Mac's Blog I just say what comes into my head…

4Apr/110

Kotaku guy has it right…

Was doing my lunch time perusal of the gaming news and stuffs, and I came across an interesting article mentioning how games have lost their immersion factor.

Why dont i lose myself in games anymore

I completely agree with a lot of the points raised, and have lots of new points of my own, which have caused me to dislike most of the modern day RPG games, as lets face it I only really care about RPG games...

Where did world maps go?
If you go back to the old NES and SNES rpg games you will see that most of them have some form of world map, where you can waste hours just wandering round into pointless areas and occasionally finding hidden treasures. One of my favourite 16bit rpg games was Dungeons & Dragons - Warriors of the eternal sun, which consisted of a huge world map and lots of multiple dungeons scattered round the world. You were rewarded for going off the tracks of the normal path and trying to explore the world they have given you. Same thing in Final Fantasy VII/VIII/IX, you have a world map and you can go off investigating for lots of other hidden treasures.

Now jumping forward to modern rpg games, such as Final Fantasy XIII where there is no such thing as a world map. There is barely the idea of freedom, you are lucky if an area you are exploring has more than 1 path to follow. It makes me feel like the game designers think I am an idiot, and am unable to cope with free choice and many options. Final Fantasy X and the every other inbetween seems to have taken this sort of approach...

How do fancy graphics make up for shit stories?
Staying with FFXIII, my next point on the linear ranting roadmap is graphics. FFXIII is a graphical masterpiece as far as rpg games go, however this doesn't mean it is worth playing. I couldn't care how detailed the character is graphically if they are completely pointless as far as the storyline goes, and it makes me angry that almost all major rpg makers these days feel that they have to all compete on graphics and leave storyline as a minor addition to their technical demo.

If you think back to FFVII where they mixed 2d and 3d to make the game look detailed but also allow the characters to be animated in 3d, it looked great and the storyline elements were brilliant. I completely understand the argument that these days it is probably harder to get someone to make 2d style graphics than it is to get someone to do 3d style graphics, but that doesn't mean you should just try and go for the best possible graphics possible, just find a theme and stick with it... Even if it is a 3d game that *looks* 2d like Paper Mario. Concentrate on what makes an rpg game fun and immersive, the story and characters...

Why try and fix something that isnt broken???!?
How many different battle and equipment systems have you seen recently in rpg games? I assume quite a few... I don't mind them trying out different things, but what does annoy me is when I have to work with an equipment or battle system that makes no sense to a player. Take FFX as an example, there is no clear distinguishing factor as to if a new weapon is better than an old one... where are the stats?? This again is an example of where they think the modern gamer wants less information on the game mechanics, they cannot handle dmg or hit related information... I WANT MORE STATISTICS... why does Pokemon keep so many players coming back? It sure as hell ain't for the story, its because you can try to collect the most powerful pokemon and tweak them to be exactly what you want.

I spent hours on FFVII trying to optimise my equipment and materia, it was a simple system to understand but difficult to master. You could spend lots of time trying to make sure you have got all your blue materia with the right green materia and that you have the best possible slots filled while keeping the equipment quite damaging. It all made sense, even Suikoden had a similar sort of system with its runes and weapons, so you knew that your items would do X damage and the runes would enhance them, making them better against certain monsters.

Why get rid of all this information, maybe they think that it is less immersive as you have to break away from the actual gameplay to equip your items and tally up the numbers, but its completely the opposite and it gets you more immersed in the game, paying attention to all aspects of your character.

Voice acting and realistic animation ftw?
I am torn between if voice acting is really worth it in rpg games, part of me likes it and in games like Tales of Symphonia the voices helped make the game. However in others they just break everything, take White Knight Chronicles as an example, where you find a huge hog looking guy who sounds like a comedic Al capone. Same sort of thing for the animations, some games pull it off well, whereas others try to put in too much detail and just look silly. I really think less is more when it comes to character animation, FFVII and games of that era had it perfect for me, they did a few primitive animations and you as the player were left to fill in the blanks with your imagination. Allowing you to interpret the characters however you want, and this is one of the key things for me personally, being able to use my imagination in rpg games.

To sum up most of my ranting, I wish they would let the player use their imagination more. I don't want to be spoon fed every little detail and storyline arc, I want to have to figure out some of it for myself. I think this is why a lot of people think books are better than films, as the reader makes up a mental picture of the world and characters, whereas in films you see an actor who may not be who you imagined, making it different to what you would want.

