Monthly Archives: August 2013

The Issue With DLCs: A Fallout Perspective

Some time ago I bought the Fallout: New Vegas Ultimate edition (or whatever edition it was). I already owned Fallout: New Vegas, but I wanted to try out all the DLCs, and since it was a Steam special officer it was well worth the price, in my option at least. I already wrote one article describing my thoughts on DLCs. For a long while those feeling have somewhat died down until I saw a video by EatMyDiction where DLCs hold the center stage. That is more or less the same time I bought Fallout: New Vegas with all its DLCs and when I entered the game for the first time (again) I was flooded with a similar number of messages, informing me of all the DLCs that I have bought, and bestowing upon me an incredible bounty of items. After a short while I got my bearings again and I decided to go through Fallout: New Vegas, again, with all the DLCs, and what I went through then agreed with that old article of mine. There are the good and the bad DLCs.

DLCs

“Buy my DLCs… or else…”

Saints Row 4: an Empire of Parodies and Parody of Empires

With the bankruptcy of developing giant THQ and the auctioning off of its intellectual properties, the fate of nascent Saints Row 4 was up in the air for a while. And after it was picked up by Deep Silver, producers of Dead Island, more than its fair share of speculation was had as to what could be expected. Put in the capable hands of Volition, who developed such underappreciated classics as Ghostbusters: The Game, I had my hopes, which were simultaneously not met and exceeded.

Remember Me – Better Off Forgotten

What we’ve been seeing with video games over the course of the last few years is a sort of event horizon where there ceases to be a dividing line between a movie and a game, as evidenced by such emergent titles as Heavy Rain and Indigo Prophecy (with a new title to be soon released from the same studio). Back when the processing capacity of a computer or console was so very limited, a short cut scene or static image upon completing a level would be the player’s reward. The opportunity for storytelling has increased manifold as computer technology has advanced. But the compartmentalization of the game development process has brought about a pitfall which unfortunately many titles fall into.

remember_me cover

Good video game development involves incorporating puzzle-solving and skill elements into what can seem to the player to be an open-ended narrative, but what all too often ends up happening is that you’re directed by a series of arrows to complete an obstacle course and fight a couple of monsters in order to trigger the next cut scene and advance the plot a step. The game and story should be seamlessly interwoven into one another, but regrettably in the case of Remember Me, I’d probably be better off watching a compilation of the cut scenes on Youtube.

For what it’s worth, Remember Me has some excellent ideas, the core concept being that a future company in Paris has discovered a way to digitize human memories, allowing them for download, upload, transfer, manipulation, and even theft. This is brought about by the Sensen, a sort of holographic implant sprouting from the back of the neck which allows memory transfer through thin air, ineptly thinking to avoid all the plotholes associated with the biology and technology that might be needed to make such a thing a reality, taking what could be a concrete and visceral concept and making it too nebulous and airy-fairy for most people’s liking. Sculpting a perfect past by means of buying new memories becomes an addiction of the social elite and trickles down to the lower classes, who bankrupt themselves and create a new sub-human underclass of memory addicts who don’t even know who they are anymore.

It hits the mark well as a dystopian cyberpunk game because it emphasizes the militant order imposed by the corporate powers that be while at the same time showing how utterly little they care for the core concept of one’s humanity. We as both the character and the audience get a strong sense of helplessness and weakness in the face of this vast, overgrown, corrupt machine which eats people up and shits them out. But whoever planned it doesn’t have a good grasp of storytelling, as they fail to set the scene properly by showing us the whole of the city in its decrepit splendor. Consequently, while I know I’m running around through Paris, it’s not like I would’ve recognized it unless I’d been told that’s where I was. The location adds nothing to story. The same goes for much of the gameplay and scenery.

And who on earth decided to rip off Star Wars for the soundtrack? With the sharp clatter of drums, hailing of trumpets, and shriek of violin strings surging up at the slightest notice, the only thing that was missing was the familiar and somehow calming beeps of R2-D2.

