Archive for the ‘posts by John’ Category

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Perfect World have announced that their upcoming free mmo “NeverWinter” is entering Open Beta at the end of April. From April 30th anyone can install and gain access to the game servers to try the game out. I highly recommend that you give it a go. This is a game to watch.

But before that we have an upcoming testing weekend for all those who have tested in closed beta before or have purchased either the founders or guardians packs. From April 12th to 14th, Beta Weekend 4 will be running with more new content up for testing including the much talked about crafting system. Progress from previous weekends will not be scrubbed meaning you can pick up where you left off and continue the epic story.

I’m looking forward to this. Are you?

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With Star Wars: The Old Republic releasing it’s first expansion in 10 days time I thought it was time that I looked at getting it. Looking at how much bang you get for your bucks, it seems like a decent deal. In fact it’s one of the better expansion deals as of late. With this in mind I’ve looked back over some Expansion releases and asked myself if I think they were/are worth what we paid for them.

SWTOR

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Since it’s the reason why I’ve started this post, I can’t help but look at SWTOR’s “Rise of the Hutt Cartel” first. At £13.28 ($19.99) for unsubbed and £6.64 ($9.99) for subbed people, This deal offers a lot of bang for the money. You can expect the following…

  1. 5 more levels (55 is the new cap)
  2. Continuation of the epic story (8 individual class stories)
  3. A new planet to explore (Makeb)
  4. A new Operation (8 and 16 man) plus previous operations being scaled to allow level 55 groups.
  5. Additional skills for all classes plus changes to already existing skills

Even if you’re not subbed, that’s quite a lot for £13.28. If you’re subbed then it’s even better value at only £6.64.

LOTRO

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Last fall saw the release of LOTROs fourth expansion “The Riders of Rohan”. This expansion takes the players into Eastern Rohan and continues the epic story. This expansion also introduces Mounted Combat and further increases the level cap for all players. Looking at it you would think that you get a lot from this expansion but here lays my problem with their system of what they offer. You don’t need the expansion for 3/4 of the stuff they promote as part of the expansion. The epic story is free for all players, if you purchase the expansion or not. Likewise, Mounted combat is free to all players (1 skill tree to non expansion players and 3 skill trees to players who buy the expansion) as is the level cap increase from 75 to 85. Essentially what you are buying is fluff (Titles, costumes etc etc) and a bunch of quests. What your £26.57 ($39.99) buys you is ..

  1. East Rohan quests
  2. 1000 Turbine Points
  3. The Steed of the Eastemnet (Normal speed and HP mount)
  4. Access to the Riders of Rohan instances when released (They were released 3 months after the expansion went live)

The further versions of the expansion contained fluff to justify the increase in price with the top pack costing a whopping £46.50 ($69.99). Essentially Turbine robbed people blind with this expansion in my honest opinion. Paying £26.57 for the base version which is basically a quest pack is a stupidly high price. There was no end game group content on release which is usually a big no no for any new expansion. With nothing to keep the raiders happy there was a lot of complaining and rightly so in my opinion. No new classes or races and no change to the typical linear quests. Was Riders of Rohan worth the money? I would say no.

World of Warcraft

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September 25th saw the release of Mists of Pandaria, WoWs fourth expansion. At £27.99 ($42.13) is was slightly more expensive than LOTROs Riders of Rohan but packed a lot more content into the game for the price. Mists of Pandaria brought..

  1. 5 level increase to cap (85 to 90)
  2. New character class: Monk
  3. New playable race: Pandaren
  4. Changes to the Pet Vanity system and a new Pet Battles game
  5. New PvE quests
  6. The Talent system was changed to a more streamlined system
  7. 9 new dungeons, 3 new raids, 2 new PVP battlegrounds and 1 new arena

Although WoW hasn’t gone f2p like LOTRO and SWTOR, with what you are actually paying for, I am really impressed with what was on offer with this expansion. I think one of the big differences between this and Riders of Rohan was that Blizzard don’t release an expansion every year. When they do release one it appears to have more content within it because they spend a longer period of time making it. Turbine rush out an expansion every year with LOTRO and have less development time which in turn means less content.

