Friday, 19 February 2010

The all new and 'improved' AVP for 360

Unless you are a mahoosive alien fan like myself, alien verses predator for the 360 is unlikely to be your go-to online FPS. One of the main features about this game is that in the campaign is that there isn’t just one. There’s a separate campaign for each of the marine, alien and predator. Each of the campaigns start off well! All have their own thrills. The first few levels of the marine are dark and rather jumpy, very reminiscent of the original alien films and kept accuracy within the original alien film story lines. Playing as the Alien you escape from a lab for some entertaining ambushes, head chomps and generally toy with the AI. As Predator, it can be fun to jump around and get yourself in position for a gloriously stealthy and gory trophy kill. But the thrill soon wears off as you soon find out in each campaign that AvP has some annoying basic errors which unless you are willing to put your back out to learn how to use it to your advantage like I did, it can really put you off the game.

The dark and much more thrilling levels of the marine give way to tedium as they are replaced with much more boring jungles and temples. The thrills of running around as a zenomorph as lost as the inconsistent movement controls suck out the pleasure and usually cost u your life. And in the predator campaign, poor movement is just as much of a problem. As Alien, you’re supposed to hold right trigger (Xbox 360) to change the surface your crawling on, but in actuality there’s no consistency to the movement, you’ll crawl onto some walls and outcroppings whether or not it’s what you want to do, which when you’re trying to ambush someone, peruse someone, or run away from someone is just about the most annoying thing in the world. This inconsistency also invades the predator campaign, where there’s just no rhyme or reason to where you can jump. Sometimes you can jump up to 20ft above you, while other times you can’t even jump over a 3 ft fence.

The brutal and close up kills are probably the best part of Alien versus Predator. As a Predator you can yank out some guys spine and stroke it as if it was caressing a woman’s hair. Personally I just think it’s wonderfully gross and the best part of the single player portion. The Alien also get some equally sadistic moment so if you like your gore, you’ll have some fun here. The story isn’t bad either, and some of the voice acting is well done and really brings the characters to life. It’s unfortunate that the numerous little errors just mount up into a big pile. Not that I mean to go on, but: boss fights are pretty lame, the recycles levels are fine but work well with one species and not with another; aliens and civilians alike act in really stupid ways, which keeps you from feeling like a bad-ass, and some of the visuals are quite frankly, sloppy.

The game’s online features are much better however. There’s lots of fun to be had when you mix, aliens, predators and marines together. Things still feel a little awkward but it still feels rewarding to land a kill, whichever species you are, without the crazy civilians giving their lives to you. The Best modes are Infestation and Predator Hunt, because they highlight the differences between each species, but if you want something more traditional there’s death match and team death match where the three species face off. Survivor is the usual co-op mode where you shoot off waves of enemies. It’s not as good as some other games out there but it’s still a lot of fun because it reverts back to the dark and creepy feel of the first marine levels.

I guess that for an Alien fan like myself, this is a really entertaining multiplayer game. For someone not as fanatical as myself, it will be the little things that drag the game down. Some grotesque kills and some entertaining multiplayer moments just won’t cut it when there’s so many excellent FPS shooters on store shelves. Alien vs. Predator just doesn’t have the attention to detail and the obvious care that go into the best games. The thing it does best is make you wish you were 8 years old again playing the original on pc while the ‘grown ups’ weren’t looking.

ahh yes the culture of games

Over my entire gaming life I think it’s safe to say that I’ve almost been part of every gaming culture that you can spawn out of your head, ignoring the wonderful dogma of sports games that is.

It’s easy enough to consider the fact that there is a large gamming culture of vampic teenagers, hunched in front of a screen for days at a time, rhythmically rattling away on their key boards. But as real as that is, especially in my case, gaming culture doesn’t end here. It’s exponential growth over the past decade has caused it to pour out into the rest of society. Whether it be games for educational purposes, sports sponsorship or the promotion of other products games are pouring out from the constraints of a dank bedroom .

From my own experience games have also brought about massive social changes. It takes a very dedicated gamer to pack up and carry around all their gear every time and travel (sometimes hundreds of miles) to a LAN. LANs can be a fun and highly social event and participants show a level of commitment to gaming that is rarely seen by outsiders of game culture. It's a whole lot of fun to spend time with like-minded people who share your passion and enthusiasm for video games. And lastly, it fosters a strong sense of community amongst gamers when they meet face-to-face.

MMOs. Although I’ve grown out it, well I say I’ve grown out of it. Rather I’m scared that if I play them again I’ll become addicted, I’ve been a massive fan of MMORPGs. Once upon a time when Thomas was young and MMOs were relatively new, MMO culture scrambled out of gamming culture and into a part of his life. As cheesy as this is going to sound, I used to play an MMO called MapleStory every day with the same group of people, some of them I knew in RL and most I didn’t. One in particular I enjoyed spending more time with than all the others and we became friends outside of the game. She was from America and in time she became my pen pal and, I went over to visit and holiday several times and now...nearly 6 years later, I love all the friends I’ve made over there and we still keep in touch.

Aside from gaining real friends, people speak, rather type has also changed from gaming culture. Weather people are aware of it or not, a lot of the abbreviations and acronyms people use are Leet or have developed from Leet. Some of our favorites include: Noob, Owned/Pwned, and the most annoying... ‘Lag’!!!

Monday, 1 February 2010

Another pointless piece of terminology

Game play, until now I never even questioned what this impossibly vague description encompasses. “the game play is really dynamic” – what does that mean? I kinda just completely ignored it in the millions of game interviews and reviews I’ve seen and read. The way it’s used most of the time makes it a completely pointless word to use, unless you break it down to have a meaning of value.

I guess for me it’s a term which describes what the player does, the challenges a game poses the player, the responses the player can make and how enjoyable the overall experience is. Yet, verying from genre to genre, these areas of “gameplay” will vary again. There’s no way that the game play of a strategy game is fairly comparable to that of an FPS or an RPG, or vice verca. Parts of a game which make it enjoyable will be very different in one game than they would in another, ie: a fighting game like street fighter IV, fast paced, competitive, online and local play, it’s a quick thrill which can be played socially but personally I would never sit and play through the campaign on my own. Where as a turn based/real time strategy game like Rome Total War, which is hardly quick paced and has disappointingly poor online capabilities, has an unlimitedly variable campaign, is highly addictive and replayable is historically accurate before the variants kick in and has the largest real time battle scenes than any other games of its genre (other than other games of the Total War franchise)

So Basically, which has the better game play? I guess that’s pretty much subjective to the person whose playing the game and their opinion on the game. As good as the graphics are and all the possibly ways of playing COD there are, personally I’m more of a Halo player, so to me, the “gameplay” in Halo is far better than that of COD. So clearly, how enjoyable a game is has a big impact on how the player considers the gameplay, making the term gameplay, completely subjective and still, quite a pointless term to use. I think I’ll continue to ignore it in interviews and reviews.