Ballad of a Jaded Gamer.

Or just a jaded man in general.

Yeah... Just jaded in general, but bitching at video games is so much easier than to say bitch at the stock market or at the economy cause then my bitching is just another baa in the herd of sheep. That and I know more of the euro than I do of the dollar, so I'm probably better off not even trying.

But y'know, playing Dark Souls...
It made me realise, I like getting humiliated.
It did so in many ways, variety was plenty.
The pain and the torture, enjoying being mutilated.
 
Then I play Skyrim, what the hell is this?
I swing my blade, I throw my fireballs.
But to no avail... Hell, I don't even miss.
Undeads don't give a damn, keeps marchin' down the halls.

Fuck RPGs, lets truck onto Forza Motorsport.
Driving around in my GMC, not giving a shit.
What the hell is this? M. Rossi once again?
Oh what the hell? He just crashed a bit.

Things never stay the same, they only just change.
Rossi now a noob, hitting every barrier.
I didn't see it coming, I was too close in range.
Fuck me I wish... I wish I was in a Harrier.

There we are, Modern Warfare 3.
Killstreaks everywhere, I got a shotgun.
I regret my choice, please cover me.
My face is missing, fuck me what fun.

I cannot rhyme, I cannot sing.
This is why I'm jaded as sin.

(PS if you honestly read that expecting a proper ballad filled with genius rhymes, you came to the wrong party.)

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The top 4 games of 2011, for me.

Yeah it's 2012, it's too late, it's overdone. However, my choices seem uncanny enough to make this worthwhile. That and I haven't played any Wii games besides Zelda Skyward Sword and I didn't play Batman Arkham City nor Modern Warfare 3. Yes, impale me to a razor-wire-tipped chainlink fence while sounding the Silent Hill air raid alarm. I'm a sinner.

Also, the odd number? Well these 4 games are really the only games I came back to in 2011. The ones that I couldn't keep down for long, even after completion. That plus the games I list being great fun is what truely make them winners, atleast to me.

4. DEUS EX: HUMAN REVOLUTION(PC)

It's been too damn long since a good, long single player game came out. Y'know, one of those games where you somewhat have to adjust for. Those games you have to sit down with and go the whole nine yards with. Long before Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim knocked on the door of single-player stardom Deus Ex rocked out and came up with a very fresh take on RPGs.

I loved the story, I loved the characters and I loved how the game's mechanics worked in its favor. Like the personality system allowing more dialogue paths, the various praxis abilities allowing very different ways into a mission area and generally the hubs are just right in the size and content. You're never in one area for too long.

There are a few reasons as to why it's fourth, but none of 'em are so bad that it warrants a low spot. Afterall every game on this list comes with a checklist of fucking problems... One and by a mile the biggest; The crazy ass ending. Two and a close running up to one; The royal pain in the ass, the flow killer, the 'what the hell is this?' moment - The boss fight. There's four, 2 of which are straight forward kill him before he kills you. One's a bit hectic and requires input from your surroundings(which was a bit better but still flatout crap) and the very last? I still don't know just what the hell I was doing nor what was going on...

Despite that and Adam being on the same emotional chart as Steven Seagal, it was one of the finest games I've ever played.

3. DRIVER: SAN FRANCISCO(XBOX360)

The Challenger couldn't have been a better choice for Tanner.

I've always been a Driver fanboy. There's no denying that. I'm a car lover. I've had alot of cars in my time, I work at a muscle car shop and I've watched so many car movies since... ever. Yeah basically I'm a enviromental petrolium warhead. I'm Al Gore's worst enemy. I'm the type who'd trench your garden with a 6 litre Buick and backfire on purpose just to mark your territory with the 'fuck you' of the road. Well now that I lost you, atleast we can both agree Prius' are just... ugly, c'mawn.

Anywaaayyyy... Driver's history isn't just shakey. It's a earthquake. Driver was well recieved, Driver 2 was somewhat recieved as well. Driver 3(DRIV3R) was a cataclysmic failure. It couldn't have been more of a rip-off on the Grand Theft Auto series, even with the killable 'collectibles' being renamed Tommy Vercetti's, it didn't just fail as a clone, it failed miserably as a Driver title. Driver: Parallel Lines was a improvement, yes. Way the hell better, even. Still not a Driver game, still a Grand Theft Auto clone.

