The Most Difficult Murder to Solve is Your Own in the New Square Enix Thriller, Murdered: Soul Suspect

Title: Murdered: Soul SuspectMurdered_Soul_Suspect_Artwork_Logo
Developer: Air Tight Games
Distributor: Square Enix
Platforms: XBOX 360, XBOX ONE,
PS3, PS4, PC
Rating (out of Ten): 9

More Entertaining Than: Condemned: Criminal Origins

Less Entertaining Than: Beyond: Two Souls

Duration: 6-7 Hours (not including completion of all
secondary objectives)

 

 

If you are interested in a violent shoot ‘em up, filled with outrageous explosions, I recommend you avoid this title. If however, you are interested in a character and story oriented drama (the game is quite similar to the 2013 PS3 title Beyond: Two Souls, and if you enjoyed that, it is more than likely you will enjoy this too), I would recommend you look no further than Murdered: Soul Suspect.
At its core, Murdered is a love story, about Ronan, a detective with a criminal past, who, in order to be reunited with his wife, Julia, on the other side after he is violently killed, must solve his murder, in order to move on. On top of this, Murdered is a dramatic paranormal thriller, which has features reminiscent of adventure games.

The game begins with Ronan’s murder; an over the top death at the hands of the notoriously antagonistic murderer; the Bell Killer (aptly named for the bell symbol left at the site of all his murders); a man Ronan had been investigating prior to his death. The Bell Killer is responsible for putting a number of Salem’s residents into the ground, the roots of these murders dating back into the region’s history. There are still more victims on the Bell Killer’s list, and Ronan must bring this ritualistic killer to justice.

Stuck in a purgatorial realm, Ronan must travel from one scene to the next in order to uncover the truth. As a character, Ronan comes off as a rather tough as nails detective, his criminal past often being revealed in flashbacks as the player discovers memories located across the city. This potential darkness is counteracted with Julia’s thoughts of him, which are additionally found scattered across the environment. Although these thoughts are written down, and thus need to be read by the gamer, the actress who voices her, and the words themselves, are both as equally powerful at revealing a beautiful romance. This is not told in contemporary order, and as Ronan travels from one location to the next, he discovers memories of his past, and that of Julia’s, which shape his character into a man with a hard exterior, but an incredibly warm heart.

This is strengthened also with the opinions of his brother in law, Rex, a fellow detective investigating the Bell Killer, who is grieving the loss of his best friend, his opinion of Ronan being rather contradictive; although he loved Ronan like a brother, he is worried about his criminal past, something that officer Baxter is not. To say he loathes Ronan would be an understatement, believing that he represents everything a police officer should not.

Not long into the game, Ronan meets Joy, the daughter of a medium who has additionally acquired the gift, however, unlike her mother who assists the police during investigations (including the Bell Killer), Joy is apprehensive about communing with the deceased, wishing instead to have a normal life. With her mother missing, and she been the only living person who can actually see Ronan, the two form an awkward partnership, as the two become better acquainted with one another over the course of the game.

Set in the town of Salem, which has a long history of war, pestilence, and a wealth of other colourful occurrences (which can be found by visiting locations and exploring the environment), the game is a very open world, where the player is able to either freely explore, or head straight towards the next objective, which is always marked with a waypoint. On the subject of the town, I found it strange that 95% of the residents were Caucasian, and although the town comes attached with its own history and culture, the lack of other cultural backgrounds and ethnicities seemed mightily peculiar. Though this does not affect the game, it does fail to contribute a further sense of realism to the environment the gamer temporarily inhabits.

The purgatorial realm of Salem is a mixture of real world environments, and ghostly effigies. These residual spectral visages are strangely corporeal, and cannot be passed through. A benefit of the game is that Ronan is able to pass through almost any structure; how many times in other games have you become stuck on an object? This annoyance is almost non-existent in Murdered. Ronan is unable to pass through buildings that are locked, however, once inside, either through a partially opened door or window, movement is fairly unrestricted, with the exception of aforementioned objects linked to the deaths of others. These however can often be navigated around, and if not by walking, then by using ghostly portals. These residual shadows are tied directly to the existences of ghosts, and can be jumped to and from. Later, when Ronan discovers the ability to teleport, this additionally serves in getting around solid objects or other like obstructions.

Moving on, when travelling towards a destination, Ronan bumps into literally dozens of other ghosts, who can either be conversed with, or ignored. Furthermore, near every major mission location is a ghost in need of assistance regarding a side quest. These often involve a poor soul who is trapped in this purgatory through either regret, or from not knowing about their death, which can include all manner of people; from a young woman who believes her ex-paramour cheated on her, to a man who believes himself responsible for the car crash that killed his friends. Around these ghosts are fragments that can help provide answers, from pieces of the past that can be reformed to tell a portion of their story, to living people, who can be possessed.

When possessing a living character, Ronan can influence them to think about a certain topic or theme, which provides him with valuable information; he can additionally read their mind, or listen in on conversations. Unlike in last year’s Remember Me, in which the character Nilin’s abilities are rarely used, in Murdered, Ronan is frequently using his powers, either pro bono for the benefit of others, or to assist in finding his killer. Although no justice can be bestowed upon the dead who were murdered, the fact their deaths have been resolved and they discover that any guilt they feel is unnecessary, their movement from this world and into the next, provides the player with a certain satisfaction.

Major quests offer a similarity, with the exception that they are on a much larger scale. These locations range from a church to a graveyard; a police station (which strangely enough has a lot of Just Cause posters) to an asylum, each coming attached with its own historical significance to the region. After exploring the area, gamers are able to locate their objective, and scour around for clues, piecing things together from the environment, before enlisting the assistance of living people, who, once possessed, can help provide a consensus on the topic at hand with their own thoughts, memories, or even their eyes, which you sometimes have the option of looking through. On that note though, some clues are unable to be found unless Ronan interacts with the environment. Turning on equipment (or as the game calls it, being a poltergeist), like a fan to blow pieces of paper around, may reveal photos and other documents that were initially invisible beneath layers of other pages.

On occasion, Ronan is forced to visit the same region twice, and even when this does occur, the environment loses none of its atmosphere, the sheer gruesomeness of the murders, and the conversations which take place during these ‘missions’, offering a source of unstoppable intrigue. The issue however when exploring these major areas, is that almost each of these locations are often infested with demons.

These demonic creatures come in two flavours; the kind that hover about like ghouls in a particular territory, which they have carved out as their own, or as large, bright red puddles on the floor, and drag you in when you step into proximity (similar to the floor creatures in F.E.A.R: Perseus Mandate). Although these demons can temporarily be avoided, more often than not, confrontations inevitably ensue, however, unlike Condemned: Criminal Origins, where you beat up your enemies with whatever piece of equipment you come upon, these demons require more nous and tactical proficiency. By possessing people (and on occasion a gorgeous kitty), gamers can make their way around areas, and this is additionally possible by using those ghostly portals mentioned earlier. When in close proximity to a demon, Ronan can execute them (only ever from behind) with a combination of keys that are frequently different. After successfully dispatching one (there is unfortunately often more in any area), the gamer can hide again, and then move on to attacking the next. On a side note, the occasional existence of deceased crow can offer the player a distraction, with demons charging at them the moment Ronan requests that they provide a raucous ‘kaw!’

The graphics of Murdered are powered by the Unreal engine. In the past I have occasionally being sceptical of this particular engine, with some games (I’m looking at you Singularity) occasionally not cutting the mustard when it comes to how it looks. The game is set over the course of the night, the streets becoming darker and slightly emptier as you progress. This darkness often follows the player into the levels, and can provide a rather drab colour swatch, with a vast quantity of darkness merging together. With this said, there is just as much light as there is dark, with the locations you visit all looking and feeling very realistic, with a combination of old and new fighting visually for dominance.

This being said, the graphics are perhaps not outstandingly brilliant (considering that I was playing this on the XBOX ONE), however, at the same time they are really nice to watch. Never is there a part of the environment that looks as though it needs further rendering. With the exception of images, and some portions of text, the game felt and looked like an actual town, and although many ghosts had particularly smooth features, the living cast members, Joy in particular, looked very lively. Her face, with a number of freckles and a couple of moles, along with the jewellery that she decorated herself with, gave to her a unique sense of character.

On a further side note, the controls during the game are incredibly easy to learn, and after roughly 10, maybe 15 minutes, the gamer will have efficaciously adapted, and they will simply become reflex actions.

The conclusion, which seems to come racing towards the gamer faster than I may have initially imagined when beginning Murdered, is about as predictable as it is surprising. When I was almost 90 minutes away from the conclusion, I had already begun to postulate theories on who the killer might be, and although some of my assertions were accurate, there was much I did not count on, and was at the same time thoroughly surprised with the final revelations. Although the conclusion does successfully offer closure to all of the storylines that are written into Murdered, at the same time the gamer (or maybe this is just in my case?) is left with a slight remaining thirst. On this note, despite a slight degree of disappointment at the length of the primary storyline, I have not being so captivated by a title since Beyond: Two Souls, and will happily play Murdered again in the future.