Maybe I am wrong, as I am no game designer, but I really think that if things do not change soon the console rpg will be a dying breed... although I cannot wait for Skyrim :)

14Mar/110

Fable 3… *sigh*

It was that time again where Jode and myself got bored and fancied playing through Fable 3. After playing through all previous Fable games we were a little apprehensive giving this one a go...

Anyway we started playing and all seemed ok... there was a pointless npc who acted like we were best friends for the intro part, and when forced with the choice of killing her or killing other random npcs we felt she was of little or no use to the story so we had to let her go.

After that there is a simple story involving a rebellion and lots of town rulers who tell you how bad they have it, you try to help them out then move onto the next one... I was starting to fall asleep as the story was a bit dull until after about 10 hours. POW a new storyline element seems to come out of nowhere, involving a hidden darkness and it trying to destroy everything... I woke up again and felt this was the part where the REAL story was going to begin... Unfortunately it was short lived and then the game seemed to fast forward giving me random chores to do and to either screw over the people I promised to help, or actually help them, which put me out of pocket and required some leg work.

Anyway long story short, the last boss dies in like 3 hits and is anticlimactic, the following ending then consisted of a black background and a small amount of text saying about 10 words either praising your actions or telling you that you failed.

I haven't bothered to dig into any of the gameplay aspects of the game, as if you have played Fable 1/2 it isn't anything new. Although I did like Mr Ross and Fry's voice acting, provided some much needed amusement during the boredom.

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20Oct/100

WoW feels broken…

So the other night I was told i needed to update to 4.0.X, and I thought AWESOME i can actually try out some of the new changes i've been hearing about.

After getting the update and getting in I felt underwhelmed and a bit dissapointed. I will try and break down what i'm annoyed about and why...

General Performance
The game seems to be running in general about 15% slower than it used to across all things, in built up areas it crawls but used to be fine, and thats with exactly the same settings but the water details turned down. God forbid i go anywhere near water with the water settings up high, it instantly goes from 60fps to 40fps, its crazy.

Talent/Skill Changes
I came into this patch only hearing brief rumours about new skills and talent changes, so I was caught off guard with the talent changes, which seemed pretty huge. I was not a massive fan of what they have done, especially considering they were trying to make out they are getting rid of useless talents and making it so there are less *cookie cutter* specs, but this seems to do the exact oposite.

Some of the new skills are pretty cool, like the soul burn move for warlocks is nice, but I'm finding it all really unbalanced and confusing, everything worked fine before and this doesn't seem to be any sort of improvement...

Glitches
There are so many glitches i've encountered so far, here are a few that have really annoyed me:

- Mouse over-ing the pumpkin at the headless horseman event crashes wow
- Clicking on a conjured mage table crashes wow
- Clicking on certain flight path people crashes wow

Overall it just feels like its still in beta, alot of spells and animations still dont seem to display correctly, and its awful getting a group then finding everyone crashing so you have to leave giving you a debuff...

Overall im thinking that they should have kept this patch back a bit longer until it was at least stable, im finding it really dull at the moment and have next to no freedom with my talents, although I am liking dual speccing now i can afford it :D

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1Oct/100

Top 5 Games – continued

So continuing on from the previous post here are my *current* top 5 single player games.

5th Place - Grandia II
This game originally did not make the list, but then I thought back to the first time I played it. Not knowing what it was or why someone had thrown it in with my Dreamcast purchase.
After putting it on I was amazed at how the game looked and the voice acting and world design, the battle system also blew me away.
The characters and story may not have been the best, and it may have just been the buzz I got finding this gem when I was bored and stuck at a relatives home waiting to go to university. Either way im putting it at 5th position, but im sure that in 30 mins I will realise I should have put another game here.

4th Place - Resident Evil (Original)
This game was one of the first PSX games I was lucky enough to see. A friend had gotten a PSX for christmas although I will admit I had never heard of it at the time, and knew more about the 3DO and Jaguar than I did about that console.
Anyway another friend got one and invited me round to play this new game he got and I was completely immersed in the bad voice acting and wooden character animations, but at that age I couldnt care less about these faults.
I loved the fact that it had you at the end of your seat for the majority of the game, not knowing what was waiting around the corner, and what crazy part of the story would unfold next.
The graphics were pretty good for their time, and although people critisize the voice acting and camera angles, they just added to the whole thing in my opinion.

