Tuesday 25 November 2008

Call of Duty: World at War

All I've to go say is that I thought Call of Duty: Modern Warfare was really really good, even if every dickhead from here to the fucking moon with a current generation console has been mercilessly bumming it's online capabilities for a year straight. It was up to date, original and brilliantly executed. Then all those dickheads condemned World at War before it was even close to launch just because it was being developed by people who cocked up Call of Duty 3 by trying to make about 4 different games in a very limited time frame.

Personally, I think it was a stupid idea but I respect the fact that they still managed to finish those games even if they were shit, and I've been saying that World at War may very well live up to Modern Warfare because the developers were actually concentrating this time. I got shouted at and then these dickheads cheered and heckled me when World at War was actually launched. I don't understand either, but after all, these are dickheads, we're not supposed to pay any attention to them. Anyway, in order to convince my manager to buy a 360 after he'd agreed to sell his as a Christmas present, I had to buy myself a copy of World at War and all I've got to say is this:

FUCK OFF. I'm so sick and bored of playing WWII games that I could only just manage finishing the first level. Yes, I know. Bouncing Betties, flame-throwers, napalm etc etc, hernia. I've had enough. You can praise the bollocks off it all you want if your a fanboy or if you're being paid to review it; right now I'm neither so it can go fuck itself.

If I have to play a war game, it has to have guns that are modern. AT LEAST. War, like most things, is more interesting with lasers. Do you live with a black and white TV until you're bored of it, then upgrade to a modern TV that has a serial number for a name to watch Star Wars on it, praise it's bollocks off then screw with the settings to make it look really old?

NO YOU FUCKING DON'T. So don't make an awesome modern game, then follow your success by doing exactly what everyone else has been doing for the last 15 years. I've played, I've judged, I'm not going back to the 1940's.

Dead Space

I think EA hate me. Well maybe be not considering there doesn’t seem to be a death count on Dead Space which will make the biggest embarrassment to my friends and frankly the whole games industry. They may have killed me a lot, but at least they had the good grace to not keep count. I’ll admit that I’ve been looking forward to Dead Space because it’s a game by EA that isn’t a sports game nor does it have “Need For Speed” in the title, so that’s enough to forgive it for blatantly ripping off Event Horizon so much that I even recognised some rooms from it; and that’s impressive considering that I haven’t seen Event Horizon since it was new.

Due to a number of factors, I decided to play through Dead Space using only the Plasma Cutter – primarily because that sounds like the best item ever in a game that is dangerously obsessed with removing limbs, but also because one of my friends managed it and I’ll be damned if I’m going to be outdone (I mean on Saint’s Row 2 I launched my character through a plastic surgeon’s window on fire while my car exploded for fuck’s sake). I managed to get surprisingly far during my trial of Dead Space but I did discover more than enough to make a fair judgement; one of these judgements being that there really are a lot of severed limbs. I know I mentioned that already but fuck me, it’s like someone decided to cross-breed Goro with a millipede, make an army, then shove them through a woodchipper.

Something I can’t forgive Dead Space for is patronising me with a button that paints a big blue line to where it wants me to go and then telling me how to beat 90% of the puzzles. Not only did it patronise me to the point where my IQ dropped about 20 points, but it also decided to randomise all the items I came across which genuinely left me in a room with the biggest monster in the game and barely enough ammo to neuter a housecat. So I died. I took this onboard and spent all my money on an obscene amount of ammo, shot the bollocks off this thing and died again. And again, and again, and again. After I’d almost had my share of running out of ammo and seeing Isaac being torn into exactly the same few pieces over and over, I eventually decided to abandon traditional logic in favour of “fuck it, it still has limbs”, as this seems to work with everything else, and that big bastard was dead before you could make some toast.

Considering that particular battle was in zero gravity, I’ll give Dead Space a nice thumbs up and big cheesy grin in praise of the zero gravity moments because they are very cool, pretty original and brilliantly executed. If that statement could be applied to anything else then it’d be safe to assume that Dead Space is one of the all-time greatest games. Event Horizon did everything else a long time ago and it did it better and even I, who only played Resident Evil 4 for about 5 minutes, can say that it beat Dead Space to everything else a few years ago. And also, IT’S NOT FUCKING SCARY. Even if in I lived in an alternate reality where everyone who ever heard of Dead Space didn’t ask me about the dead bodies coming back to life, I would have picked it up damn quick from the name “NECROmorphs” – i.e., death, morphing? Seriously? Even if I was so brain-rattlingly stupid that I still hadn’t figured it out, I’ve played enough games in general to kill anything that moves immediately even if it’s supposed to be dead already.

