Archive for the ‘ Gaming Observations ’ Category

When Big Daddies Cry Rape


This Penny Arcade strip, while aimed at the current Big Evil Boss of the gaming industry, accurately sums up my feelings about the new Bioshock game that Irrational have just announced. Bioshock started out as a spiritual successor to one of the most claustrophobic, terrifying, brilliantly written FPS/RPG hybrids in PC gaming. Yes, it had to come out on 360 to be financially viable. Yes, it pulled back from showing the consequences of the most important moral action in the game. But it was a solid, well put-together shooter, with well written characters and, until the finale, an interesting antagonist.

And it should have stopped there.

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Losing the plot


It’s hard to see something like this in your RSS feed and not want to write something about it. That’s the PCGAMER website which has a wonderful preview (ish) of the new Driver game (Thankfully not called something stupid like D4iver). The plot for this game is of course under lock and key, but apparently the main character is involved in a car crash at the beginning and this is all him in the coma. Basically Ashes to Ashes, except without the vague notion of coolness. I had no idea this existed, but I have to echo the sentiments of Jaz about the feature where you just take over another car:

I seriously can’t believe this is the plot for this game. “Hey Bob, I’ve got an idea for the new Driver game. Instead of just having one car, you can like, take over people’s minds and shit.”

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A Terrifying, Dystopian, Communist Future


Yeah, that’s right. That’s what PC gaming is heading for.

Okay, I’m kidding, but let me make it clear where that joke is coming from. The US health reforms that are still slowly being pushed through to American citizens have been widely derided by the far right, Glenn Beck and Tea Party types, as socialism or communism because, according to them, it’s poor people being given stuff for free, which is evil and dirty and NOT THE AMERICAN WAY. That’s ridiculous, of course, the money for those reforms is being taken from other taxes (at which point those same right-wingers cry “TAX AND SPEND! TAX AND SPEND!” until you remind them most taxes are at their lowest for 40 years in America…). And the same thing is happening with a fairly hefty chunk of PC gaming right now: from “free to play” games with optional buy in extras, to the giving away of freebies in order to entice people on to your service. Poor people (you lot) being given stuff! For free! But, uh, if you want to get anywhere, or validate your use of this service for more than one game, you’ll need to buy this, this, this, and this…

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APB and MMOs


Disclaimer: This is not a review. I haven’t played APB in its finished state and nor do I have any intention of doing so. This is a collection of words based on the reviews that I have read and my experience in the beta. Those who decide to come here and tell me I suck, get a life. For the purposes of this, I have taken a sample of the reviews, including PCGAMER, 1UPEuroGamer, Bit-Tech and for the sake of an amateur review, BBB.

All of the above reviews can be simplified into one paragraph:

APB is a brilliant game. The customisation is brilliant, the concept is fascinating and someone should have tried this before. However, the combat is horrible, the new user experience is hell and it doesn’t work properly.

I was already fairly non plussed about APB after the beta didn’t do anything to make me want to play, but after reading the reviews (And foolishly reading the comments on some of them), I saw no reason to spend my money on it. I was already worried when Real Time Worlds tried to put the review embargo on until a week after release*. If it was 3 days or less, then I would have accepted they were trying to create the chance where the game would be reviewed properly and not rushed out. A week just makes me think that they are almost certain it is going to get panned.

And panned it is. Metacritic (Which to be honest isn’t the best indication of a game) takes the average score to be about 59, with most reviews hovering over that area. I didn’t have the time to read through them all properly (Hence the selection above) and I foolishly took part in the comments on the PCGAMER review. Every review is full of criticisms, though most agreed that it would get a patch and be sorted within 6 months.

Why I haven’t gone and bought it is because the reviews didn’t show there had been a difference between the beta experience I had and the finished product. The driving was awful in the beta, with the game lagging as soon as you started to move. It was finally fixed so that there wasn’t this slow down, but the cars felt unresposive, which apparently makes it ‘realistic’.  I don’t drive, but I’m almost certain that moving the steering wheel makes the car respond immediately.

