Archive for January, 2012

Sea of Dreams (And also League)

So, today something a little different. Since the new champion in League of Legends is (hopefully) releasing sometime today, I thought I’d move my schedule back a day and get out a first impression of Ziggs tomorrow. So, rather than leave you with nothing again, I decided to repost my BioShock 2 articles from way back yonder, from before this blog even got it’s overhaul. With BioShock Infinite looming closer with every day, I thought it’d be fun to go back and check out the first two again, just for old-time’s sake. Without further ado…

Right then, BioShock 2. Now, before the caustic hate goes out, let’s start off with some caustic love. BioShock 2 was very much what I was hoping for in many ways, and being back in Rapture was a blast. Voice acting could have been improved, but I’m biased on account of having to hear southerners every time I walk outside. The whole experience was still as visually stunning as I had expected and immersive as I’d hoped. All in all BioShock 2 was a great game by itself and probably going to be one of ‘Games of the Year’. But there is the problem, BioShock 2 isn’t a stand alone game. It’s a sequel to BioShock. This is where things start to fall apart, and BioShock 2 falls much farther than before.

BioShock was a fantastic game that drew me in and never let me back out until the credits started rolling, and considering how decrepit and insane Rapture was, that was no small feat. I felt like I wasn’t some gamer, but that I was inside the city, just trying to survive long enough to get the hell out. That I was caught up in the battle between Ryan and Atlas not because I wanted too, but because I had too as a means to escape. And because Ryan was a jerk. But that was later on. BioShock 2 on the other hand, you know exactly what you are doing and where you are. There is none of the chaos and decay of before except for that you leave in your destructive wake. You were often in touch with Atlas, but he was more of a guide, either suggesting where to go or begging for help to save his family. Atlas, not Fontaine, stick with me people. He was a human in need, also caught up in the madness of Rapture’s fall. Sinclair on the other hand is hardly hurting for anything, he’s been loaded from the plasmid business and wants to go to the surface just to exploit them too. Hardly a sympathetic character. Tenembaum makes an appearance for all of two levels at best, before disappearing and all but saying ‘This is Sinclair, he is my replacement. I’m on vacation now.’ The good path I took didn’t even have Tenembaum talking to me, it was Elanor instead. The very person I’m supposed to be rescuing.  That was another thing, plasmids/ADAM aside, Elanor just talks way too much. It’s hard to think she’s ever in trouble when she’s shooting something off every time you do something. Would have been more believable if a Little Sister had been waiting for you to tell you a little bit, maybe even team up with you. There was a lot with the characters that either went against how we were supposed to feel about them or just flat out replaced it. Time for a few examples;
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Living Ambiance

Some of you might remember an older article I wrote about music in video games, but there was something in there I mentioned in passing that I wanted to expand on. Namely, ambient sounds. This is a place where a lot a developers drop the ball, because coming up with dozens to hundreds of sounds that a good number of people won’t even notice can’t be worth it, right? On the contrary, people might not notice when it’s there, but we’ll notice when it’s not.

First and foremost, what is ambient noise? Simply put, it’s the sounds the world makes. Bugs creaking in the night, the winds rustling through the trees, the groaning of stressed metal. Dozens of little things that come together to truly bring the world to life, that make it feel like it’s in motion, as opposed to stuck in permanent stasis until the protagonist comes along and sets off something nearby. Some games do use ambiance to bring in the player, but it’s almost always a calculated move for that specific area, and will usually stop as you move away from the event trigger.

Hello? Anything there?

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Stop SOPA!

Mini-update today, trying to spread the word. If you didn’t know by now, there is extereme legislation in the United States’ Congress that could potentially destroy a free internet. It can be bad enough that my little hole-in-the-blog could be shut down by anyone just by using one piece of copyright material without getting approval. Even under free use, like say, a screen shot of a game. Think about what that means for gaming journalism, streamers who make a living playing games, professionals in the eSports world. We could use a very significant and important part of gamer culture if this passes. Do your part, spread the word. Fight SOPA.

If you’d like to know more about how damaging SOPA can be, or even just WTF it is, TotalBiscuit did an excellent video. Take a look, pass the word, and keep the internet open for us all.

