If They’re Not Careful, Telltale Games Runs The Risk of Overexerting Themselves
Ever since their acquisition of the “Sam and Max” license, Telltale has garnered a reputation as a studio that does things a little bit differently.
It was with that series that the studio kicked off their unique episodic format, where a series is released in monthly or bi-monthly installments over the course of a season. While the quality of their individual installments varied from great to “meh” with some regularity, for the most part the approach was viewed as a gimmick by many.
That was until the release of “The Walking Dead.”
With that series Telltale finally made it all click. The series of choices and consequences in those games made the episodic format actually matter, while the quality of the writing and direction made “The Walking Dead” the first series from the studio to maintain a standard of excellence throughout. The general consensus winner of the 2012 game of the year awards, “The Walking Dead” was a runaway success.
Much like the runaway success “Walking Dead” TV show, however, its increased attention also drew increased criticism. Many gamers lashed out against “The Walking Dead” games for not actually being games. Instead they saw them as a series of story sequences loosely strung together by the occasional dialogue choice or QTE section. As a result, “The Walking Dead” became one of the most cited titles in the growing debate of whether or not the term video game is still appropriate when describing the state of the medium today.
Regardless of where you stand on that particular issue though, the sales numbers don’t lie, and the numbers tell us that “The Walking Dead,” was a success. It was such a success, in fact, that it allowed TellTalle to not only continue “The Walking Dead” series, but begin entirely new series within the high profile worlds of “Fables,” “Borderlands,” and “Game of Thrones.”
And that’s what worries me.
See, I’m firmly in the crowd that loved “The Walking Dead.” While that’s mostly due to the quality of the game’s storytelling, I also attribute that to the fact that there wasn’t really anything like “The Walking Dead” series, even in the TellTalle canon. It was a breath of fresh air in the gaming world, and made the choice to buy “The Wolf Among Us” a no brainer.
By the end of the first episode of that game, though, it became pretty obvious that Telltale had no intentions of abandoning the gold mine of design they stumbled on during “The Walking Dead.” I don’t want to sound like I’m writing off “Wolf” as a re-skinned “Walking Dead,” but rather want to point out that if the appeal of “The Walking Dead” lied in it’s uniqueness and quality storytelling, the appeal of “Wolf” lies just in its storytelling.
That’s fine, but it does raise the question of whether or not TellTalle can justify releasing several high profile series in succession that all follow that “Walking Dead” style. After all, how many times can you hope to catch lightning in a bottle?
Now it’s not like I think Telltale should look at the success of “The Walking Dead” and say “Well, we made a good game so its time to shut down production,” but they already have both “The Walking Dead Season 2” and “The Wolf Among Us” releasing concurrently and now apparently have “Game of Thrones” and “Borderlands” titles in the works as well.
There’s no studio in the world that can possibly handle that amount of production and maintain a consistent level of quality, especially if the games they are making all follow the same basic template. We’ve seen before what happens to studios who feel the obligation to make annual releases of the same series and, with few exceptions, the results are not pretty.
In the case of Telltale, however, it’s even more tragic. Here’s a studio that made their namesake by releasing a game that shook the foundations of gaming and had some questioning the validity of the classification gaming itself. Going from that, to just continuing to do that but in new worlds reminds me of the executives from “South Park” who surmised that if saying shit in a TV show was popular and revolutionary, then saying shit even more and in different episodes is sure to be just as popular and revolutionary.
I believe that TellTalle is a great developer, and will never intentionally start banging out games routinely in the “Call of Duty” style. However, whether it is their intention or not, unless they start exploring a style beyond that of “The Walking Dead,” or at the very least limit their releases to a series at a time, they run the risk of overexerting themselves and learning a lesson that entertainers everywhere have learned the hard way for years.
After a while, the same act starts to get old.
Posted in: Editorial
Tags: gaming, gaming blogs, gaming news, Telltale, Telltale Borderlands, Telltale Game of Thrones, telltale games, Telltale VGX, The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us, Too many Telltale games, Video Games
What Role Will the Survival Concept Have In Gaming’s Future?
Gaming, like so many other things, is not immune to trends.
With some regularity entire styles, genres, and concepts go in and out of fashion. Sure certain aspects of gaming remain consistently popular, and others remain consistently despised, but for the most part you really have to keep a finger on the pulse of gaming in order to hope to keep up with which way the winds of change are blowing.
