Monthly Archives: May 2014

Armored Warfare Shattered World Trailer – Will it shatter the tank FTP MMO World?

It’s an open field, every man for himself, kill or be killed.  Some are bigger, others are faster.  Everyone’s a little different but the objective is the same: line ‘em up and annihilate!  The trailer for Armored Warfare is out, but I’m not talking about the game itself.  I’m referring to the competition between all the different tank MMOs.

In the past six months, I’ve played three others: World of Tanks, Tank Domination and Tanktastic.  All are okay, none stands out.  Is Armored Warfare the game changer?  The trailer didn’t exactly knock my tracks off.  It looks cool and the 3D “shattered world” seems to have more models to destroy or sweeten the eye than others, but it’s the same thing.  Grab a tank – probably a crappy one to start – pay to upgrade or play a ton of hours to get something decent – and then drive around a map shooting each other or capturing the flag and so on.  Ho-big-hum.

I’m hoping there’s some indie developer working on some new twist to the tank MMO and putting it up on Kickstarter.  Need some serious disruption here.

Game’s out in 2014 and currently signing beta testers.

The Sims FreePlay Review – Pooping Was Never So Fun

Game Experience: Medium
Game Value: High
Quiche Says: Play but don’t Pay

Here’s how I rate games.

I hate going to the toilet. But I wouldn’t hate it as much if I was a Sim. A Sim gets experience points for hitting the can. In fact, it’s one of the first things the game teaches you in its tutorial. And it only takes 15 seconds, too. I wish pissing took 15 seconds let alone dropping bombs. And with the experience points, there’s incentive to poop and poop again. That’s what makes The Sims FreePlay a worthy free-to-play on Android and iOS.

I know, this game has been out a while, but I’m playing it now to prove my hypothesis that FTPs in general are crap, but this one was a surprise….

It’s the Sims and everything the Sims is. Game of life, basically. But it’s also highly enjoyable for an FTP and FTPs in general suck. But unlike ones that suck hard, like Dungeon Keeper, there’s quite a bit you can do on Sims without having to pay cash. Keeping sewer employees employed is one, so is baking cookies, wrestling Sim-eating plants, playing guitar, dating and woo-hooing. What is woo-hooing? Everyone who knows the series knows, but if you don’t, it is what it sounds like.

Every Sim’s got needs (toilet, cleaning, food, etc), but they all have the same needs, which is unrealistic since we all know that uncle who has very low social needs as long as he’s got a cold one and a game on the TV.

From a straight gameplay perspective, it’s not really worth investing too much time in it. But as an FTP, it’s definitely worth the real estate and a spot on your roster of games to play throughout the day. I wouldn’t scratch plastic, though, even if pooping has rewards.

Caffeine on Kickstarter – Double Shot of Something More Please

The game is called Caffeine. If you’re thinking high-paced slaughterhouse shooter, you’re wrong. The game is a quiet, dark, slow-moving horror puzzle game with some amnesia mystery thrown in. On the other hand, if you’re thinking Starbucks and evil corporation exploiting the weak, you’re closer. The game takes place at the end of the 21st century. Resources are dried up, including caffeine. Now, I’m not sure if it’s actually coffee caffeine or some sci-fi future caffeine that powers everything from cars to starships, but it’s important, and there are mining ships sent to the far reaches of the galaxy to get it. (I’m hoping it’s coffee caffeine and it’s a future that can’t exist without it.)

The developer, Dylan Browne, is a one-man team and Caffeine is his first project. He’s asking for $70K AUD to be able to work on the game full time. I love the entrepreneurial spirit, but it’s also crazy that there’s already $2K raised so this noob developer can quit his day job to work on a game that seems heavily derivative. The trailer doesn’t wow, either. Looks okay and it’s cool the protagonist is a child and has to jump to look out the window or over a desk (though might get annoying after a while), but it seems like a lot of walking around and moving panels here and there in the dark to solve a puzzle.

