Mirror’s Edgelessness

•December 28, 2009 • 5 Comments

I don’t post here often anymore, that’s not only because I don’t have all that much time for blogging, but also because I’ve barely played games this year. In the last half year I’ve probably played less than 20 hours in total. Just a couple of years ago that was probably about my weekly average. Now with this Christmas holiday I’m okay with gaming my time away a little bit more, especially after seeing the insane Steam Holiday sales. A new game like Mirror’s Edge for less than 4 euros? Come on..! I got so many games already that I need to finish and for which I didn’t take anytime this year, but I can’t leave that kind of offer behind.

So, Mirror’s Edge. You’re probably heard of it. I installed it last Thursday in the afternoon and finished the game around 2 o’clock that night. I can’t even remember the last time I’ve finished a singleplayer game, so that’s a good sign and it felt surprisingly fulfilling. It’s a beautiful AAA-title game in which you run from A to B, while trying to dodge your enemies, jumping from one building to the other similar to Parkour. The movement feels awesome, it looks great and just because of the colours you somehow intuitively know which way to go most of the time. It also seemed very well optimized for my pc (not just a sloppy console port). But it’s by far not brilliant and has so much more potential…

Nice colour scheme lets you know where to jump

I could focus on how the game weirdly forces you to ( gun-)combat and actually kill people half-way through, which is definitely a major weak point of the game. But I’m okay with that. What bugs me a lot more is the story and how much better it should have been.

I simply do not get it. They have this brilliant dystopian ‘Brave New World’-vibe going on; an apparent clean beautiful city but under a totalitarian regime, where all communication is under complete surveillance, but where people are somewhat apathetic about it, mindlessly consume and live their lives in blissful ignorance. While it’s not the most original anymore, I love this sort of thing. They’ve invested even some effort in it, they have these slick cartoon cut-scenes before and during the game. But it does not get further than this introductory trailer I just linked. At no point it is explained what bad things the City government actually does, or who the clients of the runners are. It’s a brilliant setting, but the plot is just incredibly silly. The sister of the main-character is framed for the murder of a politician that threatens the established order (how and what we don’t know), this plot then suddenly ends up being part of the major conspiracy to kill all the runners as they are the only remaining forces that are able dodge the surveillance system, this all abruptly ends with the main-character finally saving her sister and then suddenly the  end credits rolling in… I got no idea what it was all about, I’m not even sure if I summarized it correctly, it’s a paper-thin plotline that doesn’t make any sense at all.

And this annoys me. The gameplay could have been better, sure, but I’m okay with it. To me it’s just this silly plotline (if we can even claim it to be one) that makes this an ‘okay’ game rather than a brilliant game. Can someone explain why the hell AAA titles never fulfil this potential? It would only take such a small portion of those budgets to make the game so much better. These games could actually be thought-provoking rather than just mindless entertainment.  Is it some weird attempt to stay political correct at all costs? To not shock or offend people, to not be labeled as a political game which might hurt the sales or something? I simply don’t get it. There are several AAA titles that could have been oh-so brilliant. Assassin’s Creed is a good example of a beautiful game being turned into a piece-of-shit I couldn’t even play through, because I got so disgusted by its ridiculous time-travel plotline. Assassin’s Creed is situated in the medieval Middle-East, so you have these beautifully designed and truly  living cities as Jerusalem and Damascus. Awesome right? Right, but then you for example also have several Jewish, Islamic and Christian soapbox preachers in the streets all giving pretty much exactly the same shallow speech, plus several similar examples, they don’t have the balls to touch upon any religious question. They avoid all the potentially sensitive issues while they could get so much more out this subject. Bah. And then with Call of Duty: MW2 you have developers that actually do have the balls to shock, but don’t do anything with it and keep it at nothing more than empty bullshit.

