Archive for the ‘Game critique’ Category

The Last Great PS2 Game

Wednesday, April 19th, 2006

I spent a second evening playing Black on my PS2, which is ten to four times what I spend on most games. It’s very, very impressive from a technical standpoint. Its maps are huge - whenever you think you’ve cleared the mission, there are more objectives and another, significant area opens up. This is not compensated with little detail - in terms of “fluff” - vegetation, small rocks, branches and twigs on the ground, leaves floating in the air, smoke and dust particles - it rivals current PC games - Oblivion on a 6600 definitely looks bare and simplistic in comparison. They have paid for that with an extremely aggressive LOD system which pops dead bodies into another LOD a few meters away from you, and heavy compressed vertices which, when looked up-close, produce the unnerving texture swimming effect I haven’t seen for several years, as vertices pop between adjacent valid positions.

The art direction is excellent - the heavy use of pseudo-volumetric atmospheric effects, and the subdued tones make for great screenshots. Texture-wise, it’s more on par with typical Xbox games, but way above the average PS2 title.

The control is superb - just as in Halo, half an hour into it you’ll forget you’re playing with a gamepad, and think about circle-strafing, dodging and peeking out of corners, not about thumbsticks and shoulder buttons.

Gameplay-wise, it is a very well executed shooter, with some nice twists, generally in the “realistic” direction - for example, you only carry one gun at a time, and you can’t use the sniper rifle (very powerful) without looking through the scope. The destructibility of many objects is used as a game mechanic feature - e.g. in a level where you can hide briefly behind tombstones before a sniper shatters them from his high vantage point.

If you think you’ve seen enough shooters in Doom2 and Quake1, consider everything else to be “more of the same” and not worth spending time on, Black is not for you. However, if you, like me, want to enjoy two or three new shooters each year, Black is most definitely worth your attention. Somebody somewhere on a forum was lamenting that Black is proclaimed to be the last great PS2 game too early, compared to when the “last great PSone game” came in the console lifecycle. It is definitely a fitting swan song for the current generation of consoles.

Between Burnout and Black, EA got a very good value out of their purchase of Criterion. Renderware seems to have come almost for free…

Warren Spector on GTA

Friday, November 4th, 2005

An interview with Warren Spector I couldn’t agree more with:

…Grand Theft Auto III, in particular, was an amazing advance in game design. It was a stunning accomplishment as a game design. And it was wrapped in a context that completely for me undid all the good they did on the design side.

“It’s like I want to tell my mother ‘This is what games can be.’ But I can’t because they don’t get past the beating people up with a baseball bat, stealing cars and crashing them, and the foul language and stuff.

“And I don’t think it is necessary. At this point, GTA is the ultimate urban thuggery simulation, and you can’t take a step back from that.

Far Cry Instincts

Tuesday, October 11th, 2005

Far Cry Instincts Xbox Review from Electronic Gaming Monthly:

Ubisoft needs to send its game enemies to game-enemy college. Lessons learned there include how not to stare blankly at walls with your back turned toward the rest of the world, why you shouldn’t run straight into machine-gun fire, and (sigh) why you shouldn’t hang out near explosive barrels.

Още едно добро ревю, горе-долу в същия дух, от psu:

The vehicles are both boring and useless. There really are not any combat situations that they are good for. They also drive worse than the Warthog in Halo. I never thought i would say that about anything.

The cheap head shot AI at the end of the game provides for hours of replay time trying to get from one checkpoint to the next. Kill 15 soldiers one at a time, and the last one before the savepoint shoots you down from a bush two miles away from your position. This means you need to use “strategy” to memorize where the sniper is and pick him off ahead of time the next time through. This makes the gameplay “deep”.