If I’m supporting a Kickstarter game, it has to be disruptive in some way. A more unique twist than what Caffeine offers, or a more interesting premise than amnesia-reveal-is-reward. I do hope it gets funded, though, because I would love to see how it develops.

Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor Weapons and Rune Trailer – Shadow of Originality

Seems like everything gets a trailer these days.  Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor has interesting features – the main man is a ghost for one – but its weapons and runes is not one of them.  But it gets its own gameplay trailer nevertheless.

Basically, the hero, Talion, has a sword, a dagger and a bow (wow, haven’t seen that before!).  If he kills orc bosses the right way, he gets a rune that gives his weapons special powers like flaming arrows (another new idea!).  That’s it.  I explained it here in two sentences but if you prefer, you can spend 2 minutes watching the trailer.

Rest of the trailer is similar to Assassin’s Creed complete with leap of faith – if you’re a gamer and you’re alive, you know what I’m talking about.  It’ll be on Windows, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.  And you’ll have to wait until October 7, 2014 to add this to your LOTR collection.

Glorious Leader! Video Game Trailer – Korea Unite Under Juche Side-Scroller

Here is why all South Koreans train and become better gamers.  The Glorious Leader! is training and he’s training hard.  He’s riding a unicorn and blowing up tanks with his pellet gun.  He’s got Dennis Rodman on his side.

Moneyhorse Games’s new action adventure starring favorite monarchial dictator creates fear among all capitalist pigs and puppet kisaeng dolls.  Glorious Leader is side-scroller hero blasting America with people gun and juche magic.  He can’t lose.  But sometimes he is bunny rabbit to annoying side scroller pet peeve wolf such as falling in water and touching fire.  But the fate of Glorious Leader is victory over American dogs.

Wait is inevitable.  Victory is future!  Glorious Leader!

The Far Reaches on Kickstarter – Reaching for Organic Disruption

Yes, the word, “disruption,” has lost quite a bit of oomph in the past decade or so, especially here in Silicon Valley.  Everyone’s doing it or thinking about it.  Of course, disruption is as old as life itself.  Survival of the fittest is based on it.  Learn how to use fire, disrupt the status quo of those who don’t.  Develop a self-moving carriage, blacksmiths starve.  Sell things online and brick-and-mortars collapse.  And so the beauty of Kickstarter is that it gives the littlest fish in the ocean a chance to grow legs and breathe air.  Most of those fishies die before they make it.  But Kickstarter allows light to penetrate, as faint as it may be, into that dark murky water.

Take for example, The Far Reaches, a new indie game currently on its fourth day of its 60-day run.  It’ll definitely need to reach far to hit its goal of $60,000 (it stands now at just under $2000).  And even if funded, the small Voyager Games team will have to work its tail off to get this MMO off the ground.  Nevertheless, the spirit of disruption is here and it’s truly great to see.

On the surface, The Far Reaches (TFR), is derivative of other sandbox MMOs like Star Wars Galaxies.  And the game could have spent more time in the oven before starting the clock.  The video is a lost opportunity as well.  But like other Kickstarter games, both funded and not funded, it promises something new, a game changer.

In TFR, the primary game changer is the NPCs that are more real than ever before.  They have lives, not just programmed roles.  They react.  They learn.  They desire.  And because of this, the world is more organic than in other MMOs.  At least, that’s the idea.  It appears to be more concept than proof at this point.  The video, the key marketing tool, could have explored this more – shown, not told – but instead it runs through several interfaces without really showcasing anything.  It confirms that many of these indie games could benefit from solid business and marketing advice before hitting the crowd-funding circuit.

