Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Marvel Vs Capcom 3: The Fate of Two Worlds

Marvel Vs Capcom 3: The Fate of Two Worlds is arguably the most anticipated fighting games to come out in the last few years.  Die hard fans of this franchise still play this popular fighter in arcades and when it re-released onto XBLA and PSN in Summer 2009.  MvC3 delivers a diverse roster of characters new and old from both franchises and manages to re-introduce obscure classic characters that gamers will no doubt feel nostalgia when playing them.  The core mechanics of MvC3 is very much like its predecessor, the three on three epic battles between your favorite super heroes and super villains are what draw you in, but if your looking for an expansive story driven fighter this may not be the game your looking for.

Marvel Vs Capcom 3 is a beautiful game.  Developers at Capcom did an amazing job on the visuals, its flashy, colorful and kinetic.  Nothing was more satisfying than seeing Ryu shoot the biggest hadouken across my HDTV.  MvC3 got rid of the pixel animation for characters and upgraded to a soft cell shaded design that gave the characters a more comic and graphic novel look to them.  This game does a fantastic job of giving you the visual feel of fighting in a comic environment.

Marvel Vs Capcom 3 is still much of the same game as its predecessor.  The game did away with the old fighting style of having light, medium and heavy kick/punch and simplifying it to just light medium and heavy attacks.  Though this control scheme took some getting use, I felt comfortable getting moves down after my first few fights.  MvC has always been about pulling off huge combos to defeat your opponents and that is still the same with MvC3, but with the introduction of switching characters in the middle of air combos, your opponent may feel they never had a chance.  Another big change to the game is the controversial "Simple" mode which gives makes special moves and combos easier to execute.  I found gameplay to be balanced, whether I was fighting hardened veterans or newer players.

No doubt the biggest draw to this game is the roster.  The ability to duke it out with your friends, online or arcade mode with your favorite characters is a lot of fun.  The roster is very diverse and each character  has their own style of fighting that will give you strategic advantages when choosing your three man tag team.  My only complaint is the choice of some of the characters.  Though many are superstars in their own right, going through the roster I wonder if I would ever choose She Hulk to lead me to a glorified victory over my opponents.  I found myself drawn to a core group of characters I felt comfortable playing with, which took my roster from 36 to about 20.  But hey who am I to judge, if She Hulk is your girl, more power to you.  Though some of the added characters were a big welcoming, I also wondered why some of the fan favorites like Mega Man, Venom and Cyclops were not included.  There is always the possibility of bringing them back through DLC.

  Marvel Vs Capcom 3 is a very well rounded fighter.  This isn't to say that it is the full package fans and gamers were looking for.  Though getting in epic fights with your friends and competing online offers fun and exciting gameplay, that is all the game really has to offer.  Other than training simulations to practice your combos and special moves and a short Arcade mode with no major story, Marvel Vs Capcom 3 feels like a game you would mostly just play against friends and online if you can keep up with some of the hardcore fighters out there.  Online mode features ranked and unranked fights and a slew of player stats, but I always felt I was playing someone way out of my league or someone that was playing for the first time.  Online mode also features party room supporting up to 8 different players at a time but when waiting for your turn, your not able to view the current fight taking place.  Hearing the two fighters talk smack while I wait in line got dull very fast and I ended up waiting for challengers while playing single player mode.

Final Thoughts

Marvel Vs Capcom 3 will not disappoint fans of the fighting genre.  Newcomers and fans of the franchise will find much to love about this addicting competitive fighting.  Keeping a lot of the core mechanics was a smart move by Capcom and it paid off.  It is easy to spend hours perfecting your teams and finding the right combos to obliterate your opponents.  With a new diverse roster there are many options to choose from and new characters you will soon find to be the perfect fit on your team.  This game is visually fantastic, I loved the flow of animated and the visual effects during special moves and combos.

The real downfall to this game is the lack of extra game play needed to make this game great.  To really appeal to the masses I felt like this game needed a wow factor, a gaming mode that gave players variety outside of Arcade and Online mode.

