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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Dying Light - PC Review 8.7/10

I'd just like to say first off my PC isn't amazing. Its basic at best. It has the requirements to play something and not much else. I'll try not to focus on the aspects of the graphics too much but if there's a problem with the performance then I will DEFINITELY talk about that. At the very least you should be able to play the game at a decent frame rate. I know I'm going to get a lot of hate for this but what it comes down to is if I can run the game by what I've been told by the page on Steam, then I have an expectation to play it. Crashes, frame dips and texture tearing have somewhat to do with graphics cards but they should be limited to the very least possible to ensure that whoever is playing the game is actually being able to play it. From the guy who hasn't upgraded his PC in years to the person who has bought a PC specifically for this game or has the best specs available, in the same way a normal edition console player vs a special edition console player.

The Good:
Despite the fact I had to lower my settings to a ridiculous degree, this game looks great. Mostly the scenery which is sort of a third world country setting with just a dash of zombie apocalypse. You don't really see that setting as much. Dead Island was close but more pleasant part of third world country type deal. Bugs flying around, run down shacks. Its all very nice. Unfortunately the game doesn't run as well as I'd hope and the frame rate dips but its playable and that's really the most I need.
The zombies are actually (kind of) smart. They're easy to take down but they come at you from multiple angles. Making you always wary of a possible attack. There's also not too much difference between the special zombies other than the truly malformed ones, so you can't just immediately know which one to kill and which one to avoid if you just scan a crowd.
You can craft a lot of things just out in the field, such as a medkits, fire crackers and even some thrown weapons. It was a bit annoying in Dead Island where if you needed something you'd either have to find it or go to that one special vendor for molotovs.
While the ability to repair weapons has been greatly diminished, what little repairing you can do can be done in the field as well as crafting weapon mods. Even though you can't really upgrade a weapon the same was as you could before, you now have the ability to what little you can on the fly in the field.
Leveling up is done in a unique way. You now have three skill trees that level up opposite of each other. Fighting, Running and Scavenging. You gain more points for Fighting the more you fight and it levels up separately to Running which can be leveled up from anything as simple as kicking to making successful jumps. It's sort of like with Borderlands 2 where the more often you fired a weapon of a certain type, the better you were at handling a weapon of that type from then on. Or more like Sleeping Dogs where you had three different level up bars which each corresponded to their own level up perks, rewards/benefits and each had their own way of leveling up independent of the other two. It really forces you to be a master of all trades. If I want to kill zombies better, I'll need the combat tree also the sprint tree because of some of the bonuses it offers like dodging or getting me closer to bashing their brains in more efficiently.
I really love how the game doesn't limit me. There's a lot of ways to kill zombies cheaply or tactically, and the game encourages it. A bit further on you'll find some barriers that you'd usually see blocking some sort of entrance like we have in the real world. Spikes that are littered about to limit mobility. After some luck, I found that if you kick or herd zombies into these, they immediately get killed. The game didn't punish me for doing this, and in fact it rewarded me. I spent a few minutes kicking zombies into the barriers and still getting the xp I would if I bashed their brains in the old fashioned way. Sometimes cars will be on fire and if a zombie walks by it will catch on fire. Herd a zombie on fire into others and they'll start a chain reaction. There are also some oil slicks around so if they get set on fire, its a trap for slow witted zombies. There's also some chemical spills lying around and I experimented with kicking a zombie in one. This game really rewards you for just being clever or perspective. You don't see that a lot which is much appreciated.

The Bad:
Parkour isn't all that great... Don't get me wrong, it functions. A good portion of the prologue teaches you how to effectively use the surroundings to your advantage. Zombies aren't great climbers so you can make use of that, though this doesn't mean that you can always get away from them by standing on top of a sedan. Why is this bad? One particular mission I'm stuck on is a jumping puzzle. This guy asked me to get some stuff for his mom. Instead of letting me in his home, I have to get through the roof. I have to do a few jumps to get to this really unfair jump which is clearly meant for me to cross it, but I've died twice to it, loosing some scavenging xp as a result. The game also expects you to make some of these insane landings. In the prologue, you need to activate these traps. Later on, you'll need to have pinpoint accuracy in order to get to some of these places, which is sort of unfair.

The Meh:
Seriously? What's up with the government always being evil? The story is you're basically working for this pseudo government organization. At first it seems as if they're being really decent, actually trying to stop an even bigger catastrophe and finding a permanent cure for the outbreak. However, this is quickly kicked aside later as your contact asks you to steal information that will help cure the plague. So much for that hope.

