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Title: Deus Ex: HR - Review Augmentation
Posted: October 10, 2011 (11:07 AM)
I have now completed the Deus Ex: HR review, and I have done it without talking at length about oblique comparisons with the original. *bows*

In any case. Deus Ex: Human Revolution is made by a very new studio. It's a somewhat daring project. And you expect some sort of fault somewhere when it comes to polish, plot, or some of the technical solutions.

That thankfully didn't happen with DE:HR. In terms of presentation, the game is very polished, and the only thing you really notice with the game is that the cutscenes between the missions are pre-rendered sequences in different detail than the in-game scenes (it's a low-res upscale or very compressed video of some sort).

I am guessing that what happened here was that development of these cutscene sequences is based on an early completed build of the artwork sent to an external studio. And that for the most part, these cutscenes were intended to include detail, object interference and lighting effects that it was assumed would not run in the game-engine on all the platforms. This could be things like complex shadows, facial expressions that would have to be individually animated, or having objects, say, smashed into a wall with 30cs long pieces of security-glass stuck through their stomach. And putting this into the game-engine might have looked worse without much more work.

Unfortunately, the cutscenes often take place in areas that the game-engine parts also takes place in later. And you see that by the end of the game, some of the in-game sequences actually look better than the cutscenes in every way.

I'm obviously just guessing here. But it could be that as the team grew more confident with their tools, they discovered that some of these sequences could be created with more interaction in game-time than expected, and then went for it. That obviously paid off, because these moving sequences in the game are among the most pleasant to look at in the game. In spite of the somewhat artificial models and faces.

The camera movement should also be mentioned along with this. During gameplay, when switching between first person and third person, as well as when the camera is moving around during the debate sequences, is something that is used for very good effect cinematically. Bobbing up and down tends to be something your eye struggles with, because you are not the one actually bobbing up and down, after all. In DE:HR it is done in such a way that you start to accept it as natural.

I think it's done by simply projecting the bobbing in the way you would perceive it, rather than the way it appears to a camera if you bob it up and down while walking. And you can see an amount of subtle touches like this throughout the game.

The cover-mechanic was perhaps one part where that "illusion" approach didn't truly work that well, even if it still was successful. If we compare with for example Uncharted, the cover-animation in DE:HR is very simplistic. You have two states, one crouching and one standing. And you transition between objects by moving to the end of the cover, and then hitting the action button.

The game then has two "roll out" animations depending on how you end up at the other end. And while Uncharted chose an approach to make several different types of randomly chosen animation while moving into and around cover of different height and distance between, and so on, DE: HR simply has one limited set of animation.

That it is successful anyway is because you don't actually see the animation itself when you make the transitions around corners when you go out of cover, and whenever you would do a snap to cover. In fact, it's in first person while you walk there, and then you transition to third person after the "animation" is complete. Doors are opened in third person by an invisible hand, etc.

So there you go. About a thousand animation work hours saved :p

You do see it eventually, though, and sometimes when leaning out of cover, there is a mismatch between what you do and where you end up outside the cover. And that is a bit grating. Overall, however, it does work, and in many ways it is more immersive to see your character, and then scoop into first person mode automatically when moving ahead.

It's also a good solution for getting the overview, in a way that Deus Ex never let you have. I honestly don't know how many times I got spotted while accidentally moving 1mm too far outside of a wall in Deus Ex. And that system is thankfully gone in DE:HR. In fact, all the mechanics to move around in DE:HR are massively better in HR than in the original.

When it comes to the graphics, I need to mention another thing as well. The game's engine is a type of deferred rendering engine, meaning that it programmatically reduces the scene complexity partially before sending it to the rendering context. This is used very effectively to increase the amount of tiny little objects, and for streaming resources to avoid loading screens, etc. Even on the disc-only version on the xbox, this works really well, and give you a fairly clear image even when a lot of things happen on the screen at the same time. Typical tells such as slower frequency animation in the background, and so on is also something this game avoided.

