Sunday, December 11, 2011

Command & Conquer: Generals 2 Announced!

Holy crap, it's been a while but EA is bringing back C&C: Generals (2003) with the sequel C&C: General 2. Using Bioware as marketing push I believe seemed confusing to me but then after doing a bit of research I've figured out that this "Bioware Victory" team have a number of Gens/Zero Hour vets within their crew. EA is also pushing that they're going to be using the infamous Frostbite 2.0 engine. Take a look at a brief glimpse of in-game footage.

So from the gameplay footage, it looks like it's the Command & Conquer we all know and love. Man did they let all the fans down with the disappointing C&C 4, and more importantly way to ruin the conclusion to one of the coolest video game stories of all time EA. While we don't see Kane or the Brotherhood of NOD here we do see the familiar USA faction fighting China and/or GLA units. Now the factions haven't been announced but a bit of digging I got some specifics.

"The game is set in a near future where global peace is a real possibility. However, with all the world's leaders attending a peace conference, a terrorist attack wipes out the entire cadre of politicians and diplomats, leaving nothing but each country's generals remaining to guide the world forward. Given their area of expertise, the generals quickly bring warfare back in vogue."

Where do I sign up (I played Generals for yearrrrs)?! Oh right 2013... Ok hope by then they integrate persistent leveling for online/multiplayer  (I believe this worked for C&C4), keep the experience and fighting will unlock your General's abilities and throw in a whole lot of desctructible environments using the Frostbite 2.0 engine (and of course powers to create such chaos and mayhem).

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Gaming Trends

Pictured above is Lucky Space, a new Facebook game that claims to be for the 'core' players out there. As the picture shows you'll be building and managing a lot on your little asteroid from home. You start off with just that little hub building in the middle and then branch off. Resources in the game include food, ore, crystium, and research. The infamous, follow the quests and level up gameplay of social gaming (with some saying MMOs as well) is present. There are certain tasks players are given and by finishing these tasks a specific reward is given back. This isn't anything new but it's the driving force behind the game as players continue to level up by accomplishing set quests or goals. I'm only at level 15 so I can't say for certain if this is the true Facebook game for 'core' (let's say enthusiastic gamers) but I can tell you it's highly fun to continue to expand and flourish on this little rock (gameplay is said to be inspired off of the Sim City and Civilization games).

Now I've also been playing another free to play browser game but instead of it consisting on Facebook, this game has its own site. Castle Empire Online, a free to play browser game, is from the makers of the Settlers games and is published by Ubisoft. You're tasked to build an empire from a very small town center with resources of settlers, fish, firwood, stone, tools and many many more. As you progress and accomplish your set goals, levels start raising and you start to unlock more and more buildings such as a pivotal barracks and provision's house (a building that converts resources). You progress through the game, after the tutorial quests have been completed, by attacking nearby bandit camps on the map which will ultimately allow you to capture a sector thus expanding your empire (and more importantly allowing you more resource spaces/deposits), granted you fell the bandit leader who controlled such sector.

To call these two games similar is a disservice to the person you're telling that to, they are vastly different (mainly Lucky Space revolves around energy use/time duration and friends while Castle Empire Online revolves around intelligent management of resources with the occasional help from friends). However they both are full fledged free to play browser games. Like Dragon Age Legends, all you need is a computer that can run flash and a current web browser like Firefox or Chrome, you can play anywhere with any computer pretty much. This is pretty huge considering the only games you could play in your browser before were practically simple arcade games which did not have a cloud based system so you couldn't continue where you left off on another computer or day and time. Get ready to see full fledged graphically intense games in your browser in the future and will they too be free to play, (along with the micro-transactions that will help the developers/publishers stay afloat), as we see all so many developers/publishers deciding on at the moment?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Definition of a RPG

