Monday, 29 November 2010

Nier: The Aftermath Review

WARNING. This review contain spoilers.

Right. Lets get something out of the way first. Just a little something to consider. Can you pass off a mistake made in a game's development as gameplay? Of course you can. You may have to adjust the game idea somewhat, but it can work in the right situation.

That considered, lets talk about Nier, a game that takes the above the theory and abuses it in the second act. Nier is a game developed by Square Enix and strangely did not recieve much advertising. It just appeared on shop shelves one day. This was a strange thing to do, especially for Square Enix but I digress.

Nier starts up as you go through a tutorial to explain the combat, the enemies, and other things, when suddenly you jump to 1,312 years later?! Wow, most games wait for at least 25% through before they do something random of that magnitude. I won't explain the plot too much, but there are certain points that I want to put emphasis on just because these are the more, lets say surreal parts to this game.

The first boss is the first time I have ever felt saddened for a boss in any game purely through its appearance. It was a big demon, which I was fine with. It had what looked like testicles on its chin though. Huh. There weren't just two either, there were about 15 or so. This made for interesting boss design, but it was just a bit too phalic for my liking. Also a village got destroyed while I was fighting it. It was kind of my fault.

The next sequence of events that I didn't really care for came at the halfway point. Basically, a regenerating monster attacks the village and the resolving point for this is that the main characters decide to trap the monster rather than killing it by putting it in the basement. My jaw dropped when I heard this plan because it just didnt make any sense. Simply ignoring the monster would not solve the problem! Regardless to say we time jump again 5 years, and after revisiting one of the temples from the first half again, we release the monster and kill it. Needless to say, its a bit angry but the thing that annoyed me was that there was no difficulty increase for this boss, while my character had gotten many upgrades before this.

Right. Now we can talk about why I put that little discussion topic at the start. In the second act of Nier, the game basically has you visit all of the same temples again from the first half. I could assume this is gameplay, but I really think that this was because they ran out of time, or money, or something which then made them have to make rush decisions to get it out. This meant that they had to recycle the temples, which were all quite short anyway and of which one was a scrolling text dungeon, to get the game done in time. It just makes the game repetitive, which is unfortunate.

Lets talk about the character first. The main character Nier, is a very sympathetic character. He has a daughter with a disease, and he just wants whats best for her. Thats a good character trait that you could base a really good, expansive character story around. Where he fails is the fact that there is not too much more to the character than wanting the best for the daughter. A couple of words on his daughter now. A girl who tries to help, but is mainly there to drive the story. Thats all there really is to her. You can see that they are trying to push a loving family vibe here, and it works but not enough to make me care more than I already am.

Grimoire Weiss is by far my favourite character over some of the others. He is a sentient magic book that Nier calls apon to invoke magic from. He is ridiculously proud, sarcastic, and does not like it when people abbrieviate his name. He is the only character who is always around from when you first get him however. Other companions come and go, but he is there from the time where you first meet him, right up to the end. He also calls the female companion a hussy. That was his thing from just before the halfway point, and then kept until the end. Sorta came outta nowhere but I found it funny at least.

Kainé is my least favourite character. A foulmouth, skantely bitch with a temper to match. From conversation to conversation she is trying to distance herself from the other characters, but at least has some funny conversations with Grimoire Weiss. The game also tries to give her a sympathetic backstory, but this falls flat as I just think that shes such an unlikeable character that I just didn't care. There was one person who was always trying to be her friend, Emil.

Emil was a child cursed with the power of turning anyone who he looks at into stone. Kinda harsh for a little kid right? Well it gets harsher as the game goes along as you find out in the second half that his sister was transformed into the ultimate weapon, which he then joined with to gain ultimate magical power to free someone from stone. The downside from this was that he turned into a skeleton with an oversized head. This is a kid! A very sympathetic kid as well. Why would the-- Wait a second. Everyone is sympathetic. This isn't really sympathy is it. This is angst!

Angst aside, the story was just average until about the 90% mark, where you finally learn whats going on. Also it may have been because I just played the Uncharted games back to back, but the gameplay just doesn't feel as fluid. It feels sticky, and just doesn't feel right.

Right. Got to tie this review up. Nier just didn't feel like a complete game to me. If more work had been done on different locations for the second act, and the more stupid parts had been ironed out, it would have recieved a higher score. The ending part of the game really brought it up from the ashes, but I can't give Nier more than a "Mierr" score of 4/10.

Also next up is Dead to Rights: Retribution for another abrupt change of game!

