Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Not a video game post this time, but about a tv show, Doctor Who.

I have been a fan of Dr Who for a long time, I watched it as a child with no idea what was going on but I was really happy when the show returned from a long hiatus in 2005, since then I have been a big fan.

Tonight I just watched the season finale, The Big Bang, and my thoughts to be non-spoilerific are: it was awesome.

So the reason I am posting, I just want to talk about this series of Dr Who. This series saw the new Doctor, Matt Smith take the helm over from David Tennant. Now I refused to judge Matt Smith from the interviews when he was unveiled as the new Doctor but a lot of people did, including my sister, her words were “he’s not the Doctor.” But I waited and was pleasantly surprised because he blew everyone away including myself. Matt Smith made that role his own and his assistant Karen Gillan as Amy Pond was brilliant casting.

Besides new actors we got a new head writer Stephen Moffat, creator of the stone angels from 2 seasons ago and he has crafted a brilliant season of ups and downs with the episodes he wrote.

One thing that I really enjoyed through the season was the music, it was always there at the right bits and made every climactic moment feel suitably epic.

So in a way this is just my way of saying that Doctor Who was awesome and the finale blew me away, it ended one storyline but left the door open on some other threads, so roll on Christmas when the Doctor will return for the Christmas Special, I for one can’t wait.

My name is Michael Thornton, I used to be a spy until…

If you are a fan of the TV show Burn Notice (and if you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favour and watch it, it is one of the best shows on TV at the moment), you will recognise that opening blurb, except I changed the name. The reason behind the name change is because the premise of Burn Notice is also the premise of Obsidian Entertainment’s Spy RPG Alpha Protocol. A spy for the US Government is cut loose “burned” by his government and has to go his own way. Burn Notice does this in an intelligent manner, and creates a great story that keeps you watching, it has likeable characters and the lead star of the show is charismatic and likeable.
It seems like the makers of Alpha Protocol heard the premise of Burn Notice and took the concept and made a game. Michael Thornton gets recruited into a new agency, but on his first mission he is betrayed and he goes rogue, or Alpha Protocol. (or is that the agency he works for? it is never made very clear)
So now you have to find out who betrayed you and unravel a web of corruption that could lead to getting you killed or getting your life back.

The game begins with a small tutorial, then your off on the first mission which leads to the betrayal and from there you have 3 locations to visit, in these locations you can complete a lot of different missions in any particular order, choosing to skip over some of the side missions.

Enough about the story, how does it play?
Okay, I wanted to love this game, I really really did, the concept is brilliant and in one interview the game producers said that you can play in three different styles based on famous spies, the three B’s: Jason Bourne, Jack Bauer and James Bond. It sounds awesome and you can mix and match these styles to suit how you want to play the game. Also depending on what you did the game would turn out different. Replay value up the whazoo!
However, from the moment this game puts the controls in your hands, it feels wrong and it looks wrong. Maybe I have been spoiled by Mass Effect 2, but this game didn’t feel right. Also the graphics reminded me of the first batch of Xbox 360 games, they looked good at the time but now feel dated, very dated.
Its hard to explain why it feels wrong, but as you play it you will understand. Now it has a levelling mechanic and its all about putting points into skills to make things easier on yourself. The thing is, the moment you fire a gun you realise this game isn’t what it sets out to be. At least in Mass Effect, the gun combat was soley relying on dice rolls, your aim was precise and as you levelled up the gun use, your shots were more accurate and dealt more damage, in Alpha Protocol you might line up a perfect headshot and pull the trigger and the game will decide that you missed. By making the gun combat Gears of War in all but name, they really screwed up the RPG element, because your guns needed to be levelled up. If you want to be a silent master of death, you could level up your pistol however, when you get caught and you will constantly, the best weapon to have is the assualt rifle.

I wont go on about the game too much, what I will say is that the story is interesting, the non-combat parts are really well done and some of the characters are pretty cool, but the game forces you into long bouts of combat and it’s not fun, you need to invest all your points into stealth and assualt rifles just to make the game passable. Like I said, I really wanted to like this game but it’s buggy, it’s combat system is a mess and you struggle with the game the entire time you play it. Alpha Protocol could have been good, and you can see the game it wants be struggling underneath the mess and jankyness of it.
My recommendation is this: If you have a 360 and you want a good rpg and you see this game going REALLY cheap, pick it up, otherwise invest your money in some good RPGs like Mass Effect 1 & 2 or Dragon’s Age.

So as Sunday night draws to a close I am left wondering where the weekend went? Once again I was alone this weekend as my wife did a sponsored walk in Edinburgh. My only issue with tonight is my downstairs neighbours who seem to think they don’t live in a block of flats and that they can make as much noise as they like 24 hours a day. I hope to get an uninterrupted nights sleep.

