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This will be a shorter blog than last time! Q1 has been fairly busy so far and I've been able to play a few newly released games. Here are my impressions of some 2013 games.
Dead Space 3 came out in early February and thankfully it is pretty good. It's not quite the atmospheric, tense and well paced experience that both its predecessors managed. But its still an enjoyable game with more action, longer campaign, excellent weapon crafting and co-op. I played the game entirely through with co-op after single player. It introduces some minor changes here and there. Like Carver having visions, or short cut scenes with Clarke and carver. It's very easy to play in co-op and I replayed a some of the chapters many times.
My review of Dead Space 3 (external link)
Awakened just came out, not a bad little DLC although does reuse areas of the main game and doesnt introduce much new. The cult leader fight and last puzzle are fairly good though. It continues the story of Clarke and Carver with quite a bit of dialogue, sadly no Ellie. It's only just over an hour long but good quality. It ends on a big cliffhanger.
Aliens Colonial Marines is a game I wasn't going to buy. My love for the movie series, especially Aliens, forced my hand. Luckily I got it fairly cheap, because Aliens CM is one of the worst games I've played in a long time. About the only thing I liked about it were the constant references to the movie, Bishop perhaps the standout. Everything else was so below par it would have me shaking my head. Even the shooting is quite poor. It's so disappointing to see an awful game come from an intriguing universe.
Just to give you an example of how bad the game is. One sequence has you unlatching three fuel nozzles from a drop ship on the planet surface. The area is fairly open and of course Aliens come. Once you enter the nozzle animation (press E to unlatch) the aliens will run up behind you and slash at you multiple times. Because you are in the animation you cannot be damaged or killed. So rather than watching your surrounds for aliens and picking a moment to unlatch, you just run to the nozzle and press a button. After you remove each nozzle, you can turn around and see 3 aliens lined up behind you who have been slashing at you.
Crysis 3 also released in Feb, it took the graphics crown pretty easily. It is simply stunning in places and looks as good in multiplayer. C3 is my least favourite of the series. It's still a decent sci fi shooter, just nothing great or spectacular. I had a lot more problems with AI than before, spawning enemies annoyed me esp with the visor. The bow seems overpowered and other weapons felt imbalanced. There really isnt a good sandbox vehicle experience either. Story wasnt that interesting and it just felt quite underwhelming by the end (aside from graphics). The multiplayer is great fun, as in C2, although I havent played much because I feel like Ive done it all before. Cevat may call it gamer fatigue. I think Crytek could try harder.
My review of Crysis 3 (external link)
Tomb Raider is a reboot to a franchise I have enjoyed in the past. It changes a lot of things, most notably the combat. It also reduces puzzle and platforming so it's just a fun game to play. There are problems with the survival stuff they introduce early on. More puzzles would have been nice too. Once I ignored the pointless attempts at survival realism, I enjoyed the rest of the game very much. Actually I've been playing more and trying to find all items and having great fun. Love how the game repopulates the area with a few enemies so I can stealth them or just play with the combat. It has certainly brought a fresh new spin to the series while leaving room for improvement.
Bioshock Infinite in 10 days, looking forward to that! Keep watching the skies!
2012 is over and it wasnt exactly the best year for gaming. Still there were a few good games that deserve some recognition. I have decided to single out 7 games this year but there were a few others that were great games and worth mentioning
- Black Ops 2 - A surprisingly good single player campaign
- Botanicula - Another great puzzler from amanita design, best music / visual combo
- Darksiders 2 - Solid follow up to the original action / rpg / puzzler
- Tribes Ascend - Great free to play multiplayer game
- Prototype 2 - More of the same yes, but more of awesome is great!
The Top 7
7. Torchlight 2 is a great sequel, improving almost every aspect of the original. There is much more variety to environments and enemies. Once again it has a satisfying progressive loot system that isnt concerned about a global market. Combat is great fun and can be very involving when you bring together skills and spells. The coop left some to be desired but I had a great time with the single player and map works.
6. Sleeping Dogs is a solid open world game which takes inspiration from many games including GTA and Batman. The melee combat is awesome with satisfying combos that break arms or tackle people to the ground. You slowly learn these moves by collecting statues. It's the type of melee where I'm happy to see another fight scene, not just wanting to breeze through or avoid it. Driving action is fun because you can shunt into cars and also do some Just Cause 2 moves to switch cars. The shooting is rare but underrated; I wish they had more of it. The post release support was excellent, they fixed some PC things with a few patches namely car camera and mouse controls. The nightmare on north point DLC was short but relatively good too.
