Friday, October 15, 2010


Sorry for the Hiatus,  had a nasty bit of midterms.

I'm thinking of starting a weekly feature. Like "The Last Mag" or "Last Bullet"


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Halo Franchise: A retrospective

Love it or hate it, I can guarantee you've heard of the Halo franchise, and can probably recognize our favourite Master Chief Petty Officer. The power-armour clad SPARTAN-II has reached almost iconic status.

Let's start at the beginning: Halo: Combat Evolved and (and later Custom Edition).

The Xbox version was released in 2001 and the PC (and vastly superior version) was released in 2003. Halo was unique at the time because you had recharging shields on top of your health, and a lot of people blame Halo for the recurring (and I'm betting temporary, but that's another article) regenerating health in video games. I think it really worked in Halo CE, though. The (in-universe) technology behind it, coupled with your health being very fragile in-game  ginal Halo featured the best level in the franchise: Assault on the Control Room. The level had an absolutley fantastic mix of on foot and in-vehicle action. To date, I still enjoy playing through it (I always steal a Banshee on the bridge)

Now, some of you may be Xbox loyalists, jumping when I said "vastly superior" PC version. I hate to pick sides, but Halo PC had new maps, new weapons and new vehicles. It's also capable of supporting much more then even the Xbox 360 Halo games. Case in point, on a fully stocked Death Island there are 6 Scorpion Tanks, 4 Warthogs, 4 Rocket Hogs, around a dozen Ghosts and a pair of Shade Turrets. To emphasize just how much I enjoy it: I still play regularily and actively to date. That means that I've been playing for seven years (Heh. Seven). There's only one other game that I've played longer, and who doesn't love Dark Forces II?

Halo 2 (and the vastly inferior Halo 2: Vista)

I remember seeing that guy role up his sleeve, and freaking when the release date was soooo close. At the time, I'd just recently gotten Halo: CE and was playing online. I'd beaten the campaign from the original Halo with my buddy, several times. I was super-psyched I wasn't sure I could handle it.

What I got was a mixed bag. Campaign was an interesting experience, it seemed to be almost a cliched sequel. It worked well, and it had some of the magic. I think the level in Halo 2 that I enjoyed the most was the level where you start by dropping onto Delta Halo. It had some of the magic I remembered from Halo: CE, but reeked of being rushed out the door. The game is criminally short, and ends almost mid se

See? I didn't like it either. Rumour was there were supposed to be two additional levels (that got cut) after the famous "Finishing this fight" line

Halo 2's multiplayer was pretty good. Barring a few major mistakes. The most apparent being the Battle Rifle. It's a spray and pray precision weapon. I can't be the only one who thinks that's a bad idea. Battle Rifle was also a major part of gamebreaking button combos that could be used to cancel an animation, instead proceeding directly into the next action. It was kind of like the unbeatable button combos from the old fighting games, where you can trap someone in a sequence of moves and perfect them.

This led to a pretty bad multiplayer atmosphere. My best memories of Halo 2 multiplayer? Honour-based games of infection and BTB with a full party.

Halo 3/ODST

Halo 3 was an interesting game. Campaign was longer, and didn't end on such an abrupt notice. The big problem I had with Halo 3 was that over the course of the entire campagn I never felt the same as I did during Halo CE or the better parts of Halo 2. Gunplay wasn't bad, but it just didn't click.

The multiplayer was pretty good. There weren't any particularily broken staregies and I had a good time playing but it felt....watered down.

Now, ODST or the Halo 3 expansio.........well, nevermind. Remember what I said about Halo 2 being criminally short? I take it back. ODST is probably five hours long. The gameplay was more of the same (except instead of being able to see your shields, and not being able to see your health, you can see your health and not your shields) but the music is FANTASTIC. Halo has always had some seriously fantastic music, but ODST went off on a tangent with some..."noir" (sort of, anyways) music. The game did a really good job making sure you knew you were alone. Needed to retail 40$ cheaper then it actually was.

