Sunday, 21 February 2010

DRM Roll

So yeah, this DRM shit. Is it good, is it bad, is it a university pig mascot that's been rolled up in a carpet and thrown off a bridge? It's sometimes difficult to speak from a game's journalist's perspective, because I rarely, if ever, pay for my games. How much ire can one raise for something you can just say "Well, I didn't pay anything for it, so whatever... next!" about. Quite a lot, surprisingly.

Regardless of arguments pro and con, the simple fact remains that someone will crack it. Unless it involves, like Barclay's ludicrous online banking system, the insertion of a physical device into a card reader or something, then it can be unworked, rewritten and slung up on the net, potentially with loads of Trojans attached if you go to a less reputable site.

The ONLY way companies can get their games to sell more is this: give people a reason to buy. Do like what the Witcher: Enhanced Edition did, like. Normal retail price, but loads of free stuff that the pirate version simply couldn't include (books, for example). What happened to the Witcher? A small, unheard of game, new IP from a POLISH developer, sold way more than a million copies. See, it's possible to make PC games that sell. Just make sure you do them right. Just look at some of the games that sell the most, in fact - most of them give the user a reason to have an 'owned' version - after-purchase material and such.

Bored now, so that's your lot.


Monday, 8 February 2010

Video Round-up, Yee-haw

I'll wait to finish it before I start an analysis of Mass Effect 2, so instead let's have a look at my most-discussable videos of the week.

Sonic The Hedgehog 4

Yep, it was announced at last. In a desperate attempt to curtail the fan and public indifference to their mascot, Sega did the unthinkable - they actually stopped ignoring every person in the world who liked Sonic The Hedgehog games. Their advice was simple: make Sonic the only playable character, remove the increasingly irritating side-cast (which reached it's nadir with Sonic Unleashed's Chip), make it 2D, and make him shut the hell up. They've even gone back and brought in the old-style robots/badniks. If they go the whole hog (heh) and start properly calling Eggman "Robotnik" again I'll be happy.

Or will I? Let's face it, hope is not on my side. Sonic Unleashed looked like it was going to do this, then at the last minute they revealed that half the game was a crap beat 'em up.

And let's face it, the current Sonic Team could fuck up a whaling mission at SeaWorld. They have no talent left, and even games that should be impossible to screw up they get wrong. The recent sequel to the Saturn classic NiGHTS had a convoluted boring badly-acted story with unskippable long cutscenes, dull platforming sections, didn't save before boss fights, and kept levels featuring the gameplay that made the original a classic to less than half the game. They've also done 2D Sonic recently too, with Sonic Rush Adventure, and managed to fuck that up by again having a pointless craply-acting enforced story, forced you to replay stages a dozen times before you could get a new level, and added a boating shooting section.

Let's not forget the 'Episode 1' in the title, and that the trailer contains less than two seconds of footage.

Aliens Vs Predator

Oh dear. And it was all going so well for the latest AVP. All the other trailers showed it looked incredible, the ultimate... well, game!

Then the multiplayer demo came out (this week, just before the video) and the first rumblings of discontention began. Controls were awkward, crouch was missing, and everything felt very slow, if still nerve-wracking.

Now looking at the single-player in this video, I was astonished. The aliens aren't much different from Doom 3's imps, slowly meandering around the map. The marine at one point turns around and finds an alien just standing there. In the last two AVPs, he'd be dead.

I'm getting it, but I've a feeling AVP2 is still going to be the best in the series - which incidentally I've now added to the Our Favourite Games list on the right. Have you looked at those? Some great videos in there, and a massively blast of hot sweaty nostalgia to boot.

Fallout: New Vegas

Finally, something not to criticise. Well, apart from the lack of in-game footage and the pretty-far-off release date. The evasive new teaser for Obsidian's return to the Fallout world gave just enough information (through some analysis) so make it obvious that this going to contain much the same story that they were going to put into their own "Van Buren" version of Fallout 3. The New California Republic of Fallout 2 will feature. I'm very excited already.

- Chris Capel

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Which is better? Only one way to find out... FIGHT!

I'm talking Mass Effect 2 and Bioshock 2 here.
I'll leave Ubigate for another time, as it makes me too depressed.

Two sequels with one main thing in common: they are both follow-ups to games with a lot of flaws, and both promise to fix those flaws. This isn't always as easy as it sounds, as they have to get the rest of the game right to a satisfying original standard. Condemned 2 fixed all the flaws with Condemned and was an infinitely worse game anyway.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Games of 2010 Post To Be Dissected Like An Unlucky Frog Later

Yes, it's here! My own, special, Most Wanted of 2010. I'll try to be more accurate this time, sir, but random appearances from unexpected games or unexpected successes may tip the scales in December. Right then:

Top 5 Most Wanted Games of 2010!

