Archive for June, 2018

The Crew 2 Open Beta or The Structureless and the Aimless

Posted in Commentary, Gaming these days ..., Hands On with tags , , on June 26, 2018 by Rabidgames

The Crew 2 is going to be a strange game … sure, the first The Crew hardly had any memorable story, but this game has you driving to get followers while mysteriously being able to transform your vehicle to car/boat/plane instantly without any explanation ever except for “it’s for a TV show”. Seriously? Sure, the premise might be too much suspension for disbelief from the get-go for some, but let’s try to talk about the game, shall we? After all, fuck it, it’s a game!

Well, first, the world. It is a 1:1 rehash of the first game. Still there’s no Memphis, no Portland, no Boston … and no one knows why. Shame. The map looks better though. No surprise since you can fly, right? Speaking about flying in The Crew 2 … it feels weird. It is arcadey, sure, but sometimes you bounce back from hitting a tree! Ouch. Hitting a bigger obstacle will reset the plane, as will leaving the map. Flying itself is fun if you want to discover the landscape, but if you want to do that, you can also zoom into the map to see everything without having to change camera angles constantly. If you want to grind, you can constantly gain followers by flying around and doing stunts, too.

Boat racing … sorry, it is shitawfully boring. It’s a pretty much useless addition to The Crew 2 … for navigating the map, it’s useless as you can’t traverse much, and you can see the same and more via plane. The racing is also very boring. It’s just not fun. Car racing is mostly the same from the original The Crew. It is split up more, sure, but it doesn’t look or feel differently.

Progression works with followers won and ranks unlocked. You also earn money to buy new vehicles in new disciplines, which in turn need to be unlocked by progressing in ranks. And cars cost a lot of money. Sounds not exactly fun? You’re right, it’s not exactly fun. The Crew 2 seems to be an eternal grindfest.

Yes, the story in original game was rather on the shit side of things, but hey, there was some structure to the game at least. The only structure in The Crew 2 is that if you start a discipline, you get introduced to some future boss. And then you randomly choose races or challenges and win them. Over and over again. Oh, you can also search for live packs that give you random upgrades for your car (you can also get upgrades by winning certain races or challenges). A welcome change from racing are photo opportunities, where you are tasked to make a photo of some wildlife. Interestingly enough, you can get lots of followers and cash for making a photo.

Oh, and the voice-acting and the dialogues are atrocious. Utterly atrocious. You know when you hear someone is looking for “badassdom” in racers … The Crew 2 is a sandbox game in a very pure form – here are your tools, now play. No story, no explanation, no meaning, just racing. On the same map it shares with its predecessor. Sure, there is some addictive element to progress just a bit more, and if you’re inclined to play with others, this always-online game might be your cup of tea.

At the end of the day, the verdict is very negative. And yet, there are some addictive elements to The Crew 2, and the easy-going racing against others, against time are quite entertaining. And the good thing about the lack of structure is that you gain followers, money and parts by not even doing some serious racing, just by wasting some time. Which can be a nice thing after a long working day, you know … but it’s also an experience that can wait for a price reduction.

Rabidgames is bored: 30 minutes in, the game gets boring already. Races all feel to similar at the beginning, and there is no urgency to anything, or incentive to do something just now. Sorry, recycling a map and adding some half-implentend and unexplained features isn’t enough to justify a full-price purchase. Not this time, Ubi!

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E3 2018 – Rabidgames’ Winners & Losers

Posted in Commentary, Gaming these days ..., The Latest with tags , , , , on June 20, 2018 by Rabidgames

This year’s E3 was better than expected. Game-wise. Let’s forget about the presentations, especially Nintendo’s Smash wank fest and Sony’s weird time-planning  though … Anyway, in terms of games, there’s some good shit coming our ways – and some not so great crap as well, unfortunately …

WINNERS

Cyberpunk 2077

THE obvious winner of this year’s E3, and we haven’t even seen much of the game! But what we’ve seen, read and heard, is very promising. Even if it is just Deus Ex in a GTA world, we’d take it, right?