It also dynamically change the palette when you go from area to area, as well as allow lighting and shadows to travel between objects in the scene seamlessly.

Small drawbacks exist, though. Such as the black halo around the objects when close to the viewport, while they are close to other surfaces. This is probably part of the software based anti-aliasing model used on all the platforms (FXAA - Fast Approximate Anti-aliasing to Morphological anti-aliasing depending on settings), where the palette threshold is used to determine which surfaces to process and what to skip.

The thing here is that while the halo sometimes is visible (specially if you turn off the object highlight, a setting for your ocular implants), it doesn't actually draw your attention. So if the choice was between this and less angles and objects around the levels, there is no problem preferring this.

Sound was slightly less impressive in the end, though. The sound production has the usual environment filters, and some very neat extra setups with some objects (such as the patrolling police-bots, or events during the cutscenes). But otherwise, the approach is as minimal as the mentioned cover-mechanic: it's always sounds generated by objects in the world, and aside from passersby talking, sometimes it's completely silent. It is effective, though -like the graphics - and sound does sometimes help you orient yourself very easily.

Yes.. there are these moments in the game where music, sound and the gun - or your fist - comes together very well during normal gameplay.

-------

A few sentences on plot and characters towards the end. Transhumanism is not an ideology, but more of an idea or an independent philosophy. Approaching it in fiction can be as simple as describing everyday activity set in the future. What would have changed, how would your behavior have changed in the new setting.

Future Detroit in HR is such a setting. And a lot of the questions the writers ask are of this kind: how will future technology help, if at all, in solving Future Detroit's problems? Are they dependent on the people, rather than the technology in any form it would take?

And then - is there a limit to that thought as well? Is there a point where technology will truly take center stage and dominate the future development of humankind - to an extent that it cannot be stopped? If so, will that change be instigated by too weak humans, or in what way will it take place? Are there costs involved? Do they matter, when events are out of our control? What if we are simply doing damage control every step of the way towards a cataclysmic end, even though we believe it is in our power to control the future?

DE: HR visit a lot of these questions, but only indirectly. Instead of boring you to tears with sermons about theories, it explains all of this to you in examples. Instead of debating the merits of "pure humans" and why it would be required to understand how humanity can develop - against the merit of enhancing humans for everyone to achieve happiness that would otherwise have been out of reach. Instead of this, they simply present you with scenarios that explain each side with very few words.

While this won't score too high with professors and philosophy students, it's actually very impressive how well Eidos Montreal pulled this off. By including a lot of interesting thoughts, but without requiring you to understand all the concepts on beforehand.
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Title: Cute girl playing sometimes erotic ninja action game on a 3ds
Posted: September 21, 2011 (12:28 PM)
Senran Kagura... "War of Gods".. "Goddess battleground?". No idea... played by a cute girl on the link.

Have to admit that this is pretty hilarious.
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Title: 10.000 views..?
Posted: August 22, 2011 (05:38 AM)


And I was the winner, I guess :/

Anyway. So this means, ladies and gentlemen, that my blog is competing with the TOTAL NUMBER OF VIEWS of ALL MY REVIEWS PUT TOGETHER.

*aaaarrgghh*
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Title: Lander - review supplement
Posted: August 14, 2011 (08:53 AM)
Lander came out in 1999 - the same year as Freespace 2, X-Wing Alliance, System Shock 2, Half Life, Quake 3 and Unreal Tournament. Baldur's Gate as well came out late 1998.

In other words, we've just seen the first 2d engines gain 3d acceleration with 3dfx cards. And the competition is turning up with other variants that don't use Glide. Graphics acceleration is about to become standard - but a game that wants to sell would need to have it as an option.

Lander also came on dvd. The cd-rom version was sold along with the dvd-version in some countries, I think.

The FMV-sequences in the game as well as the sound production probably did take up half of a dvd - even if the game itself isn't very big. After all, it's just geometry and similar textures - so forcing a dvd seemed, perhaps, as a way to promote the title as more cutting edge than it was?

