Archive for March, 2011
Okay. It’s a little slow. Plates are full this time of year, certain people are playing catch up with a new console, and spring cleaning is fixin to be a total bitch in 2011. Haven’t gotten around to caring about Crysis 2…still trying to figure out my exact feelings on Killzone 3. Yes, it’s that complicated.
So instead of being some Negative Nancy type, I decided to think positive, and what more positive thing to think about than a person’s 10 favorite things?? Doesn’t have to be games, could be movies, TV shows, cars, sexual positions…coming up with a Top 10 list is just good times, so why not?
Basically, it’s like this…10 games that I’d call my favorites…today. The only qualifier is that it’s only one game per franchise. Needless to say there are some franchises that (unlike the Killzone franchise) boast having multiple games that were considered “genre defining” upon release…in which case my favorite of the franchise is what is listed.
Even tho my gaming clock started back about ’81 or so, I regret to say that Atari classic River Raid didn’t make the cut. Close call, tho. That game was the truth.
Anywho, without further ado.
10 ) SOCOM: US Navy Seals
This game boasts one of my favorite single player campaigns of all time. SOCOM lacked the Hollywood style flashiness that most military shooters come with today. There were no on rails snowmobile chases, no underwater base missions, no nuclear explosions, which sadly seem to have become a pre requisite for military shooters these days…
No, the cutscenes were short, usually contained no dialogue and weren’t particularly intense. The game itself was the attraction, and just thinking about it makes you wonder about where some franchises and even genres just went wrong. Yes, that’s right. SOCOM is so good it makes most of the games that have come after it look like underdeveloped piles of Walrus crap.
Stealth gameplay at its finest is what you have with this baby. Neutralize your enemies, hide the bodies, restrain and extract the VIPs, hostages and informants, breaking into a terrorist prison compound for a high value extraction, weapons free if you must but just get out alive with all assets in place. You were graded at the end of the mission and if you weren’t Charlie Hustle and Johnny Teamwork, the game would let you know how disappointed it was in you.
But that wasn’t all. Believe it or not, there was a time when there were no console based online shooters. Amazing, I know…there just weren’t. In fact, the online capabilities of the generation that PS2 dominated started out as a niche feature that most users didn’t utilize. SOCOM changed that.
Long story short, SOCOM introduced console gamers to online military shooters…and today military shooters are pretty much licenses for publishers to print money. Thank you, SOCOM and Zipper Interactive.
9 ) Galaga
I’ll be honest…I fucking suck balls at Galaga. I think my best was getting to a third Challenging Stage. In my defense, I never got the time I wanted to take with it…usually because back in the day you couldn’t just hog one cabinet all to yourself or you’d likely gotten your ass beat by every other kid who put their quarter on the rail.
That being said, the game’s fucking awesome. Whenever I’m out and I pass one, I throw a quarter or four in. There’s several places of commerce that I take the family to, not because I prefer their way of handling business over their competitors, but because I know damn well they have a Galaga machine waiting me.
Locally, the Strong Museum of Play is right now setting up a permanent classic video game exhibit and as a Member of the museum, and I plan on playing A LOT of Galaga there once it opens. I’m honestly thinking about seeing if I can buy one for my house. That’s how good this game is. Yeah, I suck at it. Doesn’t mean it’s not fucking awesome. Don’t judge me.
8 ) Madden 2005
I learned to hate playing Madden online a long time ago. My problem is that I’m really good at it. Look, way back in the day, there was Joe Montana’s Sports Talk Football for the Sega Genesis. It wasn’t that great, but it was all we had. Then Madden came along, and damn near two decades later, having played the game religiously and at some points multiple times daily, you can bet your motherfucking bottom dollar that I’m really fucking good at it.
Problem is…I play people online…and I usually beat them…then in the 4th quarter when they realize there’s no hope, they just quit. They quit and I get nothing but a DNF in the stat line. Not a win, not even a notation that I was winning when the punkass I was playing quit…I get a motherfucking DNF.
