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An Hour of Death in Far Cry 3

December 11, 2012 Leave a comment
Note: I’m not really back, just sharing a short bit I wrote to our staff over at http://vagary.tv chronicling a particular adventure in Far Cry 3. 🙂
Far Cry 3
So after finishing up a story mission last night, I thought I would spend some time exploring. We all know how that goes, right? It’s one distraction after another. I set a waypoint for a safehouse to take over so I could make some traction. Simple.

I head off to the waypoint, looting treasure as I go. Sadly, even on this God-forsaken island, it’s still all about the Benajmins. I come up to a raider camp and decide “What the Hell?” and begin plotting an assault. I carefully plan out my attack, unleash a storm of arrows, and nod with approval. Yes, I do those things in real life. All of the sudden, I hear war crys or whatever you want to call them, and as I look around, there’s a jeep parked and a man rushing me with a shotgun. Frantically, I fumble with the controller to switch weapons but it was too late. Between him and the guy firing at me with an assault rifle, I died. If I only knew what was going to follow..

I spawned back at a radio tower. I re-plot my course, and noticing I’m on a hill, I decide to carefully slide down small slopes to footholds below. Half way down, I missed my aim and tumbled to my death. *long sigh*

Back at the radio tower. I had noticed a pool of water and a waterfall before, so I carefully make my way back to that. I looked down…scared, mind you..and took a leap of faith. Despite there being water below me, I was obviously no Altair and (again) tumbled to my death.

There was an ATV next to the radio tower. I’m not a fan of vehicles in this game, let me make that perfectly clear. I avoid them like the plague. But I was annoyed, so I hopped on, and started down the road. Shortcut time! Only, the shortcut took me over a damn cliff, where I (you guessed it) plummeted to my death.

No shortcuts this time, I decided to take the same road and..you know..actually follow the road. I drove past an encampment of pissed off rebels. I got shot at. A lot. Then ran into a tree. Remember how I said I hated vehicles? I got shot at some more while backing up, and died.

I decided to give it one more chance, this time opting to walk. I made it through the rebel camp, and SO DAMN CLOSE to my waypoint. Had I of had the volumn up, I would have heard the animal growling around me, because I was surprised by a tiger mauling me. Of course, all I had equipped was a bow, a sniper rifle, and a crappy semi-automatic assault rifle. Needless to say, I was eaten alive.

After that final kill…I said fuck it, and went shark hunting. Which I did quite well, mind you.

– Sobær

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The Answer to “Don How Was E3?” – Part 2

July 4, 2012 Leave a comment

You can’t say this isn’t the cutest Mario in awhile…..

Tuesday, the official start of E3, started off with a delightful IHOP breakfast. Bright and early at 6:30am, we made our way to Nintendo’s conference afterwards. The only thing I didn’t like about these conferences was standing outside waiting to get in… especially first thing in the morning.

Once we got in and got settled, the show started and I was feeling pretty hyped about things. Raccoon suit Mario in the 3DS Mario game coming out, that amazingly-cute flying squirrel Mario and the Wii U amusement park game (not really the game itself but the Luigis Mansion mini game) all had me stoked. I could really care less for the Miiverse thing, but whatever.

After the conference was when the fun really began. The three of us made our way to the convention center and walked around upstairs. Kyle stopped at the THQ meeting room and got me an impromptu appointment for Metro Last Light, Company of Heroes 2 and Darksiders 2 so I missed out on Square-Enix. I really wanted to see Theatrhythm Final Fantasy but oh well, I feel it was worth it.

All three of THQ’s games made a strong impression in one way or another. Metro had this surreal environment going on, while Darksiders 2 improved the original by adding loot (I LOVE loot, by the way) and Company of Heroes 2 turned me on to the series even though I don’t generally like RTS games. I’m actually buying the first Company of Heroes after seeing CoH2. I did miss the gas mask swap for Metro, as it was due in the next day. *insert big frownie face*

I had enough time for a quick break and some coffee, and went to go meet up with a former-colleague-turned-PR rep Greg Hutto. The problem was.. I got lost. Mind you, this was my first time at the convention center and my super-awesome Editor-in-Chief left me by myself, so it was bound to happen. Looking back, I find it hilarious, but as time ticked down and I was nervously asking people “WTF AM I AND WHERE IS THE MEDIA LOUNGE?!”, I was getting worried I wouldn’t make it to Sony Online Entertainment in time. I missed Greg, chugged a cup of coffee and ran off to my next appointment after finally finding my way.

