Reviews by megiddo

65

Fun Undermined By Crashes

megiddo | June 24, 2013 | Review of War of the Roses: Kingmaker

I've put more than 40 hours into War of the Roses unlocking perks and assembling builds. Customization is the definitely the game's strongest point. Players start off with a few pre-made sets to get them into the game and learning the combat. Players can unlock a few more slots as they gain gold through winning matches, obtaining objectives, and killing other opponents. Customizing your character is about unlocking the perks that enable the build you want to ranged, mounted, heavily armored, fast-running, fast-healing, two-handed, shielded -- There's a lot of options.

Players only have to unlock the various basic perks once for all characters, but as players get deeper into the various gear and armor trees, they'll have to re-buy certain blade edges, handle wood-types, and colors. Consequently, some players are more interested scoring kills than winning as a team and others leave matches as soon it's clear that their side can't win. Getting dominated by a better skilled, better balanced, or better geared team is not fun at all. It's like playing whack-a-mole as the mole. Players can spend real world money on everything unless it's an level unlock which can only be earned by playing. Keep in mind, buying better gear will not automatically make better player. Players still have to master combat.

Melee combat in WotR involves the blocking, parrying, and directional attacks you have in similar games like Chivalry: Medieval Warfare. However, unlike in Chivalry, the type of strike you make isn't determined by the button mapped to it. Every attack is primed by holding down LMB and every parry by holding down RMB. Players then move their mouse up, down, left, or right to prepare an overhead bash, stab, or lateral slash respectively. Release LMB to strike or keep holding it to charge up the attack for more damage. In contrast to Chivalry, where you have to keep your eye on the opponent's weapon to know where the attack is coming from, in WotR there are visual UI queues that clearly identify the direction of the incoming strike. There are no feints. The combat is challenging to master and not as crazily fast-paced and frenetic as Chivalry. This is not a bad thing; for one reason, it clear to tell when a player is defeated by their own mistake or because their opponent overpowered them.

I compare WotR to Chivarly because they're both multiplayer medieval melee games that were released weeks apart. Highlighting more differnces between the two games, WotR offers mounted combat and ranged combat that feels like an FPS. Running around with a crossbow and one-shotting a knight with a head is fun (along with the voiceover announcing it). Unfortunately, I've also experienced more gamebreaking bugginess with WotR than Chivalry. Random crashes to desktop are ridiculously frequent. Nevertheless, from update to update, I can see where they've fixed a couple of places where the devs have smashed bug that I emailed them about months ago. I'm also impressed by the free new maps and weapons that I've seen added to the game since I stared playing late last winter.

So the worst things about War of the Roses are the random crashes and the effects of the steep learning curve. Therefore the question is whether these negatives outweigh the positives. For me, the first month or so of playing was great until an update brought problems that were never resolved. After unsuccessfully trying to troubleshoot why my client was crashing to desktop in the middle of weapon swings, I quit playing WotR for about two months. I came back and the one crash I had been able to duplicate easily (that I put a ticket in to Paradox Support about) was fixed. I spent a few more minutes in the Training Battlegrounds to loosen up and wouldn't you know it; more crashes. I know the team at Fat Shark are still improving the game based on the updates, so I have some hope that they'll improve playability. But at this point, it's a decent game that's too frustrating to recommend.

90

Worth More Than You'll Ever Have to Pay

megiddo | May 30, 2013 | Review of The Secret World (NA)

The Secret World probably won't be the MMORPG that gets you hopelessly addicted. It is not a game that you will feel the need to spend every waking moment playing to the dejected frowns of your loved ones. Once you start, it's not even a game in which you'll feel like you're behind everybody or that'll you need to play 5 hours a day for a month to catch up. However, The Secret World is one of the most rewarding and entertaining experiences you'll find in any MMORPG to date. It's an amazing game that's worth far more than the $30 they're charging for all the 2012-developed content. Up to May 2013, there are two additional Issues (content packs) that players can purchase if so inclined, but they're not required and there's more than enough game already there to justify the cost.

TSW is a modern-day, three-faction MMORRG that's a compelling combination of adventure, action, conspiracy, and horror themes. At a basic level, it's a theme park action-RPG where you arrive at a hub, meet an NPC, and take on missions. However, TSW elevates the routine by making almost every quest a story-based chain. Consequently, players won't grab 10 or 20 quests and "clear the zone." Instead, players can take on a selection of story and side quests, rarely knowing where the missions will take them or what they'll need to do when there. In addition to conventional kill-X-many-enemies quests, TSW also gives a variety of missions that tell players to get something done without telling them exactly how. Sometimes you'll find clues in-game and sometimes you'll have to use google (Just be sure to add "-tsw" if you don't want spoilers). It's up to you to discover the clues and how to progress through the story.