Do that, and you’ve probably noticed that survival games have been growing in popularity over the years, and have become especially prolific throughout 2013.
Nowhere is this more true than the indie market, where it seems like every week brings with it the reveal of yet another title that cites sneaking, scrounging, and surviving as its main attractions. Sure there’s been a number of AAA games to use survival elements (“The Last of Us” is a great example), but if you’re looking for the heart of the survival movement, it’s into the indies you must go.
Now unlike some other trends in various walks of life, the emergence of the survival genre on the indie scene is one that’s fairly easy to understand and trace.
Simply put, survival games represent a marked departure from nearly everything that the majority of AAA games represent. They do not hold your hand, they allow for (and require) a healthy amount of creative freedom, and most importantly they present a very real chance of failure without glory. In a way they are becoming the James Dean of indie gaming. An icon that so perfectly represents the antithesis of the current cultural climate, that those with similar spiritual beliefs cannot help but be drawn to their magnetism.
Unlike James Dean, however, whose global impact only required a few films, survival as a stand alone concept has yet to really produce a champion to the masses that so perfectly represents everything it stands for that its presence can no longer be ignored.
Now I want to make myself clear on that point. Survival has been a part of some of the greatest games of all time, but only a part of it. For instance, “Resident Evil” was survival/horror. “Minecraft” was survival/crafting. “Fallout 3” was an FPS RPG with survival elements. Hell, while we’re on the subject, just about every video game incorporates at least some elements of survival.
The survival genre by itself, however, is still so young that it’s not even a recognized genre on Steam of all places. You can look and look, but you’ll have a hard time finding any games which classify themselves as strictly a survival game, and there’s a very good reason for that.
Without beating around the bush, survival games on their lonesome just don’t work at the moment. It’s a realization I came to when playing “Day One: Gary’s Incident” and “Sir, You are Being Hunted.” One of those games (“Day One”) is a complete abomination of game design that shows how developing a survival game is not recommended for those who intend to go in with anything but their full ass. I’ll refer you to the infamous Total Biscuit review of it for proof.
“Sir, You Are Being Hunted,” however, is a much more interesting case all around. It’s writing is crisp, it’s world and tone are simply brilliant, and the care put into ensuring its survival aspects are clever and well implemented is quite simply second to none. Yet even then, it’s a game that is hindered simply by the fact that survival (and survival alone) is not really a compelling incentive for long term play. It’s a sort of perpetual motion predicament. You’re encouraged to survive, just so you can continue surviving.
In so many respects though, “Sir” is the epitome of the survival genre as a standalone concept so far. While that isn’t to suggest that a better game can’t come along, the end result of it still being an overall unsatisfactory experience does place some serious doubts on the legitimacy of a survival only genre, despite the growing number of entrants to it on the horizon.
However, I still do believe that the next great trend in gaming is survival.
You see, ultimately it does not matter if a standalone survival experience comes along and stands as its grand champion, as the sheer amount of games that are beginning to incorporate survival elements into their design are already a victory for the concept. Every time a new rougelike comes out, survival gaming is victorious. With every game of the year award “The Last of Us” garners, survival gaming is victorious. With every bit of hype “The Division” generates, survival gaming garners some hype.
As mentioned, this is good for gaming if for no other reason than the fact survival games are radically different from so many other major releases today. Their presence then is beneficial for the simple reason that they offer an alternative to some gaming conventions that are quickly wearing out their welcome.
The reason I think that survival will ultimately prove to be more popular than that, though, is because developers have done such a great job in the later parts of this generation when it comes to introducing survival naturally into more and more games. It’s to the point now where if a game doesn’t have aspects of survival, it feels somewhat hollow. While you could make the argument that survival would more quickly become a necessity if a game came along that used it in a way that “Modern Warfare” made the incorporation of RPG character building elements standard in most games, the survival revolution has already gathered enough steam to plow straight ahead into the next generation.
Gaming is very much subject to trends and fads, and all indications point to survival as the next one. That may sound like a bad thing considering the negative connotations of those words, but in this case it is very interesting, as the incorporation of survival has the potential to alter the current creative direction of gaming on a very serious fundamental level.
Whether or not you actively seek out survival games may soon be irrelevant, as survival games will soon be finding their way to you.
