The Falling (or Fallen?) Caliber of the Common WoWer

•April 15, 2010 • 1 Comment

Hello! I am a fairly recent 80, who just hit the level cap last month. I have started doing ICC 10-mans and I consider myself a quick learner and a good gamer.

Recently, my guild has been running many raids, ranging from Onyxia’s Lair to Icecrown Citadel. I have had hit and miss groups (we have had to fill spots in with PUGers) and overall, the completion rating I have had has been around 85%. I just have some qualms about the common nature of PUGing, some that mildly bother me, and some that have induced me into an all out rage at 1:00 in the morning.

I come from a competitive shooter background, so I suppose I have come to expect more from my peers and fellow players. However, I have noticed that in many PUGs, players blatantly ignore suggestions and, sometimes, commands given to them by the raid leader when they keep making a same stupid mistake repeatedly. Now, I can understand that at first, raids like ICC and Ony can seem daunting to newer players, or those that haven’t had much raiding experience. However, I feel that after the twelvth wipe, perhaps it should occur to them that they are making a mistake and they should change it?

My most recent experience was when we were fighting Lord Marrowgar, the first boss of ICC. This was 10-man regular difficulty, so it shouldn’t have posed much of a challenge. As this was my first time doing the fight as well, I fully expected to wipe once or twice and then move on to the next boss. Boy, was I wrong.

I, personally, figured out the fight about midway through our first try. I figured that fire = bad and the whirlwind = not so bad, so we should just ignore the whirlwind and just concentrate on dodging the fire. I also figured out that melee DPSers should all stack behind the boss as to quickly dispatch the bone spikes. by the end of the first encounter, I had mentally calculated the optimal positions for the Main Tank, Off Tank, and Healers, and figured where the Ranged DPS should stay.

Now, I knew that I would figure it out faster than others, and I didn’t feel comfortable calling this out, as I might be wrong, and it was only my first attempt. I might be scorned or mocked.

We wipe five more times.

Only now did an “experienced” player call out what we were doing wrong, and call out the exact same things I was thinking! So now I knew that I understood the fight, and I started calling stuff out.

We wipe three more times.

I see a mage and a priest walking through the fire. I mean literally through the fire. Along its path. Not through the fire as to get to safety, but through the fire parallel to its path.

We wipe two more times.

I almost go berserker status IRL. I yelled at the mage and the priest, who continued to do this while failing to attack the bone spikes continuously, and continued to be the main reason we wiped. We disband, and agree to try again tomorrow. A waste of three hours and 200 gold for nothing.

I, at this point, was extremely angry. I left Ventrilo and just went into a private voice server with some friends. I was talking to them about this fail run, and in a few minutes, I began to cool down. I got told at by some guildmates for being so negative, and I began to realize that others may not get things as fast as me.

So this brings up an issue: why not?

I believe everyone should be able to figure out what to do, or at least listen to others who do. Why can’t the common PUGer figure out these things? Is it a psychological issue – the daunting task of confronting the Lich King that just messes with their heads? Or is it just skill (or lack thereof)?

What do you guys think?

The advent of the internet, current trends, and how it is destroying the gaming experience.

•April 9, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Hello everyone! Well, I’ve gotten a SC2 beta key! Be jealous.

Now that you are wallowing in your own self-pity, shall we take a look at how the publishers are screwing the consumers in the ass? Figuratively, of course.

Now, there was once a time when console games cost forty bucks. Yes, forty dollars. Of course, development costs were lower and the economy was better, and those could be tied to that as well. However, what I really think was great about that era was not the fact that the prices were cheaper, but really, the quality of product was just that much higher. Games weren’t released with slightly unfinished content, planning for future updates through downloadable patches.

Of course, the internet is a great invention. Of course I’d rather play with a potential 40 million people than 4 friends. However, video game consumers these days, while getting more diverse, are apparently not able to hold as much interest with a single game, therefore there is not much incentive for game developers and publishers to make a compelling, long, potentially infinitely replayable product. They just have to make something that will tide the masses over until the next release in two months.

While that is one negative impact of the internet, a positive factor is the potential for the distribution of extra content in game. When done right, games like Team Fortress 2 can feel fresh; adding new content every few months. However, when done wrong, games like Modern Warfare 2 can turn sour, sort of separating those who decide to shell out a ridiculous fifteen dollars for a few maps (some that were remakes!) and those who actually realize that it is ridiculous and decide not to buy it.

