SteadiestShark Gaming

Reviewing videogames and posting gaming articles since 2012.

Posts Tagged ‘UK

A Chaotic Crossover – Project x Zone gets a Western Release

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pxz logo

It has been announced that Project x Zone – a previously Japan-only RPG for the Nintendo 3DS – will in fact be getting a release this coming summer in North America, Europe and Australia.

Project x Zone is a rather unique style of RPG that borrows elements from fighting games in order to make the combat both flashy and exciting, whilst rewarding the player’s skill for creating successful combos. On top of this, the game is primarily known for having multiple characters and universes from Capcom (Street Fighter, Devil May Cry), Namco-Bandai (Tekken, Tales of Vesparia) and Sega (Virtua Fighter, Valkyria Chronicles) – all interacting with each other in a giant fan-dream crossover story.

Here is an extended trailer for Project x Zone:

 

I have personally had my eye on this game since it was first announced as a Japan-only title, so I’m ecstatic to have the chance to play it for myself, in English.

 

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© Copyright SteadiestShark
and SteadiestShark Gaming, 2012
All images and trademarks are property of their respective developers.

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Guild Wars 2 Impressions Follow-up

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Fresh off of the final beta weekend for Guild Wars 2 I have felt the need to mention some things that have bothered me.

Previously:

Previously I had written a rather lengthy first impressions article (in a review style) for Guild Wars 2, where I generally stated how impressed I was by the game and its new direction.

However, whilst I did mention a couple of issues that I had with the game, I didn’t really elaborate on them as strongly as I should have done – and with the game coming out in roughly a month’s time, it’s unlikely that these will be altered for its official release.

Let me start off by saying that these are just my opinions and I do in fact see some counter-arguments to these issues.

GW2 blogsleep

My character represents my blog’s activity.

Personal gripe number 1 – the skill system:

Having played Guild Wars 1, I have been spoilt by being granted the ability to hand-customise my entire 8-skill ability tray with whatever I want, regardless of what weapon I was using (outside of the Warrior-class). This allowed a lot of creativity, whether you wanted to go 100% offensive, 100% support/defensive, or what I generally preferred – being as offensive as possible whilst having a decent amount of sustain (both health-wise and mana-wise). Basically, you could create some skill-sets that synchronised far more impressively than the developers could have anticipated.

In Guild Wars 2, you have a 10-skill ability tray. The first slot is worthless and is just your simple basic attack with whatever weapon you are using, so you have 9 slots to customise, right? Wrong.

The following 4 slots are usually offensive-based and are determined by whatever weapons you are using. You CANNOT change these 4 slots unless you completely change weapons, possibly to something that you don’t want to use. Oh yeah, each weapon (one per hand) only has 2 skills per character class!

The final 5 slots are unlocked via skill points and are player-selectable – however they’re pretty much limited to healing, sustain or utility – no skills truly seem offense-based or even aware of what your weapon of choice is. So basically, out of 10-skill slots, you only truly have input on what 5 of them are – and even those seem severely limited in terms of offensive options and generally don’t seem to synchronise very well.

However, there is some light at the end of the tunnel – some people have mentioned that the developers plan to add more skill options for each weapon set. Whilst this doesn’t exactly fix my concerns with the last 5 skill slots, it definitely does help.

GW2 spamming

Pretty much just spamming moves here, also the enemy had an invincibility glitch.

Personal gripe number 2 – the lack of a mana/energy system:

As previously mentioned, Guild Wars 1 had an energy system in place.

In Guild Wars 2, from what I can tell, the only “resource” that must be worked around is the cool-down period on each skill after they have been used. Due to this, the game simply promotes spamming all of your moves once they come off of their cool-downs without any regard for how long the battle is likely to last or possibly other factors that escape my mind at the moment. This dumbs down the skill-based gameplay by some amount.

GW2 3 weapons?

I wish that I could always use 3 weapons like this glitch shows, I’d like more skills to work with!

Nit-picking – the F-key skills:

Those that have played Guild Wars 2 may have already begun yelling at me for forgetting about the existence of the F-key skills that are available in the game, and they’d be correct in doing so. For me, it’s hard to remember their inclusion (despite mentioning them in my previous blog post) as they just don’t seem that potent or even interesting. Granted I could have played classes (Guardian and Mesmer) that didn’t utilise them very often at lower levels. Speaking of which, the F-key skills are actually pretty unviable in general for the Mesmer class from what I can tell, as illusions rarely “survive” long enough to be detonated, or are better off being “alive” if given the option anyway. The Guardian class had some survivability skills here, along with the odd condition-giving one.

