Friday, May 16, 2008

Spoiler Alert! Gamers are spoiled.

This gamer is spoiled anyway. I find that the more able I am to purchase any game or system I want, the more spoiled or jaded I become. I have been a gamer since the Atari 2600 and Vic 20 days. Back then, I had to rely on whatever money I could scrape up or try and convince my parents to buy me a certain game or system. There were games I played to death back then. I invented new ways to play them when I finished them or made up house rules to change things up a bit. But the point is that I devoured those games.

I have always been something of an impulse buyer. Those crappy items at checkouts that no one needs were invented for me. That isn't a good quality to have combined with a video game addiction. I buy games sometimes just because I like the idea of them. Sometimes I will buy a game and load it up, play it for a bit thinking to myself how cool it is and then never play it again. I bought a PS2 to play RPGs I missed out on during the "PS2 era" when I was mired in my MMO addiction. I bought Dragon's Quest 8 because I liked the idea of it. I actually even played it for eight or ten hours and had fun. I haven't played it in months now though. Why? Well, because there was some new shinny thing that came out.

Why am I sharing this with you? Well, because I think this kind of endemic of the gaming review industry. I listen to a lot of podcasts and read a lot of blogs on gaming and the thing I invariably take away is that the people on them are bored. They are jaded and it takes something really fresh and unique (to them) for them to sit up and take notice. I think this creeps into their review scores and how they talk about games. These people (for the most part) have access to a huge amount of games and systems. They see a wide variety of games and end up reviewing things they probably wouldn't want to play in the first place. This leads to a general pessimism and malaise where gaming is concerned. Witness the fact that almost every review you see of a WWII shooter will be prefaced by the fact that reviewer is just, "so over" shooters set in WWII. Well guess what? Not everyone has played every shooter ever released and there are some people who have a real interest in that era.

My point is that game reviewers that work for large companies and I have a lot in common. We are all jaded. Keep that in mind when you read our reviews and thoughts on games. We are not normal people. Take our reviews with a grain of salt and avail yourself of other resources when trying to decide whether to purchase a game or not. And by all means, don't rely on review scores. They are pretty much worthless.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Age of Conan: I'll pass, thanks.

I have spent a good deal of time with the AoC beta and at this point, I will have to give it a pass. I am not even concerned about the bugs (I expected those in beta) or the lackluster quests. What disappointed me was that the combat really wasn't different enough or more fun than any other MMO. I was hoping for a visceral, dynamic combat system and this ain't it. What it boils down to is instead of your character auto attacking and you deciding when he uses special abilities, you now have to make every swing AND decide when to use special abilities (they call them combos). I never got the feeling of being in a Conanesque combat.

While I am on the subject, why is it that combat is like this in video games? Why can't we have combat where there are more blocks and parries instead of hits and it comes down to being able to out think and maneuver your opponent? A couple of real blows from the types of weapons used in these games would be enough to take down most things. It should be more about landing those blows than just striking over and over again. I would rather block and parry and get occasional hits in. It would also be nice to be able to use tumbling or an overpower move to gain an advantage. The bottom line is that Funcom has not reinvented the combat system here. They just changed it slightly.