Tag Archive for Red

All Running, All the Time

Since I tend to want to approach games with the thought of immersing myself into the world, I tend to do weird stuff.  At least, things other people think are weird.  Like, while playing the game Red Dead Redemption, I never used the camping method of fast travel until after I’d completed the story and was just chasing achievements.  I used the wagons, and I even did the thing there you hit the button, John says “I’m going to sleep” and you skip the travel parts, because, you know, that made sense.  But setting up a campfire and a tent, and suddenly being halfway across the game world… immersion breaking.

With that in mind, you can imagine how I feel about logging into an MMO and finding a world where everyone is running, full speed, all the time.  The funny things is, back in my days of EverQuest, people were more apt to switch over to walking, at least while in town and perhaps a little more pliable to role-playing as opposed to when they were sitting in a group on a wall whacking mobs for experience and loot.  In World of Warcraft, however, I don’t think I ever saw a person walk until I went to the RP labeled servers.

In my perfect MMO, walking would be the norm, and every player would have an endurance bar.  There wouldn’t just be walking and running either, there would be varying speeds you could toggle/cycle through.  Walking to fast walking to jogging to running to sprinting, each having an increasing effect on endurance drain.  And players could get bonuses to endurance recovery, and even reductions in endurance drain for special situations.  Like, if you just switch over to sprinting for no reason at all, endurance would drain at X rate, but if you enter into combat and your adrenaline is now pumping, sprinting would drain endurance at, perhaps, X/2 rate, allowing you to sprint longer to flee an overpowered NPC foe.

I’ve yet to decide if this endurance would be used in other places, like fighting for example, but I’m leaning toward not.  At least not the same endurance pool anyway.

Anticipation 2011

So far, I’m looking forward to only one game this year.  And it isn’t Star Wars: The Old Republic (which, personally, I think is going to “fail” insomuch as MMOs fail by not beating WoW and allowing the company to pass out money hats).  Last year, despite owning many games, all of which I really wanted to play, I only played one game a lot (not alot), and that was Red Dead Redemption.  Even though I’ve never been a big fan of the Grand Theft Auto series, something about RDR just clicked, and it was probably the setting and tone of the tale.  I played it all the way through, I played the multi-player for many hours, and I bought all the DLC for it.  It was the best game of the year.  Well, maybe a tie between it and Minecraft.

I’m going to call it already, and say that the best game of 2011 is going to be L.A. Noire.  I mean, just look at this…

I don’t often get super excited about games.  I try to keep my expectations low or at least reasonable.  But it just isn’t possible here.

What about you?  What game are you eagerly awaiting?

The Nightmare is nearly over

WARNING: This post is going to contain spoilers for both Red Dead Redemption and the Undead Nightmare DLC.  Continue at your own risk…

I really enjoyed playing Red Dead Redemption.  The world was really well crafted, and the story of the game was top notch.  I had issues with the game play, or more specifically the game controls, a few times, but it was minor complaints that were far overshadowed by the awesomeness of the rest.  The game even threw me for a loop when (and I’ve already warned you about spoilers, but here is a second warning – stop reading if you don’t want spoilers … ) John Marston died saving his family and then the game picked up a few years later with you playing his son.  One of the biggest complaints I heard about the game from many people is that they didn’t want to play the son, they wanted to keep playing John.  For me, however, it made playing John special.  I can only be him for the duration of the game.  I can’t play him in multi-player, and I can’t play him in the sandbox world that extends after the story is done.  Despite Jack Marston having a few annoying phrases he seems to repeat endlessly, I don’t mind playing as Jack, trying to carry on his father’s name and keep it clean to honor his memory.