The same with no software render option. Since the graphics look, at first blush, somewhat basic, not having a software option seems again to be "3d just for the sake of 3d".

Of course, it was no such thing - the game has a type of lighting treatment and geometry accelerated graphics that couldn't run in pure software on a 166Mhz computer. That new graphics cards at the time could push this up in 1024x768 (720p baby, woooh!) resolution without problems, and look super-smooth, just wasn't mentioned at the time. The 3DFX version in 640x480 would have to settle for beautiful reflective panels and the environmental lighting treatment. Which, truth be told, really did look great as well.

Actually, some of those effects are unique, and you wouldn't see this in 3d games for a while, because it wouldn't look good on complex geometry for another.. ten years basically. Simply because of lack of processing power. Instead, overlay effects would be used, because they bloom across surfaces more smoothly (actually, overlay effects are still used over scene-dependent effects).

But it's not a title that someone would buy a new 3d card and computer + dvdrom to run, I guess.

The biggest obstacle was the controls, though. If you just try the game, dive in, you're toast. You turn the ship, and it lose balance, and you crash.

Ten minutes later, the extremely good players would be doing basic flight well enough to run out of fuel before running out of shield.

An hour into the game, savants would be zipping around the levels, as well as doing curved ascents and descents. And hovering effortlessly into the view of a turret, just quickly enough to blow it up, and then to fade from view again.

And it would be extremely satisfying when you did that. Not just because it took skill, but because it looked so great in motion.

There's another reason why I like this game, though. 1999 was a year with a lot of incredibly large titles. And all of them focused on arcade action, and became simpler and faster and easier. More violent, etc.

And in that context, Psygnosis released a game where the main feature to provide suspense and tension was gravity and kinetic animation. Not explosions and violence.

I'm not sure what the sales were like. But this was to be Psygnosis' last self-published title, and the last title of their semi-independent Manchester branch. Psygnosis then went on to become Studio Liverpool (who made WipeoutHD). Which also, as we know, is now dissolved.

Therefore the entire "sadly" part of the review. If you can, though, getting this gem on disc is definitively worth it.
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Title: Fancy Pants Adventures - review-supplemental
Posted: August 06, 2011 (04:26 PM)
So, Fancy Pants first made it's debut on Armorgames.. or maybe Newgrounds, I'm not sure which. But Brad Borne gets sponsorship money from ArmorGames, so maybe it was there.

Then again, it uses TommyLM's music and API's soundbank from Newgrounds - so maybe Newgrounds has an amount of ownership as well. It doesn't really matter, I suppose.

It's a flash-based game, but when it showed up it was a level above the other games on the portals - and really above most of the professionally made flash-games as well.

Like mentioned in the review, it's basically a two-dimensional drawing, and the edges and curves are the platforms you run on.

Here's the first thing that will give you pause. Not flat surfaces to run on. I think, though I'm not sure, that the way Brad did this was to place one point ahead and behind the animation, and then let the plane between the two points create the normal for the animation orientation.

So if there's a bump, the animation will lean backwards and follow the orientation of the ground. And then track the ground downwards, etc.

On top of this, the character has physics, so if you run fast enough on the bump, the toon will jump into the air from the momentum. It will lean backwards into a jump if you lean backwards, etc. There's some other narrative physics going on here as well - an amount of traction into the ground even if the toon is running upside down. So if you run up a wall, and the wall curves backwards, you will hang on to it (very fancy) until you stop running and fall down.

The rotation comes from that. There's a direction you're running, and if you were curving as you ran off a wall, you continue the rotation. It's very clever -- and you should all be extremely impressed that the math for calculating this happens in faster than 1/60th of a second.

Object interference is much in the same way, with curves and hits being dependent on speed and direction on any object on the screen.

Most platformers will not have anything like this, and instead have physics that take a pause when it hits a wall, or simply let objects fall off the grid during the first (static lookup) curve.

