It’s not perfect but don’t buy the haters argument’s – Battlefront

In light of the recent Battlefront 2 trailer release I decided it would be good to re-hash Battlefront(2015). The TL;DR is that people are blinded by their nostalgia from Battlefront 2 in particular. I replayed Battlefront 2 on stream leading up to the release of this game. Battlefront 2 had no story to speak of. The entire campaign is a set of cut scenes amounting to essentially “Remember that battle they didn’t show in the movie? We were there!” followed by playing a bot match with the occasional objective. There was no story to speak of in Battlefront 2. The following is a review I wrote on Amazon’s feedback page in support of the game. I probably should have posted it here initially but I thought it would be most effective on Amazon. Here it is, unedited.

Battlefront Logo

Posted: December 9, 2015

Don’t buy the anti-game hype from most of the other reviews. Many people are mad because the game didn’t meet their unrealistic expectations due to all the hype. Also make sure you are comparing launch numbers to launch numbers when comparing this with other games.

Continue reading “It’s not perfect but don’t buy the haters argument’s – Battlefront”

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Defiance Update – Bait and Switch

Defiance-GameplayFor those who read the blog you’ve seen I’ve been checking out Defiance. An MMO in the universe of SyFy’s new show coming out soon. You’ll see that my time with Defiance hasn’t been very intriguing or interesting. I just got an additional piece of information that may or may not play in to your view and decision to play Deviance so I wanted to share it to give you a complete view of the situation.  In an e-mail sent out on 28 March Defiance VP of Development let slip that, as I mentioned in a previous post found here http://brockh.at/YRdxNd, that what they gave console gamer’s was in fact old code. That means that what you saw is not representative of the game at that time. You can have a look at the message that went out over e-mail.  http://brockh.at/YRfvx9. Take away from this what you will.

Defiance Beta Playstation 3 Extended Look

As promised I spent some more time with the Defiance beta on PlayStation 3. For those who may not know Defiance is a Third Person Shooter MMO on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The game is part of some form of over arching story/universe being constructed to go along with Syfy’s (pronounced “sifee”?) television show of the same name.

In my last post on the subject I hadn’t had a very good experience with the game. This time around it’s gotten a bit better. You eventually work your way out in to the open world as you tend to do with most MMOs. This helped the situation greatly. Several quest lines opened up, some items like an ATV were handed over and the game got a bit more entertaining. Sadly the voice acting and facial animations through out extend not a hint of humanity or serve to draw you in emotionally. The game is not terrible but it’s not great. It’s what most would call mediocre. The shooting mechanics are pretty solid and there seem to be plenty of challenges, objectives and creatures dotting the landscape to keep you busy. Thats really about the extent of it. If there weren’t better MMOs available this game would be just fine. But as it is it has to contend with the likes of WoW, Guild Wars 2 and PlanetSide 2. I don’t see this game going any where unless they manage to slap a thick layer of polish on whats in this beta or the TV show is able to draw people deeply in to the universe it’s trying to create.

I think this video sums up the experience nicely.

My 10 Minutes With The Defiance Beta

Defiance BetaI might be breaking some kind of embargo by talking about this. If there was something telling me I couldn’t talk about this I apparently dropped it in the TL;DR bucket and clicked right past it. So if I have to take this down at some point, to my readers, I apologize in advance.

Take this whole thing with a grain of salt. I only made it about 10 minutes before deciding to quit playing. Now don’t read to far in to this. It was late and I had been unloading a pretty large quantity of housing goods at my new place so I was extremely tired. Even so the initial experience wasn’t one of wanting to stay up, despite being tired, to keep playing. First impressions are important. Thank goodness it’s a beta. So lets hit the key points.

The story pics up on a giant ship flying over the golden gate bridge. A fairly generic military, very UN peace keeper looking, officer barks some orders.  There are words exchanged, a brief reason for your non-military presence is given and then BAM! True to Sci-Fi, or should I say SyFy, we start the story in the same way as almost every other science fiction story ever. Waking in a flaming wreck with little idea where we’re at or what the state of things are.  That is probably the first fault I saw and sadly probably not one that can be remedied since it’s story and not a technical problem. I was bored right off the bat.

