Saturday, May 30, 2009

Warhammer 40k Space Marine! Wait, it's console only... WTF?!


IGN's pre-E3 reveal of Warhammer 40k Space Marine

That old tech demo was kinda funny with the PR guy's overuse of "cinemaction", but it looked pretty impressive in most other aspects. And now Relic's doing it? This is now my most wanted game.

Well, tied with AvP 3, at least.

Though... when you think about it for a sec, the naming for these games is a bit lackadaisical. First "Warhammer 40k: Fire Warrior", and now "Warhammer 40k: Space Marine"? Couldn't they have thought up something a bit more memorable and less uh... obvious and perfunctory?

Anyone else just realize that that cover art is all wrong? Everybody knows that SM squad leaders don't wear helmets. They're just so darn tough they don't even fear headshots. So um, just watched the video... almost had an orgasm. They took everything cool about DoW's sync kills and stuck em all into this game, apparently. Also, did anyone else think that the Orbital Bombardment there was a little more powerful then the one in DoW 2?

Oh, and of course... if this is only coming to consoles, I will murder someone. I really will. But Relic wouldn't do something like that. I still have faith in the God Emperor.

Wait... lemme see...

"this time only for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3."




I am going to kill somebody.

Someone stop me, I'm going to go on a murderous rampage.


I swear to God... if this really is console-exclusive, I'm never buying another Relic game.

Why do I feel this way? Like I've been stabbed in the back? Betrayed, perhaps?

Well, when you're known for a long line of PC RTSs, with several of them being in the friggin Warhammer 40k universe... making a new Warhammer 40k game that's console-only is kinda lame. I mean, what's is Relic known for? Homeworld, Homeworld 2, Dawn of War, Company of Heroes, and Dawn of War 2. All PC exclusive games. And now this? Way to spit on your fans, Relic.

See, I'm fine with them expanding player interest in their franchise. I'd be fine with DoW 2 getting ported to consoles. I don't have a problem with Relic turning away from the RTS genre to make a sort of third person action RPG/shooter. I'm not saying people with consoles shouldn't be able to play this game. What I'm saying is that people with PCs should be able to play this game. Relic should release this for the PC, seeing as how it made its entire reputation and fanbase from PC games. Building up a sterling reputation on the backs of PC gamers and then completely abandoning them with a console-only game is heinous.

But hey, prove me wrong. Maybe there will be a PC port. *shrug*

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Why do people still use the marketing phrase "Next Gen"?

So... this term "next gen." Isn't this basically something a marketing shill at Microsoft or Sony thought up, and then everybody working in the gaming industry kinda picked up and started using because well, they're amicable folk and somewhat relegated to accepting whatever tripe they're fed? Something like that, I think. Cause it's not a term I ever used. It sounds unnatural. I mean, every new generation is technically the next generation. So the N64 used to be next gen, when people played on SNES. But who the hell ever called their N64 a next gen console? With next gen graphics?

Now we come to the 360 and PS3. How the fuck can people still refer to them as next gen consoles? Last time I checked, the Xbox 360 and PS3 have been out for years and years. That would make them this current generation. They are not next gen. Next gen implies that they are in the future. Like hey, we're stuck in the 23rd century, and Harry Mudd is trying to sell me tribbles. Boy, I wish we could travel to the 24th century, when Klingons are actually our friends. I bet that would be The Next Generation. Boy howdy, that would be something to look forward to, right? Something out there... in the distance. The future. Not something we have right now.

Start calling your 360s and PS3s current gen consoles, it makes a lot more sense.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Pondering the faults of Crysis

Some people have stated that they find themselves rather weak and the suit powers lacking in Crysis. I think there are other factors then just the limitations of the suit powers that make you feel relatively underpowered. For example, one biggy I always think of is the fact that the Koreans are insanely armored. They don't wear nanosuits, but their armor vests are crazy good at stopping bullets. Even landing a headshot doesn't work unless you shoot their exposed face, their damn helmet will deflect a bullet. Really frustrating sometimes. I think if they had lowered the toughness of the Korean soldiers, you would feel a lot more powerful. Cause sure, cloak would still only last 5 seconds, but it wouldn't matter if you could drop a Korean in one burst to the torso.

Having to go for headshots was tolerable from a gameplay standpoint, sure. But as far as suspension of disbelief... I dunno, it was strange. Here I'm a Delta Force soldier equipped with the latest and greatest R&D armor, with friggin nanites and all... giving me rather outlandish powers and protection in this near-future setting... yet I'm still using guns that seem pretty weak and old-fashioned? Well okay, not the gauss rifle, that was awesome... but the regular assault rifle you're given is pretty ineffective against these Koreans. It's this strange disconnect. On one hand your armor is amazing and sci-fi, but you use a gun that seems to be no more powerful then an M-16. Oh wait, it can hold 10 more rounds in the magazine. Big whoop.

Actually, around the middle of the game, I think I threw away the assault rifle entirely and just kept a loadout of the shotgun and a sniper rifle. You get the best of both worlds... long range sniper kills and then close range one shot kills with cloak.

I had the same problem with Halo. You're given this insanely powerful power armor, with force shielding and everything... and yet you're running around with an assault rifle that seems about the same as a standard NATO 5.56mm rifle... sniping with a sniper rifle that doesn't seem all that different from a Barret .50 cal sniper rifle... it's like "What gives, guys?"

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Why I Hate Anime Part 1: Gundam

Part 1 in a series of meditative thoughts about why I despise and loathe anime. This particular post is gonna focus on one of the biggest symbols of anime: Gundam.

So uh... I guess George Lucas doesn't care about people in Japan ripping off his Star Wars stuff? Cause aren't those light sabers the Gundams are using? Isn't that what it is, an energy sword type of weapon? Did Gundam pay for the rights to use light sabers from Star Wars? I kinda doubt it. Mind you, I don't like Star Wars... but that doesn't mean that ripping em off is okay. It's like you get two turds for the price of one.