This is actually a really good game, and I like it. I just wish I could turn down the settings a bit more so I could actually play this at a smooth 60 fps. If you haven't already, I suggest you buy it. Suffice it to say this is the best zombie game so far in 2015, at least that I've played so far.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Preorder Blues

Hey guys. First off, I'd just like to say thanks for reading this. Its a little weird for a post, but then again no subject is really too weird for me to talk about. I've probably talked about this subject before but apparently no one has listened considering it needs to be pointed out again.
Video games are really the only system that ever does this. Sure, you can argue with things like Amazon, paying upfront for an item to be delivered at a specific date, but even then you don't actually purchase said item till it is within a certain vicinity of being delivered to its final destination. For instance I've ordered three items and I've been charged for neither of them as of late. Preorders are the equivalent of putting your jacket on a chair in the movie theater to save a seat, but instead you left about 5 bucks. Of course there's a whole bunch of things that can go wrong with basically reserving a game for yourself. For instance in the case of the latest Duke Nukem game (topical reference, right?), the game came out fifteen years later. While GameStop handled it well enough, still accepting these decade old preorder slips in, its not always the case like right now where Best Buy is cancelling some preorders for the new Majora's Mask 3DS.
But I'm not really going to talk about the practice of this, rather going to talk about preorder bonuses. Its... weird. I'm more on the positive side of this fence. Prepurchasing a game gives incentive as well as extra income to show how well liked the game is or just how much people are excited for said game. In terms of triple A companies and titles, this is little more than a few extra numbers on their sales. In terms of indie games, this can be a huge bump. Okay, so how do we get people to preorder our game or at least give a greater incentive to do so? Preorder bonuses. Special content given 'free' to those dedicated customers that shelled out a few extra bucks for us. You can't see it, but I'm giving a thumbs up. This is a really cool idea. Personally, the best in my opinion is the season pass. YES, season passes are becoming less than... great. Its basically saying, "We are going to make you pay more for the full experience of this game." But in another light, its more saying that "We are making those who bought are game a bit happier with the realization that there will be more content on the way." Most of my reviews detail the first few hours of a game. Mostly because I feel that's because those few hours are really supposed to be what the game represents. You wouldn't continue eating something that tastes bad, so I shouldn't have to slog through a bad game because there's this one thing that totally redeems it in the end. Also I'm not that well known so a review copy is less likely for me, but whatever. Basically, I'm not hugely affected by wishing for more content other than, "I like this game past the review I did and I would still like to play more of it."
My negative point with preorders are lockouts. Basically, I have this game but I don't get that small little bit of content that was promised before hand. You may say that the incentive goes further to make sure that you preorder it again, which I tend to agree. However, that is a stupid business practice. Its like if you ordered a hot dog but the guy asked if you wanted some relish or mustard. You said no and started eating. After the first bite you change your mind and offer the vendor some more money to get some relish. A) Since you've taken some of the hot dog, he now has to put less relish on it but you are still expected to pay full price for the extra. B) He in turn makes more money or at least the same amount as you would have given him before. Refusing me is just a poor business idea.
Some companies do this better than others. EA recently made it possible for those who didn't preorder Dragon Age: Inquisition to get the content offered if you preordered the game. You may say that EA is putting profits first and I would say... yes. Its also sensible. Other people can now get this content for a small and reasonable fee, thereby making it so everyone can play at the same level or have the same amount of play and experience as others. I preordered Dying Light and they did something that is incredibly stupid. They've locked out some major content for those who don't preorder. Now I'm not talking about some weapon, schematic or skin, no this is an actual game mode for the game. This is... insane. They've made no comments as to why this is or if the content will be available later for free or purchase. Essentially now, if you don't preorder the game within a few hours of when this post will (hopefully) be posted, that means you will not have a major part of the game. This is not a new thing. Metro Last Light did the same thing with Ranger Mode. Basically, you were locked out of a few things IN THE GAME like an alternate difficulty. The only difference is THAT was available as paid DLC day one. As messed up as that sounds, this is worse. You've basically just been locked out of a game. This is not some special edition with added content, no special bonus, this is a part of the game cut out.
Will I be playing Dying Light? Of course. Will this reflect my view of the game? Eh... maybe. Its a poor business practice and pretty stupid. So if Dying Light is a good game despite this, they've basically made a few potential buyers have to do a double take. If its a bad game, then essentially its a bit worse considering they're trying to bleed a few more bucks just to make some money back on their bad game. I hope this isn't a trend that continues this year, or at least gets a little better. Say give us the option to buy it later for a sensible price. It gives you more money and it gives us more content. Its a win win.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Saints Row: Gat out of Hell: PC Review 9/10

