Thursday, 25 June 2009

Merge For The Kill!

Developers, merge and form Devastator!

Sorry for the crappy Transformers reference, I'm just trying to put a lighter spin on June Merge Week as it's beginning to be known.

First Bethesda purchases id Software yesterday, today EA staples together Mythic and Bioware. Tomorrow Valve is becoming 2K Steam.
So what does this mean for us? That some great developers aren't as independant or free from publisher messing around as we'd hoped? I think that should be obvious now. Ensemble Studios never made a bad game that wasn't successful, and Microsoft destroyed them. Irrational Games sold their souls to 2K to make Bioshock a success, the game paid for it, and they're not even allowed to touch the sequel. Westwood and Bullfrog got devoured whole by EA, and all they'd done was make great genre-defining games. Lionhead have lost Peter Molyneux and must surely be on their way out. Rare is now making casual games and 360 avatar clothing.
I'm more interested in what will happen with the games. I doubt Bioware will change much, but poor Mythic feel like they've just been trodden on. I'd hoped EA were past this stage. Bioware have already made their mistakes.
It's the id Software buyout that has me raising my eyebrows. They've been with Activision for years, and it's obvious they don't like what that publisher's become now. Even Rage is still down for being EA published instead. I'll give John Carmack some due for being honest, but mostly to this quote:
"We're not going to change the kinds of games we make…. It allows us to accelerate the growth of our internal studios, so we can focus on making all of our internal games as opposed to working with external partners where there has been a step down in quality..."
Heh. Not liking the look of Wolfenstein either, John? Still, about damn time. Doom 3 came out five years ago, and all we've had since then are ports. Rage isn't due out until next year, and it's looking... unexciting so far. Maybe if id stop worrying about making a new engine from scratch for every game and hoping to rely on licensing to keep them going (which backfired with the D3 engine), and instead work on making games, maybe they wouldn't be selling out. And hopefully now they'll stop getting Raven to make their games...
Oh, and 2K Boston's days are numbered. You know I'm right.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Oh the Payne, the Payne of it all!

Why are they even bothering? I think Rockstar are a little too up their own arse with their dark, gritty stories.

You know, I'm actually looking back at the Max Payne movie with something approaching respect at this point. Even Mark Wahlberg, the unexplained weird Valkyr angels, and the dull non-ending (all they had to do was copy the game's, and they fucked it up! There was even a helicopter circling the building, but did Max blow it up? NO!).

None of these compare to... whatever this is.

Now, I'm going to have a go on Stranglehold.

- Chris C

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Remove head from onus kthx

Tomorrow I'm off to London, and on Monday I shall be returning to Team PCZ to ooze sexuality at them and smother them in Braxline goodness. Come on Dave, you know you want it.

Anyway, this week in a new series I'd like to call Americans Trying Too Hard, "Tycho" from Penny Arcade once again rapes the English language -

"...I can't actually enunciate a clear onus that would culminate in your purchase..."

Mate, seriously, you can't expect to "enunciate" anything clearly with your head so firmly entrenched between your own buttocks. In all honesty, I don't think I've ever read beyond the first paragraph of a Penny Arcade article without feeling my brain start to trickle from my ears and nose.


Don't get me wrong; I love Americans. They're awesome. But my GOD, when they start to think that their grasp on the English language is anything other than tenuous...the pain of it. It's like when a friend gets all intellectual down the pub, finds a fancy word "dichotomy", and tries to crowbar it into every sentence. It's the very zenith of facepalmery.

Urgh, now I'm doing it. Who the fuck says "zenith"?

You know, I think there was a character in Unreal Tournament called "Zenith". Can you imagine what a twat he'd be in conversation?

"My name is Zenith. Because I am."
"You am what?"
"The Zenith."
"Is your head pointy or something?"

- Brax

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Call of Wrrarrrezzz

In preparation for the very good looking sequel out in a couple of weeks, I decided to try out the original Call of Juarez. Basically the only Western game I've ever played was the classic LucasArts FPS Outlaws, which I enjoyed immensely, so was hoping for a worthy successor. It didn't disappoint. Oh sure, it had it's problems, but it had a great story, an interesting two alternating players mechanic with each character (Ray and Billy) having different skills, some great setpieces, and a fantastic character in Reverend Ray, whose backstory will be told in the sequel/prequel Bound In Blood.

I was hoping the big problems would begin and end with Billy's "spiritual journey" Episode. A gigantic open area you can traverse on horse-back, with mountains, fields, rivers... and no enemies. Techland created this hugely impressive level to go rabbit hunting. That's it. After that you have to climb a mountain, but the massive open area plays no part in that.

