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Archive for December, 2012

Resident Evil : Resident Evil Revelations
System: 3DS
Release date: February 7, 2012

The last non-numbered entry in this marathon (5 and 6 remains), Revelations turned out to be a very pleasant surprise. It’s definitively in the top 3 games and it’s even fighting RE2 for number 1 spot. In essence, I Revelations turned out to be a perfect blend of old style RE with new mechanics. Closed spaces, not too much ammo, few but dangerous enemies, just how I like it. If you’re looking for a good 3DS game or just an excellent RE title, you need to get this one, or you can wait for the announced ports to the PS3 and Xbox360.

BSAA

This  review will be short because Revelations is really a side story in the RE continuity. It does feature Chris Redfield, Jill Valentine and more monsters but this is really a mission game, meaning that you tag along for one mission with the duo. For what it’s worth said side story is great and I found myself playing to see the end of it so I won’t begrudge the game for not making huge contributions to the overall plot.

Revelations does however, show the inner workings of the BSAA, an organisation tasked with fighting BOW, zombies and the like wherever they show up. With Umbrella brought down it seems the monsters are finding their way into the hands of various criminal groups and one such group. We learn that countries weren’ too keen to support the BSAA at first but after a few zombies rampage and another destroyed city, they saw the need for it.

On to Africa

I’m getting close to the end of my marathon and up next is RE5 which was thought of to be the final RE game for a while. After many games, Wesker will finally get what he deserves.

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Like many of you I’ll be starting my holidays vacations today and posting will become more erratic in the next two weeks since I plan to fully enjoy my time off. Lots of zombie killings are in my future (TSW, Resident Evil, Walking dead) along with lots of family stuff.

So happy holidays to all and happy gaming.

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Resident Evil : Resident Evil 4
System: Wii
Release date: January 11, 2005

Where to begin with RE4? It’s one of the most controversial titles in the series, marking the change between the old style and the new one, it’s one of the best-selling games of the Gamecube and Wii as well as being one of the highest rated game on both systems. Critics have said it’s the best game of the series and a milestone game for all future 3d action and shooter games. In essence it was the first to use well an over the shoulder perspective that would be used by games like Gears of Wars, Uncharted and the recent Batman games.

So while everyone seems to be in agreement that RE4 is one of the best game of the 2000 decade,  there was some fanbois out there that felt and still feel that Resident Evil died with RE4. The dissent is caused by two factors. First, it’s not about zombies anymore. There are zombie-like creatures but they’re not real zombies and it pissed off a lot of people. Second, the game is not so much about conserving ammo and running away but now there’s a lot more emphasis on action and not everyone liked that.

I don’t agree with the fanbois that say RE4 is a bad game. I do agree however that it’s not really survival horror but more action horror. That’s not a bad thing in itself but I do feel sorta sad that the series who created survival horror moved away from it. It did create the 3d over the shoulder action game so I guess we did gain something.

Something about bugs

I took a long time to get to the story of the game itself because RE4 brought a lot to the game industry but its story itself felt a bit more like a side tale than a main event… although it did find echoes in RE5 and one of the animated movie.

The president daugther has been kidnapped and it’s up to Leon Kennedy to go rescue her in some god forgotten hole in Spain. The kidnappers are an occult cult that we will never hear from again and by the end of the game they’re all dead and the present daugther is rescued. The T-virus, nemesis, hunters and all the classic monsters are absent and if not for the presence of previous game characters one could think this has nothing to do with Resident Evil besides featuring a few monsters.

To truly get the story of this game, its importance and how it relates to the Resident Evil series you must have played the previous games and have a pretty firm grasp of the characters and their motivations, namely Albert Wesker.

It was established in previous games that one of the main failings of the T-virus and related monsters was a lack of control. Throughout the games, numerous experiments are done to try to have a monster that one can control with various degrees of success. The whole backstory of Code Veronica was about one such experiement and how Wesker attempted to get the information about it.

Which brings us to RE4. Wesker is still looking for means to control his monsters and the crazy spaniards have found a way it seems through a parasite they call Las Plagas. Said parasite can turn people into docile zombie like creatures that one can control with the right “master” parasite with the added bonus of creating freakish mutations kinda like the T-virus.  So while the bad guys have no relation to Umbrella, they are sitting on something Wesker wants and he engineers the events to make sure he can get his hands on the parasite.

We will have to wait until RE5 to see what happens when you mix T-Virus and Las plagas but RE4 really acts as the starting point of a new story arc in the series.

I’m on a boat

Next is Resident Evil Revelations on the 3DS, a story about how derelict boats and freakish monsters always make a good mix.

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I am not going to make friends today. I was supposed to talk about me finishing RE4 but the recent Swtor news demand that I write. Usually I try not to rant on games I’m not playing anymore because I don’t want to ruin it for people who still love that game but today I’m breaking my own rule. Why? Because BioEA keeps making things worst for Swtor and it’s making me angry. I still care about this game and I still want to see it succeed and it pisses me off when I see them make decisions like charge subscribers for new content.

