Vladerag's Blog











For every good game out there, there are two bad ones and for every fantastic game out there, you have three good ones.  You should never buy something merely good, and should never rent something bad, but the odds seem stacked against you, as by this logic there are six bad games for every fantastic one out there.  The trick is recognizing which one is which, and before you actually sit down to play them.

So how do you do that?

The first part is to know yourself.  Regardless that IGN rates it a ten, if you hate puzzle games, dont play Closure.  If you know what kind of game you are looking for, you are going to have a much easier time at finding it.  Each game is defined in a certain class, almost its own species, and each species has several sub-species, which have even smaller branches themselves.  The better you know what you want, the more likely you are to not feel the pain of sixty wasted dollars.

For example, if you know you like action, you should decide on whether you want something fantasy/swords based, sci-fi/shooters based, or perhaps fist-to-fist combat.  For the sake of the example, lets say you chose shooters, but before you pick a random one off the shelf, delve a little deeper into it.  Shooters can be devided pretty well along the line of stealth, namely whether or not stealth is a factor in gameplay.  Metal Gear Solid, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Ghost Recon, and Rainbow Six Vegas II all have significant stealth elements.  A stealth/shooter game usually means that your enemies can kill you pretty quickly, that enviorments will be complex perhaps with multiple paths to your goal, and that you will often need to think of strategies and then modify them on the fly.  This is great for the more tactical player, who prefers to take everyone out quickly and quietly, like they were never even there.

Alternatively, you might decide to go with something more loud.  Left4Dead, Battlefront, Call of Duty, and Medal of Honor rarely have stealth elments in them, and are generally not optomised for it, so dont expect to sneak through the levels and dont expect silenced weapons.  These games are often fairly linear, you are often affored more health than stealth types, and while some tactical thinking is useful it is more about quick reflexes and acurate shooting.

These two game types are pretty easy to identify, so you shouldnt have a problem deciding which one to play.  Without going into too much detail, here is a quick list and description of some of the more common types.

Shooter/stealth – It is all about killing quickly, quitely, and without being seen.  Tactical thinking is more important than brawn, and dont expect all that much health and ammo either.

Shooter/action – For the people who drown their enemies in lead.  You can think tactically, but generally all the tactics you need are an automatic and reflexes.

Fighting/wrestling(w) – Toe-to-toe mash ups.  This genre is more than just wrestling, also containing UFC as well.  Its all about punchs and kicks, not much thinking involved and you are limited to fighting in a small arena.  The (w) distinguishes this as the western style, the kind that doesnt have superpowers involved.

Fighting/wrestling(j) – Like UFC combined with the X-men, punches, kickes, and super energy plasma cannons.  Dont expect reallity and have some fun.

WRPG – Western-style Role Playing Game.  Skyrim, Kingdoms of Amalur, etc.  Extremely open enviorments, you can often choose to do whatever you want, whenever you want.  The Elder Scrolls Series in particular is noted for that, since you have no real need to follow the main quest if you dont want to.  Great for people who dont want to be held down to a particular storyline, or just like to spread chaos.

JRPG – Japanese-style Role Playing Game.  Tales of the Abyss, Final Fantasy, etc.  Much more linear than their cousins, the wrpg, jrpg’s generally have closed fighting systems.  Meaning that unlike Skyrim, where what you see is what you fight and where you are is where you do it, jrpg’s often use the monsters only as models for groups that may contain many monsters and take place in an almost arena like area.  They focus much more on the combat aspect of the game, and a lot less on choice.

Those are just a few, but doing some research on what type your favorite games are may give you insight into some more types that would interest you.

Ok, so you know what you like.  But how to choose from the torrent of games in each genre?  It isnt like you can play each game ahead of time and see which one is best after all.  Fortunately, you dont have too, because the people at sites like IGN have already done it for you.  There are other places besides IGN, but IGN is a very reliable source of information, and the reviews they write are top notch.