What I enjoyed:
  • Diverse Roster
  • Beautiful Visuals
  • Limitless Combos
  • Fluid Controls
What is Lacking:
  • Extra modes and gameplay
  • A more attractive roster
  • Online Match Balance

Violent Score: 8 (out of 10)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Shogun 2 Total War Retail Preview

Total War: Shogun 2, developed by The Creative Assembly, has been a game of great promise so far. It is a strategy game, large scale, that takes place all over the country of Japan. While that may seem like a small map compared to all other Total War games it still feels pretty large, while not having the worry of trying to realistically conquer Europe, America and India like in Empire Total War. This game is condensed down but very detailed and addictive.

Singleplayer has been pretty bugless so far for me. I also am a regular on the Shogun 2 forums for steam and have noticed that most peoples bugs so far are having to do with downloading/playing the game or multiplayer. Campaign mode has less than ten clans to choose from, but they feel distinct so far. I also am liking how building cities and researching works in this game. Building cities often depends on what you research and the research gives you a lot of options for buildings. For example you can pick for a dojo to be a ninja, katana, spear, bow or monk dojo along with a few other choices. All of which seem to be upgradeable at least three times, which isn't something you do quickly.

Multiplayer is pretty bug ridden at the moment. While I have been lucky and not run into many game ending bugs, others have. A lot of people seem to run into bugs that don't let them into games or see multiplayer battle lists. There is a matchmaking system now for the multiplayer avatar/campaign map that seems to work the best for everyone so far. You choose what kind of matches you wish to participate in and it usually finds one for you within thirty seconds to five minutes. Multiplayer is pretty smooth though, referring to lag and frame, and it is a great improvement over the stability of Empire Total War multiplayer. There is also a coop campaign and a versus campaign, that lets you play on the normal singleplayer campaign map cooperatively or in a "versus" mode that doesn't force you to play as allies but you still can. Hopefully they fix up multiplayer pretty soon and get it working really well for everyone, so far though its pretty random for most people.

In multiplayer you have a avatar and a also veteran units. All of these you can design and have rpg elements. Your avatar/general has a lot of designable elements, while veteran units just have color. Both your avatar and your general get skills that you can choose to increase through experience. Veteran units do make a big difference in battle and hopefully they start matching people better based on that. Fought one multiplayer battle myself against a army of 6 veteran units against my one and I was slaughtered in a seemingly even fight. There are veteran slots you have to unlock to use them, but the slots seem to unlock fairly quickly and are plentiful.

For my last preview section I want to talk about graphics. A lot of people complain that there is no direct x11 and anti-aliasing option in the retail game at the moment, they plan to put it into the game in one month, but the game still looks gorgeous. For anyone who played the demo the retail game seems to handle computer setups a lot better, my framerate is a lot smoother. The weather and terrain effects in forests, out at sea, cliff sides, mountains, coasts, reefs and pretty much every battle map I've seen so far are very impressive. They are not a huge advance from Empire battle maps and weather effects though. Fog though is greatly improved, it envelopes everything and is very thick, and oceans look very good. The interface graphics are very good as well and are very easy to use. They have a enclyopedia now that you can access at anytime that is pretty useful, similiar to the Civilization games.

That's it for now, sometime after many many more hours of playing I will write a review. Here's a chunk of screenshots I took using that newish steam screenshot feature. Thanks for reading.

Written By Sean Cargle

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Men of War Assault Squad Review

Men of War Assault Squad is a explosive, exciting, intricate yet repetitive strategy game. In this game, developed by 1C Company, you may control Japanese, Russian, American, British and German forces during World War 2 battles, some of which may be based on historical battles but are not intended to be taken literally. This is the first Men of War game that has very little narrative, while the others before it all had a campaign with a good deal of story. This game has single player but it is all about multiplayer and it is certainly much more fun that way. It was released on February 24th.
In Assault Squad you may destroy your environment and use that environment as a tool to your victory. You also may personally equip each individual soldier/tank or vehicle. Everything has ammo, inventory, fuel and health. These are some of the unique aspects of this game that make it stand out against the myriad of World War 2 games out there, it even makes it comparable to the some of the great ones, like Company of Heroes by THQ/Relic.