Then along comes Undead Nightmare.  This DLC is single player and it puts you back into John Marston.  The story is set after John has gone home to be with his family, but before the government men have him killed.  A zombie plague has fallen across the land, his wife and son have both been bitten and turned, and John sets off to find a cure.  Much like the original game, the story here is extremely well done.  You meet most of the characters from the original game in this new twisted reality and it just works (unless you are the sort of person who simply cannot stand to have zombies in your westerns).  Once you complete the story and set everything back right, John is back where he needs to be to complete the story, as if this whole thing were a true nightmare and it never happened… well, almost.  Because they put in challenges that you might not complete before finishing the story, they decided to do like the original game and allow you to continue playing in the sandbox.  You get a cut scene that explains how a few years later, someone triggers the undead plague again and John Marston rises from the grave, retaining his soul because of a thing you did during the original nightmare.  This is where the game loses me…

In pretty much all my forays into things dealing with the undead, one bit remains constant: I do not want to be a zombie.  As much as I love zombies as a setting and zombies as monsters, I despise zombies as main characters.  And while I found Jack’s whining in the original game to be irritating, Zombie John’s groaning and other noises make me want to play with the sound off.  I hate it.  I really, really hate it.  Zombie John practically ruins the game for me.  I still want to play, do the challenges and whatnot, but I’d really prefer to not do it as a member of the undead.

Anyway, unlike the original game, which I still mess around with now and then, once I’m done with the last couple challenges I doubt I’ll ever fire up single player Undead Nightmare again.  Multi-player, on the other hand… I might be playing this forever…

Red Undead Redemption

Red Dead Redemption: Undead NightmareToday’s Zombie Wednesdays post was going to be about my initial impressions of Dead Rising 2, however due to a slew of free movie screenings this week I might not actually get to play it until Friday.  Instead, I bring you the artwork for Red Dead Redemption’s upcoming Undead Nightmare DLC.

Now, some people are upset at this because they feel that it detracts from the realistic feel of the original game.  That the supernatural has no place in the world crafted by RDR.  Then again, no one is forcing them to buy and play this expansion.  I can see why they might be upset since Rockstar is “wasting their time making crap like this” or whatever, just like people get pissed when Harmonix releases another batch of DLC songs they don’t care about.  Get over it.

Personally, I can’t wait.  Zombies in the Old West?  Yes, please!  And this time the bulk of (or all of) the DLC is single player, so I don’t have to rely on finding random people to play with when I want to play.  I look forward to the new missions and retouched world with an undead flavor.  Squeee!

There is supposed to be a trailer available on Thursday, so look for it.  The only question is… will I have to go up against zombie John Marston?

Red Dead Redemption

Last month, being forced to buy something at Best Buy before a gift certificate reward expired and finding nothing for the both of us, the wife let me buy Red Dead Redemption.

One thing that always kept me from playing the Grand Theft Auto games is that I don’t generally like to play the bad guy.  But RDR’s John Marston is a man with a troubled past as an outlaw who has tried getting out of the life and getting on a more law abiding path.  John’s job is to track down his old gang-mates and bring them to justice, a job he only undertakes because his family is being held hostage.

This game is beautiful, not only in its graphics but also in its overall design.  The story unfolds so well that unless you are purposefully trying to break the system and color way outside the lines it all feels natural.  Well, mostly, but I won’t go into that now.  I want to talk more about this game because it was so good, so well crafted.  There were even two scenes in the game that broke my heart.  For now, let me just say that I absolutely loved playing through this game, and look forward to continuing to play the single player for challenges/achievements and the multi player aspects as well.

I’d recommend this game to just about anyone.

Bypassing the Uncanny Valley

If you are familiar with computer graphics, be it in movies or games, you have probably heard the term The Uncanny Valley.  In short, the idea is that the closer you approach realism without reaching it the more striking the tiniest flaws become that actually cause the viewer to become more aware of the “falseness” of it.  Often you’ll hear people talk about the “dead eyes” because they don’t blink or twitch enough, or problems with the way the mouth forms words not being quite right.

For me, new games that try so hard to be super realistic actually result in me not wanting to stare at their graphics for hours on end.  Even my current favorite game, Red Dead Redemption, has issues.  Many of the people in that game look overly dirty, and most of the female characters are downright hideous.  You could brush that off as “people were dirtier in the Old West” and that might be true, but it still doesn’t look right.  That’s why most of the game is played pulled back behind your character.  If it was first person and you had to look all these people in the face to interact, it would be very off putting.