Now before I get into this I'd let you in on some background information on me. I started playing games ever since the Atari 2600 when I was a kid, then got a SNES followed by many platforming and oh you know a certain Kart game as well (I also got a "bazooka" that played Tetris haha). Followed after that I grabbed the N64 and was blown away by the transition into 3D (funny how I can't go back to these very crudely rendered polygon games today though). Along this time our family got introduced to PC ownership due to a generous uncle who had a very technical job at an university. I still remember the day my family and I spent over at their house playing Dune II on his computer. My love for strategy games started there and I've been a major RTS gamer on the PC ever since.
Of course I latter grabbed an Xbox around the time Halo was popular and became a name when I was in highschool. My love for FPS games grew; I believe Goldeneye was the first FPS game I played and that was back in my high school days. For my college years I was introduced to Counter Strike and Half Life. My PC, brand spanking new for school PC, was running pretty much anything I threw at it; I was spending money on hardware upgrades instead of things I should have been getting like books. I highly enjoyed First Person Shooters, Real Time Strategy and Racing games at the time. I wasn't however a huge RPG fan. Sure I played the slew of them but most of them were boring or just tedious (why must I constantly sort through my inventory or oh now I get to go against an enemy that has way more hp than the lower enemies I've already faced).
Then I believe when I played KOTOR, Knights of the Old Republic, I understood it all. I think KOTOR wasn't my first RPG game that I enjoyed but it was the first one that made me aware what an RPG was. I thought it was interesting reading this article which describes the defintion of RPGs based on the thoughts of Casey Hudson (project director for Mass Effect 2).
"...three founding elements for their definition:
  • Story plays a central role, and the player's involvement as the character can change the outcome of that story.
  • Combat is more considered than a pure action game and incorporates tactical concepts.
  • The player's character grows over the course of the game developing skills, abilities, etc."
That last one is why I really enjoyed playing Crackdown; yes I will try to find all these orbs that boost my abilities!
You can read the whole article here.  
Not saying I've played the crap out of Mass Effect 2 but I've played a looooooooot of that game. I believe I've got over 250 hours with multiple playthroughs and character profiles. The moral choices, the different classes and the variety of decisions/endings I want to have to import into Mass Effect 3 has kept me going for a while. On a side note, It's good to see Mass Effect 2 achieved universal acclaim, their design choices really helped in that matter. Man I can't wait for Mass Effect 3 and ever so excited when I heard that Bioware is putting the RPG back into Mass Effect.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Great Games I Would Recommend

Well not best of the best but good games, which one to choose?

Someone asked me the other day "I'm getting a Xbox 360 what games should I pick up for it?" Well there's never one game that everyone would agree on although I think these are the select few that many, many people can agree that are the games to pick up if you have a Xbox 360 (not necessarily exclusives either). It's a bit of a read but totally worth it. In no particular order:

Mass Effect 2 - Take the world that was established by Bioware, heavily influenced off of best known universes and lore from Star Wars/Star Trek, in Mass Effect 1 and expand it to reveal a more insidious enemies, questionable allies, and plot. Throw away the clunky inventory and vehicle sections of the previous game. Streamline the experience to produce fast satisfying combat with meaningful consequences depending on your actions, your decisions really, and you've got one heck of a Sci fi epic. Oh and have the option to import in the save file from the previous game which alters the events in this one and you'll have a game you should play multiple times. The sad thing is this game is said to be overshadowed heavily when Mass Effect 3 comes out when the player will be engulfed in all out galactic war. Oh man I can't wait (understatement).

Bioshock - Set in an underwater utopia gone horribly wrong Bioshock gives players a meaningful gaming experience which blends shooter and role playing elements into one exhilarating adventure. Throw in one of the best plots around, memorable enemies/bosses to tangle with along with an interesting arsenal of weapons and plasmids, augmented abilities given to the player via splicing adam, and you'll loose yourself in this underwater chaotic paradise. Nobody had seen anything like it, aside from System Shock games of course. 

Gears of War - The developer behind the game is named Epic Games and that's their name for a reason. Brought out of hibernation, or just pissed they missed the last war, the monstrous Locust decide to invade from the ground up and humans are now the main meal. Big set piece, big enemies and weapons, this game is truly epic. The story might not make the best of sense but at least it's hugely satisfying blind firing a beefy assault rifle into "grubs". Oh did I mention the game utilizes a cover system, yes a very important cover system, for the game and the industry as a whole, in fact since you don't want to get caught off guard or out in the open in this intense third person shooter, which utilizes many design elements from Resident Evil 4 as well.

