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Titanfall [Online Game Code]
Titanfall [Online Game Code]

131 of 192 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not what I had hoped for, March 11, 2014
Titanfall sounds like a dream game. Freedom of movement, fast paced combat, Sci Fi setting, jet packs, giant mechs - what could possibly be not to love? On top of all that, it is the debut game from Respawn Entertainment - something I have been excited for ever since the studio was formed by excellent former members of Infinity Ward.

Unfortunately, this game has fallen terribly short of nearly every hope I had for it.

The game runs on the source engine, and the developers try to get the most from it. It seems that the source engine does not have much left to offer, though, as the game is covered in terrible textures, with small slightly foggy maps. I would be able to overlook this in favor of source's many benefits, including a polished netcode, excellent optimization, and great handling, but somehow the only one of those positives that made it into the game is the netcode. On the optimization front, this game needs a few more runs through testing. Somehow it eats up 1.5gb of VRam just looking at the menus, and that quickly jumps up to my maximum of 3gb when playing. I was unable to get this to go down by changing video settings. Because of it maxing out my VRam, I got frame drops and stutters as I played, which I just felt was unacceptable in a game as fast paced as this. If we look at the way the game handles, there are a few very damning issues. Your framerate is capped at your refresh rate - regardless of whether or not you disable vsync. This means your only options are to either play with input delay by turning VSync on, or play with a large tear across the center of your screen by turning VSync off. You can get around this restriction by turning vsync on in game, and then forcing it off at driver level, but this makes another issue very apparent - there is no raw mouse input in this game. Your mouse input is tied to your FPS, and you will feel your sensitivity moving up and down as your framerate does. There is no way to enable raw mouse input in options, you cannot open source console, and autoexec files do nothing. This is very frustrating considering that all other source games support raw mouse input right in the options by default. I tried to get around this by enabling a framerate cap in my video driver, but this just introduced an awful amount of stuttering in game. To sum up, game will eat all your VRam, stutter, and have either input delay, constant screen tearing, or varying mouse speed. At this point I cannot play the game without getting a headache.

Graphically the game is terribly inferior to every PC game I have played in the past 5 years, and amazingly a bit worse than some games I have on my cellphone. I think the textures might be bugged and only showing low resolution, because almost all textures in the game are very poor. On top of this the source engine is not exactly proficient in modern lighting techniques, and these two things combined give the game a very dated look.

The gameplay in Titanfall is very fast paced, and will quickly remind you of Call of Duty due to the similar style. You sprint around the maps at superhuman speed, you aim down the sights of your gun for increased accuracy, you have almost no recoil to deal with and your enemies die in just a few hits. I really feel that this style worked better in Call of Duty than it does in Titanfall, though - the maps were better designed around it, and you were actually slower in call of duty. Titanfall does mix up the old formula by adding giant mech robots - the titular titans - and NPCs that are there purely for cannon fodder. I must say, the NPC idea, which sounded better to me in previews, is simply awful. You could have multiple groups of NPCs spawn in on top of you, and they would still not succeed in killing you. I am not sure that they actually deal damage. They mainly serve as an easy way for you to rack up points, and as a distraction between engagements with other players. Since players die in so few bullets, though, you spend far more time killing grunts than you should, and the already short matches seem less and less interesting. The titan gameplay is similarly dull, with the titans being too slow to make shooting fun. The titans are unable to enter most buildings due to their size, so they usually spend the matches running along the few roads in each map, having simple engagements where they unload their clip at each other and then run away to let their shields regenerate. The small maps feel even smaller when you cannot enter buildings and you are over 20 feet tall.

Another issue is the extreme lack of content in this game. There are 15 maps. You can play them in a couple different game types, or in campaign story mode (which is just a regular multiplayer game plus voiceovers). All the maps are what I would consider "small" in a modern shooter. This is all you get. In my case, I was very hard pressed to find any difference in actual gameplay between the various maps, which made it feel like there was even less content. It feels like quite a ripoff.

My last gripe is that the weapons in this game - which you would expect a first person shooter to revolve around - are just tremendously generic and uninteresting. There is a smart pistol which will one shot kill anybody that you can keep on your screen for 1.5 seconds, which I imagine will end up being an issue. There are shotguns, automatics, and a couple sniper rifles as well. They are all just far too generic to be memorable. With no recoil to speak of, enemies dying to just a few hits or a single melee attack, you can really excel with any weapon regardless of your familiarity with it. There is no need learn to be better with the guns, and due to the lack of drawbacks to any weapon there is not really anything to learn even if you want to.

