Zero Perfectation!

•December 31, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Zero Punctuation is a weekly feature on The Escapist by reviewer and professional troll Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw who got employed at The Escapist in August of 2007. His previous work were a couple of hilarious if slightly inaccurate reviews on youtube, which earned him enough attention that he could live his life playing games and whine in the most ungrateful way possible.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good rant on faulty mechanics, and I’ve been a fan of Yahtzee for quite a while, but his constant, ever more inaccurate whining about the tiniest little “flaw” is starting to get to me. And when I say “flaw”, I mean design decision that does not entirely live up to Yahtzee’s expectation that every portion of every game should be a fucking cakewalk.

Yahtzee’s recent ‘Mirror’s Edge’ review in particular annoyed me. Yahtzee talks quite a lot about innovation when reviewing games that have little of it and focus on polishing ideas that already exist in other games, but when an opportunity to play a highly innovative game like Mirror’s Edge presents itself to him, all he does is bitch and cry at the very innovation itself. The very idea that Mirror’s Edge is flawed because  it’s a platformer in first person goes directly against the very innovation he is so keen to push when it is not present.

Mirror’s Edge is an amazingly innovative game with  incredibly intuitive controls, a nice sense of speed and incredible flow, broken off by the stray puzzle or fight to keep monotony from creeping on. What more is Mirror’s Edge? A quite easy, way too short game. Yahtzee, on the other hand, seems to have difficulty gripping the timing of mostly extremely generous jumps in first person that would have embarrassed a seven-year-old. This is all fine, until you start blaming the game for it at which point it becomes whiny. Yahtzee actually goes as far as blaming the incredibly clean, clear, helpful visuals for his failure to adapt. Nothing short of amazing, and Yahtzee’s response to accusations like these are that he reviews games “for the people”.

Yahtzee’s audience, on the other hand, is NOT “the people”, it is mostly quite hardcore gamers that has been playing games most their lives and should know better than to be misled by one guy’s bitching over a game he and he alone has trouble controlling.  However, by the comments on his review, this is not the case. Long-time gamers are laying their money at his feet, waiting for him to guide them in the direction of some mythical game of innovation and polish that don’t exist and never will exist.

Another point Yahtzee makes is about the story in Mirror’s Edge, that he finds rather dumb and hard to follow, pointing out that we have no evidence of any kind that the bad guys in the game really is the bad guys.  My response to this is that while the voice acting is at times sub-par, the overarching story is not all that confusing. Without spoiling too much, the basic outline is that the main character, Faith, is a ‘runner’ – a courier of sorts that transport messages for clients not wanting to be overheard by the government. Set in an extremely tightly controlled city where most actions are crimes, the runners are one of the last forms of criminals present in the city. This is all told and hinted at as early as the opening cinematics, and picking it up should be no problem unless you are way overzealous in your use of the “skip” function.

Yahtzee also comments on the controls, saying that when jumping to a lege your view gets obstructed by the wall you are facing, and the game’s pacing forces you to make a blind jump because turning around is too slow. This is just simply false. One of the shoulder buttons is mapped to a quick 180 degree turn, enabling you to keep up with the game’s pace at ease without having to rely on blind jumps.

All in all, Mirror’s Edge is a great game with some flaws, most notably a kinda dodgy collision detection that can cause problems for the first hour until you get used to it, some extremely boring combat, and some cheesy dialogue. This is all countered by the intense high-speed chases with bullets flying past you, the visuals, the absolutely brilliant soundtrack and the very fact that it’s a platformer in first person that actually works, and better than most side-scrolling and third person ones too.

Face, meet Flak Gun.

•September 23, 2008 • Leave a Comment

I love the depth of a good rpg or strategy game, but sometimes that’s not what you want. Sometimes, you want to be destructive, on a level that making your enemy walk into an ambush in StarCraft just won’t cover. Sometimes, you want to blow someones face off. Of course, you could just go out and beat someone down, if you’re an asshole or retarded. If not, an deathmatch-based fps-game is recommended, and that’s what I’m gonna talk about today.

My three favourites in this category is Unreal Tournament 3 for its great library of weapons, all of them unique and useful in the right situation, Warsow for it’s hilariously over-the-top speed and clear, cartoonish visuals which make that possible without causing major siezures and some of the most tense insta-gib fights in a game ever, and Quake 3 for being somewhere in between. It doesn’t quite have the incredibly well-done weaponary of Unreal Tournament 3, but is a step up from Warsow in that regard, and doesn’t do the mind-bending awesomeness that is jumping around at mach 10, but it has higher speed than Unreal Tournament 3. Half-Life is the runner up here, but suffers from some issues related to the clear focus on single-player. Half-Life 2 Deathmatch does not come close in my opinion, with the only weapon not incredibly boring being the half-useless gravity gun, and an speed slower than Unreal Tournament 3.

