Posts Tagged steam

Dinner Date the game, is not really a game

Dinner Date?

I began to write this a while back but forgot to finish and publish it. So here goes. Dinner Date by Stout Games assumes you are the stereo typical gamer, male, single, young and desperate for a date with a mysterious oriental girl who (spoiler alert) lets face it, is not going to turn up, ever!

Now times have changed, that stereotype I thought had phazed out. Everyone I know who plays games does not fit that description. Infact I cannot think of anyone who reminds me of the role you play in Dinner Date. Furthermore you play this role from a first person perspective, which should make you even more immersed into this character. But still I could not connect with the character, yet something kept me thinking about this ‘game’ experience for weeks, there is something special in Dinner Date, but don’t expect it to be fun.

I hate the voice, everyone raved about the audio in Dinner Date but I found the voice annoying, heck I even found the gameplay annoying, and disappointing! At the end I was left feeling empty, Steam had sold me a game which left me feeling empty, thanks Steam. But for over a week I kept thinking about Dinner Date, it was stuck in my head.

The experience is what you are paying for. I’m starting to believe feeling empty and crappy at the end is the entire point of this ‘game’, after all, your single, drunk and alone in a shitty flat, your job sucks and your date is not going to arrive. If that doesn’t make you feel like crap then I don’t know what will, and the fact that this game makes you feel like that makes it a success, and worth the few pound just to try out this potential new genre, ‘Make you feel like crap ‘game’ experience’ genre.

, , , , , ,

1 Comment

The Death of Piracy…and online cheating?

Following Kotaku’s recent interview with an ex-pirate who chose Steam over BitTorrent, I figured it high time that the death of piracy should be upon us. In a world moving more and more into the cloud, services like Steam are providing a place to buy, collect and socialise as a gamer. With a friends list requiring a scroll even on a 1920×1200 display, a sale nearly every week and a constantly patched and updated game Steam offers a complete gaming solution. Why buy anywhere else? Where to buy is not the problem. Choosing to buy at all is the biggest issue on the PC as some simply choose to download for free via torrent, especially with games often appearing on torrent sites days before Steam/retail stores.

Piracy statistics from torrentfreak.com

Looking at the piracy statistics for 2010 (above) at first glance piracy seems to be up over 2009 for this years Call of Duty (see stats below). 4.27 million illegal copies of Black Ops were downloaded this year vs 4.1 million copies of Modern Warfare 2 last year. So in 2010 there were 170 thousand more illegal downloads of Call of Duty over 2009 through the first two months of release. However, if we look at sales a massive 5.6 million copies were sold in 2010 within 24 hours of release (across all platforms) vs 4.7 million in 2009. I’m no accountant (ed. lol?) but that’s almost a 20% increase in legitimate paying customer demand over last year, yet pirated figures show only a 4% increase. So is this a sign of a slow down in piracy? I think it is. Piracy as a whole does appear to be getting bigger, but so too is the industry and at a faster rate. The number of gamers willing to pay, at least if not only for Call of Duty are increasing.

2009 piracy statistics from torrentfreak.com

The question is why would piracy slow down as we all become more digitally download aware? If digital downloads are slowly taking more and more of the market especially on PC, why are people choosing to pay for digital downloads over torrenting them for free like they have been for the last near decade. Steam is why!

Retail purchasing on PC died along time ago for me, first the high street and then even online ordering became a chore. Leaving the house to purchase a physical disc, having an optical drive hooked up to your computer, getting the disk out of the box to install it, manually finding the latest patch…very 1990’s. Steam offers one central ‘app’ for the gaming community, you know what your friends are buying, what and when they are playing, what they have played for precisely how long, what they have achieved and now even what they want to play if they had the money a.k.a Steam wishlist.

