Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Survive This?

So Left 4 Dead released some new stuff. Two new versus maps (which are in fact merely the other two maps that were not yet versus compatible made so they are) and a brand spanking new Survival Mode.
How are they. Well they're fun. But they're different. 

The versus maps are easier to address so lets start there.

After playing through Dead Air and Death Toll on versus it makes you question a few things. 

0. Was there a huge surge of people to decided to start playing Left 4 Dead again now that there is new content?

1. Did the player base recently all become newbies somehow?

2. Are these maps simply just too new for people to understand how to survive them?

3. Is this why these maps were not available for versus play up until now?

I say this because wiping is fast and frequent in these new maps. Prior to the the patch you could randomly join some guys in versus and be reasonably sure that you would do alright assuming the other team is stacked full of friends who have pre-planned everything. Post-patch 

The three above points cover my main thoughts as to why there is so much wiping in versus.

Lets get rid of #3 and #2 right away. Go play the old versus maps and you'll see early wiping occurring as well.  Although #2 may explain why it is much more so in the new stuff.

This means everyone either sucks now, or people came back after not playing. You can figure that one out.

I will say this. The versus maps that just came out are far more difficult than the other two. There are many more options for flexible and diverse attacks and further the fact that many are unaware of where attacks are likely to come from means that it is harder to defend against them.

Simply put, we've got a compounding situation. The new maps brought back people who had left, but the new maps also confused many. 

The maps themselves? They're good. But like a said they feel pretty lop-sided in favor of the Infected side.

Survival Mode.

So the other half of the update is a new mode that seals off sections of the maps and tasks you to simply not die. How is it. It is either too easy, or too hard. The one map made specifically for this task "Last Stand" is exceptionally hard. But it is in a good way. You can't simply adopt one strategy for it and find success with it. I've tried numerous strategies that all work fairly well for a time, but ultimately crash and burn. 
That is the problem with the other survival maps, culled from prior content, they are making the best out of what they have. Some are easy, and involve just standing near the ammo and dropping tanks with 3 auto shotties ASAP, while the M16 guy picks off smokers and other specials from a distance. 

Overall I really enjoy survival, but it makes me want to play with friends more so than any other mode. You really have to be comfortable with these people to tell them your opinions on where you think you should shoot zombies from, or rather what the general plan for your survival will be.

So the survival pack? It sure was good for me. And really free content... kinda hard to bitch about it. 
Strange side note. I've seen more girls in Left 4 Dead matches since the patch, which is worth noting because girls either hide their gender, from fear that everyone else in the game will begin to hit on them. Or they wear it on their sleeve and torment all the guys in the game to make them feel shit. Please note I am not suggesting that more girls playing Left 4 Dead is the reason that there are so many wipes. In fact the girls were better than most other players, myself included. 
Well yea. Zombies and Girls and such. CRAZY!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I'm Just A Dwarf Stuck in a Horrible Mess of a Situation

So LotR: Online  apparently recently hit its two year anniversary and was offering the game + expansion for 9.99, with a sale of monthly credit at 9.99 a month as well. 
Having literally just finished university I realized I would need a time sink, and immediately began my quest in Middle Earth as a Dwarf champion (a DPS tank).

How is the game might be a question to ask. But put simply the game is World of Warcraft, with a gritty style of graphics, and the Lord of the Rings mythology. Which is another way of saying that it is absolutely awesome. Assuming you enjoy Lord of the Rings. And it follows the books, so lovers of the cut material can rejoice, the Barrow-Downs are in.

Of course the game has numerous differences from WoW, most quite subtle, but overall the game works, has a nice community (from what I've seen so far, I typically solo in MMOs) and has one hell of a bitching player driven music scene that is pretty awesome when you're in town and hear 3 people just jamming on their horns and lute's. 
I am very pleased with it overall and shall resume my adventure, I have recently met Strider and shall help him.


Friday, April 17, 2009

More Cheese With That Demigod Whine.

Okay, so Demigod. 

I'm still playing it. Multi-player is easier to connect now that a patch hit. And the number of players playing it has really jumped up, so that is heart-warming, and makes me think that the game really does have a future, contrary to my previous posting.

There are still many issues that make playing the game frustrating. Like most abilities seem to be limited only by your mana reserves rather than by cooldowns. This means a good ability can be spammed to hell once you buy mana boosting shit. But overall I think there is alot more good in the game than bad. 

Its pretty, competitive, challenging and most of all, pretty fun. Now if only the average length of a game could get shortened by 10 minutes. I'm sick to death of every game ending in one hour or more.
But I heartily recommend Demigod, although I still think DotA is at the moment a better game. DotA does not have the maps, the graphics, the stat tracking, the achievements, the favour items, the diversity of different match types. So Demigod is looking better everyday. 
Cheers. and Ciao.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I Could Be A God But I'd Rather Be An Ancient Allstar!

It is here. The retail release of DotA... except think for a second about that. DotA exists as it does only because it is a mod for a game that is mindlessly simple to get running. That has low system specs, that is easy to find a match, and (heres the kicker) that is actually balanced. 

None of the issues that currently afflict Demi-God are beyond repair. In fact DotA has struggled with balance since its inception.

The problem is that DotA doesnt have to pay employees, it only has one. Demigod has a fucking assload of accountability. It may get better, but I seriously doubt it. The game will get some good patches but the player base will have moved on. I mean the entire time I play Demigod the only thing I'm think is that DotA did, and does, it better. I think I'll talk about the actual game now.