And why does a Gundam always look like a giant robot stylized in samurai armor? If it's the future, why would the giant robot have to look that way? Some scientists finally made the breakthrough that allowed giant mechs to be a reality, and they all gathered around and decided that the samurai armor look was the obvious way to go? There's no other form that a giant advanced robotic fighting machine can take, they have to look like ancient Samurai warriors? I mean, they've got that samurai crest sorta spikey thing on top of the helmet, there's the actual helmet... and then you've got the two weird notches in the nose and the giant red clit for a chin. Why would you have these two random notches in the nose area? What does that do? Why do all Gundams have those two notches on the nose area? Someone explain this to me. And why a red chin? Why do Gundam always have that red chin that protrudes down? What technology requires a red chin that sorta pokes out of the face of the mech? Why this particular arrangement that's supposed to resemble a face? It doesn't matter, the pilot of the damn Gundam doesn't even sit in the head, he's sitting down in the torso. So why the two yellow eyes? Why the crest on top of the helmet? Why do they do this? And what's up with the shield? It doesn't cover much of the giant robot, it doesn't seem to be used at all... what's it doing? Why is there a giant star on the side of it? Does the giant yellow star provide some sort of technological boost?

And how about the name Gundam? What does Gundam even mean? Is it a combination of the words "gun" and "dam?" Cause Gundams do hold guns. Oftentimes, they'll be ridiculously long guns. Kinda unwieldy. But they do use guns. But what about dam? Are there any dams involved with Gundams? No, not really? Then what does Gundam mean? Why are they called Gundams instead of, say... Giant Samurai Robots? What's the meaning of Gundam? Does it have any meaning? I dunno, it's all very vague. They're just called Gundams because... they are. Even though guns and dams aren't generally associated with one another.

How come the hero of these weird Gundam animes is always some 14 or 15 year old boy? How does that make any sense? Why would you draft 15 year old boys into your army and allow them to pilot your best vehicles? That doesn't make any sense. We don't let 15 year old boys fly F22 Raptors. It's stupid. Although, at least in what I could see of this series, the 15 year old protagonist wasn't an effeminate-looking boy. Ya know, so many of these anime protagonists are rather effeminate. Kinda gender-confused. So that's a little different from other animes. He just has some weirdass hair.

So... their ship is called White Base? First of all, that is a really weak name. Why would anyone name anything White Base? That's the blandest fucking name ever. And furthermore, it's not even a base, it's a ship. Why would a ship be called White Base? I guess the ship is white, but shouldn't you call it something interesting and naval, like Enterprise or Excelsior? Why call it a White Base? A base is usually some sort of building on the ground. Even if it was a building, nobody in their right mind would just name it White Base. To call a giant battleship White Base is staggeringly unimaginative and lame. And the space station is named Side 7? Is this the 7th in the Side series of stations? Why the fuck would any space station be called Side 7? That is the most retarded name for a space station I have ever heard. I mean, Deep Space Nine is a pretty terrible name, but ya know what... it's light years beyond the idiotic naming schemes in Gundam.

Rambal Ral? Amuro Ray? Fraw Bow? Who the hell came up with these names? Why would anyone think to name characters like this? How can you take anything seriously when you see that their name is Rambal Ral? Wtf? Is this on purpose? Did the creative directors of the Gundam franchise intentionally come up with batshit insane names for the characters to... I dunno, show that in the future, people like really bizarre names? Is that their master stroke? It's uh... it's pretty bold.

So basically... Gundam is complete bullshit. It's uh... so very godawful. But ya know, it's only a small part of why I hate anime.

My Favorite Name in the World

Did I ever tell you what my favorite name in the world is? I'll go ahead and give you a hint, it's two syllables and starts with a D.

See, I used to watch a lot of television before I found the internet. And ya know, summer vacation... so I'd watch uh, I guess the USA network? In the mornings, it'd be Major Dad, followed by some/a lot of Wings, followed by Family Matters. And I would just sit there and watch em all in a row.

Now, I was just a little kid, not very picky about television, so Family Matters didn't seem that bad. There was a whole slew of family sitcoms pouring through back then. Full House, Step by Step, Family Matters, Boy Meets World... who knows why. But yea, Family Matters was the one with the African American family led by Reginald VelJohnson, the cop from Die Hard. And of course Steve Urkel, one of the banes of the 1990s. But I was a kid, so it seemed funny instead of irritating. *shrug*

So there was this one really dumb character on the show named Waldo, who had a girlfriend named... Denise. And that was really the first time I'd ever heard of the name. Didn't find the actress playing Denise attractive, but the name itself somehow became seared into my mind, my consciousness. Sure, it's just two little syllables, but the way it sounded just seemed so beautiful and elegant... it was the most amazingly attractive name I'd ever heard. Sure, there are names with more raw sex appeal like... Janine or Alexis (both pornstar names) or whatever... but I thought Denise was just the most beautiful name for a woman. And it's been that way ever since.

Friday, May 22, 2009

AvP 3: Joygasm!

So so happy right now.

That screenshot looks like it's the screenshot of the most perfect game ever. Cmon, look at that marine lying on the floor firing his rifle up at the leaping alien. That is just so *perfect*. I mean, it looks like it'll be a tactical squad shooter, which is my favorite kind of shooter. I never liked how AvP 1 had you as a lone marine. AvP 2 was a little bit better about that, I guess.

Unless it's a scripted sequence, or a clunky mechanic. Who knows. It could turn out to be bad. But right now, everything in that screenshot holds the promise of being great. The strangest aspect of that pic is the weapon he's holding, don't ya think? It looks like some weird double barrelled pulse rifle.

They also released this teaser trailer, which featured... a lot of logos flashing across the screen, and then 2 seconds of an Alien screaming. That was pretty lame.

Who knew textbooks left lasting memories?

I finally did it.