There are some more pretty cool bit in Dead Space, like when occasionally a big tentacle will thrust out of the wall and drag you to your death leaving you with a few seconds to panic while you try shooting it in half from an awkward camera angle. Ok, that’s a lie, the camera angle does what it’s supposed to do but some arsehole decided to make my life even harder by having bits of the environment getting in the way of the only part of the tentacle you can hurt. The lie I was referring to was that the being dragged to your death while genuinely panicking is the only other cool bit, everything else is either clich├ęd of just outright shit. Like gravity gun puzzles. That’s Half-Life territory and besides, no one fucking told me I could fire items I was holding until about 2 hours after it would have been useful.

It’s not scary, but it is ridiculously gory.

And while I’m giving it a kicking, why did anyone think it was a good idea to have Isaac look and move like a robot and repeatedly try stapling messages from his wife to him? I don’t give a shit about him or his family – he’s my remote controlled one-man army and that’s the end of it. Although, the brilliance of the zero gravity environments comes back into play whenever I make Isaac run in it; while it should just irritate me, it strangely warms my heart to see him uncharacteristically jog like some form or retarded streaker when no-one’s watching.

I did however abandon Dead Space around the point where it gave shoved a deadly loop up my arse which caused me to keep respawning on the pointy end of a psychopathic alien’s, well, body. I suspect that after 20 minutes of me dying immediately that he was as bored as I was, so I gave up and here I am. After thinking about it for a while, most of Dead Space is incredibly repetitive and leaves you going to and from the same places a few times or sends you to different places that look exactly the same to do the same thing a few hundred times. Why the hell would you put grinding into a game that is undoubtedly action and marketed as horror? Maybe it’s to hide the fact that it’s like Resident Evil 4 but really predictable. Example: A big room has the only oxygen refill station on the ship, which immediately plants the idea that there’s going to be a hull breach there eventually and you’ll need it. Sweet Jesus, I couldn’t have been more accurate if I actually read the script beforehand.

What else can I say about Dead Space? If you haven’t already, watch Event Horizon, it’s pretty much the same but unlike Dead Space, it’s actually scary, even if it doesn’t have the same really cool zero gravity environments. Maybe EA were saving the really good stuff for Mirror’s Edge. I may as well safe you a few hours; it’s all because of a religious artefact in the cargo hold. It made people go mental, then they turned into the monsters on the ship and religion’s all to blame. I’m also willing to bet a substantial amount that the doctor you run into right in the middle of the game royally fucks you over in the last chapter.

It’s times like this that I really miss Star Trek; and don’t get me started on that think J.J. Abrams is working on because it isn’t Star Trek, it just uses the same names.

Thursday 20 November 2008

EDIT - 360 Dashboard

You'd think with the length of time they've been working on this bloody thing that they'd have ironed out all the bugs, and failing that at least have squished the big bastards. Mine keeps crashing when I try getting out of my friends list!

Although it's probably just my 360 slowly dying of asthma again.

Wednesday 19 November 2008

The New Xbox Experience

Fuck off, it's a new dashboard, not something I'd call an "experience". If you have any idea what I'm talking about then you already know that Microsoft has stolen Nintendo's Mii avatar things, even though I'm not entirely sure why.

That's the most obvious change, along with completely changing the menu again which personally confused the shit out of me and it took me about 10 sodding minutes to figure out how to start the game already in my 360. Shut up, all the boxes look the same. While I'm talking about the games/box, I'd like to point out that Microsoft have set themselves up to be royally screwed up the arse by any half-decent hacker with a Blockbuster membership. If you fancy using up some more time and HDD space, you can now choose to install your games onto your 360.

As anyone who owns a PS3 will know, installing games is exactly what we all want because of the noticeably quicker loading times. Ow, it hurt so much to write that blatant lie.

Yes, it's nice and colourful now but the new avatars seem completely pointless - just like real Mii's. If you could take control of your virtual you and go fuck around in the deepest recesses of your 360, or even just mercilessly beat the shit out of your friends' avatars, I'd be much happier to have them but at the minute they're just animated gamer pictures. I also have an issue with the customisation: I made my virtual me without seeing any of my friends' and by taking quite a bit of care to make him actually look like me. Within two hours we all had pretty much the same avatar with slightly different hair colour.

Who knows, it could be interesting in the future (most likely when someone exploits it, see "Rules of the Internet" number 15), but at the minute it's just more colourful and otherwise point.


Wednesday 12 November 2008

Fable 2

I very nearly posted this review as nothing short of what I suspect is the longest letter ever to finish off kissing Peter Molyneux’s arse, then I spent a while longer playing Fable 2 some more, and also cover the good and evil bases. And so, having spent another week or so going through the ins and outs of it, I’ve decided that the bit I can salvage from my original draft is the bit where I said,

“As I’ve said a number of times already, I’ve recently started a group on Facebook threatening Peter Molyneux’s dog should that great jabbering bastard make a hash of the sequel to my overall favourite Xbox game.”