You may be asking why I’m writing this if I’ve only got reviews to go off, and that’s because of the comments that I’ve seen from the community who rushed to defend it. I’ve spoken before about reviews before,  and firmly believe that it’s impossible to review MMOs completely**, but the outrage that the community has shown has been the main muse for this post. A lot of people suddenly insulting the reviewer and saying “He isn’t a good player, he’s such a noob” and much worse made me feel like there was another reason for me not to try the game.

Communities are things that are very precious to a developer. A community will see through the flaws in your game, see the product it could become and stay with the game until said product arrives. Everyone knows that APB has flaws, but it seems that you get used to the flaws after 20 hours play. Using that logic when writing a review can’t be done in any good conscience. Every review of APB has been right: The reviewer can’t recommend a game in that flawed state, hence the low scores and the negative reviews.

Of course, reviews are very influential. We all have favourite reviewers, and we tend to like what they like. Metacritic is used by so many publishers to decide whether a developer’s next game will be funded. So these poor reviews are telling EA (The publishers) that they haven’t done a good job, and even telling Realtime Worlds that most people didn’t like their game. There will be people who see the Metacritic rating and say “No, I won’t buy this”, which may decrease the player base since there won’t be new players. Though the fan boys will continue playing it…

What this could cause is APB being shut down which I don’t think anyone wants that to happen. MMOs are the most patched of all games and all these problems can be fixed. Its just a matter of time until they are. I personally would love to play it but I really can’t see a reason to purchase it at this present time, which is a problem for a game where groups new players are needed to make the actual start interesting.

At the moment, buying APB isn’t advisable. It’s shoddy and you will die or have very little fun at the beginning until you get a better gun. In 6 months time APB might be fixed and be recommendable, but that’s only if enough people can get past that first hurdle of non-fun to see what could be a brilliant game. I’d rather wait for that than spend my money waiting for that stage.

*The reasons cited for the embargo told us that the Key To The City beta event wouldn’t be representative of the full game. I call bollocks on that. That event was 2 weeks before release if I remember correctly all that could really change was balance. If the game doesn’t work by then, its your own fault for not hitting your own deadlines. Return to reading.

**The latest issue of PCGAMER includes a review of the Age Of Conan expansion. The first line acknowledges that the review isn’t going to cover everything that is available because it would be folly to try and the review wouldn’t be finished on time. Which is fair and honest. Return to reading.

Drivers


After the wonderful hurrah of the Steam Sale, I’ve been thinking that now is a good time to start to play these Steam games that I’ve now bought. First on the list was PB Winterbottom, which I was quite looking forward to. Until the damn thing didn’t launch. It was either a corrupted file (Which something was off with one file, but I digress), or I needed to do a driver update. I really didn’t expect it to take so long to do. I totally understand why we need graphics drivers. I really do. But for god’s sake why does it have to be as complicated as it is?

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They Just Don’t Tell ‘Em Right Anymore.


I uninstalled Bioshock 2 today. I haven’t finished it, I got roughly (if the list of story-related achievements on GFWL is anything to go by) 65/70% of the way through. Why did I uninstall it? Because I was bored. Not with sticking my massive drill through another poor splicer, or with launching fire bombs and telekinetically manipulated boulders at Brute Splicers and Big Daddies, no, that was all well and fine: I was bored with the plot.

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Video Game Violence – Do We Even Need A Debate?


This article, combined with Leigh Alexander’s comments on it, have provoked this post. The article is factually fine – some children are impressionable, and watching Modern Warfare 2’s sanitised, Hollywood War On Terror is, inevitably, going to create a small – and I cannot stress this enough, a very small – proportion of people who are going to look at it, think “Wow, this is awesome!” and walk into their local gun store the next day to load up.

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