It’s just sad. Games have so much potential as a platform, but the big developers just don’t seem to get it. Of course they have their commercial reasons, but even Hollywood does something right from time to time. Why not with games? Deus Ex is now almost 10 years old for fuck’s sake. Mirror’s Edge was good value for money with this steamsale, I’m happy I bought it, but it’d have been so much better if it would’ve maintained a more thought-provoking edge. Mirror’s Edge is kinda edgeless, yeah, lets name it that way.

Banksy and Team Fortress 2

•April 9, 2009 • 1 Comment

Short post on Team Fortress 2. I was playing TF2 for a short while yesterday and played a custom map called cp_amsterdam to check out what people made of my city. And the map does look nice and does have a Amsterdam feel to it, although I fear the gameplay might not really be optimal. What struck me however is when I walked around and looked at graffiti on a wall; Where did I see this before? It took a few seconds and then I remembered. Hah, brilliant.  TF2:

And this:

If you do not know Banksy, I suggest you to check it out. It’s an anonymous British graffiti artist who fills walls with amazing thought-provoking art.

Darkfall Online nowadays

•April 9, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I haven’t really had time to post here lately, I’ll try to improve on that. Anyway, Darkfall Online. As I posted quite a bit on this game before it came out, I feel somehow obliged to say at least something about it. As you might have guessed, I haven’t bought it and I still haven’t played it. I also don’t think I will. That’s not because I think it isn’t a game for me or something, but just because I don’t have time for a MMO at the moment.

Anyway. The game did launch and it seems players are having fun with it. What is particularly interesting is that Adventurine limits the ammount of people that are being able to buy and play the game and that they’ve kept it just at a single server so far. It is weird, but it also makes sense. This sort of slow launch prevents a huge ammount of players rushing in for 1-6 months and then leaving a lot of empty servers as what happened in Age of Conan and Warhammer Online. I do doubt it is commercially a wise move though. They do seem to consider opening a second NA server, but I would say that this sort of game is just much better when it remains unsharded, so stories remain unique and groups of people can’t server-hop leading to server populations being small enough to be dominated by a single group as what happened in Shadowbane.

The political landscape seems to have developed in Darkfall Online and the stories and drama surrounding it seem rather intriguing. Just like with EVE Online, it shows that sandbox MMOs allow players to create the story and drama which will always be more interesting than anything produced and imposed by developers. Here’s a nice large map which shows what’s going on (probably out-dated already) and here are some writings on the alliances. It does seem to lead to a 2-side server-wide conflict, similar to the Great War in EVE Online. Battles seem to continue running with over 100 people involved, which is quite astonishing and suprisingly well-done by Adventurine. In general the game seems to be pretty alright, although certainly not for everyone. I suggest reading Hardcore Casual and Keen and Graev if you’re interested on how the game is. The biggest miss to me personally, without having played the game, seems to be the lack of a /say channel and that it’s all just in /public. It kind of makes the game a lot less immersive than it could’ve been I’d say, you should be able to shout at your victim just before you execute him, using the Public channel for that just seems wrong.

Being interviewed

•March 17, 2009 • Leave a Comment

If you can call filling in answers to standard format questions being interviewed, then yes, I guess I got interviewed. Yay. That’s quite rare, doesn’t happen too often. And I like talking about myself. Incase you like to read it, click here. There are lots of other EVE blogger profiles as well and some of them are certainly worth reading.

Exploding planets in Apocrypha Trailer

•March 7, 2009 • 6 Comments

One of the few things I’m still rather curious about in the new EVE expansion is the storyline, there’s still not much out there. The EVE News items lately don’t really seem to be some sort of build-up and I guess it’ll be the downtime news again that pushes the storyline forward like it’s been done since Empyrean Age. There’s one thing we do know now though. And that is that the wormholes seem to suddenly appear everywhere and make planets + stations explode, exciting! Here’s the low-res (WHY!?) youtube trailer that got posted 30 minutes ago:

Also, let me make one prediction: It will have something to do with the blinking big star that appeared a bit more than a year ago and suddenly dissapeared.

