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Posts Tagged ‘Valve’

Improvements In New "Counter Strike" Are Only Seen Slightly

Okay, you know I like Counter Strike as much as the next first-person shooter gamer, but Global Offensive is basically a minor revamping to the other Counter Strike installments. Don’t get me wrong: I love running around and laying waste to enemies, but I’m not sure if this is just another baby step taken by Valve.

With watching the video, it makes the game look even more interesting; almost like if I was watching that Deadliest Warrior episode with the SWAT vs. GSG9 or IRA vs. Taliban. However I feel with playing the new Counter Strike they have only done little tweaks here and there from the original game. They have upgraded the graphics, brought it onto the console, and have given and taken away certain attributes of the original title. Seeing that this game is originally PC-based they didn’t do it that way. From my understanding they took it, developed it for the consoles, and then reversed to the PC (instead of the other way around). That sucks for the concept of the PC user, due to the fact they have different movement schemes and way more buttons to push then just any old game controller.

GAMEPLAY:

Let’s start off with Arms Race, where you have to go through a round on a five-against-five setup on only two maps, which is a disappointment. However it’s one hell of a challenge. The setup to have either five people or bots playing in one map is great, but the fun part of it all is that you start with submachine guns and work your way through the set gun list until you get to the golden knife, which if you can stab someone with it the round will automatically end. The fun part about Arms Race is trying to get the kills before the other people on your team, so you keep getting the edge on the weapons. Usually when I’m on this game I just simply wreck a lot of the competition, or get a good rival on so it makes it one great challenge. This may frustrate other people who haven’t gotten used to play this style of game. It’s almost like playing the old Quake, but in a less bunny hopping around the whole map in two seconds deal sort of way. If you decide to hop or — as I like to call it– Halo jump you lose a lot of accuracy, so it’s better to be crouched or standing to take out opponents.

Another game mode is Demolition, where they have terrorists run to plant a bomb at a specific site, and the Counter-Terrorists have to take out all of the terrorists before the bomb’s placed or defuse the bomb to win. Next to that there is just Classic Casual, which has the Demolition and Hostage Rescue for this mode. They have it set at best-of-ten rounds, and friendly fire is off so your teammates can’t kill you. Just remember: when you go into the custom matchmaking, be sure to switch the map selection after choosing.  Finally there is Classic Competitive, which has no big differences besides friendly fire being on and it now being a best-of-thirty rounds.

Besides the new Arms Race add-on, I don’t really see any new maps they put on. Basically they polished this game and slapped it on the system to keep the game’s name alive. This gives me a bit of hope that Valve may have put this franchise on the back burner, bur has some plans in the future for it to be another ultimate game to build off of. I’m not sure how you can change the simplicity of this game to make it that more amazing, but I feel this is a nostalgic throwback to about twelve years ago when the game originally came out.

This also makes me believe that whenever they come out with the next installment of Half-Life it will be a bit better. When the first one came out it had these games as attachments, such as Team Fortress Classic, Counter Strike, Blue Shift, and all the other goodies they gave us. The issue that I have with Valve is that they haven’t done any real updates that I’ve seen for the console version Orange Box. I know they have come out with a ton of updates on Steam, but they have not done it for the Xbox 360 or PS3. It makes me think they have neglected the console realm, but I have not lost hope for Steam to help out, even though it’s not usually one of their first go-to places to release a game.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

All in all I think Counter Strike: Global Offensive is a great throwback to the original. It’s all polished up and ready to go, but I’m not expecting any great leaps and bounds with this game regarding updates and the such. It’s just a way to hop on a game, relieve some stress, and leave it at that. This game has a high replay value due to the competitiveness of the game from the past twelve years, acting like one of those time vampires in a similar vein to World of Warcraft. Still I love playing Counter Strike, especially now with the Arms Race as I seem to be really good at laying waste to people and winning a few rounds in a row. If you got a couple Xbox Live/PSN points I say go for it. Have some fun, damn it, and that’s an order!!!

PROS:

  • Updated graphics
  • Counter Strike finally on a console!
  • Added taser, which is cool if you can hit anybody with it
  • Arms Race is FUN!
  • Cache of Weapons

CONS:

  • Almost the same game as before
  • Went console-to-PC instead of the other way around
  • Got rid of shield and pistol
  • Only two maps for Arms Race

GAME: Counter Strike: Global Offensive
DEVELOPER: Valve
PLATFORM: Steam (PC), XBLA, PSN
FINAL GRADE: 8.6 (out of ten)

Episode CLII: Is That A Parcel In Your Pocket, Or Are You Just Happy To See Us?

The Bastards come racing down the busy freeway to bring you another new episode!