MY hobbies are better than YOURS

•September 18, 2008 • 1 Comment

Seriously, I wonder how people manage to come up with these stupid things. A hobby is just a way to pass time, entertain yourself. How, then, can someones hobby decide if he has a so-called “life” or not.

I myself watch Anime, listen to music most people would refer to as “strange” if they are being nice and “crappy as hell” if they are being honest. And I play games. When my friends are busy or I just don’t have the energy to spend time with them, I usually play some World of Warcraft or, for example, watch some anime. I have a quite small social network, made up by people I really like. I don’t spend any unnecessary time with people not in said social network, for a couple of reasons. Like making do with the number of friends I have.

Bob – a purely hypothetical person. I don’t know anybody named bob – spends his nights getting so drunk he can hardly talk, goes to parties all the time, and plays a lot of football. He has a large social network comprised of a couple of real friends, but mostly people I would described kindly as “associates”. If being honest, I would call them “assholes”.

Now, a lot of people would say Bob has a “life”, and I don’t. How is this? How can people be so obsessed over other peoples’ hobbies? How is gaming worse than getting drunk? I myself rate gaming higher than drinking – otherwise I would be like Bob – but I don’t judge people who think the other way.

I mean, why would I? I get along fine with my friends, and don’t feel the need to be an asshole in some misguided pursuit of “coolness”.

The pains of low experience (points)

•September 14, 2008 • Leave a Comment

A key point in any mmorpg is the grind, the endless ammounts of content that exists to hook players and completely drain their social life. If this genre would be a spell, it would be Drain Soul.

Another important part of most mmorpgs is classes. A lot of games allow you to choose from the standard archetypes of melee dps, tank, healer, ranged and magical dps. Also, a lot of mmos further seperate player’s roles with skilltrees.

World of Warcraft, the game I am playing right now, seperates each class into three different “talent trees” which defines what spells are best, among other things. The Warlock class, for example, has the talent trees Affliction, Demonology and Destruction. Affliction focuses on putting damage-over-time effects on the target and slowly watching him die, Demonology focuses on your pets doing a larger portion of the work, and Destruction focuses on setting people on fire, dealing large bursts of damage.

Now, the Demonology and Destruction trees  are quite appealing to me. Micro-managing your pets adds another layer to combat, and Destruction is the biggest glass-canon out there. Affliction, on the other hand, is just not my thing. Slowly watching my opponents die doesn’t give me the “oomph!” of bursts or the extra layer of doing a lot of your damage with your pet.

And enter the problems with balancing the game for end-game content: Destruction just plain sucks for leveling, and Demonology is the same untill level 50 where you can get the Felguard. 50 levels basically playing a class you do not enjoy (even though you have access to fun abilities, it would be stupid to use them) is not something to be taken lightly. I love a lot of the things about the warlock class, but affliction is my least favourite of it’s aspects. I’m stuck with it ’till level 50… 20 levels to go *sigh*

I do understand the need to balance around the end-game – that’s where most of the players are anyways. But I’d give a lot for destruction or pre-50 demonology to be viable leveling specs.

Soundtrack of this Week

•September 12, 2008 • Leave a Comment

This week, I’ve been mostly listening to Silversun Pickups’ Carnavas album and Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip’s Angles, with some Pendulum, Tool and Daft Punk mixed in.

Silversun Pickups:

Got to love these people. I was into a period of listening to a LOT of metal, when a friend linked me to these guys. I haven’t really listened to metal since…

Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip:

How I came to find these two guys, I don’t remember. What I do remember is that at the time, they had two or three songs on youtube, but that was about enough. The above song is  from their new album “Angles”.

Pendulum:

Not much to say. Can be very soothing at times, and helps a lot in keeping me up during early mornings.

Tool:

Now this, this is different. A lot of Tool fans praise the band as being somewhat the only thing to listen to. While I tend to disagree on that, I am of the opinion that Tool is quite unique and most people should at least try to listen to them.

Daft Punk:

Amazingly, their live album sounds better to me than their studio releases. Alive ❤

Initial Ramblings

•September 12, 2008 • 1 Comment

00:24

I should be asleep by now, as usual, but being sleepless is a bitch. Just as usual.

Another night spent in front of the computer, with the constantly playing music keeping time going, untill I finally get tired enough to go to bed. Tonight, Silversun Pickups is my main company, with splices of Daft Punk, Pendulum and Tool here and there.

Usually, reading a good book helps, but quite unusually I have absolutely nothing to read. The Hichiker’s Galaxy, although hilarious, is starting to wear thin after my third read-trough last month, and I’ve read every book in my very incomplete David Eddings collection way too many times. Half my bookshelf is made up by the complete Dragonball manga, a series that stopped entertaining me years ago and is now just collecting dust. Complete Dragonball manga in swedish for sale, any takers? No? Didn’t think so.

(Book tips would be much appreciated)

I am quite new to this whole blogging business, apart from three or four posts in the blog section of a swedish forum. This time, I’ll try to keep updating with (hopefully) interesting ramblings…

00:40 and still not tired.