Categories: "Games"

Assassin's Creed: SYNDICATE trailer/gameplay impressions

  01:54:00 am, by Damon   , 657 words  
Viewed 5865 times since 05/13/15
Categories: Games, Analysis

Ladies and gentlemen, the hype is up! As I mentioned the other day, Assassin's Creed was about to have a new entry to the series, and today (well, yesterday, since it's just past midnight as I write this) the game has been announced as Assassin's Creed: Syndicate.

The game will be set in 1868 in London, and we open up to see Big Ben and other English landmarks as our hero opens up his monologue with "It's a bloody marvelous time to be alive", and indeed it is, as the Industrial Revolution is in full-swing. This trailer reveals to us the first hints of modern technology that we've seen in an Assassin's Creed title. We see steamboats in the water, we see King's Cross station with trains running, as well as another scene of our Assassin hero fighting on the train, amongst other snippets of London.

The monologue tells about technology advancing and the rich man becoming richer, though none of the gold ever makes it back to the broken backs that built up the town, which implies to me that we will see a Robin Hood of sorts in our hero Jacob Frye, a gangster assassin fighting for justice on behalf of London’s enslaved working class.

The second half of the trailer is set to music and is a fighting and action montage to demonstrate some of the Assassin's actions and combat, which while flashy, is the same thing that Unity gave us before actual gameplay was experienced, so I'm holding my breath for a while longer until I see more gameplay than what was accompanying the trailer in this alpha build gameplay. From what I can see, though, assuming that the game gets a better polish than Unity did, it's going to be a great entry to the AC series. For me, at least, because I have a bias for English culture and that particular time period.

For gameplay, the most interesting thing that I see in this, aside from the trains, carriages, and steamboats, is the "rope launcher", as it was called in the gameplay. A  grappling hook and zipline that the Assassin can deply to quickly scale buildings or traverse the cityscape. This looks exciting, and it would certainly make scaling the large structures like Big Ben significantly easier, because in Unity, even with Arno's fairly fast climbing ability, it was a pain to climb 1:1 replicas like Notre Dame, which dominated the skyline as one of, if not the tallest buildings that could be accessed.

New to Syndicate will be the ability to use the environment against the enemy, and during the gameplay reveal, we see Frye use his phantom blade to shoot a pulley system and drop barrels on an unaware guard, something that will open up exciting opportunities for the player as they maneouvre to defeat their enemies, and there will be new weapons like hallucinogenic darts that can be used to turn enemies against their allies, as we see when Frye liberates a borough from the Templars in a fashion similar to the older titles where you perform deeds for the borough and then assault the Templar leader for that borough.

This game will come out on October 23, 2015 for the PC, Playstation 4, and Xbox 1, and while I am hopeful about the game's potential, I am cautious following the failure that was Assassin's Creed: Unity.

As I said before, I think that this game has to deliver on what Ubisoft is giving us, because with their horrible track record and with the failures of Unity, the fans are demanding something to make up for it, and I have made it quite clear over the years that with Ubi's PR and release failures with most major titles and Unity's horrible gameplay, I'm one title away from pulling out from the series and cutting my losses... Still, as it stands, there's a small bit of a fanboy squeal of excitement inside me right now.

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The Emperor and the Nerevarine

  07:31:00 pm, by Damon   , 977 words  
Viewed 32255 times since 05/10/15
Categories: Elder Scrolls, Analysis

For those of you who haven't played Morrowind (heresy!), the premise of the game is that the Emperor personally ordered the release of a prisoner from the Imperial City's prison who appears to fulfill the Nerevarine prophecies, which speak of a reincarnation of the Dunmer war hero Indoril Nerevar, a being who will repel the attacks of Dagoth Ur, an enemy of Morrowind, see the fall of the Tribunal, who are the religious leaders and demi-gods of the Dunmer faith and nation as a whole, and possibly restore the independence of Morrowind outside of Imperial control.

The Emperor, at the start of the game, sees the prisoner, who will be the Player for the events of Morrowind, as fulfilling at least part of the Nerevarine prophecies, and after speaking with his advisors, he commands the prisoner to be shipped to Morrowind and released as a free man with orders to make contact with Caius Cosades, the head of the local Blades in the area. Through directions given to Cosades via a coded package, the player speaks to informants to learn about the Nerevarine Cult and the Sixth House, and then is initiated into the Nerevarine Cult as a prospective Nerevarine.

