Monthly Archives: November 2011

Paradise Burns!

After wrapping up Space Marine I started playing through Burnout Paradise on Xbox 360 which I had been interested in finally giving a shot for quite a while now. I’m not a huge racing fan but I Lovvveeeedddd Burnout 3: Takedown and Burnout Revenge on the original Xbox so I was really looking forward to Burnout Paradise. I tried the demo when the game was still relatively new but couldn’t really get into it too much. Still, I know that it can be hard to judge an open world game from its demo alone, so I ended up buying it anyway but shelving it while I played through some of my more anticipated games… since then it has been pretty buried in my backlog.

Err. Yes, it's a racing game...
“Err. Yes, it’s a racing game…”

I admit that I might have missed the boat a little bit since all of my friends have long since put away their copies of Paradise meaning I wouldn’t get a great experience with the drop-in multiplayer nor all the fun to be had with the “Road Rules” score fights. Still, I hopped in, so long after the game has been heavily patched and supplemented with tons of DLC, and played through the core single-player experience. That is to say, doing races and events to unlock more cars and eventually getting to my final license as well as working to satisfy a few achievements and whatnot. The racing itself, at least after you start unlocking better cars, is the same old tight, fun, arcade racing that I love about Burnout. It took me a bit of time to get into it but once it clicked, I really found myself enjoying the hell out of it. The open world structure of Paradise doesn’t really add a whole lot to the game for me, in fact in many ways I think I would have rather had the old style tracks, and having to travel to find new events, make repairs, and swap cars is kind of a drag, but generally speaking it works quite well.

Expect to rack up millions of dollars in property damage in your time in Paradise City.
“Expect to rack up millions of dollars in property damage in your time in Paradise City.”

The removal of “Crash Mode” is sorely disappointing and the dismal “Showtime” mode is absolutely no replacement for its absence. Speaking of crashing, I wish take downs could lead to massive pile ups instead of only getting credit for the one car you take down first and then having the game more or less put you on autopilot (even leading you to avoid potential crashes yourself!) while it is showing you the wreckage. Relating to that, actually, my main complaint about the game is probably all of the oddities about the user experience – the way the music/radio system works, some of the odd little animations, cut-scenes, and screens the game forces you to watch all of the time, the map being almost useless, the fact that they had to patch in a “retry event” option and as a result it is in a semi-stupid place, etc.

Still, all this time later is it a good game? Definitely! I’m betting that if Criterion have taken some of the valuable lessons from Paradise to heart the next game in the Burnout series could very well be a total masterpiece!

(Oh, and while I didn’t absolutely hate it and some of the seemingly random music selections are pretty fun, I find the whole concept of “Crash FM” to be hilariously dumb. The more I think about it, the more absurd it is. Can’t someone from the FCC shut this shit down before DJ Atomica inspires yet another traffic related fatality? Christ!)

Per usual, screenshots totally stolen. Probably also from the PC version instead of the 360 version, I’d guess, but you get it. πŸ˜‰

CoD Off Guard

So I bought Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 on Xbox 360 at launch with the intention of playing the multiplayer a lot. I generally really enjoy the CoD:MW and it’s descendents’ fast, fluid, progression laden multiplayer, so like Space Marine before it I figured I’d hop into this one and have a ball with it online for a month or two. So far I’ve been enjoying it, despite me 1. sucking and 2. being a little surprised at how damn similar it is to Modern Warfare 2.

Looks shocking similar to other recent Call of Duty games, eh?
“Looks shocking similar to other recent Call of Duty games, eh?”

So anyway, random observation: I got into a lobby last night – nothing special about it, Standard Playlists>Team Deathmatch, etc. This game was different though – everyone was using like… teamwork and tactics? People were moving in groups, securing and holding areas before advancing, using covering fire and other suppression tactics, moving slowly instead of running around like morons, etc. It was totally alien compared to what I usually run into in Call of Duty, including in MW3 up until then. I’m really not sure what the fuck was going on… it was like I somehow ended up in the middle of a clan match or something, only that did not appear to be the case by looking at their clan tags. Anyway, having played a fair share of “serious” tactical games and clan matches, I actually found my niche and ended up doing quite well in that match, though afterwards I continued to reap the rewards of my curse of usually doing fair to excellent in my first match of the night and getting utterly slaughtered for the rest. *sigh*

In other news: OH MY FUCK SKYRIM IS OUT!!! πŸ˜€

Spess Mehreens!

I’ve been seriously slacking on this update as I’ve been playing this game for well over a month now. Ugh. Anyway, Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine!

Expect to be utterly drenched in Ork blood at least 70% of the time.
“Expect to be utterly drenched in Ork blood at least 70% of the time.”

