What Would Matt Do

I reckon I aim to play some games.

Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Demigod is Divine.

with one comment

 

If you were to stop reading now and go buy Demigod, you’d probably be fine. Heck, from what I can tell, you’d be better than fine. Demigod is an outrageous game. The problem is, it’s not just crazy good. It’s also got a whole host of problems.

I’ve been mulling over what I want to say about Demigod since I bought it. That’s not say I haven’t loved it. I have. I played it a good 15-20 hours in the first two days I got it. I haven’t done that with a new game in years. But if I’m being honest, I probably spent a couple few hours of that time waiting on a multiplayer game to start. See, that’s where the problems come into play. Literally.

 

The Good

Lets start with the good though. And boy howdy is it good. You see, Demigod is a new kind of RTS. It’s more like mixing Desktop Tower Defense (still the best Tower game around) with a typical RTS and taking out all of things you don’t really need. Oh, and throwing in a bit of RPG to go with that. I don’t even really know what to call it. I’m sure someone smarter than I (yeah right) will come up with something clever to call it.

Whatever you call it, I’d say it’s revolutionary. No RTS (or RTS hybrid) should be made ever again without checking out what Demigod did with slight changes to the formula of your typical real time strategy game. They did what Relic was trying to do, create a strategy game that was really about the battle not about the building. And they did it by getting rid individual unit control (with some key exceptions).

In Demigod, you start out in control of one two types of Demigods trying to be the best so you can attain full godhood. Each map starts with your DG at level one. You get one free talent on your talent tree (think Titan Quest), a thousand gold and that’s it. You need to level up to get more badass, which you need to do to stop the other would be gods from destroying you (or fortress or holding flags or so on. Depends on the game type). You take your newly born god, head out into the beautiful map (Every map is just sweet) and try to stay alive while capturing flags, fighting of hordes self controlled units that spawn periodically for each side. As you fight you gain gold and experience. The experience you use to buy talents and the gold to buy armor/weapons/powers/guys.

To boot, their are two basic types of Demigods. Assassins and Generals. Assassins never control more than the one upstart god they begin with. They have rely on their powers to keep themselves alive. Generals also get some powers, but usually they are more towards controlling units and making them better. Each style is a very different experience and actually pretty different between each of the four per type (eight total demigods, four for each type).

Once you play a few games, it makes more sense. It all boils down to control and strategy though. Should you run for the flags, or try to meet in the middle and kill some little guys for experience? Can you take the huge Rook you see stomping your way, or should you retreat and rearm? Will your Torch Bearer have enough mana to burn him to the ground he can crush you with his massive hammer? Or will the Oak nearby come over and help out by stunning him when he tries to use a power… So many choices, almost all of them tactical in nature. You’re fighting a full fledged battle every time you start a map. By the end of you’ll have clerics, angels and giants fighting on your side (if you upgrade your citadel), all of which you aren’t in direct control of. And your Demigod will be displaying all kinds of crazy mystical powers. Because they can.

 

The Bad

Ok, now, if you stop reading here and run out and buy Demigod, you’re going to miss what makes me want to say hold off a bit. Maybe. You see, Demigod has a MESS of multiplayer issues. If you want to play single player, I haven’t heard of many problems, other than the AI being a bit brain dead on the higher difficulty levels. Online though? Well, multiplayer matches can take anywhere from five to twenty minutes to start. Yeah, that long. Not always for sure. And it’s improving every day (I played a couple of matches last night where each only took me about five minutes to get started, from clicking search to playing…that hasn’t been the norm though). It was so bad though, and especially on launch day, that multiple reviewers panned it and gave it abnormally low scores. I can’t really fault them either. If I had bought on launch day even, instead of the day after, I would have probably been a lot more upset

I won’t even get into how wrong it is that an entire review for a game was destroyed because they tried to play the game for one day and couldn’t. That’s mainly because reviewers don’t play games the way we do and is more a systemic problem in the industry, rather than one specifically for Demigod. The point being, on launch day, it was near impossible to play Demigod online. Whatever the reasoning was, it still didn’t work. And it didn’t get a lot better right away. Hell, it’s not a whole lot better now. It’s better, but still filled with problems. For instance, they’ve got this really cool site setup for stats and the like. Except, even though I’ve clocked easily over 30+ hours in Demigod, I don’t exist on that site. And I’m not alone. Or system they have setup to buy items that carry over between games…almost every time you start a match, the number is messed up, which means you can’t even buy Favor related items. Or that probably two out of five games I try to play don’t ever launch.

