Archive for the ‘Game Reviews’ Category

Game Thoughts

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

I have been playing a few games lately:

World of Warcraft

I got the Wrath of the Lich King expansion. I liked it quite a bit, but have not played in a while due to raids requiring lots of time and the fact that my guild starts raiding around midnight my time. This is not good for the job.

  • I never did much reputation grinding, but the curve seems to be much lower.
  • The new vehicle/mount system is neat, but I find it very confusing because the mount’s name is shown instead of the person riding it.
  • The story line, quests, and cinematics were nice. I really enjoyed playing some of the quests and learning more about the story.

Dead Space

This is basically a survival horror type game on a space ship. (Read: Resident Evil 4 in Spaaaace) I finished this recently, and, while I don’t really understand the ending or some character motivations, it was a lot of fun.

  • One of the big features is limb dismemberment. I thought it would become silly and old quickly, but it turned out to be surprisingly entertaining and even satisfying.
  • I purchased a suit off of the xbox live market place for a modest fee, not knowing that it was a fully-upgraded suit. I am slightly disappointed that I did not experience the suit upgrade path.
  • I really like the weapons. They are different enough from the standard game weapons to be interesting but familiar enough to be comfortable.
  • The answer the question “Could things possibly get any worse?” is always “Yes!”

Windows Solitaire

Yes, Windows Solitaire.

  • Vista’s Solitaire is superior previous Windows’ versions of solitaire. Multiple levels of undo is very nice, but not the only improvement.
  • I don’t win very many games of solitaire.

Gears of War 2

My brother and I played through the campaign together on regular difficulty, and I have been playing Horde mode with my friend. (Coop multiplayr against increasingly difficult waves of computer-controlled enemies)

  • The game’s plot is once again a mess and unsatisfying.
  • Fortunately, the gameplay (once again) makes up for its shortcomings in other areas. (Seriously, coop is really good)
  • The Hammerburst was changed from a 3-burst firing mode to straight semi-automatic. (I guess… it’s single fire, though holding the trigger down will fire continuously) I really preferred the burst fire from the first game better.
  • Bloodmounts in Horde mode are ridiculous. Perhaps they were tuned with more players in mind? I found them really really difficult.
  • The new mortar weapon is fantastic.

First Impressions: Tabula Rasa

Friday, July 11th, 2008

A week or two ago, I signed up for the free 3-day beta of Tabula Rasa. Unfortunately, I only had enough time to get up to level 7 or 8, so I was not able to evaluate many of the later-game or class development features.

Impressions:

Good:

  • Immersion – Coming off of Hellgate: London, which is all instanced, being forced to walk everywhere felt fantastic. I felt like I was interacting with the world rather than playing through an artificial level. Exploring the game to find the sigils was interesting as well.
  • Weapons – The weapon ideas seemed interesting, though I wasn’t able to try all of them out

Mediocre:

  • Skill/Profession trees – I generally like this better than straight class systems, but this implementation didn’t “click” with me.
  • Universal action key – “T” seemed to do quite a bit — Interact with NPCs, open crates, loot corpses, etc. Unfortunately, I kept wanting to click things to interact with them, which meant that I was often accidentally firing my gun at NPCs instead of talking to them.

Bad:

  • Lack of Descriptions – Many things could have benefited from better descriptions or tooltip text
  • Line of sight issues – Enemies just over a ridge could be in my (the player’s) view, but not actually in the character’s view, meaning that shots or special abilities would not hit the enemy. This caused frustrations when setting up long-range encounters. (“You can’t see the target” “But I can see it! It’s right there!”)
  • Inconsistant enemy looting – Sometimes items would auto-loot, sometimes I would have to press the action key to loot. Pressing the action key sometimes looted everything automatically, but would sometimes bring a loot window up, and then I would have to click “loot all” to loot the items. I never figured out what caused the inconsistency.

Overall:

I had fun with the game, but was often frustrated. Many of the gameplay issues could be chalked up to new-user syndrome since I didn’t have time to acclimate myself to the environment and gameplay. I usually encounter some level of frustration and confusion in every MMO game, but many of the issues seemed to be of the kind that would persist after acclimation.

I would probably enjoy the game for a month or two, but there are so many other good games out, and I need to keep a short rein on my MMO playtime since it tends to spiral out of control.

One interesting thing:

During character creation, one is prompted to select a starting armor set. The screen has controls to choose armor color, and I spent about 30 minutes mixing and matching armor, and choosing colors that I liked. I figured this would be an important character decision. Perhaps this armor choice would affect all of the armor that I wore, or I would be stuck with it for some time (a la costumes in City of Heroes).

Not so. Within the first few minutes, I had completed a quest that rewarded me with an item that replaced the armor I had spent so long choosing. Why let us choose armor if you will just replace it immediately? I felt like I had wasted that half hour of my time.