The Last of Us 2

Well, what can you say? The game looks great, the animations look great, and it’s quite funny how a bit of girl-on-girl action can lead to morons foaming from their mouths …

Just Cause 4

When it was announced, Rabidgames was rather “meh”. Just Cause 3 was 2 leagues below the great Just Cause2, and it had some plain idiotic design choices (locking cool things behind boring challenges being the worst). And it also will feature different climate zones again – jungle, plains, desert and snowy mountains are confirmed – yay! But judging from this fooling around, Just Cause 4 might focus on the one thing that made the second game so awesome – fun.

THE MIDFIELD CONTENDERS

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

While the game looks nice, and the infos sound promising, there are two things that don’t feel too great: Why call a game Origins – and then go back in time??? And while Greece with its plenty of city states might be interesting, how could it ever compare with the pyramids, the deserts and the clash of 3 cultures in Egypt? Odyssey might become a good game, sure, but will it be a good Assassin’s Creed?

Rage 2

It looks pretty crazy, sure. But – it looks exactly like a mix of the shooting of Doom and then the worlds of Borderlands and Mad Max, and perhaps some Saints Row (all that pink!) thrown in-between. So far, we haven’t seen too much of an identity. Let’s just hope all the nice gadgets from the original Rage will make it into the game …

LOSERS

Fallout 76

Awful, awful, awful. A fucking MMO light without any NPCs or any useful single-player. Fuck this Destiny clone shit! If Bethesda doesn’t improve this thing a lot, it’ll be nothing but a fucking turd! And they know it, why else would they announce The Elder Scrolls VI when it’s still years away?

Anthem

Well, pretty much the same. Yet another Destiny clone, probably also as unfinished and shallow, and probably Bioware’s demise, although this one will have NPCs! Hooray? Fuck no!

WHAT’S STILL MISSING …

Dragon’s Dogma 2

Honestly, it is about time for a sequel. And please, no online crap! Give us a refined Pawn system, bigger and badder spells and a new world to discover as yet another Arisen already!

Half-Life 3

Just kidding …

Rabdigames’ verdict: A few surprises and a few nice reveals notwithstanding, there wasn’t THAT much to get excited about. It may be that a new console generation is already lurking in the background, it might be that the big hits (CYBERPUNK!!!) are still miles away, or it might be that Rockstar is still not willing to reveal Red Dead Redemptions 2 …

Vampyr or Undeath is Strange

Posted in Hands On, The Latest with tags , , , on June 15, 2018 by Rabidgames

After Life is Strange, the expectations were high.Would Dontnod’s take on vampires follow Max’ and Chloe’s adventures, or would it rather be like Remember Me, a game with good intentions and great design, but ultimately remembered for being a bit mediocre because of the weird combat and some strange puzzles? Long story short, Vampyr is a bit of both. And there are some nice easter-eggs and trophies in there as well to remind you of the developer’s heritage …

Vampyr has the long yet intriguing dialogues of Life is Strange, and it also has a similar yet considerably darker atmosphere. But the fighting also feels a bit disjointed from the rest of the game sadly. More on that later, but let’s just making the fighting optional certainly wouldn’t have Vampyr a worse game. Anyway, most of the time, you’ll talk to people and try to find clues that serve two purposes: First, you unlock hints that might be useful later, and second, the more hints you unlock and the healthier a NPC is, the more XP you get for drinking their crimson wine. Each NPC has a story to tell, and it is interesting to get to know more about them – if they survive long enough.

But the consequences … fuck. They are brutal. Let’s just say one decision can doom an entire district. For good. And worst, Rabidgames meant well! Vampyr doesn’t bother to give you any indication how to achieve a good or bad outcome, so prepare to restart the game and playing up to 10 hours if you mess this up and you can’t live with the consequences. Or save the game on a USB stick frequently … just asking for a friend, you know … Like said before, Vampyr is not shy to kill off everyone in a district if you don’t keep everyone, especially the so-called “pillars”, important NPCs in an area, alive. Alive and healthy, so you’ll spend time talking to them and keeping them healthy by brewing medicine – a lot!

Vampyr is a game that can be played fundamentally different. The main thing is that you get lots of XP and thereby an easy game if you “embrace” NPCs – embracing being the best euphemism for drinking their blood like Russians devour alcohol! If you do this, you quickly unlock the powerful skills of Vampyr – but it comes at a steep price – every living person gone brings a district closer to chaos.

