Cranky Opinions: Bioshock/Demo

It's time for more user opinions on the newly released Bioshock demo/full game from various gaming forums around the net.

- Amazing music/sound quality

- Great graphics (though Gears of War is marginally better)

- The demo runs really well (I was running it with everything maxed on the highest available widescreen resolution and got great framerate with no slowdown). I wasn't even using the new BioShock drivers which supposedly increase performance significantly.

- Thank god they give you the option to turn of that fucking quest arrow and item shimmer

- Controls great

- The fact that hacking was included in the demo and that it's actually very useful is great. Hacking drones to kill others was great.

- The different ways you can kill enemies make up for the less-than-stellar combat mechanics.

- Extremely linear, from one area to the next, nothing else to it.

- Everything was just one scripted sequence after another, there was nothing dynamic about it. It seemed like every room already had a pre-planned event. So not only was it just one room after another with no exploration, but most rooms themselves were "linear" in the sense that one scripted event is going to happen with one outcome. There were two situations where the doors were locked and I couldn't advance until I killed all the enemies in the room. Another annoying scripted sequence was when you encounter your first little sister and big daddy. Atlas tells you that you should put away your weapon (to avoid inciting the Big Daddies), instead of actually giving you the option to put away your weapon or choose to keep it drawn (thus posing a threat to the little sister and angering the big daddy) the game puts your weapon away for you and makes you watch a scene and won't let you progress until it's over.

- The game is "moron" proof, pretty much the exact opposite of say, King's Field. In one scripted event, a plane crashes into a tunnel and water is leaking in quickly. I waited around to see if I would drown only to see that the water magically stops at my knees. Stuff like this doesn't help with the whole "immersion" factor. More games should take a lesson from the first scene in Another World.
Lol, me too I did exactly the same thing. I found the demo absolutely stunning, the atmosphere was just amazing. Walking around at the start without a weapon hearing all the strange noises - creepy as heck.

I'm not sure about the performance though - There seems to be a lag between moving the mouse and actually moving. Not sure whether this is cos of my hardware of if it's a general thing but I did find it a little annoying, it kind of spoils the immersiveness.
It has been said over and over again that the first couple of levels are linear and that it opens up later on.Plus the demo was a patch work of differenr areas to give you some weapons and plasmids.
Graphics / Sound: Enough praise was given so I wont waste time with more. One thing that hasn't been mentioned, the post processing (bloom and whatnot) are actually really well, adding to the atmosphere (imho)

Controls: Choppy on higher settings, making precision aim difficult. But with lowering settings it gets pretty playable. I agree that no lean is sad, I wanted to lean on soooo many occasions. The game just begs for a slow and cautious approach...

Gameplay: So-so. Feels kind of like a standard shooter (though the ending trailer makes it look more interesting, we'll see). Though I was reeeaaally pleased to have ironsights in the game; I love this feature and it certainely adds to the atmosphere! Now if we only had lean with IS...

Misc: I am quite disappointed in the interactivity... uber linearity aside, I really hate the fact you don't have any inventory and all items are auto-used. Doesn't seem like there will even be any variety besides heal/recover eve items either. Big disappointment there.
Honestly I'm a bit torn atm. It looks fantastic(funny distortion effect on windows aside) and the sound is ok. But judging from the demo only it's a shooter. I'd love to get more room for enjoying Rapture without the constant splicer spawns. And I so miss logs(or the 1960 equivalent) or newspapers I can read.
Its really not possible. They left out all the controls you need in order to use stealth properly. leaning, silent moving, Hiding.. the enemies seem to know exactly where you are even if they cant see you anymore.

Apparently the Irrational guys had only one play style in mind for BS. Which is unfortunate... I dont like run and gun games very much, and If I wanted to play one I could just play Gears, which has a much nicer combat system.

The lack of an inventory and any way to manage items really deals a very harsh blow to the gameplay. There are so many items lying around the world, But you can only use them then and there. You cant take anything with you and decide when you are going to use it. You either use it or leave it behind.