At any rate, whilst I am definitely no expert on these skills,  I don’t believe that you can customise them as they are simply awarded/unlocked as you level up.

In short:

These combined issues equals a rather shallow combat experience with regards to skill usage, and is only made deeper by the new (and somewhat interesting) movement options. I also hope that the developers truly do have plans to add more skill variety/options.

All written content is
© Copyright SteadiestShark
and SteadiestShark Gaming, 2012
All images and trademarks are property of their respective developers.

Guild Wars 2 Beta Review/First Impressions

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Platform: PC (Medium-high grade) – played on maximum settings.
Genre: MMORPG
Time Spent: Around 15 hours or so.
Completion: My character reached level 12 and explored a lot.
Review Spoilers: None.

GW2 Logo

Game background:

Guild Wars 2 is an upcoming sequel to the previously well-received MMO – Guild Wars. The original Guild Wars (released in 2005) set a precedent for this genre in that it chose not to force gamers into paying a monthly fee, all whilst frequently updating the game and evolving the experience over time. Guild Wars also had several expansions released until 2007’s Eye of the North pack. Guild Wars was also specifically revered for its Player vs Player (PvP) gameplay.

Seven years later and here we have the open beta test for Guild Wars 2, which anybody who has pre-ordered the final game is able to experience.

Story:

From what I understand, Guild Wars 2’s story continues on from the previous Guild Wars – however this time you now have a pseudo-unique story depending on how you customise your character upon creation, compared to other characters of the same race. On top of this aspect, there are also vastly different stories and starting locations depending on which race you pick regardless of customisation. For example, my Human female Guardian that was raised in nobility and doesn’t know her real parents will have a very different story arc to the average “Charr” or “Norn” characters – and a slightly different story arc when compared to fellow Human characters.

From what little I experienced of the story, I was instantly seeing my character’s customised past come into play – which certainly kept me intrigued. Due to this, I’m really looking forward to continuing the adventure when Guild Wars 2 is finally released.

Character classes and races can be read about on the official Guild Wars 2 website, found here: http://www.guildwars2.com/en/

Gameplay:

The first change in Guild Wars 2 that you’ll notice is how movement and combat works. No longer do you click on or target an enemy and become unable to freely move whilst you attack them. You are now completely in control of your character as you can now dive to dodge attacks, jump, and above all – you can now move whilst you’re attacking, unless you need to “channel” the special skill anyway. Naturally, I’m all for this extra focus on control as it gives the player more options and yet another dimension to become skilled at.

GW2 Combat

It is also rather interesting to find that character death/dying system is completely different to the original. Now, instead of dying and then being forced to either wait for a revival in the form of a friendly spell or by an area checkpoint (both of which brought huge death penalties that can make continuing onwards extremely difficult), you are instead forced into a “last stand” mode – where you are able to slightly defend yourself and call for assistance from nearby players. Whilst it is possible to “fully” die when in this mode, you are still able to be revived in either state – it’s just a lot faster if you’re still in your “last stand” mode. To my surprise, you can be revived faster if multiple people attempt to do so at the same time. Instead of having large death penalties like in the original Guild Wars, Guild Wars 2 hands out minor death penalties – alongside armour damage. Die enough times and damaged armour can eventually become unable to be equipped and must be repaired in a town/city. Personally, I like this change as it suits the scope of this game – however I didn’t have too many issues with the original game’s system either.

GW2 Revive

Another change from the original Guild Wars is that towns and cities are no longer the only places where you’re able to be around hundreds of other players. Mass-populated areas now make up the gross majority of the game and above all – combat manoeuvres are also enabled at all times, allowing hordes of players to co-operate in taking down swarms of enemies… Or to needlessly create visual-based chaos in big city areas. Speaking of which, the cities are absolutely HUGE in this game and are buzzing with both real and non-player-characters (NPCs) alike. Furthermore, they are an overall joy to explore – which is made a lot less tedious by the very frequent placement of “teleportation points”. These teleportation points are found throughout the entire game and make both mass-traversal and dying very minor annoyances. I absolutely love this new enormous scale that successfully immerses me in a believable and active fantasy world. Also, being able to show off your character’s traits and abilities to more people is also pretty fun.

GW2 Squad

Whilst you may have your own missions and standard quests to accomplish, the world around you will also create random events that demand the attention of all nearby players in order to be completed. Anybody that takes part in these events will be awarded a handsome sum of exp points and coins upon completion – which is determined by how quickly/efficiently the active world quest is resolved (rated as Gold, Silver and Bronze). These quests are generally rather quick and easy to complete with a large group of combatants and are usually centred around killing specified enemies, gathering items whilst under attack, or defending a specified NPC.