Well fuck that. Fuck that. Fuck that. Fuck that. Consequently, these days I pretty much refuse to play Madden unless it’s either someone that I know or someone who is in the same room with me.
So naturally my love for Madden is based on the epic Franchise mode, and this was the very best Madden ever had. The gameplay was tight…the control scheme was so good that in Madden 2007 they had a alternate control setup called “Madden 2005.” It wasn’t exactly 2005′s controller map, but it was good enough.
During the season, players morale would be affected by roster moves, wins and losses, production and so on and so forth…and you’d see it on their player management screen, read about it in the Newspaper they had and hear about it on the Tony Bruno “Radio Show” that he did for the game, which also featured interviews with some legendary NFL players and coaches.
The best part though, was the Franchise Off Season. Madden 2004 introduced the Owner’s Mode version of the Franchise, which had rotissirie geeks up until 4 in the morning while they hashed out their hot dog and parking prices. Madden 2005 refined 2004′s then game changing Mode and it’s pretty much the blueprint for the Franchise Mode that you play today.
At the same time, the Draft was AWESOME. The traditional running, passing, kicking, receiving, special teams and tackling drill minigames were incorporated into the Draft Process and you were able to run up to 15 prospective “college” players through those drills as a way of grading their talent.
Then the draft itself was a playable sequence, with other teams offering trades to each other and you, it really felt like you were in a war room, deciding the future of your team. Throw in Player Progression, Retirements and Free Agency and you’ve pretty much got Gran Turismo for the NFL. Madden 2005 is hands down my favorite Madden game, and as far as sports games go…shit, even just fucking video games in general…Madden is just freaking legend…
…wait for it…
…dary. Every year for just about 20, it’s the best football game out there. Sure, there are haters…and right about now is when they say things like “damn exclusive license” and “2K I looOOoOooooOoOove you!!!!”…but every year, they buy Madden just the same, just like the rest of us. That, as the Most Honorable Carlos Estevez would call it, “Winning.”
7 ) Def Jam Fight For New York
Best fighting game ever. Period, the end. Best. Ever. Thanks for coming.
Seriously, this game was a sequel to Def Jam Vendetta, which was primarily a wrestling game. FFNY however is basically a barfight MMA game. You could pick from multiple schools of fighting, Muay Thai, Kickboxing, Street Fighting, Wrestling, etc…you could learn new moves at the gym with Henry Rollins…and then you’d go whip some ass.
With a wide variety of clothes, accessories, bling, tats and haircuts to choose from, you could pimp out your character so you could wear some Gators, and then break your foot off in a motherfucker’s ass with some style. The story was rather formulaic, but it was executed on motherfucking point while starring some of hip hop’s biggest stars like Method Man, Busta Rhymes, Ice T and (for fuck’s sake, it’s motherfucking) Snoop Dogg among many others.
All of that however is simple window dressing for the fighting which was out of this fucking world. Simply the best and most gratifying fighting in a game, period. Slam a motherfucker’s head through a jukebox, break a bottle over a punk’s head, smack a ho in the face with a pool cue, throw a chump out of an office window or dump a busta in front of an oncoming subway train…anything fucking goes in FFNY.
The story mode loops into itself with epic matches even after you complete the storyline, which matched with the ability to create entirely different characters with different and mutually effective fighting styles, made for a ridiculously high amount of replay value. Honestly if they just ported it to this generation and threw in an online MP option, it’d be worth $60.
Best fighting game ever. If you don’t own it, you should.
6 ) Silent Hill 2
What can you say? This game redefined horror. The original Resident Evil was certainly a creepy game…and of course it’s morphed into a zombie/not quite but still pretty much zombie shooter, more and more with each iteration of the franchise. Silent Hill (PS1) and Silent Hill 2 however were different in that they were more atmospheric and psychologically frightening.
Silent Hill’s franchise trademark of course is disturbing imagery mixed with a sense of helplessness and dread that comes with being just some “Joe Sixpack” whose never had to fire a gun before. Silent Hill’s control scheme always was meant to convey the feeling that the playable character wasn’t in fact a space marine and wasn’t at all comfortable or particularly good at shooting or beating people/things to death.