The Orange Box - Holy value Batman and speaking of value, ah Valve, it's similar haha, decided to pack a hell of a lot of content into this game package. Gamers get Half Life 2, Half Life 2: Episode 1, Half Life 2: Episode 2, Portal and Team Fortress 2. Now let's not say one is better than the other as all the games in this deal are totally worth it. Especially Half Life 2 and Portal. You don't really experience any game until you play through Half Life 2. Designed with no cutscenes in mind, the action and story is unraveled in front of your eyes as you play the mute protagonist Gordon Freeman. Let alone the cinematic sequences that happen in the game you also get to toy around with Valve's new Source engine which allows the player to manipulate objects with a gravity gun. This is Valve though so this isn't just something cool a gamer could do, it's integrated into the game as a game mechanic. Ok but you can't talk about The Orange Box without speaking of Portal, an ingenious little puzzle game which created the biggest internet meme around. Intelligent and self teaching, Portal had a way to challenge yet guide the player through each test. Ultimately you make up your own mind of what's going on in the world of Portal and it showed the gamer one memorable ending. That's how I want to enjoy my game, all the way to the end and it's paced perfectly.

Portal 2 - Starting where players left off Portal 2 is a full fledged title that expands on what Valve thought as a experiment that went right, with the first game. Ingenious level design again really made the player think thoughtfully and courageously at times. Add in the co-op mode and the fun is twice as much as before. Memorable writing, I mean it's really good, great character design, especially when you meet Cave Johnson, and more challenging than ever yet always feeling said challenges doable. Portal 2 continues the wonders, the thrills, the intrigue of the Portal universe. I think it's an understatement to say I'm really looking forward to what Valve can do with Portal 3. It's kind of crazy that a small game packaged along with others has done so well on it's own and it really shows the quality put into the game by the developers.

GTA IV: The Complete Edition - Set in the realistic New York city aka Liberty City Grand Theft Auto IV stars a few memorable characters which the player can interact with, aside from hanging out with down the line. See, you're Niko Bellic an Eastern European war veteran who has decided to take up the life of the promised good American tales his cousin has told him all about. Throw in an open world structure that allows the player to ignore story driven quests and mess around with anything and everything, this game can amuse gamers for hours. If you pick up the Complete Edition you'll secure two excellent Downloadable Content packages The Lost and the Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony. The former revolves around a biker gang and packs on some entertaining missions and weapons. The latter focuses on a nightclub owner bodyguard/assistant who also gets into very entertaining missions along with some new toys to play with as well. GTAIV's main story has great characters and a satisfying story but the DLC gives gamers the right content to cure the explosive action itch. If that's not enough for you there's also online.

Batman: Arkham Asylum - Batman games haven't been praised for being atmospheric, emotionally stirring and out right just a blast to play. However that's exactly what many said Batman: AA is and for good reason. The very talented Rocksteady Studios decided Batman was only as good as his enemies so not only did they give Batman an interesting and atmospheric location to explore them in but also by diving into the lore of many of the infamous crime lords/ladies of Arkham Asylum the developers crafted strong characters to go toe to toe with the dark knight. Setting up a satisfying and dynamic combo combat system also makes this game one that makes you truly feel like Batman. Like before however it's not just about punching bad guys, as Batman gets his detective side involved as well. Throw in the ability to level up, with often times unlocking, Batman's
abilities to fend off against an Asylum of baddies and you've got one seriously satisfying super hero game which isn't bogged down by a movie license.

Forza Motorsport 3 - Forza, the main racing game behind the publisher Microsoft is a powerhouse to say the least. Not only do you get detailed cars but you also get lots of them, I mean hundreds of cars to pick. Hundreds to drive, tweak, customize and even buy/sell online with an online auction house, saying Forza 3 is a big racing game is an understatement. Of course this is a all numbers simulation racing game so don't expect to take that corner at 120 mph like say Need for Speed. What it takes to learn simulation racing games has been easily enhanced with driving assists which should get anybody, not dependent on driving skill, onto the track and winning races. Easy to learn, hard to master is a perfect motto for Forza. You can even throw off all the assists, play the game with a racing wheel and go to town against strong AI or challenging opponents online. Really you're missing out as a racing fan if you don't pick up Forza 3.

Fable 2 - Hailed as the best Role Playing Game, the predecessor of Fable 2 got caught in a sticky place. Too many expectations disappointed many and left few satisfied with the creation of what Lionhead Studios had created with Fable on the original Xbox and PC. Now fully realized and explored Fable 2 fixed all the things that were wrong with the first game and gave the gaming industry a look at how moral choices in gaming could be done. Allow the player to be nice and reward them for their heroic deeds or allow the player to seriously slaughter everyone in sight, the ability of player choice was fully realized with Fable 2. Throw in co-op and the ability to compare your friend's decisions/stats as a floating orb within your game and you have what appears to be a living and connected fantasy world. If only Fable 3 actually allowed you to continue your lineage, and thus your save file, from Fable 2, Fable 3 would have been on this list as well.

