Sunday, March 31, 2013

PAX East 2013 Day 2 - Elder Scrolls Online Impressions

Elder Scrolls Online Impressions (AKA Skyrim Online) - I waited in line the longest to play this when I could have gone home and played Skyrim to get the same impressions. That’s essentially when this game is. It was nice to have 30 PCs setup for us to play, but the real WOW factor was playing outside of the booth; A five minute cinematic showing off three of the playable classes that was released back in January.

One thing that looks different from Skyrim is the flexibility in the upgrade trees. Weapons and armor are not tied down to classes. For example I could give a warrior (or dragon knight as ESO calls it) some leather armor and a bow if I want, or I can give my wizard heavy gear and have him walk around like Bugs Bunny in a suit of armor. The choice is yours.

The only big question that has not been released yet is the pricing model. Will Elder Scrolls Online go free to play? Or will there be a subscription involved? We saw what happened to The Old Republic with their subscription model… but I bet Betheda will bet the farm that the Skyrim name will help them gain subscribers and try their hand at $19.99/month. Below is the cinematic playing at the booth.

Elder Scrolls Online does not have a release date yet, but it's due sometime in 2013.

Metro: Last Light Impressions – Difficult! Well I played Metro 2033 on PC and of course, everyone knows that playing an FPS on PC is much easier than playing on console. So I was forced to use a crappy Xbox controller to figure out how get through the demo. It made things difficult and sucked a lot of the fun out of this game, but it does look like an equally immersive experience much like Metro 2033.

I was a little disappointed with the level they decided to showcase. It seemed like players needed to sneak around a lot to avoid enemies and the objective was not really clear. I wish they choose a better map. Graphically, the game looked surprisingly similar to Metro 2033. I didn't see too  many changes or jaw dropping sequences. Slight engine tweaks and a new game shouldn't have caused a three year dev cycle right?

Metro Last Light will be released on PS3, 360 and PC on May 14, 2013.

Dead Island Riptide Impressions - Ugh, I thought  maybe I would have fresh outlook on this franchise considering how much I hated the first release. It worked for Borderlands, why not Dead Island? Because Dead Island has not really changed much. It's still ridiculously hard to kill zombies which takes a lot of fun out of the whole point of game; killing zombies. I understand they are trying to incorporate a leveling system here but I think there would be easier ways to do this with certain melee weapons and areas of the island. This just isn't my cup of tea and it was not a pleasant experience.  

Dead Island Riptide is due out on PS3, 360 and PC April 23. 

Saturday, March 30, 2013

PAX East 2013 Day 1

At this point, all of the PAX events in the past have molded together in my mind and I cannot remember which events featured which games without reading my blog to know which year they were showcased. But one thing is clear. This was the biggest turnout yet. In the posts following, if I don’t have “Impressions” behind the game title then I did not play that game. I merely watched a video of gameplay.

Watch Dogs – What a waste of time waiting to see the secret playing behind this booth. No developers or publishers to speak about the game. Just a few Frag Dolls playing two videos that told me no more than what has already been posted online. What’s with the secrecy here?

Watch Dogs is due out holiday 2013. 

Saints Row 4 – It was a surprise to see this here and we actually had someone from Deep Silver, which is the new development studio taking over after THQ went bankrupt, speaking to us about the game. Deep Silver talked about a lot of the new features but in actuality, SR4 is merely an huge expansion to SR3. Yes it’s an entirely new standalone game, but there really isn't anything to get excited for here.

As for the story goes, it looks like the Saint’s leader has been elected President of the United States and there’s an Alien invasion in Washington DC (those were the two “big” reveals about the game during our demo). So naturally the whole game will probably be about defeating the aliens using all the new weapons, cars and super powers that are featured in SR4. One of the features gives the Saints Leader Superman-like powers. Fly, freeze targets and throw cars at them. There’s also a Dubstep gun, yes a Dubstep gun, which is far as I can tell makes everyone in the area stop and dance to dubstep music and turns all vehicles into hydraulic rhythm toning beat boxes. Fans of the series will get a kick out of this stuff but will it really be worth $60 or is this something Deep Silver is throwing out there as a cash grab circled around THQ’s mistakes?

Saints Row 4 is due out sometime in 2013. 

Assassins Creed 4: Black Flag – Another waste of time. So let’s keep track, that’s 4 hours of lines on day 1 that I wish I could have back. Generally speaking, only diehard fans of this franchise are going to be interested in Assassins Creed 4. Yes the naval battles will be returning but who the fuck cares? There are way more interesting things to play in 2013 and 2014 than rehashing this beaten to death franchise for a 9th time. The franchise is only 7 years old and there’s going to be nine titles. Think about that. How badly does Ubisoft want to be Call of Duty?

So yes the Naval Battles are back and yes they have improved them. How? Black Flag will allow you to upgrade your ship AND CUSTOMIZE IT! Raise your hand if you hear the sounds of a register closing in the form of micro-transactions. (I’m speculating there) But not only are the naval battles improved, the scope of this gameplay time is also expanded, which you can probably guess because the whole fucking game is about pirates and it would be pretty stupid if they didn’t expand this area from AC3. So now you can board ships and accomplish an array of missions and objectives achievements.

Black Flag will also step up the exploration scope allowing you to travel around the Caribbean Islands. Sit on the beach, explore the jungle, fuck you can even go snorkeling! Yes you can swim in the ocean and the second I saw this I wonder how many treasure chests Ubisoft is going to fuck your day up with when you need to find all 352 for that glories achievement you want to brag to no one about. I can hear them pitch this in the dev meetings. “Hey, we can put chests across the entire region and make them play extra hours for a dinky trophy!” “Great idea Bob. God we are brilliant at innovation.”

Assassins Creed 4: Black Flag is due out this November. 

Splinter Cell: Blacklist – I cursed this game as soon as I heard Michael Ironside wasn’t voicing the character Sam anymore. This would be like if Konami didn’t hire David Hayter for the voice of… oh shit. Well there’s two epicly terrible industry decisions. I don’t understand why they can’t hire some young guy to do the motion cap and just have Ironside dub over dialog in post-production? It’s not like they were doing hardcore mocapping for the PSX titles.

I went through a Splinter Cell bender once Conviction was released on steam. I played through all five of them (with the exception of the PSP version, Essentials) back to back x 3. Conviction went off the mark a little with the stealth aspect and it turned into a run and gun action game, but they’re still enjoyable. I’m hoping Blacklist returns to stealth as the major gameplay mechanic.

So what’s new? Not much. A bunch of mumbo jumbo that gamers don’t really care about. A bunch of “refinement” crap and new features like: An economy system! So if haven’t heard by now. EA is going to rape us with their in game micro-transaction bullshit and Ubisoft appears to be taking a page out of their book to create their own micro-bullshit. (all speculation but I’m an angry gamer with a blog so this is the result)

Splinter Cell: Blacklist is due out August 20th, on PS3, 360, Wii-U and PC.