And what is the trend with releasing DLC that is already on the disk? These days, we see countless accounts of people “finding” extra content that was locked on the disk, apparently plans for future charged content. And excuses of 30 KB DLC files being only “rulesets.” Yeah, sure. Am I the only one that finds it wrong to be charged for “extra content” that was actually fully developed before release? What is this, a company full of cheap shits who just want to make a quick buck?

I just feel it’s wrong to take advantage of the consumer, even if the consumer should be paying more attention.

My thoughts on the current standing of the current console generation.

•January 11, 2010 • 3 Comments

It’s the turn of the new year. In past console generations, this would be the time in the consoles’ life where the companies start displaying the next new thing, the next big console that they hope will captivate the market. However – is this really the case this time around?

Let’s take a look at the current consoles. Microsoft’s Xbox 360 was the first one to be released, a full year in advance, and therefore had the greatest head start, yet currently is second to Nintendo’s Wii in total sales since release. And although Sony’s Playstation 3 had a weak release and is currently trailing the pack, it has recently been overtaking the monthly sales in many regions over the Xbox 360.

I feel that it is unfair to compare these three consoles, especially with the Wii. The Wii, I feel, is a separate entity – where it shouldn’t really be considered a “serious” video game console. I mean, let’s face it – there are barely any “hardcore” titles for Nintendo’s pride and joy – and those that are hardly sell a significant amount of units. It’s apparent that Nintendo’s target audience is children and the non-gamers/casual gaming adults. The price of the console is low enough to be considered disposable – everybody and their mother has one of these, along with the stereotypical dust-gathering plethora of peripherals ranging from a ridiculous Balance Board to the ridiculous Wii Motion Plus, or “functionality that should have been in the original package but wasn’t Motion Plus.”

Yes, it may sound like I’m against Nintendo. I feel that Nintendo’s best days were of the N64, where many amazing games came out in 3D for the first time. Goldeneye 64, Banjo-Kazooie, and who can forget Super Mario 64? These games were the shining gems of the generation. To be honest, at first, when I first saw Red Steel and Twilight Princess at E3, I was extremely excited for the then called “Revolution.” I dreamed of using the Wii-Mote to swing swords, fire weapons, and actually feel immersed in the gameplay. Too bad it was a mess, and the only games that worked were the ones with more traditional control schemes. Too bad no quality third-party titles are going to come out. Too bad Nintendo is going to only focus on casual gamers and profits and release useless peripherals that aren’t going to get used past the first month. Shortly put, the console is a gimmick in itself, and one that people are fast getting tired of. I know I have, and my Wii is lying in a pile in my room, never getting used.

So as we can see, the sales of the Wii have mainly come from parents, casual gamers, and people that think Wii Sports is the shit. Maybe since the PS3 is now only $50 more than the original price of the Wii, it’ll finally get some love.

The Xbox 360 is an extremely solid game console. With arguably the best library of titles since the Playstation 2, the first seventh-generation console to be released is only being beat out by the Wii. The 360 has Xbox Live, the best online system out of the three consoles. Although there is a fee to access online multiplayer, it comes with a large amount of quality, and there is no argument to the fact that XBL is the current winner.

Now comes the Playstation 3. I feel that this is the best console of the three. I know there are many out there that will argue with me on this point, but I think this because it also is getting a very solid library, with games like Resistance, Ratchet and Clank, and Uncharted, and because it has the most powerful hardware. To build a computer of this calibre would require more than twice the money you need to put down for this system. Don’t forget it’s also a bad-ass Blu-Ray DVD player as well! It is the best value for the money in my opinion. Not to mention free online multiplayer.

Okay, we’ve analyzed all the consoles.

Out of the three consoles, I feel that Nintendo is in the position to need to make a new console. The Wii doesn’t even support 1080p video output yet, and the low power of the hardware hurts the system in the visual department. Developers must utilize arty-styled visuals to compensate, and it’s not good if a console’s developers are already feeling limited by the system when other developers like Naughty Dog are saying that the PS3 still has untapped potential – even after releasing a game like Uncharted 2 that may arguably have the best console graphics of all time. The 360 and PS3 are still in a good position for a few more years, and I feel that the Playstation 3 will be the last one standing.