This is Tyramatt, signing off.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

The Uncharted Experience - Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

Right. I just completed Uncharted 2, and have alot to say about it. But first, I would like to tread on some old ground and re-visit Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. I realised a couple of days ago that when I wrote my short Uncharted review, I failed to mention any of the characters and how these characters act. Nathan Drake is a nice change in some aspects from other games that I had been playing because he acts alot more like a movie star than a game character. This is mainly from the writing, but the voice acting really brings the character to life. Nolan North is a very good voice actor as well as a great motion capture actor. But now we talk about the other character that I didn't like, the love interest Elena. At first I liked her because she was believable because she was actually trying to get her job done, but before long she was climbing all over the place, disappearing for seemingly no reason, and doing stuff that most reporters wouldn't think of.

But now we move onto the smaller character parts, and we start with my favourite character, Sully. Sully is a riot. He is like the old guard, a person from a different time in the sense that his day of climbing all over ancient structures is long gone, while still keeping his unique style of charisma. The villian is forgettable unfortunatly, mainly because of the constant fire fights with his henchmen, but something that will stick with me for many months, and a big spoiler coming here, was the fact that his colleague killed him in the last five minutes of gameplay, and then he decided "I'm going to be the final boss now". One last thing, then i'll move onto Uncharted 2, the quicktime events. I really could not believe when people said there were quicktime events at about 4 points in the game. Its true. Its the stupidest thing in this game. Enough said.

Right. Now to Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. The game starts up and i'm on a beach talking to two people that Nathan Drake knows, but I don't. What am I missing here? Now i'm breaking into a museum? Now some guy is betraying me? What is going on?! Oh well, right after the confusing opening, we go through a jungle level which was quite reminiscent of the first game, steal some documents and then proceed to a city. You might wonder why i'm skipping through this game. Its because there are massive spoilers in every crevasse of this game. So you go through the city, firefight after firefight, partly with a woman who isnt really given a proper origin story other than the fact that Drake knows her. Then you run into the woman from the first game, basically get her cameraman killed, and then keep going. Then you storm a train. I have nothing to say on that. After making the train crash, you find yourself at a Tibetan village after another firefight. You then meet a guy called Paul Schafer. I still can't help but think that i've heard that name somewhere before...

Then you get another sidekick, someone who can't speak english. Fantastic. Then you fight a weird mutant yeti. What?! Where did this come from?! Oh well, the evil guy Lazaravic attacks the village, and after a vehicle section, and several firefights you find Schafer again, but hes dieing. Then after some more firefights, of which the mutant yetis have turned up again for no reason, you get into where the meguffan of this game is being kept. You then get captured by Lazaravic, and have to get him into where the Cintamanni Stone is. Then the yetis attack again. Lazaravic comes in and shoots them all with his double barrel shotgun, and then reveals that they were men in costumes. This makes no sense as we later find out that they take more shots for some reason when they are out of the damn costumes!

You escape Lazaravic with the two women, the one from the first game, Elena, and the new one, Chloe. You then go through some more firefights with both Lazaravic's henchmen and then purple people who were in the yeti suits. You then find the guy who betrayed you in the beginning who was betrayed by Lazaravic in a delicious spate of irony. He blows himself up with a grenade. Alright then. You then have to fight Lazaravic which was harder than I thought. But then the real final boss fight appears. The collapsing bridge! I found this section alot harder than the final boss fight and died alot more on this part than on the actual fight!

After this the ending takes over and then Chloe says basically "You walked away from me, now i'm going to do the same to you HAHA!". Drake and Elena get together and it is a good cinematic. Until they start talking about how Drake hates clowns.

Lets start by talking about some of the smaller things. The combat is unchanged, and the environments are better than ever. The character models are better as well. So lets start talking about the new characters as the old character still do what they used to do in the first one. Chloe is a british woman, who keeps trying to leave Elena behind. Love Triangle much? I really don't like Chloe, although I like her slightly more than Elena. She plays a big part with double crossing the bad guys, and helping Drake where she can, but thats all there really is to her. She is a uninteresting love interest, and Drake really should know better considering how many times shes double crossed people.

Lazaravic is a better villian than the last time, and he at least he actually survives to be the final boss. Hes a russian with a great voice actor, and while most of the voice acting is good, he really got to the top of the pile on voices. The acting is brilliant.

Harry, who was the betrayer from the start, only exists to give Drake someone to get angry at and for someone for Chloe to steal information from. Considering that he dies by blowing himself up with a grenade, he is not an interesting enough character to talk about. Therefore the last major problem I have with this game is, where the hell is Sully! I didn't notice this until the very end, but he only appears for the first 3 chapters and then doesn't come back again until the ending cinematic! What was he doing all that time?! Oh well, at least he wasn't killed.

