Tag: graphics whore

Resistance 3, Ico, Rage

I just want to see this written down in one place.

October 4:  Rage.  (Dark Souls.)

October 11:  Forza 4.

October 18:  Batman: Arkham City.

October 25: Battlefield 3.

November 1:  Uncharted 3.

November 8-11:  Skyrim, Modern Warfare 3.  (MGS HD collection.)

November 15:  Assassin’s Creed Revelations, Saints Row the Third.  (Need for Speed: The Run, Halo Anniversary.)

Fuck.  Me.  Depending on your personal tastes, that’s at least 7 potential GOTY contenders coming out in the next 2 months.  I know that I’m never going to play Dark Souls, and I kinda don’t really give a shit about Modern Warfare 3, and my enjoyment of Battlefield 3 will be directly proportional to the number of close friends on my friends list who are also playing it with me, but still.  Fucking hell.

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This post is long overdue; since my last post I’ve finished Resistance 3  and Ico, played an hour or so of Shadow of the Colossus, and spent about 10 hours with Rage.  Plus a whole bunch of iPhone stuff.

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It’s been exactly 1 week since I finished the campaign and I’m already starting to forget what Resistance 3 was like.  Part of that is because, well, I’ve been super-busy and I’ve been playing a lot of stuff, and there’s only so much that the ol’ brain can hold at one time – but I suppose it’s also because the main thing that went through my mind throughout the entirety of R3’s campaign was that it was basically Half-Life 2 without the gravity gun.  Not just because there’s one level which is straight-up Ravenholm, by the way.  And I suppose, in a strange sort of way, it’s a sort of compliment – if you’re going to steal, steal from the best, and there really aren’t that many HL2 clones out there.  And to its credit, while R3 doesn’t have a gravity gun, it does feature one of the best weapon arsenals I’ve ever played with.   Every weapon is unique and powerful and levels up with repeated use, which is a fantastic incentive to not just stick with one thing (I’m looking at you, Gears 3 Lancer).

Resistance 3 also looks terrific; I’d have to see R3 and Killzone 3 side-by-side to do a proper face-off, but my gut says that R3 has a staggeringly good lighting engine, whereas Killzone 3 felt a bit crisper – I think I’d said at the time that K3 looked like a playable Final Fantasy cutscene.  You know, now that I’m looking at that K3 post, I can definitely say that R3’s campaign was infinitely less frustrating than K3’s was.  R3’s campaign is well-paced, well-designed, never overtly frustrating or unfair.  I suppose there were a few times where I felt like I never had enough ammo, but considering that I seem to feel that way in a lot of games these days (especially Gears 3 and Rage), maybe that’s more reflective of me being a wildly inaccurate shooter in general.

Certainly worth a rental, although if the release calendar above is any indication, I suspect everyone’s going to have their hands full over the next few months.

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Ico probably deserves a post of its own.  If I had the time, I’d give it.  As it stands, though, it’s just gonna get sandwiched here in this mega-post and I’ll have to come back to it when I finish Shadow of the Colossus.

I finished it in a little over 5 hours – which I think is an appropriate length.  It’s a little strange for me to have been looking forward to playing it for 10 years and then end up finishing it in 2 sittings, but, well, I didn’t own a PS2, so what are you gonna do.

It’s an astonishing experience.  That’s a strong word for a game that feels more like a poem or a dream, but that’s really the only word that seems to apply.  The gameplay holds up – there’s nothing about this game that feels dated or outmoded except maybe the stationary camera (which, to its credit, never gets in the way) and the combat (only because it eventually can feel like an annoyance, like in the first Prince of Persia game, although I have more to say about that later).  It is so delicately atmospheric and textured and just warm and it inspires any number of feelings that most games never even think to touch on.  It’s been said for years that the way Ico runs with Yorda is the sort of thing that melts your heart – Ico is hard-charging, Yorda is taller but more delicate, and so you feel the push and pull in the controller’s feedback – but even the save mechanic is moving and evocative – the way Ico just collapses into the couch, and then Yorda sits next to him, hands almost touching.

The part that really gave me chills, though, was right towards the end.  SPOILERS BELOW.  It’s hard to talk about spoiler warnings for a 10-year-old game, but then again, this package was intended specifically for people like me who’d never played either Ico or Shadow, so if you’re like me, consider this your warning.

***HERE BE SPOILERS***

All throughout the game, Ico is protecting Yorda from these shadow creatures.  Who they are and what they want with Yorda is a mystery, but then, everything in the game is a mystery; you go with it.  Anyway, at the end of the game, Ico returns to re-rescue Yorda, and he finds himself in the very room where the game started – a room filled with these large hollow stones, stones which would appear to be similar to the one that Ico was imprisoned in at the beginning of the game (and then subsequently escaped from).

Anyway, so he gets back to the room, and then he fights a seemingly endless supply of shadow creatures.  It took me a little while to notice that with each creature I killed, one of the stones would light up.  And then I noticed that each of the creatures I was killing had horn-like features around their heads – very much like Ico himself.  AND THEN I STARTED GETTING CHILLS ALL OVER MY BODY, because it occurred to me that these shadow creatures were probably the ghosts of the other horned exiles who’d been imprisoned in this castle, and THEN I realized that it isn’t that the creatures were trying to kill Yorda before – it’s that they were in love with her, too, and wanted to bring her back to her world.

***HERE END SPOILERS***

I could be wrong about this theory, of course.  The game is intentionally vague about a great many things.  But I love that it let me come up with that idea, even if it’s wrong, because it changed the entire context about what I’d been doing.

