Dead Space 3 – Still Looking Good

Back in E3, on June 4th, it was announced that a third installment to the Dead Space franchise was being developed. It was slated for a early 2013 release. From Visceral Games, a new change of pace is the setting. No more of those tight hallways and corridors an abandoned ship has to offer. This time around, it’s going to be in a frozen planet. The planet’s name is Tau Volantis. Still following the story of protagonist Isaac Clarke along with John Carver, They will(Or rather, you will) be trying to destroy the necromorphs for good. I feel like taking you through all the things that happened and are about to happen with this game.

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The Pros and Cons of Day Z

It’s been a week since the Arma 2 sale meaning it’s been a week since I picked up the hit mod Day Z which takes the game Arma 2 and turns one of its gigantic (and I’m talking about over 10km of walking) maps into a zombie survival playing field. Now most of us have encountered zombie survival games before like Resident Evil, Left 4 Dead, and Dead Island, so what makes Day Z so unique?

(thxFPC)

If you’ve ever played the free fps America’s Army, just take that game, Fallout 3, and Left 4 Dead, mix it in a pot and you get Day Z. Arma 2 isn’t your typical everyday shooter. This is one you’d expect the military to use to simulate operations and practice squad communication without actually going out to the field. This game has a lot of realistic aspects in it like the fact that you can bleed to death, break your bones, get hungry, get thirsty, your hands shake uncontrollably when you’re in pain, your vision gets all messed up when you lose a lot of blood, you get sick if your body temperature takes a nose dive from being out in the rain, it gets fucking dark when night time hits, etc, etc, etc. Take all of this and put it in a ruined Russian coastline with zombies and 40+ players with no other objective other than to survive and you got probably the best simulation of what it’s like being in a zombie apocalypse.

Why is this mod so awesome?

A section of the map.

(thxdzdb)

Probably one of the most noticeable features of the game is that the map is fucking huge. Picture BF3′s Caspian border and multiply it a hundred times. This isn’t an exaggeration either, it will literally take you more than an hour to run from one end of the map to the other, and that’s not counting stopping to take a food break or scavenging the small towns. The sheer size of the map adds so much room for exploration and hiding super secret bases in forests. It makes a 40 player server seem so empty if you avoid the city areas and every trip you make to the hospital for that blood pack feels like an achievement since the walk is so long.

Should I loot this player corpse lying in the open street?

Every action you take has so much weight. Unlike the other fast paced shooters, Day Z slows things down with the map size. If you die you always spawn somewhere along the 20km coastline and all the gear you had is now lying 7km inland. You either make that long trek there and hope no one scavenged your shit or you start from scratch and gather everything again. It takes about 30 minutes to get yourself properly situated in Day Z without other player interruptions because not every town has everything you need. Sometimes you’d have to check the next town over just to get the gun for all the ammo you’ve been picking up. Sometimes you won’t even find a gun. The server spawns random crap all over the place so you’re forced to look through every town and risk getting mauled by zombies. And when you think you’re finally settled: BOOM headshot by some camping dickhead. You’re dead. And it’s all because you wanted to run across the street instead of taking the long safe route around. But you can do this too! Find yourself a sniper rifle, sit at a proper vantage point and watch as other survivors run around the city streets. It’s that feeling of knowing you control the fate of their hour-long life that makes squeezing that trigger that much more exciting.

Having/making allies feels more gratifying. The game brings out the worst in some people as you do have the snipers who shoot on-sight without even asking if they’re friendly, you got people with high powered rifles who hold up others for all their loot along the road, and then you have those who just want to survive. When you’re bleeding out with less than a fourth of your health left, you managed to get a decent gun and some food after an hour of hunting, and you’re calling out for help in the middle of the big city and someone walks over to you and bandages you up, there’s little that can compare to that feeling of being saved from certain death from a complete stranger. It gives you some hope in thinking that there is still some good in man when in a zombie apocalypse. And when you start rolling together, too, scavenging trips to the hospital become that much more safer the bigger the group you have with you. You’ll have more eyes to spot lone bandits, you might even form a bandit gang yourself and terrorize innocent survivors while claiming a city as your own.