In the same way the platformers tend to have completely flat objects, or slightly curved ones. So that even if the actual animation is very complex, it could just as well have been a floating square block that can jump.

Actually, that's what Super Mario is, for example. Or Sonic, even if Sonic gained the ability to run straight up a wall in Sonic 2. And then it actually just switches the direction in 45 degree increments, very fast. The round curves you run through actually don't have multidirectional animation orientation, but is a scripted sequence (or it's simply a round ball that rolls around in the same animation regardless of orientation).

In other words, Brad Borne actually did something completely unique here. That also looks and feels very pleasing. And that's of course why the game became such a hit on Newgrounds and Armorgames.
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Title: ***hole blows up the government quarter in Oslo.
Posted: July 22, 2011 (05:49 PM)
So at 3.40pm or so today, the windows blew out of the buildings in about three blocks in each direction from the blast. Seems a car full of a perchlorate compound variant exploded in the alley behind the government office building. By some fantastic string of luck, this didn't actually set the block on fire as well.

Soon after, another asshole (or perhaps the same guy) took a trip to "Utøya" outside the capital, where the Labor party's youth organisation (Labour is currently running the government) is having their summer-camp. And started shooting people at random.

The deaths at this point counts to 7 confirmed, and some more critical conditions. Numerous small injuries from debris and glass after the blast in the city. As well as gunshot wounds from the other episode.

The government offices building is right in the middle of Oslo, surrounded by apartment complexes, restaurants and shopping streets. Which would be busy even during vacation time, and after work hours.

"Utøya", and the labour party's summer-camp is basically all their young members out on vacation - out on a relatively small island, right outside the city bay. You get there, as well as leave by boat only.

So who is this asshole? A muslim terrorist perhaps? An ungrateful minority immigrant? An Afghani war-refugee? A frothing Islamic scholar, seeking to undermine the west and all that liberty and freedom stands for?

Not exactly - the guy is an ethnic Norwegian. Blonde hair, white, 190cm high. The guy involved in the shooting on Utøya was dressed in a police-uniform.

I mean, really. I cannot express enough gratitude for all the good things the far righteous have given us over the last ten years.

edit: the police have now adjusted the number of dead after the Utøya incident to around 80. Fuck.

more edit: turns out the guy, Anders Breivik, was a member of the biggest conservative right party in Norway for more than five years. Held leadership positions in the youth-wing. Ended the membership in 2007. He's fan of right-wing blogs of the tea-bag flavour variety, and active on Jihadwatch.
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Title: Lair - review-supplemental
Posted: July 19, 2011 (05:22 AM)
So in the series: “fleinn reviews ps3 games that no one played” (I promise it will be back to more normal reviews next time), we've finally come all the way back to the first ps3 launch-title.

Technically the title does two very interesting things. The first is to show that 1080p gaming is possible without making visual compromises. In fact, Lair raises the bar several levels when it comes to view distances, animation and model complexity - above titles with lower resolution. And this shouldn't be possible, according to experts.

The root of the problem essentially is the following: the techniques we typically use to depict approaching objects in 3d worlds currently involves switching objects mid-way (or mid-flight, as it were). This means that the model you see at any time is always stretched in some way or other, and when the model comes close enough, it's switched to another with higher detail. Until it comes in for a close flyby in the cutscene, which is where the model is actually viewed in the detail it was made. What this means, apart from the fact that the technique requires a lot of memory, is that anti-aliasing (read: edge-smoothing) is a very valuable technique that makes the game look much better than it really is, even if the faces deflate and break in the distance.

Now, of course if you could, you would want to use unscaled assets as much as possible. Which would typically mean more texture switching, and therefore more needed memory. As well as restricted camera-angles and limited wandering of the object in the camera. Now, improving on this would seem a bit difficult.

So how did they do it in Lair? The technique is essentially this:
1. Reduce the object mesh in high level language dependent on position in the camera.
2. Send the reduced model to the graphics array for rendering.