I know I’ve talked about it many times on here before now: I’m a Warhammer fan. I admit that I was a little skeptical about Space Marine for various reasons but when I heard that the multiplayer was apparently quite fun in preview events I decided that it would be cool to dedicate myself to an online game again, if only for a little while. Preorders (for the Xbox 360 version) were launched and, after a minor screw up with Amazon, I got my copy almost on release day. Since I was dedicating myself mostly to the multiplayer I, quite uncharacteristically, skipped the single player campaign and dove right in.

First, the game. It’s developed by Relic Entertainment, the same guys who made the excellent Dawn of War games. Good pedigree, I think most would agree. The odd thing is that Space Marine isn’t an RTS game, it’s a 3rd Person Shooter with a side of “Character Action” which is definitely a bit of a departure for Relic. It was also released on consoles along with PC, again, a bit of a departure for them. You play as an Ultramarine captain attempting to secure some objectives (chiefly an Imperial titan) on a forge world during a massive Ork invasion. The forces of Chaos also make an appearance (don’t they always?) You do a little over the shoulder shooting with bolters, plasma weapons, and the like but probably more notably you’ll spend a lot of time wading into the huge mobs of Orks slicing and dicing with chainswords and power axes. Occasionally you’ll also strap on a jump pack and go leap-frogging off of enemy heads while smashing them down with a massive thunder hammer. Talk about fun! The campaign itself is a pretty linear experience and while I’d imagine it might be pretty mundane for most people there’s plenty of fan service here if you’re a Warhammer 40k fan. So yeah, when I did finally play it I enjoyed it.

Stop! Hammer time!
“Stop! Hammer time!”

Anyway, back to the multiplayer: tons of fun! I’ve never played anything quite like it. The closest comparison, and one that is drawn often, is probably Gears of War, though it feels substantially different in numerous areas and anyone who thinks this game is just some shoddy Gears clone is definitely quite mistaken. I particularly loved the flexability and balance between the three classes: Tactical, Assault, and Devastator (and their Chaos equivalents.)

Loadout and armor unlocks and customization can be a little basic compared to some other games with persistent unlock systems these days, but there’s still plenty of variety and the new rewards come reasonably quickly. The weapons and their various perks provide quite a bit of variety and I felt like most of them were nuanced enough to give experimenting with different load outs and/or going for each weapon’s associated unlocks a good amount of depth. Personally, my favorite tactic was to run around as a Tactical Marine rocking either a melta gun (essentially a very short range shotgun) or a storm bolter (similar to sub-machine guns in many games) using the class’s dodge roll maneuver to gain ground on long range opponents or out-position Assault marines. I also enjoyed my grenades and sometimes took the extra damage and/or extra grenade perks when I was feeling a little cheap. Other highlights: The heavy bolter, which the Devastator starts off with, is amazing once you get a feel for it, and the Assault class is all kinds of fun in and of itself.

This would be a fairly accurate screenshot of multiplayer if it weren't for the teamwork depicted.
“This would be a fairly accurate screenshot of multiplayer if it weren’t for the teamwork depicted.”

Anyway, all said I really enjoyed my time with the game and plan on dusting it off again soon with the recent release of the free Horde-like co-op DLC and the announcement of future paid DLC. It is kind of a shame that the game had to release so close to Gears of War 3, never mind it’s generic name, because I really feel like it was passed over by too many people who would have probably loved it. Still, following some of my favorite gaming forums it seems that the game definitely did take hold with a lot of people, particularly on PC, so maybe there is some hope for an eventual sequel.

I also played Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team on Xbox Live Arcade which is… well, absolutely nothing like Space Marine. It’s a fairly simple, fairly typical Twin Stick Shooter set in the Warhammer 40k universe – you pick your class, which determines your weapon, special attacks, etc. and make your way through a giant space hulk slaughtering Orks. Tyranids also make a bit of a cameo at one point as well.

Orks, fire, some chains... ahh fuck if I know.
“Orks, fire, some chains… ahh fuck if I know.”

I played the demo and wasn’t too impressed but figured I might pick it up eventually… then I got Space Marine and learned that thanks to a bit of cross promotion the only way to unlock the Assault class’s power sword in multiplayer was by playing Kill Team and, what do you know, I was sold! I played through the campaign co-op and, all in all, a few annoying/frustrating sections aside, I had fun with it. The achievements didn’t hurt either. πŸ˜‰

A bit Warhammer’d out for a while, on to the next game!

As usual, not much in the way of good screenshots… which surprises me since *at least* Space Marine was also on PC, but I suppose not enough good blogs and forums go out of their way to make sure their images are indexes. :/ These are PR shots with no GUI shown but they do at least represent the game. The Kill Team one is accurate but simply not a great shot.