These few weeks I've been creating my own website. I've been coming up with ideas of what to write about and how to make it interesting. It's just a blog right now because I want to focus on reviews and editorials but I've got plans for the future. I've got two articles up right now. A review of the new EDF game and an editorial on a cool new digging game Dig-N-Rig. I'm just starting to figure out what I want to do with it and how to do it so I am very interested to see what you guys think.
I will try to revisit games that perhaps got overlooked in the past while reviewing the games that are coming out with some editorials in between. I also hope to showcase Russian games that are worth looking out for and some that are definitely not. I'm sorry if my writing style is still a bit green and I'm looking for any tips or ideas for articles that, you guys, have.
Gamebomb.ru is a freaky, mutated version of GiantBomb.com from Russia that I discovered while GB was down. Unlike most clone sites this one instead of just copying all of the Giant Bomb content, just took the basic structure while providing it's own reviews, news and videos (that are mostly stolen from youtube), there is even an updated logo and redrawn review avatars. All would be well and good if their original content was on par with Giant Bomb, if not in quality but at least in style, but it is far from it. To show what I mean I will translate a review of Brink, a game developed by Splash Damage and published by Bethesda Softworks, the only problem is that Brink is still a month away from release. There was no leaks of it and as far as I know review copies have not been sent out yet. So let's jump into this mess:
"Rating 2 and a half stars. A review by Fedor Marmeladov. Posted on November 9th 2010.
Post-apocalyptic future, in which there is no food, clean water, ammo or gas. It's hard to understand how mankind will survive without pampers. The game has two story campaigns. One for the resistance, who want to live a good life, and one for the police who try to stop resistance from living said good life.
Brink. A team-based shooter, a year too late.
Bethesda, as it seems, pushed too hard with Fallout 3, because Brink looks very stale, if not bad. Although, maybe, the company will have two million excuses, including financial crisis, moon in the phase of the scorpion and player's bad hands. Why doesn't Brink create an impression of a really awesome game?
Sad, bleak future...
The story if Brink is pretty banal. Post-apocalyptic future, in which there is no food, clean water, ammo or gas. It's hard to understand how mankind will survive without pampers. So, before the global catastrophe the smartest people finally built one ark (somewhat of a mega-ship, made for 5000 people), but it was boarded by 50000. The story colorfully describes the events led by overpopulation in certain living blocks. It's good that the developers didn't take modern Moscow as a prototype, so far it seems very familiar, doesn't it?
The game has two story campaigns. One for the resistance, who want to live a good life, and one for the police who try to stop resistance from living said good life. The gameplay is linear, mixed in with some in-engine cut-scenes with boring characters and terrible accent of ark people, who seemed to have learned English by long-forgotten methods of Ilona Davidova. Our antagonist hasn't had a private life and no one will explain us the reason for our little war...
The future is pretty bleak, on a ship surrounded only by water, water and also water, but it's described unrealistically. For some reason you don't feel lifelessness, like in Metro 2033, or emptiness, like in Stalker. The atmosphere is lacking and the missions are pretty simple, that end up being small objectives in spirit of Quake: Enemy Territories that lead to completion of the overall mission. But let's take it one by one...
Load up on guns!
The gameplay is pretty exiting. It's surprising that in this game you don't get tired of doing the same thing over and over. You are running holding down space (shift, ctrl, whatever you prefer) and antagonist is jumping over fences, sliding under cables and doing all kinds of acrobatic tricks in spirit of Mirror's Edge. It's great to see that you don't have to be distracted by this kind of stuff. It would be cool, but the game becomes somewhat less intellectual or something. But hey, it's a shooter, here you got to shoot .
Shooting in the game is boring. Pretty complected environments become familiar in minutes. Sadly, the game can't provide the player with some sort of special entertainment. We got enemies, we got crosshairs, a couple abilities, that activate when you use them and that's it, have fun. There are no interactive objects in the game, intuitive cover system is no where to be seen either, the shoot-outs are pretty repetitive. Soon you'll forget, either you are running on the ship or inside it.
All that considered game should be pretty fun online. Co-op mode with distinctive classes, required support of each other and important use of abilities of medics, engineers, and other smartypants, could have been the game's savior if it was released a few years ago. Before Left 4 Dead, Bad Company and Team Fortress or even Q: ET. Sadly, amongst those games Brink looks like a little girl lost in the woods with wolfs all around. She wants to get to her grandma, but the wolfs got there first.
ID Tech 4.
The graphic engine paints a picture seen many times before by people who played Mirror's Edge. Huge open spaces, same color pallet. But if Mirror's Edge was a game about parkour with puzzles like" From A, girl by the name of Faith leaped towards B, then Brink is, somewhat, a shooter and in shooters players are to be entertained by either dynamics and all sorts of gore, or by demonstrating a mega-picture of a beautiful blue sky. There is a sky in the game, but no picture...
The characters look dumb and seem like they are from any of the Lego games. It's especially interesting to look at your allies, whose movements looks very strange. For example when one of them takes cover behind a box his profile looks very similar to a terminator who teleported to the 20th century naked. So if you want to be entertained you can at least look at their animations. Overall the graphics are, so to say, unfamiliar. It's pretty but unrealistic, unusual but not original... To say it short, there is just something not enough in it, like with borscht in the cafeteria. It seems it's alright, but the homemade is better.
Brink is not the worst example of the co-op shooter genre. It's even not that bad... But playing in it when L4D is out.. would be mauvais ton."
So that was that. Here are some translation notes. Dude clearly can't distinguish between protagonist and antagonist. He has no idea of how publishers and developers work. Compares the game to a slew of different games, some of which are completely different genres. States ridiculous claims of how shooters have to entertain the player. and finishes it all off with a French-ism meaning "in bad taste". Hope you enjoyed this little journey into Russian gaming journalism. If you want to see more like the 3 star review of portal posted months before game's release or anything else tell me, I'll be happy to translate it.
P.S. In the comments there is actually one poor soul who tries to defend writing reviews based on trailers and other info. Let God give him peace of mind because he certainly needs it.
I've been arguing with my friend about this for a few days now. He is amazed at how great 3d max renders can look and wants games to look this way, but I say that it's not the photorealism, it's the style that the game is presented in. Like what effects they use, how well are the levels structured, the frame rate ect. I don't see the world being spectacular enough to replicate in video games. Sure, sky looks great on a good day, and the sunlight can really make a boring day look pretty but most of the time it's very static and plain. You can't turn on fancy filters or pump up the contrast, not everyday you can see the sky, you rarely see a lightning storm or even a heavy rain. Video games are pretty when they show you something over the top and of a great scale. I never found Crisis pretty because it ran like shit and looked plain (also I hate jungles). And then there is a problem of interactivity. These days people expect the games not only look good but also some amount of interactivity. And the closer we are to photorealism the harder it is to make things interactive. The amount of work that would require is too big for most studios to do. And obviously you need powerful hardware to run all of this. Sure the technology moves and with creation of new ways to render things like Unlimited Detail Technology we are getting closer to making natural looking graphics but I'm not sure if we have to demand them now or even in the next generation.