Tag Archives: dice

Mirror’s Edge Catalyst And Quality VS Quantity In AAA Games

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I finally finished Mirror’s Edge Catalyst — I figured I needed to go ahead and clear the space from my SSD. It’s been out for like half a year but I think the game’s strengths and weaknesses are still pretty relevant in discussions about more recent and soon-to-come games. Specifically, it’s another example of what can help or hurt the design of an open-world game, or really any game positioned to be a blockbuster. Continue reading

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Star Wars Battlefront Still Feels Like Battlefield to Me

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Before trying out Star Wars Battlefront in pretty much the same fashion in which I tried out Rainbow Six Siege, I assumed that mixing the framework of today’s military shooter with Star Wars would be the perfect combination. Now I’m not so sure. It might be for other people which would explain the game selling 12 million copies last time I checked, but I don’t think Star Wars is enough to get me back into that kind of multiplayer shooter. Continue reading

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Why An Open-World Ultimately Helped Mirror’s Edge

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I’ll be honest: I bought Deus Ex: Mankind Divided but haven’t started it yet because this past weekend Mirror’s Edge Catalyst was on sale and I grabbed that too. Starting the latter before Deus Ex unlocked, it’s got my attention for right now.

I loved the original Mirror’s Edge and was always prepared to pick up Catalyst, even at full price, but was busy with other games at the time. I’d read a bit of the general critical consensus on the new game — that it retained the heart that made the original what it was, but it was buried underneath a bit too much formulaic blockbuster game bloat. I’m not sure I entirely agree with that, particularly in regards to the open-world setting in Catalyst. Continue reading

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A Change In Setting Isn’t Enough To Reinvigorate Military Shooters

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I’ve read very little about the newly announced Battlefield 1. Everyone seems to be interested in the switch in setting to World War I, but honestly, nothing has convinced me yet that it’s going to be anything other than the same standard military first person shooter we’ve been getting for years and years now. Actually, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare has a chance to be the more mechanically interesting game. This isn’t an endorsement or criticism of either game, I don’t think I’m going to play either of them this year. I just want to say I don’t think swapping settings will automatically make a military shooter more interesting. Continue reading

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Can Mirror’s Edge Stay Mirror’s Edge?

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Mirror’s Edge Catalyst is pretty high up on the list of games for which I’m cautiously optimistic but afraid of their AAA publishers ruining with formulaic AAA game stuff. The latest details on it (along with the delay) have got some people scared, but I still want to maintain hope. The things EA and DICE seem to be doing can still be done without compromising the core of the game, but it’s a question of what the execution is going to be like coming from a publisher like EA. Continue reading

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I Really Don’t Want EA To Screw Up Mirror’s Edge Catalyst

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There’s a lot I’m excited about and interested in for E3 next week. I’m probably not going to devote blog posts to predictions or anything like that since I don’t consider mine to be that special. The one game I might be the most concerned about right now though is EA DICE’s recently titled Mirror’s Edge Catalyst. Continue reading

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Late To The Party: Battlefield 3

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While everyone else is worrying about how broken Battlefield 4 apparently is, I remembered I have a PC copy of Battlefield 3 I bought sometime in late 2012 for $10 and never even installed. I guess this week was as good a time as any since I finally own a computer capable of easily running the game.

The main thing I can say that lies at the base of my entire opinion about this game is that even after two and a half years, BF3 looks really impressive when you can run the PC version at its maximum settings. It’s a far cry from what I’ve seen of BF4, but I think it definitely belonged on PS4 and Xbox One-level hardware rather than on the consoles for which it was released. One of the first times I even thought “man, we need some new consoles” was when I played a couple hours of BF3 on the PS3 in 2011.

Graphical features the art assets were apparently designed around were gone, and as a result it perpetually seemed as if something was missing whenever I looked at that version of the game. It reminded me of the PS2 versions of many early Xbox 360 games — clearly cut down from its intended design in order to reach a large player base. Most of that affect is really just on the campaign, which I actually appreciate in BF3, but not as a game. BF3’s campaign has been heavily criticized for how constantly and imperfectly it tries to put players in a series of strict set pieces, as if the consumer is an actor in a play. It’s like the recent Call of Duty campaigns but supercharged and not handled as skillfully, as glitches and sequence breaking can make the whole performance fall apart very quickly. BF3’s campaign performance is missing most of its lights and set-dressing on PS3 and Xbox 360, but when it’s all there on a powerful PC, I actually allow myself to be swept up in it.

Half the game is probably just you running alongside and watching other soldiers breach doors and check corners and stuff like that, but it actually manages to look and feel cool on that Frostbite engine (this being the 2.0 version to BF4’s 3.0) EA’s been pushing. Running down a hill towards a city in flames with 15 other soldiers in front of you does look a bit breathtaking with all the fancy lighting and shadows. You can tell DICE mostly just built the campaign to say “look how amazing our new graphics engine is,” and it is pretty impressive.

I’ll even admit the jet fighter part of BF3’s campaign where you don’t even fly the plane but just pull the trigger to shoot stuff is probably the most intense part of the campaign for me, and that is entirely due to its sights and sounds. Seeing the unprecedented (until BF4 probably) detail and realism in the enemy fighters and the clouds they fly among as they chase my plane actually made me afraid of them.

A series of YouTube videos called “If DOOM was done today,” skillfully illustrates how insipid the gameplay of a lot of these linear set piece-driven shooters are when you strip away their ultra-intense graphics. That’s how I felt about BF3 on the PS3. With all the graphics turned up on my GTX 760 though the smoke and mirrors really do have an effect.