Why this game sucks horrible dicks.

The inventory interface is ass. Every player has an on-hand inventory section and in that inventory they have their travel pack inventory. You have to select the pack and click “open bag” that adds to your inventory list instead of opening a separate travel pack window. DO YOU KNOW HOW HARD IT IS TO SORT SHIT LIKE THAT? The interface is unpredictable. Sometimes it opens up a display of what’s in your bag, other times it just lists what is in it in addition to what you already have on hand so then you have all this swapping to do. Sometimes, you don’t even have your bag open so when you try to switch gear out, you end up dropping the item all together. What’s even worse, there’s no quick swap unless it’s between your primary and secondary weapons. Say you’re being chased by a LOT of zombies and you don’t want to use your precious DMR ammo just to pick off all the zeds. The proper response would be to simply melee them to death like in the other zombie survival games, right? Wrong. You can’t melee unless you have your axe equipped. How do you equip your axe? First you go into crouch and open your pack. Then you right click your DMR and drop it on the ground. Then you right click your hatchet in your toolbelt and click “remove from toolbelt”. This will move it to your primary weapon slot so you get to watch as your character slowly pulls it out. Then you have to  “reload” your hatchet since, you know, you can’t swing your axe on an empty clip. Now you’re ready to fight the zombie horde. The interface is dreadfully slow and complicated and should probably be one of the top fixes for the game, IMO.

Zombies can open doors if they know you’re behind one but often times they don’t even need to open it. Sometimes they’ll just walk right through. At this state, sometimes you can’t even hit them because the hit detection for melee weapons is terrible. Sometimes, the zombie won’t even kill you. Stand close enough to the door while it’s closing and you’ll kill yourself via being crushed by your own door-closing strength. Push V to do the slowest vaults over obstacles ever. You’d think when you’re sprinting away from zombies or bandits, your vaults would be reflective of your rush to get to cover. But no, you stop and watch your character slide over the low fence one leg at a time. At the same time the zombies chasing you are beating you down while you’re doing your animation so more likely than not, after you’re done going over the obstacle, you’re already bleeding or you have broken legs.

Result of looting dead corpse in open street.

I already went over this earlier. Everything you do in game bears so much weight in consequence that it feels like you’re walking on a tight rope the second you log in. You don’t know if the player you see in the distance will shoot you, you don’t know if he has friends. You don’t know if a person is camping the hospital or if there’s any food in that barn. You dont’ know if it’s worth using a chemlight at night at the risk of giving away your position. When you’re being held up and told to drop your food and guns, you don’t know if they’ll just shoot you anyways. Every decision you make leads to a point in the game that you dread. The game over screen. The average life span of a player in Day Z is 45 minutes. It takes about 30 minutes to gather gear and a total of an hour to get properly situated with the right weapons, med supplies, and food. Meaning somewhere between finding a weapon and getting med supplies, something goes wrong. Knowing that, you have to sneak, crawl, sprint for cover, everything it takes to make sure the players who are watching you don’t get a clear shot. And when you do die, the longer you’ve been alive, the heavier it feels knowing you’ve just lost absolutely everything.

By the way, yes I did die from looting the corpse. A sniper was watching me. Two hours down the drain, right there.

Kick-Kick, Punch-Punch: Simple fighting moves in video games

I am a huge fan of fighting games and have played so many in my lifetime. The arcade game Marvel vs. Capcom received so many quarters for me that I could have spent on chips and snacks when I was younger. Megaman in that game was completely invincible to me. While my brother or my friends would choose Wolverine or Spiderman, I always stuck to the robotic boy in blue. We would push the buttons on that arcade game like we were trying to break it but I never lost with my reliable Megaman.
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I’m Commander Shepard, And This is My Favorite Movie on the Citadel

 

Earlier this week production company Legendary Pictures released word that a script had been written for a Mass Effect movie. At the 2011 SDCC ME creator Casey Hudson spoke about working on a film to go along with the game franchise saying that the universe was just as rich as other sci-fi/fantasy universes, lending itself to an epic movie.

