Archive for the Gaming these days … Category

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 …

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.

God of War or A Divine Tale of Gore and Boy

Posted in Gaming these days ..., Played & Explained with tags , on May 13, 2018 by Rabidgames

As someone who has never liked the previous God of War games, mostly because they were too linear and too fucking full of fucking quick time fucking events, the worst ever sorry excuse for actual gameplay mechanics, Rabidgames is pleasantly surprised how incredibly awesome the new God of War is.

god-of-war-1101287

Kratos and WWE’s Triple H – twins from alternate realities?

But make no mistake, the new God of War still is linear for most parts, it’s just rather well designed so you don’t feel the linearity that much. There are some branches that lead to some goodies, some paths that merge again, and some puzzles ask for a close observation of your surroundings. There’s also a big open area for you to relax and listen to Kratos’ stories, although his stories are not to everyone’s liking. But don’t worry, you’ll meat a better storyteller soon.

The combat system in this God of War feels slower but meatier – and seeing your thrown axe sink into an enemy’s flesh feels pretty satisfying, too. There will also be a second weapons later on, which will speed up combat a bit (no spoilers though). There is less gore in general, but the finishing moves still include Kratos ripping apart bodies, limbs and fountains of blood. But while the combat system is fun – and gets upgraded quickly with runic attacks from your axe and the boy’s bow attacks, enemy variety is a bit underwhelming. There are a handful of enemies that appear over and over throughout God of War, and only reappear with new skins later. The same goes for boss fights – there are only a few real boss fights, most are fighting the same set of mini bosses over and over again.

That being said though, it doesn’t have that much of an impact because the pacing in God of War is well-rounded for most parts – story, exploration, fights, puzzles and the odd “what the fuck?” moment work well together – pretty close to the pacing of Uncharted 4 (although the puzzles in God of War are more diverse and sometimes involve more thinking – although never THAT much more). The only time that wasn’t the case was towards the end when there were mini boss battles after virtually each step – honestly, that was the point where Rabidgames said “fuck this shit!” and went to finish the game on Easy – because once you figured certain enemies out, it was nothing but a war of attrition, which can become boring if it happens 3 times within 10 minutes …

Now, the story … without a doubt, this is where God of War really, really shines. What starts as a journey to spread the ashes of Kratos’ wife turns into more. Honestly, the less is said here the better but Kratos in the north works remarkably well, his interactions with others do, too. And virtually everyone you meet, from a stranger coming to your house (starting the first epic boss fight) to a mysterious witch, plays a part in this cosmic Norse play – it’s a bit of a bonus if you know a bit about Norse mythology, sure, but obviously, Sony’s Santa Monica Studio has taken some liberties there (which don’t feel terribly out of place).

As with the Greek mythology, the Norse gods were also pretty much giant (no pun intended) assholes. Don’t expect God of War to be a Viking Metal fairytale where the heroic deeds of Odin and Thor are praised. On the contrary, the gods are depicted as big jerks. Which makes sense, because if you read your Edda, they actually were. Or well, as actually as fictional characters can become …

You also get to travel a few of the legendary 9 realms in God of War. Starting in Midgard, you travel to some during the story, but there are also 2 realms that sadly only exist as glorified arenas. It’s a shame to do that, as it would have been awesome to explore these realms a bit more. A few are also locked permanently – sorry, we don’t get to see Asgard and Valhalla this time.

GOW

Black breath can’t be healthy.

And then, Atreus, or “Boy” – forget Elizabeth from BioShock Infinite, forget Ellie from The Last of Us (who was utterly useless in combat anyway), Atreus now officially is the new best juvenile sidekick in gaming. Not only is he a very, very integral part to God of War’s story, he changes from a weak little boy to a competent fighter – and more. In fact, he is a bit overpowered when fully levelled, which means all you need to do is evade and block and have Boy fire his arrows at enemies.

The writing also manages to portrait the relationship between Atreus and Kratos without it being tacky or soap operesque (is this even a word? Whatever). You can sense the bond between them growing because of the events in God of War, because of Atreus learning more and more about the world he’s growing up in, and you can feel it by how Kratos addresses his son. What exactly happens and what the implications of the revelation towards the end are, well, let’s say it makes more sense to not talk about it here, because, let’s face it, you should go and play God of War to see it for yourself. Speaking about implications, yes, there is a massive motherfucking cliffhanger! But in this case, it even makes sense. Let’s just say that Kratos’ bloody actions start a series of events that would probably have not fit into one game, hell, that would have been too epic for one game!