And whoever wrote the character’s dialogue needs to go to a corner bar and listen to the drunks for a couple of weeks so he can figure out how real people talk. I’d prefer leetspeak over the ham-fisted soap opera-ish twaddle the game’s characters trot out. As the player, you are Nilin, a French-born British-accented revolutionary-turned guinea pig-turned revolutionary whose memory has been taken, and you must find out who you are while being guided by the only other active member of your cabal, with the ultimate intention of bringing down the company responsible for establishing this pseudo-new world order. But we’ve yet to identify the bad guy behind it all, or even identify an evil plot. The company is a world power with its own military. What it could want to obtain through evil means that it couldn’t obtain through perfectly legal ones boggles the mind and leaves me thinking that the game’s writer just couldn’t come up with a decent goal for the bad guys to get involved in an actionable plot. Consequently, you fight the company because of its unethical but perfectly legal business practices, and I feel a bit stupid conducting industrial espionage trying to take down the futuristic equivalent of Wal-Mart just because they’re not nice people.

Just as the leaper's existence is a poorly explained mystery, so do I present it without further illumination.

Just as the leaper’s existence is a poorly explained mystery, so do I present it without further illumination.

I would call it a saving grace were it worth the 10+ hours of work, though it’s not, but the one innovative approach to gameplay is memory remix, where Nilin dives into a person’s mind, replays a given memory, and then alters it as if one were editing a film in order to make the person think something that didn’t happen did. Aside from this, you engage in many hours of parkour which would feel like Assassin’s Creed if you had an open-world environment to roam instead of being told where to go constantly, taking away the spontaneity that’s the entire point of parkour. And occasionally you also get into fistfights superficially reminiscent of the 10 on 1 fights from Sleeping Dogs ala Bruce Lee. The developers tout their combo lab combat system as revolutionary, in which you can mix and match attacks to create your own attack combinations which do damage, heal you, or create status effects. What you’re really doing is putting pegs into holes. There are five combos that you unlock over the course of the game and will be carved into your soul given the mindnumbing frequency they are used. But with a limited number of attacks you can plug in, one combo becomes your damage dealer, the other heals you, the third establishes status effects, and the remainder are never used because they are too long and you are always interrupted before you can complete them.

True dystopian cyberpunk titles are few and far between, meaning I really had my hopes up for Remember Me. But the combination of high-tech low-life isn’t there, nor is there the cast of supporting characters and corporate intrigue one needs to show the many shades of grey inherent in a world where money is all that matters. This is what happens when each department in a development company is given a job and a deadline with no one who has the vision and leadership capabilities to keep everyone working together and all headed in the right direction. The compartmentalization of responsibilities in game production has led to the deaths of many titles in the past; Remember Me will not be the last to fall to bureaucracy. What it sought to achieve should indeed be remembered, but what it actually managed is best left forgotten.

Rating:4/10
Pros:Excellent premise. High quality graphics. Sweeping soundtrack
Cons:Poor storytelling and execution. Boring gameplay.
Game producer's website:Dontnod Entertainment
Official website:Remember Me
Game available at:

Payday 2: General Weapons Guide

Looking for some general information on Payday 2 weapons? You may find what you are after, right here. Payday 2 has a decent selection of different weapons. Shotguns, rifles and one semi-automatics (as well as saw) from your primary weapons. Pistols, SMGs and shotguns from your secondaries. We will try to discuss each of the weapons available to you (including the saw) so that you may decide what you prefer using. Each weapons has its strengths and weaknesses, so if you were hoping for “Super Guns” there are a few good guns, but nothing without some type of flaw. Looking for a general Payday 2 guide? Look no further. We also recently released this Fiction-Guide which has a lot of fluff. None of this is official information, just a bit of creative improvisation. We now also have a Payday 2 DLC Weapon Guide where we strive to write about the different weapons you can obtain through DLCs.

Payday 2: The Beginner’s Guide

If you are not familiar with the Payday Series, or if you are having troubles understanding some of the game’s concepts, this guide is intended for you. The idea behind this Payday 2 guide is to provide you with all the necessary information to understand what the game, and your crew, might expect from you. This is not a guide that will tell you how to stealth every single heist, that is something you will have to figure out on your own. However, with this guide, you will understand some of the concepts in the game that will allow you to stealth.

Looking for a weapon’s guide? We have one.

Payday 2

When the going gets tough, get tougher.

Texas Hold’Em Poker: an ace in the Wii’s pocket?

A wistful look back at Nintendo’s fascinating foray into the world of online poker

A wistful look back at Nintendo’s fascinating foray into the world of online poker

Remember all those smooth and sophisticated adverts promoting online poker, the ones that used to feature suave-looking male models filmed in black-and-white strutting around with packs of cards while an American- sounding voiceover talked about how cool and grown up playing card is?