This week King Baby Duck is intrigued with the idea of late-night cookie deliveries, and is excited when two of his favorite Japanese bands are set to come back to Boston in October. The movie Premium Rush is reviewed, as are the demos for Sleeping Dogs and EA Sports NHL 13. Finally Blueonic goes head-to-head with his initial thoughts on Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.

It all speeds past in a travel-sized program. It’s Episode 152: Is That A Parcel In Your Pocket, Or Are You Just Happy To See Us?

Steam Says "MMO’s: It’s Free to You!"

Steam now loves free! There are several Free to Play MMOs out in the internet, uh, sphere, but can the average gamer keep up with them all? If you don’t keep your eyes plastered on sites like Massively or MMORPG.com, you might not know what’s out there to play with no affect to your wallet. So far, the list is small (there are scores of F2P games), but there are so many games which should be listed in the Steam Store.

Less Cake, More Fillings Amuck In "Portal 2"

The first Portal title garnered a massive following around the world, thanks in part to its interesting gameplay, dialogue that instantly became internet memes, a catchy end theme song and possibly one the greatest villains in video gaming history. It comes as no surprise that a sequel was green-lit, but the task at hand for Valve was to up the ante in just about every way in order to make it as memorable as the first game. Does Portal 2 succeed as well as its big brother, or does it fall flat on the face of failure?

Continuing on from the first Portal title, the sequel begins with Chelle in a room many years after the events of the first game. She is awaken by Wheatley, a circular robot who leads her through the ruins of Aperture Science, leading up to the lifeless body of GLaDOS. Unfortunately due to the lack of true intelligence it has Wheatley revives the psychotic AI, and forces Chelle into doing more tests “for science.” From there you will be brought into the familiar territory of the first title and given the chance to solve more difficult puzzles while GLaDOS inexpressively taunts you. Soon Wheatley helps you escape, and after passing through the manufacturing areas you confront GLaDOS and have her personality switched with Wheatley. And that’s when the real trouble begins…

Throughout the main game you will be brought up to speed as to what happened before the events of the first game. You’ll hear the voice of Aperture Science founder Cave Johnson (voiced by J.K. Simmons) as he welcomes new recruits to its manufacturer, along with his secretary Caroline, a woman who has a major connection with GLaDOS. You will also be able to try out newer Aperture Science products that will help Chelle go faster, jump higher and shoot more portal holes into the walls, tools that will help you in the long run. Plus you will find out the real truth behind how and why GLaDOS is, well, GLaDOS, and what the real purpose of your new “friend” Wheatley is.

For the first time in many years I cannot complain one bit about the gameplay in a single-player mode. The story moves fluidly, and not once did I feel any sort of repetition in Portal 2. Because of it being lengthier than the first title the folks at Valve were able to expand the better ideas of Portal and make them better. The puzzles may be more complex and challenging, and you might need a lot of time to ponder to figure out their solutions, but in the long run it lacks any sort of angry frustration that one may receive while playing other first-person titles. The same cannot be said, however, for its co-op mode.

Along with its single-player mode Valve added a special co-op storyline for friends and online players to solve together. You and a friend play as Atlas and P-Body, two robots built by GLaDOS specifically to try out her tests and do everything they can to succeed. In the first four campaigns the two robots must complete puzzles in order to reach a disk that unlocks something crucial. After the completion of these four campaigns you discover that the two robots need to find what is called “the Vault,” a place where humans are kept in a cryogenically-frozen state.

Because of the two-player style the puzzles are a lot more difficult, the concept of teamwork is strongly recommended. Both robots are given portal guns, so you can use those to your advantage. You can also use the new tools you discovered in the single-player campaign, which will be helpful in places with giant gaps in-between. However the co-op mode is a campaign that will test one’s friendship to the bitter end, with the wrong move possibly leading towards demise and a massive screaming match with the other player on your team. It’s as if they saved all the frustrations they were going to put into the single-player mode and implanted it into the co-op campaign.

One key element that makes the single-player mode lacking in frustration is its control scheme. Its continue usage of straightforward moving, jumping, ducking, shooting and grabbing makes Portal 2 a title that can be played by just about everyone. It’s the sort of simplicity that you don’t see often in first-person titles, and it’s probably one of the big reasons why it was picked up by many.

The biggest reason the first one succeeded was its terrific script and voice acting, and in Portal 2 the storyline and dialogue are just as sharp and witty. Not a single joke from the first game is repeated, thankfully avoiding any sort of dead horse beatings. Its dark humor and one-liners are just as funny as the ones featured in the first Portal title, maybe even funnier. (Cave Johnson’s lines later in the game will have you rolling on the floor laughing, none of which I want to spoil here.) Ellen McLain’s GLaDOS is just as dark and hilarious as ever, and giving Ricky Gervais’s friend Stephen Merchant the task at voicing Wheatley added a tad bit of good British humor to the game. While Simmons seems to still be channeling his Spider-Man character here his Cave Johnson is still a welcoming addition to the Portal world.