The difference here is that now the model will always be generated at the maximum polygon count, rather than scaled. Essentially, it would be the same as having a near infinite amount of texture switch operations. And suddenly the need for anti-aliasing techniques are lessened, while it is possible to make use of so far impossible flexibility in the camera angles and camera-movement. Since the anti-aliasing demand is less, the resolution for the rendering context can also be doubled without requiring four times as much processing time.

And this is the secret to how Lair can go from close-up zoom of veins in the leathery dragon wings, and then zip along off the tip of the wing and into a cinematic flyby of the Asylian capital. Before, still in game-engine, seamlessly zoom in on the Dragon's eye and flame.

Not only that, the frame-by frame calculation of the model allows for animation spline changes to respond to events in the world. A quick turn could cause a particular way the dragon will flap it's wings before twisting towards the direction you want. The actual trajectory and speed of a dive can determine the animation playback, rather than being just a triggered effect that follows the controller direction. Coupled with the dynamic and fluid motion-controls, this is of course a marvelous fit that allows gradual and natural dragon-flight.

As the reader can obviously understand, there were real and very important advances made with this title. And it does, in fact, prove that 1080p gaming is possible without the game looking like crap. As well as that animation playback can be controlled in real time, to improve the visual flow.

The question of why this failed to make an impact on twitter-quoting games-journalists - and that I do not have a good answer for.

Instead I'll leave you with this neat little video on how the controls work, and leave you to your burning annoyance for missing out on this gem of a title. A title that was to be Factor 5's last.

(controls - howto)


edit: also, screenshot on ICgamers, 1920x1080. This is actually how the game looks in motion.

No, really. That's how the game looks on your screen, in twice the resolution compared to normal anti-aliased "HD" in 720p.
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Title: What in the nether hells did I just watch..?
Posted: July 15, 2011 (01:14 PM)
As usual, there's absolutely nothing on sega's press-site in the way of news about Phantasy Star Online 2.

Instead, there's a long list of new trailers for "Captain America: Super Soldier".

I mean...

.. what? Seriously. I've read the comic, but what..?

Just look at this!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iq2ifvZ3jCc
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Title: Dungeon Siege 3 review supplemental.
Posted: June 27, 2011 (04:35 PM)
Supplemental.

Since I've been trying very hard to cut down the length of the reviews lately, I tend to not get the opportunity to explain everything that might be interesting about the game. So this is the other part of the review. Graphically, the game is presented in a top-down perspective. Save for when breezing through the dialogues, when the perspective is centered squarely on the Lescanzi witch's chest from the front, over your hero's shoulder. The characters speak a little bit, look back and forth with their eyes, make some gestures. And nod their heads back and forth depending on who is talking. This isn't film-direction - but it's still enough to give off the impression that there's a conversation going on, rather than a speech. The voice-acting also is reasonably good in that sense - even if, as always, Obsidian ended up choosing the comment that didn't sound smoothest (and in the same mixing bout), but the one that had the best performance, as if someone was talking to another person. Personally I love this, and it's something that will make you try to exhaust every dialogue choice as the game moves on. Goblins with personality that adress you directly, rather than just speak? This isn't something you see every time in games, simple as that.

Between the acts, the game has story-telling segments where Odo, one of the characters in the game, keep narrating what can best be described as moving parchment slides. It's basically very slightly moving ink-blots on parchment with some overlay effects. An open book with pictures, basically, except it's a bit more flowing. These are relatively short, and depending on your choices and which character you are playing, end up being slightly different. These then tie into the situation straight after, allowing the game to skip some transport stages.

This happens during the quests as well - you are transported back and forth so there is minimal extra walking involved. You always traverse the levels completely so you are allowed to take a good look at how neatly they are made. But there's no backtracking, and always an escape-switch at the end of the dungeon. Since, as mentioned, the levels are designed as full areas, rather than slotted together from generic tiles - this gives off the impression that you're walking somewhere. And it also helps you find your way without a large overhead map. Of course, if you get lost, there's still the “breadcrumbs” that highlight the direction to the next quest.