Company of Heroes 2. Not to be confused with The Oregon Trail 2.

SOE was delightful because I finally got to meet Raquel. She’s always been super-nice in emails, and helped me a lot when I was first getting my feet wet doing PR work. It was also super cool because she was the first person to recognize me by name. Being new to this and all, that’s an exhilarating experience! So I played Bullet Run and a Wizardry Online game before Greg came over and met me. We chatted for a minute before Kyle and Royel showed up then it was off to meet Jerry, who somehow remembered me from six months prior.

Back to SOE and Kyle stayed around for Planetside 2 while me and Royel scampered off to Konami. Met a delightful lady there that showed us around. To be honest, I felt sorry for the poor girl. She didn’t know much about the products and had to read off of a sheet, so I just assumed she was newer and mostly dealt with emails and such. I DID get to play Metal Gear Solid Rising, which was a lot of fun. I was never interested in it before, but at least now it is on my radar of things to look at upon release.

Last for the day was a presentation from Bethesda. We got to see a demo of Dishonored, which looks much better than I anticipated. I didn’t get hands-on with it, sadly, but heard good things about it from people that did play it. Then we were treated to an epic showing of Elder Scrolls Online. As I am running long at this point, I will spare you the details, but let’s just say “I want!”.

Once we “were” home, we walked down to Subway. I tell you this because the girls working there were fawning over our Black Ops 2 lanyards. hahahah. We forgot to take them off, and we got them by going by the Activision meeting room, but I just found it hilarious that those two girls were reacting like that.

Day 3 is next, complete with a party at the end!

<3,
Don Parsons

Behind the Work – When an Idea Goes Wrong

July 3, 2012 Leave a comment

A few posts ago, I mentioned an editorial I do about the progression systems in multiplayer shooters. I’ve done a few now and am currently in the middle of “Progressing Through The Line”, a detailed synopsis of Spec Ops: The Lines unlockables. After played the single player campaign for a few days, I was pretty excited to get this going. Then… the other day happened.

In all my years of playing competitive shooters, I had heard of statistics wiping or getting messed up but I had never actually experienced it. Now, since this editorial relies so heavily on statistics this is an important factor. As soon as the match ends, I start scribbling down unlocks, kills, and all sorts of other things hoping to get them all before the next match starts. In Spec Ops, the host generally leaves the match for one reason or another (I generally assume they were mad because they lost) and you are immediately booted back to the menu. This is the first of many problems, because a smart developer would try to migrate the lobby to another host instead of dropping everyone. So I now have to sort through every single loadout option to find what is new.

If that wasn’t bad enough, the actual statistics screen lost 40 minutes of playtime somewhere. So instead of checking my stats to see how long I have played and the total kill count, I’m manually keeping tabs on things. It also lost about 30 kills and somehow I lost a level of progression.

To be quite honest, these are some of my favorite pieces to write. I would much rather find a creative way to talk about the progression system in a shooter than actually review it. Publishers also like the idea, as it is a unique way to cover the game. I absolutely hated playing Starhawk, but writing the editorial was fun (albeit a challenge to keep unbiased). I normally have these pieces done pretty swiftly (a few days), but this one has taken over a week simply because I cannot stand playing it.

The online portion of the game is not just an afterthought, but a poorly executed one. The standard Deathmatch mode can be fun, but spawning in front of enemies is a serious issue. Team Deathmatch wants you to play as a team, well Squad as it is 4v4, but no one plays together and no one uses a mic. The individual mode that stands out the most, Buried, becomes a camp-fest once a team starts losing badly enough. If that wasn’t bad enough, the maps are poorly constructed and offer little room for tactical movement around the camping team.