Red Dead Redemption - Another break out hit from Rockstar yet this time instead of letting the player mess around in an urban city environment RDR let players explore in once again a dangerous open world wild west. Tasked as John Marston, an outlaw turned good (or just pretending) via the feds, the player discovers the world of the wild west and all the crazy people that he meets on the way. Persuaded to work in cooperation, due to the feds having ownership of his wife and son, Mr Marston tangles with shady characters, lost hopefuls and a few forgotten legends in an epic saga of many memorable instances. One I don't want to spoil but you'll know when you've arrived in Mexico as it's pretty hard to miss the emotional event. Online throws in hours of fun and mayhem with friends. Round up a posse or go at it alone, really you can't go wrong with RDR online or off. Oh and did I mention Rockstar comes through with an excellent DLC package for this game as well named Undead Nightmare. Yup zombies, monsters and one heck of a different wild west is in store for your if you pick up the add on. With the option to ride around killing the undead on one of the four horses of the Apocalypse gamers will have a very entertaining time with this one.

That's it, really good games I recommend and here's to many many hours of happy gaming. This is just retail, I highly recommend you check out the best XBLA games as there are some that I felt supplied me with a sense of joy and amusement more so than I'd get from many full retail games.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Mario Kart's Legacy

I play Mario Kart DS all the time on the go or even at home, which seems silly when a big hulking 360 is looking me down next to a shiny LCD screen. I'm a big fan of Mario Kart so during E3 hearing and seeing the new trailer of Mario Kart got me really excited, enough to pony over the dough for a 3DS maybe? Man this looks just horrid, lol. I'm not the biggest graphics snob but transitioning from the modern gen console graphics to the pre-gen, I guess or maybe it's first gen, is a big step in technology and you can see it.

As I was playing I felt like I was going to have a seizure anytime with the frame rate not as good as what we have now with video games. Yes I do enjoy your game at 60 frames a second or even close is good too. I also found myself wanting to power slide around every corner as well. It's basically like being able to fly and then going back to just jumping. Oh and speaking of jumping the feather power-up was great. It allowed you to jump and secure a faster route around the lap via a shortcut. This and collecting coins on the track that would make you go faster would be great if they were integrated with the newest game.

It was such a great game, not just because It was the first one (whoa check out this new racing game),  and I'm so glad they've continued Mario Kart's legacy to the 3DS. I would play online but my WiFi is not working anymore. However one of the neat features with Mario Kart is challenging AI, be it via crazy weapons or scripted hey look who's on my tail code. Sure it can be annoying to always have the Ai at your heels but it's this feature that's made me continue to play the franchise. Here's to some wacky new courses and of course HD graphics with Mario Kart on the 3DS this fall! I can't wait!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

E3 Favs

E3 is over and here are my most interested and excitable games that were shown to the public, aside from the fan favorites like Battlefield 3, Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Mass Effect 3, and Uncharted 3.
Ubisoft has really peaked my interest with From Dust which has players manipulating the game world's environment and reminds me of the classic Populous. However this time around we've got a lot of potential with the tech compared to the tiled based limitation of Populous itself.
Ubisoft has also surprised me with the announcement of the sequel to Far Cry 2. Far Cry 3 will be going back to what its original Far Cry was all about, being alone outnumbered on a tropical island with tons of baddies. Open world sandbox mayhem where you can decide how to play the game, I'm there.
Irrational Games might think the sky's the limit from where you'll be going with their newest game Bioshock Infinite. Not set in the depths of the ocean like the first Bioshock but the complete opposite actually, a civilization built up in the clouds. Throw in an interesting time manipulation process and you've got one cool game in the works indeed. With Bioshock 1 and 2 being so much fun to explore and discover I can't wait to find out the corrupted nature of this new world floating high above us all!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

E3 is Now!

Well if you didn't know E3, aka Electronics Entertainment Expo, is going on right now and console makers, publishers and developers are showing off their latest in the gaming department.  We got to see the typical, the not so expected and the just plain wow really. To start it off let’s re-cap day one of E3.