Now, let’s talk about combat. While there are some fights you sadly have to fight, you can evade many. Now, the combat in Vampyr isn’t necessarily bad, but it takes up too much room in a game about choices. Way too much room. So, you can mix and match your weapons and abilities, which works for different playstyles. You can stun and suck blood, you can shoot your guns (although you don’t have many bullets at your disposal), you can use blood or shadow “magic”, there’s plenty of choice to be had. If only the fighting was fun … It feels a bit like Dark Souls though – more a chore on the way to your target than something to enjoy.

And then, there are boss battles. If you choose to be a “good vampire”, well, you’re fucked. There is a special boss fight around the middle of the game where you can easily get killed with 2 hits in this case. It’s fucking stupid. This is a case of Deus Ex: Human Revolution all over again – why bother playing non-violently when it boils down to brute force after all?

Even worse, the loading times. Vampyr takes forever to load, and if you die, prepare to watch the screen for at least a minute, at least on the base PS4. And you wonder why – the graphics are nice, but not spectacular. The physics also don’t justify it, and neither does the size of this Victorian London. So why does it take so long? Oh, and once every full moon, the game also crashes during fights.

So, where does this take us? Well, Vampyr is unfortunately a hybrid of great adventure moments and tedious combat, the latter heavily weighing down the former. And if you choose to be a good doctor, well fuck you very much, Vampyr becomes ten, okay, five times harder. The idea is alright, but especially the addition of way too many sub-bosses takes away from the great atmosphere. Another issue is the backtracking – there is no fast-travel so you’ll walk back and forth (with optional fighting, of course) quite a lot, often a couple of times the same way in a given chapter.

But despite all the shortcomings, Vampyr is a fascinating game. It is not as captivating as Life is Strange was, but it can mesmerise you when you investigate a scene or listen to all the dialogues and come to your conclusion, and if you get a decision wrong, you feel the same kind of pain you felt when you made that agonising last decision in Life is Strange. The game definitely has a soul. Whether that’s enough for you, well, that depends how thirsty you are for a vampire game.

Rabidgames ponders in the dark: It’s not that Vampyr does a great many things wrong. A few technical hiccups aside, it’s only the tedious combat that keeps the game, and the fun, down. And yet, it is hard to put the controller down once the story continues, once you’ve found out another secret of a NPC – and once you got over the fact you doomed 12 people because you meant well!

Cyberpunk 2077 Has Just Reached Hype Level 2077

Posted in Gaming these days ..., News, The Latest with tags , , , on June 13, 2018 by Rabidgames

Let’s start with something easy: You’ve watched the trailer for Cyberpunk 2077, haven’t you? If not, here you go. Expect to get excited though.

Looks good, right? But if that looks good to you, this piece from Eurogamer will be visual orgasm! Here are some of Rabidgames’ personal highlights:

We saw V’s apartment. Is that your home base you can return to?

Patrick Mills: That is your home base at the beginning of the game. Across the course of the game you will be able to purchase additional locations you can use as your home base. It’s too early to talk about too many details about that system, but we do plan on having that.

We got a glimpse at what you’re able to do in your apartment.

Patrick Mills: You can suit up, check your computer. In the demo the quest log up in the corner says, get your gun, get your katana, check your email.

Finally, a game with proper safe houses. And more than just a balmy one (or a meagre two in Franklin’s and Trevor’s cases) like in GTA V

But it gets better:

Is Cyberpunk 2077 a purely single-player game?

Patrick Mills: Yes, it is.

So there’s no multiplayer whatsoever?

Patrick Mills: We have multiplayer in R&D, but the game we’re shipping to you, the game you’re going to buy is the single-player experience. That’s really what we’re concentrating on now, the single-player RPG experience. That’s what we want to nail down before we start looking at any of these other things.

Hell yeah! This is how you do it! After the launch of a single-player game, do whatever you want, but focus development on just the campaign.

The quest structure also seems to be varied and “alive”. Hopefully, we won’t see many fetch quests in Cyberpunk 2077 though:

Will you get phone calls from people offering you quests?