Gifting on Steam is a joy. I often buy gifts for relatives and friends, with a few clicks Christmas and birthdays are sorted without having to leave my seat, delivered direct to their email/Steam account. And don’t even get me started on Steam sales, games for a few pounds, why even waste time torrenting and searching for key gens and nocd.exe’s? Steam have perfected the process so well, I would rather pay for a game on Steam than to get it for free not on Steam, that’s capitalism at its finest.

Another reason for piracy decline and the eventual death of piracy is the big brother account integration of these services like Steam as well as Xbox Live and PlayStation network. If you are caught using pirated games or even cheating, the risk is you lose your entire account, either a ban or complete account deletion. All those achievements, digital downloads and the ability to play with all your friends, gone in an instant! All to save a few pounds by pirating? It’s just no longer worth it.

This year has seen a huge clamp down by the powers that be, with the most extreme example when Blizzard banned over 5,000 Starcraft 2 players for cheating. Back in 2009 Valve even gave everyone a gift for not cheating, a free hat which I wore with pride, obviously the cheaters didn’t get anything. With more recent and a touch more serious tone Sony is attempting to sue the hackers who opened up the PS3 for all manor of piracy, which this year has been a constant battle by Sony releasing countless patches to stay one step ahead of the pirates. Will I patch my PS3 to play Gran Turismo 5? Of course I will, I did straight away even though GT5 sucked! Do I want to lose any of my online accounts to save a few pounds and spend hours illegally obtaining pirated software? The answer is no, my time and my avatar is worth more than that and most importantly I want to support the games industry, and so should you.

I’m not anti-pirate although I may sound it. Piracy has changed the world often for the better and I highly recommend a favourite book of mine The Pirates Dilemma which covers this subject in far more depth. When there is a solution out there that is better than piracy, I’m all for it. After all that’s usually why we pirate in the first place, a rubbish system. Now if only the movie industry would take their fingers out of there ass…

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 Comments

Left 4 Dead 2 – The Passing DLC Review

The latest DLC for Left 4 Dead 2 is out. We waited patiently all day, and here it is. Normally the release is too late to play and I end up waiting till the next day, but the download started around 11pm (UK) and after some slow transfer rates due to my ‘new’ connection it finally completed, along with most of my L4D2 buddies.

We just finished the new campaign ‘The Passing’ which is the main bulk of the free DLC (free for PC, 560points for Xbox 360). There were plenty of us online waiting for this DLC so four of us hit the servers quick, finishing the campaign in around 30 minutes or so. There are some great scenes, without spoiling it and revealing too much, all I will say is wow, the sewers are great! I’ve not touched L4D2 for a while, but coming back to it after all this time with the new DLC really brought back some fond memories of first playing the original Left 4 Dead. Good times!

What I was expecting to be the highlight, left me a little disappointed. The dialogue between the old L4D characters and the new the first time round was just not as hype as I thought it would be, but on a mass team death, repeating the final battle there was some witty banter aimed at Rochelle from the original L4D characters, nice touch Valve. Although playing as Coach (I always try to) I was subject to some stick being accused of being her dad? All in good jest, no stereotyping at all Valve?!

The Passing DLC for Left 4 Dead 2 is a great freebie, offering some new weekly modes which look interesting, but most of all an entire new campaing which is well worth playing. The final scene is the usual epic battle, but with a little help from some old friends and laser sights, and the sewers, the sewers are wow! What more can you ask for, and all for free? Valve keeping up the good work and keeping us customers happy, long after putting down our hard earned cash.

9/10 For DLC, sorry for free DLC, what more can you ask for? Valve hit the nail on the head again, great campaign!

, , , , , , , ,

1 Comment

Dirt 2 Review – What happened to rally games?

I’ve always been a fan of rally games, real rally games that is. One of my greatest gaming moments was on Rally Championship PC nearly a decade ago. Twenty minutes into a sunny forest rally, I lost second gear due no doubt to my granny shifting (just like real life). With a good few minutes left of the course, I was forced to maintain speed in third and fourth gear. Slowing down was not an option, without a second gear available I needed to stay in a high gear or end up dropping all the way down to first and crawling along the finish line, losing my position and hard work for the last twenty minutes of perfect rallying.