Finally... I found out what had been bothering me for about a week. it was this little niggling feeling in the back of my brain that would not stop bothering me. But through hard work and some perseverance, it's been solved.

The thing is, I've been watching all the episodes of The Office in this one long monster marathon. Just cause I uh, tend to do that when I get obsessed about something. Same thing happened when I watched Lost, finished it in a day and a half. Really really draining. Well, The Office is about a regional branch of this paper company called Dunder-Mifflin. For some reason, the name really sounded familiar, but I could not for the life of me place it. It was like a faint deja vu feeling, ya know? So it went around and around in my head until just now, I went browsing and hit a site for textbooks. And that's when it hit me... all the textbooks I used from elementary and middle school, most of em were made by this textbook company called Houghton-Mifflin. That's why it sounded so familiar on the show. Not sure about mathematics, those might've been by a different company. But definitely social studies. I remember this one textbook in particular named "From Sea to Shining Sea." Very educational but also well illustrated, with full splash pages of indian longcabins... information about making pemmican... neat stuff like that. Gosh, I cannot believe I still remember that... a fucking middle school textbook and I'm 24 right now. That's pretty scary. Very scary, actually.

So yea, I'm uh, I'm pretty happy right now. Big accomplishment.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

My reaction to Terminator Salvation (with spoilers!)

I thought it was... okay. Felt like an average summer blockbuster, which is exactly what all the reviews prepared me for. McG is definitely no James Cameron, as if we needed further evidence.

The second half is quite a bit of an improvement over the first half, which felt very limp. A lot of that's the fault of the editing, which is pretty choppy and not... good. I mean, maybe this is nostalgia talking, but you look at Cameron's Terminator, Aliens, T2... (not gonna talk about Titanic cause I don't remember it much) and his storytelling is very natural, it all just flows from one scene to another. The edits are smooth and logically guide you through the plot.

The editing in this film felt like the studio was mandating something close to 2 hours or something. Lots of scenes that just end and you're immediately jerked into another.

And I just remembered that there's this great line Kate Connor gives in some of the trailers, something close to "If you saved us all in another future, you can save us in this one." I always really loved that line, it felt poetic and dramatic and was delivered well. But uh... I don't think it's in the film at all. Must've gotten cut, along with a lot of other things. She didn't say much of anything, I don't think. And she was pregnant, but they don't mention that at all.

And oh yea, it definitely feels like a PG-13 film. One scene in particular has this guy trying to crawl out of a giant pen, where a T-600 immediately guns him down with a giant arm-mounted gatling gun. Except we don't see him get shot at all, it's a complete cutaway. We see a shot of the T-600 tracking him, hear some gunshots, and see him slumping and falling. It's just pathetic.

The T-600s in this film must've gone to the stormtrooper school of shooting, because it's almost comical how lousy they are. Instead of squads of stormtroopers missing with sporadic firing though, you've just got one T-600 walking menacingly while firing his huge gatling, completely spraying everything but the side of the barn, it seems. It's a nitpick I suppose, but you'd think SkyNET would arm them all with smaller guns if their gatlings meant their aiming accuracy effectively went to nil.

Oh, and Danny Elfman apparently just took the gig for a paycheck. Because his score is terrible. At some random points, you'll hear the classic Terminator score, but it's much too little. Elfman's own work is completely forgettable. I was hoping they were going to just play the classic Terminator score for the credits, but no dice.

Acting's pretty much just competent. The standout's probably young Kyle Reese, who also played Chekov in Star Trek. While his Chekov wasn't to my liking, here he's channeling some serious Michael Biehn, and it was very impressive.

Okay, let's talk visuals... the CGI in two scenes were pretty awful. First one's Marcus falling from the Transport and skipping across the river. Lots of laughter from my audience, because the CGI of his body skipping was just so fake looking and ridiculous. And of course, the second one's my Governator and yours, Arnold. Uh... it was kinda maybe sorta convincing, if you squinted your eyes a lot? Maybe if you'd been crying and your vision was all blurry from the tears? I dunno... I suppose it's the best we can do with state of the art CGI these days. But it still looked very unconvincing. And of course, you've gotta wonder why SkyNET just stuck the T-800 in that cell without a gun to shoot Connor. That would've saved a lot of chasing and punching and clawing, right? Meh... the script may have been looked at by Jonah Nolan at some point in time, but it doesn't seem like a Nolan script. Not by a long shot.

So yea, right now... it's way below the brilliance of T1 and T2. Not sure about T3, it's been a while since I've watched it. Better then or equal to, I suppose? Somewhere in there.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Job Safety Hazard #1 for Clan Elementals

Ya know... I was just rereading The Jade Phoenix trilogy yesterday, and flipped to the middle section where the Wolf forces are attacking Glory station. Ya know, Kael Pershaw and Aidan have this plan to ambush the Wolf forces with his Elementals inside mechs. And of course, his girlfriend Elemental Lanja unfortunately gets crushed by a falling enemy Mech.

And that was pretty enlightening, because it made me think about Elementals in a whole new light. I mean, if you think about it... that'd probably be their number one job safety hazard, right? Just getting crushed by falling Mechs that they've disabled. Cause their entire role is centered around getting close and personal to a Mech, swarming all over em, ripping them apart, and then somehow getting away before the Mech explodes due to a fusion reactor going off or having it fall on top of em. It's all close quarters combat... unless you're talking about some of the newer specialized power armors that do a bit of sniping. *shrug*

And that aspect of their combat isn't really uh... fleshed out at all in the PnP game, is it? Are there special rules that relate to getting crushed by falling Mechs? I don't think I've ever read of any. It was just something that the fiction had which really would not have occurred to me if I'd just played the game. Something that really adds to the danger and reinforces how brave Elementals have to be to do their job. They're considered cannon fodder next to Mechs and it's pretty apparent why. Even if you dodge the enemy lasers and Mech fists trying to punch you out of the sky, you've still gotta be extremely focused and attentive while escaping or... giant 100 ton Mech's going to serve as your coffin lid.