3rd Place - Baldur's Gate
When most people were doing GCSE revision, I found my time was better spent playing one of the best PC RPGs ever released.
Oz and myself spent soooooooooo many evenings playing that gem after rushing round to my uncles house after school to play on the PC (long story about having to have my PC at my uncles house).
The games graphics were vibrant and well put together, the D&D mechanics were brilliant and the storyline and character interactions were second to none.
We re-played that game so many times, and each time found something new, be it a new area, NPC, quest, item. It was possibly the only game I could put on in the morning and I would suddenly realise it was evening. Last time that happened it was D&D on the megadrive... which to be fair should be in this top 5 now that I think about it.
Baldur's Gate also had brilliant multiplayer and the sheer variety of character combinations and storyline choices made every multiplayer game feel different and new.

2nd Place - Final Fantasy VII
Not really cared *that* much about any of the other FF games, never played it on the Snes or Nes, although I did play Illusion of Time which was a brilliant Snes RPG.
Anyway back to the game at hand, I bought this game without having a PSX nor a memory card (I was young/stupid and had recently been given £30 for christmas or something), so I invaded a friends house, kicked him off his PSX and let one of the best opening sequences for any game unfold.
From that point on I was hooked, I even had to contact another friend to get a memory card so I could save my 7 hours of progress.

The storyline in this game seemed to be easy to grasp to begin with, but brilliantly paced. Although the more you play the crazier it gets and the more and more it becomes a challenge to understand what is going on and why Cloud is a gibbering wreck in a wheel chair... It had a great battle system and with one of the best equipment systems in any FF game ive played (materia system) it kept me hooked trying to find new rare materias and trying to search the world map finding hidden things.

While im on the subject what ever happened to the world maps, did someone take offense to them, or it was deemed to much effort to put in? The world map in this game was as much fun as the areas within the world.
The characters were brilliant and memorable, I knew their motivations, their back stories and they entertained me to no end. One of the best console RPG games to date imo... well apart from the first position.

1st Place - Suikoden I/II
Normally I wouldnt be allowed to include 2 games in first place, but luckily they did release the 2 games in one pack in japan, so I think that allows me to do so.
Anyway these 2 are the king of console RPG games, they have epic storylines heaps of memorable characters and events, simple but fun battle systems and world maps.
After Suikoden II they decided to persue a different set of characters and timeline, whereas Suikoden II follows Suikoden I a few years later and includes alot more of the characters and feels alot more like a sequel.
The amount of times you can replay these gems trying to collect everything and all characters is crazy, also changing your runes and other equipment to see what crazy combination attacks you can create make it a classic...

Games that didnt make it
There are lots of games that didn't make it on here...

- Pokemon
- Legend of Zelda - Link to the past
- Wild Arms
- Unreal Tournament
- Mario 64
- Mario Kart 64
- Warriors of the eternal sun (FULL OF WIN)

And many more...

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1Oct/102

Top 5 Multiplayer and Singleplayer Games…

Now for those who dont know me that well im extremely volitile when it comes to naming my favorite games, films, tv shows... I will pretty much change my mind every few weeks but we were having a discussion at work yesterday and I came up with a top 5 list of each fairly quickly, although im sure i've missed out some gems in there, and it has changed slightly since yesterday...

The original discussion can be found here, on Tom's awesome blog site thing.

Multiplayer

5th Place - Counter Strike
I have only really put this game in because we used to have alot of fun at the LAN nights playing Jeepathon and/or other crazy vehicle based levels. I would also like to add that the halflife level with the rollercoaster was a gem too.

4th Place - Diablo II
During the end of high school a slice of awesome pie was released unto the world. I spent many hours round at Col's place playing coop trying to beat his minmaxed paladin (which was impossible).
It was one of the few great PC games for its time that stood up well in single AND multiplayer, and as you could have loads of friends in one game it also went down well at the LAN nights, where we would all start new characters and just see how far we could get.
The game had brilliant graphics and character diversity for its time, with almost every character equipment combination looking unique, and the gameplay was brilliant, even if it did turn into a bit of a grind later on.

