Sunday, August 23, 2009

Enjoying the Lost Planet 2 demo to death

Sequel to one of the 360s launch titles, Lost Planet, Lost Planet 2 was announced earlier this year as Capcom's surprise for 2009. I played the first one and it was good, but I never expected it to have the go ahead for a sequel. However, the demo proved me wrong, as the sequel looks like it's going to be upping the fun factor (if not sacrificing a big story).

Lost Planet 2 is takes place years after the first. The icy, frigid climate of E.D.N. III has thawed thanks to the hero of the first game and more suitable, temperate lands begin to appear. You play as a soldier in the NEVEC corporation who's still waging a war against the native insectoid monsters. Full details are sparse now, but the demo gives me this one basic feeling: Keep the combat of the first Lost Planet, add four player co-op and throw in big boss battles. As this is Capcom, I could only think of one thing while I was firing heavy ordinance at the giant salamander in the demo: Monster Hunter. The salamander has even been touted as a monster who isn't even the biggest in the game, and this one can still swallow you up and let you start shooting its guts.

The controls are still familiar from the first game. Third-person viewpoint, anchor grappling to higher land, and an awesome variety of mechs with cool weapons you can also tear off and use on foot (and re-attach as well). As the game is in 3rd person view, you develop less of a feeling for the power your weapons are putting out compared to Call of Duty and seeing the gritty details up close and feeling the force feedback, but the movement in Lost Planet makes up for this. After you move forward a bit, you're introduced to the lovely giant salamander.

I've only played with A.I. bots so far since the online pool of players for this demo is somewhat unreliable, but you still get a sense for the intensity you're in for by yourself. Monster design from the original is still present, so glowing spots are pretty much the "shoot here" signal, but by yourself, your small arms probably aren't gonna put much of a dent in the monster (it should be different if you work together with someone).

How you combat the monster gets pretty interesting. When you daze it after a inflicting enough damage, you can grapple onto its back and unload on the glowing spot on its back. You can also crawl into its agape mouth and go to town on its internal organs (though you get the same chance if you get swallowed against your will, which will hurt more).

As I haven't played online, I haven't been able to fully explore a lot of the things that are going to set this apart from the first. Riding shotgun on a friend's mech, using the injection gun to buff team mates, and overall team work to split up targets on huge enemy Akrid monsters. But if you download this game (currently only for gold members) I'm sure it'll at least provide a passing interest on Lost Planet 2.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

StarCraft II LAN Petition Hits 100K [Blizzard]

StarCraft II LAN Petition Hits 100K [Blizzard]: "

The petition to get offline network play added back in to Starcraft II has hit 100,000 signatures. Doesn't mean Blizzard will shift away from funneling everyone into Battle.Net. But six figures is a credible number.

In late June, Blizzard defended the removal of LAN support - and thus the end of the LAN party for this game - as a way to 'ensure a quality multiplayer experience with StarCraft II and safeguard against piracy.' The petition, in a quite pleading tone of voice, asks for LAN support to be saved, for reasons of lag, customer convenience, and the game's heritage.

I'm thinking the $$ behind getting everyone on or else is going to speak well more loudly to Blizzard than 100,000 voices, no matter how reasonable their requests or respctfully they're worded. It makes me wonder if there ever was a useful Internet petition.

More than 100,000 Sign StarCraft II LAN Petition [VG247 via VE3D]


Monday, August 10, 2009

Batman's got it good in Arkham Asylum

Arkham Asylum is destined to be Batman's best game ever (though it doesn't have competition). As many have already brought up, Arkham Asylum isn't tied down by any movie tie in deals, the this one's freed up to explore much more interesting territory, and boy is it interesting.

In all the years I've seen Batman, Arkham has always been a mysterious area to me. Bad guys go there, do hard time, and eventually escape so Bats can throw'em back in. This time around, you, as Batman, will be spending a lot of quality time in Arkham Asylum with it's psychopathic inmates running around as they like.

The demo took me through three elements that Arkham Asylum is going to blend into gameplay. Combat, puzzle work, and stealth. Combat-wise, Batman borrows liberally from the mechanics at work in Prince of Persia (Sands of Time anyways). You have a basic attack button, counters, and a cape stun along with a dodging. When surrounded (and you will be surrounded) you simply push in the direction you want to go while attacking and Batman will fluidly sock the enemy in that direction. You can easily build up impressive looking combos beating down one thug then suddenly sending a flying dropkick to the dude behind you. You'll usually find yourself in combat like this one Batman is forced to walk into an area with thugs already out and about.

