Friday, December 16, 2011

Star Wars the Old Republic

While I have been in every Beta for the Old Republic for a few months now and the NDA has been removed for a few weeks. I wanted to see the final product of this game before I gave my opinion. Now that the early access is open, and I have a few days of play in the game I will give my opinion of the game.
Let me start off by saying MMO’s are a strange beast. Gameplay changes as you level, gain skills, and create friends. So my opinion of the game will be based off the first 20 levels of a Bounty Hunter. Anyone who knows me personally knows I am a bit of a Star Wars fan. I always have been, and Star Wars has literally been a part of my life since I was 3. I am lucky enough to say I used to work for Lucas Arts, and I helped with a tiny game created by them and Sony Online called Star Wars Galaxies. I personally played Galaxies from launch till Sony started changing things, and in my opinion destroyed the game.
OK enough about me, on to the game. The Old republic or (TOR) is a beautiful example of what Bio Ware can do. The game has fantastic graphics, Game play is easy to understand, and quests are clearly marked with small personal areas that allow for dynamic gameplay, while still allowing you to have boss battles and finish quests without worrying about someone coming and kill stealing your mob. One of the nicest features I have seen thus far is the looting feature. When you kill a mob a light appears shining into the sky from the creature. This light will change color based on what type of loot is on the mob. So if the creature has a green item, the light will be green. In the options menu you have 2 really cool options. One is auto loot all. When you right click a mob you will collect all the loot on the mob automatically. The second option is area loot. This option allows you to loot multiple dead mobs at once instead of having to click on every single mob one at a time. Both of these options are great time savers and I applaud Bio Ware for including them in the game. I must say thus far I am really enjoying the game, and I can’t wait to pick up my collector’s edition on the 20th.
I do have a few concerns. I played DC universe online last year. That game was fun but didn’t really have a lot to keep you playing the game. The quests became repetitive, and even a casual gamer such as myself was able to max level within a month. Now I know TOR isn’t the same as DCUO in many ways it feels the same. The big question here is the end game. Will it hold enough to keep people playing? Or will it fall short like DCUO. I for one am hoping it hold true to Bio Wares quality, and has a great end game. My other concern is server usage. So far my server hasn’t had a ton of players. But the areas in TOR can be small and even though there isn’t a ton of players yet, some of the common areas can tend to fill up a lot and competing for certain mobs can be a little frustrating. I will keep you informed as the game progresses on how I feel these concerns are working out.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Skyrim Review

It has been a busy couple of months for gamers. With this many games, my reviews have been stretched to say the least. Here is my review of Skyrim, Elder scrolls 5.
Pros – first off what a game, the amount of things to do and quests to complete is staggering to say the least. You can choose from the usual suspects of Elder scroll races. And the new leveling system is amazing. The quests can be as simple as playing hide and seek with kids, to fighting dragons, and small armies of bandits. Gameplay and combat is very fun, the ability to become a werewolf, or a vampire is cool. Plus the whole becoming strong enough to kill dragons is just too much fun. The entire game is really beautiful. Anyone who appreciates graphics will be stunned by the beauty of this game. The collecting of ingredients for crafting can be a lot of fun. I even spent 30 minutes in a river catching salmon.
Cons – the questing system can be a little confusing due to the amount of things on your map. There has been an issue with the remains of dragons, they haven’t been disappearing. Instead the dragon’s bones will actually follow you around sometimes. You’ll go out of a dungeon, or exit a castle, and as it loads the bones will fall out of the sky in front of you. Bethesda released a patch to fix this, but now I can’t seem to get the dragons to come down and fight me. So I think they may have broken the mechanic of the dragons with the patch. During one of my many catching the fish trips at a lake, I also noticed Elk and Deer running across the bottom of the lake. There seems to be the usual amount of graphical skips, and glitches as seems to be a way of life with Bethesda games.