Oh, and before you go, oh well, I’m just going to play it single player…there isn’t a tutorial either. Now, that’s not a killer and I got around it and learned the game (it is a simple game at its core), but it’s one more thing to scratch your head about. There are a few things like that, head scratchers. For instance, how Stardock (the publisher and hosting service) and Gas Powered Games (the developer) decided to go with Peer to Peer networking…which they are still working on getting right. Or what about the poor UI for multiplayer? When you’re trying to connect to a game and it finds one, it gives you a blank box with a Cancel button. That you stare at for many minutes (see above) if you don’t notice the other, minimized, box below. There are definitely some questions to be answered and more than a few issues that should be addressed (including people being unable to register or get updates in some rareish cases).

 

You should probably buy it.

So, now, you’re most likely thinking you’re not going to run out and buy it all. That may be for the best…except well, this game is so good, my suggestion would be that if my description of play above interested you at all, it’s worth it. As long as you don’t run into the technical problems. If you can buy it a place you can return it to (a luxury most of us don’t have these days), run out and buy it right now. If not, you’ll have to decide for you. I don’t regret buying it. I haven’t run into being unable to register or patch or anything like that. And multiplayer games do eventually start…

I really do hate to suggest buying a game that could be broken for you. So if you’re unsure, wait a bit until it gets patched. Whatever you do, buy it at some point. The game changes RTSes something fierce and definitely expands the genre. And does it well.

 

What Would Matt Do: I’d buy the shit out of this game. I’m actually considering getting another copy so I can convince my wife to play with me and she isn’t really an RTS gamer. The game is just that good. Also, I can’t help but to link Three Moves Ahead by the ever awesome TroyG. It’s getting better every episode AND this week is especially relevant with Brad Wardell (CEO of Stardock) on to Demigod.

 

Written by Matt

April 22nd, 2009 at 9:55 am

Posted in Gaming,Links,PC,Reviews,RTS

Dawn of War II Review – to be continued

without comments

 

You know what I like most about Dawn of War II? The fact that it’s not a sequel with a few new features and maybe a race or two. This is a true sequel. Which is both a good and bad thing. We’ll worst to best, because I always prefer the bad news first.

 

The Bad News (single player)

The single player is poop. Yep, I said it. You’ll see lots of other places that say the single player is awesome and it has RPG elements and it’s made of pure gold shat out by golden geese raised by unicorns. I whole heartedly agree with the previous statement, if you remove all of the parts except it having RPG elements.

You see, the single player game consists of this in 90% of the missions. First, you watch some really boring and drab report (The entire thing is VERY skippable) about which mission(s) are available and why. Then you watch the again boring and drab report on the specific mission. Ok, boring pre mission shit out of the way. Next, you launch the mission, and this exact process over and over.

  • Move your unites up to AI units. Engage, put suppresson fire on the whole group. Win.
  • When you run out of groups to win against, you then go the Boss fight. You follow whatever dumb mechanic the developer came up with (explosives, suppression, etc) for beating the Boss.
  • Mission complete.

That’s mostly it. Sometimes you get swarmed, yoiu retreat and regen for free, then start again. Very rarely you take on defensive only missions (which can choose to skip, but you shouldn’t if you like turtling and experience gain). They are extremely easy though. The guys run at you, you cut them down. Sometimes you have to reposition your units.