Posted in: Editorial
Tags: best survival games, best survival video games, Day One Gary's Incident, Don't Starve, gaming, gaming news, Sir You Are Being Hunted, survival, survival games, survival gaming genre, survival genre, the future of survival games, Video Game Blogs
The Popular (and Absolutely Insane) Just Cause 2 Multiplayer Mod is About to Get a Steam Release
While I have no problem calling “Just Cause 2” a good game, I’m hesitant when it comes to giving it praise beyond that.
See if you attend the open world game design school, there’s really only two classes you can go to. One preaches using the large in-game world to provide a more intensely cinematic experience, while the other teaches the idea of using that same space to let players just go nuts with few (if any) design boundaries to limit or guide them.
While neither is inherently a wrong pursuit, “Just Cause 2′s” firm attendance and devotion to the latter design philosophy meant that while the game was insanely large and incredibly fun to just mess around in, elements like mission quality and story structure were either limited or non-existent.
Some time ago, however, a dedicated group of modders found a way to capitalize off of the built-in strengths of the game and give it a longevity that even a more cohesive and engaging storyline structure couldn’t do by simply adding a true online multiplayer mode to the game.
It’s not an unprecedented occurrence for a single player only game to get a modded multiplayer component, but when you consider that this particular mod allows for up to 600 players at once within the absolutely gigantic world of “Just Cause 2,” and factor in the game’s already zany and ridiculously fast paced nature, perhaps you can see why this drew so much attention from users who would have otherwise most likely stopped regularly playing the game some time ago.
Now it turns out it was not only individual users whose attention was caught by the mod, but the folks at Valve as well as it was recently announced that Steam will soon be making the popular multiplayer mod available for download as an official Steam release. This not only makes the mod much more accessible to the average person, but rightfully legitimizes it as an essential component of the “Just Cause 2” experience.
While the only available release date is still 2013, regardless of whenever this does actually hit Steam it’s already a big win for everyone involved. This is especially true for us, the players, who will now get an even easier chance to experience a sandbox action multiplayer game that is without chaotic equal. Expect to see a popular new wave of insane YouTube videos and jaws on floors when “Just Cause 2′s” multiplayer mode is released by the end of the month
Posted in: News, PC
Tags: best mods, gaming, gaming blogs, gaming headlines, gaming news, Just Cause 2, Just Cause 2 mods, Just Cause 2 multiplayer, Just Cause 2 Multiplayer Steam, steam, steam releases, Video game news
Huge Sales Are Coming to the Xbox 360 Just in Time for the Holidays
Not able to get in early on the next generation by purchasing an Xbox One, Wii U, or PS4? Don’t worry because with the holidays approaching, you happen to be in luck.
No I don’t mean insane deals are coming on one of those systems (though that certainly is possible), but rather that the previous gen console you own is about to see some serious drops in game prices, allowing you to go back and play some of those great games you may have missed the first time around.
While PC holiday deals started on Amazon and other outlets some time ago, it looks like the Xbox 360 is the first console to throw its hat into the holiday sale madness ring by offering up a host of hugely discounted titles starting today through Xbox Live.
What’s available? Well for now you can get a host of Arcade greats such as “Mark of the Ninja,” “Dust,” and “The Cave,” while some AAA greats like “Fallout 3” (and all the available DLC’s), “Tomb Raider,” “Sleeping Dogs,” and “Skyrim” for 50% – 75% off.
However, it appears that the real deals are coming later in the week, as one day only sales are available on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This is particularly true of the Cyber Monday collection which features some best of generation titles like “Red Dead Redemption,” “Dark Souls,” “The Witcher 2,” “L.A. Noire,” and “Far Cry: Blood Dragon,” all for 75% off.
The full list of games can be found here and, while this is quite honestly nothing in comparison to the PC sales available this time of year, for 360 owners who aren’t ready to make the next gen jump and need some truly great games to play around with during the holidays, this is a sale you absolutely have to take advantage of.
Posted in: News, Xbox 360
Tags: 360 game on sale, 360 games on sale, 360 video game sales, best holiday video game sales, black friday video game sales, gaming, gaming news, holiday video game sales, Video game news, Video Games, XBLA, Xbox 360, Xbox Live sales
Blood Bowl 2 Could Be A Much Needed Break From The Same Old, Same Old Sports Themed Game
One of my favorite game growing up was “Mutant League Football” for the Sega Genesis. A parody of the NFL that read like it might have been proofread by the Cryptkeeper (Bones Jackson instead of Bo Jackson, Killer Konvicts instead of Dallas Cowboys, etc.) the game was far from perfect, but it’s complete devotion to making an over the top, often childishly disturbing version of football as we know it was admirable and almost always entertaining.
