Tuesday, December 22, 2009

We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties

Chronic is having some technical issues and will be offline for an unknown period of time.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

80s Transformers + Gears Gameplay = ?

According to an article posted on IGN, the new game planned for 2010 will feature 1980s styled Transformers with Gears of War inspired gameplay and graphics.

"This new entry, Transformers: War for Cybertron, looks to erase all those years of mediocre titles. Developer High Moon Studios (Dark Watch, The Bourne Conspiracy) isn't messing around, either. They're taking cues from Epic Games' highly acclaimed Gears of War franchise to build its gameplay foundation, which the developer is focusing on first and foremost, they say.

Transformers: War for Cybertron is a third-person, over-the-shoulder shooter that utilizes the Unreal engine. Cover is less of a focus, however, as players will be able to transform at any time causing battles to be more about speed and agility.

The story isn't part of any previous movie or comic series. It's brand new, and takes place before the Transformers leave Cybertron and head to Earth. Hasbro is even adopting this story as canon for the franchise.

Transformers: War for Cybertron contains two separate single-player campaigns, one for Decepticon and Autobots each, which are interlinked throughout the main storyline. The game promises online co-op and other modes, too, but details are still under wraps for now."

Monday, December 14, 2009


Tensions have reached a boiling point and War! was recently declared on the Team Fortress 2 servers over on Valve's Steam network. The two warring parties are the Soldiers and the Demo-men, as they each vie for a special super secret class upgrade which will be awarded to the winner. As of this writing the tally is still pretty close, with over a million and a half dead on each side. Who will be victorious? Log on to Steam and help determine the outcome.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

lol 6 Figure Flippaments

A group of top poker players go all in blind for $100K each.

Monday, December 7, 2009

New Super Mario Bros Wii: Impressions

I dont have too many deep thoughts (by Jack Handey) about this game - this isnt a game that makes you think - it just makes you want to keep playing. It doesnt ponder the vagaries of the modern human condition; its essential narrative is that of two brothers who eat mushrooms by the fistful and cavort around a magical fantasy kingdom. It has none of the technological advances of a modern game. The gameplay is all on a strictly 2D plane, there is no real voiceover work, no real cutscenes to speak of, no advanced animation technology, no 1080P, or 720P for that matter, no online play, no online leaderboards, etc etc etc.

But despite all this, NSMBW is not just one of the very best games to come out in 2009, its one of the best platforming games in history - a true sequel to Super Mario World with a feel thats like a hybrid of SMB and SMB3 on LSD. Its easily the most challenging Mario game ever made, surpassing SMB: The Lost Levels for level complexity and overall game length. The difficulty ramps up perfectly: it doesnt get too hectic until around World 7, and then its on like Donkey Kong. The addition of local multiplayer is simply brilliant: with two players many of the stages become more difficult to navigate, while you will be able to access special areas not available in single player, and the boss fights become a breeze. The controls and graphics are perfect, theres not too much to say about them other than that.

For gamers who yearn for the days of yore, when games were 2D and hard as hell, this game is like a minor miracle. I really thought that we might never see a new 2D Mario game on a Nintendo console again in my lifetime. But now I see that I was all wrong. It just took a decade or so of experimenting and finally mastering 3D game design before the higher ups at Nintendo realized that there is a lot of merit to 2D game design as well. Gamers have responded in kind, as of this writing NSMBW is on its way to becoming one of the best selling Nintendo titles of all time. Unlike some of the other waggle-ware that has plagued the system since its launch, NSMBW is a title truly deserving of all the success it gets.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Just Cause 2: Vehicle Stunts

These developers clearly understand what makes a game fun.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Pandemic Studios Farewell Tribute

Mercs 2 and The Saboteur had so much wasted potential. Shame.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Crazy Hamster!

