Monday, June 11, 2012

Crytek going F2P after Crysis


Crytek has announced that Crysis 3 will be their last traditional release. This is interesting news from the developer, as a free-to-play model could easily lose a lot of the console market they sought to pick up with Crysis 2 and Far Cry 2. Free-To-Play used to be something that was normally attached to indie games and cheap MMOs, but I believe it is becoming one of the most interesting trends in gaming. With games like Ghost Recon Online, Crytek's upcoming Warface, and the highly anticipated Planetside 2, it appears that the F2P model is becoming much more attractive to big name publishers.

I believe that the new risk that publishers are taking on the F2P model may stem from an unlikely source: smartphone apps and social gaming. Of course, the F2P model means something entirely different when attached to a game like Planetside 2 for instance, but the iTunes Store and Android Market proved that success can come from a game that is free to download, but contains optional in-game purchases that the user can make. Cytek is a huge developer, and to see them going with the free-to-play model is very interesting, both for the future of the company, and for the future of their big franchises.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Max Payne 3 patch out, fixes mouse acceleration issues


A patch for Max Payne 3 PC hit yesterday, fixing various issues. The most noteworthy one though, was the removal/fixing of mouse acceleration, which was causing sluggish aiming issues for many users. I talked about it in my review of the game, and having played the new and improved version, I can say that Rockstar has completely fixed the problem. Max no longer aims like he's covered in molasses while lying prone. In fact, I had to turn the sensitivity down a few notches. If you haven't played the game for a couple of days, go check it out!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Max Payne 3: PC Review

Max Payne has been out of the spotlight for a while. After his well-received, Inspector Tequila and film-noir premiere by Remedy entertainment, Max was a well loved action game hero. After a nearly ten year long hiatus, Max Payne is back.

In Max Payne 3, Max has spiraled into a pitiful depression, and has become addicted to painkillers and alcohol. After being contacted by an old police buddy, Raoul Pasos, he lands a gig working as a bodyguard for a wealthy Brazilian family. After the family is targeted by a group of neer-do-wells, Max is forced back into action. As far as plot goes, it's practically a carbon copy of the film Man on Fire, though told somewhat poorly. Where the plot falls short, though, the classic Max Payne dialogue tends to pick up the pieces. In typical Max Payne fashion, the story starts relatively simply and then unfolds into an overly complex mess, and by the end, you might find yourself wondering who exactly the characters are talking about, and who is on Max's shit-list now.

Max has aged, and this reflects greatly in the game. He's a lot more sluggish to control, and he moves a lot less gracefully than in previous entries in the series. The controls aren't poor, but they definitely take some getting used to, especially if you're used to the previous entries in the series. Max's glacial aiming while prone makes shoot dodging a little more risky than it used to be--not hitting your targets while flinging yourself through the air in bullet-time can wind up getting you killed very easily. Max is also not in much of a hurry to get up either, which can be frustrating at times. The game has a new cover mechanic, which thankfully, is not entirely necessary. There are three moments in the game that I recall forcing the player into cover (the only other option is death), but the rest of the game allow Max to run frantically from corner to corner of the room in true Max Payne style. What is frustrating is attempting to shootdodge into waist high cover. Instead of opting to simply get up into cover, Max will clumsily stand upright, often taking a few hits before you can actually get him to get behind something.

Another new mechanic is "Last Man Standing" where (if the player has painkillers), upon losing all health, the game will cut into bullet time, and Max will fling himself around (sometimes humorously so) in order to fire a final killing shot at his attacker. If the player managed to hit the target, you will be "revived" with a portion of health. This can be extremely frustrating at times though, as if you manage to get "killed" while behind a wall or your target is otherwise obstructed by anything, you'll be forced to watch Max flail around in slow motion before simply dying. You also can't just pause and hit "restart checkpoint" during Last Man Standing, so if you're in a claustrophobic area, prepare to be forced to watch Max die in slow motion several times. Also, if you're caught without any ammo left in your current magazine, you're out of luck--Max cannot reload during last man standing.

Max Payne is a difficult game, but sometimes the experience is cheapened by the game's hand holding. My initial playthrough was on Hard difficulty, and I died over 100 times during my run through. On some of the tougher sections though, after dying about 5-10 times, the game would start handing me painkillers, which really made it feel like less of an achievement to make it through those sections.

Rockstar's RAGE engine continues to shine in Max Payne 3. People react to getting filled with bullets in a scarily lifelike manner in the game, and nearly every shootout has amazing moment. Rockstar's attention to detail is also bar-none, with Max's clothes getting appropriately sweaty when you begin to frantically move about the room, or appropriately soaked when out in the rain for a duration of time. The animations are phenomenal, so much so that I wish I would watch a computer controlled Max make his way through some of the levels just so I could have enough time to truly appreciate all the detail.

The multiplayer is just as you'd expect: all the single player mechanics have been ported over (except for last man standing), and Rockstar has managed to cleverly implement bullet time into the experience. There's a vast progression system that should keep fans of customizable loadouts and characters coming back for me. Me, I prefer the single player, as I find a more rounded and entertaining experience.

Max Payne 3 is a solid game, and easily the best Third Person Shooter of the past few years. The gunplay is incredibly satisfying, and the game has plenty to offer. On my first playthrough, I clocked in around 8 hours, which is quite long for a single player action game. It's not quite the homerun the original Max Payne was, but I can't imagine a better return for a film-noir video game action hero whose story seemed to end with the last entry in the series.

Friday, June 1, 2012

So the Konami press conference last night was... OK at best. The opening focus on social gaming was good press for investors, I suppose, but for those of us that like to keep iPhone games and "real" games separate, it was skippable. Finally seeing some footage of the ZOE HD collection was nice, and I'm excited for fans of the series. I've never picked it up myself, but perhaps now would be the time to get into the series. I know a lot of people are hoping that Kojima will be announcing a ZOE 3 this year.

The high point for me was (no surprise) the Metal Gear Rising trailer. I was a little worried after the trailer during the Spike VGAs, as it looked like the game was simply ditching all of the awesome mechanics that were shown at E3 last year, due to the switch to Platinum studios as the main developers. However, this trailer shows that a lot of the environmental destruction and cutting mechanics have remained in the game. Sure, they lack a little of the finesse that was in the original build we were shown, but it's expected since Platinum is taking the game in a different direction. I'm still confused as to how it works exactly, though. There are some clips of Raiden making well aimed slices at enemies and the environment that cause pretty much everything to split into little pieces, and there are other shots of him hitting regular mercenaries with his sword several times, and they only seem to take minor damage. Also, the story still looks like an absolute train wreck. I still can't believe they decided to set it after MGS4. Oh well, it still looks hella fun regardless.