Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What I think of Brink (Hey that rhymes)

Brink is one of those games I had my doubts about. Because of its unique seamless blend of singleplayer and multiplayer. I wasn't sure if it would work. But it does and it works so very well. All the doubts I had before I played Brink are now gone.

Brink at first appears to have a rather straight forward storyline. A civil war on a floating city called the Ark built as a way to save humanity from extinction due to global warming and rising sea waters. There are two sides to this fight. Ark security who are fighting to maintain control of the Ark. And there's the Resistance who are trying to get off the Ark and contact what's left of the outside world. Each side has its own storyline that will crossover with the other. Each campaign comes to its own different end and afterwards there are some bonus 'what-if' spin off missions you can do. These missions are usually levels in the campaign that you play from the opposing side.  Usually in games that allow you to choose sides by the end of it you have a good idea which side you should be on. Even after playing through both campaigns I still don't know which side to be on. This isn't a bad thing. Brink just gives you all the facts and allows you to make up your own mind on what you think is right.

While I have ranted on a bit about the story don't let that scare you. Every cutscene can be skipped and while it does set up the gameplay it doesn't get in the way of it. The major parts of the story are told in the campaigns but if you want the whole picture you're going to have to unlock all the audio tapes. Similar to the holotapes in Fallout 3 audio tapes give you an insight into what the major players on the Ark are thinking. So if you're like me and love a game with a good storyline this gives Brink a lot of replay value.

The whole focus of the game is how it plays. I've heard people say it's Mirrors edge with guns. This isn't entirely true. Mirrors edge focused on movement and discouraged you from using guns whereas Brink puts its focus on combat. It doesn't matter what kind of gun you have movement is still the same. Character customization however does have an effect on movement but there's a fair trade off. When you customize your character you have the choice of three body types: light, medium or heavy. The light body type can move the fastest and jump higher than the other two but it also has the least health making them easy to take down. In contrast the heavy body type is the slowest and least agile but has the most health and is the only body type that can carry heavy weapons. The medium body type has a good mix of health and finesse and is a perfect starting point for new players. Depending on your own playstyle you will discover what works for you. The rest of the customization options for your character are purely cosmetic so unleash your inner 5 year old and play dress up. Like Rainbow six Vegas you gain XP both offline and online. As you level up you'll unlock more outfits and earn ability points to upgrade your characters skills. Like Team fortress 2 skills are divided into classes: Soldier,Engineer, Medic and Operative. There are universal skills that can be purchased and used no matter what class you choose but to get the really cool stuff you need to decide which set of cool stuff you want.

Weapon customization is a bit disappointing but still better than almost any other game. What I do like is that weapon add-ons can all be unlocked before you start either campaign. They can only be unlocked through challenge missions. Challenge missions are separate missions from the campaigns and I recommend you try them first. Not only will you unlock cool doodads for your guns but they also teach you how to play Brink.

Objectives are very flexible. Each level has a list of objectives that your team has to complete. These range from defending a certain spot, blowing up something to repairing or building defenses. The interesting thing is that you can complete these objectives in any order. There’s one main objective and the rest are secondary to it. Depending on how you want to play will determine which objective you'll want to do. As long as you're doing something you will be helping out your team. This means that those people who prefer to be lone wolves won't make it any harder for team players or people new to the game. All objectives are class specific. This means in order to win a game you can't all go engineer and spam place turrets and mines everywhere.

Every level is unlocked right out of the box. This is because there is no separate multiplayer section of the game. Every level can be played either online or offline or you can open up your game and let people jump in whenever they like. I recommend for the first playthrough of the game you play it in order and leave the what-if missions till last. This is definitely a game that you'll want to play with friends or other people. Maybe it's just because I'm terrible at shooters but the A.I on your team is terrible and the opposing teams A.I seems to have been programmed by a super genius.

The soundtrack is small but really good. The songs don't get in the way of the rest of the game and it really sets the tone for what brink is all about. Probably not going to make any one's soundtrack to buy list though.

The graphics really convey the point that you're in a distopyian futuristic society. You really get the sense of how small and fragile the Ark is. In terms of cutting edge though it's fairly average. It can be a bit rough in some areas and maybe its just me but the grenades just don't look quite right.  

I had great fun playing this game. It was good to play a game that is so flexible and that just gets to the core of what an FPS is and gets out of the way and lets you do what you want.