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves does have problems, but they are not glaring. The plot can be a bit bad at times, but it doesn't stop the game being a very worthy sequel. If they had left the yetis out the game, it would have been better, as well as characterising Chloe and Harry some more. If these two things had been implemented, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves would have gotten an 8/10. But as it stands, I have have to give Uncharted 2 the same score as its predecessor. A solid 7/10.

And now a quick preview of the next game I am going to play, NIER. I start up the game to install the game on the PS3 hard drive, and I watch the opening cinematic to get myself in the mood for what I was in store for. Immediatly some random woman starts shouting at me. Who the hell is this cow?! Where is she? Can I punch her? I am in for alot of angst aren't I. Oh well. Next up is NIER.

This is Tyramatt, signing off.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

The Uncharted Experience - Uncharted: Drakes Fortune

I went into this game expected alot of climbing on things and finding exotic treasures. What I did not expect was the absolutly beautiful enviroments, the clever puzzle design and the experience that I was watching a movie as well as playing a game. Not many games can accomplish that nowadays.

That being said though, Uncharted: Drake's Fortune has one huge flaw in my opinion. Which is the combat. I know that cover based combat was all the rage back then, and still is to some extent, but it is the frequency of the fights that annoys me. They just happen too often to be constant fun.

Uncharted: Drake's Fortune is by no stretch of the word bad. It is not nearly as good as some of the earlier Tomb Raider games, but makes up for it being on a high definition console by having much better realised environments, and the ability to have truly entrancing cinematics without having the problem of disc space usage.

I am currently in a playthrough of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, and I have to say while the good things have kept true and the combat has improved slightly, the story has suffered slighty. The story is less believable, and the dialogue leaves alot to be desired in this game so far, but I won't do a full review of Uncharted 2. At least, not yet.

Uncharted: Drake's Fortune gets a very modest 7/10, but is definatly worth a look for PS3 owners.

This is Tyramatt, signing off.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

The Darkness Review - Part 2

It turns out I didn't really have much more of the game to go, so heres the gist of the rest of the game, which I think really is the better half. You have to go steal a briefcase that is apparently essential to the evil doer's doing. Oh yeah also before this you have to go try and kill the police chief, but he gets away. Oh well. You then put a bomb in the briefcase and then go to a church to give it back. You then have to shoot down many SWAT members and then you get captured by being too much in the light to use your darkness powers. After some more exposition from the good old police chief, you get a police officer to move in front of one of the lights and then you go for the police chief. And hit the briefcase. Forcing the bomb to go off. You can see where this is going right?

You wake up back in hell which is redder than ever, but this time you start in the mega train. You go to fire the cannons! But theres no ammo. So you spend a bit of time finding your great, great grandfather to help you get some ammo. He also has a tank now. Alright then.

After the only freaking tank section of the game you run into a darkness type yeti monster that kills your great, great grandfather. Huh. So you get ammo, shoot your way into a castle, and then confront the darkness as it turns out this is not hell, but the mind of the darkness, which it also turns out from living what must be 300 lifetimes has gone insane. You beat the darkness by running up to it with no guns drawn. Alright then.

YOu then control the darkness. You then go to a boat to ruin this guy's life some more I think, it isnt really clear. Yeah so you leave the boat, and then go defend your aunt's house from attacking mafia men and corrupt cops. Then you go for the final area, which is a mansion on a island with a lighthouse. This last sequence of the game is brilliantly executed and I will not encur spoilers of that magnitude, so if you have to know that bad go look for yourself.

The Darkness is really not as bad a game as the reputation proceeds it. As a current generation console it fails considerably, but you need to remember that this was a early title for the PS3 and Xbox 360, back when studios didn't know what the consoles were capable of. The story is lacking at first, but the darkness really holds the story together in the second half. Overall I found myself enjoying The Darkness towards the end which was an unexpected feeling. I would give The Darkness a very modest 5/10, if only because the second half really pulled the first half back up. The next game up on the Tyramatt chopping board is Uncharted: Drake's Fortune.

This is Tyramatt, signing off.

The Darkness Review - Part 1

So. The Darkness. A game considered to have one of the worst demos ever made. But the whole game really isn't too bad. The storyline may just barely hold itself together, but it is interesting enough for me to want to keep going. I'm at the 55% mark, so i'm going to do half of the review now, and then do the last 45% when i've completed the game. So lets dig in.

