Browse Month: November 2011

Cost of living

I’m really enjoying my time back in City of Heroes/Villains. The Halloween event was really good fun and was great to have heroes and villains teaming together. Also it was nice to have an (new) revamped instance map tailored for the task rather than just a ring fenced slice of Croatoa.

The superhero game lends itself so well to the idea of the cash-shop and the foundations of this were established by the booster packs that Paragon Studios had introduced over the past few years. If you want a new costume part then just purchase that one part or the whole outfit if you prefer, or perhaps you’ve seen a new cape someone is wearing and decide your character would benefit from owning it.

Despite being a paying member (VIP) the shift move to the freemium model truely sank in with the release of the “Street Justice” powerset, which requires a cash shop purchase. Of course the cost was more than the 400 points that are given for being a VIP player. So you either have to wait 2 months or stump up the extra cash for points.

That said the cash shop items are nearly all cosmetic and thus don’t impact your gameplay if you don’t acquire them.
But to make the perfect costume you may have to buy some extra parts rather than using just the vanilla sets.

The general thoughts people have about the shop are very positive, even when compared to existing games that sport cash shop models.
Have you tried it out yet? What are your thoughts?

Battlefield 3 : First impressions

I know I’m not the first & won’t be the last to write about EAs next game in the Battlefield series, but here is my brief summary after a weekend of playing.
I’ll to not give too much away about the story, but I will be discussing game decisions & mechanics so if you don’t want to hear about them please navigate away now.

Humble Origins

As we’ve all come know, EA is pimping its own distribution platform big time with the Battlefield brand which means this game isn’t available on any other download retailer. The install from disc is rather confusing as Origin carefully tells you it’s now downloading the game, until you are prompted to insert disc 2.

What is really strange as all Origin appears to do when you attempt to launch the game is to open a webpage which is where you make your choice about what game-mode to play, view your stats or choose a Multiplayer server.

Not only do you need Origin but then you have to install a browser plugin to allow the BattleLog website to interact with the game. The strange thing is that EA have stated that Steam was too restrictive but in my experience the MMOs on there use Steam purely as a method for purchase and download, once installed the MMO is standalone and will update itself using it’s own software/network and the any dependency on Steam is non-existent.
I have no idea why that couldn’t be the same here.

Campaign

Within 5 minutes of starting the game I was rather frustrated by a number of quick time events.
Don’t get me wrong, when used correctly QT events can bring fun to a game, Space Marine used them very sparingly and they were pretty much dynamic in their occurrence. BF3 uses them as scripted events in the linear timeline, so when you have to repeat a section you have to endure them again & again.
I’ve been enjoying the story so far, but a combination of the re-living events via the medium of the “Flashback” and jumping between people & places gives you a dis-coordinated telling of a story. And kind of makes you feel like Dr. Sam Beckett.

Multi-player

I broke my rule and have started playing the multiplayer before completing the single player campaign. I am really glad that I did as the MP has redeemed the game for me somewhat. Here are the best elements for me:

  • First up it’s nice to have a game that allows prone positioning and movement, It really gives an extra element to the battles and makes everyone a little more on edge.
  •  The second item that is nice to have is Team death match, this game mode wasn’t in BF:BC2 and I did miss it. You see the squad death match isn’t want everyone is looking for, I for one just wanted a Team V Team without capture points being involved.
  •  The maps (think I have played them all now) are nicely designed with balance being a good part of them. The maps increase or decrease depending on the server capacity/game mode. There is a mixture of Range long (good for aircraft) and close quarter maps which means you get some great combat in places.

That said, there are some serious lag spike issues at the moment that appear to be impacting all players. This often makes playing the game unbearable and I hope they get sorted out soon or it’s going to put people off.

Last Point

My final bugbear is with the use of the Origin/BattleLog webpage at launches the game for you.

Imagine you are playing on a conquest game server and fancy swapping to a Team deathmatch game. In any normal game you would exit to the menu selection and find a new server and connect.
BF3 is far more cumbersome in it’s design, you play each map which loads the resources into memory, but when you exit the that server, it exits the game and unloads everything from memory.
You then find your next server and connect at this point the game is reloaded and as you enter the server all the resources have to be loaded into memory again.

It’s a horrid method and results in having to open and close the game multiple times in one sitting.
Not a massive problem, but when I have a finite amount of time for gaming I really don’t want to spent it looking at a loading screen.


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