Spam- Du Ken And The A.I. Of Cheese

Is it me? or is Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) starting to get aggravating!

The reason I ask is, having played the latest revamps of four old 2-D Fighters, Every one is featuring a boss that is quite frankly taking the biscuit.

Super Streefighter 4 - A Boss that spams and has rediculous power

Mortal Kombat - See above

Ultimate Marvel Vs Capcom 3 - Just as bad, but gets away with it as Galactus is massive!

King Of Fighters XIII - Again read above..

ken.. Hadoken.. Hadoken.. Hadoken.. Hadoken.. Hado....

Back when I had no signs of grey, these genre defining series were tough but fair. The days of me playing Streetfighter Alpha 2 or the Mortal Kombat series on hardest difficulty are long ago, but surely my skills have not deteriorated THAT much!

I even wondered if its the frankly horrific 360 pad, which for 2-D games is a useful as a square football. The reality is, the cheap tactics or "cheese" have replaced decent A.I. programming for CPU players. This isn't even limited to fighting games: Battlefield 3 is the latest defining moment in gaming, but play the A.I. on hard or above, and they'll hit the eyelids off your face in the dark, behind a wall with a massive inferno blazing away between you!

Galactus: My Pointy Finger Of Doooom!

I don't have an issue with A.I. being difficult, as here on the Lonesome Gamer's comfy armchair, without A.I. I may as well sell my console, but when, yet again Seth (SSF4) is royally bending you over and offering to insert a pineapple (or should that be cheese) where the sun doesn't shine for the 12th time in a row, when is enough, enough?

Seth: He'll Chew You Up & Spit You Out, Ad Infinitum

I could blame my rubbish abilities, the pad, my chosen character or my tactics, however the reality is, its that lazy sod of a programmer and his colleagues who decided that rather than spend time creating a set of A.I. processes and routines that give you a fair fight, they'll save time and just spam or over power the featured opponent so they can rush the game out and dupe those poor sods into buying another updated version nine months later with a couple of token characters tacking on.

I'll tip my hat to King Of Fighters XIII as the game gives you a choice of options (read as cheats) after your first hammering by Ash, but overall it shouldn't take this to (un)fairly beat your opponent.

Too Bloody True!

The worst thing about it, is that the A.I. routines back in the days of the cartridge were arguably better than they are now with the exception of Streetfighter's Zangief, he was always duff! And considering the size of dual layer dvds and the amount of space they provide, (I could put the entire Megadrive back catalogue on a DVD) the lack of "intelligent" CPU opponents is even more criminal.

Help Me Namco, You're My Only Hope...

I don't imagine this will change either, unless Soul Calibur's next release somehow re-tips the balance. But until It's February release, I won't hold my breath.

Yes, I'll become more frustrated, yes, my skills will slowly worsen and yes, the spam and cheese will get more annoying on every play, and yes, eventually, I'll give up on a genre I've had a lot of love and enjoyment from over the years.

And that in itself is a bit disappointing really...

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Taken From My "The Lonesome Gamer" Blog

I was excited about Saints Row: The Third (SR3), the drip feed of videos, and stills, whilst the idea of yet again creating a decent likeness of yours truly, never gets old, I seem to have a face suited to player creation..

I fired it up a few weeks ago and well, I was initially, a little underwhelmed to be honest. I don't know if its to do with the previous incarnation (SR2 was decent enough) or that I've played Just Cause 2, but something at first just didn't sit right. However 30 plus hours later, I've actually enjoyed it more than I realise, Its got me quite confused!

The premise behind this game is relatively straight forward. The Stillwater Saints (your gang) have become massive celebrities after merging with their enemy from the previous game (Ultor Corporation) and have succeeded in creating a mass media empire, not really sure why considering myself and many others supposedly wiped them out previously, but hey... anyway, Johnny Gat (In previous SR games) and a few others including yourself, try and rob a bank, it goes wrong and the nasty Syndicate bail you out with the idea that you give control of the empire for your freedom, and from that moment all hell breaks lose as you refuse the offer and decide to show the new town of Steelport what its all about.