Only one thing about the game keeps it from being an all-around masterpiece: its replay value. While it might take you a good ten hours to beat the single-player mode (depending on how good your puzzle-solving skills are) and the co-op campaign will tack up another eight hours there isn’t much more to go back to playing after you’ve defeated it. You can revisit each parts of the levels, but it’s not like there are special bonuses if you beat a test under a certain amount of time. All you can really do is beat the game, and then wait for more maps and content to be released as DLC.

PROS:

  • Great level designs, trickier, clever puzzles
  • Strong script, hilarious dialogue
  • Solid co-op mode, online and offline

CONS:

  • Lack of real replay value
  • Co-op mode might make you lose more friends than gain

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Portal 2 is the sequel no one ever expected to be great, only to blow away its predecessor by a major margin. Everything you liked about the first game is back, only bigger and better. It’s the rare sort of sequel we see these days in the gaming world, one that delivers more than anyone believed it could promise on a higher level. In laymen’s terms: Portal 2 will satisfy just about all of your good sequel cravings in more ways than one.

FINAL GRADE: 9.8 (out of ten)

Episode 243: The Proof Is In the Pudding (Mmmmmm, Pudding)

This week we have a bunch of really great looking games hitting store shelves and the sistah’s cover a bunch of them in this week’s episode of the podcast. All big-name titles this week the ladies of the land of ESH are focused on the Mortal Kombat, Portal 2, Michael Jackson: The Experience (Kinect version) and more.

NinJa starts off the show with the Warner Bros. release of arcade (and Sega Genesis) fan favorite Mortal Kombat including which bundles are really full of value and which leave little to offer the purchaser before moving on to Valve’s long-awaited Portal sequel, Portal 2. Not to be left out of the conversation, Pandalicious jumps in with her thoughts on the two titles as well as Ubisoft’s Michael Jackson: The Experience release on the Xbox 360 Kinect system and Bethesda’s newly moved up May launch of Brink.

This episode is chock-full of video game review and recommendations, but more importantly, it’s chock-full of coffee-infused-sisters – which is what you need to be (coffee infused, that is) – if you want to keep up with this week’s ESH Podcast Episode: 243: The Proof Is In the Pudding (Mmmmmm, Pudding)

E3: The Game That’s Not A Lie

Day two of E3 is done and there is only one more day of gaming goodness to go, but I started my day off the right way with a visit to Valve where I was treated to a glimpse of what Portal 2 will look like.

Though the preview was short it made a lasting impression and left me repeating the words “oh f*ck” over and over again to myself as I headed out of the West Hall meeting room.

The original Portal game was bundled into a special Half-Life 2 package (The Orange Box) that also included the Team Fortress 2 game and while many people purchased the pack to play Team Fortress 2 I bought it for Portal. Portal was (and I think the argument can still be made that it is) one of those games where the moment you beat the end boss and complete the game you really feel like you have accomplished something major. When I finally killed GLaDoS I literally jumped for joy and informed my Xbox 360 that I had successfully, “made it my bitch!” The original Portal was a strategic and brain-numbing first-person-perspective puzzler that forced the player to use damn near every brain cell they had available to move from room to room in hopes of escaping the Aperture Science Lab. By using two portal guns (one that creates an entry point and one that creates an exit point) the player must work their way out of a bad situation while GLaDoS offers her, um, assistance and the promise of cake. As you progress you learn the cake is a lie, but the crafty experience is not. Valve (the creators of the game) did a great job of crafting a action-puzzle experience that did not coddle the weak and left the player hungry for more, and that “more” is now on the horizon.

Teased before E3 2010 with an announcement event &mash; that was then cancelled by Aperture Science &mash; Valve officially announced Portal 2 at the Sony media briefing earlier this week. The teaser trailer alone drew excited “oooh’s,” and “hell yeah’s,” from the audience in the Shrine Auditorium and those that have been treated to the same first look experience I had on Wednesday left in need of a towel.

Portal 2 Is not just more of the same game mechanic that made the original Portal great but a fully formed puzzler that introduces a bunch of new traps techniques to propel the character forward to (I imagine) battle GLaDoS again. Joined by a new companion named Wheatley, a British-sounding drone that has been trapped in the lab longer than you who desperately wants to escape, joins you on the journey helping you access hidden panels and ideas for solving some puzzles along the way. Wheatley is a fantastic source of comic relief and if I end up having to sacrifice him like the companion cube in the first game, then I will be very sad.

It was obvious after viewing the short preview that this new game is not just an expanded version of the first Portal game, but a well thought-out new Aperture Science lab experience. I’m looking forward to it, unfortunately I’ll have to wait until sometime in 2011 to wet my Wheatley whistle.