I crossed that finish line, I maintained enough speed so as not to drop gear and it was exhilarating, racing at full throttle to victory, one of my fondest gaming memories. For those last few minutes I felt like a rally driver, I was so immersed in the game making critical rally decisions, carrying on to the end in a broken car, a scenario that I guess all rally drivers have experienced.

But now we have the new generation of rally games, Dirt 2. Don’t get me wrong Dirt 2 is fun, but only for 25% of the time. Dirt 2 is totally sexed up, it screams X games and feels like someone from the skate boarding world came along and started adding bits until the actual rally game was left hidden behind the liveries (car stickers), rock music, partying, fireworks and radio chatter. Ken Block and his buddies shouting abuse over the in game radio does nothing other than annoy you.

Where there is rallying, Dirt 2 is great, the handling is spot on (unlike the first Dirt which felt like cars sliding around on an ice rink) and the graphics are gorgeous. This was the Directx 11 show case game. After all it came bundled with my Radeon 5870 (well a Steam download code came inside the box) and really shows off some of the Directx 11 features like realistic cloth, of which you end up not even noticing when screaming around at 100mph, but at least its there advancing the background from the days of 2D stick trees!

Either way it looks great and runs perfectly smooth at a constant 60fps now, thanks to the latest Catalyst 10.3 update. I first played Dirt 2 when the demo came out for Xbox Live gold members last summer, but the latest ATI drivers gave me reason to come back to this game on PC and play it all the way through. Ok there are no 30 minute rally sessions with realistic wear and tear to engine, gears and suspension, but I’ve learnt not to expect that anymore. What is disappointing about Dirt 2 is all the other so called ‘rally’ events.

Landrush, domination, rally cross, gate crasher and last man standing have absolutely nothing to do with rallying. The vehicles in Landrush are slow, handle like crap and sound like whirring annoying machinery not roaring throaty rally cars. Domination and last man standing feel like last minute add ons to give some variety but just end up being tedious game modes to play through until the rallying starts again. Gate crasher is another gimmick, which I very much doubt has ever been a real life event. Rally cross, a multiple lap based mode around short tracks set around various non rally locations such as London’s Battersea Power Station do nothing other than showcase the engine’s lighting effects.

If you can stick it out and play through or avoid all these extra game modes, then you can enjoy some beautiful scenery and some great rallying around the jungles of Malaysia and the green forests of Croatia. Ignoring the fireworks at the end of each race there is a hidden joy behind all the X games style overlay and rock music. Ignoring Ken Block and his friends chatter, jump in the MKII Escort and power through the long China countryside and this becomes a great rally game. It could have been so much greater without all these extra’s if they had just focused on the rallying, instead of these extras which only cater towards selling the game to kids who want a quick fix of so called off road rallying.

7.5/10 No longer a Rally game, but worth playing for a few classic rally moments.

, , , , , , , , , ,

4 Comments

Mass Effect 2 Review – and Miranda Sex Scene

Finished ME2, 32.1 hours later and I

I’ve never really been a fan of role playing games (RPG’s). My first experience was an old Final Fantasy back in the 1990’s and I just didn’t get it. It wasn’t until Fallout 3 that I fell in love with the genre albeit an RPG/Shooter hybrid. Wanting more of the same, one game kept popping up in my search, Mass Effect. Winning countless Game of the Year awards on Xbox 360, but not arriving on PC until way into 2008, I waited patiently. I even waited until it was available on Steam, as putting a DVD in a drive feels so 1990’s, besides, my gaming box doesn’t even have an optical drive.

I wish I didn’t wait. Mass Effect combines science fiction, first person shooter and RPG elements, all rolled into a cinematic epic movie like experience that you control, what more could you ask for? Playing it is like watching Battlestar Galactica, Aliens, Star Trek and every other Sci-Fi made, all rolled into one where YOU control the plot and the action. So when Mass Effect 2 came up for pre-order on Steam I was eager to continue the saga. And what a saga.