The first game company to hit the stage was Microsoft. Splintered into a hardcore, casual and back to a hardcore focus the press conference felt like a mixed bag. There was footage shown of Gears of War 3 and an epic battle against a lament sea creature. Forza 4 was pimped by Microsoft with promises of more epic numbers of new cars and tracks for racers to experience come fall. Then we got into the Kinect business. Mass Effect 3 was shown with a Kinect enabled feature of using your voice to select dialogue, ok?, and to issue orders to your squadmates in combat, that might be cool. Ghost Recon Future Soldier was shown off with its signature stealth cloaked gameplay along with a demonstration of how Kinect can be used to mess around with the gun customization locker and even test out your creations in a firing range like setup. That might work there but using the Kinect as a motion controller to fight off enemies in a twitched based shooter environment is still a long ways away.

Next up we got the EA press conference where we were told they don’t use celebrities in their press events. Queue the promo video of FIFA 12 a few minutes later where Lil’ Wayne is telling us he’s a big soccer fan and FIFA 12 is great. Haha, right and then after that we got Madden 12’s presentation with three veteran football players that were announced, discussed with and praised on stage. Well comical errors aside they also showed footage of Battlefield 3 and talked about their new enhanced FrostBite2 engine. This said engine builds off of the previous FrostBite engine, if you don’t know the engine it allowed players to demolish anything they came across/ it also has great sound capabilities, which were seen in the Battlefield: Bad Company games. Oh and Mass Effect 3 and Star Wars: The Old Republic get presented and demoed as well. All jokes aside to the comical error mentioned already, EA games all looked fantastic. Well aside from Need for Speed: The Run, which has players getting out of their cars and performing quick time events as they try to escape from the police as they take part in an overall grand race from L.A. to New York, (a Cannonball Run like race).

Later on in the day Ubisoft had their press event and quite frankly last year’s was hard to watch so I skipped it this year. That doesn’t mean I missed what happened as a quick revisit through youtube brought me up to speed. Rayman’s new game looks amazingly beautiful with a unique art style that could encourage anyone to be interested in. Far Cry 3 was demoed and quite frankly I’m glad they’re going back to Far Cry 1’s design elements. The game will take place on a tropical island where the player is facing off against a militia of bad guys and as the video shows one crazy “insane” villain. Far Cry is a great sandbox game which allows the player to choose where they want to go and what they want to do while also being guided by the developers of what to do next. Far Cry 2 was a good game but it had many design decisions that I kept scratching my head on why the developers felt was the best direction for the franchise.
Alright set for a later time slot, and to give press some time to eat or get to the press conference, was Sony’s press conference later that day. Sony’s conference started out with a humble apology to the developers and fans addressing the PSN down situation. We were shown many demonstrations for Move enabled games along with 3D support for their vast library of 3D games. All the trailers shown in the event were shown in 3D as well. The PSP’s successor was shown and renamed from the Sony NGP to the Sony Vita. Sony’s newest handheld comes backed with features and light on your wallet with the base wifi model running in at a competitive $250. Multiple games were shown for the system along with many heavy hitters for the PS3 such as Uncharted 3 and Resistance 3.

Last and not least was Nintendo’s Press Event starting the very next day. They started theirs off by having a fully manned orchestra playing The Legend of Zelda music honoring 25 years of Zelda. Promises of a Zelda title for each platform and the reveal of a golden Wiimote were revealed in relation to Zelda’s 25th Anniversary. Multiple games for the 3DS were showcased including; The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, Starfox 64 3D, Mario Kart 3D, Luigi’s Mansion 2, and Kid Icarus Uprising. These titles were all given a time or date for within this year or the next. Being a big Mario Kart fan I was extremely excited to hear that you could not only customize your kart but also there were parts in the track where you could hang glider over, as a little hang glider accessory pops out of your kart to let you soar through the air. 

Skip to the Wii u announcement, the name of Nintendo’s next HD console and the discussion and presentation of the console’s versatile controller. Nintendo’s new controller is a combination of a 6.2" touch screen in the middle and typical controller sticks and buttons on the sides (and underneath too). The controller was demoed with a nice presentation trailer showing many things like using the controller to continue playing your game if someone wants to watch TV (this is big in my house), the ability to have all the inventory or non visual cues off the TV and on the controller itself, or even using it as a window for a virtual environment. It really looks like it has a lot of potential and here’s hoping developers can tap some creative ideas out of the thing. I wasn't fully sold on the Wii u but I believe I'm leaning heavily on picking up the 3DS once Nintendo's core featured titles hit the market.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

E3 and Nintendo's Project Cafe

So yeah a lot of buzz is coming out of GameInformer and then being quoted all over the internet with gaming sites such as GamesRadar, Gamespot and gaming blogs like Joystiq and Kotaku. Seems there's talk of Nintendo showing a HD Nintendo system coming this E3 with the actual product in capable hands late 2012. We'll finally be able to see Mario in all crisp clear non jaggies (without the blurry anti-aliasing) but is this an official apology to hardcore gamers that felt snuffed out from the Wii's casual gaming collection or is this a system that will allow customers to play Wii Sports in high definition now. It seems very beneficial that Nintendo comes out with this system with killer games that shows that they haven't forgotten their hardcore diehard fans. 