3rd Place - World of Warcraft
These days im not really a massive fan of the game, however back when it had first come out I loved the crafting and instance elements to the game. They had fused the best parts of pretty much all other MMOs of its generation and polished it up well.
The main problem I found with the game was the game seemed to enforce the *look after number 1* mentality, as you only did instances to get yourself more gear, you only joined a guild so you could get into the harder instances to get yourself more gear, see the pattern forming... Alot of other games tried to make guilds/clans more than just a raiding party, so you could get guild housing or take over areas of the world. Wow just fell short on this area for me, which is why it got boring after a while, saying that I still have about 7 level 70s.

2nd Place - Neverwinter Nights
Now this was a BRILLIANT game, the single player campaigns may have been a bit tripe at times, but the persistant world servers were quite possibly the best long term multiplayer experience i've had to date, which is why im so bitter about NWN2 being such a dissapointment.
It really gave me as a player what i wanted from multiplayer games, lots of variety, such as crafting, exploration, combat, story, character development, constantly evolving world.
It gave me everything an MMO would, apart from the thousands of people, but to be honest I found this alot better, as you got to put a name to the face. With only 50 players allowed on the server at one time, you got to know most of the regulars and there was always someone to talk to or do something with, and as they had active GMs there constantly changing the world and adding new content it gave you a reason to log in, as you NEVER knew what was going to happen.
Mez's legendary last words when walking towards a Dire Bear saying "Don't worry, i've got gloves of Animal Empathy +1" will be remembered forever.

1st - Battlefield 1942
If im honest, NWN really should be sat here... HOWEVER BF1942 gave me so many awesome gaming moments and would be more applicable to the masses I thought it should be promoted.

I remember the day Mez came back to Uni after the christmas hols and told us that he had got this great game called Battlefield. I was a bit sceptical as I had played lots of multiplayer centric games before that tried to involve vehicles but failed...

HOW WRONG I WAS... this game was amazing...

The graphics were great for its time, the levels were well designed, the vehicles gave so much freedom, it was a golden age for FPS/Vehicle multiplayer gaming for me.
I remember when Rolf, Jode and myself were flying a bomber in market garden, but were forced to land in a ditch on the enemy side so Jode could get out and repair it. As hes doing that 2 tanks are starting to head up over the hills towards us, I start the engines and prep for an almost impossible vertical takeoff... Just as the tanks are within distance I got some air and Jode jumped back in, flying away from the enemies laughing our asses off... there are so many great moments in this game that involve driving random players through minefields on a jeep, to trying to land an upside down plane on Jodes tanks, even re-enacting a scene from Regin of Fire, but replacing the dragon with a bomber plane.

The vast array of levels with different vehicles and lots of great areas to do stupid stuff in really made me and the rest of the guys laugh, and thats what games are there for, to give us some fun...

Will be posting the single player list later on...

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24Sep/100

Kinect vs Move?

So I was half tempted the other day to buy a PS3 Move controller, primarly because I had some money sitting on a Game store card that I hadn't spent and thought I should do something with it.

After reading the reviews it sounds like the Move will have more games on release and more hardcore games coming out for it, however it just feels like an improved Wii remote. So im assuming like the Wii after playing with it for a couple of months and they decide to only release kiddy games for it then I would bin it.

The Kinect on the other hand sounds alot more interesting too me, not to say it will be any good, but it feels like it could do alot more than the Move, mainly because it can track lots more stuff and you dont need a controller.
The latter reason being a double edged sword really as I like controllers and it would feel weird without one, but on the flip side you can prance around the room like an idiot without having to hold a piece of plastic...

Neither seem to have any usages at the moment that make me go WOW, although I want them to release a starwars game where you get to properly hold a lightsaber and bean people and random entities in the face.

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14Jul/090

So… Diablo III

So who saw that one coming?

Personally im looking forward to D3, hpoing that it will at least recapture some of the GREAT gameplay that was in the previous games. Many a LAN was had where i would end up getting extremely frustrated at being killed on the first level in Hell mode as Col sprinted through on his god like paladin whos only move was to dash at monsters with some hefy mace and some stupid aura that does 5000% more damage or something... good times.

The game play trailers looked a bit average until they got outside, i thought it looked superb the way they had managed to keep the outdoor environment looking like a piece of artwork. They also kept mentioning how they were going to keep the game orientated around coop play, which is one of the best things about this series, seems like Bliz are one of the best game related companies at the moment so im sure things will be great.

