Monday, July 21, 2014

The Most Overrated Games of the Recent Years Part III




Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty

   Starcraft and Brood Wars were some of the greatest strategies ever made and not just because they got so popular due to e-sports in Korea, but because of the gameplay and awesome story. Starcraft delivered some of the most complex and interesting characters you could see, in the limits of a strategy game, but Blizzard thought they should ruin all of them (so maybe other RTS’s have a chance?).
   After waiting for 10 years for this game to come, the expectations were pretty high, especially when the previous games were true masterpieces, sadly for Starcraft II the hype was bigger than the overall quality of the game (same mistake made with Diablo 3). Wings of Liberty came with an online DRM (bnet 2.0), no lan mode and a campaign only for the terran race.
   The campaign mode of the game is at times terrible, with lots of missions in which nothing happens, while all the action is packed in the last 3-4 missions. Selectable paths in completing some story arcs have been added to the campaign so players have a (false) feeling of choice, but it doesn’t matter what you choose, because in the end, Jim Raynor still comes up as a hero no matter the mission and its consequences.
   Characters that were great, like Kerrigan and Mengsk, got ruined in Starcraft II. They are not the cunning and controlling masterminds they were in the previous games (and only 4 years have passed since the action of those games!) and now these characters get so easily outplayed by Raynor (long live the American hero!).
The funny thing about the story is, that you go out of your way to do something in Wings of Liberty and in the end you do something else entirely, but it doesn't matter anyway because everything gets turned back to how it was in the beginning of Heart of the Swarm expansion (talk about good story!).
   The gameplay of Starcraft II was designed for e-sports and came with everything to support this except units balance. Many units were useless in multiplayer matches and rarely got used and others were so overpowered that the outcome of the matches became hard to watch. For months the game was heavily imbalanced and because of some flaws in the race design some things could not be repaired until after the expansion was released. These problems damaged the image of Starcraft II as an e-sport and continued to do it even after the release of the expansion, which is such a sad thing, because Starcraft II is a great e-sports strategy.
   Wings of Liberty was highly acclaimed by journalists, but I have a feeling I played a different game than they did, as I didn't find that great story and exciting campaign they were mentioning. All I got from this game was a sense of regret, because of what happened with this great franchise.
Terran wins! But protoss op!!!





Diablo III

It took Blizzard 12 years from the launch of Lord of Destruction to release another game from the series. When Diablo 3 was first announced the community went crazy about it (me included). After such a long wait, a cancelled development from Blizzard North studios and some controversial features added to the game, Diablo 3 was finally released in May 2012.
Diablo 2 revolutionized the Hack and Slash sub-genre and there were little changes required, besides the technological upgrade, to improve the game. Yet Diablo 3 went on a different path, making massive changes from the previous title of the series, many of them to worse, and not changing what was needed.
The story of Diablo 3 was a bad joke (trash is the more appropriate word), being linear and predictable most of the time. The new characters added to the story were not interesting and some of them looked like they had nothing to do with this universe (Magda?!) The demonic villains in the game don’t have any personality and instead of posing a threat to the main character and the world itself they handhold you throughout the game so you can find them more easily (Azmodan and Diablo helped me find and defeat them!). The game lost the grim and dark atmosphere of the previous titles and with the new graphics, looks colorful and almost cheerful.
The artistic style and level design of the game can be praised, but when it comes to graphical fidelity, Diablo 3 was outdated at release and hinted out the intention of Blizzard to release this title on consoles. Blizzard was always in a war with pixel shaders, but this doesn't mean the new game had to look so washed up.
The thing that suffered a lot in Diablo 3 and is clearly the most important is the gameplay. The end-game was the one problem that had to be sorted from Diablo 2 and it wasn't. Instead Blizzard went out of their way to ruin every feature that was good in the previous game. The progressive skill trees were removed and replaced with abilities upgradeable by runes which are unlocked as the character levels up. This affected the complexity of the character progression and limited the number of available builds per class. The level cap was lowered to 60 and was reachable quite fast, affecting the end-game quite a lot, as there was no goal to strive for.
The last difficulty level of the game was absolutely insane, hinting an untested release (or was it intentionally made for RMAH cash grab?), for some classes the game was impossible to beat because of this and it was really frustrating.
The itemization was completely ruined, by adding almost fully random generated stats on all items, this way yellow items became better while legendaries and set items became useless.
Diablo 3 had no actual end-game, besides farming for items with better generated stats. Because of the high difficulty level of the game, the random generated items and the limited number of specs available per class, the game became boring really fast and the number of people playing it dropped drastically after just a few months from release.
                To make matters worse (almost an impossible task, but Blizzard did it!), a Real Money Auction House was added to the game so players can legitimately buy better items so they can progress further into the last difficulty (otherwise really hard to achieve). Basically Diablo 3, a 60 $ game, was turned into a pay to win game.
                Diablo 3 is the fastest PC selling game of all times and received lots of positive reviews, looking again like the reviewers played a different game than what the gamers experienced. I waited for Diablo 3 so much and wanted it to be a good game, but what I got from it is what I got from every Blizzard game since Wrath of the Lich King, disappointment…
With the release of the expansion Reaper of Souls, the gameplay and overall experience improved a lot, but people must not forget the terrible state of the original game.
Reenacting Diablo I