So Demigod is a retail attempt to cash in on DotA's game. Specifical taking the AoS (Aeon of Strife, a very old starcraft custom map mode that has had more spin-offs than Happy Days) in a direction for the mainstream. The game works like this. You get a hero and he is a sargeant in his sides army (light or dark). He can be a hero killer ("assassin") or a summoner/hero killer ("general" in the game's nomenclature) and his (and yours) is to level him to make him stronger, kill your enemies, and eventually achieve the objectives that have been set out before you. They can be hold flags to obtain a certain amount of points. Completely obliterate the enemy. Deathmatch to kill points. Or break a specific number of forts first. 
These specific objectives are nice, and may be one of my favorite parts of Demigod. 
Perhaps one of the most important parts of an AoS is the heroes you get to play as (or Demigods as this game calls them). They are nice, the artwork is unique, the models look and animate great. But they probably look too good. Lag not a good thing in this kind of game. All heroes feel clunky, slow, unresponsive. 
Perhaps even worse is that there are only 8. But then you can realize that there are multiple ways to play each hero, depending on what role you feel like playing in the battle. However this makes me ask... Why not just make each role into a seperate demigod? Oh right because making those 8 models was likely very expensive so might as well role 30 hero classes into 8 model types. This is suppose to be a game friendly to the noobs. But making heroes have such diverse paths just makes you wonder how to play them most effectively, and will mean that numerous people get gimped heroes.
This is compounded by the fact that it is not easy to get into a match. At all. Period. I had to keep trying dozens of time click the button. Wait. Someone's router is not forwarding ports. Game wont ever start. Woohoo. You know I've got this thing with my multiplayer games. They should just work. I dont care how pretty the game. How much fun the game is. If I can not get and out quickly. I am not going to start playing it.
What really burns me most is the little things. Death makes it so you cannot see the map anymore. Nifty graphic overlay, but really ineffective for gameplay reasons. I cannot tell if my friendly heroes need help in the east. Further there is no easy way to look around or jump to a section of the map. You have constant tunnel vision on your hero. Nice for focusing on him. Shitty for thinking about the larger battle you're fighting.
It is like the developers of Demigod looked at Dota. and ignored all the little things that make it great, and just went off to their own little corner. You cant look at whats in the shop unless you are right beside it. You cannot upgrade your side's stuff unless at the base building. Everyone seems to move at the same speed. Items make little to no sense, beyond raising your mana and health, i have no clue how good +25 dmg is. You cant tell what items you or your enemies, or even your friends have equipped. health seems super high for no reason. The developers should take every number in the game and divide by 10. Makes nice small hundreds. Thousands are scary. People dont like thinking in thousands. Thousands of dollars? Thousands of Cats? Thousands of litres of blood? I mean, hundreds is much more easily grasped by our minds.

Ughhhh. Honestly thinking about Demigod is strange. It demands balancing and patches. It wont get them because it needs to sell units, needs to make money, needs to be big. Being big means making it simply. Adding complexity makes it less likely to appeal to a broad audience. 
DotA is the pinnacle of a complex game that those who like adore it for that. From last hitting, to juking in the woods, from understanding which heroes function better with early game stats and which need those skills. I mean there are 90+ heroes in DotA, and for the most part they are all balanced. Most have one role. But alot of them can be played differently. 
I think Demigod is a nice effort, I'll keep trying it out. But If i cant play a single match of DotA before I even get to play match of demigod, and DotA's gameplay is just as if not more compelling why on earth would i bother with Demigod. I think thats my answer. 

But damn I hope I'm wrong.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

I Like To Think April Brings Out The Best of My Worst Qualities

Having the new computer back is great fun indeed. Until I realize of course that I have dozens of "new" games to play through. Meh, could be worse.

Currently I'm looking at many, many games.

Assassin's Creed; Also known as spider man without all the swinging, and slightly more lethal.

Brother's In Arms: Hell's Highway; Also known as shootie Mc-Think or Shoot.

Company of Heroes: Tales of Valour; Also known as dear sweet god never let this pleasure end, or what over so soon?

Star Ocean 4: The Last Hope; Also known as lolita monster rape-esqueish. With Swords. (Technically a 360 game, but meh)

The Club; Also known as I hate you on the inside and the outside so why would I run on your PC?

Unreal Tournament 3; Also known as Mc-Shootie Shooter with strange and diverse weapons and scenarios beyond deathmatch, but still very Quake-esque.

Tomb Raider: Anniversary; Also known as Face Lift the poor old girl's control schematics but not combat. 

Demi-God; Also Known as I'm not actually out till Tuesday the 14th so squirm little man.

Empire: Total War; Also known as I'll take your natives, your women, your forts, your cities, your colleges, your ships, and your monies. But you can keep the 20,000 dead you committed to defending your capital. Also who cares if the British are your archenemies why would you ally with someone against them? They'll just buy Louisana first chance a crazy midget emperor gives them the chance.

Thats pretty much it. I mean job 'questing' begins soon, which hopefully will end nicely and if it doesnt things will get strange. But meh.

I continue to put hours into L4D, half done expert, and the new stuff arrives in a week or so. TF2 continues to delight. Waiting on final piece of DLC for Fallout 3. Working my way through Dawn of War 2  on Primarch which is interesting. But in a good way. And Defense Grid's challenge mission is being a bitch. I have missed gold by like 80 points 3 times in a row. what the fuck is it's problem. 
Oh and I'm also going through the back catalog of Steam games for fun stuff. It includes Max Payne 2; Dark Messiah of Might & Magic; Bioshock; Half-Life series; GTA IV; Titan Quest; And Call of Duty 4 & 5 (4's Multiplayer, 5's singleplayer); and then some Alien Shooter Vengeance.
And I'm finally getting back into The World Ends With You, awesome rpg for the DS.
because i havent said enough game titles in this post.
yeesh. Ciao. Enjoy your finals if you're writing them.