Who needs Shenmue 3 when we have digital diarrhea for the iPhone?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Tuff_Fish Tries SMBF

This video has a bit of a backstory. There is a poker player by the name of Anthony Sandstrom who plays No Limit Holdem cash games on a variety of online sites under the screen name Tuff_Fish. He has recorded himself playing many online sessions and uploaded the videos onto youtube, and they have become popular viral hits on poker forums like 2+2 and PocketFives. The videos are humorous because Tuff_Fish often gets completely tilted by a bad beat and goes on highly entertaining rants about online poker and human psychology. He also often plays horribly, which is amusing to watch in its own right. The video above was originally titled Super Mario Frustration and posted on youtube with totally different audio commentary, and it received over 7,000,000 hits. In this new version, the original commentary has been replaced by snippets of audio from various Tuff_Fish tilt-rants. The resulting video is more hilarious than anything else Ive ever seen in my whole life.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

L4D2: Impressions

The game is simply awesome, its one of Valve's best efforts in years and vastly superior to the first game. Its much longer, with larger levels, tons of new infected and weapons, and the ability to use melee weapons adds an entirely new dimension to the game. Ive only played a bit of the versus mode, but downing a survivor as one of the new special infected like the Charger and the Jockey is too much fun. The game encourages teamwork perhaps more than any other coop game I have ever played. If and when you get separated from the group as a survivor, you will get attacked by a Smoker or Hunter. If you dont revive your teammates and provide them with health and pills, you will all die. The 4 survivors are compelled to work together to complete each chapter of the game, and as a result its one of the best coop games of all time.

Friday, November 20, 2009

No MW2 on XBL For Me

I caved and finally bought a used copy of MW2 for $35 - but for the PC, not the 360 or PS3. Why? Well, a few reasons. For starters, Ive never been really big on the multiplayer aspects of Call of Duty games. CoD4 was a good online game, but I never really put much time or effort into learning it. Also, last night I played MW2 online at a friends house for a couple of hours. It didnt exactly convince me that the game was worth $64 for the online portion alone - as some people have claimed. There were a few maps that stood out like Quarry and Airfield, but I felt some of the others were rather lackluster. The killcam is still awesome, and the perks and killstreak rewards are fun - if you can attain them (good luck with 25 in a row for a nuke).

Furthermore, there are only a handful of people on my friends list that might actually want to play the game with me on XBL. Most of them are really good at CoD, and I dont think I ever broke a 1.0 k/d ratio in CoD4 for the 360. Im much better at FPS games on the PC with a mouse and keys. Also, seeing as though the coop is only 2 people and there is no party chat in several multiplayer modes, I dont see the online being something that I would get a lot of value out of over the long term. The coop spec ops missions look good for a few runthroughs, but this mode isnt something that has legs like Horde, Firefight, Borderlands or L4D2.

I will see how much I like the game on the PC. If it turns out I get into the online play more, a purchase of the 360 version might be forthcoming, once it drops in price and if people are still playing it a month or two from now. Until then, I will be playing Gears 2, L4D2, Borderlands, and GTA IV online, as well as single player games like Assassins Creed 2 and New Super Mario Bros Wii.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Brutal Legend Impressions

Does it have the best soundtrack in videogame history? Yes. Is the writing and the voice acting top notch? Yes. Is the overall world design and artwork mindblowing? Yes. Is the game epic? Well kind of. Its gives you that epic feel but it doesnt quite have the length or depth to be considered properly epic. The game isnt that long, which is a problem because the soundtrack is huge and you likely wont hear every song by the time you finish the game, even if you do all the side missions.

Overall I can easily recommend renting this game or buying it used. I played it on the PS3 and while I dont know how it compares to the 360 version, if they do make a version for the PC in the future that will be the one to own because of the higher resolution, framerate, and support for advanced features like antialiasing. The console versions look good technically speaking (the art is phenomenal), but never great. Hopefully the PC version will also support mods - this game world has serious potential for modders.