Ultimately, the player acquires Nerevar's Moon-and-Star, a ring cursed to kill anyone who wore it aside from Nerevar himself, thus proving that he truly is the Incarnate, then he gathers the support of the ashlanders and Great Houses by being recognised as the reborn Nerevar and Hortator (a war leader who leads the unified Great Houses in times of war), and gets the attention of Vivec himself, who recognises that the player is destined to end the Tribunal's divinity by defeating Dagoth Ur and saving Morrowind from the blight.

Now, I bring all this up, because the question I've always had is "Why?" -- Why did the Emperor research into and then start pulling the strings to fulfill an ancient prophecy related to the Dunmer? The Nerevarine Cult believes that, in addition to defeating Dagoth Ur, who is a dangerous threat to the stability of the province,  and proving the Tribunal to be false gods and dismantling the Tribunal Temple's religion, he or she will also drive the Empire out of Morrowind.

Did the Emperor just happen to be studying ancient customs and prophecies and recognise Dagoth Ur's threat to Morrowind and eventually to Tamriel as a whole and then decide that keeping Tamriel as a whole protected was worth it at the loss of control over Morrowind (looking more into the short-term)? Most of Morrowind is wrapped up in their own customs, with only the Hlaalu truly being integrated into the Empire and enthused about the relations between the Empire and the proud Dunmer people, so it could have been argued that letting go of Morrowind wouldn't be badly taken by the Dunmer people, and he'd reckon that despite initial turmoil from the Temple being destabilised, the people as a whole would thrive under a reborn Nerevar once free of the threat of Dagoth Ur's tyranny. 

Or, did he see the Nerevarine, should the prophecy be true, as a true leader of the Dunmer who could protect and lead the Dunmer people in the near to distant future and be a leader in a way that none of the Tribunes or the mortal monarch of the province could manage (more of a long-term look)? That's equally possible, because at the start of Oblivion, the Emperor tells the player that he's seen visions of his death and the coming of dark times for all of Tamriel. And, the Emperor's health had been failing around the events of Morrowind, which had resulting in the recalling of Legions to Cyrodiil and orders to recall key members of the Blades to the capital to aid in the succession, meaning that while attention was focused on the capital, the day to day affairs of the other provinces were being less scrutinised.

Without conclusive proof that visions of the Oblivion Crisis only started to happen relatively soon to the event (which happens six years after the events of Morrowind and the rise of the Nerevarine), it's entirely possible that the Emperor was acting to stabilise the province by removing internal threats and then pulling strings to unify the Great Houses and the ashlanders under one competent leader, in the event that the Emperor was incapacitated, that the succession issues lead to war, or in the event that visions of the Empire's destabilisation were true and were coming to him years before the actual event.

This long-term look at the stability of the province against many threats, rather than just the threat of Dagoth Ur alone, as I posited in my first theory, is the one I believe to be most legitimate of my two theories, based on dialogue from Caius Cosades, who says to the Nerevarine, "You're no fool. The days of the Empire are almost over. When the Emperor dies, nine hells're going to break loose. Forget about the Imperial City. Think locally. Worry about the Sixth House and Dagoth Ur. And squabbles between the Great Houses and the colonists. The rest of the political nonsense doesn't amount to a plate of scuttle." This clearly foreshadows the fall of the Empire in Oblivion and sets up that thngs will become really bad in the imminent future, and that a true leader will be needed entering the final years of the Third Era and the Fourth Era, a role that the popular Tribunal wouldn't be able to fill as their powers diminished and as Dagoth Ur grew powerful or was defeated, breaking the Tribunes and Dagoth Ur's unnatural divinity.

We might never know Uriel VII's motives for believing what many thought was an ancient superstition and sending a prisoner to change the political and religious landscape of Morrowind, but it's certainly fun to think about.

Assassin's Creed: Victory... or defeat?

  02:49:00 pm, by Damon   , 507 words  
Viewed 6780 times since 05/07/15
Categories: Games, News, Analysis

It's nearly that time of year again. Next month the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) will kick off once again for the developers and publishers from the gaming community to come forward and announced their latest products.

