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Posts Tagged ‘Impression’

DC Universe Online: 1 to 30 PvE impression

January 23, 2011 3 comments

Getting to max level (30) in DC Universe Online is rather fast, a bit too fast for my taste. Let’s take a look at the PvE part of the journey.

Character creation & tutorial

DCUO has a far more limited character creator than Champions Online, but there are plenty of costume pieces to make a unique hero or villain. Important to note is that every character you create will have the same origin, one of the limitations of playing in an already established universe. You do get an immediate link to that universe by choosing a mentor, a famous character, like Superman, that will guide yours on his or her journey.

The amount of powersets is limited, but there are three types to choose from: superpowers, weapons and movement powers. Super powers like fire, ice, mental etc. determine your group role of tank/healer/dps, weapons (from bare hands to giant hammers to bows) determine your fighting style and movement powers (flight, superspeed, acrobatics) determine how you travel, but they also include several combat abilities. Contrary to Champions Online, your movement power is almost always active if you wish.

The tutorial is adequate and fast enough to get through for alts. It is the same for heroes and villains. It does a good job of introducing the plot of DCUO, powers, travel and combat.

Nice try, Lex

Questing

After the tutorial you end up in either Gotham or Metropolis depending on your mentor. It is possible to travel to the other city by going through the Watchtower for heroes and the Hall of Doom for villains. The amount of quests to get to 30 seems a bit tight, so it is worth it to switch over about every five levels to ensure that quests do not get too low level to yield decent XP.

Quest lines have a set format. There is a main quest in the open world with some sidequests that you pick up next to the main questing area. The main quest line then leads to a scripted solo dungeon. The main quests are fully voiced and every dungeon ends with a voiced over comic that tells about the world. It feels a lot like the Cataclysm world of World of Warcraft, where quest areas combine ‘kill some’ and  ‘do some other activity like gathering stuff’, then go to the next area. The solo dungeons show up again at level 30 (scaled to 30) from Watchtower quests. The final challenge is to take down your mentor’s nemesis (so Lex Luthor for Superman, Joker for Batman, Circe for Wonder Woman).

There are named heroes/villains roaming parts of the world with massive amounts of health and serious damage, keep an eye out for them while questing.

Instances

There are several instances while leveling for groups of four people. Simple queue for them and a random team will be formed. There’s not much communication (partly because the chat system is horrible), but the instances do a good job of telling you where to go and what to do. There does seem to be a distinct lack of healers and I only had one other tank my group once. Still, most of the content seems doable with only dps provided there’s some selfhealing and a good sense of when to block. Instances are overfilled with trash, but they do yield good XP and worth doing at least once for entertainment.

In the Blüdhaven instance, the toxic monster Chemo is your target.

Bugs

DCUO still has a decent amount of bugs. Especially Oolong island (instance) seemed filled with them. I had to do that one at least eight times to get to the final boss.

Impression

DCUO is still a bit rough, but the core is solid (I remember saying that about Champions Online too). The amount of content,while short, and the entertainment value of that content is definitely worth the first (free) month.

Metroid: Other M – Impression

September 12, 2010 Leave a comment

Note that I have not finished the game yet, so this is just an impression, not a full review.

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD

I love Metroid, so this is not going to be an unbiased review. And Other M is definitely a Metroid game, there’s Samus, of course, all signature weapons and abilities, a combination of fighting and puzzle gameplay, large boss monsters, Ridley,  scavenger hunt for items, basically all ingredients. A pity Team Ninja forgot that to cook the meal. They were clearly greatly inspired by Super Metroid, but where Retro took the formula and adapted it for a widescreen experience in the Metroid Prime series., the new Metroid copies most things while making also use of the Wii’s gimmicky controls. The visors and beam switching from Prime are gone.

While the Primes had some problems themselves they did innovate and turn the sidescroller in a 3D experience. Exploring and navigating through the huge world was not always easy and scanning occasionally got tedious, but it all added to the feeling of the lone explorer trying to figure out what was going on and then set things right. Samus never said anything, but who would have expected that she would be this uncertain and insecure now she is voiced in Other M? After slaughtering so many planets full of evil and vicious monsters one would expect she has some backbone, but even the sight of Ridley petrifies her now suddenly. Prime did fine in telling a story with bits of scans and visual storytelling, but Other M is just filled with fully voiced exposure, while reducing the exploring aspect of the game.

A pretty flimsy plot has you joining up with your old Galatic Federation commander and his squad to check out a military science facility. Commander Adam has some serious history with Samus and while he wants her on board, he forbids her from using most weapons before he authorizes it. Yes, where all other Metroid sequels have a convoluted crisis scene in which you lose all special abilities, this game, you got everything, you are just not allowed to use it up to the point that you are taking damage from heat for a section of the game while you have access to the protective Varia Suit. Where I can understand that caution should be used with using the extremely destructive items like the Power Bomb and the wall passing Wave Beam (there could be survivors on the other side), not using full protection and things like the grappling hook is just plain silly.

The story is also forced on you. There is no freedom of movement, all wrong routes are locked for most of the game and if there is something to scan, the game actually forces you to stand still until you have found the right pixel on the screen. If you cannot fight, you start moving very slowly suddenly.