It is not all bad news though, and I saved all the best for last.

In spite of the otherwise poor graphics, there are two things in which the developer really excelled - art design and animations. The art design in this game is lovely, somehow combining places that have an air of hopelessness to them with well placed dashes of color and nature. The art team sticks with this motif throughout their maps, and even though they are portraying an oppressive dystopian future, they manage to put little touches into the maps that make them feel more inviting. There is some very memorable work in this game. Onto the animations, I am amazed at how fluid and natural everything moves. The players and their titans flow between complicated movements so well that I am honestly boggled at how this was achieved. Approaching your titan from different angles has you get into it in different ways, ranging from dropping into the top, to your titan grabbing you to place you safely inside, to you grabbing onto your titan's finger and swinging yourself in. Respawn Entertainment was clearly going out of their way to make the game look fluid in motion, and they definitely succeeded.

Onto another plus, moving in the game is very intuitive. I can only assume that much time was spent making sure that wall running, double jumping, and climbing performed well, because it is easier to pick up than in any game before it. Rather than spending time battling with the controls, you will find yourself doing things as you imagine them as soon as your first game. Want to climb into that second floor window? You can, you will, and you won't even have to think about it.

Finally, the hit registration in this game seems to be rock-solid. I have yet to have an experience where I felt like a bullet did not connect with someone when it should have, and I have been getting an excellent connection to the servers.

To bring this review to a close, I have to say that I cannot recommend Titanfall to anyone right now. It is a slightly new take on Call of Duty style shooters, but for the asking price you would be better served getting any of the recent Call of Duty games. You would get more interesting weapons, better graphics, and more content. I am going to need to try and return this under EA's "Great Game Guarantee." I am really disappointed that this is not the Sci-Fi shooter I was craving, and I think it will only disappoint you, too.

*Edit: I received a refund from EA less than 8 hours after my request. They were fast and the process was hassle-free. I must say I do feel more confident purchasing from them knowing that they honor their "Great Games Guarantee" with no issues.
Comment Comments (28) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 6, 2014 11:25 AM PDT

Spec Ops: The Line [Download]
Spec Ops: The Line [Download]
Price: $29.99

103 of 108 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a must buy., July 5, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
At first glance, Spec Ops: The Line appears to be an incredibly generic game. The trailer shows a soldier standing in front of various war scenes while an ominous narrator talks about "dramatic" things. The name itself makes it sound like it is part of a series of cheap knock-off games you could find in Walmart for 10$. The boxart brings out the cliche black and white soldier with a fire (or brown and white in this case).

But do not let all that fool you. This game is amazing.

I was lured into reading more about it after I saw amazon had it on sale for 50% off. After hearing glowing reviews of the games story, I grew high expectations for the game.

They were exceeded in every way.

The games graphics are lovely, only marred by slightly off talking animations (they seem slightly rigid). The detail on the pc version outshines the ps3 and xbox versions by miles. The game is running the Unreal 3 engine, and it is the best use of the engine I have seen yet (to the point where I did not actually recognize the engine for the first half of the game). Your character looks excellent (which is good considering you will be staring at him for the entire game), full of small details you only notice if you look closely. As the game goes on, your character becomes more and more beat up, wounds covering him and sand caking onto his blood. It is very impressive visually.

Also helping the wonderful graphics along is the art style. Normally I would not expect a realistic modern shooter to have any kind of an art style at all, but this game does. It takes place in a sand-flooded almost vacant Dubai, letting the designers create beautiful landscapes with contrasting colors that give the entire area a surreal feeling. They purposefully mix up the environments both in design, light, and color, always giving you something fresh to look at. The entire game almost feels like a dream because the art direction is so well done.

Aiding the sense of immersion the graphics provide is the sound design. Whoever was in charge of this game completely nailed it, and needs to be hired elsewhere. Sound effects become appropriately deepened, echoed, cut short, etc based on the environment you are in, and I have never heard it done better. Guns are recognizable by their sounds, which should be expected in all games but seems to be a low priority for many developers these days. The voice acting is excellent, both by the main characters and the various other people you come across. Enemies shout out to each other amid the chaos of a firefight, even sometimes shouting to you. It did not once feel forced. If there was any issue at all to it, it would be that your own character does not display the varied emotion as well as the other characters, but I thought this was deliberate and part of the character development.