I could use some cheering up right now.

Why is that? Well... I started having sound issues on the computer a day or two ago. Af first, just thought it was the sound card finally dying. Cause I've been upgrading my various components over the years, but never the sound card. Just cause sound in games... doesn't really require new hardware like 3d accelerators and the like. So mine's a really old Sound Blaster Live. Can't even find the drivers for it online, I still need to install from this old cd.

So yea, just reinstalled the drivers, thought that would fix it. But no, it turns out the problem's actually my headphones, which are only about a year old or so. That was surprising. And it's not a complete discombobulation, there just seems to be an issue with the wiring... cause I tested it out and found that if I position the cord a certain way, it actually won't make fizzling noises and actually plays perfectly.

Now I've got my cord tied up to the top part of the headset with one of those little plastic tie thingys. It looks pretty ridiculous. But there's still sound. So yea, it'll do until I order a new headset from Amazon.

Sorry for being such a downer.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Babylon 5 can be rather cruel in its stories.

So I just went surfing on wikipedia a bit and found out that Lennier was in love in Delenn. Ya know, I always thought there was something going on in there with those two. But of course, this love is unrequited, since Delenn goes and marries Sheridan.

Ya know, that must've been really hard for Lennier, having to hide his feelings all those years while serving Delenn. I mean, super super hard and frustrating and hard and difficult and frustrating. Sexually frustrating too. It's just sad how that turned out, right? Here's this girl you've known and been close to all these years, but does she feel the same way as you do? No, she's just running off into the arms of this station captain/commander guy. Is Sheridan a captain or a commander? I dunno. Sisko was commander of DS9 before getting to captain, so I guess stations can be commanded by a commander instead of a captain. But Sheridan sounds kinda like he'd be a captain, doesn't he? Nevermind, the point is... Lennier got the short end of the stick, so to speak. Just stuck at "friend." How's he supposed to live like that? It must've been torture, pur tortue. Like, a hole burning through the back of his mind everytime he had to look at her, right? Cause she's just there, nonchalant, probably thinking about Sheridan, while he's wondering why he can't win her eye.

Cause seriously, if you've known someone for eight or more years and you still love them throughout that time, it's not gonna change or go away. He's not somehow going to "get over it." So he just keeps holding his hidden torch for her. Lennier, he just isn't able to see himself with any other woman. It's because he's put Delenn up on this Minbari pedestal and ya know, it's just possible for any other woman to measure up. It's this really deep and intense love and sometimes he just wants to curl up and die because, well... why not? Why not just curl up and die when Delenn will never ever return your feelings and enjoys the company of a guy named Sheridan? It's just so sad and unfortunate for Lennier.

I bet you Lennier grew up watching Hollywood movies. Er, I mean... Minbari movies. Perhaps action flicks. And of course, at the end of the film, the hero always gets the girl, right? Lennier probably absorbed all those films. He probably based his entire concept of love and romance around the dynamics of those relationships onscreen and how it always turned out well. Except real life, it just doesn't work that way. It isn't like a movie. In real life, a lot of love is unrequited, no matter how well you think you belong with someone else. No matter how well you get along with her as friends. In the movies, the other jock dude always lost in the end. Yet in this case, Sheridan being the jock... it doesn't follow the script. How bitter and unfair life is, Lennier must've thought.

He probably even thought, ya know what, I'll just send her an e-mail. Something short and sweet like "I <3 you." And instead of actually writing the word "love," he uses this emoticon that feels a little lighter and fluffier. So when she reacts poorly, he can just say that it's this uh, happy greeting that he gives to everyone on his email list. Ya know, just so he won't be completely humiliated when she rejects him? Or something like that.

And Lennier, he probably also had these moments where he'd be so frustrated and upset over pining for Delenn instead of being in an actual healthy romantic relationship with her that he'd mentally curse her as a bitch, or a whore or some other horrible thing. Of course, he's immediately regret it and take it back, because how could he actually say such awful things... he's in love with Delenn. It's a really frustrating and awful situation, but Delenn's not to blame. She's still awesome and intelligent and funny and great to be around. It's not her fault she doesn't feel that way for Lennier. It's nobody's fault but his, right? Cause he had to have these terrible feelings that're now ruining his life. So he starts mentally cursing himself. Of course, it's him and his warped sense of romance and all that.

Ultimately, he thinks... man, this is a really intolerable situation. And I'm gonna just hide my feelings inside and keep em in there until... I guess I'll somehow emotionally break down and reveal em? Maybe? It'd probably be pretty damn humiliating for me and solve nothing though. Cause she'll just say something that'll completely destroy me and drive me into further depths of depression. Perhaps I'll just jump off a bridge in the meantime. Or no, not a bridge. Cause there aren't any bridges over water bodies in outer space. How silly of me. I guess I'll think of something else. I'll think of something else.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Dawn of War 2: Space Marine Balance Issues

Ok, I only play SM, so that's what I'm going to talk about.

The Force Commander's terminator upgrade is horrible and nobody ever buys it. It's pretty much the most expensive hero upgrade in the game but turning your Offensive hero into a ranged unit that lacks any sort of retreat is a really bad thing. Really really bad. There needs to be some improvement. Perhaps give him a Thunder Hammer and Stormshield option, perhaps a retreat, perhaps a teleport? Something needs to be done to make it an actual viable upgrade to use.

The Force Commander's global ability For the Emperor is also quite bad. Nobody ever uses zeal for it, since it turns your targeted unit into a statue that can be killed pretty easily. I was thinking perhaps it could be changed into an ability that gives your unit increased knockback for ranged attacks, but that might be overpowered in conjunction with ATSKNF. So, not entirely sure what it should be changed to, but it's certainly useless in its current form.