In any case, just like that fish staring at the blue sky, The Far Reaches can dream.  And I do hope the dream becomes reality, that the game will be the MMO that creates a truly organic gaming experience.  For instance, one could start a simple trading business in the game.  Because there are limitations, a tragedy of commons situation occurs.  The trader is attacked by raiders.  He survives, hires a warlord for protection.  The warlord becomes stronger.  He invades others.  Wars start.  Planets get ravaged.  More wars.  Some traders get rich off of these wars.  They establish their own empire.  More wars.  More deaths.  More survival of the fittest.  More disruption over and over again.  And all of it organic – not influenced by any administrator or developer.

Everything starts small.  Often they are muddled, not clear what it wants to be.  I’m not sure TFR knows exactly what it will be, but like the NPCs it promises will walk its worlds, I do hope it learns, develops and takes its first breath of air.  That’s the spirit of disruption, and The Far Reaches definitely has that going for it.

Godzilla: Strike Zone Review and Walkthrough

Game Experience: Low

Game Value: Low

Quiche Says: Play it, but use my walkthrough below.

Go here to see how I rate my games.

WALKTHROUGH

The game is not fun but I kept playing hoping it would be fun.  A long frustrating hour later, the game was “won” and I realized what I knew before I had started.  Godzilla: Strike Zone is a darn tie-in game.  In other words, I spent an hour mired in an advert for the upcoming movie.  I got sucked in.  But it didn’t have to be an hour.  Here’s how you can finish the game in 15 minutes.

The game is divided into three missions: Halo Jump, Ground Rescue, and Onto the Rooftops.  I’m going to ignore this division because it’s really this: Falling, Dodging Buildings, and FPR (First Person Runner).

Stage One: Falling

You jump out of a plane with your mates (who mysteriously disappear after this stage) and free fall for about a minute.  You have to tilt your mobile device to avoid hitting your fellow paratrooper.  The game tells you to stay in the center.  Don’t do it.  You’ll drift and your buddies will crash into you.  Instead, pick a corner and stay there.  Guys will rarely crash into you and you won’t fly off the screen.

After a bit, you’ll start to see buildings.  Move a bit toward center and you’ll fall right past them.  That’s it.  You don’t even have to open your parachute – there’s a cinematic for that.

Stage Two: Dodging Buildings

Once you’ve got your parachute open, you’ll paraglide down a street.  You have to dodge buildings, some of which are falling on your head.  This stage is the most annoying stage of the game.  I spent most of my hour here until I figured out the secret.  Before you do anything, go to Options and max out the Tilting Sensitivity.  You can also invert tilt if you want.  It’s easy after that.

Here’s the sequence:

Go right around the first building.

Gain altitude to fly over the next building in the middle.

Do another right, then immediately center.

As you pass between the next two buildings, drop altitude.

Go through the hole in the next building.

After that, it’s easy.  There are buildings falling, but react to them and you’ll fly right by.  Easy peasy.

Another cinematic welcomes you to the ground.

Don't get splattered on a window.

Don’t get splattered on a window.

Stage Three: FPR (First Person Runner)

The last stage consists of two missions, Ground Rescue and Onto the Rooftops.  I’m combining it here into one stage because it’s essentially the same thing.  Run, run and run.  There’s a little yellow thing on your screen.  Run toward it.  And then run some more.  Sometimes you run faster, sometimes you run slower, but you’re running.  Once in a while you jump, which is completely disorienting because the controls suck.

You have a gun, but there’s nothing to shoot.  I went through the frustration of Stage Two for a chance to shoot Godzilla, or even a few looters, but there’s nothing to shoot except rocks, and wood, and power boxes, which are conveniently outlined in red. To shoot, aim and then press down on the target reticle.

I wanna shoot something!

I wanna shoot something!

You also have to set explosives but there is no timer or a remote detonator.  So how do you explode them?  Shoot it!  Years of spec ops explosives training in action.

A couple minutes of running and then you encounter Godzilla.  What do you do?  Run!  Faster!  Don’t get trampled.  Soon, you’ll come across some people, and there’s a cinematic, and they’re saved.  Climb up to a rooftop, save more people, see more cinematic, do more running, and you’re EVAC’ed.

