? Would it have been that hard to give us the option … you know, in the game itself? What is going on with this second screen nonsense? No one cares for it on the Wii U, the Vita bombs anyway, and smartphone compagnions are pretty much useless gimmicks – why insisting on stuff us gamers do not want? We want all information on the screen in the game. Period.

The long-term prospects hamper the actual game. How? First of all, we know next to nothing about Destiny’s universe. So why should we care about a world without lore or interesting characters? Bioware and Bethesda know you need an appoach to captivate players. Destiny captivates us now, true. But for how long? Second, there’s a ten year plan for Destiny in place, probably all detailed. There’s main games, big DLC, small DLC etc. Speaking of  that…

DLC ruins the experience. “Wait, what?” you might say. “Rabidgames, you don’t know anything about upcoming DLC yet!” True. But look at the rather meagre content (just compare Destiny’s campaign to the one in Borderlands 2). For now, Destiny is a 20 hours experience. At the moment, Destiny looks spectacular, the soundtrack is amazing, and some vistas are beautiful. But there is not much below the surface. A lack of story, a lack of missions, a lack of diversity. Sure, we have the open maps to explore, but how long will we do it? To counter that, Activision and Bungie have promised us DLC. Hell, you can buy a more expensive version of Destiny that includes the first two pieces of DLC! That’s how Destiny is supposed to come alive. Via DLC! That would be perfectly fine if Destiny had been a 20 quid price tag, but full price for a game that becomes a complete game only after shelling out dozens of pounds again? Judge for yourselves!

Its PvP is fucked. How? Well, you have a team with the highest level of 10, the enemy’s average is … 15. Guess what happens next? Either way round, this kind of matchmaking is fucking stupid. Either you wipe the floor with weak noobs or overpowered opponents, usually level 20 upwards, wipe the floor with your sorry guardian ass! It makes PvP in Destiny absolutely redundant and pointless.

It is good, not great. Of course, the hype was so big it was impossible to live up to it. But even if there are disappointments and long-term dangers, Destiny is fun to play at its core. It is fun to travel around, hunt down some bosses, play a strike with other players. But there is no awesome factor. After a while, and that while might be within a month, Destiny will feel stale – especially with the tons of other games incoming.

All hope is not lost! Bungie might still find a way to counter that fatigue that is going to set in eventually – maybe by weekend special events (they have already started) or free updates as the new species, weapons etc. in Mass Effect 3’s MP. If purchasable DLC is the only way for Destiny to survive, its destiny seems all but sure – the bargain bin.

Rabidgame keeps playing: All the long-term issues aside, Destiny is an enjoyable experience to play through and the verdict seems a bit harsh. True, it might not be much more than its core, but its core is the gameplay, and the gameplay is solid fun. Time will tell if that’s enough though …

November Will Be Gamergeddon!

Posted in Gaming these days ..., News with tags , , , , , , on September 13, 2014 by Rabidgames

So far, this year has been a game drought … We had Watch_Dogs and Wolfenstein, but that was more or less it, wasn’t it? But come November, we’ll all be drowning in games – long, big games …

Let’s have a look at Rabidgames’ wanted list:

11/11
Assassin’s Creed Unity
Assassin’s Creed Rogue

18/11
GTA V
Far Cry 4

21/11
Dragon Age Inquisition

So … who can afford to buy 5 AAA games, 5 big releases, let alone play them, if they are released within 2 fucking weeks? Let’s not forget there’s also a time before November with FIFA 15, Alien Isolation, The Evil Within, Shadows of Mordor, Sherlock Holmes, Raven’s Cry and WWE 2K15 looming …

Honestly, are publishers dumb? This question goes out to Ubisoft especially: How stupid is it to release two Assassin’s Creed games at the same fucking day? And even more stupid to release Far Cry 4 one week later … Have they lost their mind? But in general, why the fuck are there virtually no games during summer, but comes September, the gaming world gets crazy?

Mind you, these are just the games Rabidgames is interested in … there are more out there …

Rabidgames is scared: Most likely, one or two of the above games will not make it on the day 1 purchase list. Why? Because no one on earth has the time to play 5 games at the same time, of course! Different publishers too dumb to take a look at schedules – fine. But Ubisoft is just insane … makes you wonder how they’ll justify that decision …

Is Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments a L.A. Noire Surrogate?