Brutal Legend is a game that almost fulfills its potential. I think the game just should have been longer and there should have been stuff to do in the world. For those that had concerns about the RTS elements, I didnt find them offensive or overdone at all. Yes they are simplified but they work well and sometimes make for some truly epic moments when you get down into the battlefield to help your troops fight hordes of enemies to the swinging sounds of Racer X.

I like the game world so much, I wish it was actually an MMO. I think I would play it a ton if there were RPG and coop elements to it, and simply more stuff to do in the world. As it is, I finished the game and all the side quests in under 8 hours and then sort of looked around and went, hmmmmmmm. I skipped around the soundtrack for a few hours, went for a couple of random trophies, and then put the game back in its box and sold it to Gamestop. I bought the game for $64 (including tax) and I dont have a single regret - this is Tim Shaeffer we are talking about here. Hopefully more people will buy the game and Double Fine's next project can be even bigger and better.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Left 4 Dead 2 IGN Review

My copy is waiting for me at Gamestop. What to trade in?

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Ballad of Gay Tony GT Review

So I have been playing the new GTA IV DLC over the past few days and I have to say its awesome, and everything the first DLC wasnt. The story and the characters fit with Liberty City perfectly. The writing is still top notch. While Im very disappointed that people who download the new DLC dont get the exclusive Vice City radio station that owners of the $40 retail Liberty City Stories do, other than that I have to say its easy to recommend this to anyone who enjoyed GTA IV. The new weapons, vehicles and base jumping modes all add up to a ton of fun, and I havent even checked it out online in freeplay mode yet. Hopefully, I will finish the DLC in the next few days and we can get to the online parachuting and helicopter battles ASAP. Ill see you at the top of the Statue of Liberty!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Thursday, November 12, 2009

3 Card Luigi

Growing up in NYC, I used to see a lot of street hustlers back before Guiliani cleaned up the city, in the early 1990s when David Dinkins was mayor. One of the most popular hustles was 3 Card Monte. This is essentially the same game, but its played with Luigi instead of cards or shells. Can you follow the fast and furious action?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Torchlight GT Review

This $20 downloadable PC exclusive action RPG was developed by Runic Games, a studio founded by the original creators of Diablo. Their idea when they started the studio was to make an MMO, but they decided getting a finished game under their belt first was a good idea and Torchlight is the result. Melding classic Diablo style gameplay with great graphics, high quality original music and full mod support, Torchlight looks like its going to be a winner. It doesnt have the depth of something like Dragon Age, but for $20 it doesnt have to. The reviews have been very good so far with the one common complaint being that its strictly a single player experience. I cant fault Runic for that though - they are making another game set in the Torchlight universe strictly for the purpose of online multiplayer. By making this game first, their MMORPG will be that much better.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Excitebike World Rally Gameplay

So, the game that everyone has been talking about finally came out this week! Excitebike World Rally! Wait what? You say you've never heard of this game and that you dont even have a Wii? Oh well. At least Im excited to play 2.5D Excitebike online and start building some crazy tracks with the editor. It even has replays! Sweet.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Friday, November 6, 2009

Gman's Gmod: A Few Good Men

Fan created machinima using Garry's Source Engine Mod (Gmod).

Thursday, November 5, 2009

New York Yankees Win 27th Championship

For a man as typically stoic as Hideki Matsui, the display was something more emblematic of his caricature, Godzilla. Matsui, clapping his hands together, listened to the emcee boom out his name and walked to the front of the stage. He removed his cap and doffed it to the crowd. He then raised two clenched fists into the air. International superstar of baseball, Hideki Matsui was now MVP of the World Series after driving in a jaw dropping 6 runs in the championship clinching game.

"I guess you could say this is the best moment of my life right now."

On a night in early November in the Bronx, Hideki Matsui transcended being human, and for a moment, became Superman. He single handedly won Game 6 of the World Series by driving in 6 of the total 7 runs the Yankees would score. Of all the great World Series performances we have seen this year, from CC Sabathia to Chase Utley to Mariano Rivera, this was surely the finest.