Hudson, as well as others involved in the franchise, have always said the movie will not center around any of the games or Commander Shepard his/her-self. Instead rumors were that it was more likely to follow the early career of Admiral Anderson. Legendary’s announcement, however, gave contradictory information. The script will follow MaleShep in a story line that follows the first game.

While some gamers/viewers may not be happy about this (because THEIR Shepard might be different), I’m actually looking forward to seeing what they’ve come up with. As much as I love the ME universe I’m not above admitting that this could fail miserably. But I’m holding on to a bit of hope.

No casting decisions have been announced yet and it is uncertain whether this will be a movie franchise, or just the one film. I guess you could say they’re still making…calibrations.

Lag: My Own Worst Enemy

Oh lag, you are the bane of my existence. / The thought of you fills me with a rage that cannot be disarmed. / I don’t know much but I know I hate you, / and that may be all I need to know.

“Latency Sonata #587” – by me

 

We all hate it, and everyone here has multiple stories on how lag caused them to “break their hand, not knowing there was concrete behind that drywall” or how they turned a “$60 dollar wireless controller into a flying projectile 10 times more dangerous than a bullet.” I have to ask to ask now, in this technological age where problems are solved, diseases are cured, and the issues of the past disappear, why does lag only seem to get worse?

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San Diego Comic Con 2012

It’s that time again nerds! This is how our year starts off. With San Diego Comic Con! (Classical Music Plays) With news on upcoming movies, comic book events, television, more stuff for your toy chest, games, and other merchandise you can stuff a chimichanga with. That’s what the annual Comic Convention is all about. Nerds galore, or more appropriately, Nerdvana.  Last week, over 200,000 people attended the widely celebrated event starting from July 11 (Preview Night) and going through July 12th to the 15th.  I was supposed to go,  already bought over $200 worth of badges for me and my brother, but alas, I must tend to my family.  Which sucked ass!  But that didn’t stop me from finding ways to feel like I was there.  Join me as we go through the highlights of this year’s Con.

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The Great Debate: Graphics vs. Gameplay vs. Story

Have you ever seen a trailer for a video game and thought to yourself “Holy shit, that looks real! I can’t wait to play it” and then once you get the game, you’re less than impressed with either the gameplay or story of it? This is a topic I’ve wanted to discuss for quite some time now, so why not make this the first of many GREAT DEBATE topics.

From a graphic design/animator’s standpoint, one would assume that I am all about the realism and detail of a video game but in all actuality, it’s the exact opposite. I love cartoony graphics and unrealistic mechanisms in a game. To me, a video game is an escape from the world of details and I can just enjoy playing out the pages of a well written novel. For me, here is how it all ranks in importance…

Gameplay – 42%
Story – 38%
Graphics – 20%

Having said that, I do enjoy when a video game has some sick detail works put in, but if the gameplay and story are affected by this, then it was all for nothing. My favorite video games are the Gears of War series which offer some realistic but unrealistic features as well, Team Fortress 2 which is nothing but cartoony multiplayer violence at it’s best, Batman Arkham Asylum/Arkham City, SMASH! TV, and naturally Super Mario Brothers. Consistently, those have been game titles that I have appreciated more than games like Call of Duty, Madden, or any other game with movie-like graphics. Even in Wrestling games, I prefer WWE All Stars over WWE 12. I’m thinking that I’m in the minority on this, so I would like to open it up for discussion. Which do you prefer? Graphics, Gameplay, or Story?