Mass Effect 2

Yes, it may be out by the time you read this, but it's still one I've wanted for a while and will certainly occupy a lot of my gaming time. I'm eager to know what happens next in the story, and if Bioware correct the problems of the first game this could be my favourite game this year.

Splinter Cell: Conviction

Swings and roundabouts with this one, especially with the silly release date stuff going on. Still certain I'm going to love it come... April? Whatever. Luckily it still looks incredible, although if that Infiltration mode truly is exclusive to the Collector's Edition I may be really pissed off at it. Interestingly though, the book's already out here in China! The real danger now with the release date slipping however is from:

Alpha Protocol

Or is that the other way around? Still no release date apart from a vague "June, maybe", Obsidian's first original RPG since their Black Isle days is looking very interesting. If they pull it off and truly give you the opportunity to spy whatever way you like (Daniel Craig or Roger Moore?) it'll be high on my list by the end of the year... assuming length isn't a problem (missus) and there's enough variety on show.

Crysis 2

This was so nearly taken up by Rage, but id Software's blatant Fallout-ripping-off and desperate desire to piss off the PC market that have sustained them for, ooh, every single one of their games nudged it out. Yes, Crysis may have been flawed, but Warhead corrected almost every single one of it's mistakes and the original still had tons of brilliant moments in it - and let's not forget Far Cry, which still is arguably the best FPS ever made. And yes, Crysis 2 may have gone all console, but they're doing that out of necessity rather id's backstabbing (see also The Witcher 2 for another game that's going to be on consoles but still mostly a PC game). And frankly, it'll also bring down the system specs and allow more people to play it on PC too, which was Crysis' biggest problem. No plane level this time, though, please.

Aliens Vs Predator

Call me a pessimist, but I'm extremely suspicious of the next AVP game. Rebellion haven't made a great game since the last PC AVP game, Sega seem to have rushed this one into existence to make up for the absence of Colonial Marines, and Rebellion have already had the AVP licence back once and buggered it up. Nevertheless, at this precise moment it’s looking very, very, very good. And it'll also be quite funny to have the developer's three best games be Aliens Vs Predator, Aliens Vs Predator and Aliens Vs Predator.

And The Runners-Up:

Rage: despite my criticisms above, a new id Software-developed FPS is A Big Deal to me. They haven't made a game I haven't loved, and if it wasn't for a few niggles Doom 3 would've been better than Half-Life 2 in my opinion. They get knocked down to the Runners-Up for their console bias.
Call of Duty: Vietnam: the only reason this didn't get in my Top 5 is that it still doesn't officially exist and AVP's coming out next month. Despite it just being another COD, I care more for it than I do MW2. It may be the obvious rivalry between Treyarch and Infinity Ward, it may be Infinity Ward desperately trying to piss off all PC owners, or it may be an expanded and improved Nazi Zombies mode.
Deus Ex 3: could go either way this. I respect Eidos Montreal's desperate desire to get it right, but the words 'cover system', 'regenerating health' and 'Square-Enix doing cutscenes' do not go with 'Deus Ex'. They've got a lot to prove, and if they bugger this and Thief 4 up they better start hiding and hoping their cover system works in real life.
Fallout: New Vegas: Obsidian doing a Fallout game. Wish fulfilment fantasy there, it'll be utterly brilliant. So why not in my top 5? Firstly, there's no guarantees it'll be out this year, and secondly, I already had two RPGs in my top 5 (one also by Obsidian) and I wanted to spread out my choices a bit!
Super Mario Galaxy 2: yes, I loved the first one and I'm looking forward to the second one. Sue me. The only reason this didn't get in somewhere in my Top 5 is that all four of the people reading this blog would've had a heart attack.
Bioshock 2: a big "hmmmmmmmmm" here. Looking forward to it, but a lot of questions need answering, and not being able to read the first reviews doesn't help. Still, they were only PC Gamer and a Playstation mag, so they don't count.
Sam & Max Season Three: unless Telltale make another Tales of Monkey Island season (which they inevitably will) or an even better licence gets the most made out of it (Futurama? Doctor Who? Loom?!), this'll be their big game for 2010. Let's hope they take some of the lessons they learned from TOMI and not just give us another "one location and one new character an episode" season.

And the ones that got away...

C&C4: Tiberium Twilight: Tiberium? Tiberian? Can't remember. I really, really don't like the way this game is going (three mobile types of base? You can't lose?), and it's far too soon for another straight C&C game. Thank you for making it PC-only EA, but the rumour is that you did that because you're worried it's going to suck. It's also far too expensive on your website as well.
Assassin's Creed II: it's brilliant, but Ubisoft's ridiculous shenanigans in their anti-piracy scheme combined with forcing PC owners to buy the DLC that was literally part of the game in the first place and should've been included anyway has dampened my enthusiasm.
Singularity: never again, Raven/Activision.

So that's it for now! Feel free to join me guys.


- Chris Capel