5. Black Mesa (Mod) just happens to be worth the wait. A mammoth effort for a team of unpaid volunteers to recreate, improve and tweak the Half Life formula. It was almost fully released this year. All pre Xen levels were launched and it was glorious aside from a few annoying crashes in the second half. I loved the little changes they made, helping flow and just making the play through feel fresh. I must have played the original ten times now and Black Mesa was every bit as good. It proves that not all so called vaporware titles turn into a mess like DNF. Hopefully we get Opposing Force remake after the Xen levels! I also need to replay HL2 but I'm waiting for Gabe to spill the beans on HL3.
4. Mark of the Ninja is an exceptional stealth game. Dont let the 2D viewpoint get in the way of what is a collection of amazing stealth mechanics combined with good AI scripts. It's satisfying to be sneaking about, dragging bodies, knocking out lights, ducking through laser fields or hiding in containers. It has more refined stealth ideas than the big stealth games of 2012, which I shall not mention for fear of retribution from the gaming gods. Now if only somebody could capture all the stealth ideas from MoTN and transport them into a beautiful 3D world....
3. Alan Wake technically came out on the 360 two years ago but that doesnt count. After so long Remedy was finally allowed to bring their magic to the PC and it was worth waiting for. I love how quirky this game is, the setting is alluring and it's a really well crafted single player experience. Playing one episode at a time and coming back to it yielded great results. The combat is all about light, juggling enemies and also shooting. I personally really enjoyed how it works together. Placing flares to reload or turn the tide. Using flasblangs to clear out groups or even shooting a flaregun into enemies like a rocket launcher. I'ts not quite as amazing as Max Payne 1 or 2 but its one bright spark in a gloomy year.
2. Far Cry 3 was a very close to winning my GOTY because I just love it. FC3 developers looked very carefully at the previous games and smartly chose things that worked in both games. They used the tagging system and rock throwing from FC1. They continued with the open world and fire propagation of FC2. There are other things too, and they even got some ideas from the lesser known Far Cry instincts. But they didnt stop there; they added some great things that fit well into the franchise and make it fun to get around and take down pirates.
I found it really enjoyable to clear each outpost, and they stay captured this time. This is essentially the essence of the original small areas of combat that lets you approach how you wish. From the jungle in stealth, from a mountain with a sniper rifle or up close with bullet proof vest and shotty. Most importantly it's the player who dictates when and how the action occurs, if their preparation is inadequate then the difficulty is greater.
FC2 had this to a degree but I could not stand the respawning checkpoints and never finished it (I may go back). FC3 introduces some dangerous animals that add a delicious amount of unpredictability without being annoying. I found the story was generally enjoyable although it fades towards the end and misuses some of the best characters. The AI is very good, allowing effective stealth play and I never thought they cheated. A return to a tropical island is appreciated and the only thing missing is the Trigens! Bring out the monkeys mutants!!!
1. Mass Effect 3 is my top game in 2012 and also the most controversial of the year. That ending! Yes it was rather short and not really fitting for such a great series. I like to think the whole of ME3 is the ending to the series, not just the final 15 minutes. The extended cut DLC offered a better conclusion and it was good to see Bioware release it without changing their vision. What I liked most about 3 was how it elegantly brought back characters you forged friendships with from the previous games. It wrapped up some long running story threads involving the genophage and geth for example.
ME3 also did combat much better, mostly due to the action pacing, level design and enemy variety. There were a few difficult decisions to make throughout although I wish there were more. I can't imagine playing through the series without bringing your saves over. Playing through these games mere weeks after each other would be even more rewarding. Also slightly impressed with the multiplayer; it has pretty good legs for a single player series and many free maps. I will not likely forget the ME series and the controversy surrounding it. But I will remember it as an amazing journey above all else.
Over at newgamenetwork.com we recently finished up our Game of the Year awards for 2012. Although I dont agree with all of it, I'm happy with the variation we have this year. Check out our awards by clicking this link!
Games I'm excited for in 2013
BioShock Infinite has the potential to slap gaming in the face with a perfect blend of narrative and gameplay. BioShock was an excellent game and Ken Levine is passionate and knowledgeable about the medium. He is already hyping the ending, which is a little odd given how the first games ending was so good because nobody expected a good ending.
Dead Space 3's development direction has me worried but I still love that universe and want to go back to dismember more necromorphs. This time they are going with coop which certainly could result in something like FEAR 3 (not scary). They are adding random visions in coop, so one player will be attacking something that the other player doesnt even see. I just hope single player preserves the strengths of the previous games and is not Gears Space 3.
