Tag: burnout

7 idle thoughts

I took some melatonin last night to help me sleep, and it worked – I did sleep – but I’m having a gawdawful time waking up, the sort of awful zombie nightmare hangover that no amount of coffee can rescue me from.  Which is not to say I won’t continue drinking obscene amounts of coffee; I’m just acknowledging how futile everything feels right now.

What follows are some random thoughts – because that’s all I’ve got right now – that are either too long for Twitter, or are adapted from IM conversations I’ve been having with my buddy (and long-ago SFTC contributor) Greg.

1.  King games – Candy Crush, Farm Heroes, Pet Rescue, and my current nemesis, Bubble Witch 2 – are fucking bullshit, and I hate them, and I hate that I’m still suckered into playing them when they’re objectively and obviously horrible.  The games ultimately feel like carnival contests, rigged against you from the moment you get started unless you pay for power-ups.  Skill is helpful but ultimately useless; I fail most levels not because I’ve messed up, but because the algorithm that governs the randomness of the tools at my disposal makes sure that I can’t win – unless I decide to purchase special powerups (at obscene prices).  I refuse to spend money, though, and so I’m stuck banging my head against the wall.  Ironically, the 30-minute wait to refill one (1) life is actually a godsend, because it means that when I run out of lives I don’t have to reload the page for another 2.5 hours, and I can do something meaningful with my life.

2.  I cannot explain why I’m willing to wait for a game like Divinity: Original Sin to appear in a Steam Sale, and yet I’m actually contemplating buying the PS4 version of Diablo III at full price – a game that I’ve already sunk 100+ hours into on PC, and where I can’t transfer those PC characters to my console.  The aforementioned Greg is playing it for the first time, and he appears to be enjoying himself, and I’d love to play co-op with him, and all the big sites seem to indicate that this PS4 edition is the perfect place to play D3, and that it’s worth coming back to.  I did not want to hear this news.

3.  What the hell ever happened to the Steam Box?  I keep hemming and hawing over the Xbox One but if they announced a Steam Box with decent specs (i.e., better than my 4-year-old PC) at a decent price (up to $700), I’d buy it in a heartbeat.

4.  It’s a goddamned shame that the Burnout franchise appears to be dead.  It’s even more of shame that it had to die so that Need For Speed could live.  I suppose I’m bummed that I’ll miss out on Forza Horizon 2; I can only hope that DriveClub and/or The Crew manages to capably scratch my arcade racing itch.

5.  Likewise, I’m ready for a new PS4 DiRT game.  And if Microsoft wants to woo me back, they could certainly find a way to revive the Project Gotham franchise.

6.  Speaking of arcade racers:  as long as they’re making HD remasters of last-gen games, my buddy Greg and I feel very strongly that Split/Second should get a remastered treatment.  That was a criminally underrated (and undersold) game with a ridiculously fun multiplayer side.

7.  I am not necessarily as down on CounterSpy as my friend Carolyn is, but I see her points.  Truth is, the game was never really described all that well; it’s marketed as a stealth game, and it looks like a Metroidvania game, but neither of those impressions are actually true.  For one, stealth is damned-near impossible – you have to kill everyone you see if you hope to find anything of value before exiting the level.  For another, each level is short and procedurally generated, which ostensibly means that no two levels are alike (even though you’ll start to recognize how the different parts repeat and align).  I also wish it performed better on the Vita than it does, because it’s a perfect mobile title – each level takes around 20 minutes to finish, which is a perfect time for a commute – but the load times are horrendous, and the performance is spotty at best.  It plays much smoother on the PS4, but that’s not where I’d prefer to play it – if I do indeed continue to play it at all.

 

the first few hours: NFS MW

In order to distract myself from worrying about tonight’s election results, here’s my one-word review for Need For Speed Most Wanted, a game that at one point was one of my most heavily anticipated games for 2012:

*sigh*

Before I went to bed last night, I opened up a post here and wrote down my gut reactions:

  • frustration
  • kinda ugly
  • wildly inconsistent – too easy to crash (SOMETIMES)
  • mini map is in an inconvenient location
  • cops are annoying, and it can sometimes be unclear why they’re after you
  • and yet i played it for 2 hours without stopping.

I said this yesterday, and it bears repeating – I’m not sure how objective I can be about this game.