The puzzle as I called it, is more of a problem solving situation. A security guard is being held hostage by a psychopath and it's my job to take him down in one swift move without being noticed. With detective vision, built into Batman's cowl, all of Batman's detective work is boiled down to a special x-ray vision that gives you all the info you need. With it, I was able to spot the gargoyles near the ceiling and grapple from one to the other until I was in a prime position to drop on the would-be killers head. Detective vision looks like it'll be awesome to play with on, if the next scenario is anything to see.

The stealth element is presented as a group of enemies on patrol armed with assault rifles which will cut through Batman pretty easily. With detective vision and some (thankfully) quick crouch walking, I was able to silently takedown two enemies with no trouble. Next, I grappled to a gargoyle and hang down to sleeper hold an enemy walking by. He doesn't go quietly, but it works to my advantage. The last two enemies see his body dangling from my cable and detective vision lets me see their heart rate and how they're obviously nervous. From the shadows, I could hear them panic and throw around questions like what they should do (I threw a batarang to cut the cable suspending the body, just to freak them out more).

This stealth gameplay will by far be the one to yield the most interesting gameplay. This predator stalking his prey mindset really lets you feel like Batman picking off the henchman in the classic 90s cartoon. I even found myself swooping down right in front of the last bad guy going, "Boo!" shortly before knocking him out with a 3 hit combo.

The demo ends there, leaving you with the prospect of a boss fight with some sort of mutated inmate the Joker personally sicks on you, but the demo pretty much got me interested in having a longer at the retail version.

Friday, August 7, 2009

To the stars and back: Fallout 3 and it's last DLC, Mothership Zeta

At long last, we've come to the end of Fallout 3's downloadable content. It's certainly been a long year, and the DLC's gone through it's bumps and hurdles, from the overall satisfaction to Operation: Anchorage to the bugs on the initial launch of The Pitt, but Mothership Zeta certainly feels like things are going out in a bang. Though it's not the best dlc for Fallout by a long shot (Point Lookout was the best, followed by Broken Steel), Zeta certainly has it's selling points that makes it one of my favorite.

Zeta's biggest fault is that it's linear, like Anchorage. Like Anchorage, there's only one main quest line and you can only deviate in the order of the objectives, so there's not a lot to do after or in between the main quest.

Unlike Anchorage however, or even the Pitt, you're free to use whatever weapons you bring along (with the exception to the opening of the mothership, where you make a prison break on nothing but your bare knuckles) and the new items the dlc introduces are an energy weapon enthusiast's dream. Admittedly, I only looked at this dlc at the chance at bringing alien technology back down to the Capital Wasteland, so let's take a look at the weapons and unique variants to find.
(italics are the unique variants to the weapon proceeding it)

Alien Atomizer
- Your basic laser pistol. About as effective as an assault rifle, but nothing compared to what you'll find later on

Atomic Pulverizer
- At first glance, it looks like an Atomizer with slightly more damage. Unknown to casual players, this weapon has twice the chance to crit then the Atomizer (x2 compared to x1) and has the lowest action point cost in the game, tied with the laughably weak ritual knife. This thing can turn packs of enemies into dust when pair with the Grim Reaper's Sprint perk.

Alien Disintegrator
- The alien rifle of your offworld invaders. This weapon is extremely accurate and boasts a nearly non-existant reload time, if it's even considered reloading. You merely tap the rifle and it reloads! This is what you use if you favor V.A.T.S. gameplay.

The Destabilizer
- Say hello to the only fully automatic energy weapon in the game and the base damage for this thing is crazy! But its' calculated for three round bursts, like the assault rifle since it's fully automatic, and yet it only shoots off single rounds in V.A.T.S. so it's pretty weak in there.

Shock Baton
- The first weapon you come across on the mothership. It's base damage is pretty mediocre, but it has added electric damage over time. Not much to say for this one but...

- This one lacks the electric damage over time and doesn't add much damage, but on critical knocks down your target. Considering players with high luck and crit chances, this weapon can even the playing field quickly on strong melee creatures like deathclaws. Even better, sneak attacks are always criticals, so it'll always induce knockdown.

Drone Cannon
- The heavy weapon introduced in the game, it lacks a certain usability because it fires single shots that don't explode on impact like frag grenades. The explosive radius is pretty big though, so those experienced in using Miss Launcher can get used to using it.

Drone Cannon Ex-B
- This is about the same, but much more useful as it explodes on impact. This combines the best aspects of Miss Launcher's power and the Missile Launcher's explosion on impact.

