The State of the Game #14

This week was more of the same, with some added splashes of new/old games thrown into the mix. As usual, I played quite a bit of my usual MOBAs, but I also ran through a new game, and fired up an old friend that’s been sitting on my hard drive for over a year. I also hit a milestone this week, but more on that in a bit. The playlist this week was Awesomenauts, League of Legends, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, Battlefield 3, and Doom 3 BFG.

It was a little over a year ago that I wrote my last post relating to my PSN trophy level. I have gone over how achievements/trophies/whatever-you-want-to-call-them are less of a priority for me than they once were, but I still like seeing the numbers change and how my trophy collection stacks up to my friends. I don’t have hundreds of friends on PSN, so I am only taking a small sample size of the community, but of the friends I do have, there are only a couple of them that are truly obsessed with trophy gathering. One in particular has nearly  100 platinum trophies, a number which I would never even hope to attain. I’ve probably played over 100 games on my PS3, but not all of them had platinum trophies, and those that did were sometimes ridiculously hard to earn, or the game just wasn’t fun enough to warrant all that play time. I’ve earned 8, and have a few games that are within reach of the platinum, but I’m in no hurry to earn more. Still, my last post on the subject had me sitting close to 1500 trophies, and almost to level 14, and I have now hit level 15 during the course of the week. I’m almost to 2,000 trophies as I write this as well. It took a year to earn a level, and that goes to show how much I’ve slowed down with achievement-based gaming. Part of what got me to the next level was my play through of Brothers, and I’ve already dedicated a full post to that, so no more commentary is needed. Here’s what has happened with the other games on the list:

Awesomenauts:
I believe I have made it over “the hump”. In last week’s column, I mentioned that I was nearing 16k rating and had broken into the top 1600 rank-range, but that it was becoming increasingly more difficult to get my numbers to go up/down (up in the case of rating, down in the case of rank). This week I saw a considerable jump on both ends, and I didn’t really play any more games than usual. I’m now sitting at rank 1361, and have a rating of 16216. Getting over the hump into the 16k rating-range has made it that much easier to go up in rank, as I went from 1600~ to 1300~ in a matter of a couple of days. I also prestiged for the the final time, and am about halfway to max level. Once that happens, there really won’t be any other form of progression outside of climbing the leaderboards, but that has been fulfilling in itself. Here’s the proof:

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My roommate is rather upset, because at some point (back when we were in the 3000~ rank-range) he was rated higher than me, and after I passed him up he’s never come close. I think he is rank 2900 or so, which isn’t to say he’s bad, perhaps he’s just had worse luck. Or maybe he’s just bad 🙂

League of Legends:
My Brother-in-law mentioned that he got his little brother playing League, and he was seemingly picking it up rather quickly. At some point he had made a “smurf” account (new account that starts at level 1 and has to be leveled, but you have the higher level gameplay experience, usually giving you an advantage when playing against those with a low MMR), and was using it to play with his brother. I thought it sounded like a good idea, because if I played with them on my main account, I would probably suffer a loss of MMR because of their lower skill level. So I made my own smurf account. I have yet to play with them, but I did play a bot match with the new account, and forgot how truly bad people are when they first start playing the game. Hard to believe I too was that bad at one point, and I’m not even that good now.

Outside of the smurfing, I started playing more classic again, as I reunited with an old friend in the game, and we have been tearing it up. Every game I have played with him has ended in a win, despite some of the games seeming like they would be a loss. We have a similar play style though, so our synergy elevates the rest of the team. I have mostly played Support, and because I hadn’t really played much classic since the new season started (or throughout preseason for that matter) I realized that I needed to tweak my builds and my runes/masteries. I was finding that the runes I was using to add gold per 5 aren’t really as necessary anymore, as the new gp5 items and masteries really made a difference. I was having an over abundance of gold, but was noticing that my AP ratios were lacking. As such, I have shifted the focus of my rune page from gp5 to ability power. Here’s the new page:

newsupportrunes

 

Keep in mind, this is a work in progress because I didn’t have the marks I decided I wanted to use. I am now using flat AP quints (+15 AP), AP/level glyphs (+28 AP @ lvl18), Flat Armor seals (+12~ armor), and Hybrid penetration marks (will give armor and magic penetration). I’m not sure on how it will work 100%, because I was using armor marks previously, and only have two of the hybrid pen marks as of right now. So I’m a little tankier and have a little less penetration for the time being. The justification for these runes is that the extra ability power really helps early game skirmishes, the armor is protection from the opposing AD, and from the auto attacks that the opposing support will throw at you. The hybrid penetration will help you do more damage with your own auto attacks, and will also help with spell damage. This is an aggressive set up, but you should always be trying to poke as the support, especially if you are ranged. I used this build with Sona and it seems to work out better, mainly because you still have manageable gold amounts, but also hit a little harder in early game lane trades. Supports no longer have to be a heal bot, they can actually do some damage.

