Tuesday, September 30, 2014

MarioKart 8

Over the weekend, I actually got my hands on a real life WiiU, in the wild.

My brother bought a WiiU a few weeks ago after getting a new job. He's always been a huge Zelda fan, so it was really only a matter of time. Well that time is now.

We played the new MarioKart and while it was fun, I did find myself missing older titles.

Some of the courses contorted and bent like a roller coaster, sending you in and out of water, really distorting what was happening. This was especially bad since we were playing with three players and had small screens.

I'm not saying MarioKart has always had courses built on the laws of nature, but at the very least, you could see how this track could exist. MarioKart 8 did not have this.

I also hadn't held a Wii-mote in nearly 3 years now. It felt foreign to me. I struggled to remember which hand to hold the nunchuk in. I couldn't remember any of the button names as my brother yelled out controls mid-race. After 4 or so races, I had a good enough grasp to hold first place in every race for the next hour.

The WiiU tablet thingy didn't feel right for me, but it seems to be a matter of preference. Those that were accustomed to DS or 3DS handhelds found it really comfortable.

We raced a good 20-25 races before calling it quits and as I left my brother's house, I couldn't help but think how much I would love to play the original MarioKart or Double Dash. (I never owned a N64, so there wasn't nostolgia for that version)

Something didn't sit right having extra characters show on the roster that are going to be DLC later on. Staring at Link and Tanooki Mario on the last row, knowing they would be paid DLC (and for a good price at that) felt so un-Nintendo. I'm used to Nintendo being that one company that releases their full game on one disk and that's what you get.

It's weird because on paper, this game is MarioKart. The tracks feel right, the carts feel right, most of the powerups feel right (except the sonic music thing, that felt like something from Vigilante 8) but somehow it didn't click.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Thoughts on Destiny

It's been a long time, but I've had some Destiny thoughts banging around my head.

The TL:DR is basically, if you have friends playing this game, or you really liked Halo, this is probably the game for you. I play this game, single player and multiplayer, with the game muted and listening to podcasts. 

The BETA of this made me feel like it was a Mass Effect world with Battlefield gameplay and Borderlands loot. I was incredibly excited about this.

I reached level 20 this weekend. I have maybe 3 story missions before I beat the game. I've played 10-15 competitive matches. So I've seen a lot of the content.

The story is built to be one of those, "Humans are on the brink of extinction and this elite group of warriors called Guardians are our only hope."

It's a very standard setup. Earth is a nuclear wasteland, our Mars base has been over-run by enemies, the moon wasn't viable to live on, and we never got fully established on Venus. We are basically living on this floating space station/planet thing called the Citadel.

The story never really develops past that. It's really boring. The missions consist of, "Oh, there's some bad guys over there, they probably want something important, let's go see what it is. Oh, it's [Enter random computer system, power crystal, powerful weapon here] we should stop them. 

It really never expands beyond that. And most the missions take place in very similar looking caves or space bases. 

There are no NPCs in the game other than the merchants. Literally none. I'd pay to have the stereotypical marine commander stranded somewhere that I save. But there is no one. It is you, the enemies, and some other random players running around. 

And the other random players running around can ruin the experience sometimes. When I was trying to level up a bit to play some of the harder missions, I'd find a squad of enemies, engage them, then some dickhole that was 5 levels ahead of me would show up, kill everyone with one grenade and move on. Meanwhile, I miss out on a bunch of XP. (Also, because of the persistent universe, I can't pause the game. I hate when I can't do that.)

Most of the background of the world require you to log into Bungies' website on a computer and look at these "cards" you earn. It would work so much better if there was a Mass Effect like Codec. 

The loot system is a stripped down Borderlands system. As you level up, you find more powerful guns. Most guns will have one special thing like, "burns enemies." 

Now, they also want you to level up your gun. As you use the gun, you unlock extra abilities. The issue is, you will find a more powerful gun before you level up the gun your using. I'm thinking now that i'm level 20, that might level out a bit. 

You also can't get a lot of the really cool gear without playing a ton of the competitive multiplayer, which I will get to shortly. 

The best part of this game so far are strike missions. Basically, you and two other people play a really hard mission with tons of bosses and enemies. This is especially fun when you have a friend with you, which I do. 

You can play any of the story missions with friends as well. Once you hit level 20 (which is the artificial level cap) you can replay those missions on basically "Strike" difficulty and earn other gear and XP. 

There are also community events which are fun. You're running around on the planet, having a good time, and then a huge tank will drop in. Anyone in the vicinity can help take him out. It's a really fun and difficult battle.