Now it's back, back in San Francisco, back in the muscle car ridden playground with nothing but cars, so no guns, no walking, no flying, just driving. It's one-trick-pony, the "Shift" mechanic is really fun. It ofcourse now defines the game. But, like I already called it, it's a one trick pony. They can't do this another time and have it maintain the same level of fun. The Shift mechanic combined with the open world of San Francisco, littered with 120+ licensed vehicles with quite realistic damage modelling that I'd call DiRT/GRiD combined with Forza's cosmetic option. Your car will look like it's about to lose all it's parts on the next bump but it won't affect the preformance.

In the end it's one chaotic, crazy and somewhat realistic package. The closest thing to a proper and well done 1970's car chase flick in game form. It's the Red Dead Redemption of it's genre, and yes it's one looooong shot to say that but dare to argue - There's no competitors to Driver, just itself. But the important thing is the series has reclaimed it's former glory, not all of it but just enough to now be able to get going again.

The drawbacks to this game come in somewhat annoying forms; My biggest complaint is the variety of cars being locked to your progress. Every mission you do has a different set of pedestrian cars driving around, if you've played Driver San Francisco you'll know exactly what I mean. The second complaint? The story pans out with Tanner being in a coma, so the story minus the first 2 and the last 2 missions is just Tanner working out how the hell his coma mind-tricks work.

Quantum Leap + Driving Game + Licensed Vehicles? Yes plix.

2. BATTLEFIELD 3(XBOX360)

The now painfully fucking annoying "WHHYYYY? :
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After having completed Deus Ex: Human Revolution...

And by God cue the spoiler tags... I've come to realise I'm shit at stealth. Not because I can't do it, or because it's incovenient or I can't think outside the box. It's simply because of the fact that the game basically gives you the you-could-do-it-buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuut routine. You cooooooooooooooooooouuulllllllllllllllld empty out that shitIP I mean VIP club the Hive by strategically entering the backrooms through the sewers and hacking the doorcodes. You coooooooooouuuuuuuuuuulllllllllldddddd sneak your way up the fourth floor of the Detroit PD HQ and snag the documents quietly. You coooou-AH FUCK IT.

What did I do? Lets see photographic evidence.

Hive no more :3

The problem is that I'm given... A shotgun, a SMG, an assault rifle, a sniper rifle and just two stun weapons. Then there's the whole "But you're supposed to take the long route to get more stuff!". No you clean the damn house, loot, scower and THEN get the very same goodies you'd normally get throughout stealthing. It's also more effective, nets you the same rewards and the game basically throws you eighteen times more shotgun ammo per box of stun gun darts.

That and the fact that Adam Jensen is the least charismatic person in the goddamn world. Spyboy as Flygirl so eloquently calls him is about as charismatic as a tapedeck in a old musty car. I mean he's got a nice voice actor and nicely scripted lines but he has a severe case of Steven Seagal emotions. For instance when he's fighting with David Sarif about how his pre-Sarif Industries past was mostly a big fuckapalooza, he's Steven Seagal angry. When he's talking to a friend who is paranoid as balls, he's Steven Seagal skeptical. When he's flatout being flirted at by Flygirl, he's Steven Seagal aroused. When he's being told by a gang banger that his friend got murdered, he's Steven Seagal sad with his baww-worthy line "Yeah rip.".

So moving on from Adam Jensen having the same emotion scale as a dead person(lolstory), I won't even go on about the boss fights which by now have been beaten so hard and thoroughly that by now it's picking on a wounde--brutally murdered stag. Instead I'mma give the game shit for the ending. Plot twists aside, afterall they've turned the first one-third of the game useless. The ending is so godforsaken lazy and stupid that it made me feel like I was being trolled by the very fake media bitch that was trolling me about her damn being a hologram.

It came down to four extremely black-on-white choices. And all of 'em gave you stock footage nicked from the backrooms at ITV and CBS with some flyovers by some dude who loves the ocean. Oh don't forget the ending where you can trust humanity to not give the slightest bit of a fuck by killing yourself and everyone who was involved in the most dastardly plan designed to ruin augmentations.