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13Apr/090

PS3… The horror…

I haven't bothered updating for a while, mainly because im lazy. Anyway i wanted to rant about the PS3 a bit while im a bit bored...

Its like we have taken a step back in the way consoles work. Their main selling point is that you just put your game in and play it, no hassle, no upgrades to hardware. Only time you cant play your game is when your console is either dead or you are drunk and cant work out where the game goes in... or maybe you have run out of power...

The other day after getting a sudden urge to play Oblivion again i went out and got the new GOTY edition with the expansion, although only places that had it cheap had it on PS3. As we have a PS3 at home i thought it would be fine, so i hand over my 20 pounds and trott off home eager to play.

Like a scene from an Shaun of the dead i unwrapped the game hit the Ps3 on put the game in, then went to the toilet. When i come back its telling me that i cant play the game because it needs to install some stuff to the PS3... WHY???

As it wasnt my PS3 i had to tiptoe round the data on the hard drive and delete some random game files that were still lying around such as MGS @ 4gb in size, and many other installs. Now i looked up for a technical reason as to why the PS3 has to install games instead of just running them. As from a simplistic overview of the system, its comparable to the Xbox 360 in power and has a BluRay drive which should mean it can read more data faster, or how are you going to watch your fancy pants movies?

The only reason i could find seemed to be relating to the way the drive reads in the data. Rather than reading lots of small chunks of data it apparently reads LARGE chunks of data from a section at a time, so if you want to load up a 500kb texture it would take a while due to it reading it as a part of a much larger chunk. So due to this reason they dump all the commonly used data on the hard drive, which can read it all as and when it needs it rather than relying on the disc to give it the data a month after you request it.

After removing a load of rubbish i was able to install the 4gb of data so i could play the damn game. On the Xbox all i would need to do is turn it on put the disc in and play... Although saying that every person with an Xbox i know has had it red ring multiple times and some of them are on their 3rd xbox... and i havent heard of many PS3s breaking down yet, but thats probably because they never use the damn Lazer...

Anyway rant over...

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30Dec/080

Fable 2… Oh dear Peter… What have you done…

Well after getting Fable 2 for us all to play over the christmas holidays we managed to sit down yesterday and give it a whizz.

Now ive played Fable 1, and although i didnt think it was the slice of fried gold that Peter Molyneux (Hereafter refered to as Peter) told us it would be an preached about, i still liked it quite alot. It felt like Zelda and Neverwinter Nights had a love child, and although it was a bit dull in some areas it was an entertaining game as a whole.

I was expecting Fable 2 to be just as charming and fun to play as Fable 1 but with better graphics and hopefully a slightly better storyline with some more fun stuff splashed throughout... I hadn't read/heard any of Peters preaching about this game, although Jode and Mez told me that he said it was going to be the best thing he had ever made and was going to revolutionize the way games were designed and how people played RPG games...

Now so far although im going to rant alot, i dont want to make out like i dislike the game, im finding it great fun and would recommend it to anyone to play. Although that doesn't mean the game is as good as it could or should have been. Now let me begin my rant about what has made me want to walk into Peters offices, scream, then leave a pile of poo on his desk.

The Menu/UI

Right im no UI designer, but i can always appreciate a good and easy to use UI in games. Neverwinter Nights 1 i thought had a brilliant UI system and UI the way you could use the radial menu. I also like WoWs UI and the way things flow... As this is a console game i understand it cant be as easy as you will be using a controller not a keyboard and mouse, but it feels sooooo painful whenever i have to do anything relating to any menu.
If i want to select an item to use i have to load up the menu, then select item, then scroll down to it, then use it. Doesnt sound too hard, but as the menus can be a bit laggy and there are points where you may want to use more than just 1 pie or drink, it keeps throwing you back to the main screen, i can kind of understand it so you can see your HP being altered but its a pain.
Now the main problem i have with the UI is the damn Minimap... THE WHOLE POINT OF A MINI MAP IS THAT IT CAN BE PUT ON THE MAIN SCREEN GIVING YOU AN INDICATION OF THE CURRENT AREA... IF YOU HAVE TO GO TO A MENU EVERY TIME YOU WANT TO SEE THE MAP... ITS NOT A MINI MAP... ITS JUST A MAP... So why bother???
It's all well and good running around following the yellow fart trail of the all seeing and all knowing quest guider (i like to think its Peter running ahead of us sprinking golden breadcrumbs for us), but when you want to go somewhere else off the path you are constantly having to load the menu to try and work out where you are and where you have to go... it just feels a bit of a waste of time and hard to work out where to go.

