All About Meat_Bag
Looks like it's time for me to take my old camo uniform out of the closet and clean my guns. Again.
To no little surprise, I just discovered a new ArmA title that's being developed by Bohemia Interactive, the masterminds behind the original Operation Flashpoint. As some of you may know, I have had a love/hate relationship with Bohemia Int. for a long time. And just like an old ex-couple that broke up but stayed in touch regardless of the past mistakes, we started talking again. First I dumped Bohemia because of ArmA and ArmA 2 (which were utterly disastrous), and acted hostile to keep her from calling me again. And Bohemia generally tought I was a selfish d*** and didn't call me again. Then, after a while, I saw signs of progress on Bohemia's part, and decided to return the calls. Thinking maybe she changed after all this time, turning into a girlfriend/video game developer company I always wanted. And KNEW she could be if only she tried a little harder. This time it was me that picked up the phone and invited Bohemia out for a drink. I was skeptical at first, but after a while had to admit I was pleasantly surprised. Here's what we talked about...
We talked about ArmA 3. And why I'm (against my will, to be honest) excited about it, and also why I fear I might be disappointed again. So what's the deal? Well, let's try to sum it up. We'll put all the pros and cons on paper and see if ArmA 3 will finally live up to it's potential. So here goes...
Why I'm excited about it:
In my spare time, I sometimes let my imagination wander off and create things of it's own. On such one occasion I tried to imagine what would a perfect military-themed game look like. What I imagined was a cross between Operation Flashpoint, Jagged Alliance and Brothers In Arms. Here's how it's supposed to look like - a hardcore, realistic FPS. That takes place on a huge battlefield, has tons of vehicles, weapons and gadgets, and offers you complete freedom to accomplish your missions any way you choose. Tons of different weapons that can be modified, as well as uniforms, assault vests, body armor, and countless ways to customize your loadout. I want both my allies and my foes to be smart and deadly, so I am forced to use my brain more then my reflexes to survive. I want a simple, Brothers In Arms style system of squad command, so I don't have to break my fingers every time I want to say "Squad, regroup to me!". I want a fully destructible environments. And I want it to run smoothly on a relatively reasonable hardware. Oh, and a bit more realism. Yes, realism. Think about it... In all those "realistic" military themed games, the guns never jam and are perfectly accurate all the time. Even the freakin' sniper scopes are zeroed in perfectly. There is always one side that is "bad" (your enemies), and there are no civilians, mobsters, mercenaries, local militias, black markets, news agencies, corporations or anything else resembling an actual war-torn country. I want that changed! I want a clusterf*** where you can't tell right from wrong, you're not sure who the enemy is and you always expect a bullet in the back, even from a civilian. I don't want a fancy airsoft match!
So can ArmA 3 fulfill those wishes? Well, some of them it already fulfills. Here's what Bohemia promises...
1.) Huge environments. Check.
2.) Many ways to customize your gear, your guns, even your uniforms according to a mission and terrain at hand. Check.
3.) Complete freedom in a way you accomplish your missions. Lonewolf, squad leader, saboteur, ninja... You name it! Check.
4.) Clusterf*** of many factions, friends, foes, guerillas, arms dealers, etc. Holy s***! At long last, CHECK! *tears of joy*
OK, but what about those other stuff? And by "other stuff" I mean - bugs and design flaws that plague ArmA series since it first saw the light of day. Well...
Why I might be bitterly disappointed:
Let's face it, ArmA was never a big budget game. And that's one big part of it's problem right there. It's not a game for a wide audience, like Call Of Battlefield 28 or whatever it is these kids play nowadays. It's a rare gem for a small audience, mostly adult people who want something more then "frags". So you can't make a lot of money from it. Which means no big time distributer would finance it. And you can't make a blockbuster without money. That's the sad truth. No matter how talented and creative you are. In fact, It's a freakin' miracle that ArmA had survived for as long as it did.