Terminators and Assault Terminators right now aren't worth their cost. 900 requisition and 700 zeal are a huge price to pay for a unit that's mostly lackluster. Only the Terminator w/ Cyclone missile launcher is anywhere near useful enough to that price right now. And that's only because the Cyclone launcher is really overpowered compared to the other two weapon options. For costing as much as they do, Terminators and Assault Terminators are destroyed by Seer Councils and upgraded Nobs. Assault Terminators in particular receive no defensive bonus for holding stormshields, only the 40% melee resistance that all melee troops are endowed with. They look to have a lot of health, but this is countered by them being size Large, which means that everything on the field is able to hit them, such as AV weaponry. Missiles that will miss nobs and other infantry 95% of the time will hit Terminators 100% of the time. So their health goes down much quicker then one would expect. But they also lack a retreat option. This seems very strange, since other heavy infantry like the Seer Council and Nobs have retreat. It's thus very easy to preserve those high cost units, except in extreme circumstances. With Terminators, you're limited to a 30 foot teleport with a 60 second cooldown, after which your very very slow Terminators will still get caught up to. This isn't good for such an expensive unit and most SM players will simply choose to build more tac squads.

The failings of the Terminators and the recent nerf to OB are bad, but the actual buildable T3 unit for SM, the Predator, is also generally shunned. This means that SMs usually never try to tech for T3. Only the Dark Age of Technology upgrade is worthwhile, and that's rare to use since Dreadnoughts are rarely built. The problem with the Predator is that it's much too fragile in battle for the price. This fragility combined with the spotty vehicle pathfinding means SM players will prefer to build more tac squads.

Nobody uses the flamer upgrade for tac squads since it's only useful in T1 against swarms or generators. Plasma guns or missile launchers are infinitely more valuable and always stay effective, so the flamer might as well not exist. Perhaps you could leave the option to upgrade to either the plasma gun or the missile launcher after equipping the flamer, with the limitation that the second upgrade is the final one? It would encourage people to actually equip and utilize the flamer, while not punishing them in the later game with an obsolete tac squad whose pop cap you can only get rid of by sacrificing to the enemy.

The overall melee vs ranged dynamic is okay, except for the retreat damage. Ranged does 20% damage to retreating forces, while melee does 130% damage to retreating forces. This is a very heavy disadvantage for ranged forces in general, and SM units in particular since the Eldar at least have access to fleet of foot which avoids the retreat dmg bonus. Right now, melee does very heavy damage compared to ranged in the normal battlefield, there is no reason to have such a large and punishing disparity for the retreat mechanic. Or if the bonus should stay, attacking melee units should not be able to block the retreating squads. Retreat, I feel, should be a way of saving your unit while sacrificing the field to the opponent, and right now I don't feel that's true with the melee damage bonus. A lot of retreating units are not preserved, but simply killed more quickly when pursued and hit by melee units. Ceding the field and also losing the unit in the process. That's too punishing and defeats the purpose of having a retreat mechanic in the first place, in my eyes. Perhaps a flat 30 or 40% damage to retreating units for both ranged and melee would be alright? Not sure about the exact percentage of damage, but melee is way too good right now.

MW2 stands for MechWarrior 2

No, MW2 does not stand for Modern Warfare 2. It stands for MechWarrior 2, one of the greatest games of all time. I mean, who the hell didn't play MW2 packaged with some sort of obscure 3D accelerator back in the day? It was a fucking giant in the industry. Okay, so the ER PPCs weren't really supposed to be giant slow moving blue balls, but everything else was amazing at the time. So here we come to now, and all of a sudden, people are using the abbreviation MW2 to talk about Modern Warfare 2, and I'm wondering why they're discussing a mech sim from 1995? It's really bizarre. And it's not just MW2, this problem with these uh, these abbreviations is everywhere. When I say ME, do I mean Mass Effect or Mirror's Edge? Does DM mean Dead Mines or Dire Maul? GoW can either stand for Gears of War or God of War. This is a thorny issue.

In this case, I really think MW2 should remain the domain of MechWarrior 2. Cause really, you can just call Modern Warfare 2... you could call it CoD 5. Or CoD 6, if you count Call of Duty: World at War as CoD 5. Which Infinity Ward doesn't, but Treyarch seems to. I dunno how that all works out. But it's a Call of Duty game, so a CoD abbreviation seems appropriate. There's no need to steal the time honored MW2 abbreviation. Ya know, like how they uh, organize things in our U.S. Senate. Seniority rules. If you've been elected longer, you get the better committee positions, the better offices, the hotter interns, all those perks. No different here, I say. Sorta like how people talk about Tim Burton's first Batman flick as Batman 89, in order to avoid confusion with the Adam West film in the 60s.

Or you know, it's perfectly reasonable to just spell it out. Ya know, write Modern Warfare 2. Now, you might say... hey, that's pretty long, it's inconvenient to write it out. Well, I'm not too sure. It's longer then MW2, but not as long as, let's say, Call of Duty 5 Modern Warfare 2. If we shorten that, it turns into CoD5MW2. Which is pretty darn descriptive.

Friday, May 15, 2009

More thoughts on Star Trek

Ya know, this is a recent thought I've had, but didn't you think those Vulcan children bullying Spock at the beginning were just a bit too... unimaginative in their approach? To me, that scene starting with them all being in those little tanks reciting philosophy and mathematical equations was a good way of letting you know that "These kids are far from normal. They are Vulcan children, and Vulcan is a vastly different society then what we know." Those bullies, they really didn't seem like Vulcan children, just regular human kids with pointy prosthetics, emotional cruelty and all. I dunno if it's because I've read so many of the novels, but I always had this vision of Vulcan children being a lot more logical and just plain calculating if they were to taunt someone. Ya know, more subtle jabs... not just being blunt and calling your mother a whore.

The scene just felt a bit too heavy handed. Kids are kids but... alien kids in a society where all emotion is shunned... you'd imagine they would behave differently. That science academy scene with Spock was more of the Vulcan way that I wished was in the first scene. A lot more subtly pointed.

