• Elrood

      Review - Spec Ops: The Line

      4 years ago

      I’m tired. Tired of military shooters that keep on using violence as a form of entertainment rather than handling the theme in a mature manner. I mean don’t get me wrong, I surely enjoy shooting something in a virtual environment, but that doesn’t mean we should just think about it as a “fun” exercise. The thing that annoys me the most are the stories. Be it Call of Duty, Battlefield or any other military shooter. Furthermore violent actions are being praised as justified heroism or patriotism, which is in my eyes disgusting. So yes, I’d love to play a game that is able to actually call himself an anti-war shooter or at least gives me some food for thought about violence in general. Luckily Spec Ops: The Line (Spec Ops) is on the right track.

      What’s the situation?

      In Spec Ops we take the role of captain Walker. You and your Squad have been ordered to figure out the situation in Dubai. Why? Because the city is trapped in sandstorm wall. Even more complicated the 33rd Battalion in Dubai, that was supposed to leave the city and its civilians behind, deserted and declared martial law.

      Dubai truly is a city in the middle of nowhere, in Spec Ops.

       

      Shoot first, ask questions later?

      Of course, things won’t go so well as the Delta Squad might have hoped for. Quite early on, they have to face heavy resistance from civilians? Mercenaries? Deserters? They don’t know and that’s what worries them. Wait worry? Yes, instead of being mindless soldiers, characters in Spec Ops actually act for the most part quite human. This means that your squad is concerned about the current situation. More so, during the story your characters will change, meaning that the increasing chaos around them has a huge influence on their mental stability. *Gasp*. Actual character development in a shooter?!

      Do we have a choice?

      Even though things don’t really work out, your character won’t give up. Whatever the cost . The question here is, at what point do we sacrifice too much? When can we not justify our actions anymore, simply by saying it was for the “greater good”. The story of Spec Opc has undoubtedly been influenced by the anti-war movie “Apocalypse Now”. Just as in the film, your main character gets to see the unspeakable horror behind war and its conseqences. Though I have to address that the overall structure of the story feels a bit constructed and forced at times.

      When do we cross the line?

       

      Getting under your skin

      Presentation is one of the most important aspects. if you want to get your audience emotionally involved. Spec Ops certainly had that down, in an extreme and unfiltered way. Kills look horrendous, heads explode, victims moan painfully and merciless executions do their best to give you some quite shocking material. But that’s nothing new right? After all violence seems to equal entertainment. Well, yeah fair enough, but it’s the reaction of your characters that make those scenes so much stronger than in most other shooters.

      "Road to hell" 

       

      Another cover-based shooter…

      Is what I thought at first and I wasn’t really wrong with that, for the most part. What sets Spec Ops aside from the competition is that the controls work fairly well. Buttons have just one and not multiple functions, getting in and out of cover is user-friendly and shooting works also just as it’s supposed to. In short: gameplay wise Spec Ops the Line does its job just fine, although it might not get a price for innovation. But wasn’t there something about sand mechanics?

      Nice idea, but nothing else

      There are two ways sand has been implemented in the game. First the deadly kind. Some places can be shoot (glass), in order to swamp your enemies with sand. Second is sandstorms. Unfortunately, in the story they just appear at certain points. A sandstorm does what you might expects. Makes aiming a bitch. You can’t track the movements of your enemies or anyone in general, as good anymore as you did before. Apart from that, nothing else. So why do I claim that this feature isn’t fleshed out enough? Well, if we talk about the campaign, all these “features” feel more like scripted scenarios.Why not create a situation where sand threatens to flood the whole building whenever you shoot at glass? Or what about the behaviour of the ground itself. There is quite a difference between walking on stone and soft sand after all. In Multiplayer however, sandstorms appear at random and these “deadly-sand-traps” actually make for some variation in a match. Talking about multipalyer…

      "Get into cover!" 

       

      Much more fun than I thought.