Maybe this time they'll get more support and have actual good multiplatform games on their system. Well it's interesting that the source says this will not be a gimmick this time. Right, I'll believe that when I see it unfortunately. I guess if you happen to be a Nintendo diehard fan you probably got in on the Wii bandwagon so would you upgrade, something similar to a Xbox 360 Arcade to Xbox 360S with Kinect perhaps, or will you wait eagerly on the sideline until Super Mario Kart HD, or an unknown killer app (prob a high definition Mario game), comes out?! Me I'm glad there is competition but Nintendo seems to be for a different target audience than me it seems. I believe I grew up and matured.

Sorry I've grown up, although I play some NSMB, Zelda Spirit Tracks etc on my DS from time to time, I love my PC and 360 with mature games that have shown me many interesting worlds, stories, characters and gameplay. I'm not talking about mature game like blood and nudity but actually adult concepts and topics. My favorite "Next Gen" games of all time are The Orange Box, the Left 4 Dead series, Bioshock series, Assassin's Creed series, Mass Effect series, GTA series (IV & its superb DLC), Forza series, Company of Heroes (and its exp), Starcraft 2, Call of Duty 4 Modern Warfare, Gears of War series, Batman:AA and Red Dead Redemption! Now there is a possibility that Nintendo wows me into wanting their system but they're going to have to try hard and that try hard means backing some third party developers for multiplatform games to not only arrive on their system but be good as well.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Dirt 3, Rally, Race & Gymkhana

You might have read that I was playing DiRT 3 at the moment, and if not I'm really really enjoying it. Dirt 3 is from the makers of Dirt, Grid and the F1 series. That's right Codemasters is behind the wheel. Ok sorry for the pun but these guys know racing and more importantly they know how to keep it fun while feeling realistic. This isn't a straight up Sim game nor is it a flashy arcade game. Dirt 3 has the perfect blend of arcade and simulated racing that makes it feel like it's own flavor in the racing genre.

Start out a complete beginner or as a seasoned racer, DiRT 3 will "assist" you with you got it, certain assists. Anything from ABS, TCS, Driving Line or even an Auto Steer option (to help you go straight down the narrow rally tracks that have you flying through the woods) the game will help you if you need it. Turn these assists off though and expect to get the pure rally experience (you can also play with the in-car perspective) or meet it half way, with the option to have a custom setting with some of the assists on like ABS, or most of the assists off like auto braking. Either way Codemaster's engine feels right and you'll be sliding or biting across gravel, dirt, pavement, and snow in a manner that suites your driving style with a smile on your face.

Dirt 3 gives you more rally, going back to its predecessor's DiRT 1 formula but sticking with the competitive X games racing that was introduced in DiRT 2. Gone is the 3D roaming menu system from DiRT 2 and back are the stylish and polished 2D menu system which we saw from DiRT 1. That's one main element about the game, everything feels polished and says quality. The campaign will present you with a variety of options and events to tackle via selecting either Seasons or World Tours to take part in through the menu system. Here you'll have a chatty crew that encourages and shows you the ropes on certain concepts. It's a nice touch although after about the 20th hour playing the game the PR guy can get on your nerves. It's a minor annoyance along with the desire for more locations to race or rally.

It seems Codemasters is going for a bit of a DLC schedule with DiRT 3, which is a nice alternative to what they did with DiRT 2 where the only DLC available were unlock packs, planning on more content being released after the game has shipped. Hopefully we'll see new locations, new events and obviously new cars to race with. Of course if you're feeling in any way inadequate with the single player than you might as well tackle some multiplayer. There are a number of events you can participate online ranging from straight up Rally, Trailblazer, RallyX, Land Raid, Head to Head, Party Modes (fun alternative co-op modes which contrast nicely with single player), and Gykmhana.