It was a game where fireballs and landmines were in play, and you could bribe the referee or even murder him if a call didn’t go your way. It’s carefree over the top nature is an even greater breath of fresh air than it was upon the games initial release, especially when weighed against the increasingly stale entrants in the “Madden” series.
Of course since it was an EA title and that company would go on to make all the money in the world from that “Madden” series, “Mutant League” got the axe before it became a full fledged franchise, and theoretical PR nightmare.
This disheartened me for years as I longed for a football game that actually took a fun and creative approach to the subject matter, without sucking too bad (looking at you “Blitz: The League”). It turns out though, that the “Mutant League” games were actually based on an old tabletop strategy game called “Blood Bowl” which has actually been a tabletop tournament staple for years. Unfortunately I’ve never really been able to get into the tabletop gaming scene, and the video game adaptations of the series have been a real mixed bag.
Even still, it’s getting hard to suppress my excitement for the forthcoming “Blood Bowl 2.” In development by Cyanide Studios (developer of the most faithful adaptation of the game to date), little is unfortunately known about the game outside of its usual promise to be the biggest and best digital version of the game to date, with claims of better graphics and animations as well as new modes to back them up.
It’s the usual sequel rhetoric to be sure, but I’ve got to say that the screen shots of “Blood Bowl 2” provided by the game’s publishers are fairly encouraging, and show off a game aesthetically closer to the “Mutant League Football” proper sequel I’ve always wanted.
Of course, “Blood Bowl” isn’t meant to mimic the real time mayhem of “Mutant League,” but its still going to be interesting to see if Cyanide can do justice to the popular strategy game, and make it accessible enough so that those of us longing for a football inspired game that doesn’t take itself so damn seriously can get on board and find a new addiction when “Blood Bowl 2” is released sometime in 2014.
The Top Five Fixes and Features That Need to Be in Fallout 4
In what is quickly becoming the internet’s worst kept secret, it appears that famed developer Bethesda is gearing up to announce the highly anticipated “Fallout 4.” As one of the general public’s most beloved games of the previous generation (feels weird saying that…), the hype train for “Fallout 4” is beginning to resemble a locomotive in India, as fans across the world eagerly await any news regarding it.
While developer Bethesda is usually so generous with their game content it can feel greedy to make requests, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a few items on every fan’s wishlist for “Fallout 4,” as well as a few generally accepted flaws in “Fallout 3” that could use a fix. Personally, I know I can think of five things, I’d really like to see in “Fallout 4.”
The Ability to Play In A World Affected By the Ending
I’d have to say my biggest disappointment with “Fallout 3” was that the game just kind of ended. There was the usual climatic final mission, but then you just got a cinema explaining the consequences of your decisions in the final moments. At that point if you wanted to keep exploring the world, you could only load up a save before the final mission and do it from there, with the finale being forever left on your to-do list.
It was a baffling decision that felt like one of the few genuine design flaws in the game. How could a game with so much to see and do just end? While the expansions and New Vegas fixed this particular problem, I expect that Bethesda will learn their lesson from “Fallout 3” and allow us to not only continue to explore the world after the credits role, but hopefully alter it in some noticeable way based upon the ending.
Incoporate Greater Grey Area Options
While “Fallout 3′s” karma system was one of the more involved of all the games that afford you character building moral choices, it’s hard to deny that if you really wanted the world to reflect your personal choices, the only real paths available were to be a paragon of virtue or the most evil bastard that ever lived.
That’s always been troublesome to me considering that morality in the “Fallout” universe is ambiguous to say the least. Forcing players to ultimately choose between comically good and evil just to get the game to react never really felt in-line with the rest of the world. It would be great if the karma system better incorporated the choice to live somewhere in the middle (neither entirely good or evil) and if the world reacted to you in this manner just as they would if you lived on either polar side of the morality scale. After all, as Bruce Campbell quipped, “Good…bad….I’m the guy with the gun.”
An Expanded, Region Specific Soundtrack
As much as I loved Three Dog and the game’s unique (and often disturbing) selection of 40′s and 50′s music, after a while I’d often turn off the radio as the DJ banter and songs didn’t take long to repeat. While this is expected in a game of this length, it was nonetheless annoying.
