Thursday, February 19, 2009

OFP:DR Launch Center Post 2

Well, Well, Well! What do we have here but an update about Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising. That's right! And I'm posting it. While I'm at it I'm also going to say that it's going to be 54 degrees in Raleigh, NC on Saturday... -1 in Columbus, OH.

You can find some official details here. There's also a behind the scenes video which only confirms the thoughts I posted a couple weeks about ago about Codemasters trying to get everything right. Let's hope they don't get tangled up in it.

The talk (in their press release) about the logo design. This is alright by me.

Monday, February 16, 2009

If You See This, You're Dead

To start... the intro is a mess. Japanese game. Yes... it makes sense, just 'Japanese sense.' Kind of like Lost Planet in that - as a player and participant in a story - you have to constantly be asking yourself, ok, ok... i am following this, oh, they said that because of this earlier. However, being involved in this type of game you have to also allow for the 'what the...?!' moments. Although, through my short time with Vampire Rain I haven't experienced that. Well, outside of the made up special forces faction of a made up secret information gathering government agency. Hey, the main character I'm playing is a secret WITHIN a secret. Does it get any better?

Artoon, the developer has been around for almost a decade. Yes, a Japanese game maker. From what I've read it looks to be made up of a handful of guys from Sega's old AM2 studio (Sonic, Panzer Dragoon). I also see that I've never played any other game developed by them as the Artoon company.

I am playing the game though, not too far in to be honest, but I've got to tell you... It's not very fun. Would I say 'bad'? Well... that raises a much larger question.

Is a bad game on a current generation console as bad as a game perhaps made for a glitchy PC from the early '90's? or how about a generic platformer from the SNES and Genesis days? How about a really thrown together game from the Atari days?

I think immediately I can remove the case against the glitchy PC game. Generally speaking I can just categorize them as 'Broken'. With current console games rarely do you get a game that is 'just broken' in the sense that there is a bug that prevents you from playing the game. Although, I don't like the current business model being used by some companies in that they seem to be launching games incomplete (as far as testing) and later update them via Xbox Live. I'm not sure if this is a way to see if the game is worth investing more money in based on initial sales or not. But I personally think it is a bad way to release games, if indeed that is true.

So what makes a game poor on a current gen system? Exhibit A would be Vampire Rain. It's just not fun. At no point does it draw you into it's world, which is necessary for a game like this one. It kinda has a feeling of Left 4 Dead. But without the fun and you can never, ever, improve your situation if things go bad. There are vampire type things that will kill you in 5 seconds and there is nothing you can do about it. NOTHING. I can get into trying to sneak around them but to what reward? Just reaching the next checkpoint?

Anyway, mess with a 'Nightwalker' and you are dead. It goes past funny, to sucking, back to funny when writing about it. Playing it is not funny. Sure it's funny when you are three stories up, thinking you are safe, thinking... 'okay, I know this guy is going to go ape shit once I start shooting, but i'm way up here, three stories up on a roof.' bang bang... you're dead. GAME OVER.

Seriously... you get a 'game over' screen.

In blood.

Friday, February 13, 2009


Hmmm. Rarely do I indulge in this type of thing, but My man Stevens did so that is good enough for me. This sort of thing has a history with me. Back in Buies Creek McCracken and I put together a mix (on a mini-disc) based on a random selection of songs in our combined CD library. We went back and forth. CD # whatever, song # this. and burned it. It was fun. Later it manifested itself one night in Cary, NC when we picked songs out in complete darkness and danced to them, recording every remarkable moment with a nightvision enabled video camera.

Anyway, to the amusement of a very few. Here's what happened when I shuffled my iTunes library of songs and pressed next.

Opening Credits:
Caitlin Cary - Please Break My Heart

Waking Up:
The Delgados - Girls of Valor

First Day At School:
Tears for Fears - Head Over Heals

Falling In Love:
Bottle Rockets - At the Crossroads

Fight Song:
The Killers - All These Things That I've Done

Breaking Up:
John Lennon - Watching the Wheels

Saturday Looks Good To Me - No Good With Secrets

Mental Breakdown:
New Young Pony Club - The Get Go

Pulp - This is Hardcore

DuJour Presents - Lehi and the Native Americans

Getting Back:
Propellerheads - History Repeating Itself

White Stripes - Why Can't You Be Nicer to Me

Birth of Child:
Rick Springfield - I've Done Everything For You

Final Battle:
Edwyn Collins - A Girl Like You

Death Scene:
John Lennon - Nobody Told Me

Anthrax and Public Enemy - Bring the Noise

End Credits:
DuJour Presents - Sowing on Shabbos

The funny thing now is that my shuffle is still going as I write this and I'm listening to Justin Timberlake's Right for Me. Don't ask.