Patrick Mills: You can expect a variety of things. In the Cyberpunk world there are these people called Fixers. The thing about Fixers is they’re the brokers of the mercenary life. They’re the ones who arrange for mercenaries to be brought in to solve problems. You’re going to get some of those jobs from talking to Fixers.

Sometimes you’ll see things on the street that you want to get involved in. We’ve got a variety of different ways to draw you into quests. We don’t want it to just be, drive to this location or just call this guy and get a quest. We want it to feel alive and immerse you in the world.

 

But … there’s a potential thing, a little bit of a problem, we should talk about. Read this:

What platforms will Cyberpunk come out on?

Patrick Mills: The game will be coming out on Xbox One, PS4 and PC. At the moment.

Have you guys settled on a year you want to release the game?

Patrick Mills: Not that I could give you. When it’s done!

Now, it shouldn’t come as a surprise, but “at the moment” reads as if it will become a launch title for the PS5 and the Xbox, erm, Two X … not the best news, but Cyberpunk 2077 sounds too good to be true for this console generation anyway, doesn’t it?

Rabidgames is hyped: Before E3, this game was on the radar. Now, it is a clear case of “shut up, take my money!” Sadly, chances are it seems it might not even be released this decade. But good things come to those who wait, don’t they? And sometimes, those things turn out to be the best.

Dear Rockstar: A Friendly Intervention

Posted in Gaming these days ... with tags , , , , , , , , on June 7, 2018 by Rabidgames

We have been good friends for a long time, haven’t we?

Remember how our good times started? Remember the fun we had with the original Grand Theft Auto, GTA London, GTA 2 … Oh yes, we’ve had good times on the PS1. Although back then, it was still well-behaved and tame, wasn’t it?

But then we became best buddies, man. And times got wilder. You know how GTA III happened? Boom, that open 3-D world, us getting lost there, getting drunk, crashing cars? Man, we loved that shit back then! But you gave us even more with Vice City and the awesome 80s feeling, and EVEN MORE with the massive world of San Andreas. Holy crap, it felt like re-inventing the rules! But we share more fond PS2 memories, don’t we? The Warriors, Red Dead Revolver, Max motherfucking Payne, and of course the very awesome yet underrated memory of the amazing Bully (man, what a nice small world!). Sure, you were a bit weird with manhunt but still, good times, buddy, good times.

Sure, GTA IV was a bit of a drag because of the annoying relatives and the return to only a single city, and oh, Max Payne 3, well, we all mistakes, so you’re forgiven. But hey, we had fun with simply the best Western game ever, Red Dead Redemption, with the detective novel L.A. Noire and with the sprawling world and of course Trevor’s erratic behaviours in GTA V.

And man, we’ve loooved your stories. Your caricatures, your satire, your humour, you have made these things work on quite some levels. From the Wild West to urban centres, from small towns to Brazilian favelas, storytelling was your damn strength, dude! You’ve mixed fiction and the real world like no other, and you managed to simply piss everyone off! Like South Park, just more interactive.

But then, something happened … Let’s be honest here, okay? Let’s talk straight! You lost sight of our goals, buddy. In recent years, you’ve lost it, bud. Was it the money? The fame? The temptation of another quick fix? Whatever it was, how to put this, but man, you need to get a grip. We really miss your stories! Recently, you went AWOL on us to spend time in that modern online world. But dude, we’re still here. We’ve thought you’d care more about us than the fucking jocks from EA and Activision, you know. But lately, and please, don’t get this the wrong way, but lately you’ve behaved just like those dorks!

See, let me give you some examples here. We’re not dissing you, we’re telling you. You know, making GTA Online a grind, luring us in there with free money (come on, half a million is fuck nothing in your overpriced economy and you know it), ditching all plans for any campaign story add-ons after making promises … man, that one has hurt the most! Have you really forgotten your roots, man? Your roots, and the good times we’ve shared?

And now, man, we want to play Red Dead Redemption 2, we really, really, really want to buy the game. And we want to like it and look forward to it. Really, really! But DUDE! What the fuck are you doing? Why does it have to be shitloads of different editions? Even with “exclusive” missions? Fuck that shit, man! Why should we pre-order to get some fucking online cash for another fucking game? Come on man, stop partying with the frat boys from EA!!! Stop believing the sweet yet treacherous words from that Activision dude!