Image obtained from the following link:

 

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The Nuts and Bolts of Gears of War Judgment

GOW-Judgment_Horiz_32x18_FINAL_rgb-300x168

Developer: Epic Games/People Can Fly
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Release Date: 18th March (US) 19th March (Everywhere Else)

Duration: approximately 6 hours

More Entertaining Than: Gears of War

256px-Gears_of_War

 

 

 

 

 

Less Entertaining Than: Gears of War 3

250px-Gears_of_War_3_box_artwork

 

 

 

 

 

Pros:
-gorgeously stunning visuals
-fanciful new equipment
-fun and challenging choice avenues

Cons:
-unbelievably short
-repetitive action oriented scenarios
-stereotypically predictable storyline

Rating (out of 10): 8

Gears of War Judgment is a brainless action shooter that will entertain you as often as it disappoints you.

I won’t lie. The first Gears of War game did nothing for me. I found the graphics to be unfathomably dull and lifeless, I felt the story lacked any substance and the action scenes put me to sleep.

The sequels though, well, they were completely the opposite. If Gears of War bored me to tears, then the following two sequels left me feeling incredibly content with their frequently thrilling action scenes, dazzling graphics and emotionally powerful storylines that pushed the franchise in a brand new and stunningly beautiful direction.

That is probably what makes Gears of War Judgment, that is a prequel to the events of the original Gears game so disappointing, for much of what made me enjoy the previous two games is entirely absent from this particular title entirely.

Judgment is proof that even though a game comes equipped with beautiful graphics, doesn’t necessarily mean it is going to enthrall you. Right from the very beginning you are able to stare in wonder at the gorgeously beautiful environments and sigh at how everything looks as stunning as an oil painting.

The game starts off at the end, with the members of Kilo squad, led by known Gears character Damon Baird, who is a Lieutenant during this particular campaign, being placed on trial for war crimes.

The trail is led by Colonel Loomis, who is the stereotypical high ranking militarian Gears leader, in that he is a complete arsehole, and is out to crucify Kilo squad because of his very own entrenched beliefs.

Over the course of the trail, each of the members of the team provide testimonies on the events which led to their capture by the COG, through which the player takes control of the characters as they narrate what transpired.

Although at first this seemed a little off putting, this is done surprisingly well, and is probably one of the most fun aspects of the game, for the player doesn’t just simply take control of one character over the course of the storyline, but all four.

‘Private, what do you see?’
‘Grubs sir, lots of ‘em!’

Throughout the game you work in a team, and never are you separated from the other members of Kilo.

After initially beginning as Baird, you are then provided the opportunity to play as Sofia Hendrick, who is without a doubt the most entertaining character in all of Kilo, and through her character, you will probably have the most fun. Voiced by the always entertaining Ali Hillis, Sofia is the stereotypically gorgeous Gears woman, with an unbelievably fabulous body and – sorry, what I mean to say is that Sofia is a by the book cadet who fights with honor and courage. She is well mannered, and not only is she the heart and soul of the group, being able to put the others in their place by notifying them when they are doing wrong, she is also the one character who expresses the most entertaining one liners.

The issue with playing as Sofia, is that her campaign is the shortest, and no doubt has something to do with what Epic games said back in February; how they personally believe that female characters in the Gears universe are basically not worth focusing on because gamers will not be interested in them. Basically, Epic made the point that women are boring. But in a game like Judgment, Epic officially contradict themselves. Sofia; the only woman in the game, is probably the most un-boring aspect of the entire campaign and thus deserved a far more influential and inspired role.

The next character you play is Paduk, who is in fact not associated with the Gears, but is their rival enemy. Initially fighting them in battle, the emergence of the Grubs has caused him to join sides with Damon and follow him into battle, for he knows that if they do not end the Locust, then there will be no more wars for any of them to fight, for everyone will be extinct. Paduk speaks in a deep Russian accent and is quite the honorable character. He stands by his beliefs and does not change for anyone, and thus is an incredibly inspiring trait to have in a character. A good friend to Damon, he is an exceptional soldier and is truly dependable for whatever situation you are going into.

Lastly, you have the opportunity to play as legendary Gears character Cole Train. In Gears of War 3, I was honored to have the privilege to play as Cole, even if the time I spent controlling his character was limited, it was incredibly fun. That is probably why it is so disappointing to see such a stellar character reduced to such a pathetically small role. Cole has the least to say throughout the game, and his usually entertaining self has been exchanged for a more subtle character. A character like Cole deserves a far larger role than that which Epic designated for him during the game, and they should damn well know it too.

If Epic does anything especially well with the characters, it is without a doubt the fact that players will be incredibly depressed as they play through the game. Male gamers will feel as though they are not muscular enough (as all of the male characters make even Vin Diesel look positively skinny) and all the women gamers will not think they are skinny enough. Basically, if you have issues with your body, avoid this game at all costs!

Furthermore, although you are able to experience the game through the eyes of different characters, the game offers nothing stunning via story. You learn very little about each character and the connections between the each of them seem to start and end with their general loathing of the Locus horde. As previously mentioned, the last two Gears games provided great emotional storylines, and yet very little is found in this game; even the banter between the characters seems to have been reduced in exchange for more action.

Epic does however manage to redeem itself here with the introduction of declassified missions. The game is separated into small sections, each of which ends with a quick cinematic. At the beginning of each section, the player is able to click on a glowing red Gears symbol on a wall that will open up and provide an additional aspect to that particular section. If the player chooses to play with this added bonus to the section, the character will testify to this during their court proceedings. This element of choice is incredibly fun, the challenges including, but not limited to; time based assaults; alternate and additional enemy units and weapons; player visibility; player healing, etc.

Although these are often incredibly short, there are so many of them throughout the game that you will more than likely have the opportunity to experience something more than once as you progress.

Not only do declassified missions provide you with additional challenges, but with more stars. During the campaign, you acquire points for killing the bad guys, and lose points every time you go down and need reviving. Each section provides you with the opportunity to earn three stars, and you are easily able to do this with the declassified mission active more often than you can without it, making it a mandatory fixture to the game if you wish to acquire as many stars as possible.

Although stars will only provide beneficial traits to those who especially enjoy the multiplayer aspect of the game, they will additionally unlock ‘Aftermath’, which is an additional game that takes place in Gears of War 3, that will provide an additional hour of game play. I will go back and talk about this later in the review.

There is never anything else to do in Gears of War Judgment except kill grubs.

Moving back to the action, that is all Gears of War Judgment is; one action scene after another, many of which seemingly become repetitive over time. There are after all only so many ways that you can kill a Locust, and since there are literally hundreds of thousands of them throughout the game, you are likely to become a little bored along the way, regardless of how entertaining killing them can be.

The environments however will provide you with some added differences to the scenery, as you fight your way through abandoned homes, desolated streets and even a Normandy Beach Head reenactment. However, after a while even the environments themselves on occasion seem to blend together and you get the distinct feeling of déjà vu.

None of the scenes are separated by vehicular assaults or anything else, and you always find yourself on foot rather than using any other tactic. Players will be happy to learn however that old favorite weapons, the likes of the scorcher, retro lancer and sawed off shotgun are featured during the game, along with a few new ones including the Booshka grenade launcher (which is nothing special I might add and does a better job at killing you than it does at killing your targets) and the Markza sniper rifle, which is incredibly fun to use, although you seem to spend more time reloading it than you do firing. Additionally, a retro version of this weapon is available than has an even smaller magazine.

A trip wire crossbow is found in the game as well, which will allow you to set traps for your enemies (I like to call this puppy the Trip Shot, but that’s just me) and gun turrets that come in many different flavors are also available which are very fun to use in the field, the player being able to openly move them whenever or wherever they are needed most.

These two pieces of equipment especially come in handy when you are required to hold off waves of enemies. On several occasions you are forced to defend an area against wave after wave after wave of enemy opponents, which is no doubt a ploy by the developer to make the game longer else it would only have gone for half the length. Enemies will more often than not keep coming from the same direction, which again makes the scenes brainless and easy to exploit to your own advantage, regardless as to how many Locusts there are or how much firepower they are wielding.

On top of this, one new enemy, the Rager, is an impeccably fun combatant to face. Although initially appearing as a skinny little thing that looks truly pathetic, after being shot a couple times the  creature goes berserk, much like the brutes in the Halo games, but to a far more alarming extent. These guys become about twice as big as they once were, become covered in heavy armor and go red in the face, chasing you around roaring at the top of their lungs, a single swipe having the power to knock you right on your arse – safe to say, these guys are as challenging to fight as they are entertaining to watch.

Epic concludes their new Gears game with a boss battle that ends as quickly as it begins.

However, the Rager does nothing to make up for the final pitifully weak boss battle. The goal of the game is to bring an end to Karn’s assault, Karn being the warlord of this particular army. Paduk speaks of how powerful Karn is; how he has swept through many cities, completely eradicating them, however, when you fight him at the end, you feel incredibly disappointed to find that Karn is very underwhelming. Basically, a stereotypical Locust bad guy on a really big bug, Karn offers nothing spectacular to the mix and the battle with him is reminiscent of something you might have played through before.

Moving back to the Aftermath game which is unlocked after earning forty stars, this particular game takes place 24 hours before the imulsion cure is implemented in Gears of War 3. During this campaign, Baird, Cole, Carmine and Paduk fight their way through a ravaged Locust occupied area to find a way to transport an excess amount of troops towards the final stage of the game.

Although this game is attached to Judgment the graphics do not look quite as refined, and are more reminiscent of Gears of war 3, which now seems a little outdated when in comparison to the graphics of today. Additionally, the areas you fight through are rather bland and don’t offer anything new environmentally speaking.

