Killzone 2 invades the PS3 to mixed fanfare

There is no denying that Killzone 2 is the big budget, space marine  shooter that the PS3 needed as an answer to the 360’s Halo and Gears of War franchises.   And on that front, just in my short playtime, it has delivered.   The problem is that it may be just a little bit too late.   I was pretty sick of space marines and blown up cities a year ago…  by now I am really, really sick of them.   But KZ2, at least, has the best looking space marines and blown up cities around.   

In general I think the gaming world is going to be very pleased with this game.   As gamers we are used to ideas getting repeated and repeated and repeated.  I mean how many World War II shooters have we all played?  10,000?  Possibly higher.   And this generation thus far has been defined by the space marine battling some bad guys on their turf…  which KZ2 probably does the best.   So if you aren’t completely sick of the concept yet, the game is wonderful.

It is not without problems, however.   And it’s also not without hordes of people on the internet bitching.   The official Killzone message boards are filled with tons and tons of posts complaining about how “heavy” the controls feel.   I do agree with them, it almost feels as if there is lag even when playing offline.  The game isn’t nearly as responsive as one would like.   It seems they did this on purpose, to give your movements a feeling of momentum, so maybe we will all adjust and like it.  But for now it feels a little off.   

The multiplayer is done well and has the same sort of hooks in it that make the COD franchise so addictive online.   You get experience for killing guys, you then open new abilities and classes as you get more and more experience.   The game uses a class system more akin to Team Fortress than it is to COD.   Including a “spy” like class that can dress up like the other team.   The lack of a party system is a bummer, but finding friends and getting together isn’t nearly as hard as it is in a game like Socom: Confrontation.

The good news for us, and for any of you reading this site, is that we will have a guest reviewer writing up his take on the game in the coming days.   He has had the game since earlier this week and is thankfully willing to share his thoughts with us.   He is a b-list videogame celebrity that some of you may know, though when I said that to him he retorted “Ha.  More like ZZ list.”   Anyway, fans of podcasts and neogaf (specifically the photoshop thread where folks made their own videogame ads) will know of him…  and we are psyched to have him come aboard to write up this review.   It will be our first non-PSN review also, so that’s exciting.    I am also trying to talk him into doing the Echochrome review, because I know it’s a great game but I just don’t have fun playing it. I know he did, so I wanted to get that perspective on there (and then will add my 2 cents as to why it didn’t work for me).  

Anyway, back to pretending I’m not sick of being a space marine and killing some guys in spooky masks.   Hopefully I will run into some of you on the online battlefield.

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Burnout Paradise Review: This is too easy

The game is freaking wonderful! If you haven’t bought it yet then you are a fool. Done.

Ok, not really. I’ve never played any other Burnout games. I saw Paradise and didn’t think it was a big deal. Open world racing? Sounds like GTA, no thanks. It released on PSN and I figured that meant it must be horrible, why else would it be cheap? Right?

Wrong.

It’s insane how great this game is. I’m actually pretty glad I didn’t play it until recently. The latest update to the game added race restarts, which really completes the experience. I only caught the tail end of the game before you could restart races, and I didn’t care for that.

Anyways lets get down to why this game is incredible.

The open world of Paradise city is really what seperates this game from other racing games. Motorstorm: Pacific Rift, for example, is a great game. It’s a great experience but it’s just racing around tracks. Sure it has other features but they all involve going around a track one way or another. Burnout Paradise offers such a versatile racing experience that it’s depth simply dwarfs the likes of Motorstorm.

The almost platformy nature of certain objectives in the game is done very well. I never would have thought I would truly enjoy riding around looking for yellow gates to crash through, but I did. The draw to give up on a race from time to time simply because you saw a flash of yellow or a giant billboard that needs smashed as you race along is hilarious. Super Jumps are basically the  same deal. Out of the way jumps that send you flying in slow motion, Dukes of Hazzard style.

Speaking of Dukes, the newest content download for the game is the Legendary Cars pack. This pack includes 4 different cars with funny names that you will recognize. Kit from Knight Rider which I don’t see anything special about besides it being super fast. What ever it is you call the Dukes of Hazzard car, which has that awesome horn from the show. The Ghost Buster’s car which has some sirens. And the mother of them all, the Back to the Future car. A button press allows you to hover and when you activate your boost you leave flaming time tracks. AWESOME!

Take this sucker up to 88 MPH and see what happens.

Take this sucker up to 88 MPH and see what happens.

The races themselves were a bit difficult at first. The open world is the only thing I can blame for this. You are shown a starting and finishing point. How you get there is up to you. This leaves you with moments where you have to pause the game and try to plan out your route on a map. Forget trying to follow the UI directions. Basically these are just street signs that show when you are approaching an intersection and flash when its time to turn. Maybe I’m just old, but I just cannot get any use out of this feature in a race. The signs are too small and the action is too intense for me to even notice them. Once you become accustomed with the general layout of the city though racing becomes much more satisfying.

The game itself is very beautiful. I’ve heard that the only way to experience Paradise City is on the Playstation 3. I believe that especially when you take into account the open worldness (is this a word?)of it. They always said you can only have one thing, incredible visuals or incredible depth. Well Paradise squashes that notion.

The online portion of the game is decent at best. I like the challenges which require you and a friend to do various things in order to complete them. Things like, crashing in to each other while flying through the air.

