It boggles my mind why people like GTA...

First of all this is a RANT so do not take it as an insult or an unbiased opinion piece...

I'm currently listening to the archive of Bombcasts and for all of 2008 the crew gave great opinions as to why GTA4 was their game of the year. So since I decided to skip it before, I guessed it was time to give it a try to see what all the fuzz was about and got the game for the PC along with Episodes from Liberty City from a bargain bin and decided to give it a go, but before I go into the details of my experience let me tell you of what I have done with GTA in my life before this.

My first GTA game was GTA2 for the PC which I liked very much, originally for the simple and funny gameplay but never got into because there was nothing to do in that game but to wander aimlessly looking for missions, no story, no point, no interest; when GTA3 came out the story was somehow there, the gameplay was still there so it finally clicked a bit and I got enough into it to finish the story missions, but the story was so bland that I immediatly forgot about it, then Vice City came along and being like GTA3 I thought I could get around to finishing it. I got bored right in the middle of it. Finally San Andreas came and went and I just couldn't care for it.

Now onto GTA4, first of all I have a medium range PC (It pisses me off, because I can run Skyrim in medium settings and Portal 2 runs great on high settings, both games came out in 2011 and GTA4 came out for PC in 2009) so being a port the game was annoying from the beginning; I had to run it on low settings in order to get a playable framerate. The game starts out great, the story is finally there, the characters are great, the way the missions and everything else came together (I cursed the heavens when I found out MIchelle/Karen was working for the FIB). The problem was the gameplay.

I had given the GTA franchise a pass when it was funny, but now that it's serious the gameplay has become almost impossible to tolerate; the missions are not varied at all, they almost only come down to: go find a guy/money/drugs, kill/recover and optionally get away from the cops, if it's a guy you have to chase him down while in a car most of the time. Now, it became intolerable in the following scenario: the game was already becoming frustrating with its "varied" missions so I decided to do the bank robery mission with Packie and after dying for my own stupidity the first time, I hit wall; the game respawns me at the beginning of the mission (OK that's acceptable) and Packie asks me to get a car, "all right" I say to myself only to look around at blocks and blocks of an empty Liberty City, the words "Fu** you" pass by my mind, I continue on and end up dying again, this time because even if I have a couple of "teammates" helping me rob a bank I'm the only target for the cops; I ended up trying the mission a few more times and wasting an hour of my life but not fighting the cops, instead I wasted most of the time finding a car and getting to the damn bank.

I guess it's only one mission gone bad, so after the last one I go on another one: I have to find some guy named Oleg but he isn't in his house so I have to find him and then chase him down and kill him (Oh! Wow! That is so new! But the problem is not chasing him, the problem is driving; the controls suck and I'm using a 360 controller!!) he has a great racing car so it's almost impossible to catch him the first time, I respawn after he gets away from me and I have to go back to his house and then chase him again (What a waste of time!), but how strange I have to find a car (again!!) in an empty city after I respawn, I spent another hour just finding a good car and cursing the driving controls.

That was the straw that broke the Camels back. After I finally finished the mission I just stared at the screen, hit ALT+F4 and just uninstalled the game, I was done. The only thought going by my head now is how did Jeff and Vinny manage to pull a Jedi mind trick and convince Ryan and Brad to pick this for game of the year 2008 when MGS4 was so much more.

PS: Even Brad hasn't even finished the game after all this time:!/bradshoemaker/status/147522455957807104


My thoughts on the Uncharted 3 Multiplayer Beta - Day 2

Hello everyone!!!
After the hell that was last night the dear people at Naughty Dog delivered the first patch for the Uncharted 3 Beta (updating it to version 1.01); so this morning as I decided to turn my PS3 again and give the beta another go I ran into this on the @Naughty_Dog twitter feed: "If your PS3 reboots - that can happen, up to twice, and it should all still work out normally." this was in regard to when the update is downloaded.
So crossing my fingers I selected the beta from the XMB and after a couple of reboots (This is a problem that I have encountered also in Uncharted 2 since PSN came back up) I was back in the beta. Naughty Dog hasn't given any updates to its feed since last night so we don't know what was wrong with the original release but it appears that most if not all of the problems were solved with the patch. So I can proudly say that I have finally finished some 10 matches and tried every mode at least once.
We'll start today with the changes I have found:

  • The interface is more streamlined than in Uncharted 2 giving you the chance to customize your boosters, character clothes, loadouts, etc. while searching for games or in the lobby and using less menus on top of each other, compared to Uncharted 2 this is excellent given the mere seconds that we had to choose boosters and a character (Again, WHERE IS MY HELENA SKIN!).
  • Accessing friends lists and sending invites takes only a mere couple of seconds thanks to the new menu system, now we can do it while searching for games, this use of multitasking is great because you can just focus on other things and you do not have to jump to the XMB unless you're in a text chat.
  • Kickbacks and boosters are buy-able and choose-able while in the customization menu therefore making the booster store accessible while the game looks for players to start a match, a glad change from Uncharted 2 since we could not buy new boosters while searching for games and having to cancel matchmaking to buy a booster and then start again was a hassle.
  • When you finish a match in which you have unlocked something you're immediately informed of the unlocks. Again, good change since if you didn't visit the store in Uncharted 2 you probably didn't have any idea that you could purchase new boosters depending on your level.
  • Leveling up is now reported inside the match (but you still don't get the money if you don't finish the match) a little nice bonus compared to other online games.
Lets look at the gametypes: 

