Friday, 30 September 2011

An excursion into the Eurogamer Expo Part 2

On the second day of the Eurogamer Expo I decided to try to avoid just looking at the games I had already seen. I also went to see two developer talks, one about the future of the Witcher 2 and one about Batman: Arkham City. After finding the Arkham City demo disappointing on the first day it was great to see more footage and hear the developers talk about the game and it definately reaffirmed my faith that this is going to be one of the best games of the year. They showed some of the free roaming aspects of the game as well as one of the Riddle puzzle rooms and some of the challenge room. Everything they showed was great and fit perfectly into the Batman universe.
Arkham City looks bigger than Arkham Asylum in every way.

The Witcher 2 is probably my favorite game of this year so far so it was good to see that the company is continuing to support the game so comprehensively after it's release with tons of free content. Though the speakers talked quite a lot about the Xbox release of the game, which as a PC gamer myself wasn't too applicable, they did say that neither system will have exclusive content; which is great news. Patch 2.0 should be out by now, go check it out!
The Witcher 2 is getting loads of free extra content.

After queuing for about forty five minute some friends and I managed to play a multiplayer game of Battlefield 3 which was just awesome. This game looks amazing; it's on a totally different level to the previous CODs. I've not played much of the previous Battlefield games before but it seems like the controls have been tightened up quite a lot to be more in line with other popular online shooters. Unfortunately the game in the demo was only a 16 person level so it didn't give a great idea of what the scale of the final game will feel like with 64 player levels.
Battlefield 3 looks breath taking.

I enjoy hard games so I was glad to see that there was a Dark Souls demo at the Expo. True to form the demo was ridiculous, at the start you could choose from two paths; one had a dragon blocking a narrow bridge and the had a giant armored boar. It was great to see that the developers didn't try to trick players into thinking that the final game might be easier than Demon's souls. Speaking of Demon's Souls this game looks to be everything you would expect from it's spiritual successor. It's out very soon and I am very eager to try it. Prepare to die a lot.
The armored boar is difficult to kill in Dark Souls.

Binary Domain is a console, squad based, shooter that is going to be released early next year. I've heard it described as a mix of Mass Effect, Gears of War and iRobot and if that translates into a cohesive game that sounds amazing. However from what I saw of the demo it seemed very generic and unoriginal. I think that if there are some light RPG elements in the game as well as a compelling story then that could save this game from obscurity. The demo involved shooting your way through grunts in back alleys towards a giant mech boss. You fight as a member of a three man squad with your usual weapons such as an assault rifle or a shotgun.
Binary Domain has potential but I wasn't too impressed by what I saw.

That concludes the games and sessions I saw at the show. I didn't manage to play all the major games I wanted to see such as Mass Effect 3 and Guild Wars 2; which I am looking forwards to seeing in the future. I advise anyone interesting in video games to check out the Eurogamer Expo next year.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Suggestions for Build Orders

Please leave strategy suggestions here, the crazier the better and I will do as many as I physically can. It doesn't matter if it's planetary fortress rushing or mass reapers I will try anything!

Assuming (hopefully not naively) I do get suggestions I will post all the replays soon.

Don't forget to comment, follow and check back soon.

Terren Placement Matches

So I played my five placement matches last night and everything went better an expected, almost too well. In the past I have played Terren a couple of times but never got all the mechanics and timings down so never did too well. All the replays are linked to at the bottom of the page.

In the first game I played I was up against a Protoss who, after his initial push was stopped, went mass blink stalker. In response I went mass marauder with a couple of marines and siege tanks to support and wow stimmed marauders obliterate stalkers; especially when blinked upon. Before I went in for the killing blow I dropped marines behind both of his mineral lines to soften him up. It was a pretty crushing defeat for him, however it wasn't a great victory as he was obviously inexperience.

Game 1.

The second game was against a Terren so I went gas first to get up a quick factory and transition into heavy mech play. However my initial attack was a four blue flame hellion drop into the enemy's main base crippling his economy and killing all his mass marines. Shortly before he left he said 'gg wp I'm new at this' which broke my heart to know that I crushed a newbie in one of his first games.

Game 2.

Unfortunately I lost the third game to cloak banshees, at the same time I was preparing a hellion drop with banshee support of my own. I had no idea cloak could be researched so quickly and only have four marines against two banshees. I had a chance until my hellion drop was intercepted en route to the enemy base. At that point I threw down a gg and got out of there as quickly as possible. I should have had turrets up in time to deal with this.

Game 3.

My fourth game, also against a Terren, lasted longer than any of my other games as I wanted to try a standard mech macro game. He went MMM with a couple of siege tanks whilst I went hellion tank into marine tank with a couple of thors. Just as my third base got set up I started a mass siege tank push into the natural and then main of my opponents, which he had no answer to. This game showed me how bad my macro as a Terren is and probably would have been over a lot quicker if I had set up more production facilities sooner.

Game 4.

The last of the placement matches was against a platinum random player. At the start of the game my opponent was dropped straight away. This left me in the awkward  position of beating a platinum player and so being placed in a platinum division. I feel woefully unprepared to be in platinum as I got here by beating new players and winning by default, so we'll see where I go from here...

The final result.

Please follow and keep up with my progress.