I’ve already talked about how I feel Swtor cash shop to be restrictive to the point of making the game unplayable at endgame. Pay to be able to raid, pay so you can equip items, pay for quests rewards, pay pay pay… Before one could argue that if you subscribed then all was fine. You had access to everything and you didn’t have to bother with all the restrictions. The cash shop then became more about fancy options and not an absolute necessity. Although I still think that Swtor system is bad for business long-term because it’s too restrictive, there was an argument to be made about subscription solving all your problems.

And then today I learn that Makeb is going to cost money to subscribers… While it’s called a “Digital Expansion” to try to bring it in line with the expansions of other games let’s not be dumb here. It’s one planet, one raid, one pvp zone and probably some space stuff. Unless Makeb turns out to be a gigantic multizone place, it shouldn’t be considered an expansion. It’s a DLC addon, simple as that. Now if Swtor was F2P I could understand them charging for DLC but all the other games with subs give away their DLC for free… not Swtor…

And I firmly believe that Swtor should give it away to their subscribers. Swtor has been riddled with issues since the start and subscribers deserve something for all their troubles. Not being gouged out for even more money. The explanation is rather simple. They know the game is having trouble and they want to suck every penny out of their customers as fast as they can. I think the history of the game points to this too.

  1. Swtor cost a lot to make and they didn’t get the subscriptions they were needing. So it not unreasonable to think that they need to cover their costs.
  2. This interview in late July, promised new content on a frequent basis and also that subscribers would never have to pay for new content. Quote from the interview: One of the chief things Jeff and Matt expect folks to spend money on if they’re not subscribed (subscribers will always receive every bit of new content, regardless of CC)
  3. Said new content is more often than not Cash shop stuff. Most of the life day additions are Market items and the trend seems to be holding for Makeb. Another example would be the recent space combat additions.

So, if we go with the premise that the game cost a lot of money and that it’s doing badly, thus not covering its costs, it doesn’t take much of a leap to think that EA wants to get its money back as soon as possible and I so far, every action they make seems aimed at making more money out of the cash shop.

So here’s why I’m so angry. They have one of the best IP in the world and they know they are going to have people playing only because the name Star Wars is attached. But so far, it’s been one disappointing update after another and  BioEA seems more interested in finding ways to ask for money rather than making the game better. It’s ugly brand exploitation, not the first time Star Wars as suffered under it, and I hope that EA gets burned bad for this.

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So I don’t know exactly how to tag the business model of The Secret World now so I’ll steal the idea that I saw somewhere else and tag it Buy to play. Buy the game and then play for free as long as you want. It’s not exactly free to play since you do have to buy something but it’s pretty damn close and in my opinion, even better because you do get way more out of the game than normal free to play games.

So what do you get for free? Everything! After the initial purchase you have full access to the game without any restriction just as if you had subscribed before. You can do dungeons, raids and pvp to your heart content, you have access to all the character creation options and all the weapons. F2P games tend to have serious restrictions for the free players but not Secret World and I think that’s a really smart move. There’s still a cash shop for you if you want more fashion, pets and xp boosts but there’s no need to buy anything . If I’m not mistaken the only weapons available are upgraded starter stuff so nothing game breaking.

In my case I had paid for lifetime so I’m not really affected (I do get free money in the store and a discount) but I love it because a few friends are trying out the game now and any mmo is better with friends. During the weekend you could hear a lot of new players trying out the game and the most recurring comment was along the lines of “can’t believe I missed this one”.

So, I really wish this will help out Funcom and help push forward TSW. I remember hearing about a Louisiana style zone a while back in a dev interview and I want to see that happen.

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The shades of bad

TheGrumpyElf has a thought-provoking post today that I believe everyone should go read right away. I hope he’ll forgive me for not agreeing entirely with his point but I think he makes a good history of the problem, how it used to be and how things changed. I was there to see those changes it happened pretty much like he said.

If you’re wondering (which you should not because you read his post right?), Grumpy is talking about how automated group finding tools like LFD and LFR removed accountability for the bad players. Before those tools a bad player name would eventually get around a server and be black listed by the community, the good ones would get invited everywhere and that was life. You were responsible for how people viewed you. With LFD/LFR, you can do whatever you want and you’ll never be blacklisted and a bad player will be allowed to sour the game experience of as many people as he wants.

Grumpy finishes with this.

But one thing I always say is that I missed being able to be in a group where everyone was at least a decent player capable of doing the content because it was built with people that earned the right to be in that group by the accountability system we had in place before the looking for system.

Sometimes I wonder if what we lost is worth what we got.  We sold our souls for an easier system and lost our community in the process.

I’ll be honest, when people start talking about “earning the right” or “deserving” it gets my attention fast. I don’t believe any player deserve more than any other. We all pay the same amount of money and everyone should be able to enjoy the game playing how they want.

So with that long introduction over, let’s talk about the bad players and how we can save our community.

The colors of bad

Bad is such a broad term. It’s also a very subjective term. If I compare myself to someone who never played then I might find him bad. If I compare myself to a raider from Paragorn, I must be downright awful. But bad might not only be about performance for some, it could also be gear. If a tank is in a heroic with barely acceptable gear he could be tought of as bad…. then again maybe he started playing way later than the rest of the player base who got better gear on average.