9 Years between championships isnt a lot for most teams, but for the New York Yankees it is an eternity. Founded in 1901 in Baltimore Maryland, the team moved to New York City in 1903, becoming known as the New York Highlanders before being officially renamed the "Yankees" in 1913. In those 108 years, the club has won the championship 27 times. This high percentage of championship winning teams is a record in professional sports, and a birthright for fans in New York.

2009 was a vindication for many players and fans who watched the team falter from 2001-2008, reaching the playoffs 7 times and the World Series twice, but failing to convert, including a devastating loss in 2004 to the Red Sox in the 2004 ALCS. With this championship, all those nightmares, all those demons have been slayed. 2009 represents the birth of a new Yankee legacy, as well as the passing of an old one. For vintage players such as Jeter, Rivera, and Andy Pettite, who won 4 straight championships with the Yankees from 1996-2000, this latest victory tastes even sweeter. To everyone in baseball who said these legendary players were too old, too worn down, and too beat up to compete anymore, Ill just say this: You arent the ones hoisting a trophy right now.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Uncharted 2: Impressions

Nothing can prepare a gamer for playing Uncharted 2 for the first time. Even having played the original Uncharted: Drake's Fortune through twice, and closely following the development and release of Uncharted 2, I had no idea that the game was going to not only completely change my perception of the PS3, but also videogaming in general. Uncharted 2 isnt just a great game or the game of the Game of The Year for 2009 - its in the conversation for the best game of all time.

Obviously, thats a strong statement, and while its true everyone has their own favorite game of all time, I think that for many people who play it Uncharted 2 will challenge their time honored favorites for greatest ever. I can never decide what my favorite game ever is, there are so many great ones, but Im quite sure that Uncharted 2 is right up there among the best. Is the game perfect? In some respects, mostly technical, yes. From a gameplay and story perspective, your mileage may vary. If you fancy a blend of Hollywood style Indiana Jones/Tomb Raider flavored story telling, huge action set pieces, 3rd person shooting mechanics, Prince of Persia like platforming and adventure game style puzzles, this will suit you like a glove. Add in a mix of lag-free multiplayer and coop modes over the free Playstation Network, and you have a serious contender.

There are no new gameplay elements to speak of in Uncharted 2. Everything you do in this game, you have done in other games before. But what Uncharted 2 does that makes it unique is that it mixes all these elements together with a level of polish and production quality that has never been seen before in a videogame. From the camera work to the animation to the particle effects in the explosions, this is the most consistently impressive presentation the gaming industry has come up with to date.

The graphics are simply stunning, definitely the best I have ever seen in any game on any platform. Marcus Fenix is rendered by about 15,000 polygons in Gears of War 2 for the Xbox 360. In Uncharted 2, Nathan Drake is pushing 80,000 polygons. The level of detail in the game is insane. Uncharted 2 uses the power of Cell processor in synergy with the Blu Ray drive (the game takes up 25GB of space), the Hard Drive, and the Nvidia GPU like no game before it to create unbelievably high image quality. But beyond the graphics and presentation, the feel of how Drake controls and interacts with the world is simply superb, and the pacing of the game is pitch perfect. The unique sound design for each area and cutscene, the musical score, and weapon sounds, are all outstanding. Naughty Dog has raised the bar for every developer; this is the new standard of quality for videogame production. Ive simply run out of superlatives, so Ill stop right here.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Princess Robot Bubblegum

Check out this hilarious TV spot from The Ballad of Gay Tony.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Monday, October 26, 2009

Yankees Advance to World Series

Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Joe DiMaggio and Yogi Berra. Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford. Reggie Jackson and Ron Guidry. Bernie Williams, Paul O'Neill, and Tino Martinez. Now Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada and Alex Rodriguez. The tradition goes on for the Yankees, and with it, the tradition of winning American League pennants and playing in The World Series.

