Monday, November 25, 2013
Thanks to Microsoft and Crytek, one of the perks for finishing the Ryse project has been an Xbox One console and some games, including CoD Ghosts. Since this one the only I cared a little bit, I've just finished it and here are my impressions:
Same old, same old. It has all the good things from previous instances and nothing new. Meaning if you like the series, you won't be disappointed. If you're looking for novelties, this is not your game.
On the plus side it's a compilation of interesting scenarios, lots of destruction, variety of challenges (stealth, turret gameplay, tank and of course shooting) and reasonably good looking. The multiplayer is as good as always, although being relatively new to it I die really often.
On the minus side, the plot is slightly confusing, they run out of bad guys and now they're using Venezuelans (¿?), some of the layouts were confusing to me and couldn't see the difference between enemies and allies. Plus, inherited from previous games, I often shoot at my team since sometimes the only way to know they're on your side is to move the reticule onto them and wait for a name to show up (too late)
Also, many times the game uses simple QTEs to progress (i.e. press RT to cut the rope) with hard fail conditions. Ryse was widely (and incorrectly) critizised for using QTEs, but not CoD. Why is that? Probably because it's only one button press and it's commonly associated to something spectacular. In God of War it's even more obvious.
Anyway, a good purchase if you like the CoD series, otherwise go indie!
Saturday, November 23, 2013
I played 1-2 levels of Stranglehold when it was released, almost 7 years ago, and left me a good taste. It's what I call middle class games: Not outstanding but enjoyable. I bought it from a work mate 2 weeks ago and I've just finished it. It currently holds a 77 in metacritics, and I think it's fair.
The game has some unique systems, reasonably well implemented: The mexican standoffs are simple but enjoyable (it's recommended to unlock the video of the first prototypes, can't help to think they could have done better), the environmental navigation (sliding over furniture) creates multiple eye candy moments, the scenario destruction is probably the most comprehensive I've seen in a game and they also have good localized damage and death animations.
There are multiple so-so systems, such as the amount of enemy classes (enough, but all use more or less the same AI patterns), the boss fights (the excessive enemy health and a heavier weapon is generally the main challenge), animation transitions (too abrupt, although responsive), management of player resources is accessible (health, focus and style points) and mostly works, although relies too much on medikits and the story starts being personal and interesting in mission 3 (sooner would have been better). The scenarios are somehow varied but too indoors to my taste, and the collectible shop is just ok (concept art and prototype videos).
On the minus side, the enemy AI is really poor. Practically all enemies function as simple turrets or run towards the player until point blank. I suspect that forced combat layouts based on dropping wave after wave of mindless foes which can be a little repetitive. Aside from that the level design is clearly improvable: The player is commonly forced into scenarios around which enemies can be spawn practically in any point around 360º. On top of it they're not signaled to the user, meaning you often don't know where they are and need to rely on tracking the tracing rounds or run around while spinning the camera looking desperately where they are. Cover options are limited and lack polish and the game is a little short (7-8 hours). I couldn't try the multiplayer, though. Also I think they could have scaled better the progression in new enemy types and abilities: All player actions are introduced in the first levels, and so users are not requested to master any of them to get to a crescendo moment that test that ability (i.e. a final boss)
As a whole, I can see it's a good representation of the John Woo movies. I actually downloaded Hard Boiled (the first instance of inspector Tequila, in which the game is based) and watched it 20 years after.
Sunday, November 10, 2013
It has obviously taken a while, but last week I finished the story mode of GTA V. I had already completed other GTAs (Vice City and Vice City Stories) so no big surprises in general. I don't consider the storytelling of these games outstanding, to be honest.
However, this one has important novelties on gameplay. The first and more important one in my opinion is the addition of a multiplayer mode. This is no easy task, and although the developers seem to have borrowed most of the Read Dead Redemption design, it works fine and it's enjoyable. The progression system could be more meaningful for the player in my opinion, but being the first time they try it's definitively a great step.
The second most important novelty, again in my opinion, is the heist simulations. In several instances of the plot the main characters are all involved on an operation that allows the player to swap between them. This pretty much forced the designers to script each mission 3 times.
Aside from this, you will find the usual sandbox experience (excessively limited to interaction with the police, imho), big world (most of it unused I think) and ironic cutscenes. In any sense a top of the class experience, and a memorable game. Probably worth the 97 it currently holds in Metacritic.
I'm currently grinding the rest of trophies since this is going to be the first game I get a platinum award on. Seemed easier than other games, that's all.