Thursday, 13 October 2011

My Week In Gaming 13/10/2011

Two big games where released last week and I've been trying to power my way through them before Batman: Arkham City comes out later this month; these two games are of course RAGE and Dark Souls. If you read my Eurogamer articles, found here and here, you will remember that from previewing RAGE I was impressed by the solid and varied gameplay and that I was looking forwards to diving into Dark Souls for the challenge. So far I've been impressed with both games but have also been slightly disappointed.

I am still enjoying RAGE immensely as it feels precise but as though there is weight behind your chacters movements. It's strange for the assault rifle to not be the go to weapon in an FPS but I am finding that a mixture of the combat shotgun, sniper rifle and pistol is really effective in all situations and massively satisfying to use. Most weapons have multiple ammo types that completely change the feel of a weapon; for example the pistol can be turned from a peashooter into a miniature shotgun with 'Fat Momma' ammo. My favorite alternate ammo is the pop rockets for the combat shotgun as this turns it into a fast firing, relatively long range grenade launcher which can kill armored foes easily. The atmosphere of the game is great; you have whacky sections, like mutant bash TV, juxtaposed with eerie environments full of creepy overtones, strange noises and hideous mutants. It's also nice to have a variation in enemy types from the mostly melee mutants to the ill-equipped bandits and the highly armed Authority.
Racing is a major part of the game and the wasteland looks gorgeous, especially the sky.

Before it's release I was under the impression that RAGE had a full co op mode where you could team up with a friend and take on the wasteland together, disappointingly it turns out that only nine missions from the entire game are available. My second disappointment was with some of the textures the PC version of the game shipped with and the lack graphical options available. Running the game on maximum i was almost embarrassed by how bad some of the environments looked. For the most part RAGE is a beautiful looking game with a nice mix of environments, detailed character models and excellent effects; so when something is bad it sticks out.
I still look at this picture and can't believe this made it into the final game.

Do not come to this game if you are looking for an interesting and original story, however what you will find is great voice acting and interesting characters throughout. The animations are also great especially how NPCs gesticulate whilst talking and how mutants move as they fluidly climb, jump and swing their way around environments. Missions aren't very exciting and normally just involve killing all the bandits in an area or collecting items in an enemy infested hideout, but the excitement comes from the varied gameplay rather that the mission types. There are also a lot of other side quests you can do in the game such as racing, deliveries or sniper support missions; which helps to split up the action sections. I'm not a massive fan of driving in any game, maybe because I'm always terrible at it, but I find the driving in RAGE bearable; probably because it's quite arcade like.
The voice acting and character animations are excellent.

RAGE is a game I forsee myself completing over the next week however I'm not so sure about Dark Souls. It's not that I'm not enjoying Dark Souls its just that it's difficult and directionless and not so inviting to just jump in. I also struggle to play for more than and hour or two at a time because of the bleak tone of the game and of dying so often is frustrating. For some reason I still love the game and would recommend it for any action RPG fan who is willing to put time into it. At the point I'm at in the game you have to get past some enemies that can instantly kill you and reduce your life by a half until you travel half way across the map to get uncursed; I'm finding it hard to get the motivation to give it another go. Every time you die in the game all the enemies respawn with you and every time you activate a checkpoint all the enemies in the game respawn with you. The oppressing tone, crumbling environments and dark fantasy setting make Dark Souls an imposing game to get into but the joy of exploration and combat makes it worth the effort.
The Belfry Gargoyle is manageable until it's fire breathing friend joins in. 

In comparison to Demon Soul's I would say Dark Souls is an easier game with nicer mechanics and less of a disjointed feel as the whole world is connected. When you died in Demon's Souls you lost half of your health and returned to the nexus to start over; now you start at the most recently activated bonfire, keep all your health and hollow. Hollowing just prevents you from talking to some NPCs and accessing some of the online components. I have yet to try what the online has to offer as my internet has been slow over the past week but it certainly would be nice to have help against some of the bosses that can take a long time to kill. I think I have already got farther in Dark Souls than I ever did in Demon's Souls and I would really like to complete the game because it is satisfying  when you accomplish pretty much anything and is fun to play, I'm just afraid of getting stuck.
Bonfires act as checkpoints throughout the world.

Over the next week I plan to continue playing RAGE and Dark Souls and of course SC2. Thanks for reading.

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