Thursday, March 29, 2012

ORC's biggest mistake

Just a weekend ago, I rented a copy of Resident Evil Operation Raccoon City. Wondering if it would be worthwhile to play, letting things be aside. Played it, indulged for the first few missions. And questioned "this is it, right?" Only one side of the team is opened to be played, can't be. Turns out, many voices have been clamoring together, that this title is a mess because the entire game is locked out. (and those cries are coming from consumers who actually bought the title, not renting it)

Since my 2nd play time, I wanted to actually finish the game, and foresee what the outcome was choosing to save Leon & friends. Turns out, your own teammates would turn against you. Supposedly the adjoining sides would work together. Oddly enough it actually foreshadows what is going on in the real world as well. Tons of people in the industry are losing their jobs. Some reporting of job growth (where is that really? out of a magician's hat?

Even Kotaku and other net journalism sites are pushing the awareness of how bad things are getting. From QA jobs sucking the life force from some in desperate places. Or an entire team losing due to some messy financial issues with the people upstairs. I understand that I may be a lowly drone, and not a full fledged writer or tech analyst. But I tell you what, I feel for all of those hard working people. They work with others to make a product that people will buy, add interest with good PR, and hopefully the fish bite. But as things have been occurring across cyberspace or the printed page, there are too many people losing jobs.

What also doesn't help is the add-ons of another next gen cycle. That our current stuff is obsolete, and the new setup could mean the end of disc based media. Adding to that, I am not a fan of that idea at all. I enjoy actually holding a disc in my hand and being able to play its content. Whether it be a game, movie, or music. It makes me sad sometimes just to think that all of those options could be gone in the next few years. I don't favor the idea whatsoever, it makes me uncomfortable seeing people doing all sorts of stuff with their smartphones as it is. (and its worse that when I'm actually going somewhere, that the person on the road might be playing Angry Birds because they are bored and don't care that other people are nearby.)

I understand that the term of ownership means a license that a person has with the content's owner. But from what press and other media are dishing is that everything we were used to is going to change even more. I'm using RE-ORC as an example because it is what's next for games from now on.

1) Shorter campaign = separate modes can only be unlocked by purchasing them (how is this a good idea?)
2) All content that will be unlocked at later dates is already stored on the disc (someone bought the game full price, they do deserve  access to that don't they?)
3) Patches fix everything (keeping up with the Capcom forums, it turns out there are hundreds of bugs, including some that lock playing the game online with others)
4) Said content can only be played with those who also buy the content via their account (yay for progress)
5) Turns out that its lacking features for more options offline with co-op or multiplayer (seriously!)

I learned my lesson with Marvel VS Capcom 3. It just made me feel like giving up altogether. Only to find out that it would be re-released with the rest of the roster. (which should have been unlockable, and not a total lockout fest) And its even made worse by the fact, that its $30 less than its original purchase price, and it still had blocked content data. SFXT is also sharing the pain, everything is there, just locked away data until some time later this year (and then Ono-san got sick, I wonder if this is why)

I honestly don't know how they will be able to keep this up. But its beginning to take over more and more

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Operation Raccoon

Resident Evil – Operation Raccoon City
Dev – Slant Six Games
Pub – Capcom / Biohazard team
Release – 2012

Back to the beginning – Years ago, we were introduced to the Umbrella Corporation. Known to many RE fans as the “enemy” of the ongoing saga. A corrupt: very powerful organization that had control of literally everything. Only to let loose a nightmare that would take an entire city. But we never knew of a certain clean-up crew, until now.

Gear up! – Right from the start, you are introduced to the Wolfpack. A team of mercenaries, that are sent in to infiltrate a bio-lab that was destroyed in a planned upheaval once information was leaked. Hunk, an operative that is only known by his nickname, takes the team under his wing. Until a certain monster is unleashed, sadly he takes the fall leaving your crew off to find out what you can, and escape.

Just from the intro alone, you get to know your comrades. Being able to choose from a: medic, sniper, surveillance, or technical expert. Each class is able to gain XP, depending on the mission. From collecting data discs;  to successfully finding secret rewards by taking on all sorts of challenges throughout. (XP is also awarded online through team play, and judgment calls on part of each member). These points can be used towards skills by type from better awareness, or even faster maneuverability. 