I will say, seeing Spock with that split lip and a little green blood on it was nice. Just to let us know that Abrams hadn't forgotten that Vulcans bleed green. Cause I can totally imagine some casual moviegoers sitting there wondering why there's a green smudge on his lip.

Pacing in Wolverine the game

I've been thinking about the overall rhythm and... the game doesn't seem to be paced as well as Raven's own MUA, just because they were forced to go along with the film's plot instead of doing their own thing. Here, you've got this really long ass escape from Weapon X which takes a good couple hours, plus a lot of time spent in Africa that wasn't all that interesting. That could've been shorter, I think. Raven's original contribution to the story, the Sentinel chapter, that was well done, it seemed to be the right length. But right after that Sentinel MK 1 boss fight, you're just thrown right into another with the Blob. That's not the sort of pacing that you usually have in a game like this. Then the New Orleans chapter, which was basically one long fight with Gambit. After that, you're expecting a good chunk of gameplay left on Three Mile Island. But instead, you're fighting soldiers in one big room, and then a boss fight with Sabertooth, and the ending fight with Deadpool. Really short and perfunctory.

And does anyone else find it funny how they try and explain the Wendigos by saying that they're prototype experiments and they also lack all fur, unlike the Wendigo in the comics? Ya know, it sorta seems like they're trying to make it more grounded and realistic and less silly? But then they go and send weird teleporting blue women and giant lava monsters at you in Africa without any attempt to explain it? It's just... "Yea whatever dude, go fight these crazy African things. I dunno, Africa... man, it's crazy."

I thought that was rather amusing.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Specialization and the Liberating Power of Middleware.

Games these days are immensely more complicated then in the days of yore. Unfortunately, this means that resources have to be much more directed and as a result, games tend to be more specialized in what they deliver. The problem is that with this trend, games specialize in one area and are thus shitty in others. Doom 3 was uh... dark and moody, but had shitty physics. CoD 4 has great shooting mechanics but shitty destructible environments. Bioshock has great storytelling and atmosphere, but shitty shooting mechanics. We tolerate these deficiencies, but perhaps we ought to ask for more.

I was just thinking about this recently and seriously... we need more middleware to help remedy this. Look at Havok, that's the perfect example. Why spend time coding a bunch of physics when you can just buy Havok? All we have these days is specialized games that all focus on a specific hook or gimmick. And I'm not saying gimmick in a negative sense, though it can be sometimes.

This might never happen, but it'd be nice if a lot of these gimmicks were all just made middleware. Like how companies buy game engines to make games on, instead of coding their own engine. Let's take that further along. Look at Wolverine. It's not a truly great game, but the visual damage and rehealing of Wolverine isn't something we've really seen in other games. That's Wolverine's hook. Or Red Faction 3, GeoMod 2.0 is obviously its thing. And it's great. But what if that was all middleware like Havok? What sorta game wouldn't be better off with nifty visual bodily damage like Wolverine, or the destructible environments of Red Faction 3? That's not saying that all dev teams that bought those and incorporated em into their games would put out amazing games, but it wouldn't hurt.

I for one would be very happy if CoD 5 had something like GeoMod 2.0 under its hood.

The problem with Call of Duty 4

I liked Half-Life a lot. It was the first time we'd gotten these cinematic scripted sequences in FPSs. And they were done very very well. But that was back in the good ol days of 1998. Now Doom 3 and Call of Duty 4 foist that heavily scripted stuff on us every goddamn time you cross a room or street corner and I just shake my fist and yell "Damn you Valve! Damn you for condemning me to this scripted hell!"

What I want from an FPS now is not what I wanted from an FPS in 1998. The key is to move away from the Call of Duty 4 model. Which isn't gonna happen if Modern Warfare 2 sells as many copies as its predecessor. What's the CoD 4 model? Sticking you on a straight and narrow path with scripted sequences. Every. Five. Fucking. Steps.

I'm in love with this video. It says pretty much everything I have to say about scripted games. Everybody seemed to love Call of Duty 4, it won all sorts of Game of the Year awards, but this video really shows off all of my problems with it and what the alternative can provide. I played through CoD 4 pretty quickly and have absolutely no desire to replay that campaign, since it's all going to be exactly the same. Same scripts here, there, and over that away. But that video really makes me want to go back and play through Crysis again.

And if anybody from Infinity Ward is reading this... hey, I think you're probably a nice guy in real life and all. But uh, I really hate what you're doing to the industry so... ya know... stop it. Stop it right now.

There's also this inherent laziness in the scripted nature of CoD 4 and other similar games. I remember playing Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six and working my ass off in every single mission to make sure that every one of my eight operatives made it back alive. Sometimes unfortunate events occurred and that wasn't possible. Just a part of playing the game.

You play CoD 4 and you have this squad fighting with you at points, but it's all out of your control. There aren't any squad orders you can give em. Well, perhaps it's unrealistic to expect the same control that you get from a game like R6. Okay, fair enough. Maybe it'll be more relaxing to not have to order the teammates around, sure. Just rely on their AI.

But wait, what's this? They don't have any AI, they're just invincible meatshields that fire occasionally but never hit anything? Why is this interesting? A bunch of invulnerable AI, on opposite sides, firing at each other ad infinitum. All to try to create an epic battlefield that feels curiously hollow and meaningless. It's not epic or exciting to fight with a bunch of AI teammates who get showered by these tremendous barrages of gunfire but do not die, or only die at specific scripted moments.

Why should I the player work hard at all to kill the enemy when my performance has no impact on the squad? In R6, I tried hard to down enemies so my squad wouldn't take hits or die. In CoD 4, there's no urgency to protect my squad, they're all invulnerable. If I kill 30 tangos or just 1, it's not gonna save any of my guys. They're just static, might as well be statues leaning on a wall.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Duke Nukem Forever R.I.P.