That said, I should have the article up by the weekend. I need to power through and get it posted soon. The single player is enjoyable, though, so if that is your thing, by all means give it a go. Enjoy your holiday tomorrow, and come back and read day 2 of E3! 🙂

<3,
Don Parsons

A Look Back: Quarter 1 (Jan. 2010 – Mar. 2010)

December 11, 2010 Leave a comment

Before you freak out and look away, this isn’t an in depth review of EVERY game I played this year. It’s more along the lines of a collection of thoughts, so to speak, of some of the good and bad games I played, and if said-game met my expectations or not. And not all of these games are 2010 releases, either. So let’s have a look at January, shall we?
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Editorial: My Final Thoughts on GT5

December 8, 2010 Leave a comment

There’s not enough grand about Gran Turismo 5 to make it a solid “game” experiance. While it is an amazing simulator, and the physics are superb, the game itself is not only lacking, but very poorly paced. Most will complain about the lack of Premium cars, but my biggest letdown is in the events; or lack there of. And I hear some complaints about the UI. Not an issue with me, I find it gorgeous and have no trouble navigating through the interface to get to where I want to be.

My biggest issue with Gran Turismo is the atroicious pacing. You are given a set amount of money to buy a car with. There are a few Premium cars you can buy, but your best bet is the Used lot (otherwise known as “standard cars”). Real quick, the difference in detail between the two is noticeable, but to be honest, I don’t care that I have a detailed cockpit, or that every single rivet on the car is precisly placed. I race the cars. You should be able to take ALL the cars into Photo Mode and take pictures of them if you want to. You should be able to perform a Racing Modification on some of the Standard cars as well (more on that later). So my problem isn’t that theres not enough Premium cars, but more along the lines of “Standard cars get no love”. But I digress.

So you get your car and take it to a race. The problem with the lack of events doesn’t become apparent until after you’ve done a few of the races. Let’s say you buy the Premium Honda Civic. You knock out the first set of three races, no problem. You move on to the “FF Challenge” set of races and finish it. Now’s the point to where you are pretty much obligated to pick a new car. And because the opponents don’t scale with you (it would be nice to have a difficulty slider, and the higher the difficulty the more money and experiance you gain), the race quickly becomes a Time Trial. And after you spend 30,000+ on a car, not to mention more on some tuning (I’ve found you rarely have to tune a car to it’s max in the beginning), you quickly realize you have to move on and buy ANOTHER car, which you probably don’t have money for. Which sends you back to the “time trial”, erm, race, to get some more money. It’s a sad cycle, which is sadder by the events you have to waste money on. Truck racing?? You buy a truck, which cost me 34,000 or so, plus another 30,000 on tuning, all for two (MAYBE three, but I’m pretty sure that series was two) races. There’s a Mini Cooper race, where you HAVE to have a Mini Cooper, which means you need to go buy one, tune it a little, and then race.. in ONE FUCKING RACE. And guess what? YOU WIN A FUCKING MINI COOPER!!!!!

In GT4 there used to be “Dealership Events”. You had broad races, like the standard “Sunday Cup”, “80’s Japanese Series”, etc. And then you had those awesome Dealership Races, like “Rotary Brothers(?)”, where you had to use a rotary powered car. Or a Type-R series, where you had to use a Honda Type-R of some sort. Instead, they just cluttered everything together and scrapped what seems like 50% of the races. It’s a huge disappointment for me, because they have 1,000 cars, and not enough races to use them in. Sure, I could buy a Suzuki Cappacino, and use it in the very first race, but with the right tuning, it becomes a Time Trial, as I said before. And on top of that, the money and experiance you gain are nothing compared to later racers. I got 13,000 credits for 6th place in a later race. You get 4,000 credits for first in the first set of races. it’s sad, it truly is. Five years of work, and it seems less complete than GT4. Sure, there’s 200 more cars (GT4 had 700-800), and I won’t even complain about various models. I LIKE that crap, because I’m a car nut. But the game itself has taken a backseat, to what seems like a publicity stunt (ie. NASCAR), and car fanboy’ism (ie. Premium Cars). Don’t get me wrong, I’m a car fanboy, but that level of detail is clearly not needed to RACE A DAMN CAR. You aren’t having online car shows. You are barreling down a track, slamming on the brakes at a precise moment to take a turn at the perfect apex in order to have a faster lap than the lap before. You are drafting behind a line of cars, only to swerve to the outside and overtake them in a corner because you have the lighter car, and don’t have to brake at the point they do. You’re drifting around a corner by accident (or on puprose in my case) and clamoring to regain control so you don’t spin out, and when you do get control and straighten the car, you smile. Because you are awesome. THAT is what GT is about. Not precision-detailed interiors. Again, very cool, but not cool enough to make a lack-luster “game”.