Use of USB cameras in the game for online play is pretty well done. Not only can you take a picture for your in-game driver’s license. You can set up your camera to flash a quick picture of yourself cheesing it up right after you cause another player to crash, or win a race. Then that person or the entire racing field has to look at you flexing or what have you after being bested by yours truly. I’d imagine there has been enough a pictures of testicle dangling in front of a cameras to make anyone uncomfortable. You’ll have that.

My problem with the online play stems from Freeburn mode and the actual races. Freeburn is basically just you and a bunch of other players riding around Paradise City trying to go faster and fly higher than each other. The downside is that you can’t do single player challenges while in this mode. I think that would make it good enough for me. That way i can just do that while the other online guys are just squaring off trying to crash each other constantly so they can reenact scenes from the GTA x-pac.The races take so long to load that I get board. To combat this major drag, the game scrolls through every member of the racing field and gives you a little highlight of their stats. The pre-race shenanigans actually took about 4 times longer to go through than the actual race. Lame!

In the end, Burnout Paradise is an incredible off-line experience. That really trumps any and all complaints I have. Go buy this game off PSN now if you don’t own it. For $20.00 you are getting a very deep and well done racer. That’s all I have to say about that.

High Velocity Bowling – This review is more offensive than the game is, somehow.

What follows is an AIM conversation between me (famousmortimer) and DickyJ after playing this game online in a best of three series.   We both have played it offline and with random people online before this.

Famousmortimer(12:38:38 AM): So, what were your thoughts of HVB before we played our first game?

DickyJ(12:39:11 AM): What’s a good way to describe a pile of shit?

Famousmortimer(12:39:41 AM): Haha, alright.   Why didn’t you like it?

DickyJ(12:41:23 AM): If I wanted to play this game on Wii, I would have bought it on Wii. Motion controls and the PS3 are bad, pretty much universally.

Famousmortimer(12:41:41 AM): I can’t disagree with that

Famousmortimer(12:42:06 AM): Motion controls are even worse on the ps3, because it seems tacked on at the last minute

Famousmortimer(12:42:17 AM): Where the Wii, at least, had it planned from near the start

DickyJ(12:43:23 AM): Speaking of tacking on, what exactly does rotater cuff surgery entail?

DickyJ(12:43:59 AM): My freaking arm hurts, maybe it’s my fault but I feel like I was having to swing way to hard to play this stupid game.

Famousmortimer(12:44:23 AM): Yeah, I remember doing that also.

DickyJ(12:45:03 AM): Sometimes I was swinging 2 or 3 times per throw because apparently I wasn’t doing it right.

Famousmortimer(12:45:12 AM): But, the secret is, just like the wii, you can find a small hand motion that fools the controller.   So it negates the whole purpose of motion control…

Famousmortimer(12:45:36 AM): Which begs the question… why can’t we at least have the option to just push buttons?

DickyJ(12:47:11 AM): Exactly! That’s what I want. By the way you type like a ten year old only when sober I guess. I don’t think you’ve ever “begged the question” in the history of the world.

DickyJ(12:47:28 AM): Leave that in!

Famousmortimer(12:47:40 AM): Ill leave that in, but I’m confused.

Famousmortimer(12:48:01 AM): Ive never said begs the question?

DickyJ(12:48:45 AM): Don’t think so. Guess who is crying…I’m going to have to multitask this for a bit.

Famousmortimer(12:49:40 AM): Fucking Action Jackson (for the viewers at home, Action Jackson is DickyJ’s newborn son… and yes, I guess I just swore at a newborn).

DickyJ(12:50:17 AM): It’s cool, he needs to toughen up and stop acting like a baby.

Famousmortimer(12:50:50 AM): Haha, yes.  Give that dude a controller and put on Mega Man 9.

DickyJ(12:51:29 AM): Back to bowling, you were saying that it’s the worst game ever I believe?

Famousmortimer(12:52:13 AM): No. you were.

DickyJ(12:52:19 AM): Oh.

Famousmortimer(12:52:22 AM): So we met up online.

Famousmortimer(12:52:27 AM): We start

Famousmortimer(12:52:30 AM): You went first

Famousmortimer(12:52:39 AM): Tell the readers what happened.

DickyJ(12:53:34 AM): I had to feel out the real estate… ya know get accustomed to the lane. Hasn’t anyone heard of practice frames?

Famousmortimer(12:53:52 AM): So you felt out both gutters?

DickyJ(12:54:28 AM): If you want to put it that way, sure.

Famousmortimer(12:54:56 AM): Ok

Famousmortimer(12:55:03 AM): So

Famousmortimer(12:55:06 AM): Um

Famousmortimer(12:55:21 AM): Then I come in, drunk, and nail a strike in the first frame

DickyJ(12:56:02 AM): Pure skills.

DickyJ(12:56:35 AM): <makes bottle for Dick Jr.>

Famousmortimer(12:56:50 AM): That’s gross

Famousmortimer(12:57:34 AM): So you start off with two gutter balls, not surprising, since you had already told me you hate the game.

Famousmortimer(12:57:44 AM): And I get a strike and then I think a spare.

Famousmortimer(12:57:54 AM): But after that you get on a roll

DickyJ(1:00:42 AM): Yeah I got a feel for it right about the 7th frame.

Famousmortimer(1:01:02 AM): You were doing well before that

DickyJ(1:02:06 AM): It’s a bit hazy for me until the end was nigh.

DickyJ(1:03:30 AM): That happens when you try to block something out.

Famousmortimer(1:04:16 AM): I feel your anger.  I felt your anger.   But we started off and you sucked, and I was awesome…   but after that I felt like you got in the flow of it.