Halo: Reach

The most recent entry, and I have to say, I'm impressed. Reach returned to the heavier and more powerful physics of Halo:CE. Armour abilities have some great griefing capabilities (I can't count the number of times I've feinted a tank or a sniper or rocket wielding spartan with my holographic friend) and thank goodness for Firefight matchmaking.

The feature I adore the most is the carry over of your online Spartan to single player. Too cool.

I plan to add more for this, but if you want the quick version, here's how I feel about the Halo series.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Franchises I'd like to see restored, part two.

3. Shogo: Mobile Armour Division. Made by what is possibly the nerdiest, otaku-iest studio in the world, Shogo: Mobile Armour Division follows the story of Sanjuro and his giant robot. The only major problem with Shogo was the fact that mech based combat used the same physics as infantry based combat, which led to some clipping problems, but all in all it was balanced. You could pretty effortlessly kick ass in your super advanced mech, but would get your ass throughly handed to you on the ground....and I do mean thoroughly. The difference between mecha and infantry was huge.

4. Red Baron: A realistic World-War I flight sim, Red Baron was one of the other games that dominated my joystick days. You take too much damage, you're fucked. You get hit by incinerary rounds, you're fucked. You try to attack an aerodrome without carful planning, long range attacks and lots of manuvering? AA will eat you alive.

It was a powerful experience, just playing. That, and the "Baron" gametype was just cool. Red Baron/Blue Baron/Yellow Baron. They're might have been a Pink Baron as well. Kinda like keep away, but instead of just keeping away, you need to either A) Kill a baron or B) Get kills as the Baron.

If I think of anymore of the older franchises, I'll add them. If you can think of one, tell me in the comments!

Friday, October 1, 2010

An extensive list of franchises I'd like to see revived

Every now and then, I'll play a game and think. "Wow, this is fantastic: I would like to play more of this". Afterwards, much to my dismay, I realize there isn't any more. Discontinued, no longer supported and so on.  The kind of game that if you ask most people if they've played they'll give you a blank stare.

1. Battlezone: The first game was launched in 97' and was popular enough to recieve an expansion, Red Oddysey. The first game had a remarkably strong story for the time: You are Grizzly One, a hovertank commander, and part of the secret space force of the US Army. It's 1965-ish, and you have to scavenge for a material called bio-metal on the Moon, Mars, Titan, Io, and Venus and so on. Scavenged Bio-Metal can be recycled into vehicles, supplies and buildings at a "Recylcer". Multiplayer was either 1v1 recycler games or deathmatch

All you really need to know is you fight space-commies with a gun that shoots earthquakes.

Battlezone was followed up with Battlezone 2. Not nearly as strong a story, but the gameplay was vastly improved. You could have more then two recyclers in multiplayer, and that made for some seriously chaotic battles.

All in all, this is the only franchise I have ever played that has blended RTS with FPS, and does it really well.

2. Star Trek: Armada: An RTS game based on the Star Trek universe, like Battlezone above, it got a sequel with a better GUI, but weaker story. I loved mass-producing Akira-class, and going and fighting Borg. Multiplayer was a blast, the big problem was a few really, really broken strategies. Case in point: Nebula-Class spamming as Federation, or Transwarp spamming as the Borg.

More to come.

Games today are too damn easy.

I just finished my first runthrough of Bioshock 2. I had a good time, but as I was crawling through the halls of Rapture, I noticed an alarming trend.

I wasn't dying. At all.

Three hours into the game, and I used my first health pack. All in all, I used somewhere between twenty and thirty health packs for the entirety of the game.

I was raised on Dark Forces (the game terrified me as a child, no kidding), Duke Nukem, X-Wing and Mechwarrior. Now, I find it funny that these franchises are dead (I'm not holding my breath for Duke, and Mechwarrior 5 has officially been red taped out of existence). In these games you were far from fragile, but you could still except to be slain by the AI every know and then.

Now, don't mistake this as an underlying "I AM A GOD-TIER GAMER, FEAR ME" message. I'm not unstoppable, I'm not unbreakable. Oh, and I wasn't playing on easy, either.

It just seems like most modern games I can breeze through with little or no problems.

I want to hear your thoughts? Agree? Disagree?