Cutting straight to the chase this time, today I bitch about Shadow Complex, finally give up on the Tony Hawks series (Tony Hawks Proving Ground pushing me over the edge), talk about Blacksite: Area 51 and finish up with a paragraph about stuff. As is the new usual, each game section is quarantined with a name in capital letters, so if you want to skip to what you care about without being infected with other game waffle, you should be able to do so. Remember people, coughs and sneezes spread diseases, so catch them in your handkerchiefs..es. That rhyme never really worked. If you don't care about any of these games, skip down to the very bottom and answer my question in stuff, pretty please?
SHADOW COMPLEX (AGAIN...AGAIN)
Two adventure posts in a row I've pretty much hailed the new God of adventure gaming on the xbox 360 that is Shadow Complex. After several more hours of playing it's safe to say the Honeymoon period is now over, but will it be a happy marriage? My recent playthrough has been on Insane difficulty, there's nothing like playing a game on a ridiculously hard setting to point out it's flaws, and despite all the worshipping, I'm afraid to say Shadow Complex has some. The first and probably most important issue is with the aim system. On normal I would soak up damage whilst raining down hellfire on every roomful of enemies I came across, Insane forces me to play with strategy though as he's about as tough as a wet paper bag with premade perforations ripe for the tearing. I can't whine about that, that's just the difficulty setting, but what I can whine about it is getting pwned by some random guy because my aiming laser seemed to be allergic to his existence. It seems near impossible to shoot someone who is directly behind you on the screen, by which I mean I'm in the foreground and he is in the same place as me but in the background, it's really hard to correctly explain a 2d 3d space :P But anyway, in this scenario my auto aim will fire at the wall excessively, and the manual aim will shoot the ceilingbecause when I press up it shoots up, I'm either missing something or I cannot aim at that guy, leaving me standing there taking small chunks out of the scenery whilst he casually shoots at me in the face with his pistol.
Still on the 2d 3d aiming, occasionally in a roomful of enemies, the targeting system just doesn't let you aim at who you want. On Insane it's important to take out the hard people first so then once the bullets start embedding themselves in your more private parts, you can quickly return fire and take them out. Unfortunately, sometimes the targeting system decides who I want to shoot for me, and snaps my aiming to that plane (as in dimension, not a machine used primarily for air transportation) and I can't get my little blue laser to shoot that guy behind him who I know is gonna take cover behind that annoying obstacle and shoot all kinds of pieces out of me as I desperately start jumping around trying to get a clear shot at him when the action starts.
There's a few other things that don't get you killed but might get you frustrated a bit. Occasionally you are going to have to jump upwards into thin tunnels and make your way up into the next area, however for some reason when you are close to a wall and jump up, his climb jump doesn't seem to register, leaving you sliding down the wall back to where you started. Also when jumping off of say, a ladder, he will always jump across rather than straight up. I'm not sure if that's just a personal thing or me, but I'm used to jumping straight up on ladders in games to speed up the process that is ladder climbing, or to get a cheeky headshot on the unsuspecting guy awaiting your ascent up the ladder. Both of these two things are only minor annoyances, but if you play the game enough they will start to pry on your mind a bit. I've used my foam gun to propel me upwards into an air duct more than once, simply because I didn't want to see myself slide back down several times.
This doesn't change that the game is awesome however, the aim system isn't perfect but it's not dog excrement on a stick either. It will only really bother you if you ramp up the difficulty for yourself and you don't really have that extra comfort zone where you can move from side to side til you can get a shot at someone. There's also not very many tight spaces you need to jump into either, so most of the time you have ample space to get an easy wall climb jump in. These issues are just blemishes on the game that you may never even notice. You have to remember I've played the game rather a lot, and I've already written ample amounts of text declaring my love for the game in previous Adventures in Gaming. I still recommend you at least check the demo out on this game to see if you think it's worth those 1200 Microsoft points for you. I can safely say it was for me.
TONY HAWKS: PROVING GROUND
Yay another game in the franchise. Chronologically speaking this is after Project 8 and before the upcoming Tony Hawks: Ride, because everyone would like another peripheral to store in their cupboard of virtual reality :P Anyway, Proving Ground is most like it's predecessor Project 8 than any of the other games. Most goal challenges are relatively easy to get an Amateur rating but nearly impossible to get a sick rating on, I guess that's just a way of putting difficulty levels in the game without actually asking someone to choose their level of skill, and it gives you something to go back to in the event of you completing the game and wanting more. This version you know have 3 different elements, each with their own story episodes. The game has this big thing about 'the way you skate isn't just about skating, it's about who you are' which I guess makes sense in the real world, and could even make sense in the game, if it wasn't for the fact that despite all this you play all 3 ways of skating during the game anyway. The 3 ways are Rigger, Hardcore and Career skating.
Rigger skating is basically you placing some of your own skateable objects into the world, which was in previous versions but not to this extent. There's several story episodes all about you being some awesome skater who uses his imagination and craftsmanship to build new obstacles into the world to further the skating, but generally it's not so imaginative. If you wanna get sick you will have to think about how you lay things out to keep your combo going, but I never encountered something where rigging an obstacle would feel like it's unlocked a new part of the city to skate in. Hardcore skating is all about huge gaps and aggressive skating. You learn to aggro boost, and aggro skitch off of cars, and body check people onto the floor. It also tries to get across that skating is for you, and if you hit a huge spot then that's enough, there's no need to video it or anything.There's also Career skating which is about getting good photos/footage and about impressing people at Demos, fairly straightforward. There's also the Street goals (manual from marker to marker etc) and there's also arcade machines that have a variety of extra goals like Hawk Man where you collect as many circles as you can in a combo and the more classic Tony Hawks styles of a 2 minute run to get all the goals done. So there's actually plenty to do in this game, although none of it really seemed outstandingly different to anything else, it is a gamee about skateboarding so there's only so much you can do.