Mass Effect 2 continues where you left off in the first Mass Effect, so if you’ve not played the game I would highly recommend you either watch IGN’s hilarious recap below, or play it, then watch the recap!

After importing my save game from Mass Effect (luckily I had this saved) I was thrown into an epic opening scene. Mass Effect 2 feels like a movie from the start, and when you do take control the action is much more fluid and fun than the first game. I only played Mass Effect through once, despite hearing about the multiple different stories that I did not see on my play through, I wanted to experience one story throughout so that the choices I did make in the heat of battle were meaningful and final. Saving and reloading to see every bit of the game was never an option for me, and I continued this rule throughout Mass Effect 2. This intensifies every choice in the game, leaving the relationships you make with each character at the risk of being broken at any time, giving meaning to every action as it would in real life.

From early on its clear to see the combat has been greatly improved. As a soldier class, you can just take control as though it was an ordinary FPS (apart from the slight third person view which takes a short while to get use to). I pretty much played through the first Mass Effect with just guns, and began episode 2 the same. But as I progressed I began to appreciate the biotic powers of my team mates. I also added my favorite biotic power ‘Slam‘ to my own character until I could walk around with Miranda lifting swarms of enemies out of my path in a synchronized way that made me feel like Yoda from Star Wars. Replaying this game as an Adept class with nothing but biotic powers is tempting, but I don’t want to ruin the story that I’ve already experienced, and of course the next episode Mass Effect 3.

What makes Mass Effect 2 such a good title apart from the insane combat, is the characters. Recruiting team members, creating new relationships and bumping into old friends all of which have distinct personalities, sub story lines and actual depth and meaning is the key to this titles success, and of course the females. Without sounding like a desperate male, my first chance to find Ashley (my love interest from the first game) was hot on my list of things to do. But this soon becomes of little importance, once you get to know Miranda.

Miranda, voiced and modeled by the equally hot real life Yvonne Strahovski is the star of Mass Effect 2. It felt like the majority of the game I spent with her at my side, fighting, talking, gaining her loyalty and of course flirting like mad to reach the inevitable sex scene below (spoiler alert). Apart from her obvious curves, Miranda has, well great curves. She also has a great history, it’s a typical Sci-Fi story which you will no doubt find out if you attempt to seduce her and take her on the mission in search of her sister. All the characters, not just the females have something to offer, although some I just had no interest in (like Jack) and others I couldn’t get enough of (like Samara). Spending time on the team members individual missions, uncovering their past, gaining their loyalty and perks and forming bonds in Mass Effect 2 is very rewarding.  These bonds you work so hard on then feel totally threatened in battle as you are making leadership choices and viewing events that risk the lives of all your team members. Never before in a game have I felt so much connection and worry for an NPC (mainly Miranda and the Asari chick), the risk of losing someone you’ve spent so much time and effort with really makes this game shine.

Of course my Mass Effect story is totally different to the next gamers, each choice and reaction in game can spawn a huge number of story lines. If you choose, your love interest can be any character. Take your pick from the selection of weird and wonderful aliens or humans, females or males, or just run around blowing things up and ignore the cheap chat up lines and sex scenes altogether. Either way I can guarantee some connections with at least a few characters, and some that you just will just ignore or enjoy sending to their deaths. However you choose to play Mass Effect 2, you are going to have a colossal adventure in space, and at the end you will be left gagging for the next episode. For once you will be thankful for trilogies.

9.5/10 An epic cinematic masterpiece.

, , , , ,

1 Comment

Batman Arkham Asylum – Games For Windows Live 75% Sale

My first Games On Demand purchase, congratulations? erm thanks Microsoft?

