Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Console exclusivity is bullshit as we see with SF:V



The ugly head of exclusivity hit recently with the announcement of Street Fighter V.  After a brief gameplay trailer that exhibited newer visuals, combat features and stage mechanics the logo appears and states PS4 and PC 2015.  Now if I had to throw my loyalty to any one platform I would have to go with PC but if I had to choose a console it would be Playstation, but this recent announcement only serves to highlight the pathetic pissing content between the console giants.

Back in the 90's when the battle for gaming supremacy was waged between the Japanese giants of SEGA and Nintendo and it was an issue then with consumers being torn between one or the other with no real victory being apparent after all the fan wars and advertising snipes.  Sony basically came in and cleared house, knocking SEGA out of the console market and Nintendo although still making consoles, had to focus its efforts on the handheld market until recent years with their Wii success.  Microsoft took over along with Sony to restart the pissing contest all over and once again the consumer suffers in the long run.

Honestly I am not rushing out to buy a Nintendo Wii U for smash bros.  An XBOX ONE for Halo and a PS4 for Uncharted.  Why games are being held as exclusives in this day and age is beyond me.  Sure the fan boys out there get to stick a finger up to the "competition" but these idiots only represent a small number of the actual console gaming community, they just happen to be the most vocal.  Personally games like Halo, smash and Uncharted should be available on all platforms because in the end everyone benefits from the sales.  The only gaming community that wins is the PC community since a majority of these exclusives end up on it eventually and usually at a lower price with better visuals and smoother gameplay.

So essentially, Capcom should get their thumb out of their arse and bring Street Fighter V out on XBOX and this exclusivity should be a thing of the past.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Star Wars X-Wing - Character and Ship Guide - VT-49 Decimator



This ship will likely go over a few peoples heads as it was never established as part of the larger universe or canon and has only sparingly appeared in other media.  The VT-49 Decimator was created as an evil version of the Millennium Falcon for the Empire.  Originally being part of the now cancelled Star Wars Galaxies Jump to lightspeed expansion.  As such this was an unexpected ship to be added to X-Wing, but not an unwelcome one.

Faction: Galactic Empire
Name: VT-49 Decimator
Statistics ÷
Primary Weapon Value: 3
Agility: 0
Hull: 12
Shields:4

The VT-49 was a mainstay of Imperial fleets, often used as reconnaissance or picket vessels to screen the fleet and detect advancing enemy fleets or raiding vessels.  The ship is also a powerful raider, being used to smash through enemy blockades and cause massive damage behind their lines.  Its seen as something of an accomplishment for Imperial junior and middle ranked officers to gain command of a Decimator since it is seen as a stepping stone to becoming a fully fledged capital ship commander.

All VT-49 Decimator pilots are capable of performing the (Focus) and (Target Lock) actions.

Expansion Content ÷

Pilot Cards:

Patrol Leader
Captain Dicunn
Commander kenkirk
Rear Admiral Chiraneau

Equipment Cards:

Ruthlessness
Intimidation
Fleet Officer
Mara Jade
Ysanne Isard
Moff Jerjerrod
Ion Torpedoes
Proton Bombs
Tactical Jammer
Dauntless

Below is a list of VT-49 Decimator Pilots in ascending order of skill along with points cost and abilities.

Name: Patrol Leader
Skill Value: 3
Pilot Ability: N/A
Upgrades: Bomb, Crew (3), Torpedo
Squad Cost: 40

Name: Captain Dicunn
Skill Value: 4
Pilot Ability: After executing a maneuver, each enemy ship you are touching suffers 1 damage.
Upgrades: Bomb, Crew (3), Torpedo, Pilot Skill
Squad Cost: 42

Name: Commander Kenkirk
Skill Value: 6
Pilot Ability: If you have no shields and at least 1 damage card assigned to you, increase your agility value by 1.
Upgrades: Bomb, Crew (3), Torpedo, Pilot Skill
Squad Cost: 44

Name: Rear Admiral Chiraneau
Skill Value: 8
Pilot Ability: When attacking at Range 1-2, you may change 1 of your (Focus) results to a (Critical Hit) result.
Upgrades: Bomb, Crew (3), Torpedo, Pilot Skill
Squad Cost: 46

Lets face it, this costs a lot of squad points to field just the basic version of this ship.  Granted though its a horrendous damage sponge and gives back some nasty fire to Alliance pilots.  Its lack of any agility points without the use of modifications means it is meant to soak damage for the other squad mates to focus on taking down their opponents.  The VT49 however has good speed being able move forward 4 and capable of taking extremely sharp turns to avoid fire or attack more agile fighters when they least suspect it.  It is also highly customisable with many crew choices available at this point along with its ability to carry bombs and torpedoes, this ship alone could take close to 60 squad points to be a real beast on the field.