Anyway.  I’ll have more to say about this when I get around to finishing Shadow.

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As for Rage.  I’m about 10 hours in; I’m a few missions into the 2nd disc.  I’m enjoying it.  Firstly, the hyperbole surrounding the graphics cannot be overstated; it looks phenomenal.  It looks next-gen, frankly.  Yeah, the textures get a little blurry if you stand up close, but when the game’s in motion and you’re running around (or driving around, as the case may be), it looks stunning.  It feels like a more-linear Borderlands, and not just because of the similarities in setting.  The shooting is great, although as noted above I’m apparently a terrible shot, and I find myself running out of ammunition even if I’m well-stocked going into a mission.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about the game, for me, is how downright pleasant and happy a lot of the game’s NPCs seem to be.  Granted, I just got to the 2nd city, which seems to be a bit darker and the boss-man is kind of a jerk, but even so – everyone’s real eager to help and explain what’s going on, and they’re all unusually supportive and friendly, and I guess that just seems odd.  I don’t know what I was expecting, but I guess I figured people would be a little edgier and suspicious?  Not that past id games have featured much in the way of NPCs before.

Anyway.  I’m hoping to wrap that up this week.  My rental copy of Forza 4 should be arriving soon, although I may just end up sending it back; the reviews all seem to say that it’s the best one in the franchise, but perhaps a little too similar to Forza 3, which I must admit I’m a little burned out on.  Next week is Batman and from there on out it’s non-stop madness.

crysis 2

I’ve been working on a post over the last few days, considering the best-looking games of this current generation.  I felt that I couldn’t publish that post, however, until I’d played Crysis 2.  Every FPS has to have a gimmick, and the Crysis gimmick is bleeding-edge graphics, and as a self-professed graphics whore, I felt obligated to check it out.

I’ve only played the first 20 minutes of the first Crysis – I really only bought it to see if my new-ish PC could run it, and it could.  It looked good.  I got a little lost, and kinda didn’t care about where I was going, and never really thought about it again.  The big deal with Crysis 2 was that it would be appearing on consoles – indeed, it seemed from all accounts like the consoles were the main focus of the development cycle – and so the big question was, how good (or bad) would it look?

The very first achievement you earn in Crysis 2 – and you really don’t do anything to deserve it – is called “Can It Run Crysis?”  Cheeky, to be sure; yes, the 360 can run Crysis, and to be fair, it does look really good.  Mostly.

But I’m not so sure that it plays all that well, and it’s more than a little buggy, and it’s most certainly in the running for worst story, worst dialogue, and worst voice acting.  Of all time.

It’s shocking how bad the story is.  I mean, I don’t necessarily expect all that much out of first-person shooters when it comes to story, but I do at least expect to have a clear motivation for getting from one place to another.  And I want to know why people are shooting at me.  There’s been an alien invasion of Earth – so why are human soldiers trying to kill me?  Or, rather, why are some human soldiers trying to kill me, and then why do other human soldiers need my help?  It’s never explained, and if it was explained in the first game, then that would have been nice to know for the sequel, especially since the whole thing about the first game was that hardly anyone could actually play it.

In the beginning of the game, you are told to find a Dr. Gould – you’re led to believe that this mad genius can save the world from certain apocalypse.  Dr. Gould communicates with you via radio throughout the beginning of the game.  He needs you to come to his apartment.  You get to where his apartment is, only to find out that he moved at the last minute, but you still need to go to his apartment anyway because Dr. Gould forgot to turn off his computer.  (!)  That’s the best reason you could come up with to create a new scenario?  Sweet Jesus.

The dialogue is atrocious.  It’s just random words placed together in some sort of order, devoid of context or meaning, and delivered without any attempt at coherence.

But, whatever – nobody plays these games for the story.  HOW DOES IT PLAY?

It plays pretty well, for the most part.  I’ll grant it that.  Enemies are somewhat smart, and they’ll sometimes move around and flank, and if you die (which you will) they won’t necessarily be in the same place when you respawn, so you’ll constantly be on your toes.

The game is buggy, though.  Guns would, on occasion, not appear in my hands, or in other soldier’s hands – I’d be stuck reloading an invisible weapon for 10 seconds.  There was a weird audio glitch that happened throughout my playthrough, where it sounded like something was bouncing, but I could never see what it was.  Enemies would get stuck in geometry, or walk in circles.  And, also, every enemy could see through walls.  One of the first nanosuit upgrades I bought was the ability to see tracer fire – I was pretty terrible at the stealth aspects, so I figured I’d take every advantage I could in straight-up firefights.  And so, since I could see every bullet being fired at me, I could see that they were firing at me through solid concrete, even though they hadn’t actually seen me with their own eyes yet.

The checkpoint system, though, is maybe the one thing that finally sent me over the edge.   Checkpoints are few and far between – sometimes.  Other times they appear right on top of each other, and there’s no real reason why.  But it was not uncommon for me to wipe out after a 20-minute standoff because I got blindsided by someone from behind a wall, and then I’d have to do the whole goddamned thing over again, several times.   I eventually figured out that if I ran quickly enough, I could just get to the next checkpoint and avoid the whole mess.  Not every situation could be handled like that, of course, but once I realized that combat wasn’t necessarily mandatory, I stopped caring.  I made it almost to the end of the campaign, but couldn’t put up with it anymore.

I’m going to go ahead and call Crysis 2 my current front-runner for Biggest Disappointment Of The Year.