So that’s it. The entire single player experience in a nutshell. Don’t look for good AI (there isn’t really any). Try not to think of the incredibly boring and silly Boss fights. The boss fights break the cardinal rule of any game. They break all fo the rules the game established up to this point. Much like in Marvel Ultimates, the end guys can’t be knocked down, they have massive health and none of your super/special powers work on them…except the one the developer decided to make work. Completely useless.

 

The Good News (multiplayer)

Here’s the good news, the multiplayer is a MESS of fun. It’s chaotic and crazy and strategic and fun. There isn’t any buildings other than your base to be built (unless your Hero can build stuff with their special abilities). You have a Hero (who you can upgrade), and you can buy new units from your main base. That’s it. The true beauty of the system is that you don’t miss it after a few games.

You’re going to be so wrapped up in not getting your guys killed by suppression fire, or telling your Orks to frenzy, that you wouldn’t want anything else to do. The Micromanagement in this game is extreme. Which is why you won’t miss base building. Almost every single one of your guys has something they you need you to specifically setup. From the direction they are facing, to the cover, to the grenades ready to be thrown, the powerup,etc, etc, etc. And if you don’t pay attention to those things, you will lose, guaranteed. This isn’t a game for someone that wants to select a mass of units and throw them at the other guy. At most you’ll be controlling 3-6 different squads. Each of them needing to be caressed just right or they will get slaughtered in seconds.

You see, tactics and strategy is the name of the game…at least on the multiplayer side. You need to position each guy just right, know when to retreat (like Company of Heroes, you guys can run away to replenish, at a cost, and fight again another day), and when to change the front of the battle. You only have two resources, cash and gas (basically). As you level up your base, you can build new guys, most of which require more and more gas. Speaking of leveling up, everything guy in the game can level up. Your guys get levels for combat, obviously, as does your Hero. It makes protecting units and retreating before they die very important, even more so than just the cost of regening a unit being less than buying a new one.

 

Small Things

I do have a few complaints about the whole system overall. The UI is confusing and not too helpful. The units on the field don’t call out when they get attacked, but only when the first guy in the squad dies. Especially in lighter armored squads, that’s often too late. By the time you click to them, they are surrounded or just to close to be able to retreat in time. The balance is still questionable at best. The Tyrniads are win machines at this point, even with recent downgrades. And Relic has a REALLY bad history of patching their games. We shall see longer term. They did do better with Company of Heroes than the first Dawn of War.

The other thing that may become more than a small thing in the future is the lack of maps. For each mode (1vs1 and 3vs3), we only have four maps. That’s really not that much…and we either have two tilesets, or they don’t stand out well. I can’t really decide on that now. Right now, I’m playing DoWII daily, even though I was in the MP beta too.

 

The Verdict

That’s a tought call. For me, it’s definitely worth the purchase. But only because the mutliplayer is so good. If multiplayer isn’t really your thing, then you may want to pass on this one, or wait on a Steam sale. It will most definitely come at some point. Unless, you’re real big into previous single player portions of RTS games. I don’t like most of them. I think the last RTS I beat in single player was Kohan II, and probably Starcraft and Red Alert before that. Mostly, they just bore me to no end. But if you like them, then this may be for you. It does have RPG elements (such as experience bars like ME and gray, green and blue items that you can assign to different squads). and it is fun to just destroy the shit out of things…

If you like playing multiplayer RTS games, this game is definitely for you. If not, you may want to pass (unless your of the breed noted above who has liked single player RTS games in the past).

Oh, and I marked this review as to be continued because Relic promises they have a huge plan for more downloadable content. If they do, and it improves or lessens the game, I’ll add a follow up review.

 

What Would Matt Do: I’d buy it. The multiplayer is that good.

Written by Matt

February 27th, 2009 at 11:52 am

Warhammer…It might be good.

without comments

 

This is basically an update on Warhammer as it stands now…and it stands pretty damn good.

Lets not do this the wrong way though. It’s tradition to start with the bullshit then proceed to the goods and who am I to stand in the way of tradition. If I have a solution, or a way I think it might work better, I’ll just throw that in. Oh, and I might mix in some good things in the bad things and the other way around. Because I’m crazy like that.

