Battlefield Heroes beta impressions

Meet Aldo Raine

Meet Aldo Raine. In a fan boy-ish turn of events, this is what I have ended up calling my Battlefield Heroes character. I’ve been playing a lot of DICE’s Battlefield Heroes beta lately – and it’s great.

The game is fun, the shooting and the movements are top notch – as is to be expected from the guys who did the original Battlefield.

What is also great is that the pairing is not Axis versus Allies, but a fictional setting – pitting the Royal Army against the National Army, which lets you choose the ‘evil’ side without being genocidal racists. This has its own advantages – you end up on servers with people of varying skill and propensities beating the crap out of each other.

Screenshot

The cartoony look also lends itself to a lot of character customisation – which genuinely makes the game more enjoyable as you gun it out against a horde of ragged mercenaries and pirates and sailors in a colourful world. Not to spoil it further, but there is a huge array of weapons and abilities that can be activated by mapping each to numbers 0 through 9 on your keyboard. Each class – the rugged soldier, the heavy-like gunner and the stealth based commando – gets its own set of abilities that are a huge throwback to Saturday morning cartoons.

People have asked if this is similar to Team Fortress 2 – and I happy to report that it isn’t. TF2 remains a hardcore, gory shooter with a distinct art style. The art style here is superficially similar, but has a more wholesome G rated George Sidney feel to it. If that means anything to ya.

I expect to spend a lot more time in this game.

Come home to Wake Island

Battlefield 1943

So Electronic Arts and DICE announced a bunch of new Battlefield games. It’s all cool, but remember kiddies, what is most important in life is what is usually obfuscated by needless faff:

Using the same engine [as Bad Company 2], Battlefield 1943 takes players back to WWII. The game offers endless hours of 24 player multiplayer action over three classic and tropic locations; Wake Island, Guadalcanal and Iwo Jima. Delivering the award-winning through-the-gun and vehicle warfare online experience DICE is best recognized for, Battlefield 1943 will have players battling in ruthless aerial dog fights and intense trench combat

Basically it’s not a full game but a small downloadable with graphics and gameplay upgrades on the old maps. You see that name there though, Wake Island?

The Wake Island demo on BF1942, was a milestone in gaming. I knew it like the back of my hand. The map was a triumph of level design and was the perfect selling point for BF1942 – the open sandbox it created for soldiers of varying classes and people with different affinities to vehicles was mind blowing to say the least. No one had seen that before, and it instantly made Battlefield a name to be reckoned with. It also made sure that shooters and how we played them got changed forever. This was the next Counter Strike.

So here it is – an updated version of Wake Island with new physics and upgraded vehicle handling. This is it – how much for it? Right now, tell me what you want? 15 dollars? 30? 60? Whatever, just take it and go. takeitandgo.

Prince of Persia Prodigy screenies have arrived, jee

Prince of Persia Prodigy
So, the fan mechanism churns and we have screenshots of the new cel shaded Prince of Persia, dubbed Prodigy by the rumor mill mice. I have to admit, it looks gorgeous. Despite the fact that Two Thrones was (as much of an apology letter to people who hated Warrior Within that it was) only just decent with the brilliance shining every now and then only, I still have love for the last PoP trilogy, mostly for what they did with the Prince’s parkour movements, puzzle solving, and the overall glow they added to the gameplay.

It was a definitive game of that generation, one that is in many ways responsible for the way many developers looked at their platform adventures and gave us increasingly cool platformers.

new cel shaded Prince of Persia

This one looks like it is going to be the new benchmark, at least as far as the looks are concerned. I mean looky. Let’s hope they nail the gameplay balance.

Miyamoto Army FTW!

So the gamers of the world are at least a more concentrated bunch than Korean pop fanboys. And thank your Mario stars for that, because it was neck and neck, really.

Miyamoto!
Image courtesy Businessweek.
See, Time just release their most influential person of the year poll results, and from when I voted, Shigeru Miyamoto was at 58, trailing behind Koren pop sensation, Rain. According to the poll:

Shigeru Miyamoto! The video game designer had almost 2 million votes, over 300,000 more than runner-up, Rain. After a tight race at the top, Stephen Colbert came in third place with close to 900,000 votes.

Well, phew and all that Rain didn’t finish first. First he is pop star who sings in Korean, and wears sexually questionable clothes. Second, he is called Rain. Man. Colbert has always been meh to me; I rather prefer the Stewart brand of humor more than his loud style.