Ammo supply – There is a plethora of nasty toys available once you meet certain requirements. XP can also be applied towards armaments. From handgun: , to assault rifles, sniper, or shotgun.  There is no limit depending on your characters class type. In fact, each weapon can also be swapped in missions, in case you run into some nasty foes. Thankfully ammo is carried to any weapon picked up, or dropped off. But be advised, some have limited supply until you can acquire more. If all else fails, CQC (close quarters combat) is an open substitution. “who brings a knife to a gun fight!?” This team does!

Positives or Negatives
Pros –
Open to any style of play
Work offline, or play with friends (or enemies)
Solid campaign (RE2 with a spin)
Still carries the classic “tension” RE fans remember

Cons -
Contains several bugs in several parts of the game (to be fixed soon)
A bit on the short side (campaign can be played through 8-10 hours)
Team mates are kinda tricky to co-operate, due to limited tactical style (no command option given)
(hopefully it may be an added feature sometime soon)

Afterthoughts – For a long time, there was a squad based game hiding within Resident Evil. Sadly it wasn’t being harnessed to its full potential. Although in RE4, there was the introduction of Mercenaries mode. A side mission where players could work co-op with a team, and pursue the in-game campaign in a unique way. There was another online co-op released right after called “Outbreak”. Sadly it wasn’t received well, due to its clunky controls, and limited commands (no mic?). It was a diversion until RE5 broke the mold, letting two friends work together and take down each mission consecutively both offline and online.

However, RE was receiving several tweaks thanks in part to the ongoing films. The series was pitched as a side story that would lead into the main series. Oddly enough they actually added more to the mix, because a lot of the influences are being shared. Not just by RE alone, but every other game out in the market as of right now. (*I don’t think many are realizing that until now, so shame on them)

So is ORC a horror / survival game? Honestly, I don’t feel fussy about the concept. It works, and it feels like a worthwhile experiment. Gameplay is frenetic, crazy, arcade style quick. But most of all fun, even with several flaws that seem to rear their ugly head. Is this for the hardcore RE fan? To be honest, I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys a squad based shooter. Even with a minimal campaign, there is a lot to be explored through the XP system, online, and upcoming extra goodies. But if you want to take a taste of this experiment, rent it for a weekend.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

SFXT mini review

Street Fighter X Tekken
Multiplatform – PS3 + 360
Release – early 2012
Genre – Fighting / MMA

Origins – Once started as a bet between two producers, it became a title that many fans were drawn towards. It was a dream match planned unlike any other game for years. Finally in 2010 & 11 we were teased with a sample of tag-teams, and a gem system.  Lo and behold an old rivalry is finally set. But does the collaboration work?

Insert coins – From the get-go, players are introduced to a tutorial with Professor Dan. Giving the player the choice to learn the in-game setup and play styles. Right after all the options is up to you. Play arcade / story mode and find out where your fighters destinies lie. (Oddly enough the pairings regulate with characters from the same universe, not in crossover mode. As far as I’ve learned, later updates are changing that.)

+ Neat setup with characters!

Gem system – Depending on what you decide, there are quick combos, cancels / super cancels, stronger attacks, or easy combos (etc) Sadly its not all open, or unlockable, the more expanded gems are going to be DLC only. Which frankly sucks…

Color custom (cough) half customizable with limited options, (like SFIV had the ability to just add colors). Here in SFXT, it can be customized to one’s liking, but with a limited palette. Oh and btw DLC will have costumes that players have to pay for. And can switch outfits with other characters.

Why is this review short? Well.. its fun, but it feels limited with letting players mesh the two universes together. Some team ups have different round end quotes. In-game OST is alright, but it feels empty with a few consecutive tunes, but rival themes only play rarely near the end.  Plus the endings kinda feel like a head scratcher. They feel empty, but contain some tidbits as a “what if” scenario. Or some for comedic relief..
I didn’t get the chance to play every team. But from what I did play, it felt like a title that was worth playing. Its just the compromise of pushing for DLC, and not being able to unlock anything frankly bites.