Quickie: Watchmen: The End is Nigh

12 03 2009

I first heard of this game through the second-to-final issue of EGM. I read the article, subdued my nerd boner, and really considered it.

Pictured: Liberals

Watchmen is not about superheroes. It’s a human drama driven by some complex characters in an eerie world. The game being a beat-em-up seemed to turn our beloved Watchmen into something it’s not, which i disliked. I’m sure every true comic fan had this reaction.

I walked away from the article and thought about it. Watchmen was written after the fact. The protagonists did kick a lot of ass, and just because we didn’t see it in the comic, didn’t mean it never happen. My overreaction might have been a bit unfounded, and I downloaded the demo to give it a try.

It starts off with a comic-y intro, which reminds us that Dave Gibbons is not to be imitated. The drawings felt forced, like fan drawings sent to Wizard. The saving grace is the voices, they sound really close to (or perhaps are?) the movie actors, which is nice.  Once this scene is finished, the in-game stuff was actually really good. It captured the full feeling of the movie without being too taxing on my system. The animations were really good, from Nite Owl’s prone stance to Rorschach walking with his hands in his pockets and his head tilted down when not fighting.

The combat is taken straight from the movie, even certain finishing animations slow down, change camera angles and explode blood on impact. The game has you “finding” moves for each character, however, an annoying way to handle it and force repetition. Licensed games historically suck because we never feel like we’re controlling the characters we watched (or read about), their abilities are severely gimped, and things that shouldn’t be a problem to the real character cripple us (Superman 64?). Watchmen doesn’t have this. The characters kick ass in the way they should, easily beating on 5 or 6 guys at a time with little to no damage, but not in the sense that it’s particularly easy to do so. I had great fun with it.

Will I buy it, having played the demo? I’m not sure. The game gives me the same vibe as the Penny Arcade game did: something i’m sure I would have fun with, but can’t convince myself to spend $20 on it. I’m not sure why, I get the feeling that I won’t come back to it after a sitting and that it’s very short. Also, the game has very antiquated mechanics, not only with “finding” moves, but a prison full of doors that have advanced technology that can detect if all the prisoners are knocked out before opening. This is the same prison that is erupting in a riot because the prisoners all got out of their cells. Protip: use the shower room doors instead of steel bars next time, guys.

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Watchmen, Really?

5 03 2009

I was on fandango looking up showtimes for Watchmen tomorrow at my local theatre, when I see this story about if there will be a Watchmen sequel …

I’ll let that sink in.

This quote bugged me

“Contractually, we are obligated,” Crudup said. “I will do it. I just don’t know what it is we would do.”

That was Billy Crudup, Dr. Manhattan from the film. My theory is the rumored prequel:

Not a rape in any way

Not a rape in any way

We can all hope that this gets aborted asap.





Sorry for the delay…

22 02 2009

Hey everyone, sorry about the lack of posts, i’m out of town in a place with no wifi and an occupied computer, suffice to say it’s hard to get online to post.
I’m currently working on a Game of the Year article, as well as a Skate retrospective. Also, I bought Eets, Trials 2, I-Fluid. Multiwinia and Gravitron from the Steam weekend deal and a few things from the Circuit City “sale”, so i’ll have fodder for articles to keep it up to a few posts a week. I should be up to speed in a few days.
Thanks for bearing with me.
HG





Faith in Numbers

11 02 2009

I found this story  on the Shawn Elliott twitter feed and thought it was worth talking about. The fine people of PSX extreme thought that Edge’s review of Killzone 2 was an abomination.  I don’t think the article is worth a click, so i’ll post a few choice quotes then address the bigger situation.

Killzone 2 got a 7…and as a frame of reference, Let’s Tap for the Wii got an 8

But this is assigning a numerical value to a game that basically says, “it’s good, but there are better titles out there for your money.” This…is…a…lie.

if you’re scoring on a scale of 1 – 10, there’s no way on earth KZ2 gets a 7 in direct comparison to the other products on store shelves.

 

Helghast? More like Stupid-ghast, whos with me?

Who-ghast?