That said, I still find myself thinking “DICE could have made an actual dynamic singleplayer game and not a rollercoaster with these graphics, and it might have been even more engrossing.” When I think about that jet fighter section, I think “imagine if an Ace Combat game looked and sounded like that.” Imagine if someone made a more open-ended shooter with these graphics where these dramatic battles really are driven by your actions.

Of course that’s pretty much what BF3’s multiplayer is — a massive-scale 64-player warzone with top-of-the-line graphics. When I first hopped in and took in the sight of planes flying above me and the whole battlefield lit up with gunfire below, I actually thought to myself “man, this looks like war.” As far as I’ve seen, multiplayer games on this kind of scale usually have quite modest graphics to cope with everything that’s going on, or maybe fewer have been made since recent technical advances. Either way, seeing a 64-player game with land and air vehicles look this good legitimately feels like a new level has been reached in first person shooters.

Don’t ask me how to actually play this thing though. I dabbled in Bad Company 2 but I really don’t know the intricacies Battlefield’s conquest mode at all. I really just ran around and got shot most of the time while admiring the scenery. There’s probably a great, deep game there that a lot of people love, but I’ll undoubtedly end up moving on before I have a chance to really learn it.

After trying out the game that tried to sell people on DICE’s Frostbite tech, what I really want to see are other kinds of games with this level of graphical fidelity. I felt the same when playing Crysis 3 — why does every game today with absolutely gorgeous graphics have to be a linear first person shooter? My disappointment with the Crysis series lies in its abandonment of the principle set by the original — a graphical showcase of its time that also lets players infiltrate massive environments however they want. It’s this thinking that makes me consider buying ArmA III — an open-world military game with similarly state-of-the-art graphics, but its reputation as an ultra-realistic simulator scares me away.

The main reason I’m even interested in Dragon Age Inquisition is because it’s going to be something other than a grey military shooter using Frostbite tech. Indeed, it’s going to be an RPG that will let me freely explore a huge world while interacting with a dynamic story. This is the real reason The Witcher 3’s delay into 2015 stings so much.

BULLETS:

  • Future plans for Sky Rogue. http://t.co/kh9yFKuztp
  • Mavis Beacon is on Steam. What. http://t.co/4MMAeSNDmb
  • So the third Witcher novel — Babtism of Fire, is out now in English in the UK. The US version doesn’t come out until June, but if I wait for the US version it’ll be cheaper.
  • The 3DS version of SteamWorld Dig is on sale this weekend.
  • Somebody starts a PaRappa the Rapper thread on NeoGAF. Rap battle ensues. http://t.co/L1YpIT0gI3
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The Future of Battlefield Singleplayer

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I’ll start here by admitting that I’m not at all a big Battlefield player. I basically just did the campaign in Bad Company 2 and played a few hours of multiplayer, and haven’t played Battlefield 3 at all despite owning it. This here is just me musing over what might be some missed potential for the future of the franchise’s singleplayer modes.

EA’s talked a little bit about singleplayer Battlefield 4 and from that it seems to be going in a direction I think makes sense. I’m still afraid DICE will just go half-way there in its bid to go pound-for-pound against Call of Duty.

Battlefield is probably the one shooter franchise that can even do this right now, but that’s mostly because its multiplayer already has an established fanbase going back over a decade. Campaigns are a relative newcomer to the franchise, and DICE hasn’t yet proven they’re even necessary to Battlefield.

Respawn entertainment, also under EA, is trying to sell Titanfall as a $60 multiplayer-only game. That move is a bit controversial, but it proves that they can do it. People complain about tacked-on multiplayer all the time, but what about tacked-on singleplayer?

I’ll be an optimist and say that singleplayer Battlefield is possible, but it has to be Battlefield. It shouldn’t try to be COD, which is what EA and DICE have tried too hard too often to do. For starters, the rollercoaster level design style that COD’s campaigns follow is something that only maybe three studios in the world get right, and Infinity Ward is one of them. DICE should just stop trying. Most importantly, I think part of the reason Battlefield does so well in the face of COD is because of how different it is. Its multiplayer is slower-paced, more strategic, and on a larger scale.

This is what DICE has at least hinted at in what little they’ve said about BF4’s singleplayer (despite how much footage we’ve seen). In the middle of the “Fishing in Baku” video I saw what looked like fighting in a large, open environment, and I picked out what DICE later confirmed to be the player giving AI squadmates commands. DICE needs to go all the way in that direction if you ask me.

Battlefield multiplayer is about squads getting together and completing objectives within large open maps. The singleplayer should essentially be about the same thing, even if you’re only handling one squad.

Not only would this differentiate BF4 from Call of Duty Ghosts, but also from most other shooters these days. It could be seen as something different and possibly even innovative – the feeling of managing a group of fighters in a large, dynamic battlefield (no pun intended).

People from DICE have also said however that Battlefield 4 will have somewhat more linear sections to its levels for the purpose of telling a story.  I guess they can do that, but what I’m afraid of is that they’ll still try to jack the game up with a bunch of set pieces and scripted events that they think will be memorable.

Really, if a game has to have additional modes beyond where it originated, it should still stick to its strengths. DICE shouldn’t just put in “some of the elements of the multiplayer” like they say they’ve been doing. They basically need to make the campaign a singleplayer version of the multiplayer base.

BULLETS:

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