  • Team deathmatch: Our standard five-man two-team deathmatch (heroes against villains), the first team to score fifty kills wins the match. Nothing much to say about this one since it's pretty much the standard type for most online games this generation.
  • Three team deathmatch: Three teams of two players battle each other, the first team to score twenty kills wins the match. Anyone for a little Wingman from Gears of War 2? The key to winning this type of game is to keep your teammates' back all the time, if you get separated you're gonna get picked off real easy, best played with a buddy that you're used to play with (a headset is really necessary for this one).
  • Free for all (This replaced plunder at the last minute): As the name says you're on your own; no teams, no help, just you. Get fifteen kills and you win.
  • Hardcore: Pure team deathmatch no boosters, kickbacks or powerplays, only the best team wins.
  • Co-op arena: You and two other friends have twenty minutes to survive various assaults (co-op gametypes) from the enemy mercenaries/pirates. In gold rush you have to get a treasure to to a chest avoiding the various attacks from the enemy, in siege you're cornered and have to stand your ground against wave after harder wave of enemies and in survival the whole map is open kill all the enemies that spawn until there are no more left.
Now impressions, this thing took a little time to get used to. The weapons now have mayor recoil and are therefore really hard to keep down sometimes, grenades have a bigger sphere of damage but you are a little bit less accurate when throwing them. Double and triple kills are more easy to get since the time between kills has been increased. Overall, matches are more dependant on individual skill rather than team skill because of kickbacks and power plays, but team skill is still rewarding in its own way. There are just too many medals (you get one just for running around during matches) making activating kickbacks sometimes too easy. The buddy system is interesting for making fast comebacks after you are killed allowing you to spawn directly behind your buddy (I loved the High five medal).
The maps are greatly elaborated in terms of verticality (is that a word?) you can get a drop on anyone if you're in the right place (but it can also happen to you), the biggest problem are spawn points, enemies will sometimes (not too often) spawn right behind you and kill you or you can simply camp the most known spawn points for easy kills (something that wasn't that easy in Uncharted 2). Powerplays are a great way to turn the tide in a match but they can become too much of a nuisance when you're in the winning team and you become the "Marked man" more than once in a match. On a personal note, I found that the maps sometimes felt a little too big for ten people (sometimes if your buddy is dead you spawn at one side of map and have to run to the other end just to find your teammates and probably get ambushed by three people in the way.
As a final word; today has been a little great experience (the lag is gone, no more lockups or hard reboots) I hope we get better maps in the final product, and they overthink the Airfield map (it creates too much advantage for the hero team in the plane chase section). I will continue to play until Saturday but I'll miss the rest because of a trip I cannot move from my schedule, so see ya and have a great beta!!
PS: I will not update this blog in the coming days unless some big update happens, and for those of you who want buddys to play there's always the Uncharted 2 clan page here at GiantBomb to find some great teammates.

My thoughts on the Uncharted 3 Multiplayer Beta - Day 1

Ladies (are there any in GIantBomb? I've yet to interact with one here) and gentlemen I have spent a tedious hour trying to play this beta. And I can only applaud the people at Naughtydog for hiring more than a million beta testers with no pay and no benefits included.
My first interaction was of course to start the beta and try to connect to the servers, a task that proved impossible in the first ten minutes ("Error initializing session manager."). When I was finally able to connect I started customizing my character (we only have Sully & Drake skins for heroes and two nameless pirates for villains [I WANT MY HELENA SKIN FROM UNCHARTED 2!]) only for the framerate to drop to around 10 fps (I'm guessing, but it was pretty low) locking up my PS3. After a hard reboot I went back in to try to get into a match only to find that if my connection is slightly being used by something else the gameplay will be reduced to a crawl, sometimes crashing the PS3 again... after quitting and getting kicked out of several games (be it framerate issues, slow connection making the game sluggish, or PS3 crashing) and receiving the message "You were kicked out for killing teammates" (all a lie because I couldn't even move in some instances) several times I finally got into a match.
In the Airfield map (thank the gods that the connection was stable) you starts with the plane going down a runway being chased by bad guys in trucks, initially it's pretty slow since the other team has to go from the trucks to the plane in order to have a decent firefight, after I fell down from the plane (and got a few kills in the process, yay!) a couple of times, the plane lifts off and we go into another section of the map, this time we appear inside a hangar where the two teams can square off in a better way... But unfortunately for me after five minutes more or less the game crashed on me again, after a reboot I managed to see the end of one of the matches.
After this I decided to take a break and go write here for the first time about what the hell just happened.
So, impressions, impressions... The game, just like the last Uncharted looks amazing, the lightning is better (Airfields second part is at sundown and it looks pretty darn good), animations do look more fluent and the overall aspect of the game is good but not drastically better than the last game. I did not like the sounds for the weapons (they sounded like peashooters). The ability to join a match in progress, customize characters' clothes (colors and types), unlock new weapons while leveling up and the use of special skills when getting a given number of medals (a little too Call of Duty for my taste but I guess it's not bad to take a little inspiration from the most played game right now) are good added things to give the multiplayer experience a little more life. The added cinematography for the levels (in the end of the Airfield match if the good guys win they actually lock up the villains in a crate) is kind of an added bonus (at least it's not just a bunch of people trying to kill each other mindlessly anymore) and it gives the deathmatch type a little more of a "story" if so to speak.
On the other hand I found nothing new to the game that wasn't in Uncharted 2, it's just the same game but with some minor tweaks and detailing (everything I mentioned in the last paragraph). I still liked it a lot but the hard lockups, slow framerate (in some instances) and connection issues where a bit too much for my patience, I never had any issues like this in the Bad Company 2 or Uncharted 2 betas and here's hoping that the experience is more stable in the days to come (after all it is still a BETA).
As a side-note I still want to see something more similar to the horde mode that we had in Gears of War 2 and that is coming to Gears of War 3; survival and siege in Uncharted 2 are too impractical and unpolished, there are no team tactics to playing those modes besides avoid getting killed.
Gooodbye readers? And I hope you have a good beta... I will be coming back tomorrow.