Saturday, July 30, 2011

Lost in Dead Space 2

So earlier this month I got my bloody little hands on Dead Space2, which would have had to be one my most anticipated gaming titles this year.

I had ordered the game through a friends credit card, and it was supposed to be sent to his mailing address, so for about a week I kept bugging him to check his post office box over and over. When it finally arrived, my buddy dropped it off at my office, which was pretty awesome.

This was the beast that I had been waiting for since release and now it was firmly within my grasp!

As soon as I got home I slipped the installation disks in and waited anxiously as the game did it's thing. Surprisingly it took a little bit of time installing the game, so instead of sitting there watching the install bar fill, I put on Pandorum and chilled for a bit.

Then the moment had arrived, the game had installed and I was about to revisit my favorite nightmare.

Right from the start menu I was as giddy as a school girl. The original Dead Space would be number one in my list of top three video games of all time... and playing through the opening moments of Dead Space 2, it was clear that this game was soon to join the ranks. The game looks great, the visuals are just stunning and the art direction (just like the first one) is incredible.

I started my first play through on Zealot which was the hardest difficulty to begin with, and I managed to finish the game in about a week. Needless to say that I played this thing almost religiously every night till the early hours of the morning.

The game experience Dead Space 2 offers is just awesome. It feels like the first game, but with additions and not really changes. I'm sure the Dev team over at Visceral games knew they had a winning formula with the first game, so they simply perfected that formula to create a new yet familiar game play experience.

A lot of this contributes directly to further developing Isaac Clarke as a character. His no longer the engineer who's caught in something that's way over his head, instead his the guy who has lived through this mess before and now his ready for anything. Well... almost anything.

From the way he handles his weapons now, to the more effective melee attacks, all of which checked into place with the uneasy way he looks around when walking. Isaac is fun to navigate around.

Isaac also gets to do a bit of tinkering here and there with machinery and computers to show of a bit of his engineering skills. Every now and then you'll come across something or other that's not working, and you can go through what could be called a very small mini game to fix it. I like the inclusion of the engineering vents here and there too, which Isaac can crawl through to get to otherwise unreachable areas.

Isaac Clarke is so bad-ass this time.

And the weapons... god I love the new weapons.

I think every Dead Space fan loves the trusty ol' Plasma Cutter. But my other favorite weapon would have to be the Ripper. Nothing beats cutting down Necromorphs into little messy bits with a circular saw. And it's also my 'out all the time' weapon that I carry around. It sometime feels like I'm cheating with it, only because I've gotten so good at using it. It cuts through like 3 or so baddies when it's fully upgraded and it saves you a shit load of ammo. And I just the love the mess it creates... and the way the baddies are all like "AARRGGHHH!" as I carve my way through em.

As far as new weapons go, my fave would have to be the Javelin gun. This thing is so much fun to use. It fires a high powered Javelin at baddies which can impale them. Upgraded it's pretty much a one-shot kill on most Necromorphs, but what makes this awesome gun even better is it's alt fire.

Smack the alt fire and it activates this electricity thing on the last javelin that you fired, which starts to electrocute and hold down baddies within it's range. And then when you upgrade this bad boy, the javelin also explodes after the electrocution. This is another gun that makes you feel like you're cheating because it just totally murders anything you come across. In fact, this makes the last boss fight easy as cake.

Speaking of upgrades, there's a lot more options in terms of customizing things this time around, and at anytime you can pay a little fee and even remove upgrade nodes that you've spent and apply them to something else. There are also a number of new rigs that you can put on for varied types of protection and item storage space... These also add different perks to Isaac as well, such as extra weapon damage for a particular weapon or even better hacking skills.

Shop smart...

The zero-gravity areas are a lot more fun now with the added 'flying' upgrade to your rig. In fact, one of my favorite areas in the game is this one place where the gravity is out, and you get to hover through the area floating past dead bodies and ghostly masses of blood moving past you.

It's so eerie.

And that's another awesome thing about the game. This time around there's so much action happening around you, but the game never stops to creep you out.

There's also a number of cool new Necromorphs in the game this time, but my favorite new baddie would have to be the Puker, the design of this things is just so sick.

The Puker

This is a guy with this massive gash running down his front from the neck to the groin, and he spits out this acid thing that not only hurts you, but also slows you down, so his other necromorph buddies can take you out.

The Puker doing it's thing

His also got one of the best kill animations, where he opens up your helmet and spews his sick, vile puke all over your face.

That's how I wanna take out people who piss me off... just hold them down and vomit all over them.


You can check out the video below for the other awesome new Necromorphs too.

As far as objectives go, you do end up fixing a lot of stuff here and there just like the first one, but a lot of it just involves exploring places. No one is telling Isaac what to do this time around, and he kind of decides for himself what to do next.

O and he talks!