Another point of sound related excellence was the music - due to clever writing there is plenty of reason to have music playing in several sections. Not background music, like a score to a film, but actual songs like "Nowhere to Run" by Martha Reeves and the Vandellas. Not only are the songs good, classic tunes, but they also fit the situations they are played in perfectly and make the game more enjoyable.

Speaking of enjoying the game, we should talk about the absolute best feature of this epic: the story. The story for this game is gripping, thrilling, horrific, haunting, surreal, and in an odd way, beautiful. If this game were a movie, it would be the greatest movie of all time, and all other movies would be compared to it. It was too good to stop playing, I simply had to stay up and keep playing due to my thirst to know just what happened next. This is one of the rare games where your character develops over the course of events, becoming a different person by the end. As rare as it is to find that in a game, this game goes a step further by also making your squad mates and even some of the people you meet continue to change. The people in this game were interesting and compelling, almost like several character studies happening at once. The story wrapping them all together is equally impressive, painting a picture of every side in a terrible conflict twisting right up to a climax worthy of the events that preceded it. It was amazing.

Helping to deliver the story is the games directing (for lack of a better word). The game has a terrific pace to it, deliberately drawing emotions out of the player with carefully crafted scenes that keep you on the edge of your seat. The views from your character is almost cinematic, taking you through the game with what I would otherwise describe as careful camera work. The excellence of this aspect just adds to how unbelievably gripping the game is.

Unfortunately, even after all this praise, the game is not perfect. The unfortunate controls need to be addressed, as this game combines the "take cover" and "sprint" buttons to poor effect. This can occasionally cause problems, and though I did adapt to it, I was bothered that the buttons were not simply seperate. The same button is also context sensitive, changing to give medical aid when you are next to a downed squad mate. This did not ever cause a problem for me personally, but I can imagine situations where it would. On top of that, squad commands seem to be slightly off. Frequently the game would tell you to tap the squad command button to tell them to use a flashbang grenade, but it seems that when the game does not tell you to do it, it does not work. Otherwise you can hold down the squad command button to designate a target that one or the other of your squadmates should focus on, depending on the location of the enemy. Once again I thought these commands should be on two different buttons, and holding down the squad command button in the middle of a firefight is not really the easiest way to control the situation. Other than those gripes, I occasionally ran into situations where my character would come "unglued" from the wall he was taking cover behind. I would push in the direction I wanted him to move, but instead he would stop leaning against the wall and run in the direction I had indicated. This only happened in two places during the campaign, but those were two times that I died unfortunate deaths!

Also not perfect is the gameplay itself. It is not bad, in fact it was quite enjoyable for me, but it seriously lacks variety. There are only a few enemy types to deal with, and though they are aggressive and work together (when you let them live long enough to), it does detract from the game a bit. There are melee enemies, heavily armored enemies, snipers, RPG toting enemies, regular soldiers, and shotgun toting soldiers. Occasionally you have to deal with an enemy getting on an armored turret, and at various points you deal with helicopters. I believe that covers all the enemies in the game. Personally, I felt that I could put those enemies into "groups" that I dealt with the same way, making even less variety. I would handle RPG soldiers and snipers the same way, and shotgun enemies and melee experts the same way. With the constant variety in the setting, I definitely noticed the lack of different enemies more. With that said though, the game struck a great balance with foes it included, and I thoroughly enjoyed (and was thoroughly guilt tripped for) slaughtering them.

With all those details addressed, I want to again stress that this is a must play game. I am about to start my second play-through right now, already having my different choices planned out. I could only stall myself from the game long enough to write this review because I want to let everyone else know how excellent this game is, and to keep them from missing out.

PS: I ignored multiplayer and you should too.