The Darkness follows Jackie Estacado on his 21st birthday. After a very rushed and seemingly out of place car chase Jackie crashes out of the car, his companion tells him that his uncle has probably put out a hit on him for failing (I think) and after many minutes of wandering about you gain the so-called darkness powers. I like the darkness powers. They seem to contain the rather sly feel about them, while constantly showing their own power over Jackie.

After a couple of objectives walking to places, i'm going to go off on a rant in a bit so hold on, I got to the next big objective of burning some money to "Fuck up Paulie's operation". Why do most of these missions just include shooting henchmen with no redeemable qualities and burning things? The rant is about the tracking system as I should call it. In my Resistance 2 review I complained about how some of the objective trackers were useless and shouldn't have been there. But in this game, there is no local map, and no objective tracker. I got lost so many times trying to find where I had been directed to by NPCs.

So eventually the Darkness made my unable to save my girlfriend from being shot, and Jackie shoots himself. That came out of left field. He wakes up in some sort of World War II esque hell where the british are fighting Nazis to gain control of "The Hills". After some character exposition where you find out that it was Jackie's great, great grandfather who brought the darkness into the family and that it latches onto the firstborn male on their 21st birthday, but there is a way to control it. After another mission where Jackie goes to "The Hills" by himself, he retrieves the "Darkness Guns". Through these guns apparently the darkness can be controlled.

Insert here another train bit. Why does every game I play seem to have at least one train in it since I played Spirit Tracks? Jackie breaks free of hell since the darkness was apparently keeping his body alive so that it could survive. Jackie comes back and apparently his first matter of business is revenge! Oh wait, no. He has to go visit his aunt. He goes there and the aunt basically sets up the next two major missions where you have to kill the police chief to get to the main evil guy.

The Darkness does not deserve the horrendously bad reputation it has. Some people have said it was just unplayable, but cut it some slack. It was released when the PS3 first came out, and studios did not know what the console was capable of. You can ignore the modelling issues at least from that as well as the bad animation on the human models when they talk. As I mentioned before, the rest of the game will be reviewed when I complete it.

This is Tyramatt, signing off.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Some Unfinished Business - Resistance 2

Resistance 2 is finished. Good game. I give those people at Insomniac Games a pat on the back for that ending. Knowing there was a going to be a sequel to this game, they really closed off most of the continuing storyline.

If you want to know more about what I think about Resistance 2 look at a couple of posts ago where I basically rant about it for a bit. As a follow-up post I just wanted to comment on the ending couple of missions and then give my scoring for it. So here goes, and I must warn there are *SPOILERS* ahead.

Right now that thats out of the way, I can really get down to it. When you are fighting Daedalus in the final battle, he is way too easy.. I had a much harder time getting to him and the could be considered first part of the boss fight where you are fighting random chimera and he is throwing stuff at you. When you get god-like powers when you beat him though its quite cool though, even though I still managed to die twice.. In the closing cinematic when your squadmate shoots you because you are too much like a chimera though, that really saddened me. At first I thought it was because when you don't get your inhibitors for a while you slowly turn into a chimera, but when your character repeats something Daedalus said, I realised that you were slowly turning into another version of him...

Overall I enjoying Resistance 2, and would give it a very modest 7/10.

This is Tyramatt, signing off.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

A "Crate" Time!

Right heres the crate as it stands at the moment. I know it could do with some more work on the texture, just with some more editing to make it look a bit more polished, but as a stock model it works. The poly count of this as you would imagine is very low at 50 polygons. Below can be seen the model without textures:
This pattern of inversed squares is replicated on each side and below you can see it with the textures partially applied:
As can be seen there is the pattern applied to the model through the texture without having to actually make an indent which would result in more polygons being used. There is no point to having a high polygon stock model. Below can be seen the screenshots of the product at its current stage:

So there's my first stock model. I hope you like it, its not too exciting but it does the job that it's meant to.

This is Tyramatt, signing off the second time today.

Stock Assets and other Projects

Right. On reading week now, so I can get down to making some more work to show off for the first time in forever! I've got some plans and am going to make some stock assets. These being some models that can be used in various situations for example crates, barrels etc. I'm probably going to make the crate model today, possibly the barrel model as well. These will be low poly models, so the textures will really make these stand out.

Another thing on my list is one of the lesser known Superteams, and if they are known its for all the wrong reasons... Want to know who? Guess.

The grinder tank is at the bottom of the to do list at the moment. Needs to be retextured as well as the changes I mentioned a couple of posts ago.