So, the bullshit. It still takes as long or longer to get into then game than it does to make a sandwich. You have to log in, let it load, let it play fifty movies, select your character, potentially server, and maybe wait in a queue. Nothing new, just standard MMO crap.

Fix: Allow me to click a button next to my character which will put a shortcut on the desktop that goes directly to that character. It would ask me to login, accept the EULA, and that’s it. If I’m in the queue, it brings me directly to it, otherwise, the next time I have to click or do anything, it’s in game. Can someone give me a good reason this isn’t a standard in all MMOs right now?

The graphics are next on the list. Ok, the landscape and buildings and the like, pretty decent. Some of the stuff is actually pretty good looking (like the flaming windmill) and the view distance is great. I get a real feeling of being a huge landscape. That being said, the character model and details are filled with ass. Not horrible, nasty ass, but last generation, not pretty ass. Oh well. I know why they did it (to allow my characters in the same place with your system having a fit) and I approve. It’s a good call and a good compromise in my view. But the characters are still ugly for the most part.

My only other real complaint at this point is still very much an MMO. Yeah, that’s kind of an annoying complaint when playing an MMO, but here’s some things they could have worked on to make it better. First, don’t make run all over fuck to get quests done. Not don’t make run out the middle of no where. That’s a good thing. But then I have to run back to turn it in, then another quest sends me out a similar place and I have to run back again. You spend a lot of time running around in this game if playing PvE. Either design the quests better or give me a better transportation. Back and forth fedex/kill quests shouldn’t be a part of your game, MMO or not. Second, Public Quests. Awesome. Love them. When people are playing them. If you have a PQ that is more than 30 seconds walk from a hub/town, you almost assuredly won’t find it populated. I’ve found five or six public quests in the first Tier area (levels 1-11), but only one or two of them are ever populated for more than brief moments. Now, to be fair, this may change with second Tier areas, since it should be more populated, but we’ll see.

Fix: If you’re going to put in Public Quests all over the map, far away from population hubs, why not add add a one way transportation system to get their, or at the very least, a very easy way to see how many people are doing any quest at the moment? Get people to these quests so more people are doing them.

Really though, just nit picky stuff. Now on to the really good stuff. Class balance and PvP. If you haven’t played Warhammer yet, you don’t know that from either first or third level (depending upon your race and their starting area design…don’t ask me why) you can play in PvP. Depending upon your starting race, once again, you join one of two Battlegrounds and can fight there effectively from the very beginning. It’s a mess of fun. But here’s the trick and the other really great part of Warhammer. You’re going to have to be tactical in combat. If you get swarmed, run. If you see a Witch Hunter coming your way and you’re a cloth type of some sort, you should be really careful and maybe run. If you’re a tank type without a healer, don’t get swarmed, or you’ll get taken down.

See, that’s the absolute best part of WAR, the PvP and the way classes aren’t balanced 1 vs 1, but Order vs. Destruction (side vs. side). It’s great because wizards do massive damage, but fall relatively quick in melee combat if they aren’t well protected and firing from the back. As a matter of fact, if you’re a cloth type, you should be watching the sides and back a lot, because that’s the best way for melee DPS types to get you. Unless you’re a battle/rune priest. Then you can probably stand toe to toe with any one on one for awhile, but you may not out damage them.

 

To break it all down, WARis a lot of fun in PvP and not too bad in PvE. At least at Tier 1. I’ll get back to you when I’m firmly entrenched in Teir 2 and update again. So far, so good.

 

What Would Matt Do: I’d not only keep playing Warhammer, I’d talk about those cute little red bubbles on the map for PvE quests. Great idea. It means I don’t have to use another site to figure the quests out. Also I’d mention, healers aren’t boring to play in WAR. That’s pure awesome.