While this God of War might not appeal to all of the old-school fans of the series, the new mainstream approach has worked perfectly well in terms of metascore ranking and sales – and for a reason. Just like Uncharted 4, God of War is a masterpiece of storytelling and combining different gameplay elements together into a narrative machine that does a great job. And like Uncharted 4, God of War also is a very polished experience. Who would have thought that it pays off to publish a COMPLETE polished narrative masterpiece and make money with a SINGLE PLAYER game in this age of “games as a service”? Because fuck you, turns gamers actually like to play games like reading books – a complete experience you can wrap up in one sitting. And sure, there’s a cliffhanger, but that ain’t different with certain books. Right, George R.R. Martin?

Rabidgames bathes in the blood of Kratos’ enemies: First, Monster Hunter World has emerged as a GOTY contender, and now God of War throws its axe into the ring. And with Red Dead Redemption 2 on the horizon, there might be more to come … But one thing is clear – it will be hard to beat the story of this journey to Hel and back!

 

Agents of Mayhem or No Saints No Flow

Posted in Gaming these days ..., Hands On with tags , on May 10, 2018 by Rabidgames

It’s a shame. Agents of Mayhem could be great, but it’s not. It could be fun, but it’s not. It’s just mediocre at times at best. Story missions, gameplay and other activities are way too repetitive, the humour is way worse than in the Saints Row series (the good joke ratio is probably 1:10), and everything you do feels like a chore. And it doesn’t help open-world Seoul is soulless and devoid of anything meaningful. It looks nice but there is no depth.

In a way, Agents of Mayhem can be described as Saints Row with 95% less fun, and it would be accurate. Sure, the gameplay can be engaging at times, but then again, it’s hardly ever truly awesome. The missions, split into sub-missions (some of the ever-boring category of “go there, shoot 5 guys”), are … there. The dialogues are there, the gameplay is there, and sometimes it can be alright, but never great, and after a few hours, mixing and matching the different agents is all that keeps you engaged. The agents are pretty much Overwatch as a single player. They are relatively fleshed out and sometimes have an interesting back story, and they also play differently. They also have some missions of their own. Sadly, 95% of the missions are EXACTLY the same missions with other skins. Imagine Saints Row The Third but even more repetitive.

And then, bugs. Missions in Agents of Mayhem are pointlessly long, involve too much of the same, and if you’re in the last phase of a boss fight but then you’re buttons become unresponsive and you have to quit the game to come back to 20 minutes before, well, that screams fuck you! If you’re lucky, you just have to reload a checkpoint because your task is to kill everyone in a room – but one enemy is in the next room, and the door will only open if everyone in this room is dead. Oh yeah, the game counts the guy in the next room as one who is in this room … Fuck.

And then there are DLC characters – having Johnny Gat as DLC in Agents of Mayhem was a good move – and an asshole move as well at the same time. Why have THE best Saint only as physical version pre-order? Why even as pre-order? Come on! Then there’s Lazarus, who is mildly entertaining with her shooting insects around, and Kinzie, the cool FBI hacker, who is pretty much the same character in this universe. Kinzie is worth getting as her playstyle is pretty cool, but well, what does it say in a mediocre game?

So yeah, Agents of Mayhem is a game that should only be grabbed from the bargain bin, because not only is it repetitive, it is also partially broken. Its only saving grace are some of the Agents that suit your playstyle, and the camouflages from the Saints Row games. The rest is, well, there. But just being there doesn’t get the agents a gaming participation medal. And while they are the best Agents of Mayhem has to offer, the rest is just too bland, lazy and uninspired to justify more time in Seoul. Let’s hope we can book another vacation in Stilwater or Steelport soon.

Rabidgames is sad: Shame. What could have been great is just mediocre. No one asked for this, no one will ask for it ever again. Volition, we want another proper Saints Row, not some cheap bargain bin AAA game that is put to shame by most indie games.