The King is dead. Long Live the King.

Now we'll never find out if Duke Nukem Forever was worth 13 years of blood, sweat, and toil. I'm a sad panda now. It's like a part of my childhood has died.

Just as Star Trek gets released too. With the resurrection of one dead franchise, another passes into the ashes of history. What are the odds that some other dev team like Raven or Epic just buys up the property and spits out a Duke game in a year's time? I'd find that quite amusing. Kind of a "That's how shit gets done, folks!" statement. There's always been a strong pro-stripper demographic out there that hasn't been properly catered to in about 13 years.

Ya know something? This news is probably as shocking as it seems because... they've been at it for so long. I think if they had given up the ghost after 4 or 5 years and just canceled the game, nobody would have batted an eye. But to keep at the damn thing for over a dozen years was uh, a sort of ridiculous perseverance in the face of... laziness, engine changes, and procrastination that everybody just thought they had to finish sometime, they'd gone too far to go back. And they sorta kinda seemed to be close to finishing the game. There were some vague promos going around in 08 so it seemed more likely then before. Not quite a demo or a playtime vid, but... there *was* something there. It was enough to keep hope alive, darn it.

Rest in peace dear friend. No gaming joke will ever surpass the glory that was Duke Nukem Forever.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

My reaction to Star Trek (with spoilers!)

Just came back from Star Trek.

It's... very different from previous Trek films. There's some things that stay the same, and a lot that changes. Definitely not gonna replace Wrath of Khan, heh.

The CGI's amazing, of course. That's kinda the most obvious at-a-glance difference. See, this is really hard. My head is swimming with all the crazy stuff that I just saw, but... most of it's gonna be spoilers.

I will say, you should prepare yourself for a lot, I mean a lot of lens flare in this film. It was some sort of cinematic look they were going for, but sometimes the amount of it was just overwhelming. Like, a character will look out of a window, and the sun just pours through the window and completely blots out the screen with yellow flare for a good two to three seconds. That was just kinda "Ok, that's a bit much, thanks."

Yea... the timeline really changes...


Which is mind boggling, but I didn't really feel the impact because you're aware of the time travel, so... maybe it's just me, but I felt myself not reacting to the change when it happened because I was sure that they would use the time travel again at the climax to undo what had happened. It seemed really telegraphed. But then they don't do that at all, which was cool. But by then, the emotional impact of Vulcan being gone was uh, gone. It was just a CGI effect. Did anyone else feel this way?

They do show the Kobayashi Maru, which was really really funny. Maybe a bit too over the top, depending on your mood.

I mean, Kirk's fucking eating a goddamn apple in the scene... that's just insanely over the top. It does work in a comedic manner, but if you've envisioned it happening a different way since 1982 when Wrath of Khan came out, obviously this is gonna take some getting used to.

Just all throughout the film, there are these callbacks to the old series that we know and love. That was really cute and worked for me. Scotty actually saying "I'm giving it all I've got, Capn!" and uh, Spock uttering "When you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."

We even find out how McCoy got the nickname "Bones."

Not sure how I feel about the new guy playing Spock. It's just really hard to see Spock being played this way. It's much more emotional then we're used to, so that was a shock. And of course, because we actually have Leonard Nimoy playing him too. And the new guy's just got a huge nose. There'd be these closeups of Kirk and Spock eyeing each other, and I'd just focus on how Spock's nose is so much bigger then Kirk's normal sized one. It was just weird.

And yea, it's definitely been a while since I've watched TOS episodes. But I think it's also that when we see Spock being emotional before in TOS, it was usually emotional in a friendly, camaraderie sort of way. Here, he's mostly emotional in an angry way.

Right now I'm looking up who played the Orion girl, cause she was fucking hot. You know how Kirk is...

But uh... that's just minor. Now, there is one relationship in this film that was uh... completely out of nowhere, nothing in canon to support it.

Spock and Uhura? Holy shit! That totally came out of left field for me. Just uh... WTF. I don't think I was the only one in my audience to react that way, either. Not saying that it's a terrible decision though. Just a shocker cause we'd never seen this before in TOS. We'll have to see how the sequels handle this relationship. Still, right now... it's just a huge seismic change.

Nero's not a great villain. Kinda wasted in the story, I think. Just uh... not very memorable.

And his great villainous ship turns out to be just a mining ship. Which doesn't really jive with it being this sinister spidery juggernaut. Seriously, it dwarfs every other ship... I'd estimate it's somewhere from a half to one Borg Cubes in size. No idea why a mining ship needs to be that big. And the inside of it kinda reminded me a little of V'ger. Just a really crazy layout. Again, not sure why a mining ship would look like that.

Oh, know what I didn't expect? New Chekov's accent got almost unbearably comical to listen to. It's strange, cause I've never blinked at old Chekov's thick accent. But hearing it coming out of this young new actor was really grating. I actually burst out laughing when he first talked. Simon Pegg's Scotty was great, he was funny in that same sorta Jimmy Doohan manner back in the day. Just a joy in every scene. McCoy too, Karl Urban really seemed to have researched Kelly's acting mannerisms. Don't believe he ever said "He's dead, Jim" though.

Unfortunately, I've gotta report that this film suffers from the same horrible flaw as Deep Space Nine's big battle scenes... we never see any visible shields. Maybe I missed em, but from what I could see, there were never any shield impact effects. Ships just get torn to pieces from the get-go by torpedoes. I mean, yes, Nero's ship is from the future and is obviously much more powerful then the Starfleet ships. But still, I would've expected to see at least one shield impact before they failed. Hey, if I'm wrong on this... feel free to correct me with screenshots. Prove me wrong, I beg you.

The other strange technical oddity is that transporters can work through shields now. Either that or nobody ever has shields up. One or the other. Just kinda bizarre. Everybody's just transporting to where they need to be.