MPLX Novasurge
- A unique Enclave Plasma Pistol, this pistol is nearly three times as strong as a normal plasma pistol and has a crit multiplier of x3! Not only that, but the extra crit damage is nearly the same as the base damage (before the Better Criticals perk). This thing is pretty much Alien Blaster lite in terms of power and critical without the trouble with repairing it.

Captain's Sidearm
-Pretty much like the Metal Blaster, but of alien origin instead. Uses three ammo to shoot 6 shots though, which makes the damage to ammo ratio a bit steeper then the Metal Blaster.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Blazblue TWO wishlist

It cracks me up every time someone says "The game hasn't been out for even a year and you already want balance changes?"

For your information, my dull witted friend, though the console version has been out less then a year, the game as a whole (I'm referring to the arcade) has been around for one to two years plus the console version is a straight up port concerning game mechanics and general character balance (except for astral heats, which are useless in a competitive sense).

So here is what I'm wishing for in Blazblue Two, organized by characters.

- Buff his Soul Eater drive so it actually makes a difference. Do whatever it takes to let Ragna absorb more health, from nerfing Blood Kain to tweaking how strong Ragna is.

- No changes really necessary, though some argue he needs more flaws to be more appealing in a cast wide balance sense.

- No buffs or nerfs come to mind.

- Personally my favorite in terms of balance. Her move set favors a lot of rushdown, which makes spectating her matches so awesome. However, her vitality reflects her rushdown perfectly.

- Remove his Zero Vector's ability to curse on block. He already has plenty of devious tricks to get his drive attacks to curse on hit through sly teleporting and mix ups. The ability to curse on block can lead to some tough match ups and most of all, a possible loop (which he doesn't need).

- His ability to loop (called the ClapTrap) is essential to Carl play. His ability to loop his opponent is balanced by his absolute bottom tier stats (lowest guard strength, lowest stamina, lowest damage output).

- Find a way to limit her extreme zoning. I personally want to increase the start up frames on her drive swords so she can't throw them out rapid fire. Her swords come out fast for projectiles after all. Even Ryu needs frames to wind up his hadouken.

- Admittedly, this list is in response to Tager's horrible match up to Nu. No othe character screw with Tager more then Nu. Even Arakune has openings Tager can exploit. What if Tager had an ability to spend his electric gauge to "reverse" his "polarity"? He starts a special attack which start to drain his electric gauge and it can't be stopped until it drains completely. During this special state, when Tager blocks, he moves forward instead of backwards (hence, he's reversed the knockback effect from blocking, or his polarity). Blocking moves him half as much as the regular knock back, and instant blocking moves him up as much as regular knock back. This changes Nu matches considerably in my opinion, since she can't throw swords out all day without fear of punishment, as long as Tager has gauge to use this reverse polarity power (in addition to spark bolt).

- More nails to use would be a positive if his damage output remains unchanged (which is abnormally low for such a beefy stamina character).

- A normal run, please. Also, longer active frames for his drive counters.

- Can't think of anything. She's pretty much a complex, low damage output, combo-oriented speed machine with a nightmare set of mix ups attacks.

- I got nothing to say frankly. I don't know what the rest of the community thinks, but I think she might be fine the way she is.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Wasteland Profile: Naomi

Name: Naomi
Alignment: Evil
Wasteland Occupation: Enclave Double Agent

Lots of things influenced Naomi to become the way she was when she left the vault. Her friends were jerks, the adults seemed like hypocrite, and she slowly grew to hate the way how the vault felt so constrictive.
But when she left the vault for the first time and killed her first raider with the pistol she stole on her way out, she would change forever. She loved the sound of gun fire, the clang of profiting caps, and the lovely streak of red her enemies left on the asphalt. She wasn't necessarily evil though. She was just a bitch. A selfish, slightly psychopathic, bitch.
But then she got a plasma rifle from her new android friend (a former assassin as well) she found a new sensation: the smell of her enemies melting into goo.
She became obsessed with old technology. If it shot rays of light in the most dangerous spectrum, she was pullng the trigger. As she reveled more and more in the death and destruction she sewed for her enjoyment, she realized she'd grown accustomed to the taste of power.
And so she decided that if she had all the technology, all the power, all the infamy, she could single handedly judge the Capital Wasteland. The Enclave was a nuisance, and the Brotherhood of Steel was a do gooding boy scout, but she had earned their trust, and that would be her stepping stone to power. She'd wipe out the Enclave with their help, then quietly rise through the ranks of the Brotherhood in order to facilitate the spread of purified water which she infected with the forced evolution virus. It would not be President Eden or the Enclave who would inherit the would, but Naomi, the Devil incarnate.