All About Xerialstraz
'Free to play' games are taking over, thats the message that has been coming from the games industry in recent times. Big games such as Star Wars: The Old Republic and to a lesser extent World of Warcraft are going free to play, and the market is being flooded by no end of supposed 'free' games and while this used to be something reserved for mobile games and to a certain extent now pc games, it can only be a matter of time before this trend is picked up by a console game maker whether it be for current or next gen. While to a certain extent we already have half the elements of the free to play format in games with purchasable DLC etc. How long will it be until the basic barebones core game is free but everything else costs money? want multiplayer? that will be 800 fake monies please! How about achievements? Another 400. Want to be competative in the aforementioned multiplayer? 800 more at least.
The crux of the matter is that free to play games are a great idea, as long as they can accentuate the required qualities needed to be a success. The trick is to suck in new players with a carefully balanced difficulty so people want to continue, they want to go further and be better, and to do this they must invest in premium extras, whether this be new weapons, faster cars, better armor, more xp and so on. Sometimes this can result in gamers paying more for the extras than they would do for a regular game in order to be competative in whichever game they are playing.
While I don't wish to go too in depth about the free to play format and its foiblesthis does lead me nicely on to the subject of todays blog post - Tribes: Ascend. This is a free to play first or third person shooter. It's fast paced, easy to learn the basics and sufficiently compelling in it's gameplay to invite just one more match each time. This for me is the perfect lesson in how to make a free to play game. It's possible to play for free and you don't feel hindered on the battlefield doing so, however once you've played about 5 matches and really got in to the action you realise you're earning xp at an agonisinglyslow rate. While it's certainly possible to unlock new classes and weapons for free, it would take anexorbitant amount of play time to get there, and so you're nudged very gently towards the in game store where you can purchase 'Gold' with real money that can then be used to unlock some of the more advanced classes (with advanced being asynonym for bloody difficult in certain cases) as well as better weapons and item upgrades etc. It's important to add that spending real money doesn't give you a pass to becoming an 'Elite' player. Upgrades make things slightly better but don't tip the balance so much as to make it impossible for new people to compete. There is for instance no premium weapon that is sufficiently more powerful than any equivilant and weapons themselves get upgraded through using them rather than being selected by the player. Cleverly all the weapons in the game have some kind of weakness to counter its more salient abilities, for example a high damage weapon will likely have a slow reload rate or a smaller clip or in some circumstances be very difficult to accurately aim. This all makes the game feel very fair, which in a free to play game is one of the most important attributes to have.
So what about the gameplay then? Well the best way i can describe it is that its like Unreal Tournament but with skis and a jetpack (fittingly it uses a modified version of the Unreal3 engine). There are various modes, nothing groundbreaking but the basics that you would expect are covered - I.E team deathmatch, capture the flag, capture and hold etc. At the start of a match you get the chance to choose which team you wish to play for one of two teams and to choose which class you wish to play, along with what equipment you wish to use. There are 10 different classes with just 3 of them available to start, these cover the 3 separate types of character - Light and fast, medium all rounders and the heavy and slow. Which one you choose depends on what your prefered playstyle is but for new players and especially for players new to this genre the 'Soldier' or the 'Juggernaut' are best as they have a decent amount of armor and come equipped with good weapons to begin with. The third choice the 'Pathfinder' is very quick but has only light armor and so relies more on not being hit than the other two starting options. Due to this its best to be a proficient skier before trying this class.
The knack to the game is about maintaining speed, you do this by skiing down hills and using your jetpack up hills. This can be quite tricky to start with but you soon get the hang of it and end up skillfully flying round the map. Due to this feature the combat is very frantic and often bordering on chaotic with many players flying at speed through the air at any given time.
Although I may perhaps be a little bit biased as I am a big fan of this type of game (I grew up playing Quake 3 arena and UT), I do believe there are no other free to play games out there yet (on PC) that can match the sheer pick up and go playability of TA and while there are no revolutionary or particularly new ideas in this game, it does what its supposed to solidly and well. It's a great way to spend an hour or two and i recommend at least trying it out, after all if you're not interested then you haven't lost anything.
Despite the name, free to play will never ever be genuinely free - game developers need to make money somehow after all. This new way of selling games is really just a shift in marketing, allowing the gamer to think he or she has more control over what to pay for in the game whereas in reality if they want the best experiance of a game they have to pay for it. Think of it like this, someone gives you a brand new car, its shiny and pretty and you've always wanted one, but the only trouble is you can't take it out of first gear. The point is however good something looks, however much you think you've got a great deal, when you're watching other people disappearing off in to the distance its just not fun.
In typically rash style i recently decided (on impulse) to buy a new iPad to replace my aging iPad1 and a Playstation Vita to replace.. er nothing really cos i never had a psp. So this puts me in the perfect position to compare both of these and to find out which is best as an overall package aswell as just for gaming.
Lets start with the iPad.
- Its made by Apple.
- its fast, very fast even on big apps.
- The battery lasts a long time, a very long time.. far longer than expected.
- huge huge huuuuge range of apps and games
- The screen is just amazing, the retina display stuff isn't just a gimmick.
- Having one of these gives you a nice warm gooey type feeling that only comes from owning Apple products.
i could go on but its a bit by the by really.
- touch screen only for the type of games i like (fps and racing) is rubbish FACT!
- Although there are lots of good games on the app store, there is also a hell of a lot of crap to wade through (looking at you F1 2011).
- Its a big heavy for holding up for any long period of time.
- Faaar too many games incorporate adverts and in-app purchases.
Now the PS Vita.
- it looks good, graphically andaesthetically.
- It has proper real actual normal controls.