The Yankees clinched the AL Championship Series with a 5-2 victory over the Angels in Game 6 on Sunday in their first year of the new Yankee Stadium, marking their 40th pennant -- a Major League Baseball record by far -- and the first since 2003 for the sport's most fabled franchise. Six years isn't a long time, you say? Well, these are the Bronx Bombers we're talking about: That six-year drought represented the fourth-longest stretch without a pennant in franchise history.

The Yankees didn't win a pennant until their 21st season in 1921, while also experiencing spans of 12 years (1964-76) and 15 years (1981-96) between AL titles. The Yankees have been to the World Series seven times since '96, five more times than any other team during that period.

The Yankees' 40 pennants have come over the past 89 seasons -- at a pace of almost one every other year. The Bombers own nearly twice as many pennants as any other team; the Dodgers have won the National League pennant 21 times. New York, in fact, has more pennants itself than the next three teams in the AL, with Oakland (14), Boston (12) and Detroit (10) combining for 36 pennants.

The Yankees' next opponent, the Phillies, will play in the World Series for just the seventh time, even though they were founded in 1883 -- 18 years before the Bombers. The second of those seven trips, in 1950, ended in a four-game sweep at the hands of New York.

The Yankees, however, have lost their past two World Series -- to the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2001 and to the Florida Marlins in 2003. That means they're still looking for that elusive second championship this decade; New York has won at least two World Series in all but one decade (the 1980s) since its first title in 1923.

It has long been a fact of life in America that the Yankees will win the pennant or at least will not wait long for their next one.

The wait for their next one is over.

The Fall Classic is coming back to the Bronx. This time, it comes to a new ballpark, but one with the same tradition. Now the question is whether a 27th World Series championship can be far behind.

-Tim Britton / MLB.com

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time

1up gave R&C Future: A Crack in Time an A+, Giant Bomb gave it a 100, Destructoid gave it a 90, IGN gave it a 9 and Gametrailers gave it an 8.9. In short, this is an awesome game that anybody who owns a PS3 should check out, even if you didnt play the previous installment. Although I have to say if you arent sure about this franchise, its worth picking up the original R&C Tools of Destruction for under $20 and using that as your starting point. With so many good games coming out over the next few months, its extremely tough to pick and choose what to play, but if you do have a PS3, R&C Future: A Crack in Time should be right next to Uncharted 2 as one of the games you dont want to miss. Release date is Oct 27th 2009.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Connection Testing On A Friday Night

There are two factors here, one is connection quality, and the second is connection speed. Quality, which is represented in the top image, has to do with your line stability and ping, which is the time that it takes a signal travels to a remote server and back. In my case, I got an "A" grade. The lower your ping, the better. In PC gaming, where we usually browse a list of dedicated servers before choosing which to join, we always go for a (populated) server with the lowest ping; anything under 50ms is great, although up to 100ms or so is playable for FPS games (RTS games can go even higher), but beyond that the game becomes laggy. Lag can be caused by either a server or peer to peer host who has a poor quality connection (high ping), or slow connection speed (quantity) which isnt sufficient to process the amount of data flowing in and out.

Without going too deep into the technical details, the packets that the host sends to each game client in a peer to peer hosted game like Call of Duty 4, Halo 3, or Gears of War 2 on the Xbox 360 are roughly 6-7Kb/s each in size. What this means is that if you have 10Mbps download/2Mbps upload type connection, you should be fine to host a 24+ person match. However, if you have a 512Kbps connection like much of rural America does, your game may start lagging beyond a 3vs3 or 4vs4 match. This explains why smaller gametypes (4vs4 modes in Halo 3 and Gears 1, Horde in Gears 2, Team Tactical in CoD4) seem to run much better on average than the larger gametypes featured in those games, although I think we can all agree Bungee and Infinity Ward set up their matchmaking and network code a whole lot better than Epic does.