On top of this, Aftermath fails to offer any new in game concepts, and seems to repeat a number of the fun experiences that players would have gone through in previous Gears games. Much like the Lost Missions in Doom 3 BFG, Aftermath is an explanation to something that needed no storytelling, and so has the constant feeling that it is considerably pointless.

What is worth a mention however, is that even though Aftermath comes up with a couple plot narratives, it fails to build on them, and thus leaves you with more questions than answers; questions you would not have had if Epic had not decided to make this unnecessary installment.

By the conclusion of Aftermath, it proves only one thing; Epic appears to be running short on ideas for the Gears of War franchise. Although there is plenty of action to go around, gamers in general are an incredibly mature bunch, and after experiencing many games with in-depth storylines would be after something a lot more dazzling than what Epic is providing them with this incredibly short addition to an unbelievably popular franchise. At times Judgment feels as though it was developed purely to make Epic a couple extra bucks, and to remind gamers that they are still alive. If they continue to make games like this though, I must question; for how much longer?

IMAGE REFERENCES:

http://epicgames.com/community/2012/11/gears-of-war-judgment-available-for-pre-order/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gears_of_War_3

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gears_of_War

Say Goodbye to the crew of the Normandy SR-2 in the final Mass Effect 3 DLC – Citadel!

 

DLC Title: Citadel (Parts 1 & 2)
Developer: Bioware
Cost: 1200 Microsoft Credits
Size: 4GB
Length: approximately 4 hours and 30 minutes

Pros:
-incredibly entertaining
-hilarious banter and one liners
-terrific boss encounter
-challenging opponents
-many great twists and turns
-the return of all fabulous Mass Effect characters
-Wrex is back! YAY!

Cons:
-stealth scenarios give you the heeby jeeby’s
-little health and ammunition during fight scenes

Rating: (out of ten) 9

Blogger’s Note – Over the course of this review, I will often refer to Commander Shepard as a ‘she’ because I more often than not play through the Mass Effect campaigns as a female protagonist.

What are the best Mass Effect DLC’s you can think of off the top of your head? Lair of the Shadow Broker? Stolen Memory? Well, almost certainly, Citadel will soon join those ranks as well.

If Citadel is anything, it is a reminder to all the fans of the franchise of what made Mass Effect so amazing. Perfectly orchestrated and well designed, Citadel is a story of team work and love, but most importantly, it is about the strength of friendship, and what separates Shepard from the many opponents that she faces.

‘Few people know what Shepard’s been through – I’d like to think I’ve come pretty close’
-Admiral David Anderson

Mass Effect often focuses on the battles that Shepard and her team members are forced to face and the strength of the loyalty that combines them and makes their team so efficient. Often this is shown through some rather morose and dire scenes of battle, so it is a welcome relief to see the honorable members of the crew being who they are in a more playful, enjoyable environment.

Citadel begins with a message from Admiral Hackett to your e-mail, requesting you to bring the Normandy into port on the Citadel so the old girl can be looked after by some mechanics as to ensure she is operating at proficient levels. The second and more prominent reason for this invitation though is for some active shore leave, so that all the crew can officially recharge their batteries before the final showdown.

Upon arrival, Anderson welcomes Shepard to his humble abode on the giant space station via extranet link, notifying her that his place is now hers for the taking. Immediately you have the option to explore your new residence, and can delve into the history that is Anderson’s past by listening to the many recordings scattered around his now former residence.

gorgeously atmospheric

gorgeously atmospheric

 

in-door gardens, fire-places, water features and plenty of places to explore make Shepard's new residence one helluva place to visit!

in-door gardens, fire-places, water features and plenty of places to explore make Shepard’s new residence one helluva place to visit!

 

...and yes, I play as Fem Shepard...

…and yes, I play as Fem Shepard…

You could very easy look over the three bedrooms, many bathrooms and other amazing features that the apartment comes equipped with over and over again, but eventually you will need to reply to your new message from Joker, who invites Shepard down to a revered Sushi restaurant to discuss some important news with her.

As soon as you arrive at the Silver Sun Strip, you'll never want to leave

As soon as you arrive at the Silver Sun Strip, you’ll never want to leave

Making your way through some of the Citadel’s more attractive locations is incredibly fun, with the graphically stunning environments, realistic sounds and fun conversations to listen in on easily bringing this beautiful location to life.

'the best restaurant on the Citadel' is what they call this place - and everybody blames you when it gets attacked

‘the best restaurant on the Citadel’ is what they call this place – and everybody blames you when it gets attacked

‘Only had to save the universe twice to get a table’ announces Joker upon your arrival to such a luxurious restaurant. This line however is only one of several that are quite humorous, for unlike much of the Mass Effect titles, the writers of Citadel were apparently not without a sense of humour. ‘What do we know about these mercs?’ asks Liara over the comm. when the shit hits the fan, and Shepard’s reply is ‘they have guns and they don’t like me’, and after incidentally setting off a security system, Garus questions ‘was that an alarm?’, to which Shepard replies ‘thought I’d make things a little more interesting’, and again when antagonising the leader of the mercenary band, Shepard threatens ‘the last guy who trash talked me was a few kilometers taller than you.’

After Joker’s one liner, it is then that he asks ‘what did you want to talk to me about?’ Apparently, he was NOT the one who sent you the e-mail, and one it seems was sent from you to him. Someone has hacked your account, and has forced you to this location for a reason, which Mira Brooks, an Alliance employee who spends her days sitting behind a desk quickly rushes over to tell you.

Mira Brooks is not the stereotypical heroine, and so it is quite humorous to watch someone who obviously does not belong in an action oriented environment attempt to not only fraternise with arse kicking legends, but attempt to navigate through such hostile environments. She is an incredibly awkward young woman, and often says something totally un-heroic, the likes of ‘might throw up a little bit now if that’s okay with everyone?’

Brrooks contemplates on whether everyone's opinion of her will suddenly drop if she runs for her life

Brooks contemplates on whether everyone’s opinion of her will suddenly drop if she runs for her life

Long story short, Brooks rushes over to explain ‘someone is trying to kill you’, and funnily enough, this time it ain’t Cerberus, nor is it the Reapers. This is a brand new enemy who has an unbelievably large, and well armed mercenary band who are well prepared to inflict maximum casualties to ensure the successful promulgation of their endeavors.

As soon as Brooks enters the Sushi restaurant however, everything goes horribly wrong when that same enemy mentioned in the above paragraph? Well, they happen to stroll in as well, and after shooting up the place, Shepard finds herself blasting out through the glass floor, through an aquarium filled with fish and onto a docking level below.

The graphics during this scene, with the pieces of broken glass and the droplets of water coating the commander’s hair is terrifically effective, and immediately helps to pave the way for the other scenes that will, as always, capture your attention with the vivid imagery.

‘That pain you feel – that’s me kicking your ass!’
-Commander Shepard

It is now that the fighting officially begins, however, the initial battle sequences are not quite as enjoyable as what players would have participated in during previous downloadable games. Armed with only a silenced pistol (which is considerably effective actually), no health packs and very little ammunition, you are forced to covertly make your way through a docking structure teeming with opponents in the hopes of eventually locating your team members who are contacting you over the comms and notifying you of their willingness to help eradicate the new found threat.

These few areas where stealth is a necessary component to the fighting (else you will alert a mass of bad guys to your location (they don’t call it MASS Effect for nothing!)) are very much unlike what you would have previously experienced in other Mass Effect missions, where they are predominantly action oriented. In my opinion, the stealth sequences temporarily reduce the sheer amount of fun that the player could have enjoyed from the mission, and is a very peculiar addition to the storyline. It would be like going to a strip club, only to watch the women put their clothes on – very peculiar indeed.

Eventually though you are lucky enough to meet up with the stunningly gorgeous Liara and the always entertaining Wrex (who is bored of general Council business for which he was brought onto the station to consult upon), whose opening scene is so mesmerizing you will want to play the mission all over again just to witness this moment once more!

Liara proves how effective her communication skills are - and later, Wrex gives you a weapon that you will never want to part with!

Liara proves how effective her communication skills are – and later, Wrex gives you a weapon that you will never want to part with!

From now on the experience is more often  than not filled with explosions, gun battles and tactical supremacy, and in-between the action you find yourself talking with your team at your apartment in regards to what must be done next.

Shepard and her partner in crime Garus at the 'cool secret hideout' discuss how they hope 'the bad guys don't look through a window' and discover them.

Shepard and her partner in crime Garus at the ‘cool secret hideout’ discuss how they hope ‘the bad guys don’t look through a window’ and discover them.

One great aspect of this particular mission is the challenging opponents. Much like in Omega, which introduced a number of powerful new villains, Citadel packs a whopping punch with the artillery that they dare to throw at you. Known only as CAT 6, who are former members of the Alliance militarian division who have been dishonorably discharged for one reason or another, each member of the team is well protected by shields. The Heavy is especially well armored with a shield that makes that which some of the Cerberus units carry around with them appear like nothing more than flimsy pieces of tissue paper. These particular shields are immune even to Disrupter ammo, and so attempting to take these guys out becomes quite a hefty challenge, especially when they come at you in packs.

If that is not enough, these guys don’t just throw grenades when from afar – no, they throw several at once, which makes avoiding them all the more difficult for they are able to spread their explosive ordinance out.

