Infamous First Light – Review

 

I have a love/hate relationship with the Infamous series. On the one hand, I hate the series. On the other hand… I love that they keep trying I suppose? They seem so completely doomed to failure, with no chance of producing a great videogame with the methods they are using. But still they persist and we have got three Infamous games out of them so far and the spin off, First light which I took the time to play.

Why first light and not Second Son? Well I figured if I was going to play something on the PS4, Infamous looked pretty good considering the current options. But if I was going to play Infamous? A cut down, get in and get out and don’t waste too much life on it experience would be ideal.

In this regard? First Light delivers because it is a damn short game. I’m not sure how long I spent on it, but it only felt like a couple of hours and that included some time to do the “mini games” (more on those suckers later). Think of the game as the first part of a GTA, where you meet a low life scum bag, do a couple of missions and end up leaving them for the next scumbag who is slightly higher up the food chain. In first light? You only get to the first rung and the game ends.

Which is a good thing, because there isn’t much to recommend here.

The missions range from travelling to a location to snipe enemies, to travelling to a location to shoot enemies to travelling to a location to ride a truck while you snipe and shoot enemies. There is little variety here and none of those “cool missions” that you will remember after the game is over. If you have played Saints Row 4, you might have noticed how it is 95% crap, but there are some pretty cool moments here and there. First Light unfortunately has none of this.

I think the game is best summed up by one mission which challenges you to fill up a meter based on “destruction”. Reeking havoc is fun right? But you soon realise the only way to actually do this is to shoot cars, and there are not many cars around. So this mission takes ages while you look for something to destroy and quickly realise you have very few options.

The mini-games? Almost trivial races, a painfully painful spray paint using the six-axis “approximation of control” and a frustrating shoot down the drone event which offers little fun. Besides this, there is literally nothing else to do besides some arena challenges, which I can’t see anybody playing for long.

So the game is a complete train wreck right? Well not quite. Firstly it is an amazing looking game. The image quality? First class. The city? Ok you can’t do anything, but it is at least beautifully detailed. It is, overall a complete waste of an amazing looking world (Letting somebody create a real game in this city would be amazing!).

The controls are tight, the powers (zoom around and shoot things) reasonably satisfying and the challenge non-existent, so at least you can get through the game quickly.

Of special note is the relationship between the female protagonist Fetch and her brother. I’m not sure if they were going for a creepy incestual vibe there…but if so they completely nailed it. I’m not saying there was something going on between them…but I’m just saying.

But really the voice acting is well done and the characters at least superficially interesting. So you will enjoy your time with the game and it is cheap, so if you don’t have many options it is better than nothing.

“Better than nothing” isn’t exactly a glowing endorsement, but if you must play some Infamous, in its bland and uninspired glory? This is probably the best way to do it.

The features PC gamers want – A response

PC games thrive on options, because they need to fit a wider variety of usage scenarios—in terms of input and output devices, hardware capabilities and desired level of technical involvement on part of the player—than on any other platform. This is what makes the PC great. Providing most of these options isn’t too much work, and PC developers should take them into account from the beginning—but gamers also need to realize that some options, like variable framerates, will be difficult to implement in ports of console games.

http://www.pcgamer.com/the-features-pc-gamers-wantan-open-letter-to-developers-and-gamers/

All around PC good guy Durante recently put together an article for pcgamer.com. If you don’t know Durante, he is the guy who made Dark Souls on PC “good”. He has also done some other great work such as making Deadly Premonition….well slightly less shit.

But basically the guy knows his stuff, so I’m not going to say anything he wrote is wrong. In fact, I’ll pretty much agree with it all and you should read the article. PC gaming is about options and that is really all we ask for.

So what am I writing about? Well it is the simple response a PC developer might give. And that response is:

“Sure you want all that stuff, but are you prepared to pay for it?”

Now this isn’t really about piracy, because that is neither here nor there. What I’m talking about is the culture of steam sales and russian key trading which is becoming a growing blight on PC gaming. Want 4k downsampling? Fair enough. Want to also pay $2 for the game from “some guy” or through an automated trading site? Well that is where you are going to have a conflict.

It just doesn’t add up. Why would developers put in the effort when the sales returns are going to be less? People like to point at statistics suggesting a game sold a million on steam and much less on consoles. While it is important to have people play your game, those million paying $1 each for it doesn’t get your next game funded and it certainly doesn’t get you enthusiast features.

It goes beyond sales too. Is Valve giving Ubisoft millions of dollars to market the shit out of the latest Assassin’s Creed rubbish? Nope, but they get that on console, so it is those sales they are going to protect and invest in and care about.

So next time you think about complaining about a bad console version or are begging for a port? Think about how much you are willing to pay for that game and how your peers will react too. The fact is, there are plenty of quality PC ports and they are all treated the same way. If you want the good stuff, it needs to make sense for publishers too.

It isn’t greed it is just common sense. Plenty of people dismiss it or put their head in the sand or claim games are too expensive as they accumulate 2000 steam games. The reality is it is a growing problem, the internet will automate it and the only way to stop PC games being stuffed up is to not be part of it.

If you can buy a good port at the asked price? Do it. If somebody is selling cheap keys? Be strong and tell them to stop doing that too. Remember piracy was mostly a bullshit reason too, but that didn’t stop it almost killing the platform.

Steam Discovery Update

So finally Valve have done… well “something” to the store and rolled out a massive update. Does it add tabs? Well no. The ability to hide games you own? Nope. So it seems that Valve are still resisting the blatantly obvious.

However they have added one interesting feature, which is “Curators”. Basically you can recommend games to people on the store and gain a following. Of course, on day 1 the immediate problem with the system is obvious. You don’t gain a following by curating, you curate because you have a following.

