Thursday, July 16, 2009

Die one thousand deaths!!!

Holy shit. It's been months since I made a post here. I guess I haven't really played too many games recently, or at least ones that I should talk about in detail. However, I guess over the many months where I havn't said anything, sufficient time has been permitted for at least some form of discussion about gaming occurrences to formulate.

I spose I could start with Call of Duty: World at War, a game I said I would discuss in my last post. To be quite honest with you, I really just thought this as yet another CoD game, except not as good as the Modern Warfare direction they were going with in their previous title. I dunno, I think WWII has been told far too many times, and yet another FPS from the perspective of an allied "hero" is ground that is so familiar it is almost boring. Admittedly, some of the battles are interesting, especially concerning those crazy Japanese bonzai/kamikazi warriors, but still, I have fired enough rounds from a virtual thompson machine gun over the years to feed a small family. You know... if I like sold the ammunition... somehow. Shutup.

You can shoot zombies though. Ah yes, I feel they definitely have taken a page from Valve in this department with implementing a zombie shooting mode. It's decent, and has definitely generated some enjoyable online moments with uni friends Jeremy and Phil. I do seem to lag a bit though, but that's not really a problem. I do think some attention is necessary concerning the difficulty scaling, particularly towards the end. Certain weapons become rather useless and most of the time you end up dying simply because you have run out of ammo. The latter is sort of ok, but the adjusting of the Nazi zombies HP over time (read: dramatically increased) sort of destroys the believability. It should not take 6 shotgun rounds to down a zombie when not 10 minutes ago his mate died to the intentional friendly fire spread as I was shooting Ace Rimmer in the face on purpose. Matches usually end off with all of us sitting in a room shooting at the general image of a doorway with rayguns for the lucky few who have them, which, while not unenjoyable, sort of hinders the significance of all your previous activity up to this point. I would like to be using a different weapon, simply put.

Below: CoD5 - Many zombies were harmed in the making of this movie



Speaking of zombies, Left 4 Dead's new survival mode is an absolute blast. Well, it's not really new anymore, but when it first came out, it was pretty much exactly what the game needed. Ah yes, some classic moments have occurred in the many hours (hours?) that I and three others have sat in various locales, weapons pointing towards entry points where zombies are spewing forth. The most successful team has been myself, Jeremy, Al and Dom on the barn house map, where we survived for our first legitimate 16mins.

Below: Left 4 Dead - Zombie Slam






Lately I have been playing around with custom campaigns, some of which are pretty good. In particular, Death Aboard and Dam It are particularly well done, almost at the production level of Valve's default campaigns. I personally think that this gaming franchise decision has got to be one of the best made of late concerning PC gaming as, although it is not 'fresh', it is executed well enough to maintain appeal for a long time. I avidly look forward to L4D2, and unlike many people QQing on forums and game sites, will happily fork out the dough for more zombie killing madness.

Below: Left 4 Dead - Zombie gangbangs are freaky things


Now I would talk about Killing Floor via Steam, but I have yet to play enough of it online/with friends to form a proper opinion. Maybe next time. Instead, I will bring up a game that was both good, but a bit disappointing, Dawn of War 2. Now I don't claim to be great at strategy games. In fact I am pretty sure I am merely mediocre. Strategy games to me have always seemed more about knowledge and tactics and less about actual raw skill. Admittedly there is some micro involved, particularly in some of the more skill-renowned strategy games (i.e. Starcraft). However, knowing how to rush siege tanks early on to this point at the map consuming only X amount of resources in Y time is not as generically skillful as say accuracy in FPS games. You cannot perform the same move in a different strategy game with different mechanics, whereas your accuracy is always the same no matter what FPS game you play.

Anyway getting back on topic, I did really well in Dawn of War 2. At least in my opinion. And that to me is usually an indication that the game is a little too easy and does not have much depth strategy wise. Taking a company of heroes-esque style of gameplay and slapping on the 40k universe, I found myself face-rolling over everything I encountered. In fact there was only one unit in the entire campaign that gave me any form of challenge, and although I could not kill him, he could not kill me either. It is sort of like playing Diablo 2 with a squad of dudes (who can destroy parts of the environment) as the gear and stat point distribution systems do obviously lend to a RPG feel. Now admittedly I have not had the chance to play this game online, mainly due to the terribad internet connections I have had over the last few months (aka patches). However, for some reason I don't see myself doing too badly. There is definitely strategies in the game to master, but unlike other strategy titles, they don't really require any incredible ingenuity or foresight. It's a simple game, a dumbed down action oriented version of its former. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but for me it was not quite what I was looking for.

But then again, nor was Street Fighter 4. I can't remember what exactly got me interested in buying the game. Maybe a lack of fighting games in recent years did it, or that Tekken 6 is taking so long to come out. In any case, I originally bought it for PS3, but since I have moved houses (i.e. no longer have access to one) I recently traded it in for the PC version. The difference? Nothing really, just now I can vs people online, and fuck me dead, some people are bloody good. I don't usually do too bad if I am in the right frame of mind, but the good thing about SFIV is that it is not really a game you can sucessfully 'spam'. Tekken in particular is a game that suffers from this, where moves are simple to pull off and can do ludicrous damage allowing a noob to simply mash a controller with their face and do reasonably well. Yes, the many times I have fought against people doing this and lost is.... well only a few times, but it is something that should not be allowed in games of this caliber. The last time I actually did face off against someone in Tekken 5 who wasn't a button masher was with one of Jordan's friend, and the results were really quite entertaining (i.e. ridiculously close every time). Nevertheless, button mashers seem to be punished severely by SFIV as the difference between light, medium and hard attacks vary both the damage and global cool down between moves. For instance, if I was to perform a heavy attack which does high damage, and you were quick enough to block it, then you would then have a significant opportunity to do damage to me. A light attack however would not, but nor would it do much damage should it connect. It has a high risk vs reward game play element that I think works incredibly well towards balancing the game.

Below: SFIV - Attack of the leg monster!


Which then brings one to the always controversial topic of WoW. I actually don't really know what to say in this regard as things are pretty much the same. I raid, do heroics, pvp, get annoyed, stop for a few days and then am back in a few more. I guess one thing that has occurred of significance is that I have finally managed to convince myself to stick around to killing Kel'Thuzad in Naxxramas 25, something which was significantly easier than I was led to believe. It is incredible however to see just how much people's egos (including my own) affect their behavior when playing this game. No one thinks they are doing the wrong thing when they are, everyone is convinced their spec is the best and anyone else's is stupid, your dps is only higher than mine because your gear is better (and if it isn't then I keep my mouth shut), watch the tank healers because... you know... you weren't doing that originally anyway, etc. Sometimes I think WoW brings out the worst in some people. I guess I am beginning to see the game from a casual's point of view, that so called 'hardcore' players are really just glorified stat whores who get a kick out of high numbers and purple decorations. Again, one's ego can be a terrible thing...

Below: WoW - Kel'Thuzad's throne


Bah that will do. This is taking far too long. I will talk about my Honours/Thesis in a future post.