On a scale of 1-5, Ive got a 3.8 for raw speed, which is actually pretty decent. What Im most pleased about is the 5Mb/s+ upload speed, which means my connection is solid for hosting (in theory) 48 person games, not that I would ever try it. 9Mb/s isnt amazing for download speed, but for gaming its far more than enough. While its nothing like having a fiber optic FIOS or T1 connection, its pretty good for just $50 a month. I truly wish I could see the stats of some of the other players who often get host in Gears of War 2, and what my ping to them is. Its amazing to me how often I will get connected to someone who either has a slow 512Kbps connection or lives in some remote area where their ping looks like this:

Friday, October 23, 2009

Unigine "Heaven" DX11 benchmark

Is Microsoft's newest DirectX API, DX11, worth upgrading to Win7?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

L4D2 Trailer = 3 Minutes of Awesome

If this trailer doesnt get you pumped up for L4D2, nothing will.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Dragon Age & Bayonetta Hype Factor

The early word on the street is that Bayonetta and Dragon Age Origins are two games for the ages. Bayonetta has received a perfect score from Japanese gamer mag Famitsu, and Dragon Age is being called "the best RPG this decade" by some of those that have reviewed and or played it. Strong words. Bioware totally blew the marketing of Dragon Age, but I think when it finally hits the streets people are going to flip out this November. Bayonetta wont be out until next year, but Im looking forward to it being the best new action franchise since God of War on the PS2 and Ninja Gaiden on the original Xbox. Strong words indeed.

In other news, some of the luster has come off Infinity Ward's armor as they face a rebellion among a 100,000+ person army of PC gamers who refuse to buy Modern Warfare 2 because it doesnt have dedicated servers. Previous iterations of the game such as Call of Duty 4 and Call of Duty World at War had dedicated servers, like almost all PC games. In the console world, dedicated servers are a rarity, but in the PC world they have been standard for years, and the switch to a peer-to-peer Matchmaking system has PC gamers in an ire across the globe.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Snorting kittens and going clubbing is back in vogue in Liberty City.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Brutal Legend: GT Review

The most metal game of all time gets an 8.5 from GameTrailers.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Dirty Tracks and Dirty Tricks

The Codemasters? I wouldn't have expected it from them but their anticipated DLC for Dirt 2 turns out to be 800 points for 2 cheat codes. No new content, nothing downloaded. So you can't call it DLC surely?


"As explained by Senior Executive Producer Gavin Raeburn, the said DLC would allow players to personalise and augment the boxed game – a vague and intriguing statement."

DiRT 2 Trust Fund ($4.99)
Why wait? Unlock all vehicles, liveries and upgrades instantly with the DiRT 2 Trust Fund Pack. Download now and experience 35 killer rides and access all upgrades and 93 liveries.
File size: 370 KB

DiRT 2 Access All Areas ($4.99)
Unlock every DiRT 2 World Tour event and track with the Access All Areas Pack! Get VIP entry to 100 events set on 41 tracks. You’ll also gain exclusive access to X-Games events with their electric atmosphere, outrageous courses and intense competition.
File size: 370 KB

The game already has a flashback feature to make it easier to complete the campaign racing. It's very sad and yet I must admit if EA had released a Euro code for B3 they'd have raked in the cash from many thousands of people.

Ha, ha http://news.softpedia.com/news/DiRT-2-Developers-Talk-About-DLC-105222.shtml

"The model that Codemasters should probably follow is that of Criterion. The developer has created a ton of new content for the open world racing game is has designed, Burnout Paradise. Only recently have they begun to charge money for the DLC that they released and only for those packages adding significantly to the game. One model that Codemasters should not follow is that of Skate 2 developer Black Box and publisher Electronic Arts. The first piece of DLC they put out was designed to open up the game and unlock all the content in the skating game."