Problem is that none of the endings made me feel like I should... care. I took the ending which had everyone die cause I didn't realise the walk-away-from-choice-buttons is certain death. I was clearly told but my lack of giving a damn had me drifting off to the suicide button.

Also is it just me or is the villain of this game of Bond quality? Overly complicated plan to ruin his creation that can be changed back by a mere lie to the media FOX News style. Oh what the hell... I guess the story had to make that 'care for humanity' turn at one point, Human Revolution is the game's name afterall.

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Ubisoft's PC Policy.

"Always On" DRM returns for Driver: San Francisco.

 First I was like

"Always On" DRM gets replaced with authenticity check on start up, game delayed for 30 more days however.


 Now I'm all like

Just give me the damn game, for christs sake.
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PSN Hack - "Is as bad as X"

Allow me.

No, it's not as bad as. It's the downright worst case scenario. Everything that can go wrong, either has gone wrong or is at risk of going wrong. Many people are drawing comparisons, most of 'em seem to resort to comparing the Xbox red rings of death to this. Yeah, company wise they suffered and while the consumer did too they were assisted, like free repairs and whatnot. A rather annoying inconvenience.

What we're talking about here is the confirmed and guaranteed leak of your data; Name, address, date of birth, e-mail, password, acount recovery questions, the likes. Then there's the possibility of creditcard details having been compromised as well. It's a double whammy, the first bit basically is an identity thief's wet dream. Second, your actual income's somewhat on the line too now if the creditcard details have been nicked as well.

Ontop of that, there's no online capabilities at the moment. Effectively grinding the entire ordeal to a halt. Combine that with people desperately wanting to delete their creditcard information, addresses, change emails and passwords and whatnot and you got yourself a shit-hit-the-fan-scenario so fucked up, it's roasting Sony, the players, everyone.

Red rings... Christ.

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APB: A Shadow from the Past

Just wanted to throw out a chunk that's been stuck in my head for a long time now... Call it an editoral if you will, I just wanna write this as a final goodbye. With a nice professional ego-boosting easy-to-read-but-still-unnecessary way, ofcourse. :3 So uhh hit the TL/DR bit up if you wanna be lazy and refuse to read...

King of the Hill

You remember that game APB? If you recall correctly about 6-8 months ago it had it's massive run of 79 days. (June 29 '10/Sept. 16 '10). Unreal, eh? 79 days. Hellgate: London ran for 1 year and 5 months before it's shutdown. Hell even Tabula Rasa had a run of a year and a month. What were the flaws with those two? Tabula Rasa was well recieved, and was actually a moderate success. The game shut down cause the creator Richard Garriot quit/got fired from NCsoft. Hellgate on the other hand was sort of the shadow of APB with it's demise.

Hellgate wasn't as much of a success... Roper of Flagship Studios himself even admitted they went the traditional MMO way; Release the game in skeleton form and fill it up overtime. I think we can all agree no-one can get away with that anymore. The expectations of the game were skyhigh, and it simply fell flat on it's face. Much like APB did.

Excuse the shitty pun here, but Flagship went down. The game went down with it and was seized by the bank they owed cause they actually used the game as collateral.

Now I didn't play either of the games personally, and I suppose each in their own individual ways could've had a fuckin' blast with either. Boils down to the consumer who has the fun, not the reviewer. Am I fuckin' right?

APB on the other hand I got hands on experience with.

... Long, Long, Long Way Up the Hill

Little background on this one for ya'. Realtime Worlds started out in 2002, from the start Dave Jones had this idea. And from the start dude wanted to make it true. Grand Theft Auto + MMO. The thing that made him also became his dawnfall according to one of his former colleagues who got interviewed for EDGE Magazine in August 2010. He's a creator, not a leader. I can see how this ultimately became the ballbuster cause they had multiple seperate teams running around, and without guidance you get massive fuckups obviously.

Crackdown was heading right down the same road before APB could reach this critical phase. Part lack of guidance and part don't-give-a-fuck. According to the guy in EDGE, not more than six months before Crackdown was slated to hit the shelves Microsoft stepped in and ordered that they aughta get their shit straight or they'd kill the funding. Microsoft send in some of their own guys to give guidance and get the game in a working state before release, as at that point the game's physics engine which the game would depend on was still broken and unfinished beyond belief.