I don't know if its due to years of gaming, but the first 2 hours or so were quite frankly tedious. The now standard "Here's a simplified version of all the gameplay elements" is fine, but having to do this for some 10 or so opening missions and side games was a little tedious, a skip feature would never go amiss. After this laborious time waster, you start to have a bit more freedom to explore, drive/fly/walk anywhere you wish, just don't hurt or kill any gang member or police as the now standard "star" rating will kick in, raining down a wealth of pain.

Missions are frequent and challenging but for a while are quite repetitive: From protecting your associate with a sniper rifle and rocket launcher in a helicopter, driving at full speed to keep your Tiger passenger (yes, a TIGER!) calm, thru to fighting as a toilet in a Tron inspired world, do keep you on your toes, but the niggle is that the latter two don't kick in until some 4-5 hours in. A large plot change injects some much needed interest and variation into the game, with soldiers and interesting weapon tech added to the three gangs worth of enemies you fight, but its only the bizarre imagination of the creators, Volition that stop you wanting to revert to the dashboard. I mean making a getaway from an S & M club on a rickshaw pulled by a man who speaks with a vocoder is either the creation of a genius or a mad man surely?

The customisation element is pretty decent, a whole plethora of options for face, body, clothing, cars are great. You can even upgrade your guns and yourself, which feels like a half baked cheat option, although later missions make you appreciate buying the 75 percent more health upgrade.

The side quests are the usual fare for series and sandbox fans, with a couple of new ones thrown in, including (deep breath) Professor Genki's Super Ethical Reality Climax.. and breathe... which is basically a killing gameshow and lets you earn a bit of cash by shooting people in animal suits. Otherwise its more of the same, kill this, collect that Etc, and this is where my difficulty in making a judgement lies.

P

The problem with Saints Row: The Third is that its too much like the previous incarnation: car modding, side quests, upgrading your gang members, all are pretty much the same as before barring a couple of exceptions, the game has had its usual, and expected lick of paint, whilst it's also been tidied up to an extent that at night with all the neon lights, it looks pretty good. For what its gained in terms of running smoother, improved gun play, an eventually wacky and interesting story, plus the chance of upgrading abilities and weapons, it loses out to its 3 year old sibling with the removal of secret areas, Easter eggs, the ambulance and police side missions and most criminal of all the size of the map, which has become significantly smaller and makes the access to planes a little moot to be honest. The overall feeling I had is that compared to SR2, Just Cause 2 or even GTA IV, its lacking a certain something.

Despite the negative paragraph above ,it does as a game in its own right, do enough to keep you interested, but only just in the nick of time. Missions are ridiculous at times, the story is sufficiently off the wall to be enjoyable and give numerous W.T.F. moments, whilst the in-game mechanics are tight and for a change, free from any serious game breaking problems, there's a little bit of an issue with the misogyny of your character as a whole, which doesn't quite sit well, women treated as commodities in one choice making section comes to mind, but SR3 gets away with it because at any time you can punch an old lady (or man) in the nether regions dressed in a mankini with bunny slippers and a cowboy hat on. It really doesn't pay to take this seriously for its story, that's what GTA is for...

Overall I've found myself completing the game, enjoying it from about half way through, finishing the last mission the alternative way (ya get the choice after completion) and finished the side mission/games. But with the assassinations, car thefts and 253 short cuts to find amongst the 60 plus challenges that are left over, I finally felt I'd had enough... The worst bit is there's no replay value, yes there are two choices that you can change along the way but with the ability to unlock 100 percent no damage for your character in the upgrades section, running about maiming and killing just isn't the same when you know that "I cannot die"

A good friend of mine, said to me a few days ago that, "I'm enjoying spending time on it, but I don't know why" - That for me sums it up... Its a good, solid piece of fun distraction but the reality is, you've seen it all before.

Familiarity breeds contempt after all.

6.5 Out of 10

Rent It or Borrow

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