Edit: The information below is no longer relevant.
[PPS: Nvidia beta drivers have a profile for the game, including FXAA and SLI support. You need to use nvidia inspector to add the games exe file to the profile, though.]
Comment Comments (10) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 18, 2014 10:44 PM PDT

Star Wars: The Old Republic - PC
Star Wars: The Old Republic - PC
Offered by Great Price Media
Price: $10.00
106 used & new from $0.99

12 of 19 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Serious Flaws, January 16, 2012
= Fun:2.0 out of 5 stars 
This is not the game you are looking for.

This game has a lot going for it, the highly trumpeted voice acting, the Star Wars license, the experienced team at Bioware.

Unfortunately, none of that can save it from serious design flaws that prevent this game from achieving anything more than mediocrity.

One of the first things you will notice is that you will be forced to put in your credit card information before you can play - even though the game comes with 30 free days. I have seen other games that did this same thing, but no other companies that have had as much trouble managing their website as Bioware and EA. I have repeatedly had them forget settings I put in, and even had them share my account info from another game (I am still not sure which one) with the SWTOR site to start spamming me with advertisements for it before it was released. I have heard other customers complaining that after unsubscribing, the website "forgot" and they were forced to do it again.

Likely the next flaw you will come across is the lack of auto attack - you must repeatedly press the button to do your basic attack. This quickly becomes annoying - make sure you bind the button somewhere easy to press.

Soon you will begin to notice that the game looks oddly blurry. Zooming in on your character will confirm this, as it turns out Bioware advertises the game using graphics not available in the game itself. The majority of armors look like a muddy mess, and after several thousand complaints about this on the official forums, Bioware claimed that players were never intended to have good looking textures, and that offering a setting for high quality textures in the game was actually a "bug" that will be remedied in the next patch (medium will be renamed high, and the previous high option will be removed - it did nothing anyways).

The next thing you notice will be the distinct lack of other people. For an MMORPG, the worlds are shockingly devoid of other players. With only about 100 players on any of the games planets at a time,it seems that the majority of those players must be inside instances reserved for their character - it is an incredibly rare occurrence to come across other players.

At this point in my experience, I decided to try PvP. It showed a lot of promise, with some decidedly Mythic touches (Mythic of DAoC and WAR experience, was in fact merged into Bioware). I liked that tanks were able to contribute well in PvP, and I liked the three warfronts (battlegrounds) that were given at launch. They each seemed unique and interesting. The problem? They lag like nothing else. My ping says I am doing fine, yet people teleport all over the place. It was better when I played last night, but that was the exception and not the rule.

I was still managing to enjoy the game at this point, and was starting to consider it as another single player Bioware game. I did love Knights of the Old Republic, after all, I should like this. However, as I continued, I found I was unable to.

The quests I was given, which at first impressed me because of their "light side" or "dark side" options, quickly became trivial. The options always show themselves clearly labelled in a conversation, and always seem to be between completing the quest as you are asked to do, or lying. It actually has no gameplay ramifications whatsoever. It makes sense that in an MMORPG setting they could not adequately provide proper consequences for your actions, but considering that it does not feel like an MMORPG in the first place, this just makes it feel annoyingly tacked on. The only reason for the light and dark side points is to wear light or dark side gear... but you can obtain better gear through many other ways, making it completely cosmetic and pointless.

The final nail in the coffin for me was how the abilities of my character (bounty hunter) seemed poorly thought out. It felt as if I was playing "MMO Lite" as the abilities had no real flow or interesting combinations. It really did feel as if simply hitting random buttons would perform as well as deliberately planning them out. The best way I can put it is that the skill cap for the class was incredibly low, meaning that a good player and poor player would likely be getting the same amount of dps/healing/etc out of the class.

That sums up what I found majorly wrong with the game. There are slews of bugs and other, smaller quibbles that I did not feel like getting into. One thing to note is that all of my issues with the game could most certainly be remedied with patches and possibly server mergers - but since I was playing on a high population server, maybe the servers cannot handle that many players (which seems shocking to me, as it would add up to a grand total of about 2000 per server, a low number for these times). I hope they do address these issues, even if only half of them were addressed I would resubscribe to get another look at the game. Unfortunately, if recent Bioware interviews are any indication, Bioware thinks their game is perfect as it is. In fact, in their words, they think it is "one of the greatest and most ambitious achievements in video game history." I do not think they can say that with any integrity, unless the only other games they have played are Superman 64, Daikatana, Shaq Fu and Duke Nukem Forever.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 17, 2012 8:45 PM PST

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