8 out of 10

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

What I think of Duke Nukem forever (A.K.A Why it doesnt completely suck)

Recently lots of websites have been saying that Duke Nukem Forever is a completely terrible game. While I agree its not the best game ever made its not as bad as people have made it out to be. The game was made for a different time. A time when guns were far from realistic, when bad guys came from somewhere else other than the middle east and when boss fights resulted in more than who can pull the trigger faster. Its a 90's game.

People still recognize Duke Nukem 3D as a great game but in reality it has worse graphics and the same sort of game play as Duke Nukem Forever. What you need to keep in mind when you play the game is that its not trying to compete with Call of Duty of Halo. In fact it laughs at them 'Power armour is for pussies' as the Duke says. It's in the catagory along with Doom 1 and Wolfenstien 3D. The game is completely designed to poke fun at games and the culture surrounding it. Through out the game references are made to the Alien films, Team America: World Police and even previous Duke Nukem games.

Enough ranting. Duke Nukem Forever (or DNF for short) is set 13 years after the end of the last game. Duke is a world hero and playboy billionaire who can still bench press 600 pounds. That's when he's not busy running his casino, appearing on national television or entertaining his lady friends in his Las Vegas penthouse. Yet again aliens invade the earth and its up to Duke to thwart their plans for world domination. The story is relatively simple mostly because otherwise it would get too much in the way of all the ass kicking you need to do. As basic as the plot is I don't mind that because it is so simple there is lots of room to play around and have fun with it. After all isn't that what games are all about? The whole game is very lewd and rude with its focus being on kicking ass and getting laid so this is not one to give the 5 year old for Christmas.

The graphics look rather good given its been through several engine changes and about as many developers. Yeah its not the tip top super HD 3D need a permit to buy the Tv needed to play it kind of graphics but I wasn't disappointed. The hud disappears around the edge of the screen when not in use giving the game a cinematic feel and shows you more of the ass kicking. It was all at a decent standard. Although I think the menu looks a little bit rushed. As if that was the last thing they did before the game was shipped. Also some of the help tips are a bit to technical. 'Any object with wheel physics can be pushed.' Besides game developers and some of the hardcore audience a lot of people are going to be left bewildered at that sentence. It can just as easily be said that objects with wheels can be pushed around.

Gameplay is your classic FPS blow stuff to crap style. No mucking about, just point and shoot. I love it. I've heard people complain that the guns are inaccurate. Especially the pistol. I'm playing the xbox 360 version of the game and I've had no problems with it. In fact in some points of the game I've been able to take down pigcops at a fair distance with a shotgun. It took a few shots but I've done it. So I think that just comes down to the fact some reviewers are too used to all the help more modern games give you with special sights and aim assist. DNF does have an aim assist but the only scope you're going to see is the railguns sniper scope and its just a stock standard cross hair. What makes this game stand apart is its reliance on you fully exploring an area. Many objects can be interacted with and doing so increases your health. While other objects like the whiteboard are just there to have a laugh, and show how shocking Duke is with a pen.

The opening theme song is awesome. I love the guitar riff. The rest of the soundtrack though is fairly average. Not much to talk about. It just blends into the background and there isn't one song your going to have going round your head. Although that may be a good thing. One real complaint I do have is with the music that plays in Duke's penthouse in the multiplayer section of the game. It drives me up the wall and sounds like something my mother would listen to. Thankfully it doesn't stick in your head but while its on you may want to turn down the volume.

While on the subject of multiplayer this is another component that feels rushed. While comparing DNF to more modern titles sounds unfair given what I've said before but I know that the multiplayer was in development after Call of Duty 4 made waves in gaming so in this instance there is no excuse. I do enjoy that as you level up your penthouse gets more items and babes to fill it with but the gameplay lacks real replay value. So the odds of getting far enough to unlock some of the real cool stuff is slim.

At the end of the day I had fun playing DNF and me and my mates had a good laugh the whole way through the singleplayer campaign. If you're looking for the next Call of Duty or Halo its not here. If you want to play a game and have fun doing so then I recommend this game.

6 out of 10

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

E3 Wrap up

Well E3 has come and gone for another year and as always has sent the gaming world into a frenzy with its announcements.

Nintendo has given a name to their newest console calling it the Wii U. I get that the U stands for you so why not have a laugh and put it at the start not at the end... Because that's the sound you make when you play, Wiiiiiiii! It features a rather interesting controller that has a built in touch screen that you can interact with while gaming (probably serve the same purpose the touch screen on the Nintendo DS does) and allows you to keep playing even when the Tv is switched off. The design of it looks a lot like what you would get if a Wii and an Xbox 360 had a baby. In terms of games for it on release Skyward sword will not be one of them. However Nintendo has not ruled out that the next Legend of Zelda game will be released on the Wii U. There's no set release date for the Wii U but its expected to hit shelves some time in the middle of 2012.