The sound is just bad. The voice acting is really boring and uninspired. The guns sound just like guns in Halo, but they might have brought the pitch up or sped it up. There's this one gun that really sounds like a Needler. The music is pretty good, but since the other things annoy me, I mute the sound and listen to other things. 

So the competitive multiplayer is disappointing. Any levels beyond 20 can only be earned by playing these matches. It basically takes 10-20 matches to actual get the new level.

I hate Halo. I've never liked it much. The very first one was interesting to play split screen on a console. Beyond that, no Halo game has ever been fun. I've tried so many times to get into it. I've played every Halo except the one that came out last year. They just don't do it for me.

Multiplayer plays exactly like Halo. People bunny hop all around the map to keep you from shooting at them. They just launch grenades and spray machine guns into rooms with capture points, not aiming at anything, just hoping to get some kills. And the maps might as well all be "Blood Gulch" with a new skin on them. 

You can't even really play the multiplayer until you're at least level 15. I jumped in at level 7, was put on a team with a bunch of people level 5-13. We played a team of people level 18-20. We were dominated. 

Now, they supposedly even out the damage your weapons give, but at level 20 you have access to a bunch of better rocket launches, sniper rifles, special abilities, armor, etc. Basically, they are coming into matches where I have a knife and they have a sword. Technically they do the same damage, but the sword is still going to win that fight. 

Now that I'm level 20, I can at least survive a bit, but because everyone is bunny hopping around, there's not a ton of skill involved. You basically just have to spray machine guns and hope you hit. 

And matches where there are capture points are usually my favorite match type. However, the maps are small enough that when the other team sees you are capturing a point, they can get to that point before you capture it and just spam grenades. So it's a race to see who can get two points first, because you're probably going to keep them. 

If I had to give it a number, I'd say Destiny is a 5/10. I've had incredibly fun times playing with buddies co-op. But the story is boring, the competitive multiplayer is not my sort of game, and the story is not fleshed out enough for me to care. 

There's the framework for a really awesome and rewarding experience and I tend to think that 1) This was probably a Halo game at some point and 2) this was Bungie working out their MMO network code and figuring out what people would like the most. My guess is Destiny 2 will be a good 8/10.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Editorial: The Things Resident Evil Got Wrong

Resident Evil has a storied history of making people scratch their heads at decisions made. Most of their legacy is seen in the positive, but of course there is the insane fall from grace with Resident Evil 6. Here are some of Resident Evil's questionable decisions.

  1. Resident Evil 2 - The Moth
    You've fought your way through the police station, slugged knee deep through poopy-water, and battled William Birkin away multiple times. There's a giant metal blast door staring you down. You ready your customized shotgun, not knowing what creature awaits you. And.... moth. Giant, fluttering moth. In a way it was somewhat creepy and I have to applaud that someone had to design and program the moth for this one room. But once you do research, you find out that unless you are a giant flower, this moth is mostly harmless.

  2. Resident Evil 0 - Opera Singing Leech Doctor

    Leeches creep me out. So it should have been one hell of a scary edition. Unfortunately, from the moment I saw Dr. Marcus singing opera on a mountain top to call the leeches, I realized this is when the series was going to lose some of it's luster. And it did.
  3. Resident Evil Survivor

    Underneath all the terrible design decisions, Resident Evil Survivor has a pretty OK story. There's no way to save, you couldn't use a light gun in the North American version, and when you died, there were no checkpoints. The rage I felt when I died during the last tyrant battle and saw the title scream cannot be described. New curse words would need to be invented.
  4. Call of Duty: Resident Evil 6

    There were several issues with Resident Evil 6. The couch co-op is great. My wife and I really loved playing through Resident Evil 5 together. Issue with 6, on the PS3... well that second player couldn't sign into their PSN profile or upgrade any weapons or upgrade anything. That made an already death filled game harder. The inventory system was terrible, there was no way to pause the game, and I still don't really understand how herbs work. On top of that, Chris' campaign might as well have been the new Call of Duty. Run and gun through eastern European towns with the arm-swollen Chris.
  5. The Resident Evil Magazines

    The Resident Evil Magazines were comic books that came out in 1998. The first two comics were actually pretty great, covering the events of the first two games. But beyond that, they suffered from lazy writing. Essentially, "Ummm... an Umbrella facility has an accident... in South America... and here's Barry."
  6. Resident Evil 5 Boss Battles

    Part of the tension of the Resident Evil series was the battle between your character and the bosses. They were chess matches of firing a few shots and running like hell. In Resident Evil 5, most the boss battles involved you jumping on a mounted machine gun and firing away.

    The height of the RE5 boss battles was the first one, the executioner. And you know why? Because it felt like an old Resident Evil boss battle. I didn't get a quick time event every 45 seconds so that a giant didn't punch the jeep I was holed up in.