On top of this, another new opponent is the Disruption Drone, which is a little holographic guy who flies around anonymously, before chasing after you, its goal being to get close enough before it discharges a massive EMP bomb which neutralises your shields.

new and old friends unite to bring an alternate flavor to the fight!

new and old friends unite to bring an alternate flavor to the fight!

 

Forget about following the yellow brick road - follow the little blue cord. During the second stage of the mission, you crash a party in order to discover who your opponent is. To do this, you must covertly infiltrate through the massive building whilst avoiding the many security parameters. Fun times!

Forget about following the yellow brick road – follow the little blue cord. During the second stage of the mission, you crash a party in order to discover who your opponent is. To do this, you must covertly infiltrate through a massive building whilst avoiding the many security parameters. Fun times!

Moreover, unlike the other missions that you have previously experienced, in this particular DLC, everyone is involved, and by everyone, I mean EVERYONE! True, you still run about with two team members to carry you all the way through the mission, however, the rest of your team split up into two – Hammerhead and Mako, and make their way through the facility along with you, providing advantageous fire support.

‘That’s why I love hanging out with you guys. Why shoot something once, when you can shoot it forty six more times?’
-Urdnot Wrex

whilst fighting through the Citadel, you can discover video logs on the history of the universe and battles long forgotten...

whilst fighting through the Citadel, you can discover video logs on the history of the universe and battles long forgotten…

 

...and learn about more coverups at the hands of the Council in regards to the Reapers

…and learn about more coverups at the hands of the Council in regards to the Reapers

After the mission is complete, and the final boss, who is an unfathomably challenging and very entertaining opponent has been eliminated (and you will never guess where this final, breathtaking scene takes place!), the DLC is not yet over, for celebrations are to be enjoyed. Joker has already begun sending out invitations to members of the crew, and you are able to continue doing this – you can invite some, or, like me, invite every single team member who is able to attend.

With shore leave having been interrupted, now is the time for you and your team to officially have some time off from the strenuous fighting that continuously occurs. Before the party happens, you are able to run around the Silver Sun Strip, which is a beautifully elegant and fun loving location on the Citadel. You can play games at the arcade, gamble at the casino and fight in the areans at the Armax Arcade, and can even do so alongside fellow team members who later become unlocked as you continue through the scenarios that may remind notorious gamers of the Firefight mode in the Halo games.

In the Armax arenas you can choose what opponents you fight against, the enemy classes that will spawn in the map, the possible bonus points, and much more!

In the Armax arenas you can choose what opponents you fight against, the enemy classes that will spawn in the map, the possible bonus points, and much more!

Additionally, you will receive messages from the crew, each of whom wishes to spend some time with you. These segments are unfathomably pleasurable, and include meeting Blasto the Jellyfish whilst on the set for the eighth feature film in the franchise with a morose Javik; helping Garus flirt with a foxy Turain woman at the local bar; meeting Jack’s new pet; and hearing about the adventures that Grunt and his Krogan pals have been up to on the Citadel – all of which has left C-Sec in a very bad mood.

Rarely does Miranda venture out in Mass Effect 3. But she finds the time during the mission to tell you how disappointed she is that you destroyed her favorite Sushi restaurant.

Rarely does Miranda venture out in Mass Effect 3. But she finds the time during the mission to tell you how disappointed she is that you destroyed her favorite Sushi restaurant.

 

Garus discovers he ain't quite the ladies man he once thought he was

Garus discovers he ain’t quite the ladies man he once thought he was

All of this is both hilariously funny and very moving as you experience time off with each of your friends on board the Normandy, before proceeding to buy the necessities for your soiree. Again, this is especially entertaining, for during the event you are able to move from one group to another as they discuss what has happened and their general thoughts, opinions and feelings. The conversations are very fun to take part in, and so too are much of the other occurrences that later transpire, with the adorably cute kleptomaniac Kasumi appearing every so often to either say or do something incredibly fun to watch. Furthermore, you are able to consult Glyph, the resident host, and either tone down the festivities, or, if you are anything like me, tone them up, until many of your crew become highly intoxicated on booze and begin to go about doing some pretty outlandishly hilarious things. Moreover, with two Krogan running about your apartment, you have to wonder if your residence will even be in one piece after the night’s festivities have ended.

The party has only just started. But, just you wait. In a few scenes time, many will have armed themselves with guns in a drunken stupor to see who is superior, biotics will be levitating their friends, and EDI will question what Operative Traynor meant when she said she found her voice so attractive and wanted to, what? She wanted to do what to her? Wow! Hot Stuff!

The party has only just started. But, just you wait. In a few scenes time, many will have armed themselves with guns in a drunken stupor to see who is superior, biotics will be levitating their friends, and EDI will question what Operative Traynor meant when she said she found her voice so attractive and wanted to, what? She wanted to do what to her? Wow! Hot Stuff!

 

Don't look now, but everyone is about to side with Estevez...and ask Joker to participate in a shooting competition - whilst drunk out of his mind!

Don’t look now, but everyone is about to side with Estevez…and ask Joker to participate in a shooting competition!

However, much like the franchise itself, the fun eventually comes to an end, even if you do not wish it to. Whatever the case, it has been a fabulous 7 years of Mass Effect, and if this particular DLC does anything, it proves that there is still a lot of life left in the series, and although it is doubtful we will ever see these amazing characters again in future Mass Effect games, Citadel allows us to say goodbye to some of the most memorable characters ever conceived in video game history.

A terrific end to a terrific franchise? Certainly, that is what Citadel is, and on that note, I officially change my ‘9’ in my overall rating of the DLC, to a ‘10’, for Citadel is much like the entirety of the Mass Effect series; undoubtedly fabulous.

Doom3 BFG Edition – is this the Biggest Friggin’ Game in the Doom franchise?

 

Last week in Australia, our shores were graced by the arrival of no, not more ‘boat people’, but by Doom3 BFG Edition, which comes equipped with the original Doom, Doom2, Doom3, the mission pack, Doom3 Resurrection of Evil, and a new campaign consisting of eight levels titled ‘the Lost Mission’.

Doom3 in itself was a terrific action shooter that went out of its way to make the little hairs on the back of your neck stand on end, and boy did it succeed! The high definition reboot of the action classic is graphically sublime, and cannot be faulted in any way with the seemingly stupendous visuals that it throws at you in every frame. The in game movies have been beefed up along with the general gaming experience to fully immerse you within a realm that has been graphically redefined.

The monsters look absolutely terrific, and some, especially the Pinky Demon seem especially grotesque in their appearance.

The sound is in your face, exploding out from the speakers with an unrelenting fury as it envelops everything within the vicinity.

Moreover, the game itself has not been changed, so gamers will be able to expect all that they once endured and suffered at the hands of Hell’s demon spawn to once again suffer some more.

Suffering is the right term though for those of you who think I have lost my mind. Playing the game on Veteran – I had forgotten just how difficult it could be. It is easy though – as long as you don’t get hit by anything. After a couple hits you’ll find your character lying on the ground with his legs and arms in the air, so you need to be extra vigilant whilst exploring the UAC Mars Facility for the enemy can come from everywhere and anywhere.

There is also the fact that id decides to teleport in a demon or too into a room if you fail to leave in an unspecified time frame, or you decide to begin retracing your steps in an attempt to find some health or are looking for the cabinet that wouldn’t open before because you failed to have the right combination.

However, one will not suffer at the hands of the boss monsters. As one will recall, the boss creatures from the Doom games are never that complicated – all you require is ammo – you can never have too much of it. From the original Doom, in which you blasted the Spider Mastermind a couple times with the BFG to make ‘im blow up till now, the bosses of Doom have never offered the worst challenge imaginable, and most of them (minus the guy at the end of Resurrection of Evil, unless you have the strategy down) will be taken out on your first attempt.

The multiplayer experience moreover for those enjoying the game on console is strictly for online multiplayer, so don’t expect to go round fragging your friends in a split screen game.

However, id compensate for this by allowing the original 2 Doom games to come equipped with such a function.

Yes, Doom and Doom2 can be played on all platforms now, which is really impressive, although don’t go expecting the graphics to be any better than they once were. Hailed as the greatest graphics ever conceived back between 1993-95 when the games were originally launched, now they seem rather obtuse in comparison to games of today, but the fun they will provide has not at all been extinguished. What’s more, both the Doom games come equipped with all of the add on packs that were conceived, so for Doom you have all four original terrifying episodes, and for Doom2 you are granted the ‘No Rest for the Wicked’ game as well.

What is a little upsetting for the biggest Doom fans might be the fact that Evilutions (which wasn’t exactly the best Doom game ever) and the Plutonia Experiment (or, as I like to call it, the hardest Doom game ever – people may remember a secret level filled with Cyber Demons!) are not included in this limited edition reboot.

However, as previously mentioned, the multiplayer is capable of allowing gamers who experience BFG Edition on console the ability to either play the campaigns co-operatively or in a death match via split screen. Massive Doom gamers will no doubt remember the fun that Doom multiplayer provided back in the day – I mean, it was what, the first ever game that allowed people this opportunity?! That fun has returned and is exceptional!

It feels incredibly fun to once again blast your enemies away in these original Doom conceptions, although at the same time the music and the sound of all the items respawning is no doubt capable of making your brain turn to juice as you slowly but surely lose your mind.