Before E3, in a few days in fact, Ubisoft will unveil the latest entry to their Assassin's Creed money bag, which has been believed to be called Victory and set in Victorian England.  I am a big fan of the Assassin's Creed, franchise, and I have played nearly every title as addictively as I have any Elder Scrolls game, and I'm cautious with this release.

When Unity was announced and rushed to release, it completely bombed. It was a buggy, horrible mess, and the game as a whole, even down to writing, ultimately disappointed me. In a way, it was expected that the game would be unpolished on the next-gen console, because there are always going to be hiccups on new, untested hardware, but it was absolutely apalling that the game was released in so unplayable of a state -- in fact, I never completed Assassin's Creed: Unity.

I am hoping that Victory will be a bit more polished out in terms of gameplay, because in theory I loved a lot of features in Unity. And, Ubisoft needs to do their best to polish out the game, because while I found something to enjoy in each AC game I've played, I am of the opinion that despite the advancements in gameplay, the story has been suffering as they tried to milk out the series with all these yearly releases, and I know other fans are feeling roughly the same.

The series is Ubisoft's big money maker, and they know it, so they work so hard (or not hard at all, depending on how you want to look at it) to bang out titles year in and year out, and it's amazing any of them remain interesting. The fans will be expecting an amazing game to make up for the wreck that became Assassin's Creed: Unity, so the question on my lips is "Can Ubisoft deliver a good title, or will this one flop?" For their sake, it has to be the latter, because this game will be under intense scrutiny from the fans. So much "innovation" at a loss to quality will only further damage the series's reputation, and I know for a fact that if I buy Victory and it bombs, I'm going to pull out of the Assassin's Creed series altogether. 

I wish Ubisoft would do quality over quantity. I'd rather wait 2-3 years between Assassin's Creed titles and have really damn good games, instead of have a new one announced just as I got bored with the older one and end up disappointed.

Also, in other news, as it was announced some time ago, Bethesda Softworks, the owner of the Elder Scrolls and Fallout IPs, is having their own conference at E3, and it's rumoured, although NOT CONFIRMED that Fallout 4 will be announced at the conference, and I can't wait!

A look at Tales of Tamriel #1: The Land

  10:37:00 pm, by Alarra   , 329 words  
Viewed 3328 times since 04/22/15
Categories: Games, Elder Scrolls

 

The first of two volumes in the Tales of Tamriel set came out yesterday, and I thought I'd describe what it's like in person.  In case you haven't heard of it, this is a compilation of lorebooks from ESO; the entirety of it is text that you can read in-game (or on our wiki!).  Skyrim will have a similar set, containing three volumes.

So here's a brief description of it:

  • The Cover: This is a hardcover volume. The cover itself has a smooth, soft sort of feel, the logo is embossed, and the text and design around the edge are shiny silver - pretty high quality. That brown stripe that you see in the above image is something along the lines of a dust cover I think, rather than just being something to throw away; the text and image on it are glossy. Here's what the book looks like without it:

 

  • The Content: This volume focuses on the three Alliances and their homelands, as well as some creatures; it contains both books and also some journals and the like.  A table of contents for this volume can be found here, on the wiki.  The text is as it appears in-game.  It's in a decent, readable font too; that's one thing I like: the font in the Improved Emperor's Guide to Tamriel, which came with the collector's edition of ESO, was made to look like it was handwritten, and it's somewhat difficult to read (nigh impossible, compared to other font, for a while after I first had eye surgery) and I appreciate this being a more regular font.

So much to read!


  • The Images: The book has illustrations on nearly every page. While we've seen some of them before in concept art, and wallpapers, and so forth, the majority are brand-new. There are both sketches and colored images.

 

 

All in all, it's a nice, high-quality collector's item for those who are fond of the lore and who want a physical copy.

The Sims 4 Impressions: Part One (Create-A-Sim)

  01:03:00 pm, by Damon   , 1097 words  
Viewed 7329 times since 04/13/15
Categories: Games, Analysis

After 8 hours or more in just two days, and after creating over 50 Sims-posts (most are still queued up and set to be staggered across the next few days since there are so many; only a relatively small handful of available to view) on my tumblr, I've decided to process my thoughts on the game and create a posting about what I think of the game after a while.

This will be a three part posting, because as a Sims fan with experience on almost all the Sims games, I have quite a bit to say about the game, and I can talk about this almost as much as I can talk about an Elder Scrolls game.