So to answer my own question, I think it depends on the game when you look at if an expansion is worth the money or not. With World of Warcraft this year you got bang for your buck. Star Wars first expansion looks to be good considering how much money you are paying for it but I feel that Turbine are falling short by a good distance. It’s not what they are offering but more the prices they are charging. It’s just not worth the money.

What do you guys think?

So I’ve not written anything of any real substance for some time now and I’ve been busy lately with being ill and partaking in two betas. One of those betas being last weekends Neverwinter weekend. I went into the game not expecting much from a game that is being produced to be totally f2p. With no selling price on the game and no subscription I thought that the game would show a real lack of depth and playability but boy was I wrong.

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Not only is the game VERY polished (for being in Beta) but it actually plays as a AAA title mmo. First off, It’s game-play is on par with that of Rift and TERA, although the combat is much much more fluid than TERA. A lot of love has gone into this game and it’s plain to see for anyone who looks close enough. A lot of aspects come directly from other well established games and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that at all. Graphically, this game is on par with SWTOR (A very good looking game) and actually not too far off GW2, which is the prettiest mmo game on the market right now. The engine seems to be able to handle what is thrown at it, which was a huge question mark hanging over the game due to it being f2p.

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Character creation is great. You have your typical selections of race, sex and the ability to pick from preset looks or make up your own for your avatar but when it comes to stats the game changes. With DDO (Dungeons and Dragons Online) you built the character however you wanted, by picking where your stats went into but with Neverwinter you roll the dice and get what is handed to you. However, if you don’t like what you end up with then you can re-roll the dice until you get something you are happy with. Being a D&D player, I miss not being able to build my class how I want upon rolling it. I think if Neverwinter had gone down this road instead of what they have then maybe it would have been a bit better but this is just semantics really and not an issue that effects the over-all game play. I can understand their reasons for doing it this way. They didn’t want the game to be too difficult for the casual player to understand and hand an obvious advantage to the D&D player or anyone who is a fan of the other Neverwinter RPG’s.

The races available for this beta weekend were as follows..

  • Human
  • Halfling
  • Dwarf
  • Half Orc
  • High Elf
  • Half Elf
  • Tiefling

There has been a promise of Drow being made available on release so don’t worry all you Drow fans.

Classes were as follows..

  • Control Wizard
  • Trickster Rogue
  • Guardian Fighter
  • Great Weapon Fighter
  • Devoted Cleric

Although the classes released for the Beta were well balanced in terms of group make-up (5 people in a group), there are a distinct lack of your typical D&D classes. Most notably Sorcerer, Barbarian and Druid were missing, along with other mainstays such as Ranger and Favoured Soul but what struck me the most about the classes was the lack of ability to build however you wanted to.  Being a D&D player, the ability to build however you wanted was a great aspect that made the game unique. You would often find that your typical classes were used in different manners which then gave the ability for the party to be more versatile and to aid them in achieving different things that your standard classes possibly couldn’t. For example, In a campaign I played with friends I played a favoured soul who was neither a primary healer or a divine caster. She operated as a tank with  great self buffing. This ability to play however you wanted will be greatly missed in my opinion.

The classes themselves are fun though, don’t get me wrong. From the sneaky Rogue to the up-front powerful dps from the Great Weapon Fighter, the classes are well thought out and executed and the combat is fluid and fast paced. If anything, I’d say that the Cleric class was over-powered but that’ll probably be corrected before release. My only real gripe with it is that you are rooted to the spot when using skills. I think they could have taken a page from Guild Wars 2’s combat and allowed you to move while executing moves. Apart from that it’s great. In my opinion, it’s even more fluid and better paced than that of TERA, which prides itself on being pure action combat.

Story wise it seems to be well constructed and thought out. I only played a certain amount in two days over the weekend but from what I saw it seems very fluid and constructive with a good narrative. The game being voiced makes a difference too. Like SWTOR, all npcs are voiced, further lending itself to the story and giving a more realistic feeling.