From what I’ve been noticing first hand, in stores around me, where Wiis were once few and hard to find, I’m seeing stacks of Wiis in the middle of the floor with a large sign on them. Which can only mean one thing – almost everyone has one.

All in all, good luck to all companies in the new year, and hopefully some healthy competition will lead to a lot of innovation and quality games in the coming days.

Aion anyone?

Yours,
Panzer XiII (Level 16 Spiritmaster Elyos/Vaizel)

Review in a Nutshell – Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

•July 5, 2009 • 11 Comments

**Warning: Spoilers**

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is a 150 minute long CGI bonanza. Michael Bay is at it again, bringing tons of giant robots punching the crap out of each other. Main characters Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox are back, along with Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Megatron, and all the robots.

The movie starts off not long after the end of the first, with the Allspark destroyed, and Sam (LeBeouf) going off to college. He shakes off his old clothes and finds a shard of the Allspark that burns through his floor and creates a miniature army of appliance-robots that start to destroy his house. Bumblebee saves him and eventually, they make it to his school. His roommates are a bunch of conspiracy theorists that guess correctly that alien robots are causing the mass destruction all over Earth. They go around the campus for a few days, hitting on girls and living the college life. Not long after, crisis strikes, and Sam is nearly killed. His girlfriend (Fox) comes to rescue him, and they manage to escape, along with Sam’s comic relief roommate. Long story short, after then on, it’s a solid block of crazy CGI effects and clichés. In fact, it’s nearly identical to the first iteration, except instead of finding the Allspark, they need to find “The Matrix,” which is a key to unlock a device to destroy the sun, ending all life on the planet. Sam’s job is to get to the Matrix before Megatron, and he must (you guessed it) save the world.

Throughout the movie, there seems to be two stories going on at the same time. In one hand, the clichéd college love story between LeBeouf and Fox is going on, each loving each other dearly and asking the other to say it first. In the second hand, it’s the eternal struggle between the Autobots and the Decepticons, with it’s newly revealed leader, the Fallen. The rest of the film is CGI.

Speaking of the CGI, the effects are top notch. The ways that the Transformers form into their robot selves are to be put simply, cool. There is a giant robot that’s a combination of five demolitions vehicles. There are dozens of robots just fighting each other. The real attraction of this film is the CGI fighting. The sad attempt at a plot is, in its entirety, a giant cliché. Complete with kiss that rejuvenates the hero when his heart is stopped.

But who cares what the plot it? Yes, it’s very shallow. Yes, there is barely a  plot. And what little story there is has been done a dozen times before.  But honestly speaking, there are only two reasons anyone will go to see this summer’s blockbuster, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Giant CGI robots punching the crap out of each other. And Megan Fox.

Megan Fox!

Megan Fox!

Although there are many negative reviews out there, one thing is for sure. If you’re looking for a mindless summer action flick, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen gets it done, and gets it done quickly.

Bottom Line

8.5/10

Pros: Great CGI, Megan Fox is hotter than ever. Intense action.

Cons: Shallow, clichéd plot.

Review in a Nutshell – Prototype

•July 4, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Hello everyone! It’s been quite a long time since I’ve posted! It was a mixture of school and hardcore gaming that kept me offline.

Well, anyway I’m back, and it’s time to get back to business. The latest game that I’ve had the pleasure to play has been Prototype. This game has had many hype, with countless articles and speculation before the game released. In the end, it released in a time when quite a few similar sandbox games released, Infamous and Red Faction: Guerilla.

Activision's Prototype

Activision's Prototype

So. Can Prototype live up to its competition and become a great game that will blow away all others? Well, for one thing, the game mechanics are fun. The different powers, ranging from a giant hammer fist to a slicing blade, are all fun to use and offer a sense of strategy to every encounter. The types of victims to your powers (note I say victims, not enemies, because you’ll inadvertently kill at least a million civilians) range from the weakling normal people to tanks and helicopters to superhuman “hunters.” Alas, there is almost no variety to the different types of enemies.

Take a spin on the wheels of powers!

Take a spin on the wheel of powers!