Battlefield 4 (beta?) could make it out next year. Nothing much has been confirmed about BF4. Clearly EA and DICE thought BF3 was a huge success so I expect it will follow a similar structure and setting. Perhaps we might see the return of commander, battlerecorder or a third faction? Russians have had a good run. Access to the beta is the only good thing I got from preordering MoH Warfighter.
Last of Us is another game with the potential to elevate gaming as a medium. Naughty Dog are pedigree developers and if they put their collective skill together they could pull off something amazing with this game, just like they did with Uncharted 2.
GTA 5 might not make it on PC next year but it should be close. Its fair to say that there has been no GTA game I havent loved and this bodes well for the next game which looks great so far.
Crysis 3 aims to split the difference between the original and the sequel in terms of level design. This is a good idea and could result in a big pay off assuming they dont botch the PC launch again.
BF3 Aftermath (DLC) is getting a lot of play hours, as well as regular BF3. I just ticked over 300hrs in game time not too long ago. Aftermath is the best of the DLC packs. Premium has offered great value but the previous DLC packs have been at the extreme ends of the scale (except for B2K). Aftermath is the earthquake themed pack that splits the middle ground (glorious puns). It includes vehicles in midsized maps but keeps the equilibrium and ensures there is plenty of variety. The map layouts are exceptional and fit perfectly with the best in the vanilla game.
Binary Domain is a third person shooter with robots made by a Japanese development team. It's also a surprisingly good game. The shooting mechanics are enjoyable because the robots break apart and this also happens in the mostly good boss battles. The story is very hammy, as there are bound to be issues when things are translated. Still on the whole I found some of the characters interesting, the protagonist likeable and the story of Hollow Children intriguing. I found it to be a very decent port, as controls worked well, visually looks quite good and runs extremely well. Campaign is full of rather well made action cut scenes too. It's even the type of game I'd like to play again when I clear out my backlog.
Saints Row The Third was selling for cheap on steam a while back and I picked it up but only added it to my steam library after playing it during the free weekend. Finished it just recently and it was a whole lot of fun. There are a lot of laughs and mayhem along the campaign even if some of the missions structures were repeated. No doubt it borrows things from grand theft auto games but it ratchets up the crazy to 9000. Being able to throw yourself in front of traffic to get insurance is just one example. Anyway SR3 is a good port and a fun game.
Space Marine is a third person shooter / melee game in the WH40K universe. I dont know anything about that universe so I would assume fans love playing as an Ultramarine? I did not. Space marine is an incredibly dull and lifeless shooter. I found it so boring that my challenge was merely making it through as quickly as possible. It doesnt seem to have any character and 90% of the game takes you through brown corridors, elevators or grey war torn buildings.
The first half of the game is ok, with Orcs that fall nicely to melee attacks and weapons. Then the game introduces a new enemy that takes 10x more bullets (10 headshots). So the free flowing shooting / brawling turns into placing your ultramarine behind walls while you chip away at the health of enemies. The only change up was the jetpack sequences which make you overpowered so you can stomach another hour of gameplay. Interestingly enough there is not a single sequence that takes place in Space. Why call it Space Marine and not WH40K: Ultramarine?
Thief Gold has been a very different experience for a number of reasons. Firstly I have had to relearn everything about quick saving and how to abuse it. It's also surprising me how little the truly primitive visuals are having an impact on me. Good use of sound helps make for this very unnerving atmosphere, even when absolutely nothing is happening! It's hard to describe. In any case there have been some truly sublime missions. The mission "Assassins" has some of the best design in terms of level structure. If there was one thing I'm not fond of in Thief Gold, it would be the zombies. Hopefully there arent too many of them in future missions.
Anyway that is my little yearly summary with a bit of a blog tacked on the end. Hopefully somebody out there finds some use from it. Otherwise it will just have to be useful to me in the future. Also if anybody has a good recommendation for a long running relatively new sci-fi TV series I would be happy to hear it. Hope everybody is having a good 2013.
Hello gamespot friends! I have returned to the land of blogging, this is my biannual blog. Its going to be "bigger, better and more badass" due to my infrequency of blogging. Rest assured I am still alive and I have been playing loads of games.
Mass Effect 3 came out in March and most people would be aware of the controversy surrounding that title. Of course Im talking about the ending which was disappointingly abrupt and unfitting for a huge series. Fast forward to June and Bioware listened to the fans, ate their cupcakes and came up with something better. The extend cut is longer and ends up being a decent finish to a great game. If that ending was original included then I would probably have little problem with the way it ended. I ended up writing a review for ME3 a few months after release, this review changed far more than anything else Ive written. Consequently I reshuffled, deleted and redid a large portion of it. You can read it here.