An expanded song selection would certainly go a long way to fixing this in “Fallout 4,” but what would really be great is if more individual regions of the map had there own radio stations. After all, it’s not hard to imagine a number of small range pirate stations would pop up here and there, and having certain songs only available in certain areas through those stations would go a long way to cutting down on the music monotony.
Longer Emphasis on Survival
When you first enter the world of the Capital Wastelands, you feel appropriately small and helpless. Nearly everything could kill you instantly and, since the game allowed you to go anywhere at any time, getting in over your head was easy. In those early moments it was vital to scrounge for any and all available resources, even if it meant near certain death to do so.
As the game went on, however, it didn’t take long before you were so stocked with equipment you would often pass up valuable items simply because you couldn’t carry them. Within only a few hours of play you go from fist pumping because you found a clean bottle of water, to better stocked than the local Wal-Mart. While this kind of character building is expected in RPG’s, it would be nice if a better balance was placed on resources availability so that the incredible survival aspects of the game don’t just disappear after the first few hours.
It’s understandable that your character will become more powerful and adapt overtime, but you should never feel as complacent in your available resources as you did in the later parts of “Fallout 3.”
More Imaginative Weapon Crafting
One of the things I liked about “New Vegas” is how developer Obsidian wasn’t afraid to take some chances with the design, since they knew the established “Fallout 3″ formula was strong enough to hold the weight of the occasional tweak and innovation. Among those tweaks was an expanded ability to better your items and weapons through the occasional pick up and crafting. It worked because it makes sense that in an apocalyptic world you would become somewhat adept at making do with what you have, and making what you have better based on what you find.
It was a step in the right direction, but it could go much further in a sequel. There’s tons of seemingly useless items floating around the “Fallout” universe, and it’d be great if you could find uses for them through a more involved crafting system. “Fallout 3” did have the occasional blueprint that allowed you to do this, but it felt too clean and simple. Allowing players a crafting screen to play around with that isn’t necessarily dependent on strict recipes would go a long way to expanding our involvement in the world, and our desire to explore it.
Posted in: Editorial
Tags: fallout, fallout 3, fallout 4, Fallout 4 improvements, Fallout 4 wishlist, gaming, gaming blogs, gaming news, New Features for Fallout 4, things that need to be in Fallout 4, Video Games
As The Xbox One Attracts More Controversy, More Importance is Placed On Titanfall
If you haven’t heard, Microsoft and the Xbox One found themselves in a bit of hot water recently, when some long rumored whispers that the Xbox One is under-performing against the PS4 when it comes to games they share were confirmed when “Battlefield 4” developers DICE revealed that the Xbox One runs at a lower resolution than the PS4, while side by side comparison gameplay videos gave us a pretty clear indication of the difference between the two machines. This was an unfortunate reveal only enhanced by the discovery that some of the footage in “Battlefield 4” Microsoft was using for promos of the Xbox One actually contains some footage of the PC version of the game.
This of course breaks up the relative peace Microsoft was enjoying following the controversy that followed shortly after E3 and the initial Xbox One reveal, when people attacked Microsoft for many of its policies regarding the Xbox One, as well as its seeming focus on being a device more interested in multimedia capabilities than actual gaming. When Microsoft retracted a number of the more controversial measures, it had seemed they could kick back, maybe hype up the pre-order numbers for the device, as well as any number of its merits, and put that past trouble behind them. That is, until this all happened.
Now the Xbox One is again the goat of the video game world, fanboys begin to wage war, PR companies summon their voodoo spin doctors, and those of us somewhere in the middle find an enjoyment in the chaos. Of course, if you stick around gaming long enough, and you eventually learn to not throw dirt on anything until you absolutely are sure it’s dead, less it come back as a zombie to take its revenge. What I mean is, don’t write off something so adamantly if there is still the off chance that it’ll come back to bite you when you want it down the line.
This is where the Respawn Entertainment developed 2014 shooter “Titanfall” comes in. See, admist all of the trouble that the Xbox One endured recently, one interesting win for the company did emerge, when it was announced that “Titanfall” will be an Xbox One and PC exclusive forever. While that doesn’t mean that future sequels of the game will remain on the Xbox One only, it does still ensure that Microsoft has the immediate rights to the best looking exclusive seen on either system, and one of the few games shown of the next generation so far, that looks like a killer app.