The Others:
I played more Battlefield 3 here and there. It’s still going strong from what I can tell, no matter what time of the day I get on, there are always multiple full servers. Perhaps some people never moved on to #4, or maybe because of its buggy launch they went back to 3 for a while. Either way, it’s nice to see that it hasn’t be completely abandoned. I really want to like the rush mode or the domination mode, but there’s something wonky about the vehicle controls that throw me off. The first time I piloted a jet I crashed before anyone knew I was in the air. I somehow managed to put a helicopter on it’s side and still move for quite some distance. The tanks aren’t as bad, but I still got lit up by the opposition. For now, playing the good ol’ infantry-based deathmatch is the most fun to me. I even fired up the single player campaign just to see if there was some missions that would teach me how to properly control the vehicles, but I haven’t played one yet. More on this later.

Finally, I returned to Doom 3 BFG. I pre-ordered this game, and played it a bit upon release. I played it a little here and there. At one point I decided it was best to play through Doom 1 & 2 first before playing through 3, and I beat the old games, just to let the title collect dust again. I was looking at it the other day and said “why not?”, so I picked up where I left off, basically at the very beginning of the game. I only played one night, but I made a fair bit of progress. I believe I’ve made my way farther than I have ever been, as I had played the game a time or two before on different platforms, but have not beaten it anywhere. The game still looks pretty good, but is showing some of its age, particularly in the area of aiming. I get frustrated playing games where you don’t have the option to look down the cross hairs of your gun. But it’s still got enough spunk to keep it fun. I was still jumping every time they threw something crazy and unexpected at me, and that damn flashlight still doesn’t stay charged long enough!

Normally I’d go into what’s ahead at this point, but I really don’t know. I have been in one of those moods where I bounce around a bunch. Still having the craving to play an MMO again, but I’m unsure where I might do so. Guess we will have to wait until next week to find out what I decide. Until then.

 

 

Brothers: A Tale of Mediocrity

This past Tuesday, the new free game on offer through Playstation Plus was an Indie title by the name of “Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons”. I recall reading praise for the game, Metacritic has it scored at an 86/100 (excellent by most definitions) and the user ratings are hovering at 8.5/10. This is one of the many times I have seen a score not reflect my feelings for a game, but this just seems like everyone is being far too generous. Typically my feelings go the other way, where a game that scores low is actually a gem.Creating a game is no easy task, and I know that project development takes time, money and manpower to accomplish — all of this before actually getting to work. Developers don’t green light something unless it seems like a good idea, and in turn will make the company a profit. I fail to see what the grand scheme here was; I am lost as to what everyone else is so in love with.

Let’s start with the normal breakdown:

Graphics:
The graphics are stylized, in that they are somewhat cartoonish, but still realistic enough. There are some fantasy tropes (orcs, ogres (or are they trolls?)), and they are many cut scenes intertwined through the adventure. Overall I liked the art direction, even if it was a little too cute/family-friendly/G-rated. This is probably the best part of the game when it comes down to it, as I have complaints everywhere else.

Storyline:
There’s gonna be spoilers here, fair warning. This game isn’t new, so the story has been out there for a long time, if you haven’t played the game and want to see for yourself, skip this section. The story in this game is a bit hard to follow. I’m not entirely sure if the designers are from another country and as such the language being spoken is foreign, but for the most part it seems like gibberish. Not to sound insensitive to other languages, but it really sounds like gibberish. This leaves the player to infer what is really going on. Hand gestures are great, and I am smart enough to infer what is happening, but regardless of if a different language is being spoken or it is just gibberish, I feel like it broke the immersion. I think subtitles would have been in order, or some narration, anything really. It irritated the shit out of me having to guess why we were climbing a castle in the middle of nowhere, or helping sea turtles reunite with their mother. Anyway, you are two brothers, your mom died when the little bro failed to rescue her from drowning, and your Dad is sick. You have to go on a journey to get some shit and make him better. That’s the arc in a nutshell. There is talk of how the game is emotionally charged, and that people who have played through it were “touched” in some way. I felt absolutely nothing. Perhaps I’m a cold-hearted bastard, or perhaps I’ve seen all of these tired cliches before. There wasn’t anything here that made me feel connected to the characters. Add in the fact that the game clocks in a 3 hours to complete and there’s absolutely no replay value (unless you want to play for trophies), and this story was mediocre at best.

Gameplay:
The gameplay relies on the controller’s two sticks, and two buttons, L2 and R2. As simple as that is, controlling both brothers at once can be challenging at best, frustrating at worst. The concept is neat and all, but when you have to control both brothers through some tight spots, you’ll be lucky to not be throwing your controller. Honestly, I didn’t have that much trouble and I completed the game quickly, but it was still enough to be frustrating. There is no combat, puzzles are pretty easy, but jumping and  climbing are at a premium. Getting the trophies were easy as well, I was at 100% by the end of my 1st playthrough, and have already uninstalled the game.

Overall I can’t say that the game was really worth my time. I don’t think it’s worth yours either. If it wasn’t so short and easy, I wouldn’t have even bothered to complete it. On the plus side, the adventure itself had some high points, some interesting concepts, and was polished enough. I just don’t see the point, so it all fell flat for me. I would give it a 4/10, there really isn’t anything going for it. Did you play the game? What did you think?