Jan 032012

I’ve  already established that 2011 had lots of great games, more so than any recent year.  But being a gamer, there’s always something to complain about, and there was enough this year to keep my bitter and jaded attitude alive and well.

I wasn’t planning to just rattle off names of games that came out this year that were just terrible; that’d take too long.  Instead I want to go through games that I had at least some sort of expectation for that just fell well short of those goals.

Early in the year the indie/downloadable game, Breach, hit Steam and XBLA during a lull of quality releases and promised to have a fully destructible environment unlike anything we’ve seen before.  Of course this fell flat and the result was a bland, low budget shooter with a scattering of destructible assets and bad shooting mechanics.  Luckily, the low cost of under $15 at launch made me forget the pain quickly enough.

Also in the first quarter Crysis 2 hit the streets.  With a new focus on multiplayer, which felt like a hybrid of CoD and BF, Cyrsis 2 had potential to make a lasting impact in the multiplayer shooter scene.  Needless to say, that never happened mainly because of two reasons.  First off, the PC version was severely crippled and was the poster child for “consolization.”  From the splash screen that said “Press Start to Begin” to the complete lack of video settings beyond changing the resolution, Crytek did a complete 180 from the original Crysis, which was PC only.  The second nail in the coffin on the multiplayer side was the lack of anti-cheat measures which meant that you were almost guaranteed to join a server and see at least one, if not more, aimbots in play.  Botting seemed so prevalent that cheaters made no attempts to hide it — Crysis 2’s CoD-style kill cam made it painfully obvious, as you watch your killer snap off 4 to 5 headshots in a row from across the map in a 3 second span.  Pile on the fact the single player was average at best and it’s hard not to be supremely disappointed with Crysis 2.

While Crysis 2 had its issues, a game that topped it in the disappointment category was Brink.  Touted as the next coming in multiplayer shooters (even by our own Suibhne) and the pedigree that comes with Wolf:ET developer Splash Damage, it was hard to not get excited about this one.  Except it didn’t even come close to meeting those expectations.  The shooting was bland, the gameplay wasn’t very focused and the difference in classes and sizes didn’t add anything interesting to the game play.  The game also suffered from technical issues out of the box which hindered uptake online and caused many never to come back.  Then they pulled some shenanigans with the DLC in that it was only free for the first two weeks before they started charging for it.  Brink was clearly a game that had much potential that was never fulfilled.

Sticking with the multiplayer shooter disappointment theme, Red Orchestra 2 came out this fall.  While I don’t have any specific knock against RO2 and Tripwire Interactive will always be a favorite of mine, RO2 didn’t do anything especially exceptional either.  During an off year, RO2 might have risen to the top, but instead it just got lost in the mix.  Launching with some performance and technical issues, the gameplay didn’t quite do it for me as the original RO mod had grabbed me some 7 years ago (wow!).  I’m willing to give RO2 another shot down the road, but worry that the player base may have been thinned too much by then.  I’ll chalk it up to bad timing.  Maybe with a bit more polish and an early 2012 release, RO2 may have done much better.

Rounding out my disappointments for 2011, I call out Assassin’s Creed Revelations.  I’m going to give Ass Creed Rev an “incomplete” for this year because I simply haven’t had time to invest in the game, but given its first couple of hours of gameplay and the overall reception of the game, AssRev doesn’t match the outstanding level of AssBro (Assassins Creed Brotherhood).  A very slow start, high expectations and a tough competition has put AssRev back on the shelf for me.  I’ll check it out again in 2012 and see if Revelations can redeem itself, but I worry that the Ass Creed saga is starting to suffer from too much repetition and player fatigue, something the CoD series is becoming synonymous with.

That pretty much wraps up my take on the 2011 gaming lineup.  2012 should be interesting with some marquee titles coming out like Bioshock Infinite, Mass Effect 3, Diablo 3 (maybe) and some other potential hits like the sequel no one wanted, Prey 2.

Happy New Year!

Aug 082011

Tripwire announced today that Red Orchestra 2 will be pushed back until September 13th, 2 weeks later than their previous release date of August 30th.  While two weeks isn’t a huge deal in the grand scheme of things, I can’t help but thinking this only hurts RO2’s potential uptake by multiplayer shooter fans.

Moving RO2’s release date into September means that it will directly come into competition with BF3’s open beta, which will be immensely popular.  After that, you have BF3’s official release in October, and right behind that is the next installment of CoD.  You could argue that people who play RO will have no interest in BF or CoD, but it’s hard to deny there is a lot of crossover there, and people who may have been willing to try a new experience in RO2 during a time when no other titles were competing will instead stick with the name-brands they know during the pre-holiday video game rush.

On the bright side, a large reason why Tripwire is moving the release date back is due to the overwhelming number of pre-orders, which also gives access to a beta of the game, pre-release.  They weren’t quite ready for the volume of beta users, so they need to readjust their preparations for that.  I hope that it works out for RO2 and Tripwire, but it appears that launching in prime release time might not be their best strategy for gaining a critical mass of online players.  Maybe I’ll be wrong.

Read Tripwire’s explanation for the delay, here.

Aug 022011

I can admit to being a bit of a Tripwire fanboy.  I constantly refer to the original Red Orchestra as one of the more underrated multiplayer shooters and thoroughly enjoyed Killing Floor with its low budget charm.  Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad promises a bigger and better RO experience that everyone can get in on the ground floor.  RO sets itself apart from other modern or WWII shooters in that a lot of the arcade like elements that players love to abuse especially in games like CoD are not even a consideration in RO.  RO prides itself on a more realistic, balanced approach which may not be for everyone — but if you find your game play experience frustrating in today’s shooters due to “cheap” game features and gimmicks, RO2 might be what you’re looking for.

The good news here is that RO2 is available for pre-order at 10% off, although you can make that 20% if you own the original RO in your Steam library.  Release date is set at August 30th.  I am looking forward to this one. Check it out on Steam, here.