When looking at reviews on sites like IGN before you do anything else, skip to the end and take a look at how they scored it.  IGN rates games across several aspects, presentation, graphics, sound, gameplay, and lasting appeal.  They then give a score which represents how well the game was overall, and keep in mind that it is not the average of the other scores, but rather a sum of its parts type deal, representing the entire experience. 

If the game is less than a seven overall, dont bother with the review, it isnt good enough to merit the attention and only read the ones from seven to eight if the game looks interesting to you.  You want the best, so look for games in the eight to ten range, with ten being the most perfect game that the reviewers at IGN could have hoped for. (at the time of its release.)  A quick note is that IGN gives out tens very sparingly, with only a few games every taking that title.

If the overall score is good, check the other scores too.  The important ones are presentation and gameplay, as these are the ones that tell you how the game feels and how the game plays, good scores indicate a very playable game, you want to look for eight to tens in this range as well.  Scores less than eight indicate that the game may have stellar graphics, sound, or some innovative feature that warrant its overall score.  Nevertheless, in general you are probably not interested in just looking at pretty pictures with pretty music if the gameplay sucks.  The reviews are helpful besides the scoring as well.  They can alert you to difficulties in controls, graphics, or gameplay that might not be enough to hurt their rating but are still annoying nonetheless.

Reviews are great, and a fantastic way to check a game before you buy it.  At the same time, they are no the end all and be all.  Some of my favorite games have only merited low sevens, even though I throughly enjoyed them.  Which brings us to the concept of a demo.

Demo’s are possibly the best of all for learning whether or not a game is for you.  Since you actually get to play a sliver of the game, you get the best chance to see how it plays, what it looks like, and whether or not you want to buy it.  If a demo is available, you should always play it before you buy a new game.  Of course, that isnt always an option.

When considering buying a game, it is also a good idea to check who makes it and if it is in a series.  If the game has eleven titles, then that means it sells.  If it sells, it is probably a good game.  They wouldnt make it if they couldnt sell it.  By the same token, the “they” is pretty important, as it also will show a track record.  Bioware, Bethesda Softworks, and Blizzard have been making best-selling hits for years and they know what they are doing.  Anything they make will likely be quaility work, if not fantastic.

The second to last test is looking at the package itself.  By this time, you should be practically sold on the game already, since you would have researched it pretty thourghly, but it never hurts to take a look at the package.  Read some of the stuff on the back, check to see if it requires special things for the full experience (like a PS move or Xbox kinect), check to see if it requires an online pass, and double check the descriptions on the back.

Finally, you are at the counter, prepared to lay down some hard earned money to get some well earned rest and relaxation.  There is only one final thing that you should do, ask the clerk.  The people who work at Gamestop know the games fairly well, and can tell you if this game just sold was rated highly by reviewers but low by the actual buyers. 

If it all checks out, congratulations on your new game.  If not, well, consider that at least you havent wasted money on something that makes you want to rip your hair out.

Renting isnt a wholly different animal.  The same things still apply, except that you can lower your standards a bit and take a chance.  Services like Gamefly can allow you to try new things, without major consequences.

Still, why waste your time if you dont have too?

Again, it is important to know what types of games you like, and what you might be interested in.  If you like Battlefield III, you might like Rainbow Six Vegas II, or try Deus Ex: Human revolution for a taste of the sci-fi and rpg type genres.  Dont try and jump from one to other in one go, you might regret it.

Reviews are a good way to decide as well.  You have much more leeway when you arent buying, but you still want something better than a six.  IGN recommends that you only play games from seven to ten, and in their description of ratings, declares that some of the lower rated games are painful to play.  Something rated less than five can be compared to moonshine, it burns and will make you blind.

Unlike when you buy games, demos are of no use in renting.  For the time it takes to download, you could just rent the game play for an hour, and then send it back if you dont like it.  Dont even bother.  Similarily, there is no clerk to talk to, and no package to check. 

Honestly, if you feel you need a second opinion after the description offered and the review, it probably isnt worth the time.

You should pretty much avoid everything that doesnt pass these tests, because some of the games on the trashy side of the scale really are painful to play.

Happy Gaming.