In Assault Squad there are only skirmish missions for singleplayer, the same skirmish missions from multiplayer. They consist of three missions for each of the five countries. Skirmish missions are all very similar in certain ways, which I will get into later. They all have flags on a large map that you must take in order, each flag unlocks a certain new unit, or units, that you may call in. You have reinforcements and points for reinforcements that continually fill up throughout the game; you can increase the speed of refill of your points by capturing new points, as they each have a number value of points associated with each flag. Each country has their own specific and unique units they can call in and they also have their own special abilities they can use, all of which are unlocked through assaulting and controlling victory points. Some of my favorite special abilities are For the Motherland, calls in twenty to thirty lightly armed soviet infantry; Airborne, calls in a single airborne for a small amount of points anywhere on the map; Artillery Tanks, so far I've seen two different special artillery tanks that have huge range and decimate large areas of map but they do reload very slowly.

For multiplayer they have all the skirmish maps, which may be played with up to 8 players, and they have the game types; frontlines, victory zones and combat. Combat is just a battle that can be customized to whatever the host would like, be that no artillery, only tanks, only infantry or other options. Victory Zones is a capture and hold type of mode, there are a number of flags on the map and it is two teams. Each team must try to hold and control as many flags as they can in order to win. Frontlines, my favorite mode besides skirmish, is a fairly unique mode. One team attacks a section of the map with usually 6 capture zones, they have a specific number of reinforcement points, and the other team defends also with a specific amount of points in which to defend. The defenders get a minute or two to set up defenses before the attackers can do attack, while the attackers may choose what units they wish to bring out. Once the attackers take the first area of the map each side receives more reinforcement points and the fog of war disappears and the map is expanded. The defenders may see the entire map from the start but for the attackers it continually expands if they successfully capture enough areas.
Here are a few of things I like about the game.

+A lot of multiplayer maps
+A long lasting amount of skirmish maps
+Fairly decent amount of players on servers
+Pathfinding improved upon from previous games (Pathfinding is how well the units move across a game map)
+Five unique countries to play
+Destructible environment is your friend
+AI more responsive than in previous games (Units respond quickly to enemy units coming into range)
+Less technical difficulties
+Improved server functionality (Used to be a lot harder to maintain good connection to online games)

Here are a few things I don't like

-AI still isn't as good as other competing strategy games
-Very little singleplayer content
-Skirmish sometimes feels like your playing the same routine over and over
-AI on hard is overwhelming brutal
-Still a good deal of connection problems for online
-A little too much micromanaging sometimes
-Difficult to rearm/refuel vehicles or weapons
-Framerate can get slow near the end of skirmish games, due to a large amount of destroyed vehicles/weapons and the bodies of soldiers all over.

It seems like there's a lot I don't like about the game but thats not necessarily true, they are more hopes for future Men of War games than things I horribly dislike with Assault Squad. This is a great game for multiplayer and a lot of fun for anyone who likes strategy games, although it is not as user friendly as Dawn of War 2 or Company of Heroes. I have played every single Men of War game so far and am a veteran of many strategy games. I purchased this game from a sale for $25, it Retails for $35, and play it through steam. Currently it is on sale for $27 on that very website. It is often on sale so if you are interested check out steam every so often and also rock paper shotguns RPS bargain bucket. See you on the battlefield.
Violent Score: 8.5 out of 10