And wtf was with Kirk and Scott transporting to the Enterprise from the ice planet? I mean, I get that the story needed to send them there, but... you mean to tell me that transporters can now reach ships that have departed a planet at high warp for a couple hours? Really? That's some crazy magic Spock Prime worked on that transporter pad. I just... yea, that really didn't make any sense to me. Transporters have a certain range. And yes, having a guy from the future can certainly improve that range. But it really took me out of the movie when you have a transporter that has that kind of crazy range. Not to mention that like I said before, they seemed to be able to transport through the Enterprise's shields. Or the Enterprise was running with shields down, which would be kinda strange given they were facing a dangerous Romulan that had just destroyed Vulcan.

Annnnnd as far as the aesthetics, I really didn't like the new Engineering. It was filmed in a brewery, and that's pretty much what it looks like, a brewery. A lot of pipes going everywhere and huge vats that I imagine contained beer. Just a complete departure from the central warp core room that they introduced in the films and TNG. Which hey, what can I say... that worked for me. Also, the ship apparently has several small warp cores, instead of one long tube that runs from the top to the bottom of the secondary hull. The bridge of course is the same general layout, just all decorated Apple-y white. So it was much more familiar and I didn't have a problem with it.

Oooooh, they did change the phasers... that was pretty noticeable. They're still about the same shape and appearance to the Star Trek 5-6 model, but now they actually switch the barrel when you change it from kill to stun. So it'll have a red barrel for kill, and then flip to a blue one for stun. I dunno... probably a concession to appeal more to casual people?

There was something very strange with the USS Kelvin, the Akula-like ship. At the beginning of the movie, it's getting trashed pretty badly. They have to evacuate the entire ship. So, that top part is the secondary hull, with the shuttlebay. Now... this ship launches about 10-15 shuttles out of there with all the survivors. This is supposed to be a thrilling escape scene, yet... all I could think was how the hell did that secondary hull have room for all of those shuttles? Did the shuttlebay take up the entire hull? Where was their Engineering? It was so strange seeing 15 shuttles coming out of that dinky little secondary hull. Was there some sort of mass shifting pocket universe embedded in the Kelvin to store shuttles?

So yea, still pretty overwhelmed by the experience. Go see it, it's a good time at the movies.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

X-Men Origins: Wolverine Uncaged: The Game: The Post Part 2

Having now beaten the game... does anyone else think Sabertooth was still the hardest boss? He just never let up. I never feared Deadpool except for the part where he'd optic blast the ground and I might fall off the damn smokestack. But as far as melee combat went, Sabertooth was just vicious. He was always on your ass. Gambit wasn't that bad either, just a matter of learning his ranged attack patterns and not falling off the casino.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

X-Men Origins: Wolverine Uncaged: The Game: The Post

Oh man this game is hella fun. Really great hack and slash action. It's sorta like... Max Payne but instead of guns you've got adamantium claws. Every once in a while you'll pull off a crazy move like slicing a guy's torso in half or whatnot and it'll go into slow mo while the blood splatters everywhere. Never fails to make me laugh. And it's all optimized really well for a PC port. This was made by Raven, so that's to be expected, those guys have been working on PC games for ages. It's just so cool seeing yourself heal back up from getting blown up, with skin growing over exposed ribs and muscle.

The only problem I've noticed so far involves the platforming. It's not really done well, and this one section in particular is super frustrating because you can't quicksave. Games like Assassin's Creed and Prince of Persia really show how bad and outdated this platforming is. But most of the game isn't platforming, it's usually killing soldiers in really brutal ways with your claws. My favorite move is leap, it's a really fast lock-on ability that you can perform from 3 to 40 feet. Just lock on a guy, leap and knock him over, jump up and dive down on him again to kill him, then leap onto the next guy, and rinse and repeat. You can do this to wipe out entire squads at a time. That never gets old.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Mass Effect and bug hunts

So uh, reached Peak 15, this underground laboratory that was working on creepy crawly alien thingys. Of course, they all break out and shit hits the fan so you've got these scientists and some security forces holed up with barricades and every once in a while one of the alien bugs will pop out of a grate and try to eat em. Maybe it's just me, but I've got the feeling they were trying to make an Aliens homage with this area. And of course, there's great little touches like how the soldiers have been taking stims to stay awake all the time, and it's adversely affecting their behavior and mindset. Really immersive dialogue. I could spend so much time in this place, it really does feel like they were trying to make an Aliens game in an RPG.

Don't you think it'd be a lot easier if BioWare just didn't have the Paragon/Renegade scale displayed? Then there wouldn't be that annoying habit of trying to go all one way or the other. I was just playing and had to make this huge good/evil choice. My natural response would've been to kill off the Rachni queen. But because that was the "Renegade" option, and I'm trying to go for a full "Paragon" playthrough, I had to pick the other option, which was letting them go.

Because seriously, trying to get the most Paragon points was the only reason I picked that option to let this queen insect go. The Rachni are basically giant space bugs that once almost conquered the galaxy. They're governed by a hive mind, come out of eggs laid by queens... just your standard Alien ripoffs. And here I had the chance to wipe out the last queen. Somehow that was deemed the "evil" choice though.

It's just hard to believe that any rational person in that situation would've been Jesus-like and let that bug go free. Now, this one queen in particular did telepathically communicate with me and say that of course she wasn't going to be like that, she would teach her offspring to exist peacefully, mend their ways, etc. But really, who would just accept the word of this thing? I doubt even Gandhi himself would've been so understanding and trusting of a large space insect. Ya know what, it really reminds me of the TNG episode "I, Borg." Didn't buy Picard's decision in that episode and I don't buy the Paragon choice here.

It was sooo tempting to just hit the Renegade dialogue option and fry the Queen. But BioWare just decided that would be evil and I'd be punished with Renegade points. Seems to me they shouldn't be making judgements in really gray areas like that. I guess I just don't like BioWare pushing their non-genocidal agenda in their games.