Duke Nukem Forever has finally been released. I've yet to play it but after 13 odd years it should be good.
It was on display at E3 more for developers Gearbox to say 'We made it, look we're not lying. here it is' rather than to actually show off the game. I wonder what Gearbox are going to work on next. Borderlands 2?

More details for Mass Effect 3. It will use the voice control feature on the Kinect to allow you to put your voice in game and probably talk to the characters. Unless they fix the Kinect so that us Aussies can use the voice control feature at all I doubt we will ever get to use that little perk. Unless you can do a really good American accent. Still on games Saints Row: The Third is looking better and better the more I see it. It seems like you're going to be able to do more wild and crazy stuff that the games series prides itself on. Like shooting... while free falling from an airplane.

Finally its my birthday tomorrow and if you like feel free to wish me a happy birthday on my facebook page.

Till next week.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

E3 Kicks off.

So its that time of year again. Gamers around the world have this week marked in their calendar months in advance and for those lucky enough to get in through the front door have had their bags packed for weeks waiting for E3 2011.

Because E3 has just started here's a look at what has happened so far.

Last week I made some predictions and it seems one of them has already come true. I said that Microsoft might bring out another Halo game. Well not only have they done that Microsoft has also announced that Halo 1 is going to be re-released and completely remastered. Complete with Xbox live support, and some minor improvements to its game mechanic like introducing assassinations from Halo Reach. Halo 4 was also announced but its the Halo 1 remake I'm really excited about. Both have trailers out and you can watch them both below.

Mass Effect 3 now has a solid release date. It has had a release date for some time now but it was all up in the air as to a set date. Bioware have now announced a set date for early 2012. Get your pre-orders in now because it looks awesome. You can see the trailer below.

Sony has finally given a name to its psp2 that has been in the works for a while. They are moving away from the word Playstation (Not like PSN had anything to do with it.) and have simply called it the Sony Vita. Vita meaning 'life' in Italian. You can pre-order it now for around $400.

With so many big announces so far I'm looking forward to what is in store for the rest of the week. Tune in next week for part 2 of the E3 news.

Till next week, Peace.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

E3 2011 Predictions

With E3 just around the corner. It seems that many of the big developers are jumping the gun and telling the world of their shiny new games before E3. With Activision announcing Modern warfare 3 and Nintendo letting slip about their next console. Whatever happened to the old days when developers would say 'we will tell all at E3.' Well enough about that. Theres still lots of news to be revealed at E3 and I'm going to make some predictions on what we may find out this year.

As we all know Activision announced that Modern warfare 3 will be released this year. This will be something Activision will have to talk about and maybe even give us some more gameplay footage and less of the fancy pants art house green outline stuff. Its a safe bet that they will give us an insight without revealing too much into the whole World war 3 theme they've got going.

The boys and girls at Sony will have to speak about PSN going down and try and offer some kind of explanation as to why it went down. However they may try and sweep it under the carpet by announcing that they've started work on the Playststion 4 and show us some pretty pictures as a way to convince people to come back into the Playstation fold.

Nintendo will show off their plans for the Wii 2 or whatever they choose to call it. Along with announcing some new titles for the Wii. Probably show some more trailers for Skyward sword and maybe a new Mario game to go with it. The Nintendo 3DS has seen a lot of talk about games made to take advantage of its 3D capabilities but very little action. The Nintendo booth will probably have Orcarina of time available to play on the 3DS as a way to show that they haven't forgotten that they still dominate the handheld console market.

Microsoft have been pretty quiet these last few months so they will have something big to show at E3 this year. Be it a new Xbox console or that they are going to make another Halo game I'm not sure but you can bet it's something big.

This last one I'm not to sure about but I think its worth saying. Apple may make an appearance this year just to show off the App store and Apple gamecenter. I doubt it but you never know. Apple have been expanding in recent years and I reckon they're going to try and compete with nintendo for the top spot in the handheld market.

Finaly if Gearbox push back the date of Duke Nukem Forever back again I'm not going to be surprised at all. I've noticed the lack of new trailers recently. Maybe they've decided to stop mucking around and start getting serious about their June release. You can be sure that they will have something to show at E3 this year.

Well thats all I've got and again these are all predictions, nothing concrete. however I'm confident that at least some of what I've said will happen. But we wont find out till E3 next week.