Wrestling games and me

Wrestling games and I have always had a complicated relationship.  I was a huge fan of the now defunct WWF television show and watched the show religiously.  I cheered for Sean Michaels and Triple H like every fan and even practiced their moves on my little brother.  I idiotically jumped off the top of my bunk bed onto the ground below like I was in a wrestling ring so many times that it is not even funny.
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Twelve Months of…Ehh

 

As I sat down this morning with my morning coffee I picked up one of this month’s gaming magazines that sat in front of me on the table.  As I flipped through, mostly looking at upcoming games, I realized something.  The next 12 months of gaming is going to be kind of…ehh. For me at least.

I fact, I can only come up with two or three games coming out over the next year that I’m really looking forward to. Yeah, there are some good games coming out, but I’m only impressed by a few…and only one has me salivating.

That one game, is Splinter Cell: Blacklist.

I enjoyed past SC titles, but Conviction really drew me in and gave me a whole new fondness for the action/spy genre. Now I realize there aren’t a whole lot of games in this genre. In fact, the only other one I can think of is Alpha Protocol, which was decent, but not nearly as good as the SC franchise.

Before I continue, allow me to digress for a moment. I’m a huge fan of the spy/assassin/Bourne-esque movies and games. They’re just so cool. Taking down five heavily armed guys guys with nothing more than a silenced pistol and a knife. Come on, what’s cooler than that? And there is a fairly long list of movies that do this and do it well. But the gaming counterparts have been, well, static. The motions aren’t very fluid and they’re often a bit of a hassle.

Conviction took a huge leap toward making this type of gaming experience more fluid. The way Sam Fisher moves, fights, shoots and even the cover mode was more realistic than ever. And I loved the almost seamless transition from cut-scene to gameplay. Add to this the ability to mark and execute targets, pull dudes out of a window in silence, shoot lights out in adjacent rooms to confuse the bad guys and much more and you’ve got what could be considered the best spy game ever.

As great as Conviction is (I still play it a couple of times a week) Blacklist is shaping up to be even better. And I’m absolutely giddy.

Blacklist sees Fisher back in action with a new team and basically no rules. Fisher retired after the Conviction, but agrees to come back if he and his team are given the freedom to do whatever they deem necessary to stop the baddies. The game, which is set to release next Spring, has expanded on many of the revolutionary aspects of Conviction, but what I’m most excited about is the new ways Fisher can kill the bad without missing a beat.

Fisher will now be able to mark bad guys and kill them on the run, as opposed to having to be stopped…making him vulnerable to attack. Developers have also added an “active sprint” feature. Fisher will automatically jump or climb over objects or smash through doors while sprinting. No more having to stop and press a different button, effectively slowing your momentum. Early reviews have also said that the game will be borrowing some of the fluidity from Ubi Soft’s Assassin’s Creed series.

Reports also say the game won’t necessarily have a main menu. Instead you’ll utilize your Strategic Mission Interface, or SMI, to track game progress, find new missions, track inventory and keep up with the rest of your crew.

Oh yeah, Fisher will also have a cross bow for silent take downs at long range. A cross bow…dope!

As excited as I am about what I read about this game, it’s not without it’s potential flaws. Both Fisher and Grim are going to be voiced by new actors, which is kind of a bummer. But hey, if it gets to bad I’ll just turn the sound off and recycle lines from past games. No biggie.

The game is scheduled for a Spring 2013 release, and thankfully games like this tend to release on time (cough-unlike games such as ME3 or Bioshock: Infinite-cough) because I don’t know if I could wait very much longer.

 

Ouya Kickstarter: How much would you give to get what you already have? (apparantly about $5 million)

 

This Kickstarter craze is getting out of hand.  The economy is in the dump yet people are lining up to throw their money at projects that could very well fizzle out of existence.   I’m half wondering if Kickstarter is just a random idea from some federal reserve chairman  to get poor people (and apparently rich people) to give money to not poor people.

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