That definitely adds a lot more to Isaac. Just seeing his tired, worn out face at the end of the first game made me feel some sort of connection, but hearing him speak his mind instead of just quietly walking around taking orders is awesome.

I must admit that I was a bit iffy about the talking in the beginning, only because I felt without the talking in the first game, Isaac is able to become sort of your avatar in the game, and it's actually you going through all the messes of surviving. But this way you start to value Isaac as a character and not just your toon. I can actually say now that he is pretty bad ass because I know what his thinking when his doing all the crazy things I make him do to survive. So the voice is a great addition.

With all the added new stuff the game felt so fresh to play, and yet it felt very familiar. This was the best thing about the game too me. I wanted more Dead Space 2 and Visceral delivered with added goodies and I thank them so much for it.

I would consider my self a bit of a Visceral fan boy. I actually own all three of their titles now, not counting the ones before the name change, and I feel these guys really share some sort of wave length with me. Cause they make games that I would so definitely play. The only other developer I feel this way about is iD software.

I <3 Visceral

At the moment I'm ripping through Dead Space on the Hardcore setting and it's proving to be a lot of fun. I read online about how Zealot and Hardcore are immensely hard to get through, but I think it sort of depends on what weapons you wanna run with. I've got my trusty Plasma cutter by my side, but my two bad boys, the Ripper and Javelin gun are tearing shit up like mad. For the forth slot I have the line gun which helps a lot on Hardcore.

Well this has certainly been a long post. There's much more that I can think of saying about the game, but it's been out for awhile and you can read up on the details any where online.

In the end I just wanna finish off by saying that Dead Space 2 is awesome, and it was more than anything I could have expected... and that I can't wait to see what the Dev team does next.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Waiting for Dead Space 2: A fanboys journey

When I found out about the first Dead Space, I knew it was something that I absolutely had to play. When I finally got my hands on it, it was clear that Dead Space was going to be one of my favorite games of all time. I played that thing over and over, and it was the first game I got all 1000 points for on my 360.

Before Dead Space my favorite gaming experience was Doom3.

Being a horror and gore fan, plus a sucker for the darker side of sci-fi (Alien, Event Horizon), Doom3 filled a niche for me that was sort of lacking at the time. I played that game to death, and I did a little post a while back which talks about my unholy love for it here.

I had been following Dead Space 2 ever since I heard it was being developed. Just going through some of my posts on it before I started writing this one, I saw that I might have been on the verge of becoming slightly stalker-ish over it.

But the sad thing was, that when the game finally got released earlier this year, I was actually too damn broke to buy it :(

I had sort of fallen in between jobs, and I was running around like a headless Necromporh looking for freelance work, so what little money I was getting at the time, I couldn't just spend it on a game. Even if it was Dead Space 2. Another shitty thing was that my freakin' 360 had died, but Dead Space 2 was coming to PC as well so that wasn't too much of a worry.

With the game being on PC the idea of playing it through other means did cross my mind, but honestly I just could not bring myself to do this. Not to sound like some lame-ass fan boy, but I just loved Dead Space too much (and even the whole Dev-crew behind it) to do that. So some how, I just had to block Dead Space 2 out of my head till I could afford to buy it.

Well as months went by, I still kept following things concerned with the game. I was a fan on the Facebook page for it, and I followed the dev crew on Twitter. I don't know why I did that too my self, because it was total torture. But I wanted to see what was happening with the game that I longed to play. I watched the animated prequel to the game (Dead Space: Aftermath), read the Dead Space: Salvage Graphic Novel and even read the wiki for the Dead Space: martyr novel.

This went on for a while, and I tried to fill the empty void in my heart with other games that I borrowed off friends... but then... after months of the 'free lance' crap...

Finally I scored a job.

I got hired as a Producer at a local TV station, and to slash this already monstrously long story slightly shorter, when I got my first pay... I bought my self Dead Space 2.


It got in on the 12th of this month and it took me about a week to rip through it on Zealot (Two levels above Normal) I wanted to play at the hardest available setting because I figured it would take me longer to finish the game. I'm going through the Hardcore difficulty now... and man is it awesome.

I'll do a write-up on my game-play experience and more soon, but for now let me just say that this baby was well worth the wait.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

F.E.A.R 3: First Impressions.

It has been a long time since I've written about a video game, but it's been a long time since I've gotten a game that I've had so much fun with. (Not counting Magicka which is just pure awesome and should not be allowed to compete with ther games)

The other day I got my hands on F.E.A.R 3, and from the moment I hit "New Game" it's been giving me the smiles. I wasn't even about to get it. I had played a bit of the first one at a friends place and the demo for the second one, but it never made me wanna get into the series. Which was weird cause if it has anything remotely to do with horror I'm usually all over it.