Into Auraxis (PlanetSide 2)

So, last time there was actually a lot of interest in the new Planetside, so I’d like to get a little more info out there. Starting with basic things like who everyone is, and faction benefits, then going on to the delicious scraps of info we’ve been fed so far. First and foremost, the best news of it all. PlanetSide 2 is free-to-play, and will feature a cash-shop like what’s found in League of Legends. Power won’t be for sale, but you can buy convinence items and cosmetic changes. Hard to think of anything they can do to make Vanu look more amazing though.  Hopefully we can generate even more interest in the game and give a long, long life. Part of the joy of PlanetSide is the massive battles and the world filled with constant warfare. So, let’s start with the basics; the Three Empires.

Terran Republic:

One of the more common in promotional materials (that I’ve seen), the Terran Republic are loyal to the Earth government that has been cutoff ever since Auraxis lost it’s connection with Earth. The TR weapons and vehicles focus on speed above all else, whether it is vehicle speed or rate of fire, the Terran Republic can’t be matched in terms of speed. They are also more reliant on numbers than the other factions, needing more people to fill the air with as many bullets as they possibly can. Their designs also tend to be fairly fluid and slender. Good choice if you want to be group oriented, to bring the most out of your Empire’s strengths.

New Conglomerant:

The New Conglomerant are the second of the three Empires, and are a group of misfits ranging from massive corporations to thieves and terrorists. Their weapons may not be as state-of-the-art as the Terran Republic’s, but don’t let that fool you. In terms of raw power, nothing can beat the NC. Their weapons and vehicles pack the biggest punch and will hurt like hell if you happen to be caught by them. They also tend to be more armored than what you’d expect, but all that firepower and armor comes with a cost, and they aren’t the most mobile of the empires. Their designs tend to be extremely bulky and have more than a few sharp angles. Good for more solo (relatively speaking, you will still need backup) players, giving a bit more punch to make up for a lack of numbers.

Vanu Sovereignty: 

The third and favorite Empire of mine, the Vanu Sovereignty. The VS are a group of transcendentalists who believe the ultimate evolution of humanity can only be achieved by incorporating more of the ancient Vanu technology. As a result, their armor and weapons tend to be the most out there, having lasers and plasma where other empires might use bullets. While the Vanu Sovereignty aren’t the hardest hitting or quickest of the Empires, their mobility is second to none. While the Terran Republic may be quicker, the VS have greater mobility with anti-gravity technology. While the New Conglormerant hit harder, they can’t match some of the utility the VS bring to the table. Though, I could be biased about this. Maybe. Vanu design is more out there, with triangles and overlapping metal plates. Also, their color is purple. Whats not to love? Good faction for players who want to abuse the greater mobility of the vehicles or use the different weapons the Vanu have at their disposal.
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PlanetSide: War Unending

So, today is a special day. Not because of any holiday (although Riot did release 4 amazing skins for the New Year), but because of an influx of information about a game I absolutely loved. So today, you’re going to be getting a story. But first, a little set up. As you can probably guess, the game I’m referring to is PlanetSide, the old MMOFPS of yesteryear. I can’t tell you when, exactly, I picked the game up, but it was early in the MMO journey. It was a little bit after I stopped playing EverQuest, but couldn’t sate the desire of a game… bigger, than what other games were offering. I wanted something massive. Something to scratch that budding shooter itch I was developing. And then I saw it in my local E.B. Games, PlanetSide. A PC game that captivated me just from the box art. I took my money and bought the game, and got a family member to buy me a month-long time card. And thus my adventures on Auraxis began.

There is plenty of story to the game, but to keep things brief, there was a mineral rich planet found on the other side of a wormhole, that people flocked to for riches and wealth. Sadly, the wormhole began to destabilize, isolating the world of Auraxis. To complicate matters, alien artifacts belonging to a race known as the Vanu, and some of the technology that was recovered preformed miracles. Death became nothing, as Vanu technology gave people the ability to be reborn instantly, and the world quickly shattered. The Terran Republic remained loyal to the Earth government that it had been separated from, and formed the first of the three empires. The Second was a miss-match New Conglomerate, a democratic empire founded by everything from industrial giants to lowly terrorists and mercenaries. And then, the Third empire, the Vanu Sovereignty, who believed human evolution would only come through the Vanu technology. Transcendence through Alien tech, oh gee, I wonder what faction I was playing as?
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