Theres no such thing as research in this game.. We already knew that, But i didnt realize how much I would miss it. Theres nothing to learn.. No new facts to be found out or benefits to be gained.

The Graphics are fairly nice for a game, but graphics dont impress me. I work on CGI for a living and as such, I dont get all googly eyed over graphics. If i wanted to look at something pretty, Id do a render in Vray. So really, Im just interested in the game as exactly that: A game. And this game isnt all that great.

My thoughts are that its an amazingly presented mediocre game with some nicely thought out magic spells, but no depth. It is certainly not a worthy succesor to System Shock 2. Its kinda sad to see that they couldnt even do better then a decade old game. They should have *refined* ss2, not chopped everything out. If this is the *spiritual* successor to SS2, then its is, literally, only because of the ghosts you see in game. And lets not forget, thats what they said it was.
The only criticism I can make in this reguard is that the gameplay is certainly a lot more, standard. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy games that don't push the boundries of gameplay in radically new directions (like HL2) but SS2 really was something a bit different when it first came out and I just think it's a bit of a shame that with BioShock they've taken the more traditional FPS route. Whether that was down to platform issues I have no idea. Though of course they've always said BioShock would be an FPS.
I have to say, it's mostly hype, as I suspected. Old FPS stuff in a new wrapping - graphics. Many features are taken from System Shock, like the cameras and audio-diaries you find lying around. The demo even had one of those ghost encounters. It feels pretty much like SS2 with a modern engine minus the RPG elements.

Plasmids are simply additional magic-like weapons, eve acts as mana. When it comes to hacking cameras and bots, you have to either play fucking stupid pipe dream (arrgh minigames) or pay some dollars which you can find lying around the place (what a stupid solution).

So yeah, great graphics, great atmosphere and interesting story....BUT the gameplay is far from revolutionary. Just your run of the mill FPS.

And of course, not forgetting the consumers shafted by Shader Model 3:

My textures are f*cked up. I only see fire and some small sprites and last but not least I don't have a visible mouse cursor eather. Radion X800 card here. Ugh.
Are there going to be a patch or update for shader models 2 cuz i really want to play this game
Non sm3.0 cards cant play?

Cranky Indie - Free Adventure Games

Time for some more free games. There's a great community that make free classic adventure games in the vein of Monkey Island and The Dig over at Adventure Game Studio. Be sure to check out their forums. I'll post some of their best efforts below.

6 Days A Sacrifice - A well made adventure game by Yahtzee. Part 4 of the John DeFoe series.

Apprentice II: The Knight's Move - Very nicely illustrated and animated.

A Friend Indeed - Interesting pixel-art styled adventure.

Cirque De Zale - Nice little game where you play as Alexander Zale.

If that doesn't appease your classic adventuring needs, then check out the top twenty adventure games list.

What's Killing PC Gaming?

PC gaming is dying! PC gaming is dead! PC gaming has hopped the twig! It's joined the choir invisible! But why?

Where can I download Pixel Shader 3.0?I feel entitled to point out that PC's require a brain, and people are dumb. Top tip: PC's and dumbasses are never good combination. If "Autoplay" on a PC disc fails to launch, a large contingent of the console owning population would be left slavering over their 360 joypad wondering why they can't install the latest Colin McRae cash-in. Then they realise their Radeon 9600 won't even run it.

PC gaming is not accessible to these people, and it never will be.

I ain't got no moneyz!To be fair to those lacking a fast enough graphics card, developers have left thousands of PC gamers out in the cold with the switch to Shader Model 3.0. According to Valve's survey the X800 is the 2nd most popular ATI graphics card at the moment behind the much older 9600. Neither of these cards can run games using SM3. In fact, the top 4 most popular ATI cards will not run SM3 games. Of the top 10 most popular cards, half of them will not even get to the main menu of an SM3 game. This amounts to around 182,000 out of 424,000 who will not be able to play an SM3 game with the top 10 most popular graphics cards.

