State of Decay

Many people including myself have been looking for an open world zombie game where you scavenge and find stuff and get to build camps for a long time. I had no idea that’s what State of Decay was but I wasted no time in downloading it as soon as I heard how good it was. It could be a little more open world, or the quest options could be a little more open for my taste, but it’s awesome. I say that even being pissed off that I lost two good party members for no reason to this game’s ambiguous questing system, and lost out entirely on doing a few quests as well. I wish it didn’t have such a brief time limit for certain quests, but oh well.

The Last of Us Review

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It’s finally here! Annnnd it’s gone.

The Last of Us has been so over-hyped leading to it’s release it seems like the media doomed it to mediocrity. Fortunately, Naughty Dog has already done that on their own. On the bright side, ND seems to have gotten over their slump (in which Uncharted 3 was a frustrating disappointment that highlighted both the best and worst features of the franchise; awesome setpieces/graphics/story and a disportionately high amount of arbitrary, annoying combat) and delivered an enjoyable game, though it is definitely not GOTY material.

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The graphics in the game are absolutely beautiful. Truth be told, to anyone who has played the Uncharted franchise, it looks a lot like more of the same, but they seem to have tweaked them about the best they can on the PS3. Throughout the game you will be treated to glorious landscapes of urban decay, and of nature taking over again. That isn’t to say the interior environments (of which there are quite a lot) are less beautiful, in fact they make it even better when you finally get to go outside again. Let’s just say…sometimes having a really nice LED TV with deep blacks is really not your friend, especially in games like Dead Space or The Last of Us where putting the brightness on the right setting makes it either scary or difficult to an extent that wasn’t intended.

There are some flaws, however, and they seem to have carried over from Uncharted. One thing I noticed is the graphical tearing that was present in Uncharted, wherein moving the camera at any speed produces some intense frame lag and pixel changes that are quite hard for any but the best back-lit micro-dimming LCD sets to keep up with, if indeed they do. The good news is that those moments are temporary and go away within a second or two of a new area. Another thing that carries over from Uncharted, and still bothers me, is the shader channels used on characters hair. Anyone who does 3D work will be familiar with this: the specular highlights, just like they did in Uncharted, are over-emphasized. For example, in the way Tess’s hair looks like she stepped out of a premium shampoo commercial, or, in how clean and beautiful Callous’s mane is. It’s not a bad thing and most of the time it’s unnoticeable but I hope one day Naughty Dog works around that in their engine and implements some layered shaders so they can include dust or dirt or whatever else.

As far as story goes, it is superb for a zombie/apocalypse flick. Make no mistake, it is a flick –  It plays out like a movie and sometimes you kind of want to watch the cutscenes rather than play. It may be less of a movie than MGS4 but it’s certainly more movie than game. The facial animation capture is absolutely spot on and breathes convincing life into each character when they talk. The voice acting too is excellent and fits perfectly with the animation and the situations. Naughty Dog has taken what they were good at in Uncharted and pushed themselves even further into excellence. As most hipsters can and will point out, the story isn’t that special or new, or original, though. It pulls from a lot of resources and uses cliches because they are realistic and they work for the story, such as the entire beginning sequence. Zombie movies are never exactly the most emotional or heart-wrenching tales, but this game nay made me cry a few times (and not because it contained Uncharted-esque gunplay). At the very least I cared about the characters, even the bad guys, even those who didn’t last long.

Gameplay was never a dull experience, nor was it a frustrating experience more than a few times. Frustration which all came from approaching situations from poor angles, unlike the frustration of Uncharted which was “This guys shotgun does 500 dmg and he fires 20 shells in a row before reloading! AND I have to fight other guys at the same time!” or “I shot that guy in the head 5 times WHY IS HE STILL ALIVE?”

Actually, that last one does occur a few times in the game, and consequently those are the few moments where Uncharted bleeds through and lessens the experience. Human enemies are often completely overpowered even with upgraded weapons or head-shots, and that translates to multiplayer as well. In a survivor match, myself and an enemy were the last men standing. I fired at this guy inside a convenience store in Checkpoint with my rifle, missing with my last bullet, and he charged me. So I pulled out my revolver and hit him 4 times in the chest at point blank range, before punching him. Then I died. Every time you face human enemies there is a potential for a sour experience, but fortunately none of them last long enough to make it so until the last 20 minutes of the game. It’s a good thing too because the endless enemies of Uncharted would have ruined this game beyond a shadow of a doubt.