Title ÷

Name: Dauntless
Ability: VT-49 Decimator Online.  After you execute a maneuver that causes you to overlap another ship, you may perform 1 free action.  Then receive 1 stress token.
Cost: 2

Modification ÷

Name: Tactical jammer
Ability: Large Ship Only.  Your ship can obstruct enemy attacks.
Cost: 1 

Bomb ÷

Name: Proton Bomb
Ability: When you reveal your maneuver dial, you may discard this card to drop 1 proton bomb token.  This token detonates at the end of the activation phase.
Cost: 5

Torpedo ÷

Name: Ion Torpedoes
Damage: 4
Range: 2-3
Ability: Attack [Target Lock]: Spend you target lock and discard this card to perform this attack.  If this attack hits, the defender and each ship at range 1 of it receives 1 ion token.
Cost: 5 

Crew ÷

Name: Fleet Officer
Ability: Imperial Only.  Action: Choose up to 2 friendly ships at range 1-2 and assign 1 focus token to each of those ships.  Then receive 1 stress token.
Cost: 3

Name: Mara Jade
Ability: Imperial Only.  At the end of the combat phase, each enemy ship at range 1 that does not have a stress token receives 1 stress token.
Cost: 3

Name: Ysanne Isard
Ability: Imperial Only.  At the start of the combat phase, if you have no shields and at least 1 damage card assigned to your ship, you may perform a free evade action.
Cost: 4

Name: Moff Jerjerrod
Ability: Imperial Only.  When you are dealt a faceup damage card, you may discard this upgrade card or another (crew) upgrade card to flip that damage card facedown (without resolving its effect).
Cost: 2

Skill ÷

Name: Ruthlessness
Ability: Imperial Only.  After you perform an attack that hits, you must choose 1 other ship at range 1 of the defender (other than yourself).  That ship suffers 1 damage.
Cost: 3 

Name: Intimidation
Ability: While you are touching an enemy ship, reduce that ship's agility value by 1.
Cost: 2 

Star Wars X-Wing - Character and Ship Guide - YT-2400


The YT-2400 was first seen in the canon novel Shadows of the Empire.  A story set in between the events of The empire strikes back and Return of the Jedi, it featured the movie protagonists attempting to discover exactly where Han Solo had been taken to after his encasing in Carbonite.  They were assisted by roguish smuggler Dash Rendar, a man who was a very Han Solo type character who flew the YT-2400 dubbed the Outrider.

It has since gone on to become a fan favourite vessel with a very unique design and shape befitting the YT series of ships seen throughout the wider Star Wars universe.  It is great to see this ship added because it fills that gap in the original trilogy plot and gives us access to ships like the Star Viper or Virago amongst others.

Faction: Rebel Alliance
Name: YT-2400 Light Freighter
Statistics ÷
Primary Weapon value: 2
Agility: 2
Hull: 5
Shields: 5

A vessel designed with the aim to be endlessly modifiable the YT-2400 was a favoured ship of Mercenaries, smugglers, criminal organisations and other less than reputable members of galactic society.  The ships standard 13 emplacement points on the base model where mostly empty, with only six of them being in use with the stock model.  The remaining emplacement points allowed for modifications such as bigger engines, more weapon systems, extra smuggling space and more depending on the intended use of the owner.  It was tough enough to withstand the rigours of space combat and extreme manoeuvres during flight and had ample armament to fend off would be attackers, sporting two turrets both dorsal and ventral.

All YT-2400 pilots are capable of performing the (Focus), (Target Lock) and (Barrel Roll) actions.

Expansion Content List:

Pilot Cards: 

Wild Space Fringer
Eaden Vrill
"Leebo"
Dash Rendar

Equipment Cards:

Lone Wolf
Stay on Target
Dash Rendar
Gunner
Lando Calrissian
"Leebo"
Mercenary Copilot
Proton Rockets
Heavy Laser Cannon
Counter Measures
Experimental Interface
Outrider

Below is a list of YT-2400 pilots in ascending order of skill along with points cost and abilities. 