Also got a outdoor level in mind... Gonna have to put some more thought into it though so don't expect it anytime soon.

Well I hope you enjoyed at least knowing what i'm up to, hopefully if I get around to modelling today renders will be up tomorrow!

This is Tyramatt, signing off.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Long Overdue Post - Game Reviews

Hello and welcome to Tyramatt's Irregular Game Review Segment. This is not just a way to distract from the fact that I haven't got any 3D work to show... So lets get down to the games that I have been playing since I last posted.

Resistance: Fall of Man
A game I have never actually played before, this was a bit of a blast from the PS3's rocky beginnings. A PS3 launch title and I thought with the highly anticipated Resistance 3 coming out in the next year, I best catch up to speed. So what did I think of the game? For a PS3 launch title, the obvious cracks show. It is way too short, but the premise is great. The storytelling is lacking, but the gameplay is brilliant. You could make a list of the good and bad points of this game, but these would come to about the same number, depending on how much detail you went into. What score would I give Resistance: Fall of Man? Well it provided a good start to the early PS3 lineup but if anything it was let down by the poor game line on release overall. That does hurt it a bit. I'm also running it against other things that were out at the same time to be fair to it. Overall I would give Resistance: Fall of Man 6/10. I've judged this game by the lineup of the time, so there will be no Modern Warfare 2 comparisions here! Now lets see whats next on the slab...

God of War 1 and 2
I'm judging these two games together as I played them in quick succession. I was playing Resistance: Fall of Man and the two God of War games at the same time, which made for an interesting contrast. Whereas Resistance was a competant FPS which switched out the areas mission by mission, both God of War 1 and 2 use a very small number of locations despite being as long as these games take to complete. Like Resistance: Fall of Man, I have never played the God of War games until now. I started playing them, again to play the third one in the trilogy so far. God of War's combat flows smoothly as i'm sure anyone who has heard of the games knows so that is not worth mentioning. My problem with the first game in particular was that the game seemed to be dragged out slightly more than neccessary. The second game fixed this to an extent, but not entirely. Both of the God of War endings were pieces of brilliance, but again if you have played the games, there is no point mentioning them. Overall both God of War 1 and 2 deserve the same score because they carry on the same story so well. I would give them a 8/10 just by the skin of it's teeth.

Dead Rising 2 (First Impressions)
I picked up Dead Rising 2 as a bit of a time killing simulator. I wanted to kill some zombies, but without going back to Call of Duty: World at War's Nazi variety. I soon found out what Dead Rising 2 was. A game that I have very conflicting opinions about. On one hand I do not want to be doing sidequests. I can understand why they put them in as some people like doing sidequests, but why would you not put measures in place so that you can wait for a certain amount of time? It would make sense if you could do it in the safehouse, but you can't. I spent 24 minutes waiting for the next mission to start in the worst time I have ever had with a game. On the other hand in one of the more compotent game design choices I have ever seen in a game, when you die you have the option of starting the whole game again, but keeping your character's stat increases, levels, etc. I have decided to restart mine because i'm stuck on a boss fight that is actually very creepy. You will see when you get to it. Just remember these words. "They are not alive". So far I can't really give this game a score, so will tack it on to the next game review segment I do.

Resistance 2 (First Impressions)
Ok. So I cheated slightly by not combining Resistance: Fall of Man with this one, but I haven't completed this one yet. I'm about 57% through it. This game is a massive improvement on the last one in the sense of combat, narritive, and gameplay overall. Unlike the first one you can only carry 2 weapons, I didn't mention earlier that you keep every weapon you pick upin the first one, which keeps combat plain and simplified. This is a good thing! It can be frustrating at times to have to scroll through all of your weapons to find the right situational weapon. The storytelling is dramatically changed from narration over still sketches to full cutscenes, of which i'm guessing that the narration over sketches was a ploy to get it out on release, and is improved for it. If there are two points in which this game is lacking from the first they are the navigation, and the pacing. The problem with the navigation stems into two fields, the navigation points, and the open areas. The navigation points are not used all the time and when they are they range from pointless, to useless. Some points end up being 4 metres away, and others can be 200 metres away, but you cannot go straight to them because you have to go through about 15 buildings. It is just not as polished as I thought it would be. The pacing is also terrible, switching out locations as fast as the first, but there is alot more going on in a short time. Its like the game is throwing everything it wants into as little time as possible. Again, as I haven't completed this game yet, the game score will be tacked on to the next game review section.

This is Tyramatt, signing off.