Friday, February 7, 2014

the SH!T that HAPPENS (right about now...)

So, now that Warframe on PS4 is finally starting to make sense to me - and others, I might add - it only makes sense to leave the Frames alone for a while. And that has absolutely nothing to do with my monumental lack of coverage concerning the first ever PS4 Community Event, the Cicero Crisis. It was pretty fun, though. Sorry you missed it :)

Anyway, let's take a look around at other stuff happening in the world of gaming. Not all the stuff, but at least the stuff that caught my interest.

Where to start? The Battlefield. Battlefield 4 has had its share of issues - on all of the five platforms it has released on, a feat, that has sadly been buried under, might in fact be partly responsible for, said issues. As is a universal custom among the universally malcontent gaming customer, people have been clamoring for some "free stuff to compensate us for yadda, yadda, bla". Which, with EA as a publisher, was like asking the proverbial Wall to just go away where our head is going to go through. Then EA actually does give people stuff for free, and makes me look like an idiot.
Yes, I speaketh the truth:
BF4 Player Appreciation Month is in full effect, and giving you muchos freebies.
Every weekday, a log-in will net you a Bronze Battlepack, every Saturday and Sunday, there'll be a Silver Battlepack waiting for you. Those packs contain everything from XP Boosts to Cammo to Weapon Attachments, and are, as such, pretty nice. You could earn those simply by playing, but still. Nice, DICE.
More free access to equipment can be gotten by two upcoming Unlock Shortcuts, completely - and voluntarily - unlocking all grenades and handguns (of the main game, not the extensions). It's a shortcut, yes, but you don't have to, if your ego won't let you. It's mostly for newcomers and absentees, and I do welcome it.

Finally, a series of community events (everyone, do this so often in that time), will get everyone Golden Battlepacks, those with the rarest free stuff to be had. The first event, 10.000.000 Dog Tags in 6 days across all platforms, is running right now, so go ahead and stab someone.
They also promise more interaction between devs and the community, but I will believe that when... well, never. Gonna happen. Oh, you can also download BF4 Ringtones for your phone. And one has to wonder, which part of its customer base a "Mature" rated game wants to appreciate that way...
Anyway, it's not free Premium or something, but it's nice to be told you're appreciated. And apparently, what we get is the measure of appreciation we deserve. Or do we?

Moving on, February 25th/28th (US/EU respectively) marks the release of one of early next-gen's most anticipated titles: Thief. The "reboot" of one of gaming's most popular niche-game series was quite a long time coming, but it has recently "gone gold", so, for better or worse, it's almost upon us. Eidos Montreal, acclaimed creators of "Deus Ex - Human Revolution", recently showed off a new, six-minute "Thief 101" trailer - offering a quite compelling look into the world and the ways of the Master Thief.

Now, the younger crowd will undoubtedly have one question burning in their minds: Dishonored, much? It's a valid argument, as so many aspects of Thief seems to resemble Arkane Studio's epic journey of dishonor, dark magic and retribution. People familiar with the original Thief series probably said the exact same thing about Dishonored copying Thief, but to be brutally honest, Thief 2014 coming pretty close on the heels of Dishonored, makes the resemblance a lot more... promising.

Yes. I don't care if it's Dishonored 2.0. I loved the heck out of Dishonored, and from what I can tell, Thief looks very similar - but spectacularly, breathtakingly better from a graphics standpoint. On the other hand, Dishonored probably did have the advantage in cool abilities and nasty gadgets. Stopping time, then leaving a spring razor mine amidst a group of enemies, and vanish again never got old. Thief seems to try and be more grounded in "reality" - whatever that means in video games, anyway. There are the so-called Focus Abilities, but you will have the option (as you did in Dishonored) to forgo the use of most, if not all of them, completely. There is no denying, though, that it looks simply gorgeous, and if the game play can be held to the same high standards of its predecessors (literal and spiritual), Thief looks like pretty much everything fans of stealth-games were hoping for.

Finally, there will be a new Lord of the Rings Game. Yay. More Legos. Well, no, not really, this one looks like "Assassin's Creed - Batman in Mordor", or something to that effect. Actually, a former Ubisoft developer literally accused WB Games and Monolith Studio of copy-pasting code from Assassin's Creed 2 into their open-world adventure set behind the enemy lines in Mordor, right between the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings. Middle Earth - Shadow of Mordor teases hope of a game truly deserving the LotR label, with an allegedly open world, various ways to deal with your missions, wraith-like superpowers and a procedural enemy development via the "Nemesis System".

And, yes, okay, we might see where that AC2 comparison came from. I mean, seriously, why would you have these ropes between houses? AC2 was a great game, but Shadow of Mordor already has it beat. Why? You can sneak. If there was one thing I absolutely hated in all Assassin's Creed games, it was the inability to sneak. And no, "Fast Walk" is NOT sneaking! Same goes for the legendary Batman: Arkham Franchise, whose quick combat and detective vision obviously had some impact on SoM's developers.
There are most definitely worse games to be "inspired" by, and let's be honest, when I wrote "Assassin's Creed - Batman in Mordor" who here did not have his heart skip a beat with excitement? The nemesis system, procedurally created enemies that change in every playthrough according to player choices, might the one piece of innovation, to set Shadow of Mordor apart from its spiritual ancestors. It is a very promising premise, but we will have to wait until the end of 2014 to see if the game will live up to it. For now, what seems to be known, is that enemies will indeed be different from game to game, but there is no information on how varied your choices to deal with them are, or if they are simply differently garbed place holders for the exact same missions, the only differences being cosmetic.
Further, it seems that Half-Ranger, Half-Wraith hybrid and hero Talion (oh, did I forget to mention that to the continuity and LotR Canon enthusiasts?), can instantly switch between his two existences, only use his bow in "Wraith Mode", can scale and jump and run like Altair and Ezio, can do stealth kills from both the back and the front and, sadly, seems to be employing Quick Time Events during boss fights.
Well, we can hope. I do. And if you want to learn more, feel free to join the SoM community.

For all your PS4 needs, especially the European needs, head over to Amazon UK - best deals in Europe (mostly). For TV or Movie Streaming needs, as well. Yes, I do buy there myself. Exclusively. Unless I find a better deal, elsewhere...

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