But I had been following FEAR3 for a while, and then the John Carpenter directed live-action trailers started popping up online and my curiosity began to grow. When I found out Steve Niles was part of the bloody mix as well... a section of my brain started melting. But then even upon release I was a bit skeptical, and a lot of reviews were saying that despite the developers claims of having a more horror focus to the game, it wasn't really that scary.

Then I saw this video, and I thought fuck it... I'll play it.

And like I said, right from the start the game is a lot of fun.

It's not as demanding as some of the more hardcore shooters out there, such as COD or Crysis 2, but it's every bit as exciting. At least to me anyway. (BTW I loved COD: Black Ops, but got hella bored of Crysis2)

FEAR3 has a more "arcade-shooter" sense to it, in the way that it does require some strategy, but mostly it just lets you run around like crazy pulling off cool slow-mo kills that make you feel really bad-ass. Couple this with the horror theme on the side and it's a win for me.

The graphics aren't the shiniest, but it's not at all bad either. I was very pleased when I put everything on full and it ran super smooth on my pc. Think of it this way, if Dead Space is the big summer block-buster, then FEAR3 is the indie-horror action movie.

FEAR3's Gritty looks works well for it.

The gritty look of FEAR3 really works in its favor though, and is almost reminiscent of some of Carpenter's earlier films, it even has this 'old movie grain' filter on it. Seeing as how he was the hook that dragged me into this game, I thought that was very fitting.

The game handles the same as most shooters, but with a sweet little 'active-cover' feature that slightly reminds me of "Gears of War." Pressing the cover button next to walls or objects makes your character slide and stick to it, pressing 'jump' allows you to either leap over these cover objects or slide to another one near by. This adds a fun little 'something to do' when the action gets mad around you.

You start off each level playing "The Point man" who I read up was the main dude in the first FEAR game. As you play along you are followed by Paxton Fettle, who is his dead Brother. Point Man doesn't say much which makes him kinda lame for me, but Fettle is a cool character, who is sort of a tormentor to Point Man. There's a co-op mode that allows you to play through the levels with both of em, but in single player Fettle is reduced to a evil voice in your head, which for me keeps things entertaining.

Mad action is mad

There is however one small grip that I have with the game, which might be the result of the way I play games.

But before I get to that let me just talk about this one feature that some other games have. It's that thing where some games turn or control your view to look at some sort of action or event that's happening at the time. Like in "Gears of war" whenever something important happens you automatically look at it. Normally I find this feature to be slightly annoying, but I think for FEAR3 it might have been useful.

Now back to my grip.

When I play anything I love to explore. FEAR3 is very linear, but it does have a lot of side hallways and doors that you can explore for more ammo or dead bodies for you to draw psychic energy from, this makes things a little more interesting when your looking around. I'm also the type of guy who will read shit on the walls. Something written here? I'll read it... what's this? A puddle of blood? ... where did it come from? is there a trail?

It's because of this I miss a lot of FEAR3's scare moments. I'm only up to the Department store level, but I had seen a lot of jump scares in clips online, and I was looking forward to playing through em myself. But a lot of the time all I get to hear is the que music and a sound, while I'm looking at something on a wall here, or checking for enemies behind doors over there, and then I turn around and see ...nothing.

O phew I thought I missed you.

Yes it would be scary if I turned and just barely got a glimpse of something, but a lot of the time it's like "what? ...o shit I missed a scary bit."

I'll give you an example, and I don't think it's a spoiler. In this one trailer for the game, I saw this bit where you're in a rest-room looking at a pile of dead soldiers, when suddenly something skittles past one of the dead bodies and then runs up a wall... into the ceiling... then we see tiles fall as it makes it's way across the ceiling before jumping out and running out the door. I thought that bit looked farkin sick,

Now when I got to this bit, I was stuck with a pistol that had like 12 rounds left. So when I found the dead soldiers I started searching them for ammo. Suddenly I heard the que music and a slight sound, when I turned to look ...there was nothing there... and the tiles where on the floor. Now maybe this could have been scary, but I was like "Shit I missed that bit from the trailer!@#"

This is a very silly grip and I know ... but I really think that whole "hey look over here" feature might have really worked for this game.

department store level.

When I got to the Department store I also had to put the difficulty up a bit, because I found that these zombie things were simply lining up to grant me head shots. This is not a brag in any way as I'm not the best at FPS's (in fact I get shit from one of my friends for using a 360 controller on my pc), but I simply didn't want to have an easy ride through the game. A lot of the time for any horror game, the harder enemies and lack of bullets add to the scare factor, and I found this to be the case for FEAR3.

But whatever... I'm having a lot of fun with this game, and I just wanted to share a little bit about it. It might not make or break your game collection, but for anyone who likes a fun shooter and horror thrills, FEAR3 might be worth a look. If you have the option to rent it than you should definitely try it out.

I'm not going to bother rating the game as there are many reviews available online for you to look at, but for me I'm happy I have a game to hold me over till the end of this week, when something special arrives for me :D
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