APB from the start was always idealized as "the perfect Grand Theft Auto". In 2006 the plan was like this; APB would feature the crazy ass customization we were showed, open world action and cops-vs-robbers gameplay available on Xbox 360 and PC. This changed to something different in 2008, where Jones at GDC said the game would feature 25 player multiplayer while retaining the other features.

Doesnt that sound like a different concept? Sorta. Well in 2009 somewhere before the beta was announced it went back to it's supposed roots, although something was missing. Remember the Xbox 360 bit? Slowly overtime it went from Xbox 360/PC launch to PC launch with Xbox following, to we'll look into doing it if we get the time for it to a solid no.

The Facedunk Into Concrete of the Ages Cometh

In late '09, the beta was released. And oh boy the response was one-sided. Just about every problem you can imagine with an online game came to the show; Balancing was non-existant, missions were insanely repetitive and ran on a predictable cycle, the APB's on criminals were virtually unstoppable, the graphics were set on a insanely high level, hit detection being random, vehicle physics were half-done and it goes on and on and on.

Luckily the APB post-development team were right on it and were working all the time to get things in order. And overtime, while the public beta ran in early '10 the game took more of a shape and slowly turned into a somewhat decent multiplayer action game.

Although many problems continued through the release in the mid of '10. While surprising, it was slightly predictable as most of the players' complaints lied in the framework of APB itself. It demanded too much power, killing it's potential as a wide-spread game. It's balancing was still off the charts, pitting veterans against new players. Hit detection still had issues and the cops had a significant advantage.

The fact that many problems that were there in the betas caried over killed some players' enthusiasm, the much bigger nail in the coffin came in the shape of critics and reviews; 55% average. The third nail for the lovely coffin? Pricing structure. APB made use of a weird while somewhat smart payment system; The base game was 50$ with 50 hours worth of game time, which can be saved forever. In theory this is a stupid idea, but in practice it could come in handy for the 'every now and then' crowd. Ofcourse there was still a flat monthly payment option, but was rather pricey.

All in all, the game's sales were massively disappointing.
Player-wise this led to only a few full servers and at most times seeing the rest at 2/50 at the highest.
Financially? Oh fuck me...

The game wasn't terrible, and throughout the 79 days it was out the game was constantly updated by the team and was actually taking on some of the shape they were looking for. I personally went into the game with low expectations and was relatively surprised.

TD/DR

In the end, the developers blew through 105 million for this game. Jones was anticipating millions to come flowing back in, however in the end the sales of the first month were barely enough to make up 2% of the entire budget to be re-earned. The company of 270 strong went into administration in early August '10, and the game was axed just 4 weeks later.

150 were told their jobs were about to get killed off in August already. Around the end of September just 50 remained. Before Christmas '10 Realtime Worlds as a brand was effectively no longer. Every RTW staff member was either out of a job, or elsewhere. Around this time RTW's other ambitious project codenamed "Project MyWorld" came to light was also used as a good reason to lure potential fire sale buyers.

Eventually earlier this year APB: Reloaded came to the news, but that's not even worth mentioning. It's structure is pretty much deemed to clean your ass out money wise, and the insane damage that's been done, has been done.

Why won't I let this go? Well part of me is just disappointed, one of the industry's greatest bit the dust and it bit it hard. You know it's a high roller if they rake in over 100 million in funding, obviously they had faith in it and they gave it all. To me, man. To me this was the last and biggest risk the gaming industry's taken. Big players, big names, massive cash flow and an amazing potential for greatness.

The risk factor to the MMO market? Well quite literally, you win or you lose.

They lost.

And it lost Dave Jones his reputation, Realtime Worlds it's right to exist, 270 employees their career and income, and slightly over 100.000 players their game. With the staleness the gaming industry is in, this was to me a welcome change. Dispite the shit presentation, delivery and in general it's state... It ment to aim high, it had massive potential and the concept on it's own is a genius idea and I had a blast with it. It was a first for the industry of this scale to actually make it, and it's probably the last when you judge it's massive failure and the destruction that followed...

Salut, Realtime. I <3 you, still.
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