I would have to say that over all this game is great. The issues are minor, at least not counting the patch breaking the dragons, and the amount of gameplay will obviously entertain me for a very, very long time. I do recommend buying this game the first chance you get.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Modern Warfare 3 review

Call of Duty has become a video game juggernaut. Just like the juggernauts in the game everyone has taken aim at them, attempting to take the FPS king off their throne. And just like the juggernauts they have soaked up the damage thrown at them so far. It has honestly become just as much of a trend to hate the Call of Duty series, as it has been to play it. EA brought Battlefield to the court this year, touting their game was better, and that Battlefield 3 would knock Call of Duty off their high horse. Activision remained strangely silent, not being drawn into EA’s psychological warfare. Even after soundly out selling Battlefield 3 Activision made only one statement. This was something to the tune of “We hope the best for both games in the future, competition builds better games.” I will openly admit to being a Call of Duty player, but I think my review below is fair and just.

Campaign – some spoilers involved
Pros - Infinity Ward does a great job of finishing off the story line for Modern Warfare (or so we think), It would appear no loose ends remain. I really enjoyed the story, and I think the levels were well thought out. The graphics are beautiful, and the Russian airplane level is great. Weapons choices are good, and the kick from most weapons is reasonable. No traveling around the screen when you full auto. Enemies are smart enough to make it fun, but not so hard that it frustrates you. Infinity Ward does a great job of getting you to fall in love with the new characters, but in true modern warfare style punishes you for every success till the end.

Cons - OK Activision/Infinity Ward first and foremost WTF???? Soap…….really???
We watch him pass out in Modern Warfare 2, you save him at the beginning of 3, then promptly beat the crap out of him through multiple levels, and kill him? I almost started clapping when he died just because I was tired of seeing you guys beat him up, OK rant over. I liked the story line but it seemed a little forced. I know you were trying to create urgency, but it just didn’t seem urgent it seemed like you just tossed it together and pushed it through a single door. I know in this day and age especially with your franchise Multiplayer is the game, but dang this game was short. I beat it way too fast. One big surprise was no level at the end of the credits. I have always looked forward to that level, and was very sad when there wasn’t one.

Multiplayer/special ops
Pros – The matchmaking system in Call of Duty is great. I rarely see one team regularly beating up the other team repeatedly. The spawns during team fights seems fairly good. Graphically speaking the game is beautiful, although some shadows seem a little too deep, and people tend to camp in them. There were a few glitching bugs early on but Infinity Ward quickly fixed those. Infinity Ward has also listened to its fan base and already has patched and adjusted a few over powered guns. The special ops mode is fun, particularly the survival mode; this addition is great to play with friends. The new strike packages are a nice addition; I am not the best player in the world, plus I play a lot of ground war domination and worry about capping flags not my K-D ratio, so I rarely received kill streak rewards. But now I can use support packages to support my entire team and I even get the top tier ones every couple of games. The weapon leveling system is cool; I have enjoyed unlocking equipment for my favorite guns. Kill confirmed has to be the most fun I have played in a long time in a FPS. The idea of having to collect a dog tag after a kill is great, keeping everyone on their toes.

Cons – while team based spawning seems OK, let’s talk about free for all. Infinity Ward did you test this portion of the game? I understand the whole close spawn thing to keep the game moving, and exciting. But when an enemy player literally spawns inside you after you killed them, this really needs to be fixed. I also feel the shotguns are way too underpowered. Unfortunately it is still the same game with a new skin, and some weapons. I really feel this entire genre is starting to get a little bogged down and welcome any change the game companies think up.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Battlefield 3 review

Campaign: some spoilers within
Pros: Electronic Arts has pushed the envelope with graphics in the campaign mode. The lighting is amazing, everything looks very realistic. I myself thought I was watching a cut scene on occasion when I was actually playing the game. The AI is definitely a challenge. They are fast and seem to actually think on occasion. I enjoyed the story line to a degree, on some of the levels the sense of urgency actually made it feel like you needed to sprint through the level to complete the task at hand. The number of weapons and options are fantastic, plus the Frost engine makes for some great firefights.
Cons: now this is where EA failed. Unfortunately every pro has a con. While the graphics and lighting was fantastic, on a lot of the levels the sun glare literally blinds you making it hard or impossible to see the enemy directly in front of you. The AI is the best shots I have ever seen in a video game, they barely miss and when firing full auto they seem to hit you more than miss. The guns in the game have too much kick. We could argue all day long on the realism here, but at the end of the day it is a game, if I want to shoot full auto with a gun I should at least be able to hit my intended target. The kick in this game makes your gun bounce like you’re in a jumpy house. The story line is the same recycled story line used by many games these days. A group of miss understood soldiers have Intel no one else has on a set of nuclear devices. They must stop the evil terrorist before he can detonate them while being hunted by their own country. While this makes for a compelling story line it is so over used. I was really hoping EA would come up with a new idea.