Famousmortimer(1:04:31 AM): You were spinning that crap and getting good scores

Famousmortimer(1:11:28 AM): I think, at this point, we still cant figure out how voice chat works.

Famousmortimer(1:11:33 AM): If i remember correctly

DickyJ(1:12:00 AM): I’m pretty sure I was shouting “Mort!!” over and over.

Famousmortimer(1:12:24 AM): Yeah, but when *don’t* you do that?

DickyJ(1:12:57 AM): No comment.

Famousmortimer(1:13:41 AM): haha

DickyJ(1:13:45 AM): Anyways once I figured out that voice chat was toggled off I figured out the best thing about the game.

DickyJ(1:14:00 AM): Ask me what!!!

Famousmortimer(1:14:04 AM): That you could not listen to me?

DickyJ(1:14:46 AM): The quality of the voice chat is pretty awesome. Which is pretty important for this type of game.

Famousmortimer(1:15:05 AM): Yeah, I can agree with that

Famousmortimer(1:15:15 AM): The game sucks, but is fun against people

Famousmortimer(1:15:21 AM): So voice chat is important

DickyJ(1:17:05 AM): So voice chat was on and fun was had. I was getting the hang of the lane then what happened?

Famousmortimer(1:17:29 AM): Well, that skips to the end.  I won.

Famousmortimer(1:17:44 AM): You were catching on, but it was too late.

Famousmortimer(1:18:23 AM): Its a best out of three though.   But hopefully it wont take us this long to type all 3.

Famousmortimer(1:18:35 AM): Well, 2.  Because I’m gonna win again.

DickyJ(1:18:44 AM): Bull!

Famousmortimer(1:19:02 AM): really?

Famousmortimer(1:19:44 AM): This is going on the site… whatever the score is will be in bold underneath this line.  Well the next line.

Famousmortimer(1:19:54 AM): You really think you are going to beat me?

DickyJ(1:20:11 AM): No doubt.  (spoiler… he won)

Famousmortimer(1:20:43 AM): Alrighty, off to take a piss and meet you on the lanes.   Send an invite.

DickyJ(1:21:23 AM): right after this bottle is done (1 minute) and Jack gets a new diaper (4 minutes)

DickyJwent idle at 1:37:36 AM.

DickyJreturned at 1:46:12 AM.

DickyJ(1:49:00 AM): So.

Famousmortimer(1:50:27 AM): yo

Famousmortimer(1:50:33 AM): Sorry, Sara was on snood  (Sara is my roommate… snood is a game on my computer she loves)

Famousmortimer(1:51:07 AM): Alrighty

Famousmortimer(1:51:16 AM): So game two

Famousmortimer(1:51:20 AM): I was going to win

DickyJ(1:51:27 AM): and…

Famousmortimer(1:51:28 AM): I was pretty positive about that

Famousmortimer(1:51:35 AM): What happened!?!?!?

DickyJ(1:52:22 AM): Let’s see, I vaguely remember winning  by default since you ran out of time.

Famousmortimer(1:52:34 AM): Ok, yes.

Famousmortimer(1:52:43 AM): I will admit to running out of time

Famousmortimer(1:52:58 AM): and running out of time because I was too drunk to watch the clock

Famousmortimer(1:53:05 AM): But!

DickyJ(1:53:07 AM): But being the good sport that I am, the game allowed me to force a forfeit or give you two additional minutes to finish. I chose to be the best friend ever and I gave you 2 more minutes.

Famousmortimer(1:53:24 AM): thanks, game

DickyJ(1:54:03 AM): I then proceed to hand you the biggest beat down in the history of bowling.

Famousmortimer(1:54:19 AM): I was trying to forget about that

Famousmortimer(1:54:23 AM): dick

Famousmortimer(1:54:28 AM): Dickyj, i mean

DickyJ(1:55:15 AM): I think I set some kind of record with my 136 point game.

DickyJ(1:55:29 AM): Oh and thanks for the two trophies that gave me.

Famousmortimer(1:55:37 AM): You at least broke the record for highest score by a  fucktard.

DickyJ(1:55:43 AM):  Wow.

Famousmortimer(1:55:47 AM): Happy to help.

Famousmortimer(1:55:58 AM): So

Famousmortimer(1:56:04 AM): I won game one

Famousmortimer(1:56:10 AM): and talked shit

Famousmortimer(1:56:13 AM): you won game two

Famousmortimer(1:56:20 AM): which i talked shit about

Famousmortimer(1:56:22 AM): so

DickyJ(1:56:25 AM): Do you think alcohol consumption factored into the equation?

Famousmortimer(1:56:51 AM): You know what!  You’re not my father!!!!!!  *cries into a pillow*

Famousmortimer(1:56:56 AM): si

Famousmortimer(1:56:58 AM): so

Famousmortimer(1:57:12 AM): game 3

DickyJ(1:57:16 AM): You booze, you lose. Remember that kids.

Famousmortimer(1:57:23 AM): want to make a wager?

Famousmortimer(1:57:44 AM): not money, site related

DickyJ(1:57:46 AM): what would you like to wager?

Famousmortimer(1:58:14 AM): Loser has to write the review of super acrobatic stupid robot cars or whatever the fuck its called.

DickyJ(1:58:28 AM): That’s high stakes…

Famousmortimer(1:58:34 AM): Fuck yeah it is

DickyJ(1:58:42 AM): Ok it’s a deal.