All of this is why what a company called Depth Analysis showed off at E3 this year is just so cool.  It’s called MotionScan and essentially it takes the current motion capture (the suits people wear to get things like Gollum in the Lord of the Rings films) to a whole new level.  It scans the entire body, so that not only motions of the limbs are recorded, but facial ticks and lines as well.  Just check out this comparison from the above linked article:

John Noble in real life and in MotionScan.

John Noble in real life and in MotionScan.

It does look pretty damn impressive.  This has me really looking forward to Rockstar’s L.A. Noire which is going to utilize this technology.

I didn’t shoot you…

… you walked in front of me while I was shooting the bad guys, dumbass.

One thing playing Red Dead Redemption has shown me over the past couple of weeks is that some people simply refuse to learn how to play with other people.  It isn’t hard.  First off, if you are going to group with people in a posse, then how about you get out of your private chat with your buddy who isn’t playing this game so we can actually communicate.  Second, if I get there first and go in first, I’m first, until I’m dead.  When I die, you can be first.  So, until I bite the big one, how about you stop running in front of me?  Am I moving too slow?  How about you tell me that and say, “I’m taking lead.”  Of course, you’d need to be talking to me first.

Next, when I kill you because you are a dumbass who stepped in front of me, coming back and knifing me, and then shooting me, and then shooting me again, and then finding me and shooting me again, and then waiting until I get into a room and blowing me up with dynamite is not “making it fair.”  It was your damn fault you got killed, killing me 47 times and slowing us down isn’t going to cure your stupidity.  We are in a posse, doing this hideout together, quit being a tool and start killing the bad guys.

And when I get fed up, switch to the sniper rifle and sit at a safe distance killing everything so that you don’t get killed, don’t yell at me.  Don’t tell me I need to come in.  See the scoreboard at the end?  I got 47 kills and 29 head shots.  You got 6 kills.  All my deaths?  That’s you killing me.  Your deaths?  That’s you stepping in front of me and also repeatedly charging into the fort.  There are like twenty five guys in there.  How about you stay back here and help me kill them instead of charging in.

When I quit your posse, don’t give me a bad review.

Sigh.

Death Masks

Oh, it should be no surprise by now that I like the Dresden books.  And the fifth book in the series is no different.  Death Masks picks up a little while after book four, the Red Court is still calling for Dresden’s blood and someone has stolen the Shroud of Turin.

Like all the other books, the book begins with a bang, then spends a few chapters laying out the framework, and then the real action begins.

Yeah, I enjoyed it.  I recommend it.

Fever Pitch

Ever since I saw ‘Stuck On You’ I’ve been wary of anything with the Farrelly brothers names attached. But then I think of movies like ‘Outside Providence’ and I always give them another chance. From a source that is so hit-or-miss with very little middle ground, I was extremely surprised with ‘Fever Pitch’.

The basic story is… a guy, who is a math teacher, meets a girl, who is some sort of business accountant executive or something, and they hit it off. All winter long they have what is the beginning of a great romance, and then he reveals his deep dark secret… He’s a Boston Red Sox fan. And when I say fan, I mean he’s got season tickets and he hasn’t missed a game in 11 years, I mean he’s got Red Sox stuff all over his apartment… He’s not just a fan… he’s a fanatic. He goes to spring training instead of going to meet her parents, and so on…

The movie was good. It was funny, and romantic. It was great. And to top it off, they filmed the movie during the actual baseball season where the Red Sox locked in the wild card slot and took on the Yankees for the playoff, made it to the world series, and broke the Curse of the Bambino and won the whole thing. When they filmed the movie, they rewrote and reshot the movie as the season progressed, and they wrote two endings… one for a Red Sox World Series win, one for a Red Sox defeat, then went with the one that matched reality.