Let’s face it; this is what most FPS players care about in this day and age. Many gamers don’t even bother with the campaign modes and jump straight into multiplayer.
Pros: The levels are massive; you can do real sniping in Battlefield 3, no matter how hard you try to snipe in other games the maps aren’t really designed to let a sniper really snipe. This is not the case in Battlefield 3 sniping feels correct in this game. Vehicles are great; there is nothing more fun than riding the rail of a little bird watching tanks roll up below you and jets flying overhead. Some of the rewards for leveling a class are really cool. I for instance like to be an engineer; I was really excited to use the EOD robot especially in rush. Rush is a very fun game mode, I prefer to be the attacker, but defending can be just as fun especially when you are on a good team. The frostbite engine is great, I love watching buildings explode or fall apart. It feels good to shoot a RPG at a wall and create a whole to run through.
Cons: I really wonder how EA did their match making systems team balancing; the teams always seem to be very disproportionate. You are either stomping your enemy into the dust, or being stomped. This issue with a set location for spawning creates one of the worst spawn camping scenarios I have ever seen. It involved an attack helicopter, tank, and LAV plus everyone else from the other team on foot surrounding the spawn point and killing everyone every time they spawned. Talk about frustrating. The levels are massive, this means die and you have a long run ahead of you if there is no one to spawn on. A lot of the times the vehicles will be gone during regular play leaving you to run across the map on foot only to die again. The air vehicles have a huge learning curve; the controls on a helicopter have to be the hardest thing I have ever used. Also EA please don’t make a game where I throttle with L2, fire my weapon with L1, steer the vehicle with the left stick, and turn the turret with the right. I think the fire button should have been R1. Lighting in multiplayer is just like campaign many times you can’t even see your opponent. Leveling the engineer can be hard especially on rush gameplay since it usually doesn’t involve vehicles. Ooh and why can’t I exit a lobby while I am waiting for the next round to start? This is the silliest thing I have ever saw.
In conclusion: despite Battlefield 3’s issue’s it is still a fun game. The game play and game style is just different enough from games like Call of Duty to make it stand out. I really enjoy blowing up the buildings, and making it so the enemy can’t hide from me. But please EA my worst experience with this game is the matchmaking systems team balancing. If this was corrected you would have a sure fire classic on your hands.

*Update* Nintendo quickly quells gamers fears

Thank you to for the information
I read the Wired article last night, and quickly set a blog to report Wired magazine’s article this morning. While sleeping Nintendo came out with multiple press releases trying to quell gamers fears about the retirement of Shigeru Miyamoto. Saying the gaming legend isn’t retiring, or stepping down but his role would be slightly changing.
First was a report out of Reuters Japan stating “This is absolutely not true. There seems to have been a misunderstanding. Miyamoto has said all along that he wants to train the younger generation. He has no intention of stepping down. Please do not be concerned.”
Next was a report from Bloomberg Japan about an hour after the first release. A Nintendo rep told the publication Miyamoto will in Bloomberg’s words, “reduce his involvement in making video games to spend more time training younger developers.” The representative also confirmed Miyamoto’s title will not change as Senior managing director.
Finally Nintendo made a official statement (Via IGN):
“Video game designer Shigeru Miyamoto’s role at Nintendo is not changing. He will continue to be a driving force in Nintendo’s development efforts. In discussing his priorities at Nintendo in a media interview. Mr. Miyamoto explained how he is encouraging the younger developers at the company to take more initiative and responsibility for developing software. He attempted to convey his priorities moving forward, inclusive of overseeing all video game development and ensuring the quality of all products. Mr. Miyamoto also discussed his desire to pursue fresh ideas and experiences of the kind that sparked his initial interest in video games.”
Not sure if maybe Miyamoto had a bad translator or what occurred, but after reading his statements I for one don’t feel like that is what he was trying to say at all. Even if Nintendo is correct it still sounds like Miyamoto’s focus is going to shift with his role at Nintendo. It also sounds like both are confirming Miyamoto is wanting this shift so he can be more creative again.