Famousmortimer(1:58:48 AM): We aren’t in Kansas anymore

Famousmortimer(1:59:11 AM): Alright, see you on the lanes, robot car bitch

DickyJ(1:59:20 AM): Game on.

DickyJwent idle at 2:09:20 AM.

Famousmortimer(2:15:26 AM): Alls I’m gonna say is bullshit, and you can take over the roll of the cocky motherfucker asking questions

DickyJreturned at 2:15:35 AM.

DickyJ(2:16:07 AM): Look, you have an opportunity to do a game review like no other.

Famousmortimer(2:16:42 AM):

DickyJ(2:17:04 AM): You could, quite possibly change the face of gaming with your review of Super Galactic Battlestar RC Pro-Am Cars of the Future.

Famousmortimer(2:17:35 AM): Yeah, I might…

Famousmortimer(2:17:55 AM): Or maybe the level of suck might choke me in the under tide.

DickyJ(2:18:39 AM): Let’s talk about the voice chat in this game.

Famousmortimer(2:18:45 AM): Ok

Famousmortimer(2:18:55 AM): It’s pretty damn clear

DickyJ(2:20:31 AM): Yeah and you don’t get that failure to activate your mic because you aren’t talking loud enough. Is that because the voice chat is always open as opposed to most other games?

Famousmortimer(2:21:22 AM): Yeah, it’s always open, kinda like Xbox Live, but it’s very clear, unlike Xbox Live.

Famousmortimer(2:22:12 AM): And that’s not to say that all PSN chat is awesome.  Resistance 2 is always open and is just a noise fest.

DickyJ(2:23:11 AM): What about that lag between voice chat and on-screen action with High Velocity. Someone is going to have to explain that to me.

Famousmortimer(2:24:34 AM): That makes no sense to me either.   The game is very simple, you input your commands and the ball goes down the lane.   But as we figured out tonight, the voice chat is at least 3 seconds in front of what your opponent is seeing.   I’m no programmer, but that makes zero sense to me.

DickyJ(2:25:42 AM): Yup, I’d figure the voice would be the thing lagging. But I also have no logical reason why that should be.

Famousmortimer(2:27:04 AM): Well, every other game that has ever existed has made the voice chat lag behind what was happening on your screen.   HVB is trying to reverse that by having your voice come through 10 years before whatever happened does.

DickyJ(2:29:33 AM): Well I’m going to say one thing. I actually enjoyed playing this game online with you. I didn’t expect to enjoy it. I only played it one other time and that was offline and one match without voice online. Friends are probably key too. Or at least someone friendly to play with.

DickyJ(2:30:01 AM): I wouldn’t mind seeing four player online either.

Famousmortimer(2:31:05 AM): I agree, and I think the game designers do also, or at least the people who make trophies.   They are all based off the online part of the game.

Famousmortimer(2:31:21 AM): We both agreed, before this started, that offline sucked.

DickyJ(2:31:42 AM): and it does…

Famousmortimer(2:31:46 AM): And lets just warn anyone now, reading this, if you want an offline game, this is not it.

Famousmortimer(2:32:02 AM): Even for a goddamn bowling game, the offline is sub-par.

DickyJ(2:33:20 AM): Unless you like being forced to watch the computer bowl every single time and staring at the pins for 10 seconds after each throw.

Famousmortimer(2:33:52 AM): Well, who doesn’t like that?

DickyJ(2:33:59 AM): America.

Famousmortimer(2:34:14 AM): Oh yeah

Famousmortimer(2:34:18 AM): us.

Famousmortimer(2:34:40 AM): So you suck at asking questions so I’m gonna close us out.

Famousmortimer(2:34:56 AM): Who won the first game?

DickyJ(2:35:31 AM): How much was this sparkling pile of poop anyways? I forgot.

DickyJ(2:35:44 AM): I’m ignoring your last question.

Famousmortimer(2:35:48 AM): You didn’t forget, I bought it.

Famousmortimer(2:35:52 AM): and gave you a copy

DickyJ(2:35:53 AM): Oh yeah.

DickyJ(2:36:03 AM): How much?

Famousmortimer(2:36:06 AM): I think it was $10

DickyJ(2:36:46 AM): What do you think about the downloadable content? Have you purchased any of that?

Famousmortimer(2:36:58 AM): I haven’t.

Famousmortimer(2:37:28 AM): But Ive made friends with people who have, and traded shit that is much more worthwhile for it.

Famousmortimer(2:37:49 AM): Are we done embarrassing me yet?

DickyJ(2:38:21 AM): Sounds like you are quite the bargaining guru.

Famousmortimer(2:39:04 AM): Well, some may say that I am.   They might not understand logic or reason, but they might say that.

DickyJ(2:39:45 AM): My opinion is that the downloadable content is laughable. A dollar for a ball, I think is what I saw. A ball is a ball.

Famousmortimer(2:40:10 AM): Yeah, seriously, who would pay for that?

Famousmortimer(2:40:37 AM): *If you did and are reading this site, I’m sorry*   BUT COME THE FUCK ON!

Famousmortimer(2:41:32 AM): You have a young child, so say it gentler to these fine folks…

DickyJ(2:42:46 AM): Son, if it smells like shit, then it probably tastes like shit.

Famousmortimer(2:43:04 AM): But

Famousmortimer(2:43:26 AM): If you can take a shit online, or smell a shit online, it’s a bit more fun.

Famousmortimer(2:43:54 AM): Come on, we had fun.