But let’s calm down for now, okay? After all, we’ve been friends for a long, long time. Shit, you could say decades! So see, because it’s you, we want to give you a last chance. Please, please prove you still care. Please show us you still can tell great stories, and you still have it in you to tell a long, meaningful story. But hey, look away from your phone! No exclusive crap! No more DLC shit! No fucking micro-transactions! Can you try to do that for us pretty please? Can you?

And make no mistake, Rockstar. This is your last chance. If you disappoint us again and you feel like treating the story just as a tutorial for your oh-so-beloved new online hobby, we’re done. Because frankly, right now, we don’t believe you and your talks anymore. It’s time for action. So comes October, we’ll see. So please, old friend, please don’t disappoint us! Or it’s farewell. Forever.

Agony or Gameplay from Hell

Posted in Gaming these days ..., Hands On with tags , on June 5, 2018 by Rabidgames

First of all, DO NOT watch any gameplay from Agony at work. Even if you sometimes watch video game videos there. Just don’t. Unless you want to explain the sight of strangely shaped heads with teeth above bloodied breasts to you co-workers of course – and that’s one of the more harmless visuals …

 Agony. A horror survival game in hell. A developer that promised to make no compromises. Sounds good. But then, there were compromises. Developer Madmind Studio self-censored the game, even more than they said they would, and then miraculously released a video containing exactly the deleted scenes, which involve pornography and a demon dick raping a succubus. Yes, very fucking explicit scenes. Honestly, fuck discussing if that’s art or not, this kind of click-bait and “look how edgy we are” marketing is gross or pathetic. Or both, depending on your point of view. Oddly enough, apples with a “hole” have made it into the game …

It surely should not create a shitstorm among gamers, because talking about censoring bits of a game where there is still shitloads of violence, gore and sex on your screen is moot when it is a miracle all the content that is in is actually allowed on-screen in puritanical countries like the US or in countries like Germany, where even a ridiculously harmless game like Syphon Filter once had to have enemies bleeding green blood …

So controversy and violent porn scenes aside, how does Agony fare? Ugh. First, what happened to the graphics? You know, the trailers and past presentations showed a nice-looking game. Now, hell looks like a game released 5 years ago, and flesh rather looks like plastic in many areas. It’s also pretty dark – so dark that you sometimes can’t even stare at the wonders of hell because it is too damn dark! And yes, animations and NPC would look odd next to Skyrim! Then, there are problems with screen tearing and FPS slowdowns, as well as demons teleporting 2 meters next to you. Or you can’t progress for some reason until you restart the game …

But hey, maybe the gameplay can save Agony? Nope. The controls are not as responsive as they should, the character moves too slow, the puzzles are merely “find a heart and bring it there”, the stealth is similar but worse than Alien: Isolation, and the fighting small enemies but run away from big ones is also frustrating because of the technical issues or boring because the demons that quickly dismember you can appear everywhere (see above). It can also happen that you can be stuck in a hiding spot because the demon next to you keeps running into a wall … Or random stuff like this glitch or whatever it may be:

But there’s one good gameplay idea at least: If you die, you have a bit of time to fly (in spirit form) into another body, possess it and continue your journey. However, if you fail to do so, you’re dead. And here comes the idiotic save system of Agony into play: You have to use a mirror-thing to be able to save there, which in turn means you’ll return there (up to three times only though). And the game does an awful shitty job with placing them smartly. Sometimes, there are two within two minutes, and sometimes, you can’t find a single fucking mirror-thing for 30 minutes – until you get killed. But it’s fun to lose 30 minutes of progress over and over, isn’t it? Then again, the demon sometimes stands literally next to you kneeling and walks away again. Huh?

All of these factors combined turn Agony from a promising survival game to a game where you wonder if the game engine can even survive the game. Sadly though, the tiresome gameplay and the irksome bugs are so annoying, progressing is such a pain, that it is easy to overlook that the designers actually did quite a good job with their portrayal of hell in Agony. Some areas feel like hell, and you’re slowly crouching along when a demon is close by while you hear damned babies or mad adults cry. Some scenes also leave that slightly curious yet definitely uncomfortable feeling in your stomach, which is a sign a horror game does something right.