I'll start with Create-A-Sim (CAS), which is naturally the first thing you'll see after hitting "Play" on the menu for the first time. It's really the most impressive part of the new game for me, and I'm pleased that the developers have delivered on what they promised (the same can't be said for Ubisoft, but that's for a different post). It's truly the most amazing version of CAS released to date.

I love to make Sims, and it's probably my favourite part of the experience. For me, and the Simmers like me who want to just play around in CAS for hours on end, it's a dream come true. The new way of making Sims, which involves clicking on body parts to modify clothing and tweak minute details of the body is incredible. One I got into CAS for the first time, after I was able to understand the additional filters to narrow clothing selections, and after I was able to get the hang of making the small tweaks to the body mid-design, it went down really fluidly. I was able to get things like long cardigans, put them on somebody, think "I don't like the way that sits", then subtly tweak their waist or arms to adjust it.

A Sim that kinda resembles meThese tweaks come as a major improvement over the game's predecessors, where control over how the body was tweaked came down to clicking a preset body type, and then moving a handful of generic sliders that were never completely specific on what they'd do, meaning that unless you put in the time to practice with the sliders and understood what a 'pronounced cheekbone' or 'eyes up', and all that jazz meant, you became quite limited in what you could make. For me, personally, as a Simmer, that narrowed my creations down to one specific narrow type or set of types that I understood and could consistently replicate, which leads to a lot of similar Sims in the long run.

In the new CAS released with The Sims 4, even if you don't understand what a 'pronounced cheekbone' is, you still know what's visibly appealing to you as a person, so it's easy to click on the cheek and drag it until it looks right, or click on the eyes or hips and drag them 'til they look right, and I feel like that must have opened the doors to creation for a lot of Simmers, not having to work with sliders and all.

Clothing options have been improved, I feel, with a lot of variety added to the game, despite the lack of the Style Creator of The Sims 3, which enabled choosing textures, colours to a specific taste, etc. Each outfit tends to have a range of primary and secondary colours that have been paired, though it's definitely made up for with what I feel like to be increased variety overall, the most notable of which is the fact that there are a lot more shirts are sitting right with jeans on females, which means I don't have to give female Sims risqué outfits to wear at inappropriate venues, which was often the case when you wanted to pair a top with the normal-cut jeans instead of the high-waist ones.

A female Sim created in CASClothing itself is given an improvement, as far as filtering goes. When you're choosing aspects of your character, there are subsets beside the broad category of "Tops" and "Bottoms", etc, and you can filter between sweaters, hoodies, swimming tops, and more, same with the other types, making finding specific items significantly easier. The items in The Sims 2 and The Sims 3 tended to have no particular order to the sorting, I felt, so you could go from shirts to tanks to suits to hoodies to v-cut shirts, etc in a way that didn't usually make sense.

As far as traits and aspirations go, in The Sims 3, you could choose five, but in The Sims 4, you can only choose three, which is moderately restricting as far as personalities go, because everyone is a little more multifaceted than what only three traits can show, though when the emotions introduced to the game (which will be the subject of a future part) are introduced, having only three traits allows the emotional system to shine through, I feel, because that means attention to detail for the things most passionate or peculiar to the Sim are able to receive extra attention to detail.

The last CAS-related thing I'll touch on are the walking styles. Though my current household only has the default walks set, because a normal walk fit their personalities and what I wanted better, there are a fair few different walking types, which enable you to fine-tune the Sim's personality. For instance, while the Sim featured above in the flannel only has a normal walk because he's a little shyer and to himself, the red-head Sim in the next image is a bit snooty, and she has a strut that reflects her imagined superiority, and it adds a nice flavour to the game, knowing from the distance that the Sim walking to you must be a train wreck from how he/she walks and talks to you.

This post is getting long, so I'll call it here, but in a few days I'll return with Part Two of my impressions on The Sims 4, and in part two, we will cover general gameplay and living the lives of the Sims, followed by a part three that, in my current planning, will cover build mode.

I don't generally self-promote, but if you want to take a look at some of my many posts and images of The Sims 4 and get some impressions on gameplay and some screenshot variety prior to the formal posts where I actually analyse things, you can click this link, which will take you to all the posts on my blog that are tagged as being from The Sims 4.