But most of all it makes you walk through an area, advancing through the forest, etc. This is reminiscent of for example Icewind Dale, or Planescape Torment, in that the level-design actually is made as a whole plane, rather than just the bits and pieces where you are supposed to go through.

Other things that remind you of Icewind Dale is the overlay effects. Several of the spells in Icewind Dale 2, for example, had hand-painted 2d effects on top of the screen-area, adding to the effect happening in the scene. This isn't completely uncommon, with for example bite-marks on the screen, or some cross snapping down on top of a damaged character, etc. But here it's part of the fighting animation for some of the characters, which bridges very neatly with the “moving parchment” art-style direction.

The 3d models otherwise are completely passable. Nothing breathtaking, except for some of the details on the costumes of the heroes. But it's pretty and expressive enough thanks to the lighting effects and the armor, clothing and hair-modeling. Which all tends to be less detailed than you see in the concept-art, of course - but the fact that it's not artificial overlays on top of motion captures treats this game very well, adopting that brushed painting look.

What isn't so good is the fact that the camera-angles tend to hide the detail as well as the scenery sometimes. You see why it's done that way when you play the game. But I'm sure it would have been possible to do more with the camera once in a while to show off the pretty models from more different angles.

Animation otherwise is neatly done. It's not as neatly strung together as, say, inFamous or Uncharted. But the combos have resting animations that transition as you hit the next button, rather than right away. And blocking animation is slightly dependent on the direction of the hit - just as impacts hit with force on the enemies. Hit particularly hard, and you cause a knock-down. Skeletons fall satisfyingly down stairs if you kill them near the top. And a particularly good hit will send people flying over edges, etc, while their limbs flail out. If you shoot someone upwards a hill, Katarina's weapon will rotate and end up pointing at the target, rather than the ensorcelled bullet moving out of the gun sideways. Lots of details like this that are very well done.

Stances in a similar way switch between walk and run with minimal amounts of transition in between. Switching between dual-wielding and one-handed weapons also of course is instant. But the actual combat animation is still strung together in a consistent animation cycle. This is true even if you mix it up between the third and fourth combo-stance and a power-attack right after, for example. And there's a very carefully made grace-pause between triggering an ability and being able to block again. So you always look at what the character does to choose what to do next (rather than just hammer button-presses).

When the AI actually is very good in the game - as in reasonably unpredictable, without being unfair - this means the fights play out very smoothly, as mentioned in the review. In fact, you can work up some serious skill at playing the game by predicting the moves, and forcing the enemy to stagger at the right time, etc. So this is a fighting system that is deceptively deep, and very involved. Moreso than I thought it would be after playing the demo.

Nevertheless - even though I like this game a lot. And even if I have already been playing through the game approximately twice (and I'm on my “hardcore” playthrough right now) - I can't bring myself to give a relatively simplistic and linear action-game with rpg elements the grade the game might actually deserve, if it had been made in a vacuum. The truth is that Neverwinter Nights 2 reminds me of this game a lot. But that game had real spell and skill-progression, threaded quests, etc. And this game is a console-game that is simpler and shorter, with easier controls, easier abilities and simpler design.

But can I really fault Obsidian for that? I mean, they've made a game here that takes jrpg-action and breaks it casually in two with a pair of fingers. It has, like I lament in the review, the setup of a good role-playing session set up for newbies. Can I really be annoyed that Obsidian made a game like that? It seems so petty - but I can't deny that if a HD remaster of NWN2 turned up for consoles, it certainly would be a hard sell. And then again - why can't that happen? Placing down the direction of a firewall with the move-controller, or a flick of the thumbstick? Isn't this something that might be possible to do without making the game a hardcore only title? What about the fifteen layer deep conversations?