 

Written by Matt

September 23rd, 2008 at 11:38 am

Demos galore and Bionic Commando: Rearmed

without comments

 

I moved recently and being severely lazy (I’m so lazy I’m not going to express how lazy I am beyond that), I hadn’t hooked up my 360 to the internets again until last Friday. I ended up with the Force Unleashed demo, the Too Human demo, Madden XX and a few others I can’t really remember (doesn’t bode well for them does it) and Bionic Commando:Rearmed. I did download the demo for BC:R, but after playing for 5 min, I bought the full game. With that in mind, lets start the destruction, er review, process:

Madden XX

I really liked the football test, though it wasn’t learning about football so much as learning about Madden, but it still interesting. The gameplay demo was shite. I couldn’t even play a full quarter, just a simulation of the last few minutes of the Superbowl. Bleh. I have heard good things about Madden this year and I may end up buying it, but the demo didn’t really do much to sway me one way or another.

Status: Deleted, may purchase later.

Force Unleashed

Did anyone else notice that I get force powers, a light saber and directions like "no one is to be left alive!"? That’s pretty much a win for me at that point. That gameplay reminds me a lot of a smoother flowing God of War, but with force powers and light sabers. Thankfully there are less QTEs than GoW and you’re destroying star war guys with awesome options of force lightning, saber or push attacks…OR, combining them into some awesome force of destruction of which the universe hath no name!

To be fair, the powers aren’t combined as well as they could be, the force power bar is a lousy mechanic in terms of inguenity (I’d might have to spend time coming up some options I’d like to see more later) and overall it’s not as smoothly tied together as it could be. Agreed completely. But even with it’s design flaws, it still has light sabers, force powers and fun.

Status: Will Buy and will play demo until I can do so.

Too Human

Hmmm…  I don’t really know here. I wanted to like it more I think. I also played it right after playing Force Unleashed, so it’s kind of unfair in that you can’t jump around crazy like and meld the powers together. I don’t think I’m going to make a call on this one at the moment. As crazy as Dyack is, I still think it’s got something to it. I’m going to give it another chance in a day or three.

Status: Undecided. Will give another chance.

Bionic Commando:Rearmed

I already bought this bad boy and will play it until I can’t stand it anymore…which ought to be a good long time. It has, and I kid you not, the exact feel of the first one, additions that don’t break but enhance the original, coop play (I can’t stress how awesome this is), amazing graphics, great feel and flair and it’s old school hard and unforgiving.

That’s a perfect mixture and the best way to recreate old games. I’m stunned by how well they did. I wish they would update all of the old games I played when I was a kid (starting with Ikari Warriors or River Raid) and make them as awesome as this one is.

My only complaint at this point is that it’s really hard. Really really hard. And that’s not really a complaint so much as a statement of fact. I loved the original, but I forgotten over the years how hard it was. And we still only get three guys per level, but we do get to save inbetween levels, so it’s not so bad when you have to turn your system off (I used to have my nintendo running for days to keep my game saved).

Oh, and if anyone knows a cheat for more guys, that would be great. My brother is a thief and won’t stop stealing my guys. :D

Status: Bought and love it.

 

What Would Matt Do: Apparently I’ll play a lot of games. It was a good weekend.

Written by Matt

August 25th, 2008 at 11:55 am

Space Siege demo is…well…I’m not sure.

without comments

 

Let me start off by saying, I’m a huge Gas Powered Games fanboy, so I might be a bit biased. I beat both DS 1 and 2, but not the expansions. And was absolutely in love with the engine. I even worked on a mod at one point with an incredibly talented team. With that out of the way, lets talk about the Space Siege demo.

 

Here’s what I liked.

The UI. I know there’s a lot of talk out there about the UI and how it’s LOLHUGE!@#!, but I didn’t find it huge nor annoying. I found it great, except for the no mini map. Other than that, I loved every part of it. It’s smooth, sleek, responsive and doesn’t overwhelm (like AoE 3 does). To be fair, I know the person who worked on the UI, but, I would tell her if it was poop. Consider this my official Not Poop™ endorsement.