I’m greatly excited about this game now. I’m looking forward to any further testing phases and the eventual release of the game but as a PURE (no buy cost, no subscription) f2p game, it’s certainly the best one I’ve seen. Other games developers take note on how to make a game a real labour of love. Neverwinter is going to be a great game. Watch out for this one.

Written by John Gibson

 

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Nvidia are giving away beta keys for Never-winters third weekend testing phase. You can grab a key at http://www.facebook.com/NVIDIAGeForce?ref=stream by simply clicking on the link which is near the top and following the instructions.

Just thought I’d let people know…

John

*UPDATED*

You can also get them at http://www.geforce.co.uk/games-applications/pc-games/neverwinter/deals-promotions if you don’t have Facebook or don’t wish to use it for this purpose.

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So it’s been confirmed that there is to be a new Tomb Raider movie sometime in the near future, on the back of the incredibly successful release of the latest game. While the details are very small at this point in time, I am already not looking forward to this latest attempt by Hollywood to break the mould and actually manage a good video game based production.

You just have to look at past examples of their attempts to cash in to see that it’s going to be an epic failure. The other Tomb Raider movies were of little to no substance and merely 90 minute long eye candy fests. The Resident Evil movies were destroyed on the first attempt by Paul Anderson and have now became so stupid that they’re not even worth watching for a laugh. Five movies later, we’re going to see Alice working along with Wesker to save the world from Umbrella. Up until the fourth movie, Wesker was still working for the Umbrella corp while anyone who knows anything of the Resident Evil lore would be able to tell you that after the mansion incident (The first movie), Wesker left and formed the HCF (Hive Capture Force) organisation. These movies are aimed at fans of the games, yet cannot even follow the basic story.

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I’ve just been informed that Megan Fox has turned down the role of Lara Croft in the new Tomb Raider which isn’t a bad thing, but at the same time is. The fact that she was even being asked says to me that it’s going to be nothing more than another movie aimed at the pre pubescent teenage boy with 90 minutes of a girl running around with her boobs hanging out and not really giving the story any real sort of attempt.

So, here are my predictions for the Tomb Raider movie..

  1. Lara Croft will be played by someone with no real acting talent but she’ll have a nice rack.
  2. The movie will come with a 12 certificate to allow the teenage boys to go and stare at Lara’s breasts.
  3. It will make no attempts to actually go deeply into the story of the new game, but substitute the fight for survival with scenes of Lara covered in mud or just generally with a wet top.
  4. It will be no longer than 90 minutes long, 60 minutes of which will be body shots of Lara.
  5. It will be directed by someone with a less than successful pedigree in Hollywood.

I hope I am wrong about all this, I really do. I think that if written properly and given to someone with real vision and creativity to direct than it possibly could be a good movie. It would greatly depend on who is cast as Lara but with the way Hollywood is these days, with the bilge that is churned out time after time after time and with Megan Fox having been asked to play Lara, I seriously doubt I’m wrong.

I’ve always been a huge fan of reading other peoples blogs and websites. They can quite often be sources of valuable information which you seem to miss, or even places of in-depth discussions on various topics of interest. One of these sites that I am a regular reader of is Contains Moderate Peril.

Recently I got in touch with the websites creator about a possible opportunity to create some content for him and after some discussion and sending of an example of my work, I wrote a brand new piece (the idea was six month old) for them.

This morning at 07:00, my article got posted.

I know that a lot of people don’t view getting articles posted online as being anything special but for me as a new writer, this is huge. I intend to create pieces for the site on a fairly regular basis, whilst obviously not forgetting my own blog so hopefully this could be the start of a mutually beneficial relationship between FTWO and Contains Moderate Peril.

Go check out my article and the rest of the site. It’s incredibly well run and has a huge host of great topics being discussed, as well as a kick ass weekly podcast.

So yeah, A special thanks goes out to roger for giving me this chance.

John Gibson

I’m not one to take much notice of critics when it comes to opinions on games, especially when it’s a series that I’ve played from the beginning. Critics by their very nature, are critical of a lot of aspects of various products but when it comes to Critics of games, it really grates on me when they chirp up with really uninformed opinions and rant about a game and Its story because it’s quite obvious they have never played any of the games which came before and just did a few hours research without investing a lot of time into the characters and story arcs as us gamers do.