I just finished a lengthy Free Roam session in Red Dead Redemption, which started slowly until I encountered 3 players who had discovered a bug that put them in a room where they could shoot out but no one could shoot in. For the next hour I investigated around this and found some weakneses and it got to the point where I drew them all out to hunt me down. 3 against 1 is not a fair fight so I died often but I had a blast. I think the funniest thing was that all 3 guys were talking on voicechat and I honestly believe that they thought I couldn’t hear them, but I heard every word and they tried to set traps for me and I was able to avoid them. If Rockstar do this right, Free Roam could be epic and really set the standard for online multiplayer games of the future.

But now to get some sleep, I leave you with this thought: what’s done is done, you can’t change it but what you do next can define you.

Grand Theft Horse

Posted: June 20, 2010 in Uncategorized

Red Dead Redemption has been out for about a month now, and people have raved about it, also everyone’s opinion is out there.

I am making this quick, but Red Dead Redemption is a great game, it is just really good fun. It places you in the shoes of a cowboy, in the dying days of the old west. Technology is encroaching and the wild west that people romanticized is almost gone, steam trains are joining up parts of the land that only horses could tread and automobiles are heard of but rarely seen. In this setting it makes things very interesting and as the lead character in your own western, a lot of fun is to be had.

The story, as great as it is, is there for you to explore yourself, I wont really talk about it except in broad terms. It is typical Rockstar Games fare, you play a character who has his own personal quest to get on with but before he can he needs to help out others. You get missions from different people and gradually explore the map in front of you. It is a game of three acts, act 1 has you in one place, act 2 moves you south of the border and act 3 brings you back up and to a larger town to ride into. Missions there to advance the story but every now and again you will encounter side missions which get interesting and are spread out in the world. Some are more strange than others and you will find yourself keeping an eye on your map when these pop up. Along with side missions, strange events will happen on your travels. For instance, in one section I was riding along and some guy ran out of the bushes asking for help, I slowed my horse and he ran up, pulled me off the horse and jumped on and rode off. I quickly took out my gun and shot him before he disappeared and got my horse back but that was just a random encounter. These encounters are spread out in the world and will happen at random, you wont find them in the same place twice and you never encounter the same thing twice in a row.

The game is chock full of things to do, but it does it so much better in than the Grand Theft Auto series because the old west is somewhere that is fun to explore, you can hunt animals, collect bounties or even perform your own deeds of injustice if you feel you want to. In Grand Theft Auto the cities were okay to explore but it was bland at times, this world just teems with wonder at every turn and has a cast of characters within the story that are very memorable.

I have barely touched on everything this game has to offer but I will point out two faults, the first fault is minor and I actually kind of like it, other don’t. The game has auto aim, you pull out the gun and hold down a button and you will lock onto a target, even in multiplayer. It makes harder parts of the game easier and easier parts a complete walkthrough but I like that, because it makes the story progress and you are not banging your head against a brick wall. The second fault lies in the story and setting, so you have the old west to ride around in and cause chaos, your character John Marston states at numerous points that he is doing what he has to, so he can get his family back, but the game lets you do things in the world that John Marston will refuse to do in cut scenes, so the characters morals and the style of game don’t really match up a lot of the time. It’s a slight niggle and I can see why he has these morals but it takes away from the game a little when you can kidnap a woman, tie her up and leave her on the train tracks to get run over just so you can unlock the Dastardly achievement.

Also the game has multiplayer, but again enough has been said about this awesome Free Roam concept on webpages, but I will add that I love Free Roam, it dumps up to 18 people on the world map and lets them do their own thing. Players can buddy up and create posses to hunt down gangs or other players, or just run around shooting anyone and anything. My favorite past time in free roam at the moment is going into the town of Armadillo, staking out a place on top of one of the buildings and start shooting innocent people, this puts a bounty on your head and federal marshals come riding into town to dispense lead justice, every person you kill racks up your bounty and once it is over $1000, the bounty is offered to other players. So you end up taking part in a mini-siege and it can get intense.

All in all I like this game, the story is good, the characters are likeable, there is enough side missions and activities to sink hundreds of hours into and that is not including multiplayer. This game is a must have for those that enjoy action games and want something unique to play.

The first post

Posted: June 17, 2010 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

So I have started a new blog because the old one fell by the wayside, I had no time to update it. But thankfully with my iPod touch I can update this blog on a more regular basis.

So what will I be rambling about? Mostly video games, it is a subject I can obsess about. My game of choice at the moment is Red Dead Redemption, a post about that game is incoming.

So for now I sign off and hopefully this is the first of many posts to come.

Roberto