Posted in News with tags , , , on September 13, 2014 by Rabidgames

Since L.A. Noire, us console gamers have not had the opportunity to play detective again. But the upcoming Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments might change that. A 20 minute trailer shows us some gameplay from Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments in form of searching crime scenes, interrogating witnesses and combining all the clues invarious settings in Victorian London. It seems we can really fuck it up, too: There are 8 endings to each case, and we can miserably fail the investigation as well.

Comes 3 October, we will know who is the greatest detective in the gaming world: Sherlock Holmes or Cole Phelps. The bets are on.

Rabidgames looks for a clue: If you’re up for some crime solving, Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments might be up right up your alley – just expect that alley to be full of bloody murders.

Metro Redux or Dark But Shiny Remastery

Posted in Gaming these days ..., Played & Explained with tags , , , on September 7, 2014 by Rabidgames

Admittedly, Rabidgames’ first thought regarding Metro Redux was “yet another Remastered bundle? Is that something we really need?” Remember the remastered versions of Tomb Raider and The Last Of Us, where, well, nothing but the graphics and some hair animation changed? Good for newcomers, but buying the same game twice is clearly insane, right?

To be fair, Metro Redux is more. First, it contains both games, Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light, plus all DLC. Two games for one sounds good. Even better, Metro 2033 has been improved not only in terms of graphics, but also in terms of gameplay: It now feels slicker and smoother, and the graphics on the new consoles really shine! When rain drops (or dirt) is gathering on your mask, when you’re outside looking at the ruins, when you are wandering through the rusty habitable zones, when you’re in the dark and your torch illuminates the surroundings eerily – it’s a big improvement, and it helps to capture the essence of the Metro experience and let it really shine!

Plus, we are asked what we actually want to do: You can even playRedux as a rather normal shooter where you don’t have to take care of every bullet now – if you want. If you want some Dark Souls in your Metro experience, feel free to play on Hardcore and absolutely no UI. Metro Redux lets you experience the game how you see fit. Quite funny it seems small developers like Russian 4A Games and Polish Projekt Red seem to be the only ones getting that. The more choice we have to play the game like we want, the more we’ll like it – masochism in the vein of Dark Souls the exception from the rule, of course.

So, if you’re up for some survival shooter fun with a hint of horror included, Metro Redux is your game. However, bear in mind it is not perfect. While the hub levels where you can equip yourself and listen to people around you to get tons of information about living underground in Moscow are great, the “fighting levels” are not always that amazing, and they get downright annoying if you have to fight feral animals that do nothing but jump at you and guess what, they can kill you with two bites. Furthermore, the human artificial intelligence in Metro Redux is not exactly smart either – you can easily exploit the kind of broken stealth system, and enemies also tend to line up in your line of fire perfectly. Plus, Metro 2033 uses the same level structures for too long: Hub, shooting, hub, shooting, hub … etc. Thankfully, Last Light made the levels more diverse and different.

But let’s face it, no one plays Metro Redux solely because of the gameplay – yes, it is mostly fun, but not top priority, just like in Spec Ops The Line (although the ordinary shooter of the mill gameplay served a true purpose there). It’s the story that matters, and the story is really well woven into both games. Be it the power struggles between the remaining humans, the merciless fight for survival, or the mysterious Dark Ones, it all is intriguing. But Metro’s biggest selling point is the thick atmosphere – a desolate world where darkness saves you and the light of day brings only death. Every conversation between people in one of the hubs tells you something about life in Russia in 2033, accompanied by dimly lit environments and hand-crafted weapons and tools.

Furthermore, Metro Redux feels different from the Call of Duties and Battlefields out there – maybe its the Russian origin, maybe it’s the desolate feeling of a dying feral world, maybe it’s just the clever threats of dwindling light, gas mask filters and ammo that make Metro the unique experience. Yes, the gameplay is not perfect, but the mood and the tone are. After America fuck yeahing too many times, the Russian metro system is a more than welcome change from the shooter blueprints of recent years.

Rabidgames approves: There are three ways to define an amazing game (which relates to at least 9/10 in terms of metacritic logic): Either you have the best gameplay or you have the best atmosphere or the best story. Metro Redux might lake supreme gameplay, but the interweaving thick and bleak atmosphere as well as the clever and gripping story make Metro an amazing game waiting to be experienced. Of course, the amazing graphics help … but graphics are just tools, while the atmosphere is art! Metro is living proof games can be art – even though the living part is mostly a metaphor in this game.