DickyJ(2:45:13 AM): So online is fun with friends. Offline sucks, DLC sucks, and the lag is funny. What else?

Famousmortimer(2:45:36 AM): Well, for trophy whores, the trophies are all online.

Famousmortimer(2:45:47 AM): So if you don’t play online, don’t apply.

DickyJ(2:46:41 AM): The leaderboards are a joke. It’s basically just a list of 10 million people who got 300 games. Sounds like the competition might be difficult for beginners. How many games have you played online?

Famousmortimer(2:47:10 AM): Im not sure, in the 20 to 30 range.

DickyJ(2:47:33 AM): I’m guessing you won 5 games. Right or wrong?

DickyJ(2:47:46 AM): Because you really are horrible.

Famousmortimer(2:48:01 AM): Haha, fuck you.   And yeah, 5 might be high.

DickyJ(2:48:44 AM): I hate online trophies more times than not. Especially if they entail having to actually win.

DickyJ(2:49:05 AM): Final thoughts. Go!

DickyJ(2:50:35 AM): (5 minutes later) Tick tick tick…

Famousmortimer(2:51:34 AM): Sorry, was pissing out that beating you put on me

Famousmortimer(2:52:00 AM): I like online trophies if they have to do with winning

DickyJ(2:52:12 AM): SOCOM says what?

Famousmortimer(2:52:46 AM): Haha, well that’s a fucking mishmash of bad ideas.

Famousmortimer(2:53:07 AM): And those trophies are done by winning.

Famousmortimer(2:53:16 AM): So I guess that proves my theory wrong

DickyJ(2:53:41 AM): Off that topic. I asked for your final thoughts let’s have em.

DickyJ(2:53:55 AM): Come on Jerry!

Famousmortimer(2:54:58 AM): Well.   I hate motion controls.   I hate stupid stereotypes in games…  and this game features both of those, to the maxxxxxxxx.    But, when playing against another player I have fun.   Tonight, playing against you, even though I’m pretty sure you cheated.   I had a ton of fun.

Famousmortimer(2:55:59 AM): Bottom line, don’t buy this game to play solo.   Maybe buy this game to play online if you are a leaderboard jockey.   Do buy this game if you have friends that will also and you can play together.

DickyJ(2:56:50 AM): It’s a game you’d buy to bullshit over with buddies. It’s  quite perfect for that.

Famousmortimer(2:57:45 AM): Yeah, as fucked up as it is, if you are playing with a friend it’s fucked up for both of you.   So at least it’s fair….

DickyJ(2:58:40 AM): If you think you would have fun shooting the shit and bowling you probably will. But nothing more.

Famousmortimer(2:58:56 AM): Agreed.

Fin.

WHERE IS THE BATTLESTAR GALACTICA GAME?

bttlestar5

WHERE IS THE BATTLESTAR GALACTICA GAME?

I admit, I am new to the Battlestar universe. I queue’d the first disc on Netflix only a couple months ago. Being an immense Star Trek nerd, I have heard the praises of BG for some time. “What,” they would say, “you don’t watch BG?” Sadly, I always answered, “no.” I don’t have cable and was yet to learn the awesome that is Netflix. All the time wasted. Its like the moment a man first fires a handgun. “What the hell have I been doing shooting clay pigeons?”

I will save the “fanboying” for another post, but the show is the cat’s meow. The bees’s knees. The Ninja’s star, as it were. The series is perhaps the best thing since Star Trek. Well, wait, yes. It is the best thing since Star Trek. From the CGI, to the writing, BG is a homerun. Damn near perfect in fact. Which leads to the ultimate point of this:

Where is the Battlestar Galactica game?

I am sure that I am not the only nerd on the interwebs searching for that dream. It practically writes itself. The game could have everything. Role playing, ship flying, shooting, point and click, driving, RTSing, resource management, real character development, branching story lines, everything. EVERYTHING!

Thinking of this gem, I can think of only one company to take on such a project. Only one company consistently produces titles worthy of the IP. One company that would instantly silence the fanboys like myself. One company to rule them all, both human and cylon.

BIOWARE

Yes, take a moment to absorb the brilliance that is a Bioware Battlestar Galactica title. I can wait.

Yup.

Awesome huh? It is as if they are destined to make this. All of the other titles and progression have been building towards this specimen of gaming. Real Darwinian shit folks. My buddy Mort made a good point, we grew out of Star Wars long ago. It wasn’t the recent movies that brought Star Wars back into my day dreams, it was Knights of the Old Republic. My number one game of all time (not counting asteroids of course).

I can only dream of a three part, 90 hour adventure that allows me to nerd out for 15 replays. Between KotOR and Mass Effect, I bet I have dropped the equivalent of one week of my life, and I am not alone. A game of this magnitude could actually cause that series to get the respect it deserves. Keep you ewoks and senate debates. I long for a blonde bombshell whispering in my speakers as I decimate toasters.

Alas, I am just dreaming here, but isn’t that what the interwebs are for?

BBB

Awaiting 2/26’s Releases… (which never showed up)

Update 3:

Today the folks at Sony graced us with NO PSN games.  None.   There is a PSP game, but no PSN games.   My tinfoil hat theory is that they want *NOTHING* getting in the way of tomorrow’s Killzone 2 release.   Even to the extent of a $10 download.    I may be wrong, but that is what makes the most sense to me.