While of course a final “Titanfall” game that falls well short of expectations would lend a different set of problems for Microsoft, the more interesting case comes if the game turns out to be as good as footage and previews have suggested, and as lucrative as well. In that case, then by the time that more systems start to hit the shelves and the non-early adopters start considering making system purchases early next year, “Tianfall” will be in a position to move Xbox Ones similar to the way that “Halo” moved the original Xbox.
What’s interesting about that is that it will be a pretty clear case that in spite of everything that the Xbox One has gone through, it’s all irrelevant compared to the power of a single game. The industry is moving further and further away from exclusive games, and many people in the gaming community are also calling for a more unified gaming experience where all games are available to everyone. However, it does still sell systems, and should it be able to alter the Xbox Ones fate (again, in spite of everything) when the console race gets going in earnest, then it could just be enough to preserve the traditional methods of gaming exclusives, at least for the conceivable future.
What’s really interesting about that is that Microsoft clearly had a plan at one point to take console gaming in a very different path based on the original policies of the Xbox One. Even without those policies, there is clearly still a focus on incorporating the controversial multimedia features on a level not previously seen out of a console. If Microsoft really gets a hit then with “Titanfall,” do they begin to re-enact some of those policies now that they have a userbase who will remain loyal to them? Do they also see the power of games and begin to turn the public focus of the Xbox One to a game first console, or does the natural increase in multimedia use of its users who purchased the system for “Titanfall” somehow justify their seeming focus on that instead?
Nothing speaks louder than sales in the gaming world, and considering the rare beast that “Titanfall” has the potential to be (a AAA true exclusive of full merit) it’s release and subsequent fallout is one of some importance. It not only has the weight of the Xbox One at its shoulders at the moment, but given a certain level of success could well help answer several questions about what direction the industry is going. Is that a lot of weight to put on a single game? Yes, but that is exactly the role that Microsoft gave it when they pursued this as an exclusive. They have a faith in it that probably cost them a lot of money, but they spent it because they knew it had the potential to define the Xbox One and help to give the system the foothold it needs in the Western market where it’s main sales power is going to come from.
The next generation of gaming may start this month with the release of the PS4 and Xbox One, but it’s not until the major games start hitting next year will it begin in earnest. Of those games, none has more to strive for than “Titanfall,” whose success and quality may very well give us an indication of how the future of gaming will shape up, and if Microsoft will be a part of that future at all.
Posted in: News
Tags: exclusives, gaming, gaming blogs, gaming news, Titanfall, Titanfall Exclusive, Titanfall importance, Xbox One, Xbox One 720p, Xbox One controversy, Xbox One graphics, Xbox One resolution, Xbox One vs PS4 graphics
Instant Impressions – Path of Exile
It’s not possible to talk about the recently released free to play game “Path of Exile” without mentioning its strong resemblance to “Diablo.” In fact, lets just call it like it is and say that “Path of Exile” is, for all intents and purposes, a knockoff of “Diablo.” However, I’ve never found being a knockoff a bad thing in the world of video games, so long as said knockoff follows three simple rules:
1. Make sure you’re borrowing from an already great game.
2. Improve on any structural flaws the original game had.
3. Introduce at least one unique idea that the original game did not have.
Does “Path of Exile” adhere to all of these rules? For the most part, yes.
As mentioned, it draws most of its inspiration from the “Diablo” series (fulfilling the first rule), and does it to a degree that’s worth elaborating on. Right down to visual layout of the menu, this game has the design stench of “Diablo” all over it, to the point where a glance at a screen shot of both games, could possibly cause even a fan of the fabled Blizzard series to hesitate. I don’t really resent it for lifting the “Diablo” gameplay formula (click your way through mobs of enemies while improving your character, and getting better loot) because “Diablo” not only introduced that style of gameplay, but by an large perfected it, however I will say that the sheer amount of little design elements borrowed from that series, can cause you to roll your eyes once in a while.
