Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Blast from the Past

I've had a few blogs over the years, and while I'm a bit too busy to keep this one regularly updated with new ruminations, I thought I'd share some choice cuts from the golden days... this particular one is about Gears of War 1...

"Why do I dislike this game so much?

Firstly, the game's visuals - generally stunning, but marred by technical deficiencies.

I'm all for the detail, the framerate and the sheer scale of some of the visuals this game presents, but when after every cutscene the textures take a few seconds to load in, it stinks of rushed coding and is particularly noticeable when the rest of the game is so polished. Why, with such an 'important' game, would you let it out to the public with such obvious visual problems? It was the same with Halo 2 and its goddamn flickering normal maps. Hideous, and detracts from the game as a whole.

Secondly, gameplay - solid, entertaining, but nothing new.

The cover system works fine but was seen in kill.Switch, the reloading mini-game is nice but ultimately pretty shallow, and several things niggle at me. The inability to accurately see where your grenades are going to land over larger distances, despite being presented with a handy arc. The stubborn refusal of some seemingly valid bits of scenery to allow the player to shoulder into cover. Overly simplified close combat - with only one option available to these hulking men in armour, they seem crippled by fear whenever a Locust gets near.

The incredible decision to make the vast majority of the enemy characters share a very similar height, shape and therefore silhouette. The abysmal AI, for both enemy and - more frustratingly - ally, which makes a mockery both of the elite unit you are supposed to be fighting with and the fearsome enemy you are supposed to be fighting against. The weaponry sets being shared by aliens and humans alike - eh?

The final boss is unexciting and unthreatening (simply pummel him with bullets until he falls over), and so are the majority of his cronies. Why in this day and age do enemies not react to being hit by goddamn bullets!? It makes no sense to me, as GoldenEye on the N64 managed it, but these morons simply carry on walking/shooting/running into walls despite you filling their ugly faces with hot lead.

Thirdly - inspiration and source material.

Nearly everything 'cool' in this game is ripped directly from another source. Now I've had arguments about the difference between 'ripping off' and 'being inspired by', but I honestly believe that GoW is guilty of the former more than the latter. First of all, the chainsaw-on-the-end-of-the-gun is straight outta Warhammer 40,000. Secondly, the only section where they try to make some interesting twists on the core gameplay is ripped wholesale out of Pitch Black. And I mean wholesale.

Staying in the light is one thing. Doing so because of the threat of hordes of hideous monsters in the dark would be fine too. But when the hordes of monsters are exactly the same as the ones found in Pitch Black, it becomes a crime punishable by me slapping you with my shit-covered hand (and I'm not talking about the main beasties in Pitch Black, I'm talking about the bat-like ones that tear up the poor woman from Farscape early in the film - yeah, those ones).

Fourthly - storyline and characters.

Well, anyone who has played it must know that the characters are all shadows of a cliche (Cole Train being entertaining as he actually has some personality), and the storyline is as vague and thin as the hair on Charlize Theron's navel. Without spoiling anything the manner in which the storyline is conveyed is lazy and sporadic, poorly timed and nonsensical.

Right, so all of that seems quite vitriolic, yes?

Indeed it does. And I'll tell you why - we were promised so much more. Even in the little booklet you get with the special edition Cliffy B goes on and on about how this was the future of gaming and how he had an epiphany playing paintball or somesuch... mate, wake up. This is not the next generation of videogames in any sense except visually, and even there it falls down with technical hurdles."

...and having read this again now, I'm of the same opinion - if a little more chilled out about it now :)

PS: You may also notice some similarities and lines of thought that eventually got properly aired in my Edge-Online piece.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Flock! so far.

Well, we've got enough reviews for Metacritic to have an average - we blame Eurogamer's fairly harshly worded review for the yellow-tinted 74 we're on currently.

Also, the AVGamer review has gone to the PC version of Flock! on the site - admittedly as 100% which is ace - but it doesn't help the 360 scores! Why Metacritic insist on keeping the platforms separate I'll never know - it's identical across all 3!

Anyway, here is the list of reviews we've had so far...


Team Xbox


Modern Gamer



Monday, 6 April 2009

Flock! reviews continued...

Well, an even better score today!

The lovely Samantha Nelson over at AV Gamer has given Flock! a very generously worded review, and we're all fairly pleased with ourselves at the moment here at PGHQ.

According to their rankings (on the right side of the review) Flock! is better than Resident evil 5, Streetfighter 4 and Killzone 2 - not bad for a debut game ;)

So far that's 80% and an A... c'mon, we need some more reviews to get a Metacritic average! :)

Friday, 3 April 2009

FLOCK! Launch Party...

From Proper Games:

On the 7th, 8th and 9th of April, Proper Games’ first game is released on PC, XBLA and PSN!

We’d love it if you'd come and help us celebrate on the 1st floor of the Abertay Union on Wednesday the 8th April 2009. Doors are open from 8:30 and it will no doubt carry on into the wee hours.

We’ll be generally having a riotous time, with a competition on the night for everyone to enter, and of course playable builds of the game. We’ll even be saving any levels created on the night and uploading the best picks onto our map server!

RSVP to jenni at proper-games dot com as soon as possible so we can put your name, and those of any of your guests (or at least rough numbers) on the guest list... though if you are a student or affiliated with Abertay you should be fine getting in without being on the list.

Look forward to seeing you all then!

Full details:

Date: Weds 8th April 2009
Time: 8:30pm – late
Place: 1st Floor, Abertay Union, Bell Street, Dundee, DD1 1HP, Scotland