All About MuddyMaestro
I've never been much of one for mobile games. Since I was young, I've rarely had the urge to play games that weren't on committed gaming platforms, in other words, things like cell phone games hardly interested me. My only real memories of playing cell phone games was a preinstalled game of Snake on my Mom's old Nokia phone, back when I was young. I've owned a cell phone myself for many years, and have never had even the urge to even check out the gaming catalog (part of it because it an old Samsung E790). Last year, I purchased a new 64GB iPod Touch to replace my old 8GB iPod Nano which did not have enough space to hold my entire music collection. Although the iOS is an acclaimed gaming platform, I have yet to really embrace it. I have a small handful of games downloaded, which can be viewed here, and although some of them made for a short, fun distraction, none of them have come close to what console or dedicated portable gaming (DS, PSP) had to offer. Plus, I found in most games, like Tetris, the lack of buttons just made the controls too sloppy to bear with. Although I'm sure there are games which utilize the full touch screen and accelerometer well, I simply hadn't taken the interest in hunting them out.
Then, a few weeks ago an ad intrigued me which was appearing in a free texting app that I used. I'm not sure exactly what caused me to check it out, whether I hit it by accident, or actually meant to visit its page in the app store (it was a late night, so it was all a blur xD). The name of the game was Race Or Die 2, released on May 3rd, and since it was a free download, I figured it wouldn't hurt to try it. If I didn't like it, I could always delete it. As anyone would be from the somewhat misleading title, I immediately assumed it was a racing game. However, it turned out to be more of a strategy/role playing game. To summarize the game in the briefest terms, your ultimate goal is to gain experience and rise up the ranks as a racer. There are many ways to gain experience, but what the game mainly focuses on the online component of racing other players from around the world. Essentially, the winner of a race is determined by the base stats, vehicles, tune ups, and performance parts each player possess. Each part contains an attack and defense stat, so the person who initiated the race has their number of attack points added up, while the other player has their defense points added up, and the winner is determined. The amount of of items a person can use depends on their level, and the size of their "crew" which they can increase by breaking into newbies, or sending/receiving invites to people's crews. Also, there is a component of making money in order to purchase items from the tuning shops, which can be gained from races, but also through jobs, from things like hot wiring cars, outrunning cops, stunts like driving through a mall, etc..
Because the whole game is essentially just menu navigation, and things like jobs and races are instantly performed without so much as a cutscene, this may seem pretty lackluster and boring on the surface. But the real appeal to the game is the complexity of it, since it takes a lot of strategy to get on top, since if you constantly lose races then you are going to have a very difficult time leveling up. Races can be more complex than just finding a random player from a list and racing them. There's a variety of other ways to attack players without even racing them, through burning them, blacklisting them, or sending them to your crew to be attacked by others. But you can gain the biggest reward though killing them, by damaging them enough so you can either perform an execution move, or repeatedly burn them. There is a lot to do besides just racing and jobs, but it all contributes towards making you money to buy parts from the tuning shop, or earning you special loot items which are much more powerful then the regular tuning shop items, but can't be purchased with money. In the game you can purchase and manage estates, which is one of the most efficient ways of making money. The more money you put into leveling up your estates, the more income you'll make on an hourly basis which you can collect whenever you see fit. There's also a casino, which you can earn chips to play in a variety of ways, but none of which through purchasing with money. Within the casino you can play a variety of games to earn tickets, which you can then exchange in the ticket store for loot items, or a number of exclusive burns and executions. And by doing certain tasks, like racing players who set their hometown as LA, visiting the mechanic, or other miscellaneous things you find collection items, and if you find all five items in a collection then you earn a mod, which will usually give you some kind of stat boost. You can also try to steal loot items, participate in trials, race bosses, create a team or alliance, and the list goes on.
In order to make it so that a person couldn't just run jobs and races over and over again and level up extremely quickly, performing a task will use up either fuel (for running jobs), nitrous (for racing/executions), or loyalty (for executions/break ins). These all take a set time to regenerate, depending on things like your driver class. However, you can bypass the wait and restore these stats through exchanging respect points. Respect is something very rarely found in the game, but there is a way to get respect points quickly, and is the point where the game is no longer free to play. You can purchase respect to exchange for privileges beyond just restoring stats quickly, like reducing the fee off of ATM deposits, purchasing casino chips, or getting VIP status which allows you to grow your crew extremely quickly. The minimum amount of money you can pay for purchasing respect is $4,99 which will give you 340 respect (it costs 10 respect to fully restore any stat). And I'll admit that I have caved and invested money into the game. I made two purchases, the first to unlock the hyper class which gave me the benefits of all the classes in the game, which cost me $1,99. The second was the $4,99 respect pack I mentioned earlier, which I have used about half left of (none on stat restorations, but some perks that could only be gained through using respect). These kinds of in-game purchases are extremely rare for me. Heck, even DLC is something I hardly ever purchase, the last in-game purchase I made was likely for Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit in early 2011. For that I had no regrets purchasing, since I have invested hundreds of hours into the game, and used the vehicles/played the modes that I purchased far past the monetary value I invested in them. But this, I feel strangely dirty about. I'm a really thrifty person by nature, and even though it was only seven dollar, I still feel really guilty that I caved.