The first technical problem I noticed was the character animation. Mouths moved like poorly timed muppets and expression was no where to be found. It felt like something from the mid 90s. I have high hopes that this is just some polish that needs to be done and by launch we’ll have some characters to at least begin to care about.

Building your character is simplistic with only a very few number of options and there doesn’t seem to be enough options  to let you make a truly distinguishable character. Hopefully quickly in the game you’ll get some unique armor options and/or the ability to color and customize things to give your character a unique look. Obviously I didn’t make it far enough to see if this is the route they went.

Once you’re on the ground the game looks pretty good over all. You don’t get close up on faces like the initial cut scene so character interactions aren’t nearly as grating. There were some issues with the subtitling that was on by default. The text provided is white and one of the characters is also white and large in the foreground. That’s easy enough to fix so I presume we’ll see that corrected.

The final thing was just how dark some of the areas were and the enemies were and how tall the grass was. I found myself frequently just looking for the enemy title to pop up above where the enemy was and then aiming until the reticle turned red and firing. I wasn’t seeing enemies much unless I was almost on top of them. While it’s playable it’s certainly analogis to using a fly by instruments situation only in a first person shooter and it’s not very fun.

As you can see Defiance can still use some work. True to what a beta is it’s pretty rough but it looks like a ton of work still to be done for what is supposed to be an April 2nd release. Lets hope they are just toying with us by feeding us an old build so that when the full game hits we’ll all be surprised and impressed with what a giant leap they made in such a short period of time.

Rest assured this is just a first glimpse or a brief taste. I plan to put a good amount more time in to this in the hopes that the epic battle scenes depicted in the screen shots and promo material are enough to overcome the immediately apparent issues mentioned above. Keep an eye out for a more extensive look at the beta some time in the near future!

PlayStation 4’s Backward Compatibility

PS4 Press ConferenceAs I’m sure most of you who searched this post out have heard the backwards compatibility for PlayStation 4 is in question. While I don’t have any inside information I do have some observations based on my long time experience with technology. First is the fact that the PlayStation 4 is going to be x86 based. The PlayStation 3 is cell processor based so backwards compatibility must be impossible! To that I would say, sort of. One thing to keep in mind is that many of the 3rd party games were actually cross platform. That means despite there being a PS3 version there’s also an x86 PC version hanging out out there. This means it should be, mostly, trivial for developers to port their game back to the PS4 from their PC code. So it’s not likely we’ll see Sony first party games coming back on to the PS4 but we’ll almost certainly see third party titles coming back.

The other piece to the puzzle is that Sony now owns Gaikai. Certain podcasters and media have made comments to the effect that it’s impossible for Sony to run PS3 games over Gaikai citing things similar to the above processor difference but in order to support the Gaikai components that would be needed to make it happen. I’d like to remind those folks that Sony originally supported Linux on the PS3 and those PS3’s were used in things like super computer clusters. Much like the ones used on the back end of cloud services. I have a feeling part of the reason for that is that the PS3 is Linux based at it’s core and that it’s actually going to be quite easy for Sony to extend PlayStation 3 games into that sort of online cloud delivery environment.

I guess what I’m getting at is that even though you might not be able to play those PlayStation 3 games off your old disc’s on day one those games will come back around and make an appearance on the new console in some form.

The Gaming Appendix Episode 3 – Ratchet & Clank HD Collection and Crusader Kings 2

The Gaming Appendix has released Episode 3. This time around we re-visit the Call of Duty Black Ops 2 single player campaign. We talk about the gorgeous textures available in the Ratchet & Clank HD Collection. Finally Crusader Kings 2 goes real time and seems to be an epic play. Watch the video or go to The Gaming Appendix website for the audio version and RSS feed.

What Happened To Down Time?

So PSN is down for maintenance today between, get this, 8am and 10pm. For those with a time telling deficiency thats slightly more than half a day through the middle of the day time and in to the evening.

Now I’ve been doing IT work for approx 14 years and never have I heard any one make the statement that it’s “ok” to take a network down during business hours or during peak times. NEVER. In this case I wager during the middle of the day probably isn’t peak but I’d guess 5pm-11pm when every one is off work and home from school is probably peak.  I guess I give them credit for doing it closer to the middle of the week but wouldn’t 3am-5pm have been a better time?