The Jobs

Now dont get me wrong, i like the fact there are jobs, and i quite enjoyed some of them... although the ones that require fast reactions such as woodcutting and blacksmithing are bobbins. This isnt due to the mechanics, or the reqards, it is due to the sporadic white dot that zips around the screen juddering everywhere, we also seem to have a small amount of lag frequently, so it could just be us. However the juddering paired with the lag means its a game of chance, you have to press the button ahead of time and pray that its next judder puts it into the green area. There are so many times where we have hit it spot on and it just misses and we go from a chain of 8 to 1 again... Apart from this they are quite good although I wish there was some other way to make money... like adventuring... god forbid you would kill a bandit and find some gold on his persons, it appears that anyone with any intelligence stashes their gold in the ground... unlucky for them your dog can smell lots of special buried items, we have currently had him sniff out Condoms, Coins, Potions... who would use a condom they dug up from the middle of a forest?

THE FAT SYSTEM

I like the idea that when you eat crap you become fat, it happens in real life so why not in the game. However it is EXTREEEEEEEEEEMELY badly implemented and designed and is a major frustration when playing a game where you are supposed to enjoy playing the role of your character.
You get fat in this game by digesting pretty much anything that isnt a potion... water...apples...pie (well of course pie). When i say you get fat i dont mean you eat a pie and you have a stat somewhere that goes up and you never need to worry, i mean you basically go from being a normal person to an obese person in 2 pies or a couple of bottles of water.
This wouldn't be too bad if there was some way to remove the excess fat, however the only way i have found is to eat celery that only restocks every night and even then you only get one or two pieces. Surely it should factor in when you are cutting logs, or blacksmithing or doing some strenious exercise such as fighting that you are losing weight. However nothing seems to shift it apart from the wonderful celery, so im pretty sure that every person to play this game so far has ended up with a fat character.

The Gormless Character

The character never seems to have any emotion, he always seems to have a gormless expression on his face, he reminds me of what i thought Lennie Small would have looked like. A beefy gormless guy with an uneasy smile slapped on his face, and thats pretty much how your character looks during every situation. Also its only a minor thing, but when you are woodcutting or blacksmithing, hes just staring off into space, hes not looking at the wood or the metal hes bashing, he just seems spaced out 24/7. Considering there is sooooo much interaction between characters and emotes in the game the characters face never seems to live up to the standard you would expect.

The game is basically Fable 1 with a face lift, its a great game but has ALOT of annoying little things that wouldnt have taken too long to change (Well maybe the minimap would have taken a while to have a fully implement a live one), but hey when you preach this much about a game like Peter has and make out like you are making the best thing since sliced bread you are going to have to make sure the foundations are solid before you start putting on the fancy stuff, and it feels like alot of the underlying parts to this game are lacking... oh well im sure Peter's next escapde will give me more stuff to rant about... WHERE IS DUNGEON KEEPER 3 AND A NEW MULTIPLAYER BLACK AND WHITE MY GOOD MAN!

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3Nov/080

Red Alert 3 & Fallout 3

Well this weekend Mez had bought Fallout 3 for the Xbox and Jode had bought Red Alert 3 for the PC, he was even kind enough to pick me up a copy so we could try out the coop mode on it.

Right i will start off with Red Alert 3, at least that way we can end on a happy note :)

So we both had out Red Alert 3 copies installed, loaded the game up, looked nice and pretty on the menu. Ok the art direction is a little different with this game but it looked good, so i went to update as the game was pretty trying to get me to login to some EA online thing. Logged in and couldnt get the patch for some reason, so i had to manually go find the 1.2 patch on EAs site, once i had that installed it decided it would download the 1.3 patch for me... Jode at this point was up to date too and it was happy days... time to acctually test the game out.