I am personally bummed.  There are a bunch of PSN games coming “soon” that I want, badly.  Also, on a personal note, this site has been picking up quite a bit of momentum and not having any new games is a punch to the stomach.   But DickyJ and I already talked and we plan on using the time to catch up on old games we haven’t covered yet, and possibly try some new ideas out.   Also, you may have noticed earlier this week that Billybillblack debuted what will be his weekly column called  “Dear games.”   I have already read what he has planned for next week, and if you are a fan of laughing at the more grotesque parts of life, it will be right up your alley.  Also, debuting this Tuesday will be my weekly column, which I’m still working on a title for, but it will be about the gaming industry at large, the problems I see with it, the hope I have for it, and other rambles about shit that isn’t PSN related that I am playing.

We are also working on the technical side of getting a podcast up and running.   Once the logistics are worked out you can expect to see those out of us on a regular basis.    So, while I am bummed about my lack of new PSN titles to play, and lack of *new* things to write about this week, the future of this site is pretty damn bright.    

Below this bolded text is the sort of running blog I had going waiting to find out what games were coming this week.   It’s old news now, but I’ll keep it for posterity’s sake.

 

We are eagerly awaiting today’s PSN releases, but as of yet there is no word from the Playstation Blog what they are going to be.   There is a rumor floating around the net that it is going to be both Burn Zombie Burn and Bomberman Ultra.    That would certainly be a double dip of complete awesomeness. 

Keep an eye here, as soon as the games go live we will be all over them and have impressions up as soon as we possibly can.   First impressions are usually flippant, but it may help if you are on the fence about buying a game.    

And needless to say, Killzone 2 drops tomorrow.    I know a few folks who got it early and they assure me that it absolutely lives up to the hype.   Good news for PS3 fans, we finally have the Halo killer that Killzone 1 promised to be many moons ago.    Though word from my undercover nerds is that the game is a bit more realistic than Halo, going for more tried and true military weapons instead of laser guns and the like.   More like Gears of War in the first person.   I personally can’t wait, I am scouring my area for a 24 hour Walmart or something so I can actually pick it up tonight.

And MLB 09 on tuesday.   It is a good time to be a gamer.

 

Update 1:

Ign seems to think that Puzzle Quest: Galactrix is coming out today.   I know it’s out for the PC, and shipping for the DS, but haven’t heard a solid date for the PS3 or 360 versions.    Heck, maybe the 360 version might be out already.  Hold on, let me fire that piece of crap up (please note that I love plenty of 360 games, the piece of crap comment is about how every time I turn on my 360 I expect it to explode into a million pieces).

Nope, not there yet.   But, anyhow, I was a huge HUGE HUGE fan of the first Puzzle Quest, so if that indeed comes out tonight I will be freakin’ psyched.

 

Update 2:

Evidently the European store got zero games this week.    This doesn’t mean we won’t, because even downloadable games often come out on different weeks between the US and Europe…  but it’s enough to make me nervous.    And 5pm est has come and gone without an update to the store or anything on the PSblog.  So I will continue to wait here, refreshing everything over and over until this update arrives.    Do I sound like a crackhead?

Warhawk review – In its twilight years…

Reviewing a game that is approaching it’s 2 year birthday is both a blessing and a burden.   It’s nice, because the game is well established, has been polished to a great extent and is generally a solid piece of software.   It’s difficult because even though those things are true, the game just feels old at this point.

There was a time when I absolutely adored this game.   I wouldn’t put it on par with my Socom addiction or my World of Warcraft addiction…  but I played it on a pretty regular basis for a few months and always had fun when I did.   The game is basically Battlefield: Modern Combat, but in the third person, in a more fictional location and with a more arcade bend to the gameplay.    And for what it is, it is done really well.   But it certainly doesn’t have the depth of a Socom, or even a Tom Clancy shooter.

The game play can be pretty frantic as you will see Warhawks fighting overhead, tanks and jeeps coming at you, missile turrets firing everywhere.  It does a great job of creating what feels like a living battlefield.   The atmosphere can suck you in.

The game is somewhat lackluster in how it controls, however.   It uses aim assist, something that I completely loathe.   Also, you either are amazing at flying the Warhawks or you are completely terrible.   Which is fine, but it makes for a pretty uneven game play experience.   The game is called Warhawk, so you expect it to be the star of the show, but their power is so great and so complex that they are a bit of a curse to the game.   Though I’m sure the more experienced pilots out there will completely disagree with me.

If you can get good with one of these suckers you will dominate newbs like me.

If you can get good with one of these suckers you will dominate newbs like me.

As a gamer I am more into the battle on the ground anyway, and that’s where the biggest issues take place.   The auto aim takes out a lot of the skill when it comes to one on one fights, and out of nowhere you can be nuked by a barrage of missiles from above.   Again, I know the game is called Warhawk, and this is to be expected, but it kills the fun for folks like me who want to infiltrate an enemy base on the ground.

But that is very personal nitpicking, and the game does a lot right.   Each map is filled with various control points that you take over that allow your team to respawn there.   Fighting over key points is where the game shines, giving focus to the very large battles.   Seeing tanks coming into your base with Warhawks overhead as you try to take them out in a turret is great, great fun.    As is sneaking into an enemy’s base that is lightly defended, blasting the unsuspecting bastard to pieces and then stealing his property.   It’s these moments in the gameplay that will keep you coming back.

Gameplay on the ground can get good and hectic.   Just hope some stick jockey flies by and takes you all out with a barrage of missiles.

Gameplay on the ground can get good and hectic. Just hope some stick jockey doesn't fly by and takes you all out with a barrage of missiles.