The main game mechanic is the ability to consume things, and as long as they are humanoid, you can become them, even down to their clothing. It’s too bad that this mechanic didn’t allow for more than one disguise at a time. It would be nice to choose from a larger array of collected disguises. The game could have included a way larger stealth gameplay option to the experience. The only stealth gameplay present in the game is a shallow one, which calls for (every time) finding the main man in the base, and taking over the base.

The way the game is laid out reminds me extremely of Crackdown. In fact, it’s almost identical. An open world with a multitude of different events that you can go to and participate in. These events range from warfare mode, which is basically you and other NPC soldiers shooting down superhuman creatures, platforming races, which are basically the vanilla beacon following tracks, and also just basically getting in a vehicle and killing everything.

The game is excessively violent. I mean, the violence is on par with the most gruesome horror movies out there. I mean pulling bodies apart, people impaled, sliced in half, and in cutscenes, suicidal headshots showing the bone and blood and gore. I almost felt sorry for the New Yorkers I was destroying.

Okay, before I say any more, I just want to say, I like the game. It’s a mindless killing sandbox game. However, it could have been so much more.

First of all: The story.

Well. Alex Mercer is in a morgue, about to be cut open, when he wakes up. The doctors performing the autopsy run off and alert a kill squad, and he escapes the building in the meanwhile. The kill squad arrives, in SWAT team uniforms, and seemingly unnecessarily kills the doctors. Alex runs off and finds his sister, Dana. They work together, and basically, Alex uses the information that Dana gives him to consume everyone he needs to and take down the military. It sounds okay, but everything goes downhill from there.

This game’s story is, put nicely, absolutely preposterous. I actually feel it could be an insult to us New Yorkers. How is it even possible that soldiers of any type could run around in Manhattan in tanks and helicopters, wildly shooting anyone and everyone that moves? Why would anyone be conducting bioweapons research in the middle of one of the largest epicenters of world commerce? Also, who would even consider nuking Manhattan Isle just because one violent guy is on the loose? Yes, the military wants to nuke Manhattan.

The voice acting doesn’t help the story one bit. The voices used seem repetitive, and for every mini clip uncovering more of the story, the voices sound almost identical in each one. Also, I very much doubt any soldier, especially Marines, are going to be using such foul language and show no restraint what so ever. I can understand people in New York saying things like “F***ing New York, man.” but Marines? I thought Marines were trained better than that. I actually heard the exact line “We have more bullets than fuel. Let loose.” And the copter shot down around two dozen civilians.

Second hit: AI.

The artificial intelligence of all characters in this game is to be put as nicely as possible, near inexistent. As I scour the city, I see helicopters flown by Marines using their blades to cut into the Empire State Building. I see ladies “running” away from me by jogging in circles. A thousand Marines are on the lookout for me, yet if they see an old man gliding around, helicopters don’t shoot. If I jump from the top of a building into a Marine base, as long as I have a proper disguise, nothing happens. Marines just seem to think that it’s a minor disturbance, and run right past me.

If you are being chased by helicopters and tanks, if you duck into an alley and switch disguise, that throws them off.

Third punch: Controls

The controls of the game are to be put, imprecise. Targeting something in the air is a nightmare. Platforming isn’t as good as it should be because your character always swings around and doesn’t stay still. To get onto a narrow ledge or to climb to the top of a building is harder than taking down two tanks.

Every time I infiltrated a military base, I couldn’t pull off a stealth consume. When I thought I could, I would press the stealth button, and I would normally grab the guy. Then I ended up muscling the base down.

As you walk down the street, your default mood seems to be “pissed off.” You punch and slap anyone that walks in front of you and next to you. Even in the “stealth” slow walking mode, you elbow everyone. Including Marines. I can understand tackling everyone while sprinting, but in a stealth mode, I don’t think you should elbow everyone.

Minor grumbles.

Some minor things I noticed.