I guess the only negative feature of the original games is the weapons – the keys to select which one you wish to use are incredibly fiddly and never will you properly get used to them, which becomes especially annoying during a massive fire fight. If that’s not enough, not all of the weapons are in the order they once were on PC all those years ago – you would expect the Super Shotgun to come after the Shotgun? Nope, it comes in as one of the last weapons.

However, do not let this little addendum cause you dismay; the original games are just as fun as ever before!

Moving back to the Doom3 series, although Doom3 in itself looks fantastic (although once or twice you can see something’s a little off but that happens in all games), when it comes to Doom3 Resurrection of Evil you can clearly see a difference when you start to play – it is as though whoever was involved in rebooting this particular campaign into high definition lost their passion after being involved rebooting its predecessor.

The graphics in game do not look quite as beautiful, and the cinematics – they have not even been changed. These parts of the game, of which there are quite a few mind you, look exactly as they did back in 2005, which isn’t all that bad – but when you compare it to Doom3 you can clearly see the graphical differences and feel a slight ping of disappointment.

Again, when playing Doom3 and its sequel the keys to switch the weapons can be a little annoying, but less so in these particular games than they are in the originals. Upon acquiring the special artefacts found in either game, these can be accessed just by pressing the left button on the D-pad, although it is annoying when the game fails to register your pressing need for the artefacts and so decides against giving them to you – often resulting in a rather unpleasant death.

As for ‘the Lost Mission’ and the eight ‘levels’ of entertainment that such a campaign provides – I’m sorry, but I have to ask – what’s the point? This particular campaign will take you less than two hours to complete on Veteran difficulty, and the supposed ‘levels’ (hence the reason why I put such a word in quotation marks before) are incredibly minuscule – in fact to even call them levels is a downright insult to the levels in the other Doom3 games which are by far larger in size than what you shall experience in this campaign.

In this new campaign you find yourself in the shoes of a member of Bravo team after this small militarian group were attacked by ravenous demons in the Empro Plant. Waking up to find you only have half your health left, if you are anything like me, you begin by thinking ‘what’s the point?’ (as previously stated).

In Doom3 and the sequel, the games both focused on you bringing a stopper to the invasions that had taken over the base. The objective, as you will find later on in the second level, is as follows; a scientist is in need of your assistance. Believing himself to be the only person who has survived the invasion, he needs you to be a good boy and go into what he calls ‘the other realm’ (why can’t he just call it Hell?) and switch off a teleportation system there that is still online and linked to the UAC Mars Facility. Worse still, the demons could use it as a means to travel directly to Earth! Good times!

Much of what you shall find in these eight levels look to be rehashed from the Doom3 experience. Segments in the Empro Plant and the Mars City Underground will leave you with great feelings of déjà vu, and the secret ‘Exis Labs’ that is supposed to be capable of bettering the Delta Complex upon completion looks exactly on several occasions like sections of the Delta Complex that it is supposed to be bettering!

A couple sections in the game are new, including running around, trying to hopelessly find the code to the cabinet with the double barrelled shotgun in it; fighting a couple of the enemies that appeared in the mission pack; the updated looking teleportation units, which look considerably impressive mind you, and at one point using the ‘Grabber’ to send energy from one pylon to another (think Portal, but less challenging).

When you eventually do find yourself in the midst of the ominous ‘other realm’, this I have to say does look very different from previous experiences in the Doom3 games – if anything, it looks a lot like Hell did back in the original Dooms, which classic fans will no doubt be impressed by. The final boss is nothing special though, but the big bastard will have you on your toes on a few occasions, but as long as you run and gun you will eventually prevail with very little injury on your first attempt.

All three campaigns for Doom3 furthermore will take you less than ten hours to complete on Veteran, however, don’t do what I did and play them all one after the other in a row, else you might find that you suddenly become Doom3’d out!

Long story short – you simply must buy Doom3 BFG Edition as to partake in the HD Doom3 campaign. The multiplayer aspect in the original Doom games is an additional reason to add this game to your collection, whilst the rest of the Doom experience seems a lot more like random bits and pieces that will mildly entertain you if you have nothing better to do.

All in all, a quick little appetiser to entice you for Doom4, which is supposed to come out on the 31st of December this year, but who knows? What can be said about id is that their games are always long awaited and very fun, with no bugs to speak of. However, never have they been really good at keeping to their schedules, i.e. Doom3 – meant to come out August 2004, then September and then October, and then eventually came out mid 2004. And don’t even get me started on Rage!

In summary:
8/10

-Doom3 graphics are sublime

-Doom3 cinematics are beautifully articulated

-Doom and Doom2 multiplayer is fun

-Doom and Doom2 graphics remain unchanged

-Doom3 Resurrection of Evil graphics seem less than exceptional in comparison to Doom3

-Doom3 ‘the Lost Mission’ seems pointless and trivial, yet flawlessly presented graphically

-Doom3 multiplayer strictly online

-Switching weapons is a lot like putting a red hot iron down your trousers – it’s a risky business

-Many levels, but rather short in all

What I am looking 4 in a Doom 4

 

It was in 2007 that id announced the promulgation of the fourth installment in the Doom franchise, and since then I have been patiently waiting. Quite often, such hype is exposed, and later it draws to a close and the project is called off and left unfinished. Apparently not in this case, with little bits and pieces of detail emerging each year with the exception of Quakecon 2010. Recently it was rumored that the fourth Doom game would be loosed upon the world in December, and I have heard nothing since to deny this rumor as anything but what could very well be the truth.

With the announcement of Doom3 BFG Edition at E3 2012, the roll out of Doom 4 seems almost even more ‘exciting’. Could this be the appropriate word? Dunno. However, it seems rather odd that so little information is being broadcast about the upcoming Doom title, although when Doom 3 was on the rise, trailers for this particular title were put out as early as a year before its release, although the game was indeed postponed on a couple of occasions, thus my disbelief that it may actually arrive as planned, but here’s hoping.

What is strange about Doom 3 BFG would no doubt be its release. The 12th of October for the Yanks and many other countries, and the 19th for Australia? Perhaps the distributors temporarily forgot there was a country that existed above Antarctica? Or the games are being placed on very slow ships. Additionally, there is of course the price. In America, the game is set to be $50 for XBOX360, $40 for PS3 and $30 for PC, all of which are rather attractive prices. The Australian prices have been unveiled as well, with all platforms to be charged the exact same allotment of cash – $98.99! Last time I checked, the Aussie dollar and that of the American were very similar, so I am at a loss as to why the game is set at such an exorbitant price on this particular side of the hemisphere. I remember when Halo HD came out; it was only $60 over here, which seemed rather cheap – especially when in contrast to the rebooted version of Doom 3 in HD.

However, this post is meant to be about Doom 4, so back on topic. What has been unveiled so far by some of those involved in the project, is that the graphics are meant to be ‘awesome’ and better than that of Rage, but will run at a slower frame rate at only 30 bits per second, whilst Rage ran at 45. The game is additionally not a prequel, nor a sequel to Doom 3 or any of the other titles in the franchise, and is not intended to be a reboot, but a standalone game in the Doom universe. It however is meant to be similar to that of Doom 2, in that it is set on Earth. The forces of hell have torn the planet a new one, with the world of Doom 4 set in a post-apocalyptic landscape, which seems to be the current setting for many an id game. The game sees the remnants of the human race, in particular, what is left of their military fighting for survival against the forces of hell. Other than that, very little is yet to be showcased, with id specifying that any and all trailers and clips that have been showcased thus far to be fakes, and that when they finally do unveil any content to the public, the fan boys will be thrilled beyond belief.

With that in mind, since the contents of the game are still yet to be brought to light, I thought I might compile a list of what I would like to see in the future of the world of Doom.

One: I would like the option of playing as either a bloke or a chick. Such would spice up the battles and bring a different flavor to the fight. We have played as blokes for so long, so why not take time out and play as woman?

Two: I would like around 95% of the game to be set on one’s lonesome – basically, I do not want any back up most of the time. Doom has proven over its longevity that it is about taking on the forces of hell all by yourself, so why trade tradition in for a team based shooter?

Three: I would like the next gen Doom game to last me a while. I remember Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 lasted me seven hours and eighteen minutes on the highest difficulty setting – not very long I will admit. Halo Reach however lasted me approximately 25 hours on the highest setting – now that is the kind of length I would be more impressed with.

Four: I would like to see all of the monsters from the original Doom and Doom 2 games, along with the creatures from Doom 3, and a couple of new ones tossed in to add more spice to the fight.

Five: I would like the Cacodemon to be red and have one eye. I mean, back in the original, he was pretty cute – that is of course when his giant fire balls weren’t depleting your health of forty five hit points per attack cuz you failed to have any armor on…

Six: I would like the creatures to be really hideous. Many a time during the development of games when the designers showcase the way creatures are going to look, they seem far more gruesome initially than when they do when the game is finally released because additional changes were made. This is reflective of many titles, but a great example would have to be the third installment of the Doom franchise. The Lost Souls for instance, were far more gruesome during their initial unveiling a year before the game was finally released, when the faces of the creatures were far more uninviting, whilst the latter versions had far smoother features that were not covered in blood. Additionally, the original conception of the Arch-vile was friggin’ grim, the creature being a cadaver, with flesh hanging from its limbs, blood dripping from its torn body and fire encasing its hands. The final version was a thin white creature with a flawless complexion – not exactly the creature from hell’s dominion, eh? More like a Caucasian pyromaniac waltzing around in his birthday suit.