Max Payne 3 came to PC a few weeks ago and I have to say that it is my least favourite of the series. Not a horrible game, not a great game. I found it merely average with multiplayer I could not get into. One of the problems I had with the game was the frequent, pointless and interruptive cut scenes. I dont understand why the game needs to take control from the player so often and for so long. Many cut scenes cant be skipped so its clearly a design decision to show bald Max walk through a door and hide behind a tiny piece of cover in the middle of a room. Max has always been strong on narrative but the older games flowed so wonderfully without these scenes. My review can be found here.
Red Ded Redemption Unded Nightmare has been on my wishlist for a while but I havent been playing much PS3 so I only got it recently when it was quite cheap. I must admit my first reactions were on the poor side. The first horses you get constantly pulls to the right or left, making navigating windy roads pure garbage. After I got the flame horse, navigating became satisfactory again. I also realised I totally forgot that this game has focus mode (slow motion aiming) which obviously vastly improved shooting zombies who really only go down when shot in the head. Also Ive had some quite awful framerate problems, mostly when Im riding a horse into a wall of zombies, it feels like it drops to something like 10FPS
The good news is that the expansion is absolutely hilarious. Probably the funniest game Ive ever played because of how it deals with the zombie characters and weird occurrences with individuals who are non-zombified. Marston is pure sarcasm in human form and its awesome.
Alan Wake has been a long time coming on PC. Remedy apparently persisted with Microsoft to have it released on PC. Then not long after that, they brought across American Nightmare. I really enjoyed both games, the combat remained good throughout. The unique feel is quite important in terms of it standing out, also liked the tv shows and the bits of humour. I would look forward to the sequel coming to PC, hopefully its not held back by the overlords at Microsoft. My review on gamespot is found here
Pretty early on I had low expectations for Diablo 3, just the way it looked but also because they didnt include the Paladin (ok not really). The beta came out and I enjoyed it enough to pick the game up at launch. Ive played through the game a few times now with Monk and Demon Hunter. My Monk is finding it very hard in Hell and I just finished normal with my demon hunter.
I think I appreciated it a little bit more after replaying segments and seeing things change. I also enjoyed the action for both classes. Act 1 is definitely my favourite of all four. I dont like D3 as much as the original or the sequel but I guess with all the hate in the forums recently Ive almost gone the other direction. Many people really had high expectations for it, expecting a 9/10 game and receiving something less will always turn the hate on. Instead I think its a good solid game but it wont change the world.
Journey is touted as one of the greatest games ever made, well at least it rates that way on metacritic. This short game failed to really impress me to those levels. Technically its very proficient and the art team really did a great job with the sand and the wind. It works so well because its minimalistic, it doesnt explain anything and I will do the same in case people are looking at playing it. It was quite enjoyable but, in similar ways to Flower, I fail to see what all the fuss is about.
Dear Esther is a pretty good contrasting game to Journey. Dear Esther has basically no real gameplay. Its walking and swimming and listening to some guy talk nonsense. It sounds like a waste of money but I actually enjoyed the ride. The real thing that appealed to me is actually trying to make sense of the visual and audio clues. Trying to link the pieces and work out what is happening, then talking about those theories with others. Making you think about a game for days or weeks after you finished playing is an achievement. My review of it here.
Guild Wars 2 beta hasn't been off to a good start for me, certainly not as good as the GW1 beta. But I'm happy that the beta weekends finished better than they started.
First Beta Weekend (BWE) terrible performance, not fun at all as warrior norn, cluster**** in all dynamic events, balance pretty terrible.
Second BWE actually playable on low settings, balance better, slightly more enjoyable even though instances (personalized story) are weak and downed state is not fun
Third BWE First time I actually enjoyed the game, possibly because I left my norn warrior in the gutter and played around with Slyvari Elementalist and Charr Necromancer. Dynamic events show more potential, better balance and some more interesting locations. They still need to basically redo the introduction / tutorial sections which arent good. At least this weekend has me hopeful that my money was not wasted and will attempt to sink some time when it comes out in late august.
Tribes Ascend is Free to play. Yes you heard that right, costs zero to play the game. Its a multiplayer shooter with jetpacks and skiing. Hi-Rez gets money from people buying boosts (non-boost XP earn rate is painfully slow) and buying weapons/skins with gold. In general the weapons you can buy are not better than the free ones, just better at a different role. Ive spent a meagre $30 and already got 70 hours of entertainment. Im impressed with how they have translated the series into a modern feel, appealing to casuals without losing that insanely high skill ceiling.