 

The author here saw the value of 7 on Edge and flipped the fuck out.  His rant accuses Edge of deliberately lying to the consumer simply because they think they’re better than everyone, which Edge is not allowed to do to.

Their own review of the game masturbates over the graphics and the audio (scoring an impressive 9.6 and 9.7, while the nebulous gameplay got a 9.8 ) and how the game is crafted so well that you forget you are playing a video game. The immersion is superb, and the A.I. is better than those stupid other games, you know those games? Those games that have the A.I. that’s completely dumb? Or the ones where it’s too hard? Yeah that game, Killzone 2 is better. The reviewer does everything short of using the trifecta of “orders of magnitude”, “paradigm shifting” and “pushing the envelope”.

Edge actually agrees with the PSX review about the game’s technology being amazing, with intelligent A.I. and fun multiplayer. The difference is that Edge says the story is completely derivative and too safe to the point of being boring.  Ben Dutka never once tries to defend this, he needs everyone to know that Killzone 2 is the greatest thing you can spend your money on, seriously.  The focus is entirely on the score here, because a 7 means that it is more good, having more better game than a 6 or less, but should immediately be passed on for an 8 or higher. Edge actually uses this to manipulate it’s loyal readers (which are responsible for their paychecks) by giving a stupid game for the Wii a point higher, so when Joe Whateverthefuck buys Let’s Tap instead, Edge will collectively laugh at how stupid he is. Oh the fun.

The bigger issue is that the Internet has taught us that information can be achieved instantly, and once we have this review in front of us, we need to instantly read how good it is instead of reading all those words, so we look at the number. The number is a grade, which we have been exposed to for years in school. In there, a B in gym and a B in physics are weighed the same, not only with GPA but in our minds, parents demanded a B or C average, regardless of the individual difficulties.  There have been times when i got a C in a class and was thrilled, because that C took 20 hours a week of homework and studying, and i learned a lot, and classes I’ve gotten an A in only taught me how to fake the teacher into thinking i actually cared about Asian philosophy.

Similarly, I spent a good two weeks of my life STRAIGHT playing Spider-Man 2 (the movie tie-in) for the PS2, even though it was a C game, at best. Most of that time was spent with my brother, taking turns with the controller, watching the TV trying to make a particularly cool line between some buildings, or get the best free fall length off the empire state building, or even just hitting all the buoys around Manhattan. The game was the definition of repetitive, with bad random elements and a lame story, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t fun.

Bad movies can be a lot of fun too, my fiancee and I watched Freddy vs Jason more times than i care to mention because it’s so cheesy and horrible that it never stops being funny. Is it a good movie because of this? Not by any traditional measure, but what does “good” mean then? Should I not have had fun with the movie? Should I have perpetually scoffed at it? Is a movie’s worth a combination of story and execution, or is it a measure of how much enjoyment you got out of the experience? All entertainment has the same arguments, and ultimately, there is no “right” way to declare goodness of an item. This is a stark contrast to grades in math class, where an equation has one answer and if you fail to find the answer, you get the problem wrong.  One student’s grade of 87% means he did better than the 74% student, but not as good as the 95% student. Entertainment cannot be looked at this way, is Killzone 2 better than Let’s Tap? Our life experiences have taught us that, if one is assigned a higher number, then it should be better.  Does this mean that all game-buying habits should start with 10-games, then 9, then 8, forcing us to by Killzone 2 after Let’s Tap, which is after Gears of War, which is after Grand Theft Auto 4?

It’s always been ridiculous to me that games were rated on absolute scales, every game I have ever bought has been because of the content of that particular recommendation, whether it’s magazines or a friend. It’s naive to think people are spending $60 on a game based only on a number on some site. Reviewers are not a shining beacon of trust telling us how to spend our money, they merely tell us their experiences about the game, and we decide if we want to spend our money to experience the same thing. They are not telling us how to spend our money, that is for us to decide.