Seven: I would like the game to have a pretty good story. Often in games, the likes of Prey, Bioshock, Halo 3 and Mass Effect, it is great to have a story where your character needs to save someone of importance to them, whether it be a friend or loved one. This would be a good theme to have throughout the piece.

Eight: Although I would like a story, I would also like the game to be restored to its original roots. The original 2 Doom games were quite open, whilst the third installment kept the player stuck in repetitive corridors where it was difficult to maneuver. In the originals, the levels were not linear, but that did not matter, and the primary goal was to get in, and then get out alive, with keys having to be often found to ensure the completion of this goal. The return of this, along with the score the player gains upon completion of each level, with perhaps a reward for gaining 100% quota for all avenues, would be quite impressive.

Nine: I would like the bodies of the dead to remain. In almost every game today, as soon as you kill a bad guy, their body simply vanishes into thin air. Back in the days of Doom, Heretic and Hexen, this did not occur, and I would like to return to this. Having the bodies remain allows one to remember their accomplishments. Not having them – it’s like walking through a ghost town after you’ve killed all those who once resided in it. It is quite depressing. At least the dead provide you with, all be it, limited company.

Ten: I would like the health and armor hit points to go all the way to a thousand! Bearing in mind, this can only be achieved by picking up those tiny pickups or through using those special mega spheres.

Eleven: I am worried about the amount of violence, or perhaps the lack there of. The previous Doom game did not have much. True, the walls and floors wee drenched in blood, but the enemies gave off very little as you blew them away. Rage especially was a game that was so blood thirsty, you could take all of the spilled blood and store it in a vial approximately two centimeters in height! Doom was seen as the end of the world by those who do not wish to have an R18+ classification in Australia for games due to its excessive violence. I want Doom to be returned to its original violent state. I want the game to be drenched in so much blood once more, that you literally need a towel to wipe it from the screen.

Twelve: I want the A.I of the enemy to be quite impressive. In Doom 3, the former human opponents were smart enough to take cover – if there was cover to take, whilst the denizens of hell simply attacked the player with little regard for their survival. I would like to face off against an enemy who cared about living as much as they did about killing, which would be more challenging, cuz a creature that simply kills without mercy is not much of a threat when you have yourself a bazooka and all they have are a couple little arms and a fireball.

Thirteen: I want the games released on the non-PC platforms, in particular the XBOX360 version to come equipped with a split-screen multiplayer match capability. Online matches are all fun and good, but they lack one little thing; on XBOX live, you cannot physically see the other player – and therefore, you cannot yell at them and slap them over the head when you kick their ass from one side of the map to the next. That in itself, is classic. Kodak moments are born from moments like these!

Well, that is about it. I know, thirteen is an unlucky number, but since Doom is a game franchise where one tackles the hordes of hell, perhaps in this case it will bring good fortune rather than bad. Time can only tell I guess, and one can always only hope.

You know you have been playing video games too long when…

 

-you think by walking over things you will automatically pick them up.

-the last time you had a girlfriend, Cleopatra was Queen of Egypt.

-during a fight, you frantically look for the ‘b’ button as to perform a successful melee attack.

-you duck and roll into office cubicles rather than walk into them.

-at work, when a person throws a file at you, you quickly toss it right back from fear it might explode.

-you think your LAN connection is faulty when things go wrong in life.

-you would rather toss a hand gun than use it, preferring a minigun because if you want to kill something, the last thing you wanna do is miss.

-you think ‘Facebook’ is a Reaper indoctrination device.

-you and your friends walk around, bumping into any and all areas of the environment like a bunch of brainless bots.

-your fingers are permanently fixed into a claw from continued use of console triggers.

-you become annoyed when weapons do not load quite as easily in reality as they would in a video game.

-‘Tali, do you want to go out for dinner tonight?’ you ask your girlfriend who is in fact named Rachel, Stephanie or True.

-your boss fires you for failing to come to work for the past two weeks, and the last thing you ever say to the man is ‘but boss, the Krogan need me!’

-you feel more at home in sewers and ventilation shafts than in your own bedroom.

-you’ve sat on your ass, played video games and eaten food so often that the last time you saw the numbers 1,096 was on the bathroom scales.

-when purchasing clothing, you check the label to see how much damage resilience it will offer you.

-you are unable to perform a jump because your body is not equipped with a space bar.

-you remove all the doors in your house from their hinges and have everyone you love wear bells attached to their necks for their protection, along with your own, to ensure you know where everyone you care about is at any given time in your house as to not have them sneak up on you and force you to inevitably slay them.

-you look for the little blue ‘x’ button when entering and exiting vehicles.

-you can’t find your flashlight, so use a flame thrower or chain gun to light your way instead.

-when your wife throws items at your head even she is amazed when you duck and roll with record reaction time from the amount of practice you have received from battling killer mutants from outer space.

-at funerals, you wonder why the dead bodies do not fade away, and question the priests about whether there is a fault with their software when this fails to happen.

-you attempt to install cheat codes into your body as to allow yourself to walk through walls and have infinite ammo.

-you look for an invulnerability sphere at your local pharmacist.

-the sun hurts your eyes after you emerge from what feels like an eternity of gaming, whilst your beard seems a few meters longer than what it was when you began.

-to begin a conversation with a person, you wait until they are highlighted, or look over their bodies in the hopes of discovering a ‘use’ key.

-the growl of the dog and the meow of the cat cause you to leap over the couch for a better vantage point whilst reaching for your semi-automatic.

-you take a vowel of celibacy as to lose your virginity to an Assari Huntress.

-you take an RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenade Launcher, not Role Playing Game!) to your high school reunion cuz you know when the shit hits the fan an area effect weapon is better than a pistol.

-during game play, when an enemy attacks your character, you slide off your chair as to tactically avoid them.

-your television and monitor are riddled with bullet holes.

-your XBOX 360, PS3, keyboard and mouse require cleaning every couple days rather than every couple months.

-after playing a video game you need a long hot shower as to wipe away all the excess blood from your face, whilst your friends wonder why you are covered in so many scars and bruises.

-your girlfriend’s snoring reminds you of the Hell Knight from Doom…and makes you consider leaving the chainsaw beneath your bed from fear she might actually be the Hell Knight from Doom.

-you dress up as your favorite video game character for conventions, Halloween and all manner of other occasions, but your friends always recognise you.

-you move all of your first aid kits closer towards your game console.

-you mistake your wife’s best friend’s boob job for a couple rocket launchers.

-you randomly speak your mind, knowing if you do something wrong, you can always load from the last check point.

-your trigger finger twitches whenever someone enters the room.

-you ask for the Quad Damage weapon multiplier at the local gun store.

-all of your consoles automatically boot directly into your favorite games unless you press a specific key.

-you find yourself looking for Kevlar and anti-radiation suits at your local K-Mart.

-when buying a helmet, you ask the shop keeper for the one with the A.I port at the rear.

-you don’t bother turning on the lights because you know your eyes come with a night sensitivity mode.

-when a man insults you, instead of saying ‘I challenge you to a duel’ you say ‘I challenge you to a deathmatch!’

-you don’t worship God – no, you worship the Covenant forerunners.

-you walk up and down the super market complex looking for ‘Citadel Souvenirs.’

-when sick, you ask the doctor for a stim-pack.

-you look for sniper towers in toilet cubicles and elevators.

-you‘re annoyed when your parents buy you the new car they have been promising you – only to find it was not a Warthog.

-you find it odd when your environment does not stall or become pixilated.

-during physical altercations you ask your opponents to pause so you might heal.

-you think the mole on your left wrist is in fact the Omni-tool activation switch.

-you quickly run in and out of rooms, watching your back to see what creature follows you out.

-you choose to play a video game rather than spend the night with a woman. Funny fact; in 2009, a survey in Australia looked at male gamers – the question? Would you rather spend the night playing a video game, or spend the night with a woman. 78% of those surveyed – said they would rather spend the night playing a video game.

-your girlfriend leaves you, slamming the front door as it comes back to knock her in the ass. She cries at the top of her lungs ‘you love your friggin’ game box more than you love me you selfish bastard!’ You don’t twitch nor flinch as you persist in trying to eliminate the final boss at the end of the game. Besides, saving the universe from total destruction is more important than she was, right?

-during conversations, you pause as to allow time for the next conversation option to appear before your eyes.

-you believe certain mushrooms will bestow onto you a temporary boost of magika.

-you walk into Best and Less and ask where they keep their Spartan Armor.

-you barter for random goods and services, and try to sell goods you don’t need back to perspective shop keepers.

-you squint your eyes, rub at them and close them completely, wondering why it is that the crosshairs are not appearing.

-you volunteer to carry your all of your friend’s goods, along with your own, from the belief that you can carry several hundred kilograms worth of equipment before becoming over encumbered.

-you think it’s odd that the bodies of all the women you know look different rather than similar and that their breasts are not huge and cumbersome.

-you think during the two minutes it takes you to walk from one side of the house to the next you can experience morning, noon and night.

-your friends are worried that you are not getting enough sun, explaining to you this is the first time you have been out of the house in the past six months.

-you go pressing up against walls in the hopes that one might open to reveal a secret area.

-you randomly look around your environment, hoping to find spare ammo clips.

-you search your girlfriend’s body for the following pieces of equipment; power cables, the ‘on’ switch, volume control and the mute button.