On the one hand, the Burnout franchise is my one true love in the racing genre, and I’ve probably put more time into both Burnout 3 and Burnout Paradise than all other racing games combined. So I’m willing to cut Criterion a whole bunch of slack, even if what I really want is Burnout Paradise 2 and couldn’t give less of a shit about the Need For Speed brand.

On the other hand, Forza Horizon came out of nowhere to become one of my GOTY contenders; as far as open-world racing games go, it has set the bar remarkably high, and it’s pretty much all I’ve been playing for the last 2 weeks.

NFS:MW feels a bit off, is the thing.

It has police chases, because it’s a Need For Speed game and that’s what a NFS game is, but the chases aren’t exciting as they were in Criterion’s previous NFS game, the excellent Hot Pursuit. Indeed, they become a nuisance after a while – there’s nothing quite as annoying as finishing a race only to then have to spend up to 10 minutes trying to shake the cops (who aren’t chasing anybody else, I might add).

It offers Burnout-esque rewards for taking down your opponents, but until you’ve improved your car (which you can only do by winning races), taking opponents out actually slows you down, allowing the super-rubberband-y AI to speed past you. This happened to me on numerous occasions last night, and it was unbelievably frustrating.

Indeed, there are many reasons why “frustration” was the first thing I wrote in my gut reaction list above. It’s frustrating that the game is inconsistent with what actually makes you crash – sometimes you can sideswipe an oncoming car and nothing happens, but sometimes you can just lightly nick some random piece of geometry and then everything grinds to a halt. It’s frustrating that sometimes the game will offer up some very visible green arrows to tell you there’s a turn coming up, because more often than not there are no green arrows at all and you’ll miss the turn entirely. It’s frustrating that the mini-map is located in the lower-left-hand corner of the screen, which is very difficult to look at while trying to avoid police cars at 150 miles an hour. It’s frustrating that the crashes – which are usually Criterion’s strength – feel endlessly long and drawn out and more or less ruin your race, especially when they happen 100 yards from the finish line, which is something that happened at least 4 or 5 times to me last night – again, because the game was unclear as to what would actually cause a crash or not. It’s frustrating that there’s perhaps too much NPC traffic on the roads, if only because the NPC traffic only seems to negatively affect your progress; there were a number of times last night where the AI cars in front of me just bounced off of oncoming traffic, which is something that almost never happened when I tried it.

The game is also uncharacteristically ugly, at least by Criterion standards (and certainly when compared to Forza Horizon, which generally looks quite stunning).  The car models are pretty sharp, but the buildings and environments seem a little fuzzy and grainy, and the textures can pop in and out sometimes.  And even though I installed the game to my hard drive, there was a surprising amount of slowdown and dropped frames – even in the menus, which is just weird.

I’m also not really all that crazy about the music selection, though I’d probably place the blame on EA for that.  There is no DJ Atomica; and while normally that would be a good thing, here the soundtrack feels like it was curated strictly by EA’s licensing partners; it’s all very drab and forgettable modern rock.

And yet – I did play the game rather compulsively for around 2 hours last night, despite how frustrated I was.  The world is pretty big, and I found myself enjoying the free-roam exploration side of the game – crashing into locked gates, crashing through billboards, competing with the 2 or 3 people on my friends list who’ve also played the game in speed cameras and jump distances.  The Autolog stuff is still the best in class – not that Forza Horizon is shabby in that regard, but everything here is presented very cleanly and clearly, and so it’s very easy to see how I stack up against my friends among a comparatively wide statistical array.

Ultimately, I can’t help but feel that EA is hamstringing Criterion a bit here by asking Criterion to make a game that they don’t necessarily want to make.  Everybody wants more Burnout; I’m not sure anybody was asking for yet another Need for Speed game.  Cramming Need For Speed on top of what ought to be Burnout Paradise 2 ends up making a bit of a mess.  I suppose I can appreciate Criterion maybe wanting to hold off on the real Burnout Paradise 2 until the next generation of consoles arrive – that’s certainly something worth waiting for.   This game, however, really just feels like EA’s desperate need to make its own IP still relevant, at the expense of quality IP that gamers actually want.*

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* This feeling is strangely and ironically reinforced by all the billboards in the city covered with the names of the various EA studios – EA Sports, Bioware, Visceral Games, etc.