Yet lately both in this instance, and where I work, it seems to be increasingly more acceptable to take something down when ever you darn well feel like it. Did I miss something? Are we becoming so reliant on our network 24×7 that it no longer matters when it becomes unavailable because it has to happen some time eventually any way? Or is it that we’re increasingly bowing to what management wants? The symptom is obvious but what do you think the cause is?

Farewell Battlefield 3 Till Next Time Perhaps

I’ve all ready voiced, very loudly and very clearly, my reasons for boycotting Battlefield 3. That having been said I’m not one who can justify to myself or others talking about something I don’t know anything about or have had no part in. That being said here is my experience so far with the Battlefield 3 beta.

For starters I wasn’t even invited to the closed beta a month or two ago. Never mind the fact that I’ve beta tested for a decade or more, have run a beta for my own game, played Battlefield since it’s inception and until recently owned Bad Company 2 on every system it exists on and even on the PC *TWICE!*. All that aside, here is my experience with the current beta.

Again I wasn’t invited to the PC version. Mainly because I chose not to buy my way in to it. My buddy Chris got his invite, downloaded the game and…can’t play it. First it only works on IE(officially any way) and second when he tries to launch the game he runs it, it finds a server and then the website tries to launch the game it won’t run. I spent about 45 mins googling and trying different possible solutions and nothing fixed it. This is 2 x 45mins so a total of an hour and a half man hours and no solution. He had spent some time before I got home from work trying to get it to work too so all told I’m sure it was more than 2hrs spent trying to fix it. Not a great start.

Tonight I discover that I’m able to download the PS3 beta no key or anything required. This, unfortunately, made a worse impression than the game not launching at all on the PC. Now before you jump down my throat about how it’s “beta” etc. and I should expect some issues. I fully understand that. Recall my comment above about having beta tested for over a decade. This, this thing, is a giant pile of garbage. It’s hard to know where to begin. Being as close to official launch as it is I assume they are throwing preview code out to aid in hyping the game. But lets be honest this is not what you want the first impression of your game to be.

For starters I had a tough time discerning lag from glitches from lag hacking. On more occasions than I can count I would watch an enemy player appear out of no where and kill a team mate or, with no footstep noises or other indication of his presence he would kill me from behind in our spawn. On one occasion I turned a full 360 degrees seeing no one only to be knifed from behind in an area with out cover. I mention the lag hacking or possible exploitation of the maps because there were several times the kill cam would seem to be moving in the floor. Another occasion I was covering a door and facing a teammate who was also covering the door from the other side. An enemy simply appeared from no where in front of my team mate and knifed him in the face before he could respond. I managed to kill the guy but only after he turned around and simultaneously killed me too.

This lag, or what ever it is continued in to other areas of the game. I would frequently throw grenades that an enemy would stand directly over as it went off, he would shoot me and kill me and his kill cam would show 100% health. Also while attempting to fire, even sited, I would be struck not only by recoil but apparently by epilepsy too. It would appear that recoil was happening but also that my character was sporadically bending at the waist. The flash light is way way way over powered. From a range of 30-40 meters away it would obscure a 10-15 meter radius keeping you from being able to hit not only the enemy carrying it but any enemies in the immediate vicinity.  It’s like they ripped one of the lights from the 9/11 memorial and attached it to a weapon rail. Last but not least were the weird buggy smoke trails lit like muzzle flash but with no one present. Other than obscuring vision and flashing sporadically they don’t move, they don’t do anything. Like a programmer was testing muzzle flashes but forgot to remove the particle system and lighting. Finally about every 3rd spawn or so I would spawn with no retical.

The interface has about as many problems. The outfitting menu is some what similar to Battlefield Bad Company 2’s but they’ve added so many do-dads and cruft elements that it’s just a visual mess. The kit selection menu was kind of jammed towards the bottom like they hadn’t scaled the elements for console and half covered the deploy button indicator. Weapons, as you would expect being metal, are a grey color and much of the kill indicator text is a sort of semi-translucent blue. When you’re weapon is sited the text is nearly invisible. I couldn’t tell if I got a kill at range or not due to this which essentially left me chasing ghosts on occasion.

All said this has been one of the worst beta’s I’ve ever played. I can give a lot of forgiveness to a game since I know what it takes to make one but this, I’d call this beta and probably wouldn’t let any one with out an NDA see it. This has completely re-enforced my belief that not buying this game is the right thing to do beta or not.

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