The stories in TSW are the cornerstones of the game with the major arcs taking the player to present-day New England, Egypt, and Transylvania. The developers have quilted together folklore with ancient religions and urban myth. They've created characters who live in our world (some of them have real active Twitter accounts), but travel in circles full of magic. They are members of the secret organizations behind every major world event. A player's own character progression gives them the power to reveal more of the tale. There are no levels, just weapon and gear ranks. Players can buy ranks and abilities for their weapons with experience. More experience is granted from quests than from farming mobs, eliminating the need for grinding. Players will need to decide on the fly if Swords and Machine Guns or Blood Magic and Pistols or Hand Claws and Elementalism will get them through their current mission or if they'll need another weapon build altogether.

I've been playing The Secret World for about 10 months. I play it mostly solo while occasionally joining parties to achieve common goals and using my Cabal (guild) mostly for chat. I haven't discussed dungeons (5-man instances), lairs (high-difficulty open-world zones), raids (large group instances), or PVP because I haven't spent much time doing any of them. From what I see and hear in forums, podcasts, and reddit, multiplayer may be the game's weakest point even though players can't resist helping each other while we're all out doing our own things. Combat also takes some getting used to, but once you match abilities that synergize optimally in your build, you'll feel like a warrior god. Endgame is not a focus in this game and there's no need to race to get there. There's no urgency to get geared up to be a part of the 7% of players who see the game's most challenging combat content. TSW has tons of combat, but also tons of unique stories waiting for all players. If you're wanting to have the same experience that you've had in WoW, Guild Wars, or Tera, but in a contemporary, real world setting, TSW will disappoint you. If you want a unique, massively-multiplayer, combat-based, adventure RPG that you can take your time playing, you will not find a better game.

85

Bloody, Crazy Fun Melee Combat

megiddo | May 30, 2013 | Review of Chivalry: Medieval Warfare

I picked up Chivalry: Medieval Warfare after I bought War of the Roses. I say that because everything that I'd read about one game mentioned the other. Both games are multiplayer-only PVP. Both games focus on medieval melee combat. Both games were released in October 2012. But at this stage in the life of both games, and after spending a couple of months with each, I'm having a lot more fun playing Chivalry.

The number one thing that Chivalry's got over WotR is tone. While WotR has sort of a historical preoccupation, Chivalry's all about killing, achieving objectives while killing, and laughing at the sounds your victims make as they bleed out. The maps in Chivalry have no historical basis; there's no castles or keeps in Europe situated on lava fields that I know off, but it's sure a nice place to throw a spear through a dude. On the maps, you'll hear audible field command emotes, insults, excited murderers charging at their quarries, and the agony of warriors who just had their arms chopped off. The decapitated guys are silent (Added bonus: the game's in 1st-person, so when your head's a-rolling downhill, so is the camera).

The individual components of the game all work well. There are six different gameplay modes including Team Objective, King of the Hill, and Free-For-All. There are also a number maps shared between all modes or limited to a few. Players can chose between four different classes each with varying levels of armor and their own selection of primary, secondary, and special weapon types. Strikes are made with the left-mouse button or by rolling up or down on the scroll wheel with the right-mouse button used to block or feint. Basic combat is easy to get used to. Although, there are plenty of advanced techniques you'll probably need to see demonstrated on Youtube before you can master them. There is no matchmaking system; but the game does even out matches when the number of players per team is lopsided. There is a tutorial, but once you have the basics, you're better of practicing on a single-player versus bots match.

The various parts of the game gel consistently and "one more match" always becomes three. This is trouble because matches typically last 30 to 45 minutes. The game has its bugs, none of them gamebreaking, and it could certainly use more polish. Yet, overall, the Chivalry: Medieval Warfare is a throat-slashing, field-burning, king-slaying romp.

40

Really Wanted to Like This Game

megiddo | April 26, 2013 | Review of Forge

I keep giving Forge the opportunity entertain me and I keep being disappointed. My primary concern is with the unsatisfying combat. The game is inspired by MMORPGs, but it needs to be what it really is; a lobby-based multiplayer PVP game. It needs melee combat that feels as heavy and damaging as Chivalry or War of the Roses and ranged combat as opportunistic and energetic as Blacklight: Retribution or Team Fortress 2. What we have instead is a game where you can hit other players with an axe, an arrow, or a fireball and they never seem to get hurt until you see them keel over. The game can be somewhat fast-paced and "twitchy", but it's also somewhat rock-paper-scissor balanced with each class being distinctly better or worse at challenging each other class. The maps are covered in indestructible objects designed to break line-of-sight, which is required to hit or block, but they also make the maps confusing. Additionally, the little target reticle has to be lined up just right on your opponent to make contact, but the only indicator that you actually did make contact is the slightly different sound of the hit and the effects of any debuff your attack applied. Having put down $10 for the game already, I'm content to download patches and find out if it ever finally becomes fun. However, I don't recommend it. I do like the quality of graphics and the art style, but even then I'd really like to see more combat animations.