EVE Online lately

•February 13, 2009 • 1 Comment

To be honest, I’ve played no EVE Online at all since the end of December and I already was very inactive the 6 months before that. I just can’t find time for it. Or well, time is not really the issue, I can always make time for anything, I just don’t give gaming much priority to gaming and I haven’t even touched some of those amazing singleplayer games that I really want to play and finish. I do however still follow EVE Online about daily, reading some fora, Eve-O and blogs of course. And a lot of interesting stuff has happened lately.

First of course there was the dev-blog on wormholes that totally flabbergasted me. It’s a relatively simple addition, but oh-so brilliant. I mean, just think about it, it’s just a bunch of new automatically generated systems and instead of the normal stargate there’s one that randomly appears and disappears. But it enables so many potential epic or hilarious scenarios, when I first read it I couldn’t help but fantasize of all the possibilities for hours.

Then there was the Alliance Tournament. Number 6. The biggest one yet. I followed most of the last on EVE-TV and it seemed to be done very well again. Ruleset was the best one so far and the qualification round, plus putting those videos on youtube the day-after worked out pretty good as well. ISD was a bit less active with sideline stories than during the last tournament, but the match-reports were very nice again. I do have some criticism about CCP deciding not to show player adverts and instead show an ugly Nvidia advert. Not enough adverts that were being send in eh? Shame CCP, shame. What a shame.

And then there was of course the hi-jacking of Band of Brothers by Goonswarm. Funnily enough probably the most interesting recent EVE Online event. Since I do want to talk about the  BoB events but don’t really know where to start, I’ll just start by linking the most interesting writings of other people.

Jim Rossignol of RPS was quick with reporting explaining EVE again.

“Mainstream”-media try to make sense of it, here gamespy.

And shacknews.

Destructoid.com

Scot Jennings writes the usual funny summary.

MMO-theorist Raph Koster theorizes the event.

And then there’s of course EVE-Radio having interviews with two important people of both sides. Rather entertaining.

What I think of it? Must say I was a bit sad about it initially, I guess I underestimated BoB and thought this might’ve  been a reason for their corporations to go different ways. I like consistency in MMOs and those years-old corporations and alliances make things more epic, which is also why I was sad to see Mercenary Coaltion disband even while I’m not related to them in any way, it’s just sad to see a name like that dissapearing. Now it seems it’s going to turn out fine for them and their new alliance KenZoku, which I think is an incredebely silly name (but so was BoB if you think about it).

All in all, did BoB loose and Goons win? Perhaps, but let’s just say CCP scored another huge PR victory. Stuff like this might do more for them than an expansion. I remember watching a Fanfest with the roundtable session where players could ask questions to developers after introducing themself with their ingame name, so one player walks to the stage for a question and says “Hi, I’m Dianabolic..” where a CCP developer suddenly interrupts him and exclaims “Hey, woah, did you say Dianabolic?”. Now that’s EVE. A game where individual players can become more important and achieve more fame than it’s developers. Will we ever see corporations/alliances becomming more ‘important’ than CCP itself? That’s a bit too far off I guess, but who knows, we already had BoB announcing their new campaign in the friggin’ New York Times at the last BoB bbq.

Darkfall Online Open Beta on the 22nd

•January 15, 2009 • 1 Comment

Seems that one of my 2009 predictions is wrong at least! (go read)

I kind of expected this as there was no open beta announced and there weren’t many official news updates, I had some hope for an open beta tomorrow the week before release, but that’s not going to happen. It would’ve been rather weird to see them actually releasing the game the 22nd without open beta, it would’ve been ever more weird  and unreal to have them do it in a succesful manner.

So in a way, I’m happy. If they would’ve released the 22nd without beta, it would’ve looked like a scam to me. Now we’ll get to play it for a month in open beta (/trial) with many players, so we can see what we’re getting, although I don’t expect all that go flawless.

Reading their excuses it seems that they underestimated the interest of people in this game. Ah well, I think they could’ve seen it comming, it looks a bit amateurish to me.

 
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