Same can be said for gaming websites which are supposedly “Run by gamers” when they are quite obviously working to an agenda and bigging up products by companies whom they are not wishing to anger or even show to be giving negative feedback due to some advertisement or mentions on the companies website, demonstrating some sort of business like relationship with the games sites. I pretty much don’t take peoples opinions and advice on if I should play a game from anyone other than myself, as most people do.

This reason alone is why I ignored the prevailing cries from the gaming public about EA, A company who do have a shady reputation from within the gaming community. Personally I don’t quite get why this bad reputation, which could be seen as hatred by a lot of people, actually exists. I’ve bought a whole host of games from EA in the last few years (Dragon Age franchise, Mass Effect franchise, Battlefield 3, to name but a few) and I can’t report any of the issues that people are having with the products or with EA customer services. As far as I’m concerned, EA are an outstanding company with good products. I’m sure if I had the same problems as everyone else seems to be having then my opinion would be vastly different.

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Recently I bought the third instalment of the Dead Space franchise and being a huge fan of the previous outings, I was vastly excited to play it. In fact let me be honest with you on this subject. I had been looking forward to this game since I heard about it way back in August of last year and had it pre-ordered since December. Anyway, Dead Space is a series of games which have done something that a lot of other ones have failed to do in recent times, and that is grip me with the story. The games have changed since the original game but one thing that hasn’t is the sheer depth of the story and the characters within.

Other huge games which seem to have millions of fans have failed for me due to the lack and depth of story. Skyrim for example. Absolutely beautiful looking game but it really lacked any type of depth or story and after just a few hours of game play I found myself repeating the same old linear crap. Travel to a town/city, Pick up quest, go to and complete dungeon, hand in quest, move on to next town. No amount of beautiful scenery can make up for the lack of a good story and that’s why Skyrim was a huge failure for me.

Dead Space started out as being a survival horror set in space. Like a combination of the first Resident Evil and System Shock 2. It then progressed onto a more action orientated game for the second instalment, ala Resident Evil 4. Now with the third instalment it’s progressed backwards a little, heading more towards the survival horror genre again but retaining the action orientated sequences of the second game. One thing and the most important thing in the games that hasn’t changed though is the story. It’s the reason I play the game series. The characters are so fantastically complex and the story is so deep that it triumphs over the change in game play. It’s also so incredibly well written, giving nods throughout the series to classic science-fiction movies of the past. The incident on the USG Ishimura reminding me of the Nostromo from Alien. The Sprawl and huge volumes of Necromorphs being a tip of the hat to Hadleys Hope on LV426 from Aliens. Tau Volantis reminding me of the setting for John Carpenters “The Thing”. Isaacs paranoia, hallucinations and flash-backs being a big nod to Paul W.S. Andersons “Event Horizon“.

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Before I picked up my copy of the game I read a few reviews, hoping to raise my excitement level for the game but all I read was negative feedback on both the game play and the story. I’ve now played Dead Space 3 for almost twenty-hours and while I cannot say anything about the game play negativity by the reviewers, their understanding of the storyline of Dead Space and sheer lack of understanding of the Isaac character is genuinely worrying. It looks as if they have never played any of the previous games. They look at the character is such a one dimensional way that it doesn’t even make sense what they have written about the game, thus not exactly showing the game in a good light. All they seem to be focusing on is the shininess of things.

It just looks to me like the most important thing these days seems to be how pretty something looks and not the storyline. I guess this is just a recent thing to happen. maybe todays gamers don’t wish for substance any more and just want the same old same old, which I can see being the case with the success of the Call of Duty series of games. Basically the same old crap with each game, yet people snap it up on release.

So what I wish to do right now is say a big Thank You to Visceral Games and EA for not destroying one of, if not the best games franchise of the last 10 years by succumbing to the public mediocrity and continuing with producing games which have some substance behind all the pretty graphics.

John Gibson