- The games are (in my so far limited experiance) the same as console equivilants rather than watered down versions (with the exception of Ridge Racer of course).
- The downloadable games aren't actually as much of a rip off as i'd expected.
oh where to start on this one..
- The controls, although proper are just not quite as good as they could be, the left analog stick is slightly too close to the screen and (in my opinion) should be switched round with the d-pad - though that could be cos i'm more an xbox man.
- The memory cards (and games to a certain point) are ridiculously overpriced.
- The battery life is indescribably bad, to compare my PS Vita is currently completely flat and my iPad has 73% of charge left after roughly the same amount of use.
- The other apps for it like facebook etc feel like the ones you used to get on a phone in about 2008, its all a bit slow and clunky - like its been tacked on as an added extra jus so they can say its there.
- The rear touchpad is (so far to me) a complete gimmick, i found that if i grip the vita normally then my fingers are already touching the rear touch pad an that then ruins the game as it thinks im trying to do something i'm not. I should add that thats only for FIFA that i've played so far and you can turn it off which sort of makes it a bit redundant doesnt it?
- and now the worst thing, and its an obvious one - its a portable PS3, with all of the PS3s drawbacks. So the menus are needlessly complicated with silly load times just to get in to the settings, the first screen has some completely obscure ones on it - although of course i know they can be moved round. The most terrible part is the updating.. the endless updating.. everytime I turn it on, every time i load a game.. its exactly the same as my PS3. Yesterday i decided to have a quick game on my Vita at lunch break at work, turned it on and ohh wow it wants to update.. for 25minutes.. so almost all of my lunch break gone.. great.
So if i had to have just one of these which would it be? the answer is the iPad hands down.. its just a more complete package and is just generally better at doing what it does than the Vita and yes i know its more expensive but you don't need to buy memory cards for it and games won't cost around the £40 mark and best of all its got a good quality camera, a full internet browser along with pretty much a full iPod and everything else. The PS Vita is great on paper and for hardcore gamers its perhaps worth it.. but for normal casual gamers? hell no. It's only just out but it already feels like something that belongs about 5 years ago.. times have changed and people have moved on. The PSP was a huge success because at the time it was great, there was no such thing as the ipad and smartphones were still just emerging as a real force in the games market.. but now its different.. the perfect example is right here: the total sales for the vita so far since release is around 2million worldwide.. the iPad 3 sold 3million in just its first week.
I could go on forever about this but at the end of the day hardcore gamers will buy the Vita and casual gamers will buy the iPad. Do I think this will be the last proper full on handheld console? yes i do. The successor to the Vita will in my opinion be more multitask focused (i.e able to do social networks and internet browsing properly and not with clunky slow apps) to appeal to the wider market and not just the hardcore gamers.. it will be somewhat sad to see but we all know the dinosaurs became extinct in the end and the same will happen to handhelds.
I recently.. inherited this laptop from my brother and lets not mix words, its possibly the worst laptop ive ever had the misfortune to use! I mean after all it runs vista, but we all know whats wrong with that so lets bypass that.
So this is a gaming laptop, apparently for hardcore gamers (in 2008 or whenever it was released anyway) but exactly what games isn't particularly clear. Yes its four years old and yes times move on very quickly but however this laptop is an ergonomic nightmare.
Right so i play SWTOR now (as ive said in the previous blog) and you'd think that a supposed 'hardcore gaming' laptop would run that noo problem whatsoever regardless of the age, its got 4gb memory an reasonable amount of graphics power etc. but ohh no its a whole new world of design flaws and frustrations that will have u smashing your head against a wall as a preferable option to using this laptop!!
So anyway here is a list of all the things that ive found wrong with the tiny amount of time ive spent using it:
No.1 The keys aren't backlit at all, this sounds trivial but is very frustrating when you glance down and its just a sea of black.
No.2 The keys are all faar too close together in order for them to fit what is a largely very redundant number pad, what this results in is you keep catching the wrong key - for instance u want to press Q to strafe left but oh no u catch the next key and ohh the whole game minimises and wont bring it up again for 90seconds frustrating? oh yes! theres a similar problem when u want to press ctrl, catch the windows button an ohh there it goes minimising again arghhh!
No.3 its big, and not in a good way, and i know this sounds kinda wrong but its too thick so that your wrists are at such a steep angle they hurt after about 5 minutes.
No.4 Left handed like me? like to keep a nice cold drink to the left of your laptop? well thats not possible with this one due to the fan pretty much superheating anything within 10 yards of the left side.
No.5 Its slow, and i mean really slowww, to get it ready for playing tor it needs a good 30mins to login and fully load. And some people would say ahh but its old and laptops get full etc etc and yes i understand that.. but i have a 2 an a bit year old Macbook Pro thats crammed full of stuff and it loads up easily in under 2 mins and shutsdown in less than 10 seconds.
So in conclusion, don't buy one of these laptops, its slow, ugly, badly designed and will frustrate you more than having a girlfriend with a locked shut chastity belt. Do the sensible thing, buy a Mac.
I'll finish with a question, Whats the difference between the guy that designed this laptop and Luis Suarez?
the answer: Nothing, they're both stupid C**TS.
My Recent Reviews
Mar 27, 2013 7:38 pm GMTXerialstraz added BioShock Infinite to their owned game list
Mar 24, 2013 10:11 pm GMTXerialstraz gave Tomb Raider a score of 9.0
Mar 24, 2013 10:10 pm GMTXerialstraz began Following Tomb Raider
Mar 24, 2013 10:10 pm GMTXerialstraz added Tomb Raider to their owned game list
Mar 7, 2013 3:26 pm GMTXerialstraz gave The War Z a score of 1.0