Written by Sean Cargle

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

RIFT Preview

RIFT Planes of Telara is a Massively Multiplayer Role Playing Game (MMORPG) developed by Trion Worlds. There are two factions, the Defiant and the Guardians. Guardians take on a religious based faction and the Defiant's seem like the "bad guys" but the story shows that they both have done a lot of wrong in the world of Telara. You have four classes to choose from: warrior, rogue, cleric and mage. Each class has eight souls, which are what make you unique. You can combine any three souls, and distribute your skill points into the three classes. You can also just use one or two souls and max those out instead of trying to interweave three. For example my warrior is a beastmaster , champion (two handed combat soul) and void warrior (anti-caster soul). I have the majority of my skills in beastmaster and champion, it all depends on what kind of character you are going for.
You can do a lot of interweaving of souls to create interesting characters, but they do recommend certain souls that coincide well with other souls. You also have roles, which you may have three, each role has a spot for three souls. So you can basically have a role as a defensive , offensive and support or whatever you wish. You can easily switch between them and it works pretty well, especially when you are with a group that wants a "tank" or someone that dishes out a lot of damage.

I have played the beta for a good month and have been playing the full game for about a week now. In the beta I was a level 35 rogue, in the retail game I have a level 22 warrior and a level 8 rogue. I am a massively multiplayer game veteran. I often try the beta/trials for most of the major massively multiplayer games and RIFT is the first one since World of Warcraft, 4 years ago, that I have actually considered buying. What makes the game special are rifts which are large portals that open around a zone and monsters spew out and try to invade certain friendly areas. There are also invasions in which a large number of rifts open and specific (death, life, water, fire, earth) forces assault the zone in a unrelenting manner. Here is a lot of the good and the bad of RIFT.

I like...
  • Invasions
    -They make players work together to defend the area from large swarms of challenging enemies, be it monsters or the other faction. They also reward you well for participation.
  • Personal Crafting
    -It is easy to take up crafting just for personal use, as in making armor or weapons for yourself but not worrying up trying to sell or profit from it.
  • Combat Speed
    -Combat is fairly quick, except in special circumstances, and flows pretty smoothly.
  • Classes
    -Easy to use, easy to learn, enjoyable to experiment with. They do not penalize you for trying to make new combination's.
  • Roles
    -Switching into different roles is easy and pleasant. No longer do you have to pick a super specific class like in most MMORPG's.
  • Quests
    -They've learned from other MMORPG's and bundle quest objectives into specific areas which saves a lot of running back and forth. Quest progression flows well for each faction.
  • Dungeons
    -I've only done a quarter of the Dungeons in the game, which are instances like other MMORPG's, but so far they have all been not too long and really enjoyable. They all have had impressive environments and rewards so far.
  • Soloing
    -You can easily solo the majority of the quests in the game and you are not penalized for doing so, like in many other MMORPG's.
  • Grouping
    -It is very easy to join groups. They have public groups which make getting involved in defending an invasion or destroying a rift painless.
  • Collectibles
    -Artifacts and books are fun to find and are pleasant additions. Prizes for collectibles aren't anything worth actively seeking them out.
  • Monster Scale
    -Always awesome to see a giant roaming around in the distance or the bosses of invasions actually looking imposing.
Aspects that cause me pain...
  • Grind Quests
    -They exist, they should not. Killing x number of monsters is not very fun most of the time.
  • Player Versus Player (PVP)
    -Early game PVP is unbalanced and not very enjoyable. Open world PVP is decent. There is also few PVP arenas. One for every ten levels starting at level 10. Late game PvP looks promising though.
  • Non-Personal Crafting
    -Trying to sell your goods is difficult, many quests give similar or better equipment. Most goods are pretty plentiful and not worth trying to sell, only the rarer ones are worth the time and special materials.
  • Lower level mages
    -They don't feel quite right. The lower level spells and abilities, while suitably strong, don't make you feel much like a powerful mage of any regard.
  • Class imbalances
    -Some souls are overpowered, but they are working on balancing. Pretty normal for a MMORPG.

That's it for now. Once I get to the higher level parts of the game I will report some more. So far I've enjoyed it a lot and I was not expecting to. A lot of the good familiar features of a MMORPG are evident in RIFT and rifts/invasions make this a special and enjoyable game.

Written by Sean Cargle