Name: Wild Space Fringer
Skill Value: 2
Pilot Ability: N/A
Upgrades: Crew (1), Missile (1), Heavy Weapon
Squad Cost: 30

Name: Eaden Vrill
Skill Value: 3
Pilot Ability: When performing a primary weapon attack against a stressed ship, roll 1 additional attack die.
Upgrades: Crew (1), Missile (1), Heavy Weapon
Squad Cost: 32

Name: "Leebo"
Skill Value: 5
Pilot Ability: When you are dealt a faceup damage card, draw 1 additional damage card, choose 1 to resolve and discard the other.
Upgrades: Crew (1), Missile (1), Heavy Weapon, Pilot Skill
Squad Cost: 34

Name: Dash Rendar
Skill Value: 7  
Pilot Ability: You may ignore obstacles during the Activation phase and when performing actions.
Upgrades: Crew (1), Missile (1), Heavy Weapon, Pilot Skill
Squad Cost: 36

Now compared to the YT-1300 this ship is a little weaker not being able to take the same amount of damage or even bring as much weaponry to the table.  However it is far more manoeuvrable and with the right setup for its skill skills and weapons it can be a nasty little attack vessel for your squadron.  Obviously Dash Rendar can literally ignore the map when taking actions or during the activation phase, emphasising his skill with the Outrider.  Leebo I think is a little bland and not really worth taking over Dash or Eaden personally.  Yes you do get to choose which damage card to resolve but if you pick two bad cards, you're in trouble either way.  Eaden Vrill seems custom made to make Imperial players lives miserable.  When used in conjunction with skills from other ships that cause stress, he can be the executioner of the field with his 3 attack die instead of 2.  Used with a heavy weapon instead and he could be doing upwards of 5 attack die if equipped with the heavy laser cannon.

Ultimately the YT-2400 acts as a cheaper alternative to the larger YT-1300 but only by a few points.  It will be interesting to see what combinations come out of using this new large scale vessel and honestly its one of my favourite ships of the series to date. It looks awesome sat amongst my Rebel fighters.

Pilot Skill ÷

Name: Lone Wolf
Ability: When attacking or defending, if there are no friendly ships at Range 1-2, you may reroll 1 of your blank results.
Cost: 2

Name: Stay on Target
Ability: When you reveal a maneuver, you may rotate your dial to another maneuver with the same speed.  Treat that maneuver as a red maneuver.
Cost: 2

Crew Cards ÷

Name: Dash Rendar
Ability: Rebel Only - You may perform attacks while overlapping an obstacle.  Your attacks cannot be obstructed.
Cost: 2

Name: Gunner
Ability: After you perform an attack that does not hit, you may immediately perform a primary weapon attack.  You cannot perform another attack this round.
Cost: 5

Name: Lando Calrissian
Ability: Rebel Only - Action: Roll 2 defence dice.  For each (Focus) result assign 1 focus token to your ship.  For each (Evade) result, assign 1 evade token to your ship.
Cost: 3

Name: "Leebo"
Ability: Rebel Only - Action: Perform a free boost action.  Then receive 1 ion token.
Cost: 2

Name: Mercenary Copilot
Ability: When attacking at Range 3, you may change 1 of your (Hit) results to a (critical hit) result.
Cost: 2

Weapon Cards ÷

Name: Proton Rockets
Damage: 2
Range: 1
Ability: Attack [Focus]: Discard this card to perform this attack.  You may roll additional attack dice to your agility value, to a maximum of 3 additional dice.
Cost: 3

Name: Heavy Laser Cannon
Damage: 4
Range: 2-3
Ability: Attack: Attack 1 ship.  Immediately after rolling your attack dice, you must change all of your (critical hit) results to (hit) results.
Cost: 7

Modifications ÷

Name: Counter-Measures
Ability: Large Ship only modification.  At the start of the combat phase, you may discard this card to increase your agility value by 1 until the end of the round.  Then you may remove 1 enemy target lock from your ship.
Cost: 3

Name: Experimental Interface
Ability: Once per round, after you perform an action you may perform 1 free action from an equipped upgrade card with the Action header.  Then receiver 1 stress token.
Cost: 3

Title ÷

Name: Outrider
Ability: YT-2400 only.  While you have a (heavy weapon) upgrade card equipped.  You cannot perform primary weapon attacks and you may perform heavy weapon secondary attacks against ships outside of your firing arc.
Cost: 5


Sunday, 30 November 2014

X-Wing Wave 5 guides going up tomorrow



I know posts have been light on the ground recently.  A lot has been happening with my youtube channel which you can follow here https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMpEn1nKT6E_gt75GDK9IJA and you can also catch my twitch stream by following this link http://www.twitch.tv/criticalrocket

Outside of that though things have been progressing well.  I have been working hard to cultivate a small following on youtube as I currently sit at 118 subscribers and intend to expand that as much as possible.  But I cannot forget my blog here which started all of this off for me.  So tomorrow will be the arrival of two new guides for X-Wing the miniatures wargame from Fantasy Flight Games.