You have to bear in mind that Valve's survey was probably carried out by less than 50% (estimate) of all Steam users. A large amount of users may not have logged in for months, or played HL2 once then never logged in again, and others may have decided not to take part in the survey at all, so it wouldn't be unfair to expect the figure of 182,000 to double at least.

If developers would make games that half of us could actually physically play, I don't think they'd be complaining so loudly about piracy. By shafting hundreds of thousands of consumers they've shafted themselves.

I am illegal downloadingz Bioshock with the bittorrents!Warez (illegal downloadingz) is often cited as the reason for a decline in PC game sales and development. It's not the dark ages anymore, it's 2007, and it's easier than ever to download the latest overhyped PC game using BitTorrent. I took a look at Colin McRae: DiRT, a Shader Model 3.0-only game, on a popular torrent site, then checked the comments. Note these two:

omg! My problem is my graphics card doesn't support shader model 3.0!!
Where do i get the shader model thing from

UPDATE - 04 August: 1 day after posting this, take a look at these incoming visits from Google to my blog. This closes the case on the Shader Model issue. People can't play the damn games these devs are making.

There are plenty of things killing PC gaming, but at the end of the day, if your game is truly a good game it will sell its fair share (Company of Heroes, not that I thought it was brilliant or anything). If your game runs like a piece of shit on 50% of people's hardware, or doesn't run at all, then people will switch to consoles, then we'll see more developers bitching that no one's buying PC games. I suggest that developers just shut their pie-holes, stop making shitty games, and make sure it runs on as many PC setups as possible.

Cranky Indie

More free indie games fun.

Cortex Command - Fun game with some great physics. A little bit like that old PC game Worms, but in realtime with better physics.

Ski Stunt Simulator - Interesting little ski jump simulator that you control using the mouse.

Armadillo Run - Solve the puzzles using physics to build your contraptions.

Truck Dismount - Interesting physics-based game that'll keep you amused for 10 minutes. Try to hurt your stick man by crashing your truck.

Souptoys Toybox - Fun little physics game.

Why Mods Should Release Early

I'm tired of mod teams spending years on mods, so here's a few reasons why modifications should release early rather than wait 3 or 4 years.

  • To get public feedback early on to fix any issues. Let everyone test it, not just a select few. Beta testers are usually forum whores or IRC users that have been bumming the makers of the mod to get a beta spot. Their opinion is somewhat useless. Don't leave it 4 years then realise your target audience don't like how your mod plays.
  • Your mod will never live up to the hype. You're likely to get negative feedback from those who were expecting an entirely different type of game.
  • It's easier to get extra team members (namely coders) if you have something already playable to show them.

Garry Newman, creator of Garry's Mod, summed it up well in a recent interview:

The main argument about this (releasing early) is that they don't want to release a shit version of their idea and turn everyone off. Fair enough, but it's going to be so much worse if you work your balls off on it for 2 years then release, and your idea is still rubbish. Iterating would have let you know that this idea isn't working out, so you could adjust it. In every update you're picking up more people playing your mod. You build a community.

Release early. Release often. RERO!

Cranky Alternatives: Echochrome

This time around on Cranky Alternatives I'll give you an alternative to the recently announced Echochrome. It's heading to the PSP and PS3.

The alternative is OLE Coordinate System. Echochrome seems to be based on this engine. Make sure you scroll down to the bottom of the page.

Cranky Opinions: Quake Wars

Welcome to the Cranky Opinions section. I'll post some user opinions on various games/news from around the net.

The first game to feature in Cranky Opinions is Enemy Territory: Quake Wars.

Cue the opinions!

They made a point of including many features lifted straight from BF games. Obviously they wanted people to be familiar with these features, and obviously there was a reason they were expecting people to be familiar with vehicles, defibrillators, supply crates, and the like. The UI arrangement, the weapon load outs, all of them bear a VERY strong resemblance to BF2/142.