Posted by umopapisdnpuaq

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Arkedo Series - 01 JUMP Trailer

Fun indie 2D platformer on XBLA. Nothing to see here Nintendo!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

3D Dot Heroes: Gameplay

This Zelda style "2.9D" action adventure game is coming to the Japanese Playstation Store next month for download. Hopefully, it will make its all the way to a Western release before Nintendo notices the similarities and does something stupid. I think the game looks sweet and I cant wait to check it out the old school style gameplay.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Forza 3 IGN Review

IGN thinks Forza 3 is the best racing game of this generation.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Operation Flashpoint DR: Launch Trailer

Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising and Arma II are the current and only real contenders for the king of the military simulation genre, with one distinction being that Operation Flashpoint is available on consoles now while Arma II is currently not, and this being a genre which typically appeals more to the sim-crazy PC gamer crowd, that might not mean a whole lot in terms of lost sales.

At this point Im undecided on buying either game. When Arma II came out to positive reviews I almost got it, but the lackluster demo with its subpar voice work, glitches, and impossible to control helicopter didnt quite convince me to buy it. Couple that with the fact Codemasters was releasing its game only a few months later, and I figured I would wait and see how the whole thing shaked out. At this point it appears to be a draw, because they have gotten very similar review scores and oddly similar reviews, with the primary distinctions being that Operation Flashpoint DR appears to have shipped relatively bug free, and the PC version is priced at a very friendly $40 (the 360 version of OP: DR is $60 and Arma II is $50 on Steam).

The guys over at CVG posted an interesting review of Operation Flashpoint DR where they explicitly compared it to Arma II. The differences between the two games are subtle but important: Arma II is the more graphically impressive and technically advanced game, it has larger battlfields, more weapons and vehicles, bigger multiplayer servers, and more custom scenario editing features. It also has a ton of bugs in the single player campaign, glitches with the voicework, and requires a beast of a computer to run. Operation Flashpoint DR is slightly more accessible and polished; the missions are better scripted and more straightforward, the battlefields are smaller, the servers are smaller, and the graphics arent quite as impressive, but at the same time they are much less demanding on your PC than Arma II and they scale well to older machines. Its quite clear that while the two games are similar, OF:DR is the more fully baked pie right out of the oven, even if its a smaller and slightly less ambitious project. Both games are hardcore military sims; Arma II is just slightly more so.

The thinking mans alternative to something like Call of Duty Modern Warfare or Battlefield 2, both these games are very realistic and unforgiving in their design. One bullet can kill you, the vehicles and guns have highly accurate physics models, the missions can be extremely long, progress at a snails pace and require tons of teamwork, proper planning and pinpoint execution. These arent your "run N gun" adrenaline fests with epic cutscenes that sell ten million copies; they arent even aimed at a general audience, more at enthusiasts. That being said, they offer a level of military realism and battlefield immersion thats unparalleled - if you can handle it.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Mount & Blade Impressions

Im not a huge RPG guy, yet all I can say about Mount & Blade, the 2008 open world sandbox RPG from TaleWorlds, is wow. This game is mind blowing, game changing, and it can be yours right now for an astoundingly preposterous $5 on Direct2Drive.com. How I missed it up until this point is a testament to what a great time it is to be a gamer. Even gems like this can go undiscovered for years.

This is a true diamond in the rough, the kind of game that if bigger developers really looked at it and played it through, they would probably want to steal a solid 50% of the ideas present. In fact, I would even go so far as to say its one of the most ambitious and impressive games I have played since GTA III. However, this diamond, as big and beautiful as it is, is clearly flawed. It has dings and scratches and its actually covered in a thin layer of mud. Its a diamond, nonetheless, but its not quite perfect.

What makes the game so amazing and so different than other RPGs? The combat. You will hear me moan on and on from time to time about how weak the combat systems are in most RPGs, especially MMORPGs like World of Warcraft. This is the antidote to the typical RPG point and click poison. This is true real time combat, and even though it isnt quite as advanced or fluid as something like God of War, it still represents a giant leap for mankind in the pursuit of realistic ancient battle simulations. From the level of 1 on 1 sword fighting duels, to small 5 on 5 skirmishes, to medium sized 15-20 person caravan ambushes all the way up to epic 100 vs 100 mega-castle-siege-battles, this game delivers on medieval combat in ways you dreamed about but have never seen before in a videogame. Mount & Blade completely removes fantasy elements (magic), and just focuses on good old fashioned swords, lances, crossbows, battle axes and horses. The sword fighting is everything Age of Conan wanted to be, should have been, and utterly wasnt. Mount & Blade makes the mounted combat in something like Oblivion look like what it was - a joke. Is it perfect? No, but its light years beyond most RPGs, in fact it the best real time combat of any classical-themed RPG on the market right now.

