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Deus Fail and GTAWin

August 29, 2011

I uninstalled Deus Ex 3 last night, after struggling with the first “boss” fight. I left a scathing “recommendation” of the game on Steam as well:

“Don’t buy this until it hit’s the $20 or under sale. It’s a uninspired, generic shooter tied to a mediocre stealth game, with a terribad RPG system. Boss battles are banal and very simple, yet infuriating due to how rediculously fragile the protagonist is. This Penny Arcade comic explains my frustration, quite EXACTLY (I had maxed hacking skills too – and got my ass handed to me by the unavoidable boss fight). System performance is shockingly poor for a game with 2005 graphics. I am a big fan of the original (and its entire heritage, all the way back to Ultima Underworld), but this game is absolutely not in line with the original DE – and anyone who says otherwise has either not played it, or hasn’t played it since its original release. This game is rubbish, and I feel like an idiot for having pre-ordered it. That’s the last time I buy a PC game at retail price.” (Update: of course, that ended up being untrue. I was duped into paying full price for Dead Island.)

I should have added that a lot of my frustration came from the sloppy gameplay and camera. It’s almost impossible to see what the hell is going on, and it frantically shifts between third and first person – something that I absolutely loath. If the entire experience had been JUST third person, I think I could have suffered through more of it. Yet as it stands I was getting motion sickness during that boss fight, and the boss fight was just… terrible. A big, lumbering guy with a machine gun that 1-shots you if you get too close or if you leave any part of your body out in the open for more than 2 seconds. How to win: Run around like an idiot, grab little canisters, and throw it at him while he’s reloading. Sounds simple enough . . . But the terribad controls and camera made this the single most frustrating experience I’ve had in gaming this year. Uninstall. Fail.

I grow a bit tired of how people would compare the game to the original. It had /elements/ of the original, but it also had elements from other games as well, yet I don’t hear those comparisons. To be honest, it had a lot more in-line with the Thief series than Deus Ex, however the shifting of perspective broke that gameplay, and the utter lack of atmosphere* makes the comparison entirely based on gameplay. You sneak into buildings and rifle through peoples shit… Just like Thief. My friend said that everything his character does makes him feel like a badass. I dunno… I just got done playing Prototype, where I was crushing tanks with my bare fists, running up the side of buildings, jumping roof top to roof top in order to /punch/ a helicopter out of the air. That’s badass. Sneaking in through the window and stealing money off of the desk of a cop or random city dweller is far, far away from what I would call “badass”. In fact, I’d use the term “gutless” before I’d ever use “badass” when describing the gameplay style that is promoted by Deus Ex 3. I could go on… But it suffices to say that the nuances of the controls and camera as well as the lack of atmosphere keep me from even /liking/ this game, nonetheless loving it.

*Atmosphere: Well, here’s where my opinion differs from others as well, it would seem. Because this game celebrates Italian Renaissance-style art, architecture, and clothing, some critics are foaming at the mouth about how beautiful the game is. Ehhhh… Well. Yes, it is one of the very few games to use any specific type (or period?) of art as a template for a game… but I find the style over the top and a bit hard to believe, especially for a near-ish future America. I say that Eidos Montreal gets /one/ point for using a classic style as a template, but they lose a point and a half for being so inconsistent with it, and for not using the in-game engine for cinemas that /should/ have been done using the in-game engine. That’s so 1995, to pre-render cinemas and sandwich them between game events. Anyway – back to my point: the style was interesting but didn’t tie-in well to the game… Unlike, say Fallout 3, where the futuretro 50s style was central to the atmosphere and feel of the game.

GTA4 preliminary review:

I was very hesitant to install GTA4, given what a bad taste GTA:SA left in my mouth… yet, a few things kept pointing me to give it a try. The kids are playing GTA:SA on the XBox, and it looks fun, in a sandbox way (what drove me away were the insano story missions that were arbitrarily difficult, and the sloppy controls), my friend Byron had been telling me how great GTA4 was, and after having played Prototype (and loved it, I might add), I couldn’t help but wonder what would it be like to /drive/ through New York, rather than to stomp over it. So, I installed GTA4.

So far it’s not as terribad as Yahtzee would have me believe. In fact, I find the “too realistic for its own good” driving physics to be a GOOD thing. I actually like that I have to try to drive, rather than just hit the gas button and turn a few times before getting to my objective. It makes chases feel more Bullitt and much less Fast and Furious. Maybe it’s a generational thing, but the whole “going fast in a straight line with NAWS” bit, with spoilers on front-wheel drive cars thing just isn’t for me. Likewise, I would, in a game like GTA4, much rather have “realistic” physics for driving. At least for now… who knows, maybe I’ll eat those words and ragequit the game out of frustration for how difficult the driving can be. <shrug>

Anyway, what I wanted to talk about was Mods, actually. Mods for PC games, where you can adjust the graphics or gameplay, sometimes making it a whole-new game (e.g. Counter Strike and TFC). Mods have been very hit-and-miss for me. Either they are self-contained little gems that simply kick ass, or they are bug-riddled, confusing, hard-to-remove little turds. I found a mod for GTA4 that makes the graphics zomfg (apparently, and that’s very debatable), and it basically broke my 15 GB installation. Heh. So right now, I’m 60% into a new, fresh installation after uninstalling the /entire/ game to remove the mods. I had the same thing happen with Oblivion. I installed some “must have ” gameplay and graphics mods, and it basically broke the game. I didn’t even bother reinstalling Oblivion.

I could go on and on, but I’m going to watch some Futurama!

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