Finally, now I can actually start opinionating, well, moreso. Some of the goals ARE annoying, for instance there's one that requires you to trick a gap in a high place, which entails you climbing up some ladders and ledge shimmying, fair enough, but if you try the goal and only get Amateur rating, and want to try for better you will have to reclimb that ladder and re-shimmy every new attempt. Another problem I had with some goals is that the explanation wasn't too clear. One particular goal told me for pro I had to do a rocket air and a flip. Easy enough, I do a rocket air and kickflip, fail, try it with a heelflip, fail, try it with a 360 flip for added difficulty, giant pile of fail. After 10 minutes it turns out they meant a backflip or a frontflip, you can't just say do a flip in a skateboarding game and expect me to know what kind of flip you are referring to :/ In general I didn't find any of the goals particularly exciting, just more of the same. The controls seemed to be basically the same but with the edition of nailing manuals and grabs as well as tricks, that's a slow motion mode where you can control the trick completely by kicking a part of the board or grabbing a part off the board or now landing the board in the manual position. Probably the best part of the game for me.
I won't lie, I got like 40% in the game and sent it back, there could have been some awesome amazing totally rad uber moments later in the game but it's a risk I was willing to take. If you're still a die hard Tony Hawks fan then you'll enjoy it, it's still the same game really, but if you're a less involved fan you may have stopped caring a while ago. I don't have much hope for Tony Hawks ride either and I know I won't be getting that. Honestly? I wish they'd kill this franchise and either start again or just move on. Bear in mind THPS2 was one of my favourite PC games, so it's a shame that I don't care enough to even complete this game :/
Just as a sidenote for the completionists and achievement hunters out there, unless you're extremely skilled at these games and have time on your hands, don't pick this up.
Long story short this is just another FPS, and with many you would only want to rent this. I didn't dislike the game and am completing it again on a different difficulty for some achievements as difficulty modes don't stack. If you wanna know more read on but if you just wanted to know if it's worth a play then, yeah I guess so, but there's better games out there.
As far as basic gameplay goes, there's not too many issues I can think of. The aiming system works fine, enemies attack you and you kill them. The AI is questionable at times however, the enemies aren't exactly smart but your teammates are definitely crazy, but more on that later. The general premise of the game is simply shoot things whilst moving in a forwards direction, picking up collectible dossiers along the way if that's your kind of thing. Most of these dossiers are in pretty obvious positions, but I don't really get the appeal of collectibles usually so I used my god friend Mr. Guide.
So back to your team, there are some pretty loose squad based tactics here. You can tell them where to stand, highlight an enemy for them to kill and tell them to man a mounted gun. For the most part none of these things are really helpful. You also have to order them to open doors for you from time to time, I'm not entirely sure if this was for dialogue reasons or an attempt to drill home that I'm technically commanding these people. Battle is interesting to say the least, it is common for them to throw a grenade directly at the enemy you are currently meleeing with no worries about you standing right there, but I think the game developers noticed this so they turned friendly fire off. Then again when I see a grenade I start to run so I never took a direct blast to see how much it hurt. Your team can't actually die in battle, only get knocked out, which is for the best really because they will happily charge into a group of enemies, guns blazing, then wonder why they find themselves on the floor so often which brings me onto another odd feature of the game. If your team are getting hurt a lot they will have low morale, if you are destroying the enemy with ease it will be high, makes perfect sense, however I've yet to notice what the difference it has on the game.
The story itself is fine, I thought the voice acting was actually pretty good. It's hardly a novel but I'm playing a FPS not reading a post 20th century novel so I wasn't expecting too much. One annoying habit is the distinct lack of cutscenes. I understand that telling the story during gameplay is more immersive or whatever, but if I die and go back to a checkpoint, it becomes somewhat frustrating that I have to run around a room whilst some guy spouts out 2 minutes of blah. It was kind of interesting the first time but I do not want to hear it all again.
Worst part of the game for me is the driving though, which you do a healthy amount of. The left analogue stick controls speed and the right analogue stick controls direction, that seems pretty odd but on it's own I could cope. What annoyed me is that although the right analogue stick turns the car, it turns the camera as well, the second you start turning anywhere close to sharply the camera angle is awful and you just can't see to drive. There's long stretches of driving too and it's just not fun, I'm not sure why there is so much driving anyway, it's not meant to be a racing simulator.
The multiplayer looked good, however there's no way I can accurately comment because I didn't play... You need 4 people for a game, and after 20 minutes of trying I found 1 person online, me. The only thing I could do was run around the map and see what it was like. Unless you rent and several other friends rent it all at the same time there's no chance you'll be playing online, which makes a few hundred achievement points completely impossible.
I know I didn't find any good points to write about, but that's because in most areas it doesn't suck but it's not really outstanding either. The enemies are okay but bland, the weapons are okay but nothing new, it's not a long game but it kills some hours. I wouldn't recommend it unless you're just looking for a game where you can shoot some stuff then have a bath. Like I say, it's not bad, but there's plenty of better games out there.
Well that's another Adventures in Gaming done and dusted. There's several games I'm looking forward to trying like the apparently very controversial (on this site anyway) Batman game, which brings me nicely onto my promised question. Whoever reads these, or whoever doesn't read these because they don't care, would you care more if I put some effort into playing more new games? I can't promise anything because new games are obviously a lot more in demand when it comes to renting, but if more people would care I'd do my best to get my hands on new shiny games rather than random games that happen to come up on my rental list. That's all for this edition. I considered going over the incredibly popular Teletubbies game this week however I couldn't find a copy. Ha, that's an in joke! High fives to all those who got the referencing.