Thursday, July 28, 2005

WoW Review - Part IV

Part I
Part II
Part III


The good -

They offer a central themed area for PvP fighting. They bring team based objectives into play which require coordination to achieve. The fighting is constant and the honor gained is good. The sides are capped and usually equal out at the max amount allowed into a BG at a time.

The bad -

You must stand in line before entering a BG. If enough people want to get in; another instance will open. If there isn't enough people you could essentially wait hours on end and never make it into a BG.

Along with standing in line several servers have the problem where there is only enough people to open a BG during prime time for a few hours. The rest of the day the BGs are closed and anyone that doesn't play during prime time is out of luck in ever getting to enjoy a BG.

The honor system is set up to reward only those that farm BGs non-stop. These people get in early and then leave their machines idle to keep their slot in the BG while people that actually want to play stand in line outside. Along with this the majority of gameplay in the BGs revolve around organized teams just bypassing unorganized teams and farming honor.

The "goals" in BGs are often never accomplished aside from the main goal. The quests and so forth are misleading and there is no solid way to really understand how the whole BG works. There is a few key areas that are attacked and then everything else is abandoned. Even in the capture the flag BG there is little strategy used outside of sitting at the graveyards.

The respawn timers are 30 seconds. The fighting is non-stop. The second you feel as though you are begining to win is the second that the entire enemy force resurects on top of you.

Blizzard answered the call of many gamers who were sick of bored level 60's attacking them around the world. Now level 60's are left bored because if you aren't in a BG there is no PvP action to be found anywhere.

Battlegrounds do more harm than good in the end game.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

WoW Review - Part III

Part I can be found here.

Part II can be found here.

If leveling from 1-60 in WoW is the adventure... then level 60 is the grind. Level 60 is only a starting point in WoW. When you reach level 60 you are thrown into the world of end game dungeons, epic quests, and PvP Battlegrounds. Each good, bad, and ugly in their own respects.

The end game dungeons are a two fold monster. There is the small 5-15 man dungeons that litter the world at large. The majority of class based gear is found in these dungeons. The items are superior in quality and offer a lot to those who spend the time to get them. The reward is worth the time spent.... the first time through.

However this is where the grind falls in. You have to repeat each of these instances multiple times to get the item you want. It is a poor system that rewards those with more time to play... instead of rewarding those who use their time wisely.

Overall the dungeons are creative enough to make repeating them not to overbearing. WoW raised most people on always having a new area or adventure to take part in, but at 60 the content gets vastly limited.

On the high end are the epic dungeons and quests. 40 people required and 6+ hours if you want to complete them with those 40 people. Blizzard has a good system in place by instancing the dungeons so that there is no spawn camping of the epic monsters. You actually have to raid your way through a dungeon... not just be the next one in line.

This gives access to the content to a lot more people. However the average gamer in WoW will never see these dungeons because the requirements to get in are just not what the average WoW player are looking for. WoW attracted a lot of people on the merit of being a casual game and lets them down at level 60 with the classic "time sink" repetitive content.

WoW is not casual once you hit 60. Level 60 is an entirely new game and casual friendly is not part of its vocabulary.

Part IV will be covering the Battlegrounds.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Battlefield 2 Review - Part I

What do I want out of Battlefield 2(BF2)?

I want an FPS with team based objectives. I want a game that rewards working together and combining efforts. Balance between vehicles and ground combat are a must. The gameplay needs to be polished and free of the common bugs found in the Battlefield series. Overall the gameplay, graphics, and fun factor need to be equal.

With my expectations outlined lets get into the basics.

Graphics - What can I say? The game is beautiful. Turn the settings up to max and you are in for a treat. Unfortunately the graphics come at a price on system performance. However, even running the game at the lower settings is a pleasure. The animations, textures, and landscape is all very well done. The detail inside and outside of buildings is astounding to say the least. You definately need to take a second look at any lump, bump, or strange figure you see to ensure it is not an enemy soldier.

The only weak spot is the cut'n'paste approach of a lot of the structures. Most buildings are the same on every map. Creative placement of the buildings keeps it interesting enough to be barely noticeable at best.

Sound - A gun sounds like a gun. An aircraft screaming in for an attack sounds like it should... and knowing how planes sound is part of my real life job. The sound is very well done. Area effects are also well done. If you listen up you can hear enemy soldiers shouting orders and requests. You can hear someone sneaking up on you... even though footsteps are a bit soft.

The music is classic battlefield with a middle eastern swing for the middle east maps and an asian flavor for the Chinese maps. Same tune... different game.

Technical Performance - There is two parts of the game that can be evaluated in this category. While playing the game and while not playing the game.

While playing the game there is little problem when it comes to technical performance. Patch 1.02 has resolved the only major issue regarding a server side memory leak that crashed many servers and brought them to lagging slide shows. The net code seems to be solid so far and there is little room for complaint.

While not playing the game there is severe issues that EA/Dice need to tackle. The first being the rushed out 1.01 patch that caused more problems than it fixed. The poor testing and quality control is an absolute insult to the BF2 community. The 1.02 patch did come out in much better condition.

Also the in game menu's are a horrid interface to launch the game from. The menu's often freeze and crash you to desktop. Even with the 1.02 hotfix the server menu still lags and many features of it still don't work. You can't filter servers. You constantly end up with a blank server list and the only fix is to restart the game. Overall this detracts from the experience. It is a slap in the face for EA/Dice to have put so little effort into the menu and server browser.

Take my advice and get a seperate server browser such as Xfire or All Seeing Eye.