Saints Row is one of those games for me that I like and seemingly everyone else likes. You might say that's pretty commonplace but you'd be surprised how often I like something others don't or hate something others adore. Its also one of those games that can't really do too wrong. The least interesting game in the series has to be The Third which seemed far too formulaic and didn't really do too much other than an ascetic change as well as a kick up in the humor department from the previous titles. In its own way, that sort of made it better than a GTA knock off, becoming its own thing rather than a cheap imitation. The series has been progressively getting more and more ridiculous over time and this game doesn't do anything to change that.

The Good:
First off, the game looks really good. Putting aside the copious amounts of red that is in this game world, it looks good. There's a definite style to it that puts it apart from the other games like how Gat has basically an infected arm that looks blackened by fire and with purple glowing veins going through it. It looks really good. I just wish this could be applied to Kinzie's model as well as she is a playable character too. Kind of unfortunate considering Kinzie has to be my favorite female character in the series so far.
The powers are really cool. Most of the previous powers have made a comeback. Super jump, strength, blast and stomp powers. But what I really love are the new ones. Blast now has a homing attack as well as the ability to turn people to stone. While you get this new power to summon imps to help you take out bad guys. You now have wings so you can kind of sort of fly in the air. In the fourth game, all you could do was a sort of glide whereas this is closer to flying. When you charge up a jump, you get these charred wings.
Of course, Saints Row has some cool weapons to choose from, though some of them less and more cooler than others. My personal favorite so far is a tie between the Exodus 10 sub machine guns or the Sloth weapon. The Exodus 10 shoots out homing locusts to slowly damage your enemies while the Sloth weapon is a motorized chair that has miniguns and rockets on them. There's a few other weapons that go with the seven deadly sins, though I haven't unlocked them yet.
One of my biggest problems with Saints Row 4 was that in order to upgrade your super powers, you had to pick up these floating things around the world. It was a chore to get through so it was a nice addition to see that you can pay in game money to get a few yourself. Rather than a massive scavenger hunt, I can simply spend a few bucks once every few levels and not have to deal with some annoying hunt. They've also added some new abilities to purchase which makes the game seem less like a redo of the previous game and more like an addition.

The Bad:
The game itself is its own stand alone game like Far Cry: Blood Dragon, so it shows up as its own title in my Steam library rather than a DLC for the base game. This means whatever progress I make in this is null to the main game. Basically I've just bought a dumbed down version of the game with less missions and presumably less content. I didn't like that idea in Far Cry, and I sure as hell don't like it here. The reason it worked for Far Cry was it was basically just an entirely new game with new plot, graphics and some retooled features. Both games look completely seperate to each other, while we've seen in the DLC for Saints Row that it can make the over world almost completely different to the final product of the game. Essentially, you've basically just been given a few hours of gameplay for twenty bucks and none of that content will be able to be on the original Saints Row 4. Another example would be the Cold Cold Heart DLC as well as Harley's Revenge for Arkham Origins and for Arkham City.
There are no clothing options to choose from as far as I've seen. Just weapons and playing with your standard character. One of the things Saints Row does better than any other game in its genre is the fact you have almost complete control over the look of your character. Take that away and you still have a solid yet somewhat hollow feeling game.

The Meh:
Why Gat and Kinzie as the main characters? Don't get me wrong, they are my two favorite characters. The psychopath who seems to only want murder and mayhem, Gat. And the paranoid ex FBI agent who's fetishistic at times while being completely straight faced and unabashed about what she likes and dislikes as well as the hacking genius, Kinzie. The plot is that its Kinzie's birthday after the events of the fourth game. They use a Ouji board and the president is sucked into a portal into hell to marry Satan's daughter. Gat and Kinzie go into rescue him. I really wish we could play as the other characters to see how they'd react. While the two actors who play the main characters do a fantastic job, its a shame that we don't get to see more of the other members in the cast. Or maybe even play as a different character altogether.

Definitely glad I bought this. A crazy fun game that in someways is better than the previous game. Though I wish it was a proper sequel, if this is what we can expect from the franchise to come, I have no qualms about that. Just maybe we could have a full game next time? Clothing options and all?