Their publicity worked. They attracted the interest of the BF crowd. Go look at some of the screenshots littering the site. A large amount of them show a small team working together, taking cover, and the like. They aren't strafing back and forth wildly or jumping through the air or running around full-sprint at 40mph while blowing people away with an LMG.

Suddenly, the beta comes. All these people see that the game isn't anything like what they were told it would be like. And it wasn't word-of-mouth. Splash Damage created and allowed those ideas to form and ferment. They never said the game was going to be an arcade-style completely non-tactical run-and-gun fast-paced bunnyhopper shooter. If they had, people wouldn't have these complaints.
I will buy it if i see some changes though. the thing is i already have quake 3 and quake 4 on my machine for this type of game play, which does it much, much better.
I didn't expect it to be slow like BF.. good god no. But I also didn't expect it to be a twitchy, bunnyhopping, strafehopping game.. not when it has all the elements to be a better faster and still tactical/strategic game. The speed is out of place in this. It's not a BF killer because BF for all of it's woes, it does what it's trying to do right (whether or not we agree.. it does).

This game won't pull much of the BF crowd...which is sad because it has all of the elements to do it.

It's not all bad though:

You'll find that most of the community are made up of ET and RTCW fans, hence some of the disappointment - something you'll always get when a game with such a loyal fan base goes through some changes. It's not 'everyone' either, a lot of people are enjoying Quake Wars a great deal.
Sure there is sound / texture quality issues and jerky animation at present but overall i liked my experience.
After going through the walk through on sewers and getting a gist as to what is going on it clicks. There is good structure to combat and it feels like a real struggle when you lose a control point or re-defend it back. It doesn't seem like the regular free-for-all like most massive fps's, I know some might miss that but this is a lot better, trust me.

Overall it seems like it's a solid enough game, but not one that's likely to steal the hearts of Battlefield 2 fans. The thing that interests me about the whole thing is how the game was advertised. I didn't follow every preview of the game, but I did assume that it would be somewhat similar to the Battlefield series. Was I wrong to assume that? If you read the first quote again, you'll see the point made about the screenshots on the official site. The screenshots do allude more to a BF2 type of game without bunnyhopping. The videos were loading slowly so I didn't take the time to look at them, but I'd imagine they'd be much of the same.

Cranky Indie

Welcome to the first edition of Cranky Indie. I'll round up a few interesting indie/free games that are fun to play.

Toribash - A fighting game where you manipulate your character's joints. Watch the included replays for some hilarious kills.

Sumotori - A strange sumo wrestling game where bouts only last a few seconds. Only a 96k download too. It's pretty much luck if you win a fight.

Flow - This one's an old favourite of mine. You sculpt the terrain to push sprites to the finish. Use the number keys to choose your tool.

Free Rider - Basically like Line Rider but more fun. You actually get to drive the bike anywhere you want.

Fallout 3 - Fallivion?

More Fallout 3 news has been released. Get more information at NMA. They also have some nice magazine scans with in-game material.

The only thing that concerns me is that Bethesda are one of those companies that can't get the little things right. The horse riding in Oblivion was worse than Mount&Blade's, which is made by a tiny Turkish developer. It's good to hear they're going to make a decent 3rd-person view. Their previous 3rd-person efforts have been laughable at best.

We've seen how Oblivion turned out compared with Morrowind when it was made with the Xbox in mind. The UI at the very least is likely to suffer, as Oblivion's UI was clearly built for consoles only. Look forward to relying on user mods to fix most things a PC user.

No level scaling is definitely a good thing, although there will be a few people who complain about the level 20 character cap.

It's sounding more like Fallivion at the moment, but we'll have to wait until late 2008 to see how it'll turn out.

Cranky Alternatives: Forza

Welcome to the first edition of Cranky Alternatives. I'll list the best - and usually better - alternatives to games currently on the market. The whole thing was inspired by this hilarious comment by some reviewer on 1up:

"Forza 2 is the best sim racer out there right now, no question, and it continues to lead the way online."