The purchases made the game a bit more enjoyable, but really, it means that I've now not only invested my money in the game, but now I've invested my time in order to justify having put money towards it. And the thing is, the game has such a strangely addictive quality to it, that I constantly want to be checking it. Even when I know that my stats aren't fully recharged yet, I often can't help myself and end up booting up the app and investing more time into it. It's actually a bit concerning how often I check it. It reminds me back a few years ago when I was really into purchasing designs from the auction house in Forza Motorsport 2, and quite often arranging my schedule to accommodate for when designs I really wanted were going to be sold. Although this hasn't constituted any scheduling, or anything quite along those lines, I'm constantly thinking about what I plan to do next in the game, and what my main prerogatives are. On a daily basis I'm using my Ti-84 graphing calculator to determine exactly what my stats are (yeah, seriously) and plan what to do to further boost my stats. I've been playing for close to three weeks now, and am currently at level 17, but I know for a fact is that the leveling system goes up to at least level 200. The question is, when am I going to stop? When is this going to get old, die off, and when will I lose interest? I have nothing against the game, but I kinda wish I could just delete the app from my iPod and forget about the game. There's so many more games I should be investing my time in, but yet I can't put this one down. It's honestly a bit worrying.
I'm not saying that this is a "bad" game that you should stay away from, nor am I going to be an extremest and say these kinds of games are killing the gaming industry. It's a game that has got me hooked, and squeezed some microtransactions out of me, so props to the developers for it. But I really do wish I could just put this game down and stop playing it. I probably checked out my status in the game three or four times writing this blog, not counting when I just checked it for reference. Is this the future of gaming? Are we soon going to be zombies, addicted to games like this? I personally hope not, but this whole experience has awakened me to the reality of how people can become so hooked to mobile games, or even Facebook games (I can see how this kind of game would be very comparable to something like Farmville). So, what are your thoughts on these types of games? Are they becoming a relevant form of gaming, or should we as gamers avoid them? Thanks for reading, and hopefully my curse will be broken soon. D:
Today, I have a grim announcement for you all. MudkipMaster30 is no more. I, MuddyMaestro, have devoured his soul and have now reclaimed his profile as my own. You'd better watch yourself, you could be next! >:3
Joking aside, this isn't a random user who stole MudkipMaster30's profile designs, nor is this GameSpot glitching. This is indeed MudkipMaster30, and believe it or not, I have gotten my account moved to a new username. This new username, as you can see, is MuddyMaestro, which is my common internet handle these days. Username changes on GameSpot are extremely rare, and typically only carried out it personal information is present within a username. However, there were a few unique circumstances which were in effect that allowed me to me to get this done (and I managed to pull some strings, sure), though I'm not going to go in depth about them. I consider myself extremely lucky, as very few users in GameFAQs' and GameSpot's history have been allowed a username change, so to be able to get one is still kinda surreal. Before going any further, I want to extend a personal thanks to both of GameSpot's community managers for the time they put into making this happen. Although the warrant of this change wasn't just for personal reasons to ditch the lousy Pokemon username, it still happened, and will allow me to fair much better if I choose to post on such boards as System Wars in the future. This really opens up GameSpot a lot more, besides the group of friends that have known me for years to not just be a Pokemon fanboy, and that thought is really exciting.
For the next few weeks, I'm going to stick to the same profile designs to make sure everyone acknowledges this is still MudkipMaster30. However, I'm eager to create a new profile and blog header. I think I've had that blog header for nearly three years now. O.o So change is good, in due time. It's also great that part of my username isn't cut off on the forums anymore from being so long. I actually see this whole thing almost like a new start to my account, especially since I had just come off of a lengthy hiatus from the site at the beginning of the month, and still have yet to reappear on a number of boards I'm a regular on. But yes, the next while might be a bit awkward as people recognize my designs by don't recognize my username, but hopefully it won't take too long for you all to get used to it. Also, if you want to continue calling me Mudkip, that's fine by me. I expect in time that nickname will likely phase out anyways, so it's not a big deal. I'm still waiting on some of the changes to follow through over on the GameFAQs side of my account. Interestingly, my Universal ID (login name) has changed, but my Message Board ID hasn't. It's actually mimicking the original consolidation of account names back in 2003, when GameFAQs switched its account system that required users to register again, causing possible discrepancy between the two IDs. However, I filed for a username reconciliation, which should move my account to just one username, under MuddyMaestro. So whenever that goes through, everything should be set. I've also noticed certain sections of the site are being a little slow to update with my new username, but hopefully within the next few hours everything will have updated, and so far things have gone much smoother than I initially expected, so I am very grateful for that.