Fortunately any lapses in design creativity are largely negated by the admirable way “POE” honors rule number 2. The developers of “POE” recognize that when you are making this style of game, the most important thing you can do is to get the fundamentals right. That’s why extra care has been put into making things like loot drops, enemy balance, skill risk/reward, and combat variety, as sound as possible and implemented in ways that keep you from having to consider any of those elements while playing. What I mean is, the best type of ARPG’s are built in a way that quickly puts you into a zen like focus, as your brain reshapes its perspective to hone in on the gaming world, and all of its functions and rules. The moment that you, say, run into an impossible nest of enemies or wonder why the game keeps dropping the same item, are the moments when you focus out, and begin to lose interest. “POE’s” intent on making the genre fundamentals so solid ensures that these lapses back to reality are few and far between.
Does it do anything outside of the norm to satisfy rule number 3 though, and make its own mark? This is a little trickier than the first two, but I’m going to tepidly say “yes,” and cite the skill system as my justification. See, whereas most of these games work off of a simple skill tree where you choose basic branching paths to determine how you will build your character, “POE” uses a skill grid that is absolutely massive (you can’t capture it in a single screenshot), and as far as potential depth goes, leaves the old tree design in the dust. Trying to break it down entirely would be a fruitless headache, but just know that it allows you to take any of the game’s classes (which are all admirably balanced and equally useful by the way), and build them anyway you like. For example, it might not be as easy or immediately rewarding to build a barbarian character who is also adept in magic, but with the right level of dedication you can do just that, along with any other character combination you can think of.
Despite fulfilling all three rules to this style of game design, I still find myself slightly resenting “POE” for it’s lack of creativity. Though I do really enjoy the design consistency of the game’s gothic horror elements, and the bleak world they come together to form, aesthetically speaking there is really nothing here you haven’t seen quite a few times before. Similarly, outside of the improved skill system, as far as ARPG’s go, everything here from a gameplay standpoint is pretty commonplace as well. This doesn’t really deprive the game of much at first, but as your journey wears on it becomes more and more obvious that not many original thoughts made it from the brainstorming process, to the final game.
That being said, “POE’s” lack of innovation does very little to harm the overall experience, especially once you factor in the free to play aspect. Yes I know it’s not usually a good sign when the final say on a free to play game is “It’s free,so you have no reason not to play it,” but the fact that this is a free to play game in the true sense of the word (I.E. you’re never encouraged to spend money if you don’t want to) takes it from a game that only dedicated fans will probably be interested in, to something that….well…. you have no reason not to play.
Some are saying that “POE” feels like more of a successor to “Diablo 2” than “Diablo 3” did, and while that’s certainly true in the sense that it carries on so many of the things that made that game great, the lack of progressive design keeps it from achieving the full implications of that lofty goal. However, I will say that with the exception of “Torchlight 2,” this is simply the most satisfying and consistent game of this type that I have played since the seminal “Diablo 2,” and deserves to be tried by everyone reading this.
Download “Path of Exile” for Steam
Posted in: News
Tags: best Diablo knock offs, best free to play games, diablo like games, games like Diablo 2, games similar to Diablo, gaming, gaming blogs, gaming news, instant impressions, must have free video games, Path of Exile, Path of Exile review, Reviews, Video game news
The Biggest Games Still to Come In 2013
As much as I love “GTA V” (which, if you were wondering, is more than waking up to all the presents you wanted for the year on a white Christmas morning), trying to find video game news not related to Rockstar’s magnum opus is becoming quite the epic adventure itself.
Since the ghosts of video game present are a little tied up at the moment building their shooting skills (got to hit up Ammunation), to find something non “GTA” related to talk about, we’ll have to look towards the future.
It’s been something of an odd year for video games as even though it has seen some of the most high quality games in recent memory, they all seem to have been released early on, rather than continuing the traditional holiday season release rush. As such, while we may have a pretty good idea how the game of the year talks will shape up, here are some of the biggest games still left to get excited about, once your “GTA” addiction has subsided.
What was one of the most touted games on the video game horizon has slipped a little bit in hype due to some questionable current gen graphics shown in a recent gameplay video, and something of a media silence since the last E3 showing, but still remains the biggest name left in 2013.
It’s easy to say that its got an even tougher path to glory in a post “GTA V” world, but while it may be an open world game, it’s unique hacker mechanics and the possibilities they provide when it comes to interacting with the world in previously unexplored ways, makes “Watch Dogs” more of an original superhero style game in the vein of “Crackdown” or “Infamous.”
Obviously when you’re mentioned in the company of such titles you’ve got some raised expectations to try to clear, but so far “Watch Dogs” looks primed to provide a unique and memorable experience at the least.