So no, it’s not that Agony couldn’t get anything right at all. Maybe it’s for masochists who loved to die a million times in Dark Souls, and now don’t mind terrible controls. Maybe it will be better once it’s patched properly. But while one can say this road to hell was paved with good intentions, the lacklustre execution means you grow tired of this incarnation of hell very quickly.

Rabidgames laments: Shame. Great potential, but the self-inflicted controversy about censorship, the unfinished state and the incredibly boring gameplay ruin this vacation to the depths of hell. A hell where you suffer the shortcomings of the game more than you suffer hell itself. Or to sum it up: The name says it all.

Conan Exiles or Of Gore, Chore and Freedom for Dicks

Posted in Hands On with tags , , , , , on June 1, 2018 by Rabidgames

First things first – yes, you can have your character run and bounce around naked in Conan Exiles. You can have a dick blowing in the wind, or some (rather artificial looking) tits hanging out, both in the size of your choosing. Why? Fuck knows (Conan lore might be good answer if someone asks you). After a few minutes of watching dick and balls flying about every time your dude jumps, you’ll be happy to put on some trousers though. Imagine a sandstorm rubbing against your genitals – that’s some rather unwelcome immersion … Or maybe not, if you’re an advocator of nudism.

Okay, with the genitals out of the way, yes, Conan Exiles is much more than that. It’s a rather classic survival game with tons of blood and gore, and you will also spend a considerable time of your gaming time in menus, building and crafting stuff. And breaking the will of people you deem worthy of enslaving is another thing to do in your spare time in the Hyborian age.

You can play Conan Exiles online in a PvP setting, in a PvE setting, with just a friend or, if you prefer to be the only king, alone. There are plenty of options to choose from to find the perfect way you want to play the game. Customisation isn’t the deepest but the mix of races, religion and appearance is also not the worst. And well, whether you want to allow the world to see your character in all your glory …

Let’s start with the story. Easy. You are hanging on a cross and not doing too well, the one and only Conan saves you, the sandbox is yours. And it’s a big, nice sandbox. Different terrains, different climates you need to be prepared for, and enemies all over the world. At first though, you have no clue what’s going on in Conan Exiles, what you can do or what you should do. As soon as you arrive at the first oasis with water and food aplenty after a few minutes, you will start experimenting to find your favourite way how to survive.

And it’ll take some time – you have a skill tree that gives you bonuses every 10 or so ability points you in turn get for pretty much every action you perform for the first time, you have a massive crafting tree that lets you unlock different things to craft, and you definitely have to start gathering plant materials, wood, food, pelts, meat, human flesh … well, the last one is optional (but useful if you worship certain gods).

Now – there’s lots of content in Conan Exiles, but how good is it? Well, it’s a mixed bag honestly. Exploring is always fun and one of the main strengths, making sure to have only the right stuff equipped (how much food and water, clothing, weapons) so you can go on a haul is important, and that is where Conan Exiles works best. Fighting is okay. Like many other games, it feels like a simplified version of Dark Soul’s combat, but it’s a bit clunky and it can feel boring quickly – like in Skyrim. But hey, you can brutally dismember your enemies in various ways, so there’s that!

Weirdly enough, crafting is not the strong point of Conan Exiles. Or maybe it is to survival experts or Minecraft fans, but building a house is a very cumbersome task – you need to prepare each and every part starting from the foundation individually, and then you need to put it all together, which takes some time. And once that’s done, you sometimes need a tool or a contraption to build a tool to build something else …

So, is Conan Exiles the game for you? Hard to say. Do you like to run around naked? Do you like to explore, and can you stand combat that is a bit rough around the edges? And the most important question – do you have a degree in architecture and do you enjoy building that much you don’t mind the complex and a bit convoluted systems? If you scream yes to all of the above, welcome to the primeval and brutal lands of Conan Exiles. This mix of Ark and Minecraft for adults might be right up your alley!

Rabidgames is doubtful: That being said, if you’re not a fan of at least 50% of the above, you’ll get lost in Conan Exiles. There are games that feel more work than play, and this one is surely one of them; beneath the genitals and the gore, there’s plenty of work waiting. More work than fun at times. It still has plenty to offer, but when crafting turns into a chore, settlements and sometimes games shall remain unfinished.