Or *did* keep people coming back.   Like I alluded to earlier, the game is aging, and it’s not for the better.   The number of people on the servers is dwindling.   Usually a couple hundred folks at most, sometimes less than 100 on off-peak hours.

Battlefield: Bad Company does a better job of the same type of gameplay.   Socom, even with its problems, delivers a much more focused and intense ground fighting experience.    Warhawk, for everything it did well 2 summers ago, now feels dated.   Even the visuals don’t hold up very well.   There are bland textures everywhere, and while the map layouts are still good, the geometry isn’t that strong.

Trophy hunters need not apply here either.   There are some easy ones to pick up, but there are some absolutely absurd ones that you will never, ever get.   I am all for trophies being a challenge, but making it all but impossible to get the platinum is just bad design.

As of today I can not recommend dropping the cash for this game.   When it came out, yes, it was very fun.   But its time has passed, other games take this gameplay model and do it better.   It’s not a bad game, and many patches and expansions have made it quite a solid piece of software (unlike, say, Socom: Confrontation…).   But no matter how much you polish it, the gameplay is still stale.

Socom: Confrontation review – The single hardest game to review in the history of the universe

First off I am going to drop some street cred/knowledge of the type of Socom gamer I am.   Not to garner praise, but because it ultimately matters in your enjoyment of the game.    I got Socom 1 right around release.   I instantly fell in love with it.   I never cared about the offline game,  in fact I don’t think I ever played past the first level on any of them.   Then I got into the Socom 2 beta and my love turned into obsession.  When Socom 2 came out I played it for hours and hours, week after week.  In fact, all told, I probably played at least 10 hours a week for over 3 years, with the majority of that time probably closer to 30 hours a week.   I was a complete addict.

Socom 3 came out and I just wasn’t interested.   They made the switch to a more Battlefield type of game with 32 player matches, big wide open maps, vehicles and the like.   It did nothing for me.  So I stuck with Socom 2.   Then Socom: Combined Assault dropped and that was pretty much more of the same of Socom 3, so I skipped it also and stuck with Socom 2.

When Sony announced that they were making an on-line only version of Socom I was psyched.   They handed it off to the developer of the two PSP Socom games, which I found enjoyable for what they were  (i.e,…  Socom-lite).   The lead designer, Seth Luisi, stated that they wanted to make the game in the spirit of Socom 2.   I was pleased as punch.

I got into the beta and found it to be a complete mess.  The servers were laggy as hell, people were warping all over the place.   The gun spray was way too random and took skill out of the hands of the user and put it in some random number generator that decided if it was going to spray a bullet at someones face or not.   But, despite it’s problems, there was fun to be had.  The beta was one level, Crossroads from Socom 2…  but being a game with so many issues and one map you would think I would have gotten bored.   But I didn’t.  It showed flashes of brilliance.  But then, in a heartbeat, seemed broken to hell.

The full release of the game wasn’t much better.   The servers were swamped, the game play still had issues.  But they did make some nice improvements from the beta.  They toned down the gun spray, for one.  They listened to us and put the skill back in the hands of the player.   It wasn’t much for us to rest our hats on, but it did show that Slant Six did at least listen to us a little.

I’ll just skip ahead to now because we don’t really need to relive every month of this game since release.   The good news is that it is much improved, the bad news is that it isn’t nearly improved enough.   One of the biggest failures of the game is that stuff that is listed on the back of the box *STILL* isn’t in the game.   Now, I put this on Sony, as the publisher they set release dates and their marketing teams make cover art/back of the box info.   They knew this stuff wasn’t close to being ready yet they advertised it right on the box.  It really is a disgrace, as far as gaming goes.

There are many points of contention throughout the Socom community about specific aspects of the game and whether it captures the feeling of Socom 2.   My personal belief is that it does, barely.   It is far more Socom 2 than Socom 3 or CA was.   So that makes it the 3rd best Socom game out of 5.  To me.   And that pretty much sums up the game in a nutshell.  It is a very average Socom experience.   Nothing, other than the graphics, make this game stand out.

The new maps that Slant Six created vary from pretty good to pretty bad.   I personally love Kasbah, Fallen and Urban Wasteland, but Quarantine is about as unfun a map as this series has ever seen.   The recreations of the old maps are all solid.  The addition of an actual lighting engine making shadows actually dark adds a new wrinkle to these maps that we have been playing for 6+ years.   There are small changes here and there that purists moan about, but all in all they did a great job bringing the old maps into a new generation.

This map might seem cool in this shot but let me tell you that it's a goddamn nightmare.

This map might seem cool in this shot but let me tell you that it's a goddamn nightmare.

The game play is where it all gets so uneven.   The thing about Socom 1 and 2 is that the game appealed to many different type of shooter fans.   If you wanted a fast twitch based shooter you could rush, circle strafe, dolphin dive, and just go nuts.   If you were a slower more tactical player you could use the terrain to your advantage in a way that a first person game could never allow you to.   And if you fell somewhere in between, you had fun too.

With Confrontation, the game is slowed down quite a bit.   So, right off the bat, before even firing a shot, the run n gunners already feel betrayed.   But, by the same token, the tactical guys are quite pleased.    Socom also incorporates an armor system where you can either bulk up and move slower but take more shots…  or strip down and move at a decent (but not as fast as S2) speed.  I personally love this addition.   It gives you a tactical decision to make before you enter the battlefield.   I am not alone in liking it, but the community as a whole definitely DOES NOT like this.   People in heavy armor take too many shots to take down, making them pretty much immune to snipers.   I think the armor system needs to be balanced a bit more and maybe more people will get on board with it.  Because as of right now going with heavy armor to take more shots doesn’t put that big of a penalty on you.   It should slow you down to a crawl,  or not take as many shots.  Either/or.   Right now it just kinda slows you down and allows you to take 2-4 more bullets.   It’s a bit overpowered.