This expansion to the series gives us two new large base vessels in the form of the YT-2400 made famous in the canon tie in story, Shadows of the Empire, and is piloted by the smuggler Dash Rendar.  A capable ship that is weaker than its sister ship the YT-1300 its a more manoeuvrable vessel that comes with its own set of new crew and modification cards.

The Empire don't come up short of course, rolling in with the devastating but slow VT-49 Decimator.  This ship was first in the Star Wars Galaxies MMO expansion, the Jump to Lightspeed.  Its large, powerful and able to take a hit.  Its only downside from what I can see is the fact that it has zero agility to avoid damage, so enough fire can wear it down completely.

So these guides will be added tomorrow and I am also thinking about making a few videos to do with the models and showing them off.  Possibly making a game report from a basic battle between the Rebels and Imperials.

Friday, 21 November 2014

WWE Analysed - Why I think the Network is struggling



So once again I return for another ramble about the WWE and it's fucking network.  Now yes I could talk about TNA and its recent announcement about their new TV deal with the Discovery network but lets face it the entire company is buggered beyond belief.  We all know that despite the best efforts of the people in the ring every week the pure mismanagement of TNA from the top down has resulted in a slow miserable death for a company that by all rights should have been the new competitor to the WWE.

The WWE however interests me more because this company that survived the monday night wars against WCW, dodged the US government in the mid nineties and arguably became the biggest professional wrestling company in the world, is now doing things that WCW were doing back in their darkest days.  The entire situation regarding the network just looks so out of touch with today's online world.  The first slogan I remember hearing in regards to the network was "it's like Netflix but better" a slogan that made zero sense because Netflix offers a very wide variety of video entertainment.  The WWE network however offers a filtered version of WWE programming and nothing else.  By filtered I mean certain themes are changed from their original televised or even video release versions.  Matches are shortened or edited out and entire pay per views are altered to fit certain restrictions imposed by WWE officials.

Of course today's slogan is "9.99" which sounds great and everything but considering they originally charged a much higher price because you were locked into a minimum six month contract with no option to cancel your subscription, another reason Netflix was better by the way.  Now they have reversed their decision to allow subscribers to cancel anytime and are even giving away their Survivor Series 2014 show for free to try and bring in Subscribers.  The main issue though is that the service just doesn't seem to be retaining the numbers they aimed to achieve.  When it launched they expected to be hitting at least a million in North America and then going further still when it went international.  The truth is that it struggled to achieve seven hundred thousand subscribers in North America and the international launch which was expected to create the remaining number to push them over the vaunted one million mark in fact only levelled them out at around seven hundred and fifty thousand subscribers.  This means they lost subscribers when it went international and only managed to claw in roughly sixty thousand subs.

Now these figures are old but are the most up-to-date available.  No doubt the current free month of November has brought the number up and maybe they will retain some with the new options available for subscribers, however they are still making mistakes.  Over here in the UK the network is still not available and the UK is arguably the second or third largest audience for the WWE.  When it was due to launch earlier this month the deal suddenly fell through and it was further delayed, not pleasing many fans at the recent live RAW and Smackdown tapings who boo'd the news and purposely chanted things that WWE would have to edit out.  Maybe you could lay some of the blame at the feet of SKY broadcasting but since the network is available in other European and Asian countries why is the UK so different? 

Probably their most egregious action though is treating those people who do not subscribe but still pay for the television pay per views as idiots even going so far as to mock them for paying the $50 or $60 price tag for the show compared to the network price.  Yes the price is good by comparison but since it's online only and many people out there still have very spotty or slow connections, it might not be viable for them to do this.  WWE however seems to think that isn't good enough as an excuse and give it a few more months and its likely that all pay per views will be network exclusive anyway considering how much they are pissing off every cable provider systematically.  They have put nearly all of their eggs into this network basket and the financials aren't showing as black just yet.  Hell they even trimmed twenty million dollars in costs to try and stay profitable this year.  This of course meant people had to lose their jobs, all because the network has been such a colossal failure in its ability to bring people in to becoming subscribers.