Nintendo clearly didn’t or at the very least chose to ignore them and it’s a good job too, because otherwise a game like the addictive, yet predictably-titled Texas Hold’Em Poker would never have been made.

By now you are probably well aware what the game revolves around – the world’s most popular poker format – but what you maybe don’t realise is just how much fun playing cards can be on Nintendo’s activity-focused magic-wand-waving console the Wii. That’s because this particular incarnation of poker for the gaming generation got somewhat lost among the other big releases of its time – and the growth of Full Tilt poker among others – and it’s a crying shame too.

Debuting in retail outlets way back in September 2009, Texas Hold’Em poker promised to deliver gamers an arcade simulation of the game that captures all the intensity of a real tournament. Whether it achieves this particular aim is debatable – I for one have never found myself waving a white-coloured remote control during a session at the green felt – but one thing is certain: it’s a fun way to play the game.

If variety is the spice of life, then consider Texas Hold’Em Poker as the gaming equivalent of a very, very good chilli con carne chocked full of different gameplay options that are sure to have everyone from newcomers to seasoned card sharks salivating. Whether it’s getting involved in a high-stakes tournament, playing a cash game or opting for the special Heads-up mode also available, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you’ll probably win a few dramatic hands here and there to boot.

Those new to the world of cards are happily catered to as well, with special tutorials available on everything from the rules of the game and betting to bluffing – that’s right, they’ve really covered everything! 

What I love most about this game is the imaginative venues players travel to within the virtual reality world that the various characters occupy. These include everything from the James Bond-inspired casinos of Monaco to the bright lights and big city sentiment of New York, with each ‘venue’ adding to the fun and excitement of this arcade outing. You can choose from one of six preset characters on the game, or better yet import your very own Mii character to use in this most fascinating of settings. Throw in the presence of ‘real’ competitors who will look to gain any mental advantage over you (as is the norm in the world of cards these days) and it’s easy to see why the less-cynical poker fans out there could fall in love with this understated classic.

And I haven’t even gotten to my favourite element of this game yet – online mode. This canny addition to Texas Hold’Em allows you to play against up to five friends from the comfort of your sofa. Then it’s just a choice of either organising your own online tournaments or joining one of the many bigger games taking part online. At the time it represented the dawning of a new era for online poker play, but ultimately this was one deal that many fans opted to fold on.

If only they had persevered, then perhaps now we would all be enjoying internet poker from the comfort of our very own living rooms. Oh wait, I forgot about Full Tilt

Other Top 10 Most Marketable Video Game Trailers

We’re back with a second installment of video game trailers. Seems a lot of people have their own personal favorites, and ten just wasn’t enough to do the wide world of video gaming justice. So we’re gonna take ten more game trailers through their paces and look at why they’re the best.

War of the Roses: Five Survival Tips

War of the Roses is not the simplest game out there. It’s on the level of Mount and Blade, which makes it a mildly difficult game when it comes to PvP. Aside from directional combat and blocking you also have types of armor, different weapons, Perks and more. In other words, you have countless different possibilities but that does not always translate into effectiveness. You could have a bowman in heavy armor, but a bow might be less optimal than a crossbow. You could have a a longsword for a sidearm but that does not mean that you will kill enemies in heavy armor. There are many different tid-bits here and there so the purpose of this short guide is to help you a bit, if you need the extra help. Some of this knowledge might be “common” to experienced players but if you are new this will help you greatly.

War of the Roses

Having a fancy armor, crest and a barded horse does not translate into skill. Heavy armor is very common, due to its price. Even if it looks fancy once you figure out how to beat it no fancy crest will scare you away.

Payday 2 – Beta Impressions

I enjoyed Payday 1. When I heard that Payday 2 is coming out my first thought was, “They can’t improve it. It’s impossible.”. It’s not that I did not hope we would receive a great sequel, I simply set my expectations very low, so that if the surprise turned out to be sour I would not be as disappointed. Guess what? I was not, in fact I am more than impressed, on many different levels. The graphics are improved, the difficulty is higher, more complexity, more rules, more customization, more everything. If I was ever to give an example of a good sequel Payday 2 would be one of the prime examples.

Payday 2

Gaze upon my mask of doom!