Racing Modifications made a welcome return. Well, sort of. Out of the 200 cars I thought could have a RM (while low, I was still content), NOT EVEN 20 CAN GET A RACING MOD!!! Seriously?! So what was the point of bringing them back? Why not just make those 20 cars like every other race car that costs 500,000 credits or more? It’s quite possibly my biggest letdown. I was the guy that bought damn near every car I could in GT2, and the first thing I did was look to see what the RM looked like. Tons of cars had the option back then.

The game has a slight community feature. I have yet to try the online racing, per say, but it’s there. And you can see the progress of friends, and if they opt to “share a car”, you can see some of their favorite cars. And you can trade cars as well, as I have traded back and forth cars I used to finish later races to my wife, and she’d trade me cars that I didn’t own (or want to own.. yeah, I’m looking in your direction, Mini Cooper…). We’d swap back, and the world was a better place. But some sort of leaderboard between friends per event would be nice. Show what car they used in that event to get their best time, maybe even have more options like the one mentioned, as well as the last car used and it’s time. Maybe swap ghosts, and race against that as well as the crappy AI. If I can’t progress my credits and XP in online races, I have no desire to do them; however, with “friend ghosts”, I’d be more apt to do events over again.

Don’t even get me started on the “realistic” damage. That’s bullshit. I spent 20 minutes trying to get a trophy for making a part of the car fall off, like a bumper or hood. 20 minutes of slamming into barricades going 100+ miles an hour. I flipped the car on three different occasions. Finally, after 20 minutes, the doors fell off. 20 minutes of abusive driving.

The game physics are amazing. The detail is fantastic. But the game itself lacks in so many areas, I could not rate this a super high score, even based on my love for the series. Don’t get me wrong, I still LOVE this game, and don’t regret buying it at all. It sits proudly as one of my favorite games, but it has SO much potential, I don’t think we are going to see it maximized. Not to mention, I’ve heard that Kaz (the creator) has said there will be no DLC. How stupid are you, Polyphony? There are dumb ass’ like me that would pay out the ass for car packs. Instead, he’s working on GT6. The trend I’ve noticed is (and feared this was going to be true before GT5 came out) every even numbered Gran Turismo sets the bar, and the odd numbers are just micro steps to get their feet wet on the platform. GT1 on PSOne was okay. GT2 on PSOne set the bar. GT3 on PS2 was a launch PS2 game, and not even mediocre in my opinion. GT4 on PS2 was an amazing game, and my favorite PS2 game of all time. GT5 on PS3 was them getting their feet wet. Let’s hope GT6 comes out soon enough to steal the banner back, and make Gran Turismo grand again.

Editorial: SOCOM 4 and My Thoughts

March 4, 2010 1 comment

The gentlemen at Zipper Interactive are the founding fathers of the SOCOM series. It was recently announced that Zipper is working on SOCOM 4. SOCOM 2 is held on a pedastool by SOCOM vets as the definitive tactical shooter game ever made. Those same veterans will also tell you the series started going downhill afterward. Larger maps and vehicles are cited as some of the main reasons for the downhill slide of SOCOM’s on the PS2. Then SOCOM: Confrontation was announced, with a new developer.

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Editorial: A Reviewers Integrity

March 1, 2010 Leave a comment

Reviews are a dime-a-dozen. And people read reviews for different reasons. Some wonder if they should buy a game, so they check out some reviews. Others are curious what other people thought of the game, so they read some reviews. I fall into the latter category, especially after I review a game. I wonder if people thought the same thing as I did or not.

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