When you look at why that might be you only have to look at the product they are currently putting out.  It's very bland and nothing seems to be changing to really make you want to watch or more importantly pay to watch their shows every month.  The last two months have been virtual re-runs of RAW with the same matches only this time the title is on the line.  Feuds that should have been amazing to watch play out only fizzled with the likes of Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins being complete wash outs despite their being two of the more entertaining wrestlers on the roster today.  Cena feuding with Orton for the umpteenth time bringing absolutely nothing new to the table with their match.  The same tag teams fighting endlessly over belts that WWE don't give a flying fuck about any more.  It isn't like the Rhodes brothers are bad but seeing them face off against the Uso's time and again is just plain dull.

The company does have strong talent in the wings waiting to be the new main eventers but the company is too afraid to move out of this comfort zone and embrace a new younger group of wrestlers.  It's likely one of the reasons the company is suffering financially because of the fact that even when the company is at it's most electric people just don't want to see the same matches again and again, and when Cena is involved the match is a foregone conclusion that the match will end in his favour.  WWE also suffer from having a champion who doesn't appear very often on the show.  I know the champ doesn't have to be on RAW every night, he has more important things to do in kayfabe land, but he should be defending the belt at every pay per view.  Come this Sunday we will have two months where Brock Lesnar has failed to defend his title, a massive error on the part of the WWE since people want to see the drama and excitement of a title bout much like boxing or MMA it's all about seeing that main event and the potential of a new champion being announced at the end of the night.

I know Lesnar is something of an odd choice for champion considering his limited schedule anyway along with his rumours of returning to UFC in the near future, but if McMahon is happy to sign the guy and make him this unstoppable monster to create big money events, then he should be paying Brock for the dates he needs to bring in those ticket sales and not relying on old horses like Cena and Orton and to a lesser extent Triple H to bring in the money.  The network also needs to offer more non wrestling content and by that I mean shows that look at stuff behind the scenes of the WWE.  Wouldn't it be cool to see a documentary series that follows the unseen people of the company who work tirelessly to create an event like Wrestlemania?  All of the drama and dilemma's faced by these people as they coordinate and organise such a massive event.  Why not create a series similar to their round table discussions with some serious debate about decisions of the past, feuds that didn't go well and a myriad of other events within the WWE and WCW world.

As it stands the network just isn't worth investing in right now.  Sure it offers a massive amount of wrestling that covers several companies across decades but it's not like there isn't already a lot of that available elsewhere on the Internet and most people who want to re-watch their favourite matches already have them on DVD or tape to begin with.  It's cool to have this on demand but they really need to open up with more varied content to bring in the viewer who wants something a little different from the WWE.  When a small company like Kayfabe commentaries can bring out some highly entertaining and very interesting products from simply interviewing wrestlers, you know WWE have missed the mark with the network when it comes to content.  They should be producing content along those lines in tandem with the wrestling programming too.

Monday, 17 November 2014

New X-Wing guides coming soon


With the recent update from FFG's site about the YT-2400 and VT-49 Decimator going from 'on the boat' to 'shipping now' I suspect I will have these models either this week or early next so I will have them up ASAP for everyone who uses my guides/reference sheets or whatever you want to call them.

Obviously I am also gearing up for the release of the unfortunately named Scum faction.  Why they couldn't have called them villainy or outlaw instead but its too late now I guess.  Anyway I will be making guides for them also with the first pack being the starter set and it's many new pilot and upgrade cards.  Since the stats of the ships will be the same I am still in two minds about adding their respective stats since I already have guides for the Y-Wing, Z-95, HWK-290 and Firespray-31 here. 

I may do it so the new faction has it's own unique guides even for existing ships so they can be found for players who want to be Scum only or need guides for custom missions etc. With my youtube channel becoming something with near 100 subscribers I may also create some videos of the models themselves and add them to the guides so they have something a little more interesting to look at.

Finally I am also tinkering with ways of making a battle report using some basic scenarios or just a straight up fight between the rebels and the imperials.  But that will require some cooperation from a friend or two.

Thanks for reading and keep your eyes peeled for the guides :)

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Star Wars Armada and guides?


So I am wondering what to do about Fantasy Flight games and it's upcoming Star Wars based capital ship combat game, Star Wars Armada.  If you haven't seen it then check it the fuck out because the ships look amazing.  A version of X-Wing with capital ships has been a big ask from the community for a while now and obviously keeping the X-Wing game to scale has proven to be a thorny subject for some.  The Corellian Corvette and GR-75 transport split the community in half with their "epic scale" rules and not to scale models, so Armada is the next best thing to actually making a massive ISD model that is the length of your house.