In other words, if I give this game a better grade, it would in my head be the same as saying I would like to see /this game/ instead of a real role-playing game with much higher ambition. Of the kind that I know Obsidian can make.

Even if, of course, Dungeon Siege 3 in it's own right is without a doubt the deepest, best polished, and most interesting co-op game for consoles and PC that has turned up so far.

One final word on the number after the title - please note that when people say it's trying to follow up on the Dungeon Siege franchise, that's a truth with modifications. In reality the game is completely separate, and barely connected at all to the lore in the other two games. The location the game takes place in is barely mentioned with a word in the originals, for example. And the game happens in a completely different age. In the same way, the fighting system in Dungeon Siege never really was very good. It tried to make some sort of compromise between Diablo and Baldur's Gate, and just ended in clicking on things until they died. If anyone remotely honest was to compare this with DS3, they would just give up and not protest, simply because this is an action-based control scheme that fits perfectly to /this game/. And doesn't try to be anything else.

What's also funny is that compared to for example Dragon Age 2, DS3 is so much more involving without actually being more difficult to control - that no one would probably dare to compare them, after the series of unbelievable and undeserved praise heaped on that title when it launched.

So when I rate this game an 9, it's because it's a good game on it's own. It sets out to do something and succeeds in creating a unique mesh of story-telling and light-hearted gameplay. On top of this the co-op drop-in is intrinsic to the game, designed into it from the beginning. Other technical bits in terms of shadows, lighting treatment and limited physics is very successful. So is the sound production and foley, as well as the surround reproduction - from everything from fighting sounds and monster noise to drips and ambient sound. Note also that the game has relatively low system requirements. A dual core laptop with a dx9 card will very likely be able to run the game at low settings. And the ps3 has 1080p mode support for it, probably owing to the fact that it's not extremely graphics intensive.

But on the scoring... Obviously it's always the problem that ten years ago, I could never have justified spending money on a short game like this, when I could have bought NWN.. and then spent a couple of weeks writing dungeon scenarios to play with friends on, etc. But if you're looking for a good co-op action game, then this is undeniably a very good game. Which is set up to be played effortlessly, and still be a fairly deep experience. It pains me to admit it, but that makes it a good game.

And excuse me, because now I'm going to play the game some more.
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Title: Moonstone "retrospective" at Eurogamer
Posted: June 19, 2011 (10:25 AM)
"Not just because it's a great game, although it undoubtedly is, but because it represents a time when the design boundaries were tighter, the obstacles taller, and developers had to invent new ways to get past them. "

Link

..so.. all catch the Moonstone wave :D Amiga is where it's at! The nineties, baby! Cocaine, silly pop-music.. and Moonstone.



Seriously, though. Good article. Touch on a few things about design limitations and presentation. And how what was available was used to do as much as possible.

Against what we have now, when technology usually is there to cover up the fact that there's no plot or thought underneath..
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Title: Yess!! It's a good game! :p
Posted: June 18, 2011 (04:25 PM)
So... Dungeon Siege 3 seems really interesting. And.. continues to be so for the first four or so hours..

Anyone else playing Dungeon Siege 3?
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Title: White Knight Chronicles 2, end of first week..
Posted: June 07, 2011 (07:23 AM)
Ok, then. After a week of WKC2 I have now been subjected to terrors such as you have never seen. As well as the most ridiculous story ever written (until my review is done - I promise it will be more ridiculous per word than even this game).

And I've chronicled (ahaha..) a few things on my blog here while I've been playing. So if you're looking for a preview of the game for the release tomorrow, that might be something (find the blog by clicking on my screen-name).

But if you have any sort of questions about the game (such as "why in the world are you still playing this game if it's so horrible"), and can't wait for the review - feel free to ask. :)
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Title: White Knight Chronicles 2, #5
Posted: June 07, 2011 (07:12 AM)
Good god, finally finished the first campaign.

It's been a trainwreck, and I can safely say that the story and screenplay in the first rivals the ridiculousness of Final Fantasy 13.