-you are so used to been called ‘marine’, ‘Shepherd’ or ‘Master Chief’ that when someone actually says your name you simply ignore them.

-when at the local car dealership you notice the vehicle you are after is not present and so ask if they have run out of Ghosts’.

-at the local shooting range, you ask the clerk behind the desk for the BFG.

-when you look at your reflection in the mirror you expect to find the ‘change appearance’ button.

-you pick fights with people, knowing that if you lose you can always respawn at full strength.

-when you enter a friend’s house you always look for where their flag is located so you might steal it and take it back home with you when they’re not looking as to score yourself a point.

-you believe every locked door can be opened with a red, blue or gold keycard.

-you are constantly being arrested for the minigun emplacement attached to the rear of your vehicle.

-you frequently wonder why you feel pain when injured.

-your best and most truest friend is a five inch tall, seven year old woman named ‘Cortana’.

-during family altercations, you reach for your assault rifle, believing a team deathmatch is on the verge of beginning.

-you side step down hallways as to avoid your work colleagues from fear they might assault you.

-you haven’t been able to open your fridge in the past two weeks because you are having difficulty locating the ‘use’ key.

-when your girlfriend blows you a kiss, you leap out of the way to avoid it whilst reaching for your shotgun.

-you don’t care so much when you are gravely ill or dying because you’ll probably be able to find one of those mega-health’s lying around.

-your favorite Backstreet Boys, Lady Ga Ga and Daughtry albums are left in the corner of your bedroom gathering dust, whilst the illegally downloaded music files from Halo, Doom and Mass Effect reach the rank of ‘most played’ in Windows Media Player.

-you expect to receive ‘paragon’ every time you say something nice.

-you wonder why you have five fingers on your hand rather than three.

-you constantly find yourself wondering why everything is not in third person mode.

-you think you are ill when your HUD does not appear before your eyes.

-‘I’ll be there in a minute honey, just let me finish this level’ is your most frequently used expression.

-when you open a door, instead of turning on the lights, you toss a grenade into the room.

-where everyone else puts on trunks or a bikini (if you swing that way), you equip anti-radiation suits before entering swimming pools.

The way the Video Gaming Industry has Changed

 

Just a heads up – there is a naughty profanity in this piece…somewhere. Don’t remember where though.

Has it changed? Well, you be the judge. What was once a rather unpopular industry is now incredibly well known, with more video games purchased in the US than movies in 2010 alone. I find this to be quite the figure, for it is far easier in my opinion to purchase a film, especially one that is pirated. Now, I ain’t admitting to anything, so any law enforcements officers reading this post should not take my words as those of a person incriminating himself. I am but saying that the copyright protection software on movies is pathetic when in comparison to that which is used for games, with far more in depth programs needed to get past the protection on each disc. So when the statistics say more games were purchased, I find it to be quite the statistic.

Then again, 2010 was a big year for games; Mass Effect 2, Bioshock 2, Bayonetta, Metro 2033, Halo Reach, just to name a few. But this is beside the point. The main issue I want to talk about is the popularity that has exponentially increased over the past few years. Now, more game companies have emerged across the globe, with more and more people from producers, directors and developers all realising the sheer potential behind the gaming market and all vying for the ability to be involved in the business. With more popularity means more customers, which in turn means more profit.

Who can remember when a video game was less than one hundred dollars? (Oz prices) Less than fifty? I remember when my family and I purchased Doom 2 all those many, many years ago on our trip to America, the game then being thirty six dollars if my memory serves me accurately. Thirty six dollars? That is American of course, but in a time when most games start at around one hundred and most leading retailers go all the way to one hundred and seventy five with their prices if it so happens to come in a shiny tin with a couple additional features, which is purely ridiculous for a special edition DVD usually costs fifty dollars, if that, I feel the price to be exorbitant.

On top of that, what you are purchasing has decreased as well. Now yes, I will admit, the graphics are flawless in comparison to where they once started and the experiences are just as incredibly fun, if not more so, with vibrant storylines and fantastic characters to lead you into the fabulous world of the game. However, what once left you with what could have been up to twenty hours of gaming, if not more, is now less than ten, and sometimes six. It took me four hours and thirty six minutes to clock Home Front on hard when it was released in 2011. I completed it the day I bought it. Now, what kind of deal is that? I spend one hundred and six dollars on a product that was yes, entertaining, challenging and engaging, but so short? I just got started and was beginning to enjoy myself when everything was cut short, and so soon?

I remember in 2007 when I played Crysis, I was disappointed that the game did not end the way Far Cry did. Far Cry had twenty levels of mayhem – Crysis, only eleven, with no visible ending in sight. Of course, if it had ended then Crysis 2 which in my opinion was a totally friggin’ amazing piece of gaming would not have been invented, so I guess a ‘thank you’ needs to go out to Crytek for doing what they did, and the franchise would additionally not be continuing on for a third time next year.

My point? And I do have one, is that what once was gaming has changed. This change is not as elaborate as the updated graphics or the famous voice over actors or the change in developers or even the wild and frantic fun that occurs during game play. No, it is money, and I do not mean the large allotments that we, the gamers fork out every year. With Darksiders 2, Far Cry 3 and halo 4 I’m looking to lose two hundred and seventy five dollars at the least, but that is not what concerns me. It is the greed of the industry that does. I remember once, which seems so long ago now, when I could walk into a store, pick up a game box, shake it up and down and hear the disc and the booklet jiggling around on the inside. Now, when I pick up a box and shake it – all I hear is the rising and the falling of the dividend.

Also, many games don’t even come with booklets anymore, another feature gone. Some companies might say they are saving the lungs of the Earth, but what they are really saving is the money they have accumulated from such a massive market.

Adjunctively size, and I do not mean yet again in the length of the game, but the amount of bytes it takes up on your machine as dramatically changed. I remember back in the day with Quake and Hexen which were unanimously a couple MEGABYRES each. I remember how I was unsure at the best of times as to what storage device to put them on – My Documents? Or C? Back in the day the computer only had a 1 gigabyte system so every megabyte spent actually meant something. Quite ridiculous when I come to think about it cuz now a days games are anywhere between 16 to 24 GIGABYTES each! To think back in the day I had to delete one of my games as to have the other installed onto the system cuz there just wasn’t enough space. Now, I have a cool terabyte of space and a portable terabyte which can be used to install all manner of programs onto, so space is never an issue. Back in the day there were around maybe three games on my computer at any given time. Now, there is at least twenty times that amount on my gaming computer alone, not to mention the amount of titles I have on XOBOX 360 and PS3.

Additionally, I remember when gaming was considered weird. Back when the first game was developed by some ‘nerd’ some might say, who thought ‘you know, I could write a program for that computer’ people probably though him to be insane (there was only one well known woman involved in gaming back all those years ago, so calling the guy a ‘him’ is not maliciously sexist). The gaming companies were tiny, I mean, look at Id! What was it? Between six and twelve people were involved in developing Doom, which is considered one of the greatest accomplishments in gaming history – the game that changed it all. Now, there are hundreds of people per company, not to mention everyone else required for the job. And those who played them? Who were they? I’ll tell you! Freaks! Losers! That is what I was branded by my peers and I’m sure others were too. Only a select few participated in playing games back in the early to late nineties. I played my first game was I was only three, when many of my peers were running around the backyard slapping the tap with a plastic spanner, hoping to be the next best plumber. I graduated from learning games like Chess to Heretic, then to Doom, Doom 2, Hexen, Hexen DK, Quake, and so on and so forth. I remember playing games at school, where the teachers prowled the arenas of the learning environment with massive sticks up their arses, hoping to catch that bad student and really make ‘em pay! Right under their noses we played multiplayer matches of Quake and Doom, and later Heavy Gear and Alien vs. Predator. Then in High School, we graduated to playing Quake 3 Arena, Unreal Tournament and Counter Strike, kicking ass in the computer pod, and as soon as the teachers arrived like clockwork, so friggin’ predictable they all were… we had already minimised the game and proceeded with the boring assignment we had been tasked to complete. I remember the girls shaking their heads at us, incapable of understanding how we could be enjoying ourselves whilst staring into a mindless box, whilst now a days they play COD with their boyfriends, well, when their boyfriends get bored from dying so friggin’ often of course. But not all teachers and students were so defiant in their beliefs that we were the freaks. I remember by Media teacher in Year Eleven, he comes in – and he busts us for the first time! He yells at one student, telling him to go back and slave away on his project, and once the student leaves? He sat down in his spot and began to play Counter Strike with us! He had no idea where to put the bomb, and it was funny to call him a ‘dumb cunt’ and have him not know who said it. But it was in this same period of time that others began to play, and play, and play, and as the more gamers entered our world and crowded it with their desires, the game developers began to change the way they made them; they became shorter; more expensive; and money and big business inevitably destroyed the one organisational organism that was yet to be touched by the hand of organisational greed.

‘So long’ I said to my first great, faithful love, of  whom I had plucked from my desk when I was but three and had grown to make sweet, passionate love to on a frequent basis. ‘So long my lovely. I will miss you.’ And just like that, like the many women who had broken my heart over the years, the one I had loved the most was gone – replaced by the new and considered ‘improved’ version, who wanted money and lots of it in replace for a shortened amount of fun.

So is it really a good thing that there are more gamers? If gaming was still unpopular amongst the masses do you think games would be so short and expensive? Or was it but an inevitability?