Now i wasnt sure about how graphically demanding it would be so to start with i made sure that i only had medium graphics on, we finally figured out how to start a coop match and we were off. First match for China or whoever Mr Zulu is in charge of, and i was faced with what looked like a playstation game. The first in game scene was it scanning over the enemies statues in town and there were some BADLY done trees with what looked like christmas lights on. Oh god it looked bad... very bad... the textures were dull, the trees and buildings looked WAY to odd, like they shouldnt be there. The troops may as well be 5 red pixels... ok ok as Jode said to me when i started ranting about the graphics, they took it a new direction and went for a more cartoony and vibrant sort of feel. Going a different direction with artwork is NO excuse for bad artwork though, the units just looked terrible. At this point i wanted to make sure it wasnt just my graphics, so i whacked everything up to full...

OH DEAR, its the same, ok maybe the sea looked slighly less like bathwater that had been sat out for 3 weeks, but everything just looked saturated and bland. This was the least of my problems, one of the next missions was to create a base, defend it and destroy enemy statues. So i go ahead and make my base, then i made a unit full of the elite troops i had on offer, shinobi... tank busters... those tengu things, the tanks that destory other tanks... I thought it would be easy, i also had some units sat round guarding the base.
Here is where Red Alert 3 really *shined*. I sent my awesome squad off towards a simple enemy structure, then came some tanks... well no worries i thought... ive got troops for any task. Oh how wrong i was, my units all stopped moving as soon as i targetted the tank apart from one or two tanks up front who just kinda wheeled their way towards the enemy, im not sure if they were trying to melee their way through the tanks, but it was embarassing. The other units just stood there watching as my main tank division just rolled towards the enemy getting chunks blown out of them, then when the enemy had destroyed my anti tank vehicles they turned to my other useless troops, luckily 1 troop had the brains to attack the enemy back when they opened fire, however the rest were not as lucky and just stood there to die. Unfortunatly this happened in the base defenses too, enemies would shoot at my troops and they would not fire back unless i specifically told them to, and it would only work properly if ALL troops were of the same type, mixed batilions just had a picnic when engaging the enemy. I tried swapping tactics, i even tried to find some waypoint system to set them to patrol or something, but nothing seemed to work.

Ultimatly RA3 feels like a rushed RTS game with flimsy AI and bad design, on the plus side it has some really crazy units available, like massive 3 legged samurai robots and crazy transformers, but regardless of how you dress up your units, they will still have the combined intelligence of a dead gopher...

Now fallout 3... here is a gem... its like you have just gone down to the shops and you find £20 on the floor. Now i didnt really care too much about the game a few months ago, i knew it was being released and had heard it was going to be good, but after playing stalker for a few hours and not enjoying the whole *open world FPS stoyline explorer* thing, although i think it was mainly down to the text based interactions with NPCs and there was sooooo damn much of it that i just didnt bother reading the missions and ran off towards a waypoint and didnt know what to do.
ANYWAY fallout 3 came into the house friday night, but we waited till saturday morning to play it. The game started off as us being born into the world and designing our character. Then your dad teaches you to walk, and you wander round a bit as a baby, then you grown older and have a party, then older again... anyway you keep getting older until you have finished the tutorial and you come of age and it all goes a bit pear shaped for you.
Then you are thrust out into the post apocalyptic wasteland of DC... and what a damn fine wasteland it is...

First thing we did was turn on the radio, if you are in a post apocalyptic world and you are scared for your life, whats the first thing you do? Yes, tune into the radio and hear your president filling your head with propaganda! Oh he is the man... "Hello Amercia, this is your president John Henry Eden". There is sooo much i would love to go into but there are enough *real* reviews online that explain better, so i will just skim over the game as a whole.

Graphics are superb, the way the ground looks barren and rocky to the way the towns and abandoned settlements look rundown and like they have been surviving by the skin of their teeth in that harsh world. The VATS system is one of the best inventions ever in FPS/RPG games, you just stop time, lock onto a part of the enemy (or friends) body, and it will tell you what the chances of hitting it are, then you just open fire in a cinematic bloodfest.

The storyline is acctually enthralling unlike most other mediocre RPGs these days, usually open world games dilute the main storyline a bit because of the amoutn of quests and alternative storylines available, but this game keeps reminding you of the main storyline, be it the man on the radio updating listeners of your progress in the world, or people in town telling you about how they know things about you and your father. It just does it all so well, and you just find yourself wanting to help people in the world or nuke small areas for some reason.

All in all its a brilliant game, we are only about 10 hours in so there is alot for us still to do, but things are heating up and we have managed to scavenge some pretty decent armour.

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