Gykmhana is new to the series and well video games as a whole really. It's relatively a new sport, perfected by Ken Block (who has many of his videos on youtube) who worked with Codemasters on the game, having competitive drivers facing off in a tricks competition spectacle in front of an arena crowded audience. Donuts, drifts, jumps and even smashing through foam blocks will all net you a number of points and a multiplier depending on how well you chain the tricks and how varied your run is (reminds me a little bit like Tony Hawk or Skate). This event might not be for everyone as it will definitely put off diehard rally fans but it is a lot of fun acting as a skill practicing event. You'll also have the luxury to use flash backs, which you get for the other racing events as well, so if you make a mistake there is no need to restart the entire event, a simple undo helps alienate rage restarts.

As you can see there is a lot to DiRT 3, with something for everybody. There is a meaty campaign with a variety of events (aside from random sponsor challenges ranging from check point racing to drifting ), a fun "DC Compound" area to unlock that asks you to explore and complete missions (some ranging from donuts around a tire pile to finding all the collectibles in that area), and a never ending online competition that will keep you busy for months on end. Oh did I mention the addictive leveling system and the XP you gain for the expected taking podium finishes but also the surprising optional bonus objectives such as reaching a high speed or not crashing in a rally event (a new bonus objective comes into play online by finishing ahead of other racers who are higher level than you known as beating the odds)?! Buy this game if you like racing games, it will not disappoint. I like to call it the Off-Road "Forza" to friends or people that ask about it.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Top Ten DLC You Should Pick Up

Top 10 Downloadable Content I recommend for a fun and quality driven gaming experience:
Shivering Isles for Oblivion - Enjoy a whole different experience, this feels fresh and something new with lots of new content, quests and crazy people. Decide to join one of two factions and experience all new and different content based on that decision.

Episodes from Liberty City for GTAIV - Again this feels fresh and is something new, I really enjoyed both expansions even more so than the original game, which I still loved. Design aspects like friends not always calling you on your phone, a mobile gun store and even mid level checkpoints are added in with Lost and the Damned and the Ballad of Gay Tony. Crazy GTA has returned and now you have the option to replay missions using your phone, so simple you wondered why it wasn't there to begin with.

Broken Steel for Fallout 3 - Adds a whole thing like oh I don't know the continuation of free roam instead of having the game end. Pivotal to increase your level and actually has a good story too. Aside from taking away a dead end ending you also get to have some great combat against new enemies.

Lair of the Shadow Broker for Mass Effect 2 - Here we get the continuation of the plot and love interest Liara, an Asari scientist that studied the Protheans in the first Mass Effect game, a character we had the fortunate pleasure to team up with (she's one hell of a biotic), along with one of the coolest new characters and a great variety of superb gameplay (detective/hover car chase scenes as examples).

Vietnam for Battlefield: Bad Company 2 - We're going back to Vietnam and this time with the brand spankin' new game engine that Bad Company 2 infamously rocks, que Fortunate Sun & flamethrowers. Seriously a Vietnam game is hard to pull off yet Dice nails it along with BF:BC2.

General Knoxx for Borderlands - Like Broken Steel this relates to the original game's ending but in this case this feels like the actual boss, plus new enemies, quests and loot! Lots and lots of loot! (Zombie Island is a runner up def and you might like Clap Trap's Robot Revolution with friends.) The whole game is better with friends mind you.

Big Surf Island for Burnout Paradise - New vehicles, new playgrounds and many many more races/challenges results in good times. It would be great that every open world sandbox game had a big ocean which downloadable islands could sprout out from under said water. Hey look at that empty space on the map, possible DLC with adjoining bridge!?

Undead Nightmare for RDR - An alternate version of the already great game Red Dead Redemption, Westerns are hard to pull off yet Rockstar nails this one, with fast moving crazy featured zombies?! What is the world coming to! Crazy times, intense survival missions and oh yeah like the original RDR a blast to experience online with friends too.

The Passing for Left 4 Dead 2 - Yup, another great add on for Left 4 Dead 2 by Valve with more intense zombie gameplay with an added bonus thrown in for Left 4 Dead fans. New content in L4D 2 feels like a very nice survival care package from Valve haha.

