What I think of Rage

Thanks to the hard work of id software and AMD’s driver engineers, I’m finally playing Rage. Not that this makes up for botch launch on the PC. Releasing your game in an unplayable state regardless of who is at fault is inexcusable. I fear it has cost id a lot of the goodwill they enjoy from PC gamers.
It’s a shame that the game drew so much negative buzz, cause the core shooting and driving mechanics are quite fun. I’ve not seen such conniving enemy AI behavior in a game in long time, it is simply a joy to watch and hear the AI react to the mayhem you’re inflicting on them.
The game is also at times breathtakingly beautiful. Sure you can find low res texture up close, but I keep getting awed by the graphics as I enter one unique area after an other.
That’s it for now I’ll post more thought once I’ve finished the game.

Rage

Well at midnight it became clear why the reviews were embargoed, Rage is getting mixed reviews. The fact that both EGM and IGN who gave the game high marks got to publish their review a couple of hours earlier, shows again how skued the relationship between publisher and press is.

It’s also troubling that the Rage forum have erupted will tales of poor performance on the PC version. I hope this all comes down to driver issues. As I know John Carmack was getting nvidia and AMD to add new features. One would have hoped that these features had been added months ago and not in a last minute patch.
My copy is in the mail so I will know all soon.

Update:
Seems that the special Rage drivers AMD Released are borked. Good thing I just did a clean install with them. Well I guess I’ll give the 11.9 drivers a go if an updated hotfix driver isn’t out by the time I get home.

Where’s the Review?

Rage’s review embargo has got me in, well in a rage. While I accept the need for embargoes, to give reviewers enough time to write their review and to ensure that no one outlet gets a jump on any other. What I can not accept is the need for release day review embargoes. Which, in my mind, server no purpose but to prevent customers from making informed purchasing decisions.

Release day review embargoes are anti consumer and the games press needs to baulk at their existence. In my mind, the whole point of the games specialty press is to give gamers the information they need so that they can make informed purchasing decisions. While, I know it is a pipe dream to think that the games press would stand up to publishers who force release day embargoes, for fear that they be denied access to upcoming games. I think it needs to be done, as more and more game are being released with bonus content that can only be obtained by pre-ordering the game. Case in point, Rage’s Anarchy Edition.

Bethesda seems to a particularly egregious offender when it comes to review embargoes, as Brink was also embargoed until release and we all know how well that game turned out. I fell that by embargoing a review so late sends a message. That you, the publisher, are not confident in the product that you are selling me the gamer and I should probably keep my $60 in my pocket. It will be interesting to see if Skyrim will also be under a similar release day embargo.

City of Thieves


Finally got to play a complete game of City of Thieves from Fantasy Flight Games and while the play mechanics are dead simple, there is enough going on to keep the game interesting. The rules are strait forward and the manual is big and easy to read, Fantasy Flight did a good job translating the game from French. What is most striking about City of Thieves is the quality of production, especially all lovely detailed figures, it really helps to bring the game to life.

The mechanics center around collecting treasures and caching them in for ducats (victory points) by completing mission or working on the story objective, depending on which of the eight campaigns you’ve chosen to play. The game has a strong bugger your neighbor aspect as you have to routinely attack other players to steal their treasure so you can make better sets to score more ducats when turning in missions. I really like that the game is short, with a fixed number of rounds, so you know it will always be over in about an hour.
I look forward to playing it again in the near future.
Check out the games page at Board Game Geek.

Turrican

Turrican

Trying to finish Turrican, a goal that eluded me in the 90s. I was able to get to the last stage but never finish the game. I would always run out of lives. Unfortunately, it seems that the version available on Factor 5’s website is broken and crashes halfway through the game. So now the quest begins for a working rip of the game. In the mean time I strongly suggest you download the excellent soundtrack from iTunes.

Battlefield 3 Open Beta

Battlefield 3 Metro

I’ve put 6 hours into the Battlefield 3 open beta in the last two days and overall I’m quite impressed. The game looks pretty and it is fun to play. Thankfully my, now somewhat dated, PC can play the game respectably. I get around 40FPS outside and 60FPS inside on automatic, which picks high settings for everything except motion blur which goes to medium. I also think AA is off.

Though, on the design side of things, I think DICE have made some choices I’m not quite sure about. My main gripe surrounds the browser based battlelog system for launching of the game. While, I understand why you would want to go with a web base solution as it integrates well with the stats systems which is central to a shooter like Battlefield. Having to hit Alt-Enter to go back to full screen between every round gets old fast. Also not being able to manage your party voice communications from within the game is also a pain. What really irks me about this is that the Origin client has a built in web browser, but battlelog is not supported within it. When I first heard about the web based server browser, I fully expected it to be integrated into Origin. The fact that it is not is disappointing. Hopefully in the future, DICE and EA will get around to moving battlelog into the Origin client.

The other thing I’m not sure about, is the complete lack of squad management in game and the lack of a in game voip system. This is a game about teamwork, even in pub games, but they seem to have thrown up roadblock to doing doing. I had hoped that DICE would have continued the dual channel voice com system found in Battlefield 2, where squad leaders could talk to their squad and the commander. A similar system where squad leader could talk to other squad leaders and lone wolfs to co-ordinate strategy, but not flood the main com channel with all the squad chatter. Then again right now there seems to be no voice communication going on at all at the moment.

I’ll post some more thoughts about Battlefield 3 later.
If you want to play with me my battle log profile is here.