Batman: Arkham Origins
While “Origins” initially drew concern from fans who were unsure if the “Arkham” name could maintain its level of excellence away from developer Rocksteady, the more and more we discover about this game, the easier it is to get excited for it.
Drawing more design cues from the “Mega Man” series than any previous “Arkham” installments, “Origins” will see the dark knight take on some of the highest profile members of his rouge gallery on his never ending quest to save Gotham City. Though it serves as a prequel to the high profile original titles, “Origins” looks to take Batman games in an interesting new direction that mixes old school gaming ideas with previous series features, and some fresh ideas (including an intriguing multiplayer mode), to form a best of all worlds experience.
Like “Watch Dogs,” this ones has some lofty goals to live up to, but appears to be coming together well.
Beyond Two Souls
Continuing the trend of wild card games that could really go either way on the quality scale, this spiritual successor to “Heavy Rain” is already causing some seriously divided discussion.
“Beyond Two Souls” continues to look like a different game every time we see it and, even as more and more of the game’s basic plot becomes clear, remains shrouded in mystery regarding what the overall product will look like and play like. We do know that fans of “Heavy Rain” will be happy to hear that it retains the interactive film gameplay of that title, while detractors will no doubt roll their eyes at the same news.
Quantic Dream has proven that they know how to create a game that differentiates itself from every other on the market, and can get people talking, with their distinctive style of game design. While it would be easy then to say that you can use your reaction to their previous games as a gauge for how excited to be towards this one, given the ambitious and exciting nature of “Beyond,” it may well be worth a trip outside of your comfort zone.
South Park: The Stick of Truth
As someone who suffered through the dreadful “South Park” games of the PS1 and N64 days, its hard to imagine that an adaption of the influential animated series could actually prove to be something worth getting excited for.
Yet that is exactly the situation I find myself in. Surviving the closure of THQ, “Stick of Truth” has continued to look better and better with every showing. In marrying the series with basic RPG elements, developer Obsidian Entertainment has found the perfect outlet to showcase the deep cast of memorable characters, and ever expanding list of scenarios and worlds the show has crafted during its long run. Their execution of the source material’s style and humor has been dead on so far and, given the developer’s track record with RPG games, there’s more and more reason to get excited for the possibilities.
The only question now is if the game will actually honor its 2013 release date. If so, don’t be surprised if this ends up being a dark horse on some game of the year lists.
Posted in: Reviews
Tags: Batman: Arkham Origins, best games of 2013, Best games still to come in 2013, Beyond Two Souls, game of the year contenders, games released in 2013, gaming, gaming blogs, gaming news, gaming previews, GTA V, remaining games of 2013, remaining video game releases in 2013, South Park: Stick of Truth, unreleased 2013 video games, unreleased games in 2013, Video Game Blogs, Video Game Features, Video game news, video game previews, Video Games, Watch Dogs
Those That Downloaded GTA V through Playstation Store Will Have to Wait Just a Little Longer to Install it
It’s lately been all quiet in the gaming world, as we all live through the calm before the storm that is the final days before Tuesday’s bombshell release of “GTA V.” While the industry lays low in fear of opposing the gaming juggernaut, we all look to the sky and wait patiently for the arrival of what could very well be the greatest game of this generation.
Unfortunately for those who chose to download the game through PS3′s store, the wait may be slightly longer than anticipated.
Sony had initially announced that those who download the game through their store would be able to pre-load it starting today, and access it immediately at the stroke of midnight on Tuesday. However, they’ve recently retracted that statement saying that you’ll have to wait until Monday to install the game.
It may not sound like a huge deal, but when you take into account the HUGE filesize of this game, and the fact that gamers no longer have the weekend to let it install. Not to mention that since the hype for this game is at critical mass, any announcement of a delay of any time is sure to cause an internet explosion of an unprecedented degree.
No explanation of the move has been provided, though it is likely related to the high profile leaks that occurred through PS3 earlier this month.
Ultimately those who per-ordered should be able to have the game installed in time for its launch. However, should anything go wrong with that process just a day before, you can expect to hear the cries of anguish from any point on the globe.
Posted in: Reviews
Tags: download GTA V early, gaming, gaming blogs, gaming news, gta, GTA V, GTA V delays, GTA V leaks, GTA V playstation store, GTA V pre-install, PS3 GTA V, Video Game Blogs, Video game news, Video Games