Saturday, January 29, 2011

Zombies, WTF!

Today is soap box day. I haven’t had the greatest week and I need to  blow off some steam in the form of an editorial. So, to start things off, I’m going to discuss my growing concern with Zombies.

Zombies, our favorite brain-eating undead hooligans from movies, TV, and other sources of fiction have become much more than just cult idols. Zombies are everywhere, and its fucking annoying. Long gone are the days where zombies represented a frightening horror. George Romero’s zombies are rolling in their grave because they have become the fodder onto which the masses now feed…blindly. Zombies, when used sparingly are the stuff of nightmares, ripping the pink flesh from your limbs. Today, zombies have become so clichéd they are in everything from Call of Duty to tampon commercials (well maybe not).

I applaud Valve for creating left for dead. They have a very interesting take on survival horror as a genre, and used Zombies to achieve that goal. I will give respect to any developer (I.E. Capcom) who uses zombies as a way to tell a story, but not blatant money making. I do take offence to Call of Duty with zombies. To me, its almost the pinnacle of laziness. “How can we as a developer easily make a coop mode that doesn’t require a lot of effort?” Answer: Zombie Mode. Lets just make a small map, put in 4 players and just send wave after wave of zombies at them. No need to innovate, just give extra EXP and bonus points. No one will notice.

When and where will this trend of zombification stop? Will Madden NFL 2013 have a zombie mode wherein you can literally play as or against the Monsters of the Gridiron? All puns aside, is this really what gamers what or are gamers as brainless as the zombies they shoot? Killing zombies is best left for people who have limited ammo and no high tech weaponry.  Lets just make a game where zombies fill the screen, you can press a red button to nuke them all. Now, that’s what I call Modern Warfare!

“Hey, psssttt…..the zombies are YOU, brah!”

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Monday Night Combat Comes to PC

According to the latest news update on Steam. Uber Entertainment’s Monday Night Combat heads to the PC this January. This news comes more than a week after MNC was updated with new content and a flurry of bug fixes. MNC, for those not familiar, is a hybrid shooter running on the Unreal 3 engine. It’s a zesty mix of shooter and tower defense, topped off with a dash of game show for flavor. With a zany announcer and a lovable mascot that becomes your target during intermission, MNC packs in action by the ‘asston.’ Fight wave after wave of marching robots in Co-op blitz mode, or go hardcore with Crossfire mode where two teams compete to destroy the other’s “money ball.” Power your player with bacon and churros to get the edge on your opponent.

I’ve been playing this on the Xbox for a while now and its worth the 15 dollar price tag. In my experience with MNC, the Xbox version suffers from low frame rate in many situations (hopefully not a problem on the PC side) and a few minor balance issues.  Performance issues aside, the game is a solid class-based team shooter for the same price as many map packs for EA or Activision games.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

There and Back Again: A Dedicated Tale

Well, its been a while since I’ve written. Alot has changed over the course of the past year. I’ve shoved my foot in my mouth buy purchasing an Xbox. I figured might as well jump on the bandwagon, play some neat games, and give Microsoft the chance to rape my wallet. Nothing really has piqued my interested lately other than the whole PC-Infinity Ward-MW2-Dedicated Server hoopla. After ingesting so many forum posts and troll topics that I’ve finally decided to comment on the whole situation. I find this debate especially close to my heart since the purchase of my Xbox 2 months ago.

Let’s debrief for a minute. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, one of the most anticipated titles of 2009 was released to a firestorm of controversy earlier this month. PC gamers felt like they were getting hosed by IW/Activision because of several factors.

1. Dedicated Servers
2. Matchmaking Service
3. Price

I feel that the PC gamers pissed off at IW/Activision have a right to be. Infinity Ward is starting a new service with the launch of the game. IWNet is supposed to be the end-all-cure-all for PC gaming. It’s supposedly going to streamline the gaming experience and make it easier on everyone. Everyone except the competitive gamers. PCG’ers are used to having complete control over the games that they play. Take counter-strike for instance. Just one game, but if you were to look at a server list there are about 100 different mods running on the servers allowing them to tweak game modes and damage to a level that seems fun for the server administrator and his/her friends. However, IW sees this as a way to cheat the system. That type of modding allows for unbalanced games, and an “unwanted” game experience. Here, I do have to agree with IW. Some of the COD4 modded servers with 32-64 players is just absolutely ridiculous. It’s not fun, you die as soon as you spawn. However, whoever is hosting/paying for the server has the right to do whatever. For this reason, the completive gamers went up in arms because this wouldn’t allow them to change game settings needed to play competitively.

So, continuing the story of “Activision Knows Best” we move on to Matchmaking with IWnet. With the dedicated server removed from the equation, IWnet implements a P2P matchmaking service that will automatically find the “best host” with the “best connection” to all players and then will start the game. That sounds great and all, but what happens if you’re playing a game with friends and a dipshit decides to crash your party. How do you get rid of him? What if he is cheating? Well you’re shit out of luck, should have started a private game. Apparently MW2 has no way to kick disruptive or cheating players from games. So when that haxor shows up the only way to get rid of him is to start a new game.