Placement 1
Placement 2
Placement 3
Placement 4
Placement 5

Custom Game: Squadron Tower Defence

Squadron Tower Defence is the highest rated custom game on SC2 and for good reason; it's a fun and addictive take on both the tower defence and the tug of war genres. Players in four man teams have to defend against waves of incoming enemies to gain minerals to build towers and upgrade existing ones. At the same time players harvest gas that can be spent on sending units to one of the four players on the enemy team. However to upgrade your gas income you have to use minerals which means that you have less to spend on your defences so you have to choose between being offensive or defensive, which may cost you the game. In a game I played earlier my team went gas heavy and sent a lot of the strongest units against our enemies and we would have won but our defences were too weak to hold our own units and in the end it came down to time.
My units are defending at the top of the screen, the zealots are the attacking wave and the roaches were sent by an enemy.

At the start of the game every player chooses a faction to play with and some settings. The factions each have unique units for you to build and there is 6 ion total to choose from. At the start only a couple of the factions are playable, but as you play the game you earn xp and level up. When you reach the maximum level you are given the chance to prestige which resets your level and lets you build a custom class with units from any of the factions. Settings slightly change the conditions of the games, like by hiding the enemy's scores or by limiting the maximum amount of gas you can have at any one time.

Enemy units that leak have to get past the combined forces of the remaining defenders which are teleported to the centre after defeating their own waves. Next the units have to get through the Security System, which can be upgraded, but when this goes down it's game over. It can be so frustrating when everybody breaks at the same wave and suddenly it's game over.
Here are the units of the people that could defend their own wave being collected together to defend against the enemy units that got past allies.

Overall Squadron Tower Defence is a great game, probably best played with friends, which will keep you interested for hours. The variation in builds and tactics makes each game different enough to keep your attention but the pace of the game also allows you to tab out and browse the internet at the same time. So what are you waiting for go play it now!  

The last line of defence is the Security System and when that dies it's GG.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

An excursion into the Eurogamer Expo Part 1

This is mainly intended to be a StarCraft 2 blog but I want to start my first post talking about the Eurogamer Expo that recently occurred in London and share my thoughts about what I saw, as this was my first experience at such an event. It was great to see so many people interested in video games converging and I was blown away by the size of the convention centre and all the games on show. Here is the best and worse of what I saw on day one.
Uncharted 3 looks amazing.

My highlight of the show was Rage, I was expecting an average shooter when I jumped onto a machine but what I found was so much deeper; I guess I shouldn't have expected anything less from the creators of Doom and Quake. The demo had too much to do in one play through and though I didn't get a chance to go back I  loved what I saw. I played through a section where you are trying to bust a friend out of an Authority prison, fighting against well equipped enemies and the occasional mutant. Luckily you come well prepared with an assortment of weapons, many with alternate ammunition types, as well as various items you can use such as EMP grenades and spider bots. My favorite weapon had to be the crossbow loaded with mind control bolts that allows you to take control of an enemy and blow them up after moving them. With online co-op, a plethora of weapons and beautiful graphics this is definitely going to be a game to watch.
I was surprised by how much RAGE exceeded my expectations.

A demo of Skyrim was playable where players were released into a part of the wild and allowed to go as far as they wanted in the time allowed. Whilst I queued I saw players exploring dungeons and fighting giants and I couldn't wait to do all this, however when I got into the game I couldn't find any of this. Though I didn't need to find any of this to have a good time, in the end it was the mechanics of the game, the attention to detail and the amazing world they constructed that meant that I still had a great time. I know that when Skyrim is released I will lose about a week of my life and yet I still cannot wait.
I now cannot wait for Skyrim.

A let down was the Arkham City demo, which I have seen videos of before. The demo starts off with Catwomen stealing from Two Face and getting caught then switches over to Batman as he finds out what happens and goes to save her. Unfortunately the graphics look very similar to the first game, the demo was full of cutscenes that took away from play time and playing as Catwomen gave the demo a disjointed feel that wont be as apparent in the full game. I have no doubt that Arkham City will be great, I just think that they chose the wrong part for the demo, and it's a shame that the content wasn't new.
Hopefully Arkham City will reach it's true potential.

After playing Skyward Sword, Nintendo's second Zelda game on the Wii, I was unfortunately left underwhelmed. My first thought upon seeing the graphics was 'wow this would be nice in HD'  as the art style is interesting but that can only take a game so far. The first segment involved bird racing, which felt slow, unresponsive, and lacked any challenge. The second part of the demo showed a very brief bit of a dungeon though suffered from being relatively directionless as no hints are given and you are just dumped into the middle of a large room and expected to find your own way around. There were some new items to use such as a flying scarab that can be used to collect and move items but other than that this felt the same as every other Zelda game. It's a shame that Nintendo's innovation is restricted to it's hardware and it's software is left to tired iterations of old series.
I have loved every previous Zelda game so I'm sure Skyward Sword will be great in the end.

At the end of day one I went to the developer conference for Uncharted 3 which was hosted by one of the game developers and Nolan North; the voice and motion actor for the main protagonist. The two guys were great together and obviously very passionate about the work that they were doing on Uncharted 3. They showed off old footage but commentated it to add a different perspective and a deeper insight into it. They also played through an exclusive section of the game that hadn't been shown before. In it we saw for the first time a desert level that had been only been hinted at before in the original teaser. The lighting and particle effects in the desert look amazing and show that Naughty Dog are still pushing how far graphics on consoles can go. Uncharted 2 was one of the best all round games I have ever played and it looks like Uncharted 3 will blow that out of the water with an expanded multiplayer system, better graphics and a new and more character driven story.