The Engine/World. Just like the last Siege games, the sense of scale and no loading is great. I don’t know if the no loading will follow throughout the entire game, but I like what I’ve seen so far. Even though I was in what amounted to little rooms, it felt bigger in many parts. And it ran pretty smooth.

The Holograms. The little holograms that are next to doors or around corners to direct you are pretty sweet looking. They really jazz the whole environment up and make it feel a lot more spacey than it does.

The Auto Loot. Love the Z key to summon the crap on the ground to you. I spent FAR too much time in previous Siege games picking shit up.

The Opening Movie. I’ll cover this more later, but lets start with I really liked it.

 

Now, on to what I didn’ t like. This is a bit harder because some of the stuff may turn out all right when a bigger sense of scale is applied in the full game. And it’s a bit longer for the same reasons.

Save Points. We’re really at save points again? I can’t just save wherever I want to? Or are those just respawn points and I’ll be able to save anywhere in the full game? This is as of yet an unanswered question. If it’s not save anywhere, I’ll be sorely disappointed.

The Engine/Models. Again, much like the previous Siege games, while the world is awesome looking the models suffer because of it (assuming this is the case). Even in the short demo, most of the bad guys looked pretty similar, but colored differently. The main character and the humans were impossible to tell apart unless you zoomed in. It’s sad to see that happen again, because it was a big problem, graphics wise, in the previous games.

The Environment. This is probably just more of a question than an actual complaint. If all of the levels are like this one, I’ll go insane. But if they are all inside space ships, in Space, how much different can they be? At least in Dungeon Siege we saw a lot of variation in the forests we fought in. Pass for now, but I’m hoping it’s varied more than I think it will be.

The Gameplay/Character Development. This is another I can’t really judge now, other than to say it was not thrilling in the demo. What do you do in Siege games? Point and click. Ok, yeah, not that involved, much like Diablo, you spend a lot of time pointing and clicking. Ok, fair enough. But I miss controlling a party and setting up strategy and having armor and gadgets and doohickeys. In this game, you’ve got parts and weapons and cybernetic parts. And that’s it. And the cybernetics are apply once and never remove, so you won’t be doing much with those. The parts are used to upgrade armor/weapons/etc. That’s it. No more inventory management. While that’s an interesting design decision, they didn’t replace it with anything. No more barbieing up my guys, no more tough decisions, do I use this weapon that does X well, but not Y, or do I stick with just Y as the best? No more choices on how to develop my character other than applying parts and my Humanity rating.

The Humanity Rating. Ok, so it’s a demo, and it doesn’t matter, but at least some sense of what the cybernetics and using them and losing my humanity level would mean long term would be nice. Basically, at this point, my Humanity rating went down and I could use better guns, move faster and carry more ammo. None of that seems bad to me.

The Opening Movie. As I said above, I loved it. What I didn’t like though is that it had nothing to do with the gameplay. I see this awesome video of people escaping earth (spoilars!), ships zooming around, etc. Then I’m put into a little room with aliens and little to no idea how to play the game (you have to right click, not left click and madly crush buttons. Trust me). Not huge deal, but it sure had me in the mood to play a different game.

 

Overall, I’m not horribly impressed. If this was a mod to another Siege game, I’d be pretty wowed, but as it stands, this might be the first game I don’t buy from GPG since they started up. It reminds me a LOT of the Crusader game series at this point. Which I really liked in parts, but got bored of pretty easily… The demo left me with a lot of unanswered questions and I’m going to take a wait and see approach for now.

 

What Would Matt Do: Assuming the what would I do is asking how I would change the design…well, based on the demo alone, I’d add a minimap. I’d either change combat a bit to be more involved or add back in the strategy elements of inventory and barbie. I’d probably work on making the enemies look not all similar. And I’d definitely make sure the environments were varied. A man can go insane in space pretty easily without variation. Or so the movies tell me.

Written by Matt

July 30th, 2008 at 9:58 am