Washed up world.



Far Cry 3

                Far Cry 2 is a brainless shooter, with fun gameplay, amazing physics and good shooting. But when Far Cry 3 was announced, the developers promised a more deep, mature and immersive experience. The footage from game expositions looked really good and I was completely sold out for this title.
                Far Cry 3 enjoyed a positive reception from journalists and lots of praises from the community. The game would probably be used as a comparison standard for future sandbox FPSs. But was it really that good?
                The gameplay in Far Cry 3 follows the same pattern of the previous game, with the addition of some new elements like crafting, a skill tree, weapon upgrades and stealth, while being supported by a better story (not like it was hard to beat the story of Far Cry 2). But the player can experience all the new features in about 2 hours into the game and after that everything is just repeating the same things over and over again (besides main story missions, which sometimes are really great). While repetitive style was a characteristic of Far Cry 2 as well, in the new game it gets even worse. Because Far Cry 3 was released on both PC and consoles, and the PC version is nothing more than a port, the game lacks technological features that would improve the feeling of an FPS by a lot. The level of physics from FC 2 is nowhere to be found in this game, there are no destructible buildings (not even mentioning entire cities), you can’t even shoot down a fence, almost everything in this game is hard as a rock, and this takes all the fun out of it.
The stealth, the exploration and some of the main story missions can make the game entertaining for a couple of hours, but not enough to keep you hooked for the entire game (at least not for me) and the game map is quite large.
                The graphics of the game is what you expect from a port from consoles, the landscapes might look good, but the technology used is outdated and it shows, the game has low quality textures and doesn't take full advantage of the latest technology. The presentation videos of the game shown a much richer vegetation and a better looking game, but after release it turned out to be nothing more than false marketing (we need laws against this!).
                Far Cry 3 has a multiplayer mode as well, against players or co-op missions and can be fun for those who are looking for some fast paced action on small maps. The game doesn't have support for dedicated servers and this makes the multiplayer unplayable at times because of the terrible lag (and hackers). At release players couldn't connect to Ubisoft servers (typical) or host matches and this problem persisted for days.
                Overall Far Cry 3 wasn't the great experience everyone talks about, but rather a game that tries to be something good but fails because of developer's laziness.

The game might be considered a classic soon (the quality of the classic status drops by the year), but I wanted to remind everyone, that things were not so great as they seemed and it is not enough for a game to be a sandbox with some decent feeling of exploration to be an epic game. In the end Far Cry 3 pales in front of games like S.T.A.L.K.E.R..
At least cars have physics.





To be continued...



Nodrim

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