The other part of the problem lies in the fact that they couldn't (or most likely wouldn't) fix some of the issues that doomed ArmA. Mainly tons of bugs and stability issues. But OK, I get it, lack of budget, lack of time, lack of proper tools, etc., etc. What I don't get is why the hell can't they create an AI that would at least resemble anything called "smart". And why they simply refuse to fix the broken command system which makes it impossible to command a unit in the field. Also, it wouldn't hurt to put more effort into creating better misions. A little bit more balance of power between you and your enemies, better scenarios, believeable environments... I know perfect AI is impossible to programme, but Brother In Arms had it polished almost to perfection. And you only needed 2 buttons to command 3 to 4 different teams. Why not copy that?
I might be excited about all the progress it has made, and call Bohemia over for dinner or something, but until I see some hard evidence that the most serious and crippling issues of the series will finally be fixed, I will not get my hopes up for ArmA 3.
But I will keep my eye on it...
You might be wondering why I haven't written a review of Dead Island just yet...
Seen as I have been thrilled about this game for a long time, it might come as a surprise. But the truth is, I simply didn't have enough time. I wanted to do a proper review, and in order to do so, you need to play the game A LOT. Especially a game that is as big as Dead Island.
Until the full review is ready, let me adress a few serious issues I have about this game. Stuff that would make a review too long, even for my standards...
First of all, I LOVE Dead Island! Or, should I say, I love 1/3 of it... Say whatever you want about this game, but you cannot deny this simple truth - Dead Island should've stayed in development for at least 6 more months.
Just as some games are woefully delayed (STALKER, anyone?), some are woefully rushed. I don't know what caused it, I don't know whose fault is it, but Dead Island came out when only 1/3 of the game was actually finished (even tou it had it's own issues). The rest of the game feels like it barely made it out of first beta testing. So let's start from the beginning...
Dead Island is a broken game, to put it bluntly. SERIOUSLY broken game. Which makes me want to punch something, because it's otherwise a genuine, honest-to-God GAME OF THE YEAR material.
The first level is, of course, a prologue. A little tutorial that teaches you a few basics. And already it gives a bad first impression, as far as the graphics are concerned. Some broken textures, messed-up pixels... Ugly, but not game-crippling. And I only noticed it during the prologue. Once the actual game starts, it runs perfectly smoothly, with maxed-out graphics settings. The atmosphere is great, and there is no loading, except the first one when you actually start your game. Unfortunately, there are some other issues. For example, if you grab a piece-of-crap weapon you intent only to sell later on, it automatically switches with the weapon you are currently holding. For no goddamn reason! It's espacially nasty when you get caught in an ambush, and you're expected to defend yourself with a broomstick you just picked up, because the game thinks it's a better weapon then a machete you were just holding. I also "enjoyed" how the game loved switching my weapons for (useless for anything except making Molotov cocktails) bottles of alcohol I picked up, forcing me to open up an inventory screen every 2 seconds.
Also, good luck with throwing your weapons! If you miss, there is a good chance that your weapon will disappear into thin air. Even if you score a hit, you might lose it anyway, because f*** you, is what the game basically says. Your powerful weapons also tend to disappear if you accidentally switch them with some random piece of junk (yes, the inventory system is completely broken, when you boil it down). And since you can't save or load the game at will, I was literally left with a feeling that the game just showed me a huge middle finger. More then once.
At first, I had the impression that the game only saves my current condition as far as money and items are concerned, and respawns me at the nearest safe house (as it damn well should be). But I was wrong. Yes, it really is like that in the beginning, but later on it becomes clear it simply returns you to the spot where it saved you last, during whatever quest you had active in the "quest" menu at the time. Which is really, really bad. Especially when you turn on the game tomorrow and find yourself in a middle of a zombie crowd, with weapons nearly broken, far from the nearest safe house.
And these are the most obvious flaws within the game itself, not counting the technical issues you encounter once you reach the infamous city (the first 1/3 takes place on the beach and in the jungle, the other part takes place in a dirty urban favela). Long loading times, stability issues, drops in frame rate...
The patch I installed was supposed to fix this, but as you guessed, it only made things worse.
