Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Yes, I still own both systems

Open ended RPG's like Oblivion and Two Worlds 2 are notorious for stealing an evening (or two, or three) of time with you actually accomplishing anything. I remember many hours lost to Oblivion, after which I would try to remember where I was going and what I was doing and couldn't come up with a damn thing. It didn't matter, because I was still enjoying, but every once in a while a game like this needs to come up for air and give the player a little plot to hold on to. Oblivion managed this by building excellent stories into some of the guild quest lines. My favorite series of events from the game actually has nothing to do with the main plot. The assassins guild quests, in which you rise from a nobody being sent out to kill nobodies to assassinating and finally eliminating you own guild because one of them was traitor is to this day better that what most whole games have to offer. It was its own little story with a beginning, middle and end that stood just fine on its own.

This is exactly where the men are separated from the boys in games. Side quests in Two Worlds 2 are just that: side quests. They serve as mere distractions and opportunities to grind for levels or equipment. This is just fine in the short term, but eventually I will tire of killing beasties if I am not given a reason to kill them. It took almost thirty hours to get there in Trinity, but eventually I started skipping things ancillary to the plot. The single missing element would be enough to cement Two Worlds 2 into B-game status, but it is far from alone. The inventory system is so bad it is hilarious: everything is kept in a grid with no indication of how many of what you can wear and what your total armor or damage output is. It still manages to be fun and I will play it, just when I am not playing anything else.

The anything else right now is Killzone 3. It is easy to forget, especially in light or recent events, that Sony's hardware really is the best of what there is right now. Take exclusives from the two platforms that matter and put them head to head and Sony comes out the winner, both in general quality and how fantastic their games look. When developers don't have to aim for the least common denominator the results are almost always superior. Killzone 3 looks amazing, better than the second and better than its competitors by a reasonable margin. What it doesn't do is play as well as, say, CoDBLOPS. The slow areas are too slow, the fast areas are too fast, the plot areas are pointless even by shooter standards. Guerrilla Games has an amazing engine, they just need to let someone else drive next time.

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