Total Biscuit is straight to number 1 and this is where you can already see where it is all going to go. Want to get on Total Biscuit’s list? Well you would have to ask very nicely as a developer. There might even be other methods to get featured down the track…. Even if people don’t stoop to that, it is certainly a nice way to appear on every game page…complete with a link to your youtube video.

Once people are making money from it? You can bet larger groups will get together to start gaming the system. Want a couple of thousand fake followers? Sure that can be arranged to push you onto the front page. From there you can sit back and pick and choose games according to their “relative merits”.

Then of course you have the problem of “real groups” like NeoGAF that have recommendations from officers. While I will not call the selection of games particularly crap, you have to wonder how useful it is. Metal Gear Rising alongside Table Top Simulator? Well of course because… they are two games.

Why Valve can’t just hire somebody to curate the store themselves is beyond me. They could even add proper tags and categories! It doesn’t cut out the potential for hi-jinks, but at least it is controlled by Valve themselves and they own the store after all. As it stands, you just know this is going to be abused.

Oh and you can’t avoid it either…because if somebody has followers their opinion matters.

It would be easy to improve too. Letting you “not recommend” a game for a start, to say it is crap. But of course we couldn’t have youtube celebrities doing that, so it will never happen. How about categorising games ourselves as curators? Apparently not, even though it would make the feature useful.

I guess the blue colour is ok though.

But hey, I might as well join the fun right? Check out my new Curated list “Boring as Batshit” games. From Skyrim to Borderlands to Borderlands 2, this is a carefully curated list of games you should never, ever, bother playing.

http://store.steampowered.com/curator/6858803/

Goblin Sword – ios Mini-Review

I’ve sunk some time into Goblin Sword. New on the appstore for $1 in un-price gouged regions.

https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/id905488045?mt=8

First the points for originality, zero, 0, None … 8 from touch arcade. The game seems to be build on the updated “Ravenous Games” engine and the whole thing is inspired by a lot of old games, most obviously Wonderboy in Monsterland/world.

On the other hand, it is inspired by Wonderboy!

Well, with a double jump…. and your sword shoots sometimes. But other than that you have the snakes, the ghosts, the main character that really looks like Wonderboy…and lots and lots of coins to collect.

It is actually a pretty decent effort. The graphics are a step above similar games, the levels are large and have a decent amount of secrets (think super mario world verticality) and the action is decent enough to hold your interest.

It isn’t going to be the “next big thing”, but for a dollar I think there is plenty of game here. Well worth a look.

Velocity 2x – Review

Hot off the PS+ September release schedule is Velocity 2x, a hybrid shooting/flying/warping/running/collecting/boring/overrated/dodging type of game that has gotten a lot of hype recently. Because it looked quite interesting and there isn’t a whole lot else to play on the platform yet, I thought I’d give it a good going over. Interesting it indeed is, but not always in a positive way.

Velocity 2x defies its own name by being an extremely slow game to get into. The first few levels are simple, tedious even, as you fly your ship around and learn the basic controls. Basically you can speed yourself up, warp to another destination and… shoot. This all happens in a confined auto scrolling location that is about as uninspired as it can get, unless grey tubes and walls are your thing.

This flying action is fair enough in theory and can almost become quite exhilarating as you speed yourself up, collect the bland looking blue “survivors” and warp to a safe area to avoid blowing yourself up. But just as you start having fun with the game, you hit a section that slows you down again or you get attacked by space invader reject enemies. It is here that these long sections really fall apart, as the controls get fiddly, the action stop/start and your overall goals start competing with each other. Are you collecting all the survivors? Well take it slow and steady and try not to get hit by the massive bullets in an enclosed space. Want to speed up? Well you’ll have to skip a lot of things…so sorry. It comes down to being a game that you need to play in exactly the “right way” to enjoy. If that is how you want to play it? Fine. But otherwise it’ll spurn your efforts at every turn or just continually come up short.

I could see some people mastering the whole thing and reaching a zen like state of gaming brilliance. But the question seems to be, “why exactly would you want to do that?” There just isn’t anything inspiring, from the bland cutscenes before levels, which you will learn to skip, to mediocre boss battles that feel more luck based than anything else (good luck seeing what is going on with so much shit on the screen) to the fiddly controls, it just doesn’t seem worth your time to conquer.

Perhaps sensing these limitations, the developers added on-foot sections to break up the action. The premise is simple enough, you dock your ship, look for a lock to blow up and then continue on your way. Luckily the controls are much better here, with the ships teleport ability working much better in short jumps and the twin stick style shooting allowing enough control to get the job done.

Unfortunately even though these sections play better, they are even more dull than the flying bits. Run along, jump, teleport a few times until you complete the loop and can get out again. After just a few instances, I started dreading having to fly into the dock each time, because I felt like every single on foot section was the same… and it pretty much was.

But then you realise that all the levels outside are the same and you start to wonder what all the fuss is about. Don’t get me wrong, Velocity 2x is not a bad game by any stretch. It is just a deeply average one, the type of game you’ll play for a short period, think “huh” and then never touch again for as long as your PS4/Vita lives.

To be fair, things do start to mix up a little as the hours tick by, but I still didn’t find much to keep me interested throughout the stretch of levels (People who go for trophies/high scores might have other ideas). There is a fun game here somewhere, but often a mix of styles becomes just that, an interesting mix rather than a complete performance and I think that is the case here. Maybe Velocity 3x will get the balance right.

Still, give it a go on PS+ and maybe you’ll be the target market (Speed runners? People who 100% Assassin’s Creed games? I don’t know…) that will really get into it. I just wouldn’t be investing too much of your other money into it first ($24 no less! Australian PSN prices are a serious joke), because it just isn’t that good.