Finally, we move on to the price point of the SKU. The going rate for a “next gen” title is $60 bucks. Alright, we used to pay that kind of dough for an SNES game back in the day. But $60 for a PC Game? I don’t think so. The most common association to why console games are about $10 more expensive than the same game on the PC would be due to licensing fees. But that doesn’t make sense for a PC game, where there are no fees to make a game. That 10 bucks is going right into Activision’s coffers. So, not only do PC gamers have “less” than they are used to, but also have to pay more. I think that’s fucked up.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Console Gamers Are Idiots

I’m tired of seeing comments on reviews from reputable sources dogging the reviewer for being biased. I have a feeling that 90% of game reviewers don’t give one iota of one percent of a fuck about what system the game is on. They didn’t have to buy the console to play the game, they are given an assignment and usually can play on their employer’s dime. A game does not become great just because it is on the Xbox 360 or PS3. A game is good because it has merit, it has some sort of redeeming quality to make it stand out from the mountain of trash that is produced every year.  Its a sad day when kids have to sit around and belittle others to justify their 400 dollar game console purchase. All I can say is that you should have invested that 400 dollars into a gun to shoot yourself in the head. Console owners like to get a stick in their ass because they consistently pay 10-20 dollars more for the same game released on the PC.

Another good example of this debate is my previously posted article and the comments that follow Mr. Hip-hop’s spiel on how Gabe Newell hasn’t created anything that lives up to KZ2’s “quality.”

It’s hard to try to have a logical debate with these kinds of people, because they don’t use it. When you try to debate the finer points, your mother and her genitals are thrown into the picture, or you are called a homosexual.

Sometimes I wish the internet wasn’t the internet. In my opinion console gamers (fan boys) are tools of the man. Literally. You are mindlessly promoting a product, and you aren’t even getting paid. Its a very jingoistic attitude towards video games, and quite detrimental to the gaming community as a whole.

You don’t have to take my word for it…

Thursday, February 5, 2009

“Hip-Hop Gamer” and “Real Talk”

Ok, my blog may not be the pinnacle of game journalism, but I think I have a somewhat objective point of view when it comes to gaming platforms. Each system has merits and pitfalls, good games and bad games, but if there is one thing that I can’t stand is “fanboy-ism.” Check out the Hip-Hop Gamer’s nice article on Valve.

I can’t use 1st hand knowledge about Killzone2 because I don’t own a Playstation 3. However, the reports I have been reading are here and there, some good, some bad. The overall impression that I get is that it has pretty good graphics and good gun play, but doesn’t do much to break boundaries. With that said lets dissect what Mr. Hip-Hop had to say about Valve.

“He refuse to develop games for the PS3 console because of its hard-to-develop-for cell, or so he says. This means we wont be seeing any PS3 port of Left 4 Dead.”

As a PC Games developer, to get the most bang for their buck, sticking with what you know makes creating good games easier.  Gabe Newell understands economics and doesn’t just make games. The PC and 360 use vary similar architecture, making ports very easy. Making PS3 games would require a significant investment of time and money just to learn the technology. Valve uses a Kaizen philosophy with their games, meaning that they continually test and improve their games until they are “done.” I think that Valve would not be able to the quality games that they want to to make if they had to learn the Cell Architecture.

“Valve hasn’t ever made anything close to the quality of killzone 2 this generation on the so called easy-to-develop-for platform labeled Xbox 360.”

First off, Valve is primarily a PC games company. You should be comparing the PC and PS3. Half-Life was released in 1998. It was stunning because of the games narrative(or lack thereof), the interactivity of game (I.E. puzzles). Half-Life 2 again was lauded for its story and use of puzzles, and stunning graphics for the time. Portal was a quirky game that surprised most critics in 2007 with a great story with fairly limited set pieces and unforgettable characters. Not to mention TF2 and Left 4 Dead, oh yeah Counter-Strike the most played online shooter ever. What has Killzone2 done? Look pretty? I guess. Has Killzone 2 redefined any boundaries, does it make you think when you play it? Do you have any sort of epiphany or catharsis when you play? Do you get emotionally attached to any of the characters? Do you do anything more than shoot monsters and take cover?

“Gabe Newell, as a well respected game developer should welcome the challenge, game development is not always going to be easy and you have to work hard at it to get amazing results as shown in Killzone 2”

Again, this is more of a numbers/money “thing” than it is a challenge to make a game for the PS3. The Game Biz is a tough industry, and if you can’t make back your loses from making a PS3 game, you probably shouldn’t make it. As far as Amazing results, what does that entail? A fully working beta game? Pretty graphics? 1.1million pre orders? That is just telling me that Killzone 2 might be the only shooter, or game for that matter, that is worth a damn on the PS3. Maybe I’m not smoking enough chronic to see the “amazing results.”

I don’t want to say that KZ2 is a bad game, but you can’t tell me that it is some how superior to Half-Life2. I am seeing the COD-syndrome here. Lets take something that sells well, lets rehash the same shit, and put it in a new box to sell it. Valve is guilty of that to some extent, but I sure as hell didn’t pay $60 dollars for Episode 2.

If you get a chance, read the nice comments at the end of Mr. Hip-Hop’s article.