This username change isn't the only major thing to happen regarding this account. You may have noticed on the forums I now have a special green icon below my username, which you may or may not recognize. This icon signifies that I am now a GameSpot Ranger! If you haven't heard of GameSpor Rangers before, feel free to read this. By my own description, GameSpot Rangers originally began as a small group of users who were moderators on the How to GameSpot board who managed user inquiries, but have now branched out to include about fifty members of the community who aid across all user support boards, and now hold a presence in social and gaming forums across the site, along with performing other various tasks across the site like aiding in community activities. Rangers are not moderators, as Rangers have few extra privileges on the site, but are here to aid anyone having difficulty using the site, and have input towards the community and how to best keep us all engaged. That said, I'm your ticket if you have any ideas to improve the community, and lend input towards what will stop the declining activity across the site, and get it back to the state it was at years ago. That said, it really fires my passion for GameSpot once again, and commits me to be around here on a more consistent basis, at least lurking if not posting. Expect more activity from me in the near future!
Going to cut things off here. I have loads in the way of gaming, real life, and GameSpot to discuss, but it has been such a long time since my last blog that I'm just going to push this out for now. Expect me the reemerge in a lot of my regular forums in the coming days, and I'm looking forward to getting back in touch with everyone with this new username here on GameSpot.
One day from now, Twisted Metal will be releasing. I have been waiting for this game for over a decade, and I must say this is a rare case where my anticipation for a game has risen to a level of hype (which is saying something since I essentially never "hype" over a game). As a huge fan of the series, which one of my all-time favourite games (Twisted Metal 2) comes from, I naturally have had very high hopes for what the latest installment in the series would bring, and have been following it closely. And at the beginning of February, an online demo was put up on PSN that lasted a week before it expired. It was a late announcement, and I really wasn't expecting a demo to come out before the February 14th release since it had been previously stated that there wouldn't be one. So this was beyond a pleasant surprise, considering not only was there the ability to play a match against AI, but it even included two online multiplayer modes, being Deathmatch and Nuke, to give a sampling of what the full version will be like.
To quickly summarize Twisted Metal for a possible ignorant few (to whom I bow my head in shame), it's a series of car combat games which is Sony's longest running exclusive series. Essentially, you're placed in a car loaded with machine guns, missiles, napalms, and all of that, and sent to kill others who in turn are trying to do the same. Throughout the environments there are weapon pick-ups, health, and lots of things with which you can interact with (typically interacting means destroying) to alter the battlefield, reveal new pick-ups, etc.. There is a wide cast of characters who enter the Twisted Metal contest in hopes to come out the victor, and win a single wish for anything they could possibly desire from Calypso, who runs the tournament. Each character has their own backstory and reason for entering the contest, varying from the heartfelt, to the insane, and totally wacky. The characters also come with their own unique vehicles, which have various attributes and capabilities, from semi trucks that have loads of armour, but are essentially sitting ducks, to motorcycles and sports cars that have agility and speed, but leave little margin for error because of their vulnerability. Each vehicle is further balanced by a regenerating special, for example, the ability for a front loader to pick up opponents directly in front and slam them about.
The main mode in the games is tournament mode, battling progressively harder and more numerous enemies through the game's battlefields, in order to learn each character's unique story. The series has also been well known or its split screen multiplayer, allowing multiple players play Co-Op in a tournament, or duke it out in a deathmatch. Many famous characters have come from the Twisted Metal series, most notably Sweet Tooth, who made it to the third round of GameSpot's All Time Game Greatest Villain contest a couple of years back. The first four games in the series were on the original PlayStation, though development shifted to a different team for the third and fourth installments, where the series took a nosedive in the opinion of most avid Twisted Metal fans, to the point they refuse to recognize any game not made by the original development team as a Twisted Metal game. Thankfully, for the game's first appearance on the PS2, development once again shifted back to the original team, and Twisted Metal: Black is still one of the highest rated games on Metacritic to this date at a 91, and was given a score of 9.5 by GameSpot. The next title was to be Twisted Metal: Harbour City, but the game was cancelled after many crucial members of the development team tragically died in a plane crash during development. The series went on hiatus for about ten years, and after all of this time, the series is finally returning to be played on modern consoles.