There is also a myriad of nagging issues that mar the game play.   Reloading is a tad too slow and gets interrupted if you walk over uneven terrain.   The lag has largely been cleaned up for most users, but there is still a large part of the Socom community that has insane lag issues to the point where the game in unplayable for them.   It’s kinda funny watching the not lagging and the lagging camp argue with each other on the Socom.com boards, it’s like they don’t believe each other.   It is possible for the game to lag for some and not for others, which is clearly the case with Confrontation at this point.

Now according to my word count I’m around 1200 words into this review and I have largely been trashing the game.   That’s what makes this single hardest game to review in the history of the universe.   When I fire this game up, with the broken promises on the back of the box and weird, unbalanced game play…   I have a really good time.   I can’t help it.   I want to hate it.  I really do.   I want to teach a lesson to publishers that they need to make sure their games are polished before releasing them.  Because, really, 5 months into this motherfucker and we are still playing a beta.  But it’s a beta that I really enjoy playing.

Oh Crossroads, how I do I love thee... let me count the ways.   Actually, I don't think I can count as high as the amount of times I've played you over the years.   But goddamn, you are still wonderful

Oh Crossroads, how do I love thee... let me count the ways. Actually, I don't think I can count as high as the amount of times I've played you over the years. But goddamn, you are still wonderful

The magic of a good socom game comes from the third person camera.   It changes the way a shooter is played more so than any other innovation to the genre.   In a first person game, be it realistic shooters like the old Rainbow 6s on the PC, or arcade shoot-em ups like Halo 3, you were always stuck in this narrow field of view.   Now, don’t get me wrong, I love plenty of first person games, but the first time I put in Socom 1 I was like “holy shit, I can’t believe how much a 3rd person camera changes everything.”   Where first person games limit your view, third person games give you a view that is too far.   Someday we will get something in the middle, but for now I prefer having it be too far, especially because even all these years later it still feels new and refreshing.   A Call of Duty fan will be in for a HUGE adjustment if they hop over to Socom for the first time.   And anyone thinking about getting this game *just* for the trophies… run away.  RUN FAR AWAY!  The trophies will take the rest of your life to achieve, they are absurd.

This game retains that  Socom magic, despite itself.    Even though when the round starts I have to make my way out of this annoying black fog, and I have to use a dedicated button to sprint to get to the spot I want, when I get there, I can setup an ambush like no other game.    I love it.   I LOVE IT.   It is what makes socom so great.   And this game,  this broken ass game, is great.  But it’s terrible.   It’s filled with broken promises and broken game play, and for some, completely broken servers.    But when I am running in to disarm a bomb and I shoot the two guys left and disarm it with a second to spare….   man, I’m just happy.

I know that I disgrace you with my enjoyment of confrontation.  I'm sorry, Socom 2.

I know that I disgrace you with my enjoyment of confrontation. I'm sorry, Socom 2.

The game is not Socom 2.   It probably never will be.   It is getting better with each patch, no matter how much crying you read across the web to the contrary.   And the game will continue to get better.   But it’s not going to be Socom 2.   It just isn’t.    So as a gamer you need to decide whether you can get over that or not.   There are TONS of people who can’t. They will tell anyone that listens that this game is complete crap.   And largely, what they say is true.   But for those of us that got over the fact that it’s not Socom 2, we are having a pretty damn good time playing this broken shell of a game.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Dick’s Take:

Most everyone that gives a crap knows the history of SOCOM. A game known for it’s on-line play that celebrated incredible success in a time when there wasn’t much in the genre to get excited for. Every FPS before and since cannot compare in my eyes. The original SOCOM 1 and 2 experience is something that is on a pedestal. Nothing can tarnish it in my eyes.

Since then shooters have come a long way. By this I mean they have solidified the experience. Offering incredibly superior matchmaking, voice capabilities, and game play that is stable virtually all the time.

Resistance, Halo and Gears of War are all great franchises. I’ve played every game in each of those series and I have enjoyed every one. But none of them compare to the SOCOM experience.

Along comes Confrontation, under a new developer. It’s even packaged on store shelves with the official PS3 headset, just like SOCOM was with the PS2. I was so excited thinking of the good old days. Hell, I only bought a PS3 once I knew SOCOM was making a return. I even looked up my old clan members hoping they were think of getting the band back together again, which they were. I couldn’t have been more excited.

I’ve had pretty much the same experience as my buddy Mortimer since then. The difference is that I have not played the game since trophies have been added. The series was tarnished. I let SOCOM 3 slide. So far I have not been as forgiving with Confrontation. All my old mates have done the same thing, they moved on to other games.

I hope the lesson is learned that you can’t go releasing a game that is broken. I feel like it never will be only because they got my money and that’s the most important thing right? I’m no know-it-all when it comes to sales and/or money in general. But I hope that the sales have slumped and enough copies have been traded in for them to realize that it was a major mistake.

I plan to play it again, I didn’t break down and trade it in. But in my eyes this needed to be the biggest and best release that the system has seen or will see for the next year. It is far from that.