GW2 Quest

A further change is how weapons and skills seem to work. In Guild Wars, you used to unlock skills as rewards for quests or by buying them in shops throughout the game – and you were also limited to being able to use eight skills at a time. In Guild Wars 2 however, you have a maximum of ten skills and how you unlock them is completely different. The first five skill slots are unique to whatever weapon(s) you are holding and are unlocked one at a time by using the same weapon(s) repeatedly in combat. The other five skill slots are unlocked via skill points – which are rewarded for completing certain quests or by levelling up. I should probably mention here that the first weapon-based skill is ALWAYS just a simple basic attack, that can be used with very high frequency – depending on the weapon. It is also worth noting that you are once again able to switch weapon combinations on the fly, however you can only have two combinations prepared for this feature instead of the four in the original Guild Wars. Aside from these skills, there are also several class-exclusive skills that seem to be unlocked whilst levelling up. From what I could tell these class-exclusive skills all have both a passive/constant positive effect, which can also be activated to receive much greater effects for a temporary time period. Juggling all of these 10+ skills effectively will separate the good players from the great players! Whilst I do like the this new unlock system, it feels like the game is forcing you into a rather limited set of skills with little room for customisation – whereas the original game allowed you to load your bar with any combination of hundreds of skills.

GW2 Skills

Underwater gameplay/combat is another added feature this time around and is one that I don’t believe I’ve seen in an MMORPG before. Whilst I barely experienced this aspect, I thought it worked rather seamlessly and added a somewhat new dimension to the game.  It should be noted that characters have underwater-only weapons that carry the same skill-unlock system as the others. Oh, and yeah – you have complete directional control of your character when underwater as well.

GW2 Underwater

Since the original Guild Wars faced some controversy for having a very low “level cap” at a mere 20, it seems that Guild Wars 2 is changing things up by increasing the cap to a 80. I’m of two minds about this change. Part of me likes the extra rewards to committed players, whilst the other part of me is worried about how the game’s balance will be affected. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

Parties and Guilds make a return, except this time you’re now able to party up with people at anytime and anywhere you want, instead of only being allowed within towns/cities. I have no idea what the party-member limit is, but given how huge the game’s scope is, it’s probably a very high cap.

GW2 Party

Thanks to the latest stress-test on the 14th May, I was finally able to try my hand at Player vs Player gameplay. The PvP world (or mode) that I entered seemed to consist of an ongoing, large-scale battle for map dominance – where three teams/factions aimed to seize control of several fortifications. The map was absolutely huge and would have quite easily taken me at least 30 minutes to merely traverse. Surprisingly, this huge size is with good reason, as I soon found myself as part of a random 30+ man squad that was marching behind our (apparently) designated squad leader – whom was approaching a massive conflict outside of a heavily defended enemy castle. This assault was absolutely brutal and even showed off the ability to purchase giant gate-rams, catapults, boiling oil caudrons, AI mercenaries and many other war assets. Considering the original Guild Wars had 12-16 man teams that used relatively tiny arenas for a lot of its PvP, I felt completely overwhelmed by the sheer scale of this conflict and I highly anticipate returning here in the full game. I should also add that any characters entering a PvP zone is immediately boosted up to the level 80 cap, however you can still earn experience towards your natural level – whilst still being able to collect loot! Naturally, boosted level 80 characters are going to be lacking when compared to legitimate level 80 characters.

GW2 PvP

The final gameplay aspect that I can think of writing about is the addition of various non-combat activities that your character can partake in, such as cooking, armour-making, weapon-making, mining and various other similar things. Each activity has its own level system and presumably it will be greatly beneficial to sink time into each of them when the final game is released. I like this addition as I’ve always loved the economic-side to these types of games, however I can see that many players may not care for these activities.

Overall, I believe that this game quite simply does not play anything like the original. Now, given how successful Guild Wars 1 was, you may think that’s a bad thing – however I believe that Guild Wars 2 has a brilliant amount of potential that far surpasses that of the previous title, which is sure to be realised once some minor issues and bugs are ironed out.

Difficulty:

With regards to difficulty, I believe that the game seems to spike all over the place. The majority of the areas are so overwhelmed with players that it’s generally rather hard to die, yet there are times where certain enemies seem to kill you within one or two hits. Considering that I was using an armour-fighter type class, I was rather confused how and when this happened to me.  At the very least, I believe effectively controlling your own character isn’t very difficult at all – however these kinds of games are never as simple as that.