So I finally bought a full game from Games For Windows Live. I feel like I have betrayed Steam. I’ve been a loyal customer for a long time, check my profile if you don’t believe me. But today I tried a new PC digital distribution service, and how could I not? 75% off Batman Arkham Asylum is a HUGE leap for Microsoft at grabbing custy’s from Steam.

When I first saw the news of the Batman sale I didn’t even read the small print, I went straight to my Steam client to look for the 75% off, alas it was nowhere to be seen? So I returned to the news article and to my disbelief it said Games For Windows Live. I loaded up my GFWL client and nothing, £39.99 normal price for the game. Not impressed.

So I waited, either for Steam to retaliate with a similar price drop (still no retaliation?) or for GFWL to push out the new price tag, and 8 hours later it’s been dropped to the bargain price of £8.75. The process is very simple, my GFWL client is already setup as I have previously used it for Fallout 3 DLC and of course Xbox Live. A few clicks, the money is automatically taken from your account, and the game is added to your download queue. Simples. 4% downloaded, I guess I should start BioShock 2 whilst I wait as its been sitting in my shiny new ‘opt in beta’ Steam list since release and not been touched, Rapture is waiting.

, , , , , , ,

No Comments

Zombie Driver Demo is like GTA 1 & L4D

GTA 1 meets L4D

If you were a great fan of the top down Grand Theft Auto original like me,  you will love Zombie Driver. The demo now out on Steam or direct from the publisher is enough of a taster to help you make the choice to go all out for the full game currently at £6.99 (I stuck with just the demo…for now).

Oh no another zombie game I hear you cry, which is true, zombies are popping up in every game release, just like vampires are in all new films or TV series (thanks Twilight). Have we had enough zombies? Yes but just like in real life (?), zombies keep coming because that’s what zombies do. So grab your car keys, fire up your engines and put your foot to the floor. You see Zombie Driver is different, it lets you drive over as many zombies as possible ala GTA, preferably whilst doing a hand brake turn leaving the by now standard ‘blood skid marks’.

And this is where L4D and L4D2 failed, it had only guns, Zombie Driver has cars, and the ability to ‘pimp your ride’ with mods such as nitros, guns, and those bull bars that were banned in the UK many years ago. What are you waiting for, download Zombie Driver Demo now for a much needed break from Left 4 Dead 2.

, , , , , ,

No Comments

BioShock 2 Pre Order & PC Requirements

BioShock 2 and Games For Windows Live

So BioShock 2 is up for pre-order on Steam at the discounted price tag of £26.99, which also gets you a free copy of the original BioShock. Not bad, but what convinced me to part with my GBP was the PC requirements revealing something more than a dual core CPU. That’s right, a Games for Windows LIVE login, is a MUST, unless you do not want to save your game progress? A harsh way to force PC gamers to use this service, but Valve enforced the installation of a little program called Steam with Half Life 2 many years ago, and it worked for them. Microsoft are learning from the best, hoping to take back some of that market share that Steam have cornered.

The more people forced into using Games for Windows LIVE the better, yes it is another piece of software running in the background hogging your gigabytes of RAM, but it builds communities, and that is what keeps us happy and playing, and of course, keeps us increasing our gamerscore. Bring on Windows Mobile 7 with LIVE & gamerscore intergration!

BioShock 2 PC Requirements

Recommended:

■Processor: AMD Athlon 64 X2 5200+ Dual Core 2.60Ghz, Intel Core 2 Duo E6420 Dual Core 2.13Ghz

■Memory: 3GB

■Graphics: NVIDIA 8800GT 512MB graphics card or better, ATI Radeon HD4830 512MB graphics card or better

Other Requirements:

■Initial installation requires one-time internet connection.

■Ability to save game, earn achievements, receive title updates and online play requires log-in to Games for Windows LIVE.

■Software installations required including Microsoft Visual C++2008 Runtime Libraries, Games for Windows LIVE client, Games for Windows LIVE Client Patch, Sony DADC SecuROM, Microsoft DirectX.

, , , , , ,

No Comments