Just out of curiosity I just clicked next to see what would come up out of the over 4.8 days of songs I have on iTunes...

Maurice Chevalier - Thank Heaven for Little Girls

The song Stevens wife danced to with her father at their wedding.

Serendipity. Amen.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Vampire Popcorn

I ordered me some popcorn. Back in October. Expecting it to arrive for Christmas. I'm sure it happens all the time at work. Some nice lady comes by your desk or whatever selling cookies or candy for girl or boy scouts. I've never really been one to buy. Not because I don't like it, just because parting with money months before you get something is a difficult thing do do with any purchase let alone cookies. But I got suckered in to popcorn thinking it may make a good gift for someone at Christmas. So... for about the price of a video game I purchased me some popcorn only to never have it arrive. Turns out the den mother pulled a scam and kept most of the money.

Until today I figured my money was gone, but low and behold my 40 bucks was returned to me after all this time. So, what to do with this angry money? Save it? Pay my winter gas bill? Burn it at the next Cub Scout meeting I go to (ok, that's just wrong). I couldn't think of a better way then find the crappiest game I could and buy it.

So my goal here is simple. Find the most terrible Xbox 360 game I can. I think I've found a winner. According to Game Rankings and according to what I may find delightfully bad, I found Vampire Rain. A Splinter Cell / Horror game mash up.

I don't know if I've had a better time looking up a game then this one. Here are some choice quotes from reviews I've found:

Yes, you have found a gaming low point if you are playing this title.
- Mike David, Gamezone

Getting sighted means you'll be instantly pursued, 28 Days Later style, and two hits later, you're dead. To Artoon, this obviously equals crazy fun, but to the average gamer it means a serious waste of money.
- James Mielke, 1up

Getting to a stage where the game feels enjoyable is a long, dark, painful road.... at no point does it make sense to routinely make the player suffer at every turn.
- Kristan Reed, Eurogamer

Makes you hate life.
-Paul Randall, GamesRadar

If it weren’t for Tenchu Z, Vampire Rain would undoubtedly be the worst title I’ve had the displeasure of playing on the Xbox 360.
-Serenity Now, Talk Xbox

I have never played a game that so desperately wanted you to fail and hate it.
- Todd Douglass, Video Game Talk

I know games get hit up all the time, but this one looks like a treat. I'm picking it up soon. I've found redemption for my popcorn fiasco. Take that nobody!!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

OF2:DR Launch Center

OK. Nope. Not a launch center, not even a fansite. Not even really much of a fan. Just a kinda fan. A fan in the strangest way of Operation Flashpoint. I never played the PC version of the game in 2001. Only played the Xbox version... and, yes, somehow I'm a fan. I'm also a fan of the developers of the game: Codemasters. I think I like them because the are flawed. Flawed in a good way. If you take a list of their games I venture to say that most people may not have played any of them. I've played a few. Both, unfortunately and fortunately. The highlights on the list are Colin McRae Rally games, Overloard, and the aforementioned Operation Flashpoint. The also have a few stinkers on there. Turning Point: Fall of Liberty is a great alternative history game, but falls flat on its face. Out of the games I've played i realize, more then other developers, that Codemasters are more engineers. They try, desperately, to get the nuts and bolts of the game to work over the aesthetic side. They are also overreaching in their scope. What I like about them is their creative games. Creative ideas. I just feel like they get tangled in the coding of the game. If this, then this, then that equals this. You multiply that by a billion and you get Codemasters. You won't see press releases about the handful of neato features in this years version of any game. They just try and cram everything in at the get go.

In saying that, I know that is why Operation Flashpoint 2: Dragon Rising just keeps getting delayed. I remember around this time last year thinking; alright! a new one! this year! Turns out that isn't the case. Nor is it rarely the case with a lot of games. But, I'll be disappointed if it gets pushed back again.

The new game looks great. I adored the old one. I felt like if they spiffed up the graphics just a notch, it would have been better received. Underneath the surface though, is an incredible game. The new one looks like they did just that.

There are conflicting reports as to the release day, which is never a good sign. Most signs point to May/June release. I'm optimistically predicting they have something good and will release March. We'll see.

One of the best things about Flashpoint was the ability to map/mission create. Like everyone who played the game I have a story. I created one on the coast. Me and a couple other allies were to protect civilians as a bus came and picked them up and drove off to a destination. I had enemy tanks roll in, paratroopers dropping in, infantry advancing from the forest. Impossible situation. I never got it right, but I played it for hours on end. I also remember setting up a battle in a valley as i watched from a distant hill. Picking off the enemy the best I could before the AI would send troops up to get me then I would jump down into the mist of the battle and hunker down in an abandon building while the battle raged around me at night. It was like setting up you G.I. Joe's as a kid and having them come to life.

Looking forward to OF2:DR.