My problem is do people want me to produce a guide series on this game while making them concurrent with the X-Wing releases.  These models ain't cheap as any fan will tell you, so trying to keep up with both might prove difficult.  This patreon thing is popular but actually expecting to pay for me to buy models to then type a guide for them is cheeky as fuck and something I wouldn't be comfortable with personally.  Don't get me wrong Armada looks fucking amazing and I will probably get the base set to see what it plays like compared to X-Wing.

So what do you folks think?  Do you want to see a new page dedicated to Armada and it's slew of incoming capital ships?  Or could you not give a flying crap?  Let me know below in the comments.  Also check out the images for the wave 1 ships that will be available on launch.


Friday, 7 November 2014

Lower those expectations for Star Citizen.....for a while anyway



Star Citizen has been rocketing through it's crowd funding campaign like no other, in fact it is and has been for a while now a record breaking campaign and will no doubt be on top of that list for quite some time.  There are far too many reasons to list why this game which isn't even close to releasing yet has garnered such a massive fan following but just looking here at the funding goals page shows the extremely ambitious goals which the team at CIG or Cloud Imperium Games have ahead of them.

Now this isn't a post to knock the team or what they are trying to achieve.  My opinion on Star Citizen is that it will kick the shit out of every other space game out there hands down....if it can do everything it sets out to do.  The thing is that many fans of the game seem to be dreaming up their own scenarios of what you can do in the Star Citizen universe.  People seem to think you will be able to walk into a bar and watch player ships land and unload cargo or explore the entire city on a planet or perform complex tasks with your ships that are way beyond the scope of the game.

It's not to say the game won't be doing some pretty impressive things not seen before in a space sim title.  The very fact that you will be able to walk around massive capital ships that are fully modelled inside that allow you to traverse them and operate their systems (within reason) is a cool idea and all of this while it's in a combat situation with the ship making evasive manoeuvres.  This kind of movement is hard to do right in a multiplayer environment since the programming requires the avatar and ship to stay in sync with each other as they move independently of each other.  We have seen this working twice now and both videos are only early days. 

My point in this post is to not get your hopes up too high though when the game launches next year. A project like this needs to take baby steps to ensure that everything is working as it should be, so I wouldn't be surprised to find the initial Star Citizen launch to be pretty slim on content comparatively.  I can however see a ton of people losing their shit on the forums and decrying the game as a scam when it does launch and it doesn't have every single tiny feature mentioned in the many videos, Q&A sessions, conventions and more.  Some people have for whatever reason dove straight into the game and created their own version of the game before it's even released and this version for them is very fragile.

Other people seem to have this weird way of looking at things from a gameplay versus realism perspective.  Now yes you can't really have realism in a game involving alien species, faster than light travel, terraforming and laser cannons but bear with me here.  The recent first person module had some very brief footage of a player assisting a soldier when he was wounded and used a healing tool of some sorts which used a blue light beam graphic.  This has caused some players to now call out the developers for making the game too arcade like and that the realism should take priority.  Heeling beems!? Imerrsun breking four me! As this retard OP puts it the game would break immersion should this blue beam be kept and that instead the medical procedures be more realistic.  Yeah because players want to play doctor and not fly spaceships and earn cash for bigger, better ships.  Others agree with him and these are the kind of players I am talking about who will lose their shit when the game launches and their little fragile world in their head will shatter.

Clearly for a majority though we know what we are going to get, which is a space game that has all the classic elements such as mining, piracy, bounty hunting, exploring, trading, fighting and crafting but it will also allow us to raid ships in first person, explore planets (again within reason) on foot after landing, rescue players adrift in space, ferry passengers too and from destinations, smuggle information and intercept signals for profit, scavenge wrecks for salvage, run a luxury liner and more.  It's a pretty impressive list and caters to pretty much any kind of play you want to experience.  The things that some people want to do are very odd and over the top that wouldn't really add to the experience such as surgeon minigames, hanging around in spacer bars, stowaway on other players ships and kill the crew or have NPC crew be blackmailed or paid off to kill players.  Some of the idea's are pretty fucked up really, like the stowaway idea which just screams serial killer to me.

In closing yes Star Citizen will be a great game when it does finally arrive but remember to temper your expectations a lot.  In the end it's a PC game that will no doubt have bugs, glitches and crashes which won't be shocking given the complexity of the title.  Your money has been spent on making the game better in the long term and a lot of things that have been mentioned or described may not be there at launch but it doesn't mean they won't be there eventually.  And remember you can always quench that space sim thirst with a copy of Elite Dangerous which is out this year and if you are really, truly desperate for some space gaming you could try EVE, but I wouldn't recommend it.  Hell even X-Rebirth is better, but only just.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Evolve Big Alpha Impressions



Evolve is a game I can see being a love it or hate it kind of game but not for reasons of mechanics, performance or size but because it will live and die by who you play it with.  For those not in the know Evolve is a multiplayer game for five people set on a distant alien world called Shear which has been colonised by humanity.  The populace are however threatened by rather large and intelligent beasts which can if left unchecked destroy vital equipment for the colony and likely spell doom for the inhabitants.  So the game has one of those players taking the role of the monster who must eat to gain evolution points and become much stronger, larger and gain new abilities to either destroy the equipment or kill the hunters who are run by the remaining four players.