So how about the rest of the game? Its actually pretty good too, if you can get over some presentational quirks and some unfortunate inventory management design decisions. Travel in the game takes place on a 2D plane, with a massive open world which is yours to explore. You can travel from town to town, recruiting allies, trading supplies, gaining quests and the favor of various Lords and Ladies. There are two types of people you can recruit, regular hired grunts and recruits, who make up most of your army, and NPC characters who are persistent in the world even if they leave your party or are captured. These characters will squabble with each other, advise you on your choices, and leave if they dont like how you are running your ship. These NPCs can be fully outfitted with any gear you pick up, and you choose how they level up their skills, so you can custom tailor your party's skill tree for maximum effectiveness.

When your NPC companions die in combat, they are gone forever and you truly feel their loss. There is no autosave in the game, and I feel that its better because of it. Lose a huge battle with 75% of your troops killed and your second in command NPC captured? Carry on soldier, carry on, because your last save was hours ago. Luckily, that NPC may reappear in a tavern across the map after he manages to escape, but there are no guarantees you will find him without asking around. The role playing aspects of the game have depth, you just have to look a bit for them. This is a sandbox game after all, the adventure is what you make of it.

I could go on, but I havent even finished the game, whatever that means. Ive played about 25 hours so far and I feel as though Im only about 20-30% done with the content. I just staged my first castle siege, which was an epic failure. You can build up a large 50+ troop army and get knocked down to a handful of allies if you lose a major encounter. You need to be careful who you attack, when you attack, where you camp, where you travel, and which factions you are allied with at all times or you can get swarmed by enemies from all directions. Its also very easy to get bogged down in the hundreds of side quests and mini-quests, which have a solid degree of variance and only recently have started to be a bit repetitive. GTA III was finished in 25 hours, I feel like at 25 hours into this game, Im only just starting to achieve true power, where I can loot and pillage towns mercilessly and without fear of reprisal. I just won my first duel, and it was by a sliver of health. I had to protect the honor of a Lady whose cause I had taken up, so I accosted the accused and demanded satisfaction. These types of scenarios naturally play out all the time in Mount & Blade, its all very seamless and the various elements come together beautifully.

Very, very few games actually achieve what they set out to do. Mount & Blade achieves the goal of making you feel like a Medieval Knight in Shining Armor better than any game I have ever played, and thats saying something. Couple this with a planned expansion pack that will improve the graphics, add new weapons and combat abilities, and 32 person multiplayer support, and you have something that has potential to be played for years to come. Also, there is already a huge modding community that has taken this game and run with it, and although I havent even tried the mods or felt the need to, Im sure they will add even more depth and replayability to whats already one of the most ambitious and engrossing RPGs of all time.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Call of Duty MW2 Campaign Trailer

James Bond 007 missed the first Modern Warfare campaign - one of the greatest single player FPS campaigns ever. Will history repeat itself? Or will we learn from the errors of our past?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

GT Anthology: SSX

Sadly, one of the best franchises from last gen consoles is totally absent on Xbox 360 and PS3. Sure, the Wii got a borked version with waggle controls and 480i visuals, but really who wanted that? Can you imagine how awesome SSX would be over XBL? Tournaments, leaderboards, coop and tag team racing and freestyle events...

EA, seriously, WTF are you thinking? Do you not want my money?

Friday, October 2, 2009

Lucidity: Launch Trailer

This 2D adventure game by LucasArts hits XBLA Ocotber 7th.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2: GT Review

"As far as weapons based combat goes, this series has no equal."