Graphics:

Generally, Guild Wars 2 is a rather attractive game – however it is far from the nicest looking game out there. The reason for this is due to the fact that there are blatantly some visual areas that hardly any work went into. For example, one minute you’ll be admiring the beautiful scenery as well as its reflections in a lake and the next minute you’ll be staring at a poorly-textured, almost 2D bush or patch of long grass. Together, it just doesn’t work to create anything truly noteworthy in the visual department. Another slight issue I have is that the draw-distance (how far you can see in detail) in some areas seems to be somewhat lacking.

Aside from this, I believe that the game deserves some points for incorporating a day and night system as well as a weather system – things that I believe World of Warcraft and other MMOs have enjoyed for a while now.

GW2 Graphics

Audio:

Whilst the orchestral background music is rather decent in its own right, what impressed me the most is actually the ambient noises in various areas. For example, the chirping of the crickets at night when standing in a remote part of a PvP map.

Most of the sound effects and voices are satisfying and decent too, which is definitely a good thing as there’s nothing worse than wielding a giant two-handed sword and having it sound like a foam bat on contact…or having a character that sounds wooden because they’re relying entirely on a script.

Content:

Guild Wars 2 looks like it will have a HUGE amount of content, far more than its predecessor ever had. However, since I don’t know the extent of what will be present in the final game, I’m unable to compare it to other games of the same genre.

GW2 Content

Any problems?:

Given that Guild Wars 2 is currently in a beta-state, I have to give the game the benefit of the doubt and presume that most/all of the below will be rectified with the final release.

The main issue that I noticed was that the frame-rate was generally rather poor, which is barely improved by having a super-powerful computer. This is down to poor optimisation that is primarily using the CPU rather than Graphics Cards right now.

Aside from that, there were some other problems such as random disconnects/crashes, server-side lag that sometimes delayed actions by a few seconds, the main servers frequently being over-populated and forcing you into “overflow servers” that have far less players, my previously-mentioned gripes about difficulty spikes and various cut-scene issues such as poor subtitle timings.

On a positive note though, it seems that the vast majority of the game works rather well and problem-free.

GW2 Problems

Anything else worth mentioning?:

Why, yes there is – thanks for asking!

Guild Wars 2 now features an in-game store that uses gems. Gems are bought either with real money, or in-game money – so players need-not feel trapped.

Speaking of the gem store, characters this time around are LOCKED to whatever server you create them on. However, you ARE able have them moved to another server by spending a certain amount of gems in the in-game store.

Personally, I dislike server-locked characters in games, however once a game is as large as this in scope – I’d imagine that there is pretty much no way to avoid its inclusion.

GW2 Character

Overall things I liked:

– Absolutely huge scale.

– So much to do compared to Guild Wars 1.

– Overall attractive graphics.

– Teaming up with hordes of random players to achieve common goals.

– Pleasant and immersing audio.

– Interesting combat mechanics.

– The new revival system.

GW2 Likes

Overall things I disliked:

– The draw-distance (how far you can see in detail) in some areas is lacking.

– The issues mentioned in the section earlier.

– The final game is not out yet.

GW2 Dislikes

Conclusion:

As you can probably tell, I’m really looking forward to this game. I’ve greatly enjoyed most of the time that I have spent over the course of this beta test and can only hope that all of my concerns are repaired or changed before release.

GW2 Moonlight

Image Sources:

Guild Wars 2 logo: http://elder-geek.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/guild-wars-2.jpg

All other images were my own screenshots.

All written content is
© Copyright SteadiestShark
and SteadiestShark Gaming, 2012
All images and trademarks are property of their respective developers.

EA and Nintendo are now supplying GAME

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Game Logo

GAME, the UK’s biggest gaming store chain has had a very troubled past few months – going into administration and desperately looking for a buyer. After a relatively long negotiation period, the chain finally found a buyer in the form of OpCapita. A restructuring of the management positions occurred shortly afterwards.

Fast forward a few weeks and it seems that operations are now being restored throughout the remaining GAME/Gamestation stores as well as their website, as both EA and Nintendo have once again begun to supply them with their newest titles. It has still yet to be seen when other companies such as Capcom will begin to follow suit, but chances are that it will probably be in the very near future.

Article Source:

http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/gaming/news/a376521/ea-stock-returns-to-game-website.html

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All written content is
© Copyright SteadiestShark
and SteadiestShark Gaming, 2012
All images and trademarks are property of their respective developers.

Written by SteadiestShark

April 15, 2012 at 1:02 pm