  • You can’t leave the island. If you get past the border defense on the various bridges of Manhattan, you are hit by an invisible wall and an airstrike on the exact location where you stand.
  • You can’t swim. If you jump in any water, you jump right out, and continue to magically get attracted to land. Either you’re allergic to water or there are no swimming animations.
  • All water flows apparently. No matter how small a body of water, all water in this game seems to be at least seven feet deep and flowing.
  • The engine, however stable, has many glitches. I saw pop-up, jaggies, and floating cars.
  • All the people are similar, I even see the same person walking side by side. It’s not that hard to make convincing civilians.
  • The animations for all the disguises are the same.
  • The models for all characters besides the main character model and some soldier models seem to be really shoddily done. If you’re disguised as that old guy that looks peculiarly like George Clooney, you kill people wearing a prim look on your face. There are absolutely no emotions on any of the characters’ faces.
  • As you move, you seem to break everything. Sprinting results in a wave of destruction in your wake, leaving cracks and dents in the streets, and cars are completely mauled.
  • On the PC version, unless you run your sound at 44100 Hz, the sound is unhearable.

Sum it up.

I feel that this game had a lot of potential. Although the powers seem to be a good base and foundation, I think that the game could have been a lot more. With some more work, this could have had a great stealth based component to the gameplay. The environment and NPCs could have been a lot more convincing, even following the footsteps of GTA4. Although the basic mechanics are fun, I truly believe that this could have been great.

Bottom Line

7.5/10.0

Pros: Decent combat mechanics, Cool upgrades.

Cons: Bad AI, Ridiculous Story, Unconvincing environment.

The Best Games of 2008 Feature: Part Three – Most Innovative Titles

•January 16, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Well, as two of the best titles of 2008 have been chosen, now it is time for one of the most important awards to come out – which game was so innovative, that it can truly change the gaming industry. From new ideas to a reimagining of old ones, as technology increases and time moves on, gaming gets better and better. Here’s a look at the most innovative titles of 2008.

1. LittleBigPlanet (PS3)

LBP is truly a new style of console gaming. Now, in the era of user-generated content, this truly trumps all efforts that have come thus far, imitating the PC modding community and allowing gamers to create anything in the world they are given. Although this idea of user-creation isn’t truly innovative in the gaming world (check out the Source Engine), this feature in the game truly allows people to check out the custom side of gaming – the true, player’s choice in creating what you want to play.

2. Mirror’s Edge (PS3, Xbox 360, PC)

This is a true, clear-cut example of innovation in gaming. The amazing gameplay, which pretty much puts a first-person camera on a platforming character, works very nicely, creating a compelling experience that is unlike anything ever seen before. The environments, while bland, can be artistically nice looking, and although the characters and story are not compelling, the overall gameplay is very well polished. This innovative title is one I hope to see more of in the future, with maybe a sequel to expand on the first game, which had a lot of unmet potential.

3. Left 4 Dead (PC, Xbox 360)

This game has popped up multiple times. It truly revolutionized the meaning of co-op gameplay. Now, any other title with exceptional co-op, such as Haze, with eight-player co-op, or even Army of Two, with its exceptional two-man co-op could have made the list, but what truly makes Left 4 Dead amazing is that it really encourages co-op in subtle ways, that even if you are a gun-star, if you go off on your own, trying to solo a mission, you will die. The game also has a co-op versus co-op mode, which is a very compelling multiplayer experience.

4. Spore (PC)

Spore is truly an innovative title. The game features almost an entire moveset never before seen in gaming. The game, which is based almost entirely on creation, is a virtual-reality tutorial of evolution à la Will Wright. The game is amazing, and the creation tools are very versatile; you can create almost anything with the tools. Unfortunately, this exceptional game features unexceptional digital rights management. The DRM in the disc only allows for up to five installs, and must be verified every ten days. But the overall experience is not greatly hindered. Pick up this game, create a monster (you can make dick monsters!) and take over the universe.

And the winner is… Spore. This game is the most innovative title we’ve seen in years, with the most creation-based tools you can find in a single package. The unnecessary DRM is annoying, but it’s worth putting up with it to play this amazing game. Have fun.

A new way to help me out.

•January 13, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Hi everyone! I hope you are all having fun with the new games that have come out.

For those interested in helping me out, I have devised a new way to donate, which is easier to track than my old way.

Click HERE to donate. Thanks a bunch!

Alternatively, to find out some more about the service, you can go HERE. Thanks again!

If you want to help me out for free, you can go HERE and register, and log in. The site is very nice, and you can even get free games within a week!

It’s easy, for the first two, all you need is a PayPal. For the last one, all you need is an email. Thanks a lot friends!

-Panzer XiII

 
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