Now for the topic of this blog, which is the demo itself. It was mainly focused around the online components, though as previously stated, you were also given an option to play against bots, and also had a short tutorial to learn the basic controls. Now, I am someone who rarely buys new games at full price, so most games I do buy these days has a strong online component to it for added value. But I do not enjoy sampling a variety of online games; I enjoy much more having a small handful of games which I have completely mastered than playing a wider variety and having mediocre skills in all of them. For example, the previous year essentially the only two games I played publicly are Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, and Driver: San Francisco, both of which I've sunk hundreds of hours into, and rarely ever lose in. Twisted Metal is the next game I plan to make a long term commitment to, and when you are looking to possibly sink hundreds of hours into a game's online components, you bet you'll be anxious to try them out as soon as possible. Overall, the demo gave a strong impression of what the full version, despite the fact the demo itself was fairly limited, with only one map to play on and eight car cIasses to choose from, the overall essence of the gameplay was totally intact. I have always thought Twisted Metal was one of the top series that could benefit most from today's hardware capabilities, with larger map sizes, more detailed and interactive environments, smarter AI opponents, and enhanced multiplayer capabilities. The new Twisted Metal is, indeed, putting the advancements to good use.
First of all, the "feel" of the vehicles is spot on for a car combat game. The vehicles are well balanced as far as speed and handling are concerned, and motorcycles like Reaper have the control and agility a motorcycle should have, while Darkside the semi drives like... a semi, quite bluntly. Across all vehicles, the controls are very responsive, and work very well. Since there was only one battlefield, it's hard to determine how much each map will vary, and if their size will be consistent. But there's no doubt that the map in the demo was the largest battlefield I've ever played in a Twisted Metal game, which only makes sense since online modes will support up to sixteen players on a single map. The most vehicles on a single map before was ten, including yourself, in Twisted Metal 2 in the tiny stage of Holland, which was undoubtedly the hardest battle in the game. The large battlefield has a lot of room to navigate to get weapons, but I will say that even with a full lobby, the map does feel a little too large. If you spawn near the edge of the map, it can take thirty second or more to find any action, not including time you may spend finding pick-ups along the way. This issue isn't present in smaller lobbies, since you'll always spawn right by the action, but when the lobby is full you will be spawned randomly, and often in inconvenient spots. Also, there are lots of things throughout the battlefield you can destroy, and lots you can interact with, but one of the series staples is not that there's lots to destroy, but it changes the environment and causes sequences that open up totally new areas. Besides slamming through the doors to explore into some larger buildings, there is essentially nothing that opens up, or changes the environment. Hopefully some of the other levels will be more interactive in that regard, but I suppose we'll just have to see.
One of the things that really made the Twisted Metal games unique was the balancing of the vehicles. David Jaffe (you had to expect I'd bring him up at some point), who is essentially "the man behind Twisted Metal", considers the series to be a combination of a fighting game crossed with a first person shooter. It's a really accurate description, since the cars are so dynamically balanced like a fighting game, but has the overall essence of a first person shooter... just in cars. There really are no weak characters to play as (in the best games of the series). And the same goes for when you face those characters as AI opponents, as each character has their own strategies and tendencies based on their attributes, which you'll undoubtedly have to be knowledgeable of in order to stand any chance against the AI on the harder difficulties. Because only eight of the seventeen vehicle cIasses were available, I can't say much about the balancing at this point, but browsing the forums, I can say that almost every vehicle has its advocates, and there is no clear powerhouse vehicle. It does seem that Talon, the helicopter, is the weakest vehicle, but that's mostly because three of the other vehicles in the demo carry variations of a chain gun as a special, which they are very vulnerable to, and will likely be stronger against the wider variety of vehicles once the full version is out. I have always been someone who likes taking lightly armoured vehicles, or at least medium range, possessing more agility and stronger specials. So far my favourite vehicle is Death Warrant, which could be considered an all-around type of vehicle with fair performance, and fair armour, and a fair special; not necessarily powerful in any regard, but not weak in any regard either, and compliments my run n' gun styIe of play. It very much resembles Outlaw II from Twisted Metal 2, which is my favourite vehicle from that game.