Soulstorm

24 01 2009

I got the steam deal of Warhammer 40k: Dawn of War Soulstorm, since it came with the Dawn of War 2 beta. Also, being a fan of Company of Heroes, i decided that $7.49 for another Relic RTS isn’t a bad deal, with the game’s 9 races, that boils down to 83 cents per race, which is a steal. I got the impression, fro reviews that the core game is pretty good, with the expansions improving the experience little by little, culminating in Soulstorm adding two races to the mix, merely to have a bullet point of 9 races, without improving anything else. I have played this game a few hours a day for the past few days, so take this with a grain of salt, but i do feel i can make an opinion about the game.

I do realize that the races are from the Warhammer 40k universe, but the Sisters of Battle are not an entire race, they were a sect, of sorts, of the Imperial Guard. For those not familiar with the game, the focus is kept on squads and combat by having the player capture control points of different kinds on the map, and the more you have, the faster your resources will come in. It truly keeps your mind focused on always upgrading your squads and expanding rather than building a second base closer to a geyser so you can build starships faster.
However, having played Company of Heroes and loving the crap out of it, i thought i would be getting into a similar experience: minor emphasis on base-building, combat-centric and no dirt farming, all with squad-based gameplay. That seems like too many hyphens for one sentence…
In short, i got that, and am having fun with the game. I couldn’t imagine paying the full $30 for it, especially if this is my fourth purchase for this game. Company of Heroes made me look again at all the strategy games i’ve played in the past, Dawn of War does to a much lesser extent. What hooked me into CoH was how clearly defined the units were, this might say something about me, but i liked having the tooltip say “good vs vehicles” instead of four sentences total saying that the unit “can have a flame weapon which make it good against infantry”.
In CoH, sending a few groups to attack is an exercise in coordination, how well you can flank the squad of infantry equipped with flamethrowers matters more than you having a bigger gun, for instance. In CoH, units can be pinned if a tank rolls into the scene, and they can retreat out, so losing units is most always a result of bad planning from the player.
In Dawn of War, there is no such mechanism, which makes that tank surprise give you an exercise in tab-cycling through your groups and constantly reinforcing them all (reinforcing units is cheaper than building a whole new squad and doesn’t add to your population cap). Also, in CoH, multiple upgrade options to infantry, as well as vehicles, allow you to accomodate your units for specific battles, such as a Sherman tank with a mine flail can make infantry really easy to deal with. In Soulstorm, there are options, however they are not as immediately different, and it doesn’t effect your whole squad, just a few units within. For instance, my battle sisters squad, which is the basic infantry unit for the Sisters of Battle, out of a total of 10 units in the squad, 5 units can be upgraded with an anti-vehicle gun, or a flamethrower. This makes them a little better against vehicles or infantry, however it’s a marginal difference since that is only half of your squad, which isn’t a lot of units in a battle.
While there are things to bicker about, moreso when you compare it to such a great game like CoH. Despite the few minor things above, I still find myself thinking about the game when i’m away from the computer, and trying to think of good unit combinations and upgrades for squads, which is a good sign to me. I’m not sure if i could recommend anyone to buy the FULL Dawn of War experience, $30 for the base game, winter assault and dark crusade, and another $30 for Soulstorm, when Company of Heroes Gold is $30 and they have a new expansion, Tales of Valor, coming out soon. If, however, you’re interested in a pretty solid and fun RTS, you might want to give it a shot.




Visual Studio

15 01 2009

Why is it that i can run windows update from any browser i want, and have it work flawlessly, but Visual Studio registration hangs forever?  I had to actually … open Internet Explorer.

I don’t know how to get the experience out of my head, people actually use it?  It’s clunkier than i remember. Ugh I think i’m about to die.




EA games on Steam, wowzers

21 12 2008

I’m away from internet contact at the moment, but i just saw this news as i was buying the original stalker for $5 on the Steam weekend deal.

EA on Steam, this is huge in light of their recent DRM fiascos, i didn’t even want to consider Red Alert 3 because of the install limitations, something that really tarnished everyone’s view of Spore (write-up to follow). It’s a weird feeling installing a game and worrying about “wasting” it, but i digress. With another notch on Steam’s belt, could this be another step in the direction of having every PC game available on Steam? Could this be the death of the box PC game? Can i think of a third question to round out this conclusion?