How he wrote that one with a straight face I'll never know, but lets forget about that and get on with the show. (That rhymes.)

Colin McRae: DiRT and Forza Motorsport 2 have recently been released, but you all want a better alternative, because lets be honest, those two games are commercial whores.

Live For Speed

Introducing Live For Speed. There may not be any licensed cars, apart from the BMW Sauber, but the racing simulation that it serves up is second to none.

People have been creaming their pants over Forza's car customisation features, but Live For Speed is unrivaled in this area. You can edit anything from fuel levels to the Bump Dampening and Brake Balance of your car. LFS also offers a huge range of skinning options for anyone with Photoshop skills.

You don't need any more reasons to buy LFS, but if you do, then I'll just mention the online mode that now supports up to 32 players. There's also a free online-enabled demo.

360 vs PS3 - Call of Duty 4 Graphics Comparison

In light of Gamespot's latest pointless comparison, I've decided to make my own. I was under an NDA/embargo or whatever you wish to call it, but I'm a rule breaker, a rebel if you will. So here's a graphics comparison of the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 versions of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.

The screens are taken from in-game scripted sequences.

Wii Hype Will Fade

In a Reuters interview, Scott Steinberg, Sega's vice president of marketing comically states:

"I am a little concerned about the creative depth of the Wii pool."
"The Wii will start to look really dated in a couple years when developers get more value from the 360 and learn more and more about the PlayStation 3."

I don't know about you guys, but I'd rather have "a couple years" of some original gameplay, rather than play some of the unoriginal crap that the Xbox and Playstation have been spitting out over the years. Need For Speed 16 anyone? They ran out of ideas years ago.

I'm not surprised Sega couldn't compete in the console market with mugs like Steinburg working for them.

UPDATE - 16th June reports:

Analyst Michael Pachter has told that he believes a higher spec, HD-enabled "Wii 2" could be on the shelves "in a couple of years".
It's easy to envision a Wii 2 in a couple of years that runs at full HD, and has both a Wii-mote and an analog controller, so that all games can be ported to it.
If Nintendo were to introduce such a device, it would be fully comparable to the Xbox 360 - perhaps it wouldn't have Blu-ray, so a comparison to the PS3 may be unfair - and would likely have most of the same third party content as the other two devices.
Can you imagine what would happen if a Wii was released in 2 years time with video power comparable to the current 360?

Gamespot's Pointless 360 vs PS3 Comparisons

Gamespot's latest pointless comparison is Armored Core 4. I've never been a fan of these comparisons. In the end it usually boils down to "teh PS3 is brighter zan zee 36teh".

There is never going to be a massive difference in quality because developers are lazy and publishers are scary.

It may shock some of you that most developers build a game for one console, then port everything over to other platforms, all the while keeping their fingers crossed that it'll work without a hitch. They rarely spend time upping the quality of every asset just because one console can handle more. Developers have nothing to gain from doing that.

If a texture seems blurry or is missing a normal map after porting they're not going to go out of their way to fix it. You can't really blame them. Their publisher's breathing down their neck the whole time to get these games finished so they can make as much money as possible.

None of this means the PS3 sucks, or the 360 sucks. All it means is that the developers got lazy; they had to rush for a deadline, and simply pushed the games out the door as fast as they could, at the expense of a few blurry textures here and there. No big deal.

It doesn't help that Gamespot mostly choose games published by EA. They generally have the worst porting standards along with Ubisoft.

Cranky Gamer is Open for Business

I'm a very cranky gamer. I'll make sure you're clear on which games are shit, and which ones aren't. I'll name and shame the bad reviewers of the industry. I'll call out anywhere that rates games like Call of Duty highly. I'll list games you should stay away from. I'll list games that are worth paying hard-earned cash for. I'll judge games on the quality of their demo, as we all know 99.9% of it will be in the full game. I'll predict the rating an unreleased game will get on the popular gaming sites.

There will be no bullshitting.