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    I must admit, I went into this game with high expectations, and why shouldn’t I have?  Aside from all the hype surrounding the game, it had a star studded cast, including my all time favorite author R. A. Salvatore and the lead designer for the amazing games Morrowind and Oblivion.  It was promised to have found a way to merge action and rpg, fixing the terminal problems of both.  The lack of story, holes in the story, in action style games.  And the weakness of combat in rpg styles (particularly western style rpg’s).

   To say I was disapointed is an understatement.  The story starts interestingly enough, your character, which you construct in a funny maner in the introductory cutscense wakes up on a pile of corpses, the only success in a series of otherwise failed experiments.  The action starts soon after, as your enemies, introudced as the Tuatha, attack for unkown reasons and you are forced to defend the facility with sword and magic.

   Initially, I was impressed by the fighting system.  It lacked the choppy feal of the Elder Scrolls series. and the graphics and actions were beautifuly choreograhphed.  The shift from magic, to sword, to dagger was almost seamless, allowing me to shift my fighting style as soon as the mood hit me, and usually not requiring using the menu.  Even in the  begining, I was never forced to adopt a particular style.  All the usual rpg classes were introduced, daggers and bows for the stealth/ranger, swords and hammers for the warrior, and staves and spells for the mage, and it seemed, for the momment, that this game truly was a synthesis of choice and action.

    That illusion was quickly dispelled as the game went on.  There were almost no improvements or additons to the combat past the intial point, only a few more weapons were introduced, and I soon realized that I had almost no real choice at all.  My standard test for my abillity to choose in a game goes like this:  Can I join my enemies and reak mayhem and destruction?  If yes, than that game is generally one with lots of choices that can affect the outcome in different ways, if no, then it probabbly isnt. 

   That said, I did not enter the game banking on that abillity.  I expected something along the lines of Dragon Age, where my choices would affect actual events, even important ones.  For example, if I have two objectives that can be pursued, but I have to do one before the other, I would want there to be consequences for it.  I would want the abillity to choose to right or wrong, or some stranger gray area that perhaps previous actions unlocked.

   However, I was sorely disapointed.  I realized that almost none of your choices have any affect at all.  If I go wild and kill an entire city of people, I will get a bounty and guards will chase me.  But nothing else will be much affected, if I leave a sick village alone and dont help it, it wont die off.

   My last hope for choice was in how I customised my character.  With the abillity to invest in three branches of skills and never being forced to choose one over the other, I thought I could customize my character into the perfect mage-assassain, but more than that, that there would be choices within each tree that would dictate what kind of magic I would have, and what kind of stealth user I would be.

   Alas, but it was not the case.  You can choose to be whatever you want, but within each tree you are practically required to obtain everything in order to meet the requirements for the next level of skills and improvements.  I could not focus on daggers and sneaking in stealth, or focus on summoing and offensive spells in magic.  I was forced to get a little of everything in order to proceed.

 

   In the end, this game is not as bad as I make it out to be.  It was good, but simply not as great as it could or should have been.  In the end I felt as though I had more choice in Assassain’s Creed and Deus Ex, and better action besides. 

Graphics: 9 

Absolutely stunning too look at, without a single detail overlooked.  With the exception of people, who looked a little stupid in the faces, and after Dragon Age, there is simply no exscuse to have stunning landscapes and ugly people.

Sound: 7

It was okay, but I never really noticed it.

Gameplay: 6

Don’t promise what you can’t deliver.  This game promised choice, the abillity to change the games future and how you played it at will and in many different ways.  It promised a fighting system to rival action games.  It promised a good story and an in depth and detailed society.  Thank you R. A. Salvatore for being the one to come up with the story and legends that are found in the game, at least you did your job right.

Overall: 6

When I get the feeling that Assassain’s Creed gives me more choices and action, and mind you that I am talking about Assassains Creed I, than an wrpg touted as giving the best of both, something has gone horribly wrong.  The game is good, but many games are decidedly better.  Beauty and story are not replacements for gameplay, and trust me when I say that I did not even cover the half of my problems with this game.  (Don’t even get me started on the problems with stealth.)



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