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Vengeance with corporate holiday trimmings

Things have been going pretty slow over the past few days, as I've once again been digitally staving off my boredom with playing message boards more than games. I'm thinking I'll get my groove back on... any... day... now...

In the meanwhile, I hit upon a few interesting occupations I thought I'd share.

--- Demo Impressions: Alien Shooter 2: Vengeance ---

Alien Shooter 2: Vengeance is a game that has a demo out, with the retail version being sold at the beginning of January. If I wanted to really overhype it, I'd call it a fast paced sci-fi Diablo. But really, it's more of a isometric top-down perspective hack and slasher that uses guns. It's pretty fun, if a little shallow. The best part about it would probably have to be the sheer number of enemies it throws at you, which become part of the scenery as you blow them away.

If leaving messes of big piles of hostile xenomorphs strikes you as a good time, then this is a game to try. What's more intersting to me is that this game has a multiplayer mode (unfortunately unavailable in the demo) which would be cool if it's an Internet-compatible coop completion of scenarios. Unfortunately, I've been unable to establish what type of multiplayer it has.

--- MxO and SWG ---

The other thing I've done is resubbed to the All Station Pass. I've taken a cursory look at their other offerings besides EverQuest 2 and the results have been surprising.

The Matrix Online and Star Wars Galaxies are games that, by all rights, were destined to suck, but have stayed afloat through sheer tenacity. Since I've already started describing the two games in the same light, I'm inclined to point out some other similarities:

  1. Both were movie titles whose fans expectations of them did not meet up to the original products released.
  2. Both have been substantially modified since release. (SWG much moreso.)
  3. Both have released major combat upgrades which served only to alienate their existing fanbase. (SWG much morso here as well.)
  4. Surprisingly enough, both games seem to still have a existing playerbase despite this, if not quite the level of when they were first released.
  5. Even more suprising, a short investigation has determined that they've finally been refined to the point where they no longer absolutely suck anymore. Hallelujah!
Lets cut the similarities off there - they are very different games in function.

This is the first time I had a chance to play the Matrix Online with their recent combat revision, and I have to say that I like it. Combat flows much better now and feels considerably less glitched. Everything really feels a lot more solid now, and I'm not sure if that's due to graphics engine tweaks or my new video card. At least part of it has to be network modification tweaks, as I no longer feel like I'm getting stuck on things and NPCs like I did before. If you've been considering giving MxO another try, now is a good time.

I do have to apologize to the original Star Wars Galaxies fans in particular for praising it. They're going to hate me for writing that and for good reason. The sad fact of the matter is that they were sabotaged. Those who remained after the game was first released, the ones worthy of the title "original Star Wars Galaxy fan", really did like the virtual worldly game that it was. The NGE ripped it out of their hands without so much as a refund. SWG is no longer the game it was on release, but something else entirely. Those days of it being the virtual world game are gone forever.

So it is with a twinge of guilt that I reveal my impression that Star Wars Galaxies today is a refined game that some people can enjoy. There's still a glitch here and there, such as the space combat which never did have a satisfying balance. However, having had a few months after the NGE's release to polish it, my initial investigations revealed that it really has had a marked improvement.

Oh, Planetside. You could have been a contender. What the hell happened to you, man? I booted the bugger up with my powerful (if AGP) new video card, set the settings to "high", and marveled at how the thing looked like ASS. Granted, I was in the "desolation" zone at the time, but there's just no excuse. The polygon count felt like it had gone to year 2000 levels. It looked worse than both of these:

From what I understand, they decided to drop the poly count a bit in order to accommodate better gameplay, but Planetside's problems are more than skin deep:
  1. Player count has fallen pretty heavy. At prime time there's not enough players to even hit a continent's population cap anymore. (At least not on the Vanu Sovereignty where I play.)
  2. No widescreen support. (Good thing it can be played windowed.)
  3. They've got looping video spamvertisements (with audio) driving people out of their HQ zones. Imagine trying to wait four minutes for a dropship while a ten second commercial keeps looping with no delay in between. It's enough to drive one to friendly fire, so it's a good thing there's no firing of weapons in the HQ zone.
  4. The instastrafing latency issues never were completely solved, causing enemies you're trying to aim at to warp about.
  5. Most damning of all, the game hasn't received what I'd call a major patch since June, over 6 months ago.
The foremost question on my mind after seeing this is, "Did they fire/reassign the developers, or what?" Maybe not, as "Enrico's Log" was posted at the end of November and indicates they might have some designers left after all.

However, I heard about the new engineer turrets back in Summer, so what's taking them so long? The rate of content introduction in Planetside remains abysmal, not just compared to games with incredible rates of additional content introduction (like EQ2 or City of Heroes), but compared to having no additional content introduction at all. Why even pay a full price monthly subscription for Planetside if you can't expect an improvement every month or two? That's always been a major problem for Planetside. My advice: Stick to the free rank 6 offer.

Playing a bit more of Planetside today, I realized it's stuck in the same gameplay rut of sorts. Trying to dislodge an already defeated enemy from their position is too protracted. As Vanu Sovereignty, we held a base against the combined might of the New Commonwealth and Terran Republic for hours before they finally managed to take us out by slipping a router telepad beneath our base. I'd like to say we could be proud of that, but all we did was prolong the inevitable. Planetside is one major balancing away from success, but I'm afraid that would alienate the rest of their playerbase.

--- Holiday trimmings to come ---

All four of the Station Pass games I'm interested in (Matrix Online, Star Wars Galaxies, Planetside, and Everquest 2) did have one thing in common: Holiday customization. As we edge closer to that blessed day of the year, perhaps I'll snap some screenshots.

--- No longer the corporate whore ---

On a final note, I wanted to mention that I've removed Google Adsense. They started running ads I'd put on my blacklist days ago. Not cool. I might re-add it if they fix that glitch. Not that I made a single cent in the two weeks I had it on this blog, but then, I don't have that much traffic either. Is five cents a week on a site with no traffic too much to ask?

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