Yay, Nintendo DS Top Game System Of 2007

This little system saved my gaming soul last year:

Nintendo DS

And this year, it is the single largest selling videogame console.
Via Game|Life:

Nintendo of America says that it has sold over 6 million of the systems through November 30, at a rate of one every five seconds.

Four DS games, all from Nintendo, have sold over 2 million units in the U.S.: New Super Mario Bros., Mario Kart DS, Pokemon Diamond, and Super Mario 64.

Nintendo added that all four versions of its breakout hit virtual-pet software Nintendogs have sold over 1 million units each.

Think about it. One every five seconds. I heart the DS. My favoritest Game console. Remind me to tell you how it saved my gaming soul, though.

Assassin’s Creed – The Guest Review

My friend Vikram, or Khaz as the intarwub calls him, posted his thoughts on Assassin’s Creed in the comments of my previous post. Since very few people read my blog, and still very few read the comments, here it is in full glory:

Totally unrelated but you wanted to know about Assassin’s Creed. Let’s get the basics out of the way: graphically, music, voice acting (except for the main character, Alta-ir) is all brilliant and anyone who says otherwise is a big liar. And the size of the gameworld is frankly, astonishing. I’ve unlocked about 5% of the game so far and its already bigger than anything i’ve ever played.

The other thing that’s really incredible is the sheer DENSITY of the gameworld. People, alleyways, houses, buildings, mosques, churches, marketplaces, more people, gardens, libraries, town criers, guard posts, minarets everywhere, an entire second level to cities as you can get anywhere in the gameworld without ever having to walk at street level…its incredible. Think old delhi recreated in 3D and your character given full freedom to run around in it like a ninja monkey. That scene in Monsoon Wedding where Dubey washes his face and heads to his rooftop and you get a panoramic view of Old Delhi? That’s EXACTLY how Damascus looks from the rooftops. And I have yet to visit Acre and Jerusalem! 🙂 There is also a world outside of the three big cities. Towns/guard encampents/massive view towers in the “Kingdom” areas (Outside of the three main cities) which you can visit.

You know the “next gen” phrase that’s always abused, Assassin’s Creed is a good example of true “next gen”. A world of this depth couldn’t have been done on the previous generation of hardware.

On to the gameplay, the parkour element is incredible. Basically, if you can see somewhere, you can get there. There is no limit to where you can go within the world. The game basically says “See that tower a mile away and a 100 feet above you? Yes. Go to it and climb to the top! Really? Yes! WEEEEEE!” Unfortunately, unlike the PoP games where the acrobatics were all manually controlled, here all Alta-ir has to do is hold down right trigger to automatically start climbing. All you have do is point him in the right direction. Keep right trigger and A pressed and he enters free run/sprint mode where he basically rips through the gameworld on crack as long as you point him in the right direction and make sure there is a way to get from one point to another. One point I pissed of a few guards, so entered free run mode, ran up these wooden boxes which were all piled up, hup, hup, hup on three beams, grabbed onto another beam, climbed on top of beam, grabbed on to the wall and clambered up it. I bought the game for the parkour element and it delivers that in spades.

Sadly the game commits the cardinal sin of giving you every one of your items and abilities for the first 30 minutes of the game and then takes them away from you. Thankfully the important ones are given back to you fairly quick.

Where the game doesnt deliver is the actual assassinations. If they’re as easy as my first main target then i’ll just delay them for as long as possible. The process is always the same, investigate (Through eavesdropping and interrogations) and then just choosing the right time to assassinate your target. And getting away from soldiers is easier than you think. The combat system is good though but its a little to easy. Its a sweet little dance/counter system which makes for smooth and silky fights against one soldier or many but it isnt particularly challenging and does get repetitive.

Essentially, its worth a buy and the inevitable sequels it’ll be good to see how Ubisoft Montreal improve the disappointing combat, ai and assassination system. The game offers several fresh ideas and approaches to the normal action-adventure game but its clear the developers asked too much of themselves and couldnt focus on what they truely wanted to acheive. It’ll take a sequel or two before Ubisoft Montreal get this just right but right now i’m just gonna enjoy the game at my own pace. I like it frankly.

Edit: Ok, slight change on the AI comment. Just made it to Acre and i’m having a much tougher time there. Already had like 5 chases within 10 minutes. Seems something’s happened and all the guards are on high alert and all the rooftops and viewpoints are guarded. 🙁 Getting arrows fired in my general vicinity constantly. I was in Damascus for an hour and got chased only twice.