That, and the fact the dog lives. BUT.

While I find something intoxicating about Fable and Fable 2, there are a number of issues, starting with the worrying fact of how similar – sorry, exactly the same – Fable 2 as the original in some areas. As is to be expected with sequels, the set pieces are becoming apparent, but the problem is that no one should be able to click onto this until the third or four iteration of a game, certainly not the fucking second.

Childhood – tragedy – Heroes’ Guild – arena – prison – antagonist dies.

That isn’t the entire quest, but worryingly, there isn’t actually that much more to it. Yeah, there are side quests and such, but for some reason there aren’t as many as in the Lost Chapters re-release. Fair enough, they’re probably going to release more quests as downloadable content (unless Peter Molyneux isn’t the genius I thought he was, and is in fact a blithering idiot), but someone decided that what we really wanted instead of side quests was a bunch of collectables. I’ll admit I liked the gargoyles, but FUCK ME; even if you buy the fact that the Heroes of old turned into a bunch of mercenaries that everyone happily ridded themselves of in favour of guns, you’d assume that there’d be more people looking for help off someone brandishing superpowers. Instead, the best anyone can offer is a job in pest control, bartending, blacksmithing, kidnapping or murdering. Considering you’re allowed to kill whoever or whatever you want, then if you have any brains you’ll either kill the guards too or agree to do the community service, then go shag some hookers instead, half of those jobs go out the window straight away.

There is a lot that is fun about Fable 2 – anyone who spotted the achievement “The Menace to Society” and didn’t immediately pursue it has no soul – and if you can be bothered to look, you can find some interesting Easter Eggs (ranging from The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy to Anchorman). Need an example of something fun? How about fucking with your family by doing everything you can to be good, then renting out the house across the road and shagging 8 hookers in someone else’s bed while they’re threatening you to leave. Or going on a killing spree dressed as an 80’s action hero.

To its credit, Fable 2 is impressive. There’s a massive sense of freedom in the fact that even after a few weeks of playing, I can still get lost sometimes, and believe it or not, the world does actually grow, change and expand while you play. If you want to complain about the customisation in Fable 2, can I advise that you kindly go outside and play hide and go fuck yourself. Oh, heaven forbid, an RPG game in which you don’t have 7 sliders for customising your character’s nose. FUCK OFF. No human being can play with those sliders and come out with what they actually wanted. “Bridge Depth”? WHAT THE FUCK? What I love about the Fable games is the fact that your character’s looks take care of themselves depending on what you do. My good hero looks like he – sorry, she, you’ll understand if you buy Castle Fairfax – ascended down from heaven then crushed a few rugby players into meat-scented cubes while occasionally stopping in order to tear a couple of phonebooks in half. My evil hero looks like Davey Jones from Pirates of the Caribbean with a normal beard instead of tentacles, and then someone ran him through a cheese grater face first.

The death system sucks something rotten, and I’ll never understand the new fad in the gaming world of having no noticeable consequence for being shit. The original idea of “having people surround your broken body, beat seven shades out of what was left while you get up while scarring the shit out you” to me personally was a good idea. It sounded like it had a good balance of “be shit, get punished”, but no, it seems some fuckwit found his way into the test groups and whinged someone to death. I suspect this was someone close to Peter Molyneux because this idea was immediately pulled as a mark of respect for the souls lost during the development of Fable 2.

The combat is piss-easy, but that’s ok because it a) works and b) flows brilliantly once you start thinking “timing”; but because the HUD has been raped almost completely out of existence you can’t make the amusing mistake of running out of manna after you use a slow time spell while staring an angry troll’s boulder hurtling to your face and instead of pressing the button to replenish you manna bar, pressing the button that makes your character say “shhhhhiiiit”. Instead you have to play around with a bunch of macros in order to stick up your middle finger. Foolproof, but not funny anymore. Speaking of which, some of the menus may be better organised, but are frankly a monumental pain in the arse – the kind best compared to being violated by a freight train.

Whatever, considering everything else coming out in the near future is some form of first person shooter, I’m inclined to enjoy Fable 2 and imagine fantastic things available for download in the future and as such Peter Molyneux’s dog may live.

If any of you even dare try telling me that Fallout 3 is out, then kindly meet up in a room then send me the address so I can destroy you all using explosives, because clearly you’re too immune to your dangerous levels of stupidity to be harmed by anything short of rapid expansion and fire. It’s made by Bethesda. It’s blatantly obvious that it’s made by Bethesda because it looks pretty, but like everything else they’ve ever made, I can guarantee that it’ll be too open for its own good and everything will move like it’s in Robot Wars. Yes, I’m still sore from the abomination that was Star Trek Legacy and Oblivion can simply fuck off.