The control scheme deserves its own paragraph, because it is a nice idea. You are normally in side view /3D oversight depending on the location, but by turning the Wii remote to the screen, you get a 3D view, but you cannot move, only turn. This is the only view from which you can shoot (super) missiles as well. And this is the only control scheme, meaning you have to use the horrible d-pad on the Wiimote to move. In a time of analog sticks on handhelds, a modern game forces you to use the worst controller possible, which is just baffling. One of the reasons I have not finished the game yet, is that the d-pad simply hurts my thumb after a while (yeah, it got soft from using analog sticks for the last years). The view switch is also pretty unresponsive making certain battles more difficult than they should have been (but Other M is easy anyway).

Perhaps the control scheme forced the creators to make the game easier, because this is an easy game both in terms of puzzles and boss battles. Compared to the Primes it is very easy.

First impression: Other M is with all its ugly parts still a pretty entertaining game, but it does not reach the quality standard we can expect of a Metroid game.

Categories: General Gaming Tags: ,

Starcraft II: The Singleplayer/Multiplayer split

August 9, 2010 1 comment

Starcraft 2 is a great game, everyone seems to be saying that. There are many things that can be praised, but I believe that one of the main reasons is the split between the Single Player campaign and Multiplayer. In the original Starcraft most of the mission were basically against one or more computer opponents who simulated human players, who started with an advantage (up and running base) but were limited by AI rules (like only attacking every five minutes, only building certain units etc.). There were some special challenges, like RPGstyle ‘dungeon crawls’ with a limited number of units, but most missions where about building your base and destroying your opponent’s base. While really entertaining, this cannot compete to the ingenuity of human opponents. This is the reason that after playing online for a bit that the single player campaign seems easier than it was before. It was not really possible to change the Singe player formula because units in both game modes had to abide by the same rules.

Starcraft 2 throws that out of the water. There are two sets of rules. Single player is allowed to go as crazy as it wants without bringing the precarious Multi player balance in jeopardy, while Multiplayer is not getting unbalanced by that craziness. Suddenly there can be a day/night cycle, rising and ebbing lava, even train robberies. It allows many more and different units in Single Player that do not need to be balanced. Base building and upgrading is interesting in Multi player, because you are (re)acting based on what your opponent is doing. Even in special Singe player scenario’s it is quite easy to figure out what the AI’s attack pattern is. So Single Player has several persistent upgrades. The same goes for mercenaries: these add an enormous amount of versatility to Single Player that would be impossible to balance against in Multi player.

Anything can happen now and we still have two expansions to look forward to!

Categories: Starcraft II Tags: ,

DDO: what’s in store for Lotro

After my last post, I realized that the most fitting game to try was actually DDO. I had played DDO during its beta and then dismissed it for being too group focused for my taste. I got some interest in it again after it went F2P. However, since that was only for the US and not for Europe, I forgot about it again.

So I made that post about searching for a good game to try out/get back to and then I saw this video by accident. Apparently, the game was playing from Europe. I had mistakenly assumed that it would perform less or even be IP blocked. That teaches me to assume things.

So here are my first impressions:

  • It cannot replace Pen&Paper DnD. Computer games cannot compete with my RL friends.
  • It is pretty true to P&P though, while keeping the action of a computer game
  • You actually have to aim to hit things with both melee, ranged and spells, which makes combat more involved than for most MMO’s.
  • Just like in the P&P, you can really screw up your character build

While I could continue that list, I would like to focus on items that are relevant to Lotro going F2P.

  • I did not feel weak for being on a free account
  • Chat spam was not worse than any MMO starting zone. I actually did not see a single gold seller
  • The Turbine store is clearly present, but it is not forcing itself upon the player. Radio commercials are more intrusive.
  • Only social hubs in DDO are not instanced. This makes it easier to lock areas off as paid content. This is going to be more difficult for Lotro’s open world.

Conclusions? It is too early. However, DDO has impressed me enough to keep playing for a while. At the very least I shall have a fun game to play until Starcraft 2 beta goes live again.

Starcraft II zerged my post

My plan was to dedicate this post to why I dislike beta’s and test realms. However, I received a Starcraft II Beta key right before I started to write and I do not want to look like a complete hypocrite. I have not been playing non-stop because of some RL issues, but otherwise I would have. Strategy games have been first computer game loves with Dune 2, UFO: Enemy Unknown and, of course, the Warcraft series and Starcraft. The only reason I ever started with World of Warcraft was that I wanted to see how the story would develop (quick summary: all interesting characters from the previous game either get sidelined or go insane and get killed. Illidan even gets sidelined, goes insane and gets killed). My absolute favorite of these games was Starcraft, both for the story and the gameplay.

Starcraft II Beta turned out to be less familiar than I had expected for one simple reason: the test is for multi-player. I only got internet at my house when WoW was released, so I never really experienced RTS’s online. As such, even though I was used to play on the highest difficulty levels against the computer, I have been dealt some pretty harsh defeats. Still, I’m learning and enjoying the learning curve. It did make me appreciate how units are made available slowly from mission to mission in the single player experience, because a beginning player sees a lot of possible buildings and units to start with. Select the wrong one and you have lost. Luckily there are plenty of resources on the internet, ranging from the Beta forums to the excellent video series ‘I suck at Starcraft II’ on the Cynical Brit website. However, the most important teaching tool are replays. The game saves a replay of every game played and by studying those it is often easy to notice what went right and what went wrong.

To be honest, I am still looking forward more to the Singleplayer campaign, but multiplayer has grabbed my attention as never before. There’s much practising to do!