Then you can start combining these factors. Maybe the tank has poor gear because he’s a new player to the game and doesn’t know any better yet. Sure his tanking is awful but does that make him a bad player? Back in the day he would probably have been blacklisted while his only crime was to have picked up the game later than everyone else.

You see where I’m going with this. Being in a group with strangers doesn’t tell you squat about them . What you perceive as bad can be explained in a multitude of ways. Time, experience, skill, comprehension, distractions… any reason really. I learned my grandfather died while I was running Old kingdom and I finished the boss we were fighting in a kind of dazed state while my father was talking to me. Pretty sure my fellow puggers thought I was awful.

But sometimes in the heat of the action we forget to consider all of that. I’m often guilty of raging at hunters who keep their taunts on their pets while I tank. Sometimes I ask them politly to remove the taunt but more often than not I rage at them along with my guildies. I’m not especially proud of that because it’s not helping anyone in the end. Grumpy talks about community and I believe that this behavior or seeing Bads everywhere is not helping at all. But before getting to community building I want to address a particular issue.

Criminals

I’m going to label a particular group of bad players Criminals. Criminals are the trolls, the jerks, the people who deliberately ruins it for everyone else. These are the ones that make racist jokes and throw insults left and right. Those are the players that no matter what you do, they’ll just ruin it for you.

For these I entirely agree with Grumpy. I miss the old days because we could identify them and keep track of them. I hate it when I get them in my pugs and I wish all their accounts would be banned and their computers burn.

But I don’t believe all the “bad” players should suffer because of those criminals and I think that if we want a better community we’ll just have to live with them.

If we want community back…

If we disregards the criminals, every player pays the same and is allowed to play the game how they want to play it. No one deserves to play more than other or have privileged access to content. I’m not saying that everyone should play with everyone. Hardcore guilds have the right to choose who they play with when they raid just as casual can choose their members based on personality alone.

But LFD and LFR are tools designed to give a chance for everyone to see the content. It doesn’t rob anyone of anything. Hardcore can still do world first if they want to. But when you click that LFD button, you do so with the knowledge that you will be put with four other players who come from many different backgrounds and all have the right to be there.

You should not resent people for playing the game in another way than you. There’s more than enough room for everyone.

Again, criminals are excluded.

So, going in LFD with the knowledge you may be put in with people with vastly different goals and aims as you your choices become really simple when you are faced with a player you consider bad. Is the bad player preventing you from finishing the run? If the answer is no then simply smile and run along with it. There’s no need to get upset about it. You’ll finish the run, get your loot and go home. Bitching will not make it better and it won’t help the other guy either.

If the answer is yes then ask yourself if you can do anything about it. If you think you can correct the issue simply by offering a few suggestions then go for it. They might listen or not but at least you will have tried to help out. If there’s nothing to be done and disaster is sure to happen then simply leave. There’s no need to waste your time and there’s no need to make someone else day more miserable by belittling them.

So it’s really that simple. We’ll never go back to the old community and accountability and I’m happy for it. Too many players got blacklisted back then only because they didn’t fit some standard often set by players whose only merit was to have started before them. Think back for a moment how new servers got flooded with people needing to make a fresh start along and level along with everyone else.

We can build a new community though and for that we only need to stop resenting people who are not at the same level of play as we are.

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Pandaria questing afterthoughts

As of yesterday I’m now a loremaster of Pandaria meaning I completed most of the quests in the main zones of Pandaria as I’m sure most of you are already aware. On the whole it was an enjoyable experience although if I had one main complain is that I found the mobs had a bit much health. Then again it could be me questing as a tank but I remember reading that the spec wasn’t supposed to matter. Anyhow, on the whole I found the experience enjoyable.

Here’s in bullet point form my impressions on each of the zones.

  • Jade Forest: Sooooo confusing…. Serious, I felt most of the time like I was following along without any real idea of what was happening. Not that it was an entirely bad thing because it did bring across the feeling that I was in a strange and foreign land. Seeing for the first time a big Sha was a memorable experience.
  • Valley of the four winds: Pretty zone that felt a lot like Nagrand complete with Nesingwary genocide quests. I liked following along Chen, the Brewery part was silly but nice and the Tillers were not as bad as I feared them to be. The bug wars at the very end was pretty nice.
  • Krasarang wilds: Meh… it’s probably the zone I like the less of the whole expansion. Not that it’s awful but it didn’t feel special or memorable.
  • Kun-lai Summit: Hands down the winner for the largest amount of silly quests in the same zone. Yak-wash, the coffee beans quests, the Grummles…. and it was all awesome. While they were silly I felt they were well done and in the end I had a lot of fun in Kun-lai. I also think Yaks are the best mounts ever.
  • Townlong steppes: My other meh zone of Pandaria. It had its moments but nothing really memorable.
  • Dread wastes: The Klaxxi are super creepy… in a good way. After all the cheerfulness of the pandas it felt good to have a race that’s borderline evil and doesn’t care about asking you to kill anything that moves. A bit too many kill quests in that zone but not enough to really bother me.

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