The dynamic is very cool with the hunters being very powerful at the start and the monster being relatively weak by comparison unless it can isolate a single hunter.  However if the monster can evolve it quickly becomes a genuine threat and can very easily overwhelm the hunters in a stand up fight requiring tactics to change on the fly and in essence they become the hunted.  It's fun and when it all works it is amazing fun but the key thing there is when it all works.

My issue with the game judging from the alpha (this can change between now and final release) is that you need a group of players who all know what they are doing from the get go, otherwise the game becomes a short chaotic mess fast and can leave you feeling very frustrated or downhearted with the game.  Being the monster can be quite stressful because you need to be on the move immediately and eating as much as possible to stay ahead of the hunters.  Sadly the maps are kind of small and although match start is always random I can see the maps becoming very familiar quickly and thus new players will be at a huge disadvantage very quickly against veterans who know the layout fairly well.

It's a nitpick but I can only really see Evolve being a fun game with five players who know each other and want to have a laugh.  As a solo players running as part of a pick up group or PUG will be getting a mixed bag and no doubt some abuse from other players if they aren't completely up to snuff with the tactics and abilities of the different playable classes.  Putting that aside though the game runs very smoothly and looks amazing at this early stage of play.  The maps ooze atmosphere and have plenty to look at.  Verticality is a key part of the game for both the hunters and monster with both teams having the means to reach high points in the map for scouting and ambush purposes.

The classes are pretty fun too with no single class feeling overpowered or dominant over the rest.  The medic does the usual healing but plays a key role in slowing the monster down and highlighting it to team mates along with creating weak points on it's armour with it's high powered sniper rifle.  The support can drop massive artillery, shield allies from damage and cloak for retreat or revive purposes.  The assault tanks the monster and can be invulnerable for a short period along with laying mines and engaging at both long and short ranges.  Finally the trapper can keep the monster restrained with both harpoon traps and energy arena's to keep it from escaping along with laying down fire with their machine gun.  There are other hunters to unlock with their own powers and tactics although I cannot comment on them since they were pretty hard to unlock in the short alpha we had.

The monster team can be one of three types, although we don't yet know what the third one will be we do know that the first is the large Lizard type called Goliath and the second is the Cthulu like Kraken.  Both play very differently and require very different approaches to hiding and attacking.  Goliath is a brute who specialises in breathing fire, throwing rocks and generally pounding the hunters to death with it's massive clawed fists.  The Kraken however uses area of effect abilities and ranged lightning attacks to ambush the hunters and fly away from danger.  Both monsters look amazing and their animations even at this stage are slick to watch.

To close this I would strongly suggest playing this with friends if you want the most out of the game.  It's not bad as a solo player but be prepared to get a mixed experience this way.  The graphics are amazing which isn't surprising given the engine being used (Cryengine 3) and the sound design is excellent.  I can see Evolve receiving numerous downloadable packages that add more maps, monsters and hunters over time and if they don't I think it would be a real shame.

Watch me play and narrate over this long and very fun hunt from the alpha.  Thanks for reading and have a good one folks.


Thursday, 30 October 2014

WWE Analysed: My fears for the future



Professional wrestling is one of those real guilty pleasures.  Here is a show that puts real athletes into a pure pantomime drama mixed with chair shots, elbow drops and power bombs.  It's all scripted but the danger is real for the people who put themselves in the ring each and every week.  I started watching WWF on Sky television back in the late 1980's when I was four or five years old.  The first match I ever saw was the Bushwackers fighting some fat guy jobber and biting his ass.  For a little kid this was fucking hilarious and the show only got better.  These huge guys come out, beat the shit out of each other and act like comic characters is what really made wrestling cool for me back then.  I was ahead of the curve in my school knowing about wrestling when every other kid was running around pretending to be a mutant ninja turtle, I was throwing big boots like Hulk Hogan and putting imaginary foes into the sharpshooter like Bret Hart.