Lot of running in this game.

Lot of running in this game.

The payoff: a close-up with king lizard himself.

Hi!

Hi!

Godzilla: Strike Zone Gameplay Trailer – It’s scarier to hear him than see him

Best part about a horror flick is what you don’t see.  Imagination is stronger than any VFX or make-up or editing technique.  This goes for monster films, too, like everyone’s favorite, Godzilla.  But it’s difficult not to see Godzilla, of course.  He’s huge and aggressive and breathes blue flame that turns night to day.  Nope, can’t miss him.  But as seen in the trailer of the tie-in game, Godzilla: Strike Zone, the game does a good job messing with our imagination.

The 19-minute gameplay trailer shows an FPS rescue operation.  As you scramble about the city, shooting things and rescuing lizard-treats (AKA people), we hear the big black bad boy, but we don’t see him.  The earth shakes and buildings sway, and we hear the signature howl, or whatever you call his shriek, but he’s somewhere off in the distance.

It’s a tie-in game and it probably sucks, but it’s free and it does create more tension than expected.  That is, until we actually see the lizard, which is rather disappointing.  In the game, he looks more like the 1960s Godzilla than the one in the upcoming movie.  Oh, well, it’s free.  And it’s on iOS and Android.

Never Alone Trailer – A Noble Vision or another Avatar-esqe Stereotype?

Nuna and her fox are alone in a desolate and harsh world of ice and snow. To survive, they must battle the environment, solve puzzles and re-live the legends of their ancestral Alaskan people. It seems like a daunting task for a little girl and her canine friend, but as the title suggests, they are Never Alone in their quest.

The trailer shows a side-scroller puzzle game set in a cold and ice-covered landscape. There’s narration in a native tongue that tells us the importance of keeping old traditions and stories alive. The primary purpose of developing this game was to share these customs with the world and allow it to pass to future generations.

It’s a noble and much-needed cause. And the game will be effective in opening doors to those who otherwise would not be exposed to it. After I saw Schindler’s List, I read a ton about the Holocaust. I learned more about Japanese feudalism and Medieval society because of the Total War games than from any history class. Never Alone might not teach us everything, but it will pique the interest of many to learn more.

The trailer, though, does seem to hit on some of the stereotypes of native cultures. The one-with-nature and the connection-with-ancestral-spirit theme may be common to all native Americans, but too often movies exploit it. Remember Cameron’s Avatar? Hopefully, Never Alone will present more depth than that.

The game will be about $15 out this fall on PS4, Xbox One and PC.

Sniper Elite 3 Trailer – The Art of Killing

It’s morbid, but killing and killing well is a talent.  Ask 007 or Quentin Tarantino.  The latest in 505 Games and Rebellion’s Sniper series does its best to simulate the art of killing.  The Sniper Elite 3 trailer is a 4-minute overview of killing élan.

Stealth is a given.  Scouting and using the terrain is also nothing new.  What will make or break this game is the extent of the tactical flexibility in accomplishing objectives.  Based on the trailer, it looks like there’s a ton of options to each mission.  For example, using loud noise to mask your shots.  The necessity of relocating, taking a deep breath and accounting for wind and gravity.  There are also gadgets to lure and blow up your foe.  It’s the complexity that’s the biggest draw.

Shooting guys in the head and seeing blood splatter is common in shooters and stealth games.  But Elite 3 takes it to another level.  Again, this is the art of killing, and the satisfaction of an opus is seeing it all come together.  We get to see the bullet not only hit its target, but we see how it penetrates the body and renders God’s creation into pulp and shattered bones, all in a glorious slo-mo x-ray.  I might feel a bit sick playing this game, but that’s why they set this in World War 2 and the bad guys are Nazis.  I never feel bad about shooting Nazis.

The game is out June 27 on Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4, PS3 and Windows.

Remember, he's a Nazi.  Nazis are evil.

Remember, he’s a Nazi. Nazis are evil.