If you put SH’s control scheme in Gears Of War, the term you’d hear is “CLUNKY.” However in the world of Silent Hill, it’s fear inducing. The game basically mindfucks you from beginning to end, walks you through a haunted forest, haunted city, haunted apartment building, haunted school, haunted prison, a bowling alley…and besides that there are points where the walls and floors around you simply melt away and you’re walking around a rusty iron hellpit.
Throughout the game you encounter the freakiest people doing the freakiest things…crazy people doing crazy things like staring down a knife in a cemetary or violently vomiting into a toilet. The few people you meet are suicidal, homicidal, delusional, schitzophrenic…and there is NO OTHER LIVING PERSON in the game, which really, REALLY brings home the fact that you’re essentially alone as you walk through Hell.
Oh then there’s that creepy bitch who pops up randomly…the one that looks and talks like your dead wife, has several personalities and dies…horribly…a few different times…yeah, she’s pretty f’ed up, too.
And that’s not even taking into account the erotically deranged and disturbing adventures of Pyramid Head.
Then there’s the random screams from off screen, there’s the sound of children playing in the next room, a monster breathing heavily behind you as you walk in total darkness without a single weapon…where games like Resident Evil arm you to the teeth and you’re basically a Minister of Death, you pretty much play through Silent Hill 2 thanking God that you’re still alive and praying that you don’t see another monster ever again.
In my opinion, Silent Hill 2 is scarier than any movie that’s come out since The Exorcist. There’s times…and everyone whose played it will tell you…where you just had to turn the game off and go to bed.
You’d be playing for a while…maybe it was late at night and everyone else in the house was sleeping…you’re about five beers and two joints in…and you’d be playing and your eye would start twitching and you could hear your heartbeat through your temple and you’d pause the game, put down the controller and just say ‘goodnight.’ Yes, Silent Hill 2 is that fucked up, and it’s AWESOME.
The Top 5 will be up by the weekend. Feel free to comment or go on the forums and offer your own Top 10.
Today we will be talking about Killzone 3′s Multiplayer component. Yesterday I reviewed the game and while I only was able to cover the single player campaign (it was late at night and a motherfucker has to go to work in the morning), I gave the full game the rating of 8 out of 10.
Not affecting that rating, as it was for the full game, I’m going to discuss the multiplayer components today in detail, as when it comes to shooters, MP is the factor that most people use to determine if a game is a rental or a purchase.
The Class System returns in Killzone 3, however all classes are unlocked at the outset and players have to determine which classes to assign the “Unlock Points” they’ve earned to . True to their name, Unlock Points let users unlock new weapons, abilities and skills for their classes. As your Experience Points (XP) accumulate, you earn Unlock Points, and this is crucial for your class development on Killzone 3 online.
Killzone 3 has several modes of online play, but they do not include co-op campaign. That is only available using split screen, there is no option to play campaign co-op online. It’s not necessarily a dealbreaker, but honestly with all the clamor for co-op when Killzone 2 released, you’d have thought Guerrilla Games would’ve made a note or something.
Online multiplayer is divided into three different modes. The first option is Guerrilla Warfare, which some of you may know as Team Deathmatch. The mode itself isn’t changed from the many, MANY “Bodycount”/TDM only games that saturated Killzone 2′s online lobbies, except for the fact that since there are no more User Created Ranked Rooms, the maximum time and kill cap are set by the game itself.
Maximum time is 10 minutes and the kill cap is currently at 50 kills, and this makes most Guerrilla Warfare games very short. It’s very difficult for more than two people on a team to reach even 10 kills in the same round. 20 kills for even one player is a task considering the time limit, the size of the maps and the fact that GW is an 8v8 mode.
It’s still TDM and it’s still fun, but the brevity of the games and the fact that you max out between 2500 and 3000 Experience Points earned per game make it nothing more than a warm up for the other modes. At least that’s how I play it. I imagine there are plenty of TDM Whores who love it, but it’s just not enough for me.