Jump ahead to the late 90's and wrestling became the shit.  Everyone was watching it with the highlight being Stone Cold Steve Austin and his feud with the owner of WWF, Vince McMahon.  To put it bluntly the Attitude era was the best period of professional wrestling not because of the wrestling which at times was poor but because the product gave every viewer out there something they could enjoy.  If you liked the wrestling you had wrestlers who could deliver like Shawn Michaels and Owen Hart.  If you wanted some eye candy you had the valet's like Deborah, Sable, Sunny and more.  Comedy was there with the antics of D-generation X.  Hardcore wrestling was there with the likes of Terry Funk, Mick Foley and the New Age Outlaws.  Crazy storylines that had memorable moments such as Austin's attack on McMahon in the hospital or the famous beer bath.  The Attitude era had it all and is still fondly remembered to this day by fans.

A major help to draw all of this momentum was the fact that WWF was in a life or death struggle for ratings with it's competition WCW who were also producing a really hot product that was packed with talent of all ages and skill levels.  It was a great time to be a wrestling fan because the two companies locked into this death struggle created a blinding few years of amazing wrestling television that drew incredible ratings and millions upon millions of dollars in revenue for both companies.  Of course every war has to have a winner and the WWE ended up on top after looking like it was going to lose earlier on.  The victory was completely flubbed by WWF now WWE with gross mishandling of former WCW talent and things stayed good for a few years at least.

However skip forward to the mid 2000's and things begin to stagnate and now in 2014 it's even worse.  Pay per views that run matches that we have seen on Raw previously, angles that never mean shit or don't have a solid pay off, tired old characters such as Kane, Orton and Cena running the main event card every single night on Raw for months.  It all looks a million miles away from what we had back in the late 90's.  Now stagnation is brought on by a lack of competition since you don't have to try if you don't have to compete.  Indie companies like PWG, ROH and more just don't have the financial clout to compete and no single investor wants to compete with the corporation that is WWE.  You could argue that TNA is something of a competitor but then you only have to see that show to know it's not even close to NXT standards for WWE to even acknowledge their existence.

My fears though for the future of WWE where confirmed when they opened the performance centre.  A place where hopeful amateur pro-wrestlers could tryout and maybe get a shot at being a future WWE star.  It's nice and everything but it sends out clear signals that the future of all WWE programming will be filled with drones who only know how to wrestle one type of match, only one type of promo, only one type of character.  WWE style is very specific and it's noted time and again by wrestling websites that any wrestler brought in from outside of the system has to adapt to their style of Pro-wrestling.  This performance centre only spells the impending doom of creativity and unique personalities that once made the business stand out.  The future will hold many Cena and Orton clones with the odd Brodus Clay or Adam Rose sprinkled in for variety.

Seriously don't expect to see the likes of Cesaro or Daniel Bryan or CM Punk to every grace the screen again once this centre is churning out robots for the next decade or two.  It wouldn't surprise me if they make it so all new entrants to the centre have to have '$9.99' tattooed to their foreheads to help with branding soon.  WWE are already hurting financially anyway with them making a $20 million dollar cutback to stay profitable this year alone because subscriptions to the network didn't even come close to what they projected and this continued slide into mediocrity isn't going to help much either. 

I have only the smallest hope that younger and more entertaining wrestlers such as Bray Wyatt, Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Damien Sandow, Cesaro, Dolph Ziggler and more can finally be given the ball and run with it instead of being held back for the likes of Cena because McMahon fears that if he leaves or isn't top then no one will watch any more.  It's the wrong way to look at a business that is generally in flux every year as fans take to different wrestlers on even the tiniest things such as a comment during a promo or that one amazing match.  You only need to look at what Cesaro can do on a throw away Raw with Daniel Bryan to see the potential there in one person alone and how quickly the fans took to him when he started using the giant swing.  WWE hates that kind of dynamic and quickly moved to squash his popularity by banning him from using the move and have him lose constantly.  No WWE want their chosen wrestlers to be cheered and fuck all of you who have an opinion.

When the financial situation gets worse I feel sorry for the wrestlers and workers who lose their jobs over the sheer incompetence and fucking ignorance that is shown by the top brass of WWE.  They ignore what we the fans want and then scratch their heads in confusion when they lose money or in Hunter's case, bitch at the fans live on Raw like that's going to make things better.  These fuckwits even criticise their own paying fans who buy the pay per views for whatever price outside the network as if telling them they are stupid is going to guarantee subscriptions.  Fuck you WWE, and your pathetic tit for tat with your own fans.  It almost makes you want to see them fall just to watch the chaos that would ensue.