There are many returning weapons, that have also been staples to the series. There are the three levels of missiles, being homing, fire, and power, which have different homing capabilities, but are more or less powerful accordingly. We also see napalms, remote bombs, ricochets, and swarmer missiles returning. A cast of new weapons make their first appearances, such as the shotgun that does more damage the closer you are to your opponent (and devastating damage if shot at an opponent's windshield), sniper rifles that can earn you an instant kill if you manage to shoot the driver, as well as stalker missiles and mega guns. Plus, for the first time you will be able to customize your machine gun sidearm, substituting your regular mounted guns for such weapons as sawn-off shotguns and laser pistols. But I'm sure you ask "What about freeze missiles, and the other advanced attacks?" No longer are they button combos, but now that analog is forced to steer your vehicle, on the D-Pad the up button is now used for freeze missiles, right will give you a temporary shield, left will drop a mine, and down will fire your selected primary weapon backwards. But like in previous games, they regenerate over time, so you need to make good use of them while you have them. There are also other actions you can perform through a variety of button combinations, such as L1 and R1 to jump, but the primary advanced attacks can now be used much easier.
The online portion of the demo featured two of the total seven modes that will be in the full version, namely Deathmatch and Nuke. Deathmatch is essentially mirrors the same mode in most first person shooters, requiring you to go after opponents and attempt to kill them to earn points, and the player with the most points at the end of the match is crowned the winner. It's a simple concept, but the scoring system works very well. Because vehicles have much more health than your average soldier in an FPS, to prevent kill steals as being the one and only tactic, the amount of points you are awarded for a kill is based on how much damage you did to victim. If you just had the final missile that sealed their fate, you'll likely only get a poach kill, and earn 25 points, as opposed to if you landed every single blow on an opponent, which would earn you a super kill and 125 points. You'll also be able to receive up to 75 points for assisting a kill, so scavenging off the players with low health, while still occasionally a smart tactic, is not necessarily the best strategy. As for Nuke, it's essentially a more complicated (and long) game of Capture the Flag, where you need to capture an enemy team's faction leader, and sacrifice them at a launcher to send out a nuclear missile which you then attempt to fly into the opposing faction's statue in order to score. I can honestly say that I spend little time with this mode, and spent the vast majority of my time playing Deathmatch. The online modes are an interesting spin on the Twisted Metal formula. Since it removes a lot of the conservative approach to battles, and forces you to get into the action in order to score. It undoubtedly gives the game a very different feel. But is it for the better? I can't say yet, but as long as the online experience isn't emulated in the single player, and the story mode holds true to the series' roots, it seems to be working fine.
There is little else to be drawn from the demo besides some miscellaneous observations. The matchmaking seemed rather shaky for most of the time the demo was up. I was returned with constant errors while searching for matches, occasionally up to twenty times before I managed to find a match. I also got punted from matches on occasion, and I understand that I was not the only one experiencing these issues. Hopefully such issues will not exist on the full version of the game. Also, when I initially started playing the demo, I tried sticking with the cIassic TM controls, which I had always been familiar with. But with the added and rearranged features, after trying out the Racing control styIe I found it to be much easier to use, and planning to stick with it.
The wait is not much longer. The full version release very soon, and I absolutely can't wait to get my hands on it. Just going to throw in a quick GS update to cap things off. Although it'll be nearly a month late, I have a half-written three year anniversary blog I'll hopefully push out at some point when I'm not playing Twisted Metal. My apologies for my lack of activity across the site the last couple of months; a lot of major things have recently occurred in my life, and I can't guarantee my activity will increase from where it is now. However, I'll hopefully compensate for my lack of activity on the forums by keeping this blog better maintained. I've got a lot I am hoping to write about, and will likely be channelling most of my time on GS into that. We'll just see how things play out. Thanks for reading. And make sure to comment with your thoughts of the Twisted Metal series.
My Recent Reviews
Some people just don't have opinions. Like MuddyMaestro.
May 20, 2013 6:51 am GMTMuddyMaestro added Autoduel to their wish list
May 20, 2013 6:51 am GMTMuddyMaestro began Following Autoduel
May 13, 2013 9:41 pm GMTMuddyMaestro added Need for Speed: High Stakes to their owned game list
May 13, 2013 9:41 pm GMTMuddyMaestro began Following Need for Speed: High Stakes
May 13, 2013 9:41 pm GMTMuddyMaestro added Halo: Reach to their owned game list
May 13, 2013 9:41 pm GMTMuddyMaestro began Following Halo: Reach
May 13, 2013 9:41 pm GMTMuddyMaestro added Techno Kitten Adventure to their owned game list
May 13, 2013 9:41 pm GMTMuddyMaestro began Following Techno Kitten Adventure
May 13, 2013 9:40 pm GMTMuddyMaestro added Real Racing 3 to their owned game list
May 13, 2013 9:40 pm GMTMuddyMaestro began Following Real Racing 3