Returning for Killzone 3 is Warzone mode, which is an extended game that features a medley of objective based games that shift on the fly. The mission types are exactly the same as on KZ2, Bodycount (TDM), Search And Retrieve (Capture the Flag), Capture and Hold (Base Missions), Assassination (Kill A Specific Player…two rounds, one for each team) and Search And Destroy (Bomb Plant Mission…two rounds, one for each team).
There are seven “rounds” in a game, and that was created that way to avoid Ties…although they still happen from time to time. The Warzone games no longer host the 90 minute Iron Man Sessions of Killzone 2, but they are extended games and still just as fun as ever. XP typically maxes out between 10 and 12,000 for the elite, with regulars and casuals still able to make it rain at around 6 to 8,000 on the reg.
New to Killzone online MP this go ’round is Operations Mode. Players on the ISA must complete objectives while the players on the Helghast side defend and try to stop them. Typically the first objective would be to blow a set of doors, the next would be to hack a set of terminals, and the following would be to set charges or deliver a power source.
The objectives are done one at a time, with the next objective being unlocked upon the successful completion of the one before it. The objectives themselves play out like objectives from Warzone, but with each one being completed, a new portion of the map opens up.
There are brief cutscenes as each objective is completed or failed. These cutscenes feature the best players from each team in action, albeit briefly. At first I didn’t think the scenes would be that big a deal, but it sure is fun to see your name hovering above your character as you progress.
Operations is the best mode available in my opinion, and should be the future of competitive online multiplayer shooters, if you ask me. The problem with it is that Operations can only be played on three maps, and according to an exchange between fanboys and developer Seb Downie on the official forums, it’s “unlikely” that there will be more Operations maps available as DLC in the future.
This is disconcerting. You have to wonder about the thought process of a developer that works to create a new online MP mode and then only has three maps available to play the mode on for the forseeable future. Many fans (including myself) had expressed a willingness to pay for more Operations content directly to Guerrilla Games, and their apparent unwillingness to develop any has left many gamers with a sour taste in their mouth.
For their parts, Guerrilla Warfare and Warzone play very much like they did in Killzone 2. Guerrilla has changed around the abilities and loadouts available to the different classes, and they’ve also tweaked the responsiveness of the controls, and for the most part these changes have come off well. There’s of course a contingent of fans who are constantly weeping online about the control scheme being tailored to the Call Of Duty fanbase, but those claims are baseless.
The controls are more responsive, but they maintain much of the weight that Killzone 2′s controls have. You can adjust the control scheme to a more CoD type layout, but aiming down your sights takes just as long with Killzone 3 as it did with Killzone 2. If you’re a vet of Killzone 2, then you’ll know that means hipfire is still the most efficient way to kill your enemy.
There has been quite a bit made of the Brutal Melee, but it’s not at all what the knife is in CoD. A Brutal Melee takes time as you have to grab your enemy’s head and then do something nasty with it…if you are killed while trying to do this, your Brutal Melee attempt will fail and the person whose neck you were trying to snap will live.
It is however, intensely satisfying to see your character snap a neck or gouge out or stab an eye or two. Of course if that’s just too much for you to handle, you can just stick to shooting people…but a kill is a kill is a kill is a kill and Guerrilla has added creedence to the argument that there’s nothing wrong with a melee attack by making it such an awesome sight to behold.
Much has been made to this point of Guerrilla’s decision to NOT include Spawn Grenades in the Tactician’s arsenal, instead opting for stationary Tactical Spawn Points which the Tactician must capture to unlock. Despite the fact that this is one of the most bellyached about changes from Killzone 2 to Killzone 3, I won’t sugar coat my opinion…this is a good thing.
The main problem with Spawn Grenades in Killzone 2 was the fact that most of the people who deployed them had no idea what the flying fuck they were doing. Most people were ignorant of the fact (willfully or otherwise) that you spawn facing the direction that the grenade is thrown, which caused many players to spawn in facing a corner or a wall.