The game is, however, not as completely without merit as FF13. By that I mean the game has an MMO aspect, it has customisation for combos, and it has a quest-system that updates over the inter-wire. So as a fantasy game, it's not actually completely ridiculous.

It is, however, as tedious and full of clichés as the worst thinkable opera-performance. So as a review I'm going to write "The Ballad of Ballandor" (on the Ballan-double), and leave it at that.

Still... some of the snark aside - the thing is that you can see the developers were trying to do something interesting here. There is actually relatively good screenplay going on - it's just extremely badly botched. The fighting system is deep - it's just not used very well. The level-system is ok as well - it's just not very interesting the way it's set up. So I'm not going to write the entire thing off - the game is not completely horrible, even though the plot and the execution generally is.

And I really want to see what happens with the second campaign, so.. for Kingdom, Princess and intricately modeled hotpants! I shall be victorious!
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Title: White Knight Chronicles 2, #4
Posted: June 02, 2011 (12:14 PM)
The real reason for the ESRB/PEGI rating..

So I've been wondering about what in the world the panel has been watching to end up with a 16 year rating. There's a sleazy rabbit-guy who drinks too much and sleeps on the job.

There are some deaths happening. And they are of the kind that could have been handled with more care. Frankly, the entire script could have been handled with more care, but that's how it goes, I guess..

But the actual reason why the esrb/pegi rating is 16 is the girls. The anime-girls have these outfits and pretty realistic looking bodies. I didn't think anything of it, but at some point I crafted this mage-outfit for Yulie. And the "hot-pants" she's wearing on the other outfit suddenly show. For example in the cutscenes, which tend to have some inexplicable camera-wander across her female parts. I didn't think anything of it, like I said, but it has happened several times now.

Which is great, because the plot has been boring as hell.

This isn't mentioned in the rating description, but this is definitively the reason for the high rating. Same as the M-rating for Ar Lolicon Quoga, most likely..

The characters also say "darn!", once in a while.
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Title: White Kinght Chronicles 2, #3
Posted: June 01, 2011 (02:13 PM)
Hm.. well. Combo-system.

The combo-system is based on, basically, that you should hit something with a few normal strikes, fill up the AP bar, and then spend them on executing combos. The combos are made up of the different basic attacks.

There's not.. that much variation you can have. Specially in the beginning. And then when it comes to performing the aerial combos, the moves are more limited again. Still - if you wanted a particular set of three-four moves or so, it's possible to set it up. The problem is that you might not want that. The creatures usually have one single weakness, and it doesn't actually change during a knock-back or something of that sort. So there's no real strategic point to having a bunch of stagger-moves followed by slashes to weak areas, etc.

Instead, you'll end up needing to chain all the similar attacks in order to even have a chance at winning against the large bosses.. So here's something else I'm hoping they've improved when I end up at the WKC2 story..

Still - you can chain up your own set of moves, and trigger them by mashing the x-button. Not exactly graceful, or extremely immersive in any way. But it looks pretty good, and the way the animations are fitted together is neat.

The fighting stances, on the other hand, are pretty bad. If you start running around in a boss-battle - which you have to, then the boss homes in on you, and starts hovering around. The hits from any and all directions are the same, there's no blocking dependent on where the hits come from, that kind of thing.

This is the kind of thing you don't want to see - if we compare with a.. pretty old title by now.. Phantasy Star Universe - WKC2 is a step up on the character animation and the model-physics. While the hit-detection and so on is just about the same. Not terrifying, but not exactly beautiful either. The bosses that respond somewhat to the hits and so on is a good attempt, I'll give level 5 that. But it doesn't actually look any better than a more or less scripted boss-fight would. And that's kind of a shame.

On the other hand, the way you can use combos, and make a few pretty hard hits if you pick the right combo - and then break the defences on the boss, etc. That creates something unique that the more action-oriented PSU doesn't have. And which goes a bit further than the RPG-games where you choose which set of axes to attack the same person, etc.
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