Minerva's Den for Bioshock 2 - Most of Bioshock 2's DLC were for multiplayer but this adds on a wonderful single player experience which goes back to the roots of why Bioshock was/is so awesome. Really you are a robot if this DLC doesn't touch you, the Bioshock universe shines once more.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

You gotta be kidding me

I decided to boot up Red Faction: Guerilla the other day and by boot up I mean pop in the DVD and start the game (ah I love not having to install games with consoles). It took me a while to get accustomed to the controls once more and to bring up the map figuring out where I had left off. Well I see there is a demolition mission on the top left of the first zone the game places you in. I set it on my GPS or overhead map UI and I'm embark on my adventure. I continue to demolish and just wreck havoc (what would this game be without this great physics engine) with the pre-supplied Mech getting a satisfying time yet not gold. Then the game goes black! After I hit A from the points/time screen and I wait for 4 minutes before deciding yup my console just froze (or maybe the game for that matter).

Restart the console and go back into Red Faction: Guerilla. My save file just disappeared, it's not there! I can't continue where I left off because magically it just got erased from my FREAKIN HARD DRIVE!? WHAT? This is the problem with auto saving systems in a game. If the auto save is always present you shouldn't have a problem but hmm I'm guessing I should have made a manual save as a backup. Instead I'm thinking ok ok I just have to wait for the game to read that my hard drive is attached. Click load game, back to the menu, go back to load game, then back to the menu again. I did this like 4 or 5 times along with selecting the hard drive as the device to find my save and/or the device to save my game on.

I then back out back onto the dashboard and check out my hard drive's memory. Scroll down to the Rs where Red Faction should be and just like I had feared the entry wasn't on the list!? I mean how the hell can a game just eat a freakin save file! Oh man I'm so pissed off right now. I mean I have to do all that over again, (think I unlocked the third zone in the game). If I remember correctly I had just found the mercenary outpost base and acquired their crazy sweet Mad Max looking contraption of a vehicle. Wow what an anti-motivational process for your game. Forget this, I'm going back to playing DiRT 3 because it remembers my previous races with its auto save. psssh

Sunday, May 22, 2011

I'm on a pile of games

(+1 for google images eh)
You know when you were a kid, you just jumped into a pile of leaves and you feel like you're on the top of the world, yeah I feel like that with games. It's great really, I have a plenty of games to keep me entertained (many years of acquiring great entertainment), wowed, enthralled and even aggravated/challenged. Recently I dove back in to the Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion because quite frankly I did NOT want to play it during the time I was attending college online due to the distraction it would cause. Yeah I'm boring right? Wrong, I'm smart (I played for 5 straight hours last night without even knowing it (thank you Raptr))!
The other night I played a little bit of Oblivion (the main game) and then decided I should travel to the Shivering Isles, since I bought it when the expansion was an Xbox deal of the week a while ago. Man I got side tracked with side quests along the way, haha, as I made my way to the new opened gate. Ok after I did a few dungeons and got the local quests done, I'm trying to get recommendations at all the Guild Halls for my magic heavy character, I swam across the lake and hopped onto the island. This shinning blue light is coming out of a rock face statue, apparently it is the gates to the Shivering Isles.
Hence a new world awaits, after fumbling around in the new island I come across a motivated hunter and townsfolk of a little village in the middle of nowhere. Yeah this reminds me of my little town (I live in a very rural area haha). There is one mayor (even though all the other residents wouldn't call him that), one item's clerk and two individuals living with each other. That's the town, probably 6 people total (haha ok maybe my little town is bigger). Well I was tasked to take down the big and dangerous Gatekeeper, who was made out of bones and flesh with the keys bound inside of him mind you. Quite story driven the keys that you need to pass into the world of the Shivering Isles. See this town is sort of like Purgatory as many await or pass time for a chance to enter the Gates guarded by the Gatekeeper. This was a nice little touch for new content for Oblivion.
Long story short (and to side step any spoilers) I finally took down the beast with the help of a motivated hunter and when I walked into the Gates and into the world of the Shivering Isles, I was blown away. Such beautiful art direction, scope and literary contrasts in this game. See the island is split in half with the Gates of Mania and the Gates of Dementia. Decidedly I went into the Gates of Mania because I wanted a bit of the brighter side to what some could say is a dull RPG to begin with (the consequence of re-creating a realistic universe) but ironically chose the path of Dementia due to it being a shorter distance to the castle (my designated finish line). Well I met the Lord of the Shivering Isles and he is quite a character. Oblivion amazes me still even putting in many hours of the PC version and then again buying the CE for the 360 (don't have to worry about re-installing (space on pc/just put in the disc and play whenever). I have so many games and a lot of time to play them (currently unemployed yet looking for work in the games industry) and I still don't have enough time to visit every nook and cranny in my collection lol.

Sadly as I play I keep thinking man I need a job.