Jesus Christ, how the hell did anyone let that happen after seeing the first beta testing?!?!
Holy crap, where do I begin?
As usual, it's been a while since my last blog post. The truth is, I have so much work to do around the house, I barely have any time for my number 1 favorite hobby - video games. So, the less games I play, the less stuff I have to talk about on Gamespot. Oh, sure, I could talk about my dog (and believe me, she's adorable), my airsoft gear (not that I'm bragging, but I do have better quality gear in my closet then many Croatian special forces operatives do... ), or new courses I'll be taking... But come on, we all know I don't really have that much to say! I'm not really Stephen Hawking or Einstein...
So I mostly just stick to video games...
Also, I'd like to thank all the people who read and comment on my blog posts. You may be few in numbers, but you know what I always say - "Sometimes, less is more!" You mean a lot to me, is what I'm saying... 8)
As far as the islands and dead thingies go, we have a lot to look forward to! Dead Island is finally here! So sharpen your knives and machetes and get ready for the first impressions...
A lot of people so far complained about bugs, bad graphics and general "half-finished" state of Dead Island. And to a certain degree, I must agree with them. I have played it only for a few hours this afternoon, but my first impression was not really great. After installing the game, I was treated with a not-really-great (and IMHO completely unnecesarry) intro movie. So here I am, stone drunk, in some tropical holiday resort, stumbling through crowd of similarly drunken rich douchebags. Out of the blue, zombies show up and start eating people. Oh, boy! Didn't see that coming, eh?
After waking up in the morning, you realize you are for some reason immune to whatever turned an island of Jersey Shore rejects into a hungry Z-team. And that's it for the story... I mean, what could you possibly expect in a game that's all about killing zombies with crowbars?
However, intro movie is pretty law-quality, and seems like something my old Playstation 2 could run in real time without breaking a sweat. All the character models look exactly the same (especially bikini-clad women), only with different colors. Not very impressive for a 2011 game... As soon as it ends, you find yourself in a hotel room, waking up with a nasty case of hangover. Again, graphics are not really impressive, but the atmosphere is nice and creepy. A strange feeling of dread crawls up your spine as you stumble through dark hotel corridors. Zombies show up, and after a few minutes of frantic running, you meet a band of scared survivors. And that's when the game actually starts...
Like any good RPG, you start with some simple weapons and a simple quest. You gather money, experience and all sorts of items that you can use to craft better weapons. Not bad, not bad... but it would all be useless if the combat was crappy. But believe you me, this is the best zombie smasher after Left 4 dead! I selected a character that specializes in blades (machetes, meat cleavers, knives...), and it's a real pleasure to cut your enemies into pieces. Limbs fall off, heads get chopped, blood splatters everywhere! If nothing else, it will be crowned as the bloodiest game of 2011.
Once you get out in the open, that's where the graphics shines! I noticed some serious flaws (as far as the graphics are concerned) during the first scenes in the hotel. But once I got outside, and saw the beautiful sandy beaches, I went "Wow!". No, it's not that the graphics are technically flawless. It's the atmosphere it creates. Think of the first Far Cry game - sandy beaches, sun, blue sky, ocean, palm trees... now add blood, guts and dead bodies. That's Dead Island!
In case you didn't know, this is a pure sandbox game. There are practically no loading screens, and you actually FEEL like you could explore everything on this island. I had a hard time deciding WHAT should I explore next. The beach? That hotel in the distance? Lifeguard station? Question, questions...
One thing I have to admit tou - voice acting is simply horrible! And the rest of the game's sounds are not much better either. But I don't really care, since all I want to do is explore a gorgeous tropical island and butcher zombies.
So far I didn't notice any bugs, but maybe I managed to get my hands on a "patched" version of the game - after all, the developers swore to update it after only one freakin' day out, since fans complaining of getting a half-baked beta version of Dead Island for their hard-earned money. Who knows... So far I played it only for a few hours, so who knows what might happen next.
Whatever may be, I'll keep you posted!
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