The Last of Us has a very natural game flow, and it never feels like Naughty Dog is trolling you, even if you get attacked by 12 Clickers at once. All of the environmental puzzles and the minimal platforming are very easy and common sense to figure out, meaning you get to focus on enjoying the game and not facing an unduly difficult challenge that adds nothing. Imagine that – you have to find a pallet but it’s stuck in a pallet jack because one of the boards got bent, so then you have to play a minigame to fix it. How horrible of a game would that be?

Also, let’s hear it for those death animations? They’re on par with Dead Space 1 and 2, though not as varied.

E3

E3 is over and the Sony fanboys are just as brazen as before. Some “analysts” are saying Sony wiped the floor with Microsoft and that it’s a done deal. At this point, or rather points like these, I frequently question my choice to continue being a gamer. I want no association whatsoever with these pathetic wretches – industry analysts, Pachter, Molyneux, Bliesienski, anyone at GameSpot or IGN or Kotaku, and especially not any Sony fans.

I own a PS3. I own a 360. I own a Wii. I own an original Xbox. I own an N64. I own a gaming PC. I have more PC games than anything else by a 10:1 ratio. I have been a PC gamer for 20  years. This was before the internet. So, the fanatical devotion to one company truly escapes me. I do not understand it. All I know is that I want nothing to do with anyone who is that immature and ridiculous that they limit themselves to one method of gaming and then bash everyone else for any possible reason they can concoct, usually making no sense in the process.

Sony hardly stole the show. If you look hard enough in the wastelands of the internet – as covered in Sony shit-flinging as they are its not something you want to do I’m sure – you’ll find honest people who agree with that. Sony simply did not do anything impressive. They didn’t show good enough games, or enough games, or first party exclusives. They came out and they made jabs at Microsoft, which is not what E3 is for. Frankly, that doesn’t belong anywhere, at all, in the business world. All they did was show one console exclusive, if I recall correctly – Killzone Shadow Fall or like I am going to start calling it, Shadow Fail. Everything else is multi-platform. They could have shown what The Order actually is, but, as a Santa Monica studio (God of War) game, we can be guaranteed it’s contrite, infuriating, and one dimensional, not to mention completely on rails.

Microsoft showed games, like they said they would. A lot of games. Ryse looks amazing – maybe that’s just my roommate (a Sony fanboy but a PC Master Race first) and I because we are avid historians, especially Roman history. Visually, with the Crytek 3 engine, it looks wonderful, and the combat and everything shown so far looked wonderful. If we have to press X and other buttons over and over in QTE sequences to kill people that’s fine, I put up with 6 God of War games. My only concern with that game is that, in that stage demo, the setting made no sense – barbarians but they were in a very civilized and Mediterranean fort (maybe they rebelled and took it over?)

Titanfall also looks pretty damned good, though obviously the scripted sequence will be quite a bit different from the end product. Quantum Break, being from the makers of Alan Wake, will definitely be worth checking out. Of course,  you’ve got that Killer Instinct fiasco where you have to buy any character but Jago – which figures, Jago was always for bitches – but I’m sure it will turn out ok. I don’t like racing games and even Forza sounds good and looks good to me. The only racing games I play are Mario Kart, or Burnout, and I unfortunately own Pure.

Which reminds me, how does Microsoft not own Donkey Kong?

A lot of the games shown off were multi-plats obviously, as going forward there will be even less exclusives than there were this generation, but the Xbox even ran them better than the PS4 did at E3.

Microsoft is indeed flip flopping or being confusing about some things, like region locking (which, be honest, is utterly irrelevant to 99% of gamers), but they have released solid answers that busted every rumor people have bitched about for months.

I will be getting PS4 and I already pre-ordered my XB1 day one edition long ago, and I’ll enjoy them both – I’m an adult and it’s my prerogative to spend $1000 on consoles in the same month.

I’ll probably end up hating PS4 as much as I do PS3, too. For example, Sony claims they put Fatal Frame 2 on PSN over a month ago. Well guess what, it was never there., Ever. I checked multiple times since then and it’s not there. What happens if you try to purchase it from your computer? The sony page is not found, because it’s gone. Why the fuck do MS and Sony do this? They both do it. MS had released TMNT arcade HD on 360 and then they took it down within like a week. Sony did the same thing with Fatal Frame 2.

How praytell do I play old PS2 games if you yank them from the store? Should I go buy a fucking PS2? I guess I should.

Anyway, I gaurantee you the next gen will be neck and neck again for years just like this one was,. But think what you will, if you’re a fanboy you’re clearly hopeless already.