I prefer the old ways. But the graphics of today and the experiences we have, with characters the likes of Commander Sheperd, Master Chief, the Little Sisters, Alma Wade, Captain Price, Sergeant Fenix, all of it, are absolutely irreplaceable.

So is it a case of take the good with the bad? Perhaps. But like I said, I only wish that maybe it were still less popular. Now, there are so many gamers, and the time when I stood alone in a room, knowing I was unique and different because when I got home I would kill hordes of mutants and horrific alien enemies intent on our destruction – whilst everyone else would go play backyard soccer and maybe even work and do other, you know, boring things. That time has passed, I know, and I have adapted, but the pain is still there.

Damn the changing gaming industry. I only hope you continue to make me happy for the rest of my life. Unlike all the other people I love today (excluding my parents) from my Celeb crushes, to the young woman at university I wish I could confess my feelings towards, you might be the one I will never fall out of favor with, as long as you never fall out of favor with me.  I love you with all my heart video game world. Now please, do not break it once again, for if you change again, I only hope it is into something far more beautiful than what you are now. Hugs and kisses to you.

This is Naughty Nefarious, signing off.

2012 VIDEO GAME WISHLIST

 

This year already has been blessed with some pretty fabulous title in the way of gaming. Opening up the year was none other than Mass Effect 3, the long awaited conclusion to the incredibly popular franchise. I concluded it in many different ways, as a man, having a relationship with the sexy Quarian tech geek Tali, and as a woman romancing the gorgeous biotic doctor Liara T’Soni. I was a little disappointed that no wedding bells chimed for Sheperd and Tali, and no blue babies came out from the relationship with Liara. However, if anyone is like me, Sheperd insisted on dying at the end of every single one of their campaigns. But, I am certain that all fan boys would agree with me that her memory will live on. In our hearts. In our minds. And in our erections.

Coming next were other titles the likes of Star Hawk, which had an excruciatingly difficult conclusion to its campaign if you ask me. The campaign I felt acted more along the lines of a tutorial, with each level helping you more and more to learn the basics for the multiplayer battles.

Diablo III was also released recently, as too was Max Payne, but I am sadly yet to play either of them, but with all the hype that both titles have already acquired, one can imagine that they are sure to be respective hits.

There are however still many hits that are yet to be released. In August, Darksiders 2 explodes onto all platforms at once which I feel will be quite the epic. The original was an incredibly long and often brutally challenging game with many puzzles that left you wondering ‘huh?’ throughout a great many parts of the levels. Now, Commander Sheperd is quite a smooth, charismatic character, but let’s face it, he (or she, if you swing that way) ain’t War, Death, or any other such apocalyptic horseman, and what other video game grants you the option of playing as such a formidable character?

August however has another addition to its mist; X-COM, Enemy Unknown. Now, I only recently found out about this particular title, and it led me to wonder what rock I had been hiding under all this time not to know of its existence. Not a remake or a sequel to the previous games in the franchise, but a reimagining of what made the originals so engrossingly fun to play, this strategic shooter should be quite the experience. However, all release dates apparently are still yet to be confirmed, with the PC been confirmed for August, but the Xbox 360 and PS3 systems unanimously yet to be acknowledged. It has been announced that all platforms will cater for the game, but when they will be released is another matter to be decided entirely.

Now, I am more of an XBOX kind of guy myself. Many games I play I prefer to acquire on this specific platform wherever possible. I always find the graphics to be more substantial on that platform than on the others. The PS3 is a system that is so advanced in my opinion that many game developers are yet to begin using the technology in their projects, which is why some games on the PS3 seem so bland when in comparison to the PC or the XBOX 360.

Both the PS3 and the XBOX 360 need not be upgraded for quite some time though. The PC is another matter entirely. Every year a brand new, better performing gaming system is loosed upon the world. In 2009 I acquired a new computer which at the time was said to have the fastest system imaginable as its guts, but now, well, to call it a relic from a time long past might be a bit of an understatement. It is still good if one wants to use it for text and such; that is of course if one can survive how slow the son of a bitch is, for it has the capability to drive the sanest man to insanity at the length of time it takes to save a word document, let alone turn on. And don’t get me started on how long it takes to shut off. You could click the ‘shut down’ button, go out, do your weekly shopping, come back an hour later, and it would probably still be going with the paces of shutting down. God, I cannot wait to shut the bastard down permanently!

However, in 2011 I procured a new system to build a personal dream of mine. I acquired the fastest gaming system at the time, just don’t tell me to go into the technical aspects cuz I’m not a tech expert when it comes to that kind of stuff. I also bought myself a HD 3D TV, and attached the PC, a PS3 console and an XBOX 360 to the television as to use as my monitor, with the sole intention of throwing LAN parties at my place. Well, that dream was a success I would like to add. However, the only problem is that once a person begins to play, they somehow don’t ever want to leave, and seem to become a permanent fixture to the house. There has been someone who arrived about a year ago and I don’t think they have gone home since. Can’t even begin to imagine what his wife is thinking. Probably something that begins with ‘Ya’ and ends with ‘hoo!’, with a ‘thank God he’s never coming back’ attached to it.

Getting back on track though, following these two hits, comes Far Cry 3 in September. Now, I initially ‘umm’d’ and ‘arrr’d’ a lot about this. The original was an explosive thriller that was challenging and fun, with realistic battle scenes and bad ass mutants for you to take out when not being confronted by the tens of thousands of mercenaries that all managed to be jam packed onto the island that was like a giant match box just waiting to be ignited. The sequel went on an entirely different track, having a more RPG style FPS experience in the African wilderness, and initially it was theorised that the third installment of the game would go along the same length, but no, another Pacific Island like the original it would very much seem. After watching the trailer, I had to say that I was quite impressed, but then again, there is no such thing as a shit trailer, but games are usually more accurate in their depiction than movies, so I feel that one can almost always trust the experience one sees in a game trailer to be actual and whole with what they will expect to find in game. The graphics look superb to say the least and the overall storyline seems to be detailed in the clips. You and a couple friends go to an island, not realising it’s filled with crazies. You get pissed drunk, your BFF gets dead, your girlfriend gets kidnapped and you get left for dead on the forsaken hell hole. The action scenes look pretty solid and the strategic maneuvers one will have to go through to succeed look pretty enjoyable, but time is the only thing which can tell if everything will be as good as the trailer makes it look.

Then in November we have COD Black Ops 2, with its futuristic perception of all out warfare, which looks a bit like a combination of one of the Metal Solid Gear titles and Project Snow Blind, all rolled up into one. Basically every COD game has successfully captured my attention time and time again, and after Modern Warfare Three, let us hope that Treyarch are able to keep up with what Infinity Ward have spawned for us in the past.

Of course, November is also the release of the one, the only Halo 4, a.k.a the first in the all new Halo, the Reclaimer Trilogy. Now, what I have seen in reviews and in movie clips makes this title look to be a worthwhile addition to the Halo franchise. However, I am somewhat concerned with the switch of developers. Bungie knew what they were doing, and had being developing the franchise for a cool ten years before handing the reigns over to 343 Industries. I will note that I was not as impressed as other people were with Halo HD. Yes, graphically it was unsurpassed, but it was the lack of many new features that bugged me. True, there were skulls that could be found in the maps, but so many were placed in the most horrific of locations. I mean, WTF is a grenade jump! Cuz that is the only way to acquire some of the skulls according to every single walkthrough I ever read after I couldn’t find half of ‘em on my own. Who in their right mind comes up with the idea to throw a grenade to the ground, and use the momentum from the explosion to propel your character towards the location of one of the skulls? If anyone was like me, they either flew in the opposite direction of the skull, or in all likelihood were blown up, which is the sole job of the grenade – to blow shit up! On top of this, I was not entirely impressed with the little data files that could be found, where one clicked on a button and suddenly viewed a movie clip that included either Guilty Spark, a Covenant A.I, the Grave Mind or another character from the franchise. In the Library, I had to go through hell to find a certain movie clip which turned out to be Guilty Spark crying out ‘I’m so alone!’ about a hundred times before talking about how he, she, it (?) wished that the developers of Halo had put two sentries on the Halo rings to watch over the installations rather than one to put an end to its loneliness! Not very riveting I found. There was also the lack of new weapons, and the fact that all weapons acted exactly like the ones from the original Halo. They all looked nice and fanciful but all reacted in the exact same way. There was also the game play. I don’t know about anyone else, but I found the environments to be a little cheaply designed. Just say there was a tree, right? There was an Elite behind the tree taking shelter. If you shot between the space located between branches you should, in theory, hit the Elite, right? WRONG! You hit the tree? How exactly, when it is not there! The invisible space between the branches is still a part of the tree. When a game is developed, all of the parts of the map, all of the brushes are placed into the level, one piece at a time. Made out from pixels, the spaces between them, from the spaces between tree branches to that of bits of metal on buildings all have pixels that are invisible to the naked eye connecting them. In some games, the developer might remove these as to allow the player to shoot between them, but not in Halo HD. Did that make any sense? Well, I hope so, cuz I ain’t going through it again!

The end point in regards to Halo 4, is that I just don’t want 343 Industries to balls up one of the greatest gaming franchises developed, so fingers crossed on that one.

Well, those titles mentioned are the ones on my Game Wish list for the year, but that don’t mean there might not be others that shall pop up over the course of the next six months before the year is up.