There’s also the numerous cases of Tacticians deploying their Spawn Grenades right in the middle of a firefight, which only gets more people insta killed in the crossfire as they spawn in…and of course if you combine a Spawn Grenade thrown facing the wrong direction and one thrown in the middle of a firefight, then you have what I call a Tactard.
Tactard - n – an idiot who thinks that he/she can/should just throw Spawn Grenades however and wherever they get the urge to.
I spent many a nights playing Killzone 2, cursing out Tactards on my mic for my whole squad, team and any enemies in proximity to hear. There are a lot of fools on Killzone.com crying about how not having Spawn Grenades ruins the game, but trust me…the game is better for it no matter who cries how much.
Overall, the multiplayer component got a new mode (even if there are only 3 maps, Operations mode is still awesome) and some refinement to the controls. It wasn’t so much that the game “isn’t Killzone” anymore, but it was enough to make the game more accessible to a more casual audience. The objective modes are just as satisfying as they ever were and the changes to the classes have shaken multiplayer up enough to keep it fresh.
Again, the game gets an 8 out of 10 overall, most of the cool points having been lost because of the plodding pace of the first third of the single player game. Small problems with multiplayer and a rather short overall single player campaign also contributed to the score being less than the score Killzone 2 racked up.
Honestly this game is fantastic, but the hiccups early on in campaign and the lack of support for the newest online mode is what seperates this game from its superlative predecessor. Please don’t let the fact that it’s “only” an 8 out of 10 dissuade you from at least renting it. This is a great shooter with a really cool online multiplayer, and if you have a PS3, then it deserves your attention.
Perhaps it is an indicator of how the gaming community has matured in the last two years, perhaps not…but Killzone 3 released last week amid a fraction of the internet flame wars and console partisan fury that it’s predecessor came out to two years ago. There’s almost no 360 v PS3 fanboy nonsense about it this time around…but that doesn’t mean it’s not a hotly debated game.
We’ll get into that later, for now let’s start off by talking about the single player campaign for Killzone 3. The game’s narrative itself begins about three quarters of the way through Killzone 2, with Scolar Visari presiding over the detonation of the ISA nuclear warhead Red Dust in the Helghan capital city of Pyrrhus.
We see that Colonel Mael Radec and Stahl Arms Chairman Jorhan Stahl were there as were the members of the Helghast “Senate,” four guys who I have tentatively named “Mohawk Hitler,” “George McFly Sr.,” “Red Foreman” and finally “Epic Mutton Chops Guy.”
Please forgive the pic quality…I pulled it off a youtube screenshot.
Anywho, basically there’s a walk in and a cut to the speech that I guess Visari was broadcasting to the people of the planet Helghan as he blew up their capital city. The controller tutorial is presented from a different perspective…and then it just…well it just takes you to the end of Killzone 2.
For those who don’t already know, at the end of KZ2, generally unlikeable Sgt. Rico Velasquez murdered Helghast Autarch Scolar Visari, and playable character/mohawk machismo Sgt. Tomas Sevchenko sulks as a massive fleet of Helghast Warships overruns the ISA invasion fleet, most of the ground force of which had already been annihilated by the aforementioned nuclear holocaust visited upon Pyrrhus.
As said already, the game starts with you playing through the general weapons tutorial…as a Helghast soldier. You then take your Helghast ass up to a studio to oversee the execution of ISA soldiers on Live Helghast TV in retribution for murdering Visari.
Flash backward six months to the immediate aftermath of Killzone 2, and Cpt. Blowhard…errrrrrrrrrrrrr, Captain Narville is now berating Rico for being a murderous, racist idiot and basically telling him that he’s going to prison, he’s worthless, yadda yadda yadda. Rico doesn’t just allow people to walk on his feelings like that, though…and in defending himself, for the first time in the series, Rico took steps toward becoming a likeable character. Then all hell breaks loose and everyone has to drop everything to get out of the city.