*Breaking News* Shigeru Miyamoto Retiring as head of game design at Nintendo

According to a recent Interview in Wired magazine, Shigeru Miyamoto creator of Super Mario brothers and Zelda is retiring from his position as head of Nintendo’s game design department. He is going to a smaller department to work on personal projects within the company.
According to wired magazine Miyamoto has been joking about retiring around the office for quite some time now. Miyamoto also said he isn’t retiring completely, just taking a leave from supervising large time consuming games like Legend of Zelda Skyward sword to work on smaller projects that won’t take as much time. Miyamoto is quoted saying “what I really want is to be in the forefront of game development once again myself. Probably working on a smaller project with younger developers, or I might be interested in making something I can make myself, something really small.”
The reason for Miyamoto’s retirement is completely selfless according to him. He wants to send a message to the younger developers that he won’t always be around to rely on. I for one wonder why retirement has been decided right now. Nintendo has lost so much money this year, is it possible the face of Nintendo is moving on to bigger and better things some were else? I for one can’t wait to see what this genius of video game making is going to create.
Mr. Miyamoto, I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors, and thank you for being such a important part of my gaming life for so many years.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Necron Codex Review

for what seems like forever, about 3 years ago I quit using them. I still loved them, and they were still my favorite army, but my options to play were limited to say the least, and I was starting to become bored with them. So out of respect for my favorite heartless robots, I placed them in storage hoping for the day I would receive a new codex and once again march my phalanx of warriors across the table top. Lucky me that day has finally arrived, the new codex is out, and I am truly happy.

Gameplay I do apologize for the delay in this review.
Life has been hectic to say the least. I have ran the Necrons To me this is the most important part of a new codex so we will start here. When I heard Matt Ward was doing our codex I almost cried. While Matt writes some of the most amazing (and overpowered) codices in the 40K realm, he is also known to not be so kind to Xenos. I am very proud to say he didn’t kill the Necrons. They have many options, and tricks up their sleeves to employ against the most talented player. Sure Warriors now have a 4+ armor and reanimation protocol is a 5, 6 now. But there is no more twice the toughness, and power weapon issue’s, plus if you are that concerned give them A Necron lord with a res orb. Are they a juggernaut power house that will easily take all comers? No but they are an army that is amazingly resilient. Take 2 ghost Arks with full troops, then place a 20 man warrior unit with a Necron lord with a res orb in front of the Ghost Arks, I beg to say that 20 man warrior unit will remain in play the entire game unless your opponent focus fires on the Ghost Arcs. Many of the options in the Necron codex makes your opponent have to prioritize his targets. If he fails to do this correctly a Necron player will be able to cut through his enemy like a knife through butter. The Scarab swarms are amazing now. I bet all my friends that just used to hand me them and say ooh you use those stupid things are definitely not happy right now. Let’s look at a simple combo using the Night Scythe ( I think that is the transport one), tomb blades, and scarab swarms. The night scythe can carry the Tomb blades across the battlefield, the Scarabs can try to get across to a flank, and your opponent has to decide which one he wants to let cross the battle field. So over all I am happy with the Gameplay of the new Necrons. I am even happier to have so many cool choices. I just wish they actually did something with the flayed ones.
The Fluff
Many people didn’t like the fluff for the new Necron codex. Well after reading it from cover to cover, I must say I thoroughly enjoyed the new fluff, it sure it gives the Necrons more personality. The whole dynasty thing seems a bit odd at first, but once you dig in you understand it, and it is honestly kind of fun. I really enjoyed reading the fluff, so for me the codex fluff is great!

In conclusion
The new Necron codex seems to be a well-balanced, and fun. Some people seem to like the fluff but not the game, and others like the game play but not the fluff. Not me I like both, the elaborate kings of old, and the young universe of today. Thank you Games Workshop for getting my codex right.
What do you think?