Oh, and the mountain, the mountain. This now infamous section involves literally climbing a mountain, which takes ages, all in the name of getting a feather. But it's not just a linear climb, oh no, it's a goddamned maze. And just to further add irritation to this already very irritating cake, there's a eagle that you can't kill that does a very good job of knocking you off the cliff.

I hate you.

In the end though, if you manage to work out that you were actually at the top (I didn't as the eagle kept killing me within moments), grabbed the feather (didn't notice it at first for the aforementioned reason, and even then grabbing a tiny feather while being raped by a homicidal eagle is quite tricky) and made it down the mountain without dying (several quicksaves later), you find it was all for nothing but at least you can get back to shooting things again. Phew.

But unfortunately it wasn't to be the end of my troubles.

The final section of the game is filled with plotholes, conveniences, questionable gameplay choices, stupidity, and the breaking of most of the rules Techland had spent hours carefully cultivating. I don't want to list all the problems... oh, hell, yes I do!

(Some spoilers here, so if you haven't played it and are going to, don't read!)

  1. The baffling removal of Ray's patented 'concentration' mode for all of two moments in the game, with no explanation given.
  2. Respawning enemies for the first time, en masse. This also makes no sense as they don't have anywhere to come in from.
  3. Billy being asked to put his guns down, then having to do a fistfight because his guns have apparently vanished.
  4. Main villain Juarez coming back to life all of three times, and both Ray and Billy being surprised each time he does.
  5. And on the third time, Billy keeps his back to Juarez for ages, allowing him to get to his feet and pull out a Crocodile Dundee-size knife from nowhere.
  6. And if he had a knife all the time, why didn't he use it in the fucking fistfight?
  7. How the hell did Juarez and his entire gang manage to follow Billy through some of the most irritating Tomb Raider traps ever without making a noise, and finally make it there before him?
  8. How did Ray know where to go? We didn't get to play that part.
  9. Some bosses who inexplicably have a health bar, including one who just runs around in circles making you chase him... and he warps, too.
  10. The final moment is just a joke. After Juarez pulls that knife, without any warning you get control and have to shoot him. The first time I didn't realise what was happened and Billy died, long unskippable cutscene, the second time I tried to take out my gun and found out it was a Quick Draw moment even though this the first time the game hasn't slapped me in the face to tell me so, Billy dies again, long cutscene again, third time I do it straight away. The drama's long gone by now though.

Up until this point I was utterly loving this game. By the time this ridiculous scenario was over (and I've by no means mentioned everything that ticked me off, this is just off the top of my head) I was glad to see the back of Call of Juarez.

Nevertheless, I'm still eagerly awaiting the sequel. If there's an eagle however I may just snap the game's disc in half and have done with it.

- Chris C

Thursday, 11 June 2009


"Sure it glows, but can it run Crysis?"

Crysis 2 to hit consoles. With a big stick. Of performance issues. And odd creative decisions.

Here's a thought Crytek; if you're so desperate for money, how about you try releasing a game that actually RUNS ON OUR FUCKING PC'S.

Alternatively, live in a country that doesn't seem to hate you.


Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Monkey Island 5 and 1 Special Edition Out Soon, Life Officially Good

Considering we're named after it I think we're officially obliged to talk about the Monkey Island games here, but as much as we love the games we never thought in a million years would LucasArts:-

a) give the licence to ex-LucasArts adventure game and Sam & Max developer Telltale to make an episodic Monkey Island 5
b) re-release a Special Edition of The Secret of Monkey Island with full voice acting, new improved graphics, and an orchestral soundtrack
c) have Monkey Island as their only internally developed game
d) have Monkey Island as the main game on their website
e) produce an adventure game again after cancelling both Full Throttle: Hell On Wheels and Sam & Max: Freelance Police six years ago and going down the Dark Side of almost pure Star Wars development.

Yesterday they did all of these things.

I heard all the rumours, but I dismissed them as pointless wish-fulfilment. Then they all turned out to be true, and I spontaneously combusted. All I can say is it's lucky I had to change my trousers anyway.

Dominic Armato's still Guybrush! Michael Land's doing the music (his first composing job since helping out with EFMI)! While the consoles get screwed over in some fashion (Wii gets new, 360 gets old, Sony gets nothing) the PC gets everything! And it starts NEXT MONTH!

Gentlemen, start your quotations!