The escape from the aftermath of Killzone 2 is pretty involved, and it takes up at least a third, if not half of the actual gameplay itself. It basically details Sev and Narville getting seperated from Rico and a large contingent of the ISA ground force. If the game were longer, this wouldn’t even be a talking point, but the game itself is pretty short…so it is. It also might help if it had set up the rest of the story properly, more specifically if it went into greater detail about what Rico and the Raiders (Rico’s band of merry but stranded ISA buddies) had been doing over the six months between the beginning and the end other than growing Rico’s afro…but whatevs. It wasn’t the last plot hole in the game.
As far as Killzone games go, the first half is a subpar experience all around. It plods along slowly and has several awkward moments that really take away from the enjoyment when they should be adding. There’s a vehicle section that starts almost literally out of nowhere, and it has you driving and operating a turret simultaneously. Problem being that the vehicle you’re driving is a PIG on rough terrain, and the turret has a rather large Dead Zone that it can’t aim into. Coincidentally, that’s where most of the enemy vehicles you encounter spend most of their time. It was so awkward that my neck hurt from it. Not even kidding.
There’s also a lot of plot inconsistency and flat out BAD voice acting. I think part of the reason Killzone 2 was such a success was because Guerrilla Games had almost intentionally stayed away from extended cutscenes of any kind. This time around, there’s drama, ambition, betrayal and bad feelings on both side of the ball. Petty internal power struggles affect both the Helghast and the stranded ISA invasion force. It’s all pretty predictable…with one side coming together to sing Kumbahya around the fire and the other side trying to kill each other and eventually triggering their own downfall. I’ll leave you to guess which one’s which.
The problem with it all is that it’s all so telegraphed and when it isn’t, it’s just uneven. Starting the story in media res was a first for the series and wasn’t particularly effective. Adding all that dialogue was money in some places and a crapout in others. The game didn’t seem to be a part of the same story that Killzone, Killzone Liberation and Killzone 2 were telling. It should’ve been among the darker stories of the series, but it’s really the one most like a Summer Action Flick.
That said, the game picks up with a vengance in the second half. There’s huge battles, dropships, and insanely large vehicles to commandeer and destroy as the stranded ISA forces try desperately establish communication with Earth and ultimately to escape Planet Helghan alive. The Killzone series encounters some of it’s biggest, most action filled, most chaotic and frankly best moments in the second half. The very end itself is big production…an intense affair that finishes awkwardly on a few different levels.
The best I can describe it without spoiling it is that the ending view does not give enough time to appreciate the gravity of what had just happened…and trust me when I say, it was pretty freaking heavy. But the game just zoomed to the credits, which (again…not trying to spoil anything) almost seems to downplay the severity of the finale, which if I were to rank it on a scale of 1 to 10, would get about a 12.
The gameplay has been tweaked, and while it’s not at all like Call Of Duty as many including myself had feared…it’s still a lot lighter than before. It is still Killzone, however…it still moves substantially slower/more realistically than CoD, and it’s just as intense as ever. Among other things, this game incorporates a reciprocal revive feature.
Where in KZ2 you would many times have to revive your teammates, they were never able (or inclined) to revive you when you went down. In Killzone 3, Rico and Narville will revive you if they’re close enough…and that’s a help during some of the more challenging sections of the game.
I need another entry to go into my opinion of the multiplayer offering, and I’ll save that for tomorrow or the next day. I will however give you my full game review score now…Killzone 3 is an 8 out of 10. It is most certainly NOT better than Killzone 2. It has moments that certainly trump KZ2 at its best, but the single player is simply BAD at some points. It also takes too long to get good and from there it doesn’t last long enough to truly enjoy it. Multiplayer is great if uneven…however the “support” that Guerrilla seems to be leaning toward for the near future of Killzone 3 is at best concerning and at worst…well, we’ll talk about that in more detail within the next 48 hours.
Killzone 3 gets an 8 out of 10. It’s a great game with great production value, great fun and a multiplayer component that is excellent fun despite its shortfalls. If you own a PS3 and enjoy shooters, this should eventually find its way into your library.