Its the first F2P game that has changed my perception about F2P games, they certainly can be relevant to me. With many more F2P games coming in the next few years Ill be checking out more thanks to Ascend. The game is still growing, which is actually a big plus, more maps, weapons and even modes etc. It has some teething problems, partly because they are a small dev team. I havent played it for a few months but I still recommend checking it out.
Darkness 2, Syndicate, Spec Ops and Sniper Elite v2
Linking these all together because they are all average shooters which will be basically forgotten in GOTYs and in years from now. Spec Ops has an awesome setting in Dubai with sand storms but pretends you have choices when you dont. Sniper Elite v2 has some satisfying long range sniper skills with moronic AI. Darkness 2 has an interesting art style, solid shooting and probably the best of these games. Syndicate has a pretty poor single player with a ridiculous overuse of Bloom, the co-op aspects are quite good but barely anybody is playing on PC. Apparently Syndicate sold like 150,000 copies across all platforms worldwide. These games more or less fill my shooter quotient no more, no less.
DiRT Showdown is like a party / demolition derby spin off for the popular racing series. They developed the whole game in under a year and I think it shows. Its really thin on content and quite unsatisfying. Not sure exactly what they were trying to achieve with it but they failed pretty badly. They should have made it more arcade or copied the formula from something like FlatOut.
Still playing Battlefield 3 recently broke through the 200 hour barrier which means its my second most played Battlefield game after 2142 (327hrs) . BF4 coming late 2013 or early 2014 sounds ok but I was really hoping for a futuristic Battlefield game. The new close quarters maps are pretty good but I can already see most people going back to normal rotations. Armored kill has some more potential for longer life but hopefully they are not ridiculously big just for the sake of being big.
Picked up Prototype 2 recently and its good to come back to this franchise. Just quietly I rank the first one up there with infamous. P2 continues that fun, its just really enjoyable to run around consume bad guys, slash groups of enemies, perform powerful attacks with tendrils or hammer fists. The powers are awesome and the story has lifted in quality. Few new enemy types which so far are quite good. Visually it looks a lot better too, the city is more detailed and less washed out. There are three zones in the game world and so far Ive only been to yellow and green. Ironically the green zone is far more dangerous. As far as PC ports go I dont think its horrible. Performance could be better because I get a playable 30-40fps. There are some strange mouse jitters but they dont bother me enough to switch to my 360 controller.
Steam sales were back this year and I must say I missed the achievement hunting activities. They did replace them with some smaller activities that go towards permanent badges so its not all bad. I picked up a few games some of which I have yet to play so my backlog grew a little bit. Im working my way through Rayman Origins which is a decent platformer with some really quirky music. Finished the free DLC pack for Hard Reset which was really great and much appreciated freebie from the developers. Three cheers for Flying Wild Hog!
Now we are getting into the business end of the year for games, its a shame quite a few were pushed back into 2013 but there are still plenty of games that look to be coming along nicely. Hitman, Torchlight 2, Ass Creed 3, Far Cry 3 and Dishonored all have the potential to be the best of the best.
Well that was quite a long blog, it's been forming for a few months now though. I've been writing bits and pieces on the games but never actually got around to posting a blog which I should have done months ago. Better late than never I suppose. I hope everybody is going well even though I don't see many blogs on my feed anymore.
My Recent Reviews
Short video showing the solid realistic physics of GRID
Just a few human fights in the witcher, quest was working girls as you can see at the end. Sorry for the pauses, although one shows the action nicely. Used Aard sign lots.
Crysis demo, beach fight with multiple koreans, driving jeep. Exploding barrel, house destruction, swimming and player death
May 18, 2013 4:38 am GMTnutcrackr gave Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon a score of 8.5
May 18, 2013 4:38 am GMTnutcrackr added Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon to their owned game list
May 16, 2013 10:03 am GMTnutcrackr gave Zeno Clash II a score of 7.5
May 15, 2013 7:42 am GMTnutcrackr added Metro: Last Light to their now playing list
May 15, 2013 7:42 am GMTnutcrackr added Metro: Last Light to their owned game list
May 7, 2013 11:17 pm GMTnutcrackr began Following Wolfenstein: The New Order
May 5, 2013 12:32 pm GMTnutcrackr added Zeno Clash II to their now playing list
May 5, 2013 12:32 pm GMTnutcrackr added Zeno Clash II to their owned game list
Apr 20, 2013 3:48 am GMTnutcrackr posted in the topic Planetary Annihilation pre-alpha footage Apr 19th on the PC & Mac Games board
Apr 5, 2013 12:24 am GMTnutcrackr gave BioShock Infinite a score of 7.5