      At first I didn’t really expect much. The Mulitplayer modes are standard. Aside from the usual King of the Hill, Death- and Team-Deathmatch, there is also a mode in which two teams have to destroy the “base” of the other team. You do this by destroying three points on the enemies side, which will then reveal the “core” of the base. After taking care of that, you win. The other modes are just variations of existing ones. This is rather meager, considering the setting has a lot more potential than that. The customization part has everything you would expect. A Level-Cap till level 45, various unlockables ranging from weapons to skins, challenges, perks and a class-system. Still, it wouldn’t have hurt to have more than a maximum of 8 players on a map. After I’ve played for about two hours, I gotta admit I got quite into it. Reason for that is the fine-tuned gameplay. But some kind of “roll” maneuver wouldn’t have been so bad. Taking that aside, it’s just easy and fun to move your character around the map, trying to shot the heads of your foes off. That is if you are still in the mood for shooting after finishing the short, but rather depressing story (about 5 hours). It’s worth noting that there is supposed to be a coop-based multiplayer mode, which will be released in the near future as DLC for free.

      In conclusion:

      Spec Ops: The Line is more than just a good game. It manages to bring some much needed fresh air into the stories of our shooter generation. There are consequences for everything we do, the question is what the outcome of those actions are and how it affects us. Believable characters and a shocking presentation are Spec Ops tools to make us really think about what we have just done. To top it all of, Spec Ops is “enjoyable” to play and one of the better cover-based shooters out there.Though, one can’t deny that the overall story feels more like a structured occurrence rather than something that would exactly happen the way it did. But however you slice it Spec Ops certainly gives some interesting food for thought. Something, shooters rarely do these days.

      My Recommendation:

      Wait until Spec Ops: The Line  costs about 30 dollars or give it a rent, if you are just interested in the “emotional hell-ride” that is the  campaign.

      Spec Ops: The line is available for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360. I conducted the test on PS3.

    • Elrood

      Diablo 3 Review

      4 years ago

      Diablo has been one of my favorite franchises for a long time now. And it is fair to say that I was quite thrilled to finally have Diablo 3 in my hands. Now that I had my chance to finsh it, I’m left with something, which I can only describe as mixed feelings. But let’s start with the beginning of Diablo and by that I mean the story behind the “loot-festival”.

      A long road…

      Humankind fights against the Burning Hells and its Lords, has been going on for centuries now. The seven Lords of Hell tried many times to enslave the human race, in order to use them against the Angels of the High Heavens. After a lot of struggles in Diablo 1 & 2 the player finally managed to kill five of the seven Lords of Hell, the Lord of Terror, Diablo was among them. Everything that is left are the two lesser Evils, Azmodan and Belial. Shouldn’t be too hard, right? Well, things won’t be as simple as they appear to be…

      20 years after the events of Diablo 2, a meteor, later called “The Fallen Star”, crashed into the cathedral of the human village Tristram, evil starts to rise again from its graves and new heroes are drawn to the land - you are one of these heroes.

      Take your pick!

      You can choose from up to five classes: the Barbarian, the Wizzard, the Witch Doctor, the Monk and the Demon hunter. Whatever class you may choose, if it comes to killing things every character can stands its ground. But there are of course differences in their playstyle.

      From left to right: Barbarian, Wizzard, Witch Doctor, Monk and Demon Hunter

      The Barbarian: is your typical close range brawler. You will use all kinds of weaponry, one or two-handed, special “shouts” that boost your stats and overal powerful abilities to kill everything that is in your path. The Barbarian itself didn’t change that much to his predecessor in Diablo 2, though he got much better at handling multiple foes at the same time.

      The Wizzard: master of arcane spells and all kinds elemental attacks. Be it two or twenty enemies at once, the Wizzard has enough spells to distract, stun and of course kill his enemies – flashy effects included. So he is a lot like the Sorcceres in Diablo 2, though he is now able to fight against mulitple foes at once more easily.

      The Witch Doctor: being a cross between the Druid and the Necromancer in Diablo 2,  is able to summon minions, poison his enemies, restrict their movements or simply burn everything in his way.

      The Monk: is the holy man of the group, more so something like a Shaolin-Monk. Martial-Arts and holy powers are his weapons. Agile and deadly on the Battlefield, but also the only character, who is able to heal his comrades. Because of these traits, one can say that he is a cross between the Paladin and the Assassin in Diablo 2.

      The Demon Hunter: is fueled with vengance against the Demons that have slaughtered her loved ones. Since she is a cross between the Amazon and the Assassin from Diablo 2, the Demon Hunter is fighting with ranged weapons, shooting all kinds of different arrows or even grenades and rockets. The Assassin aspect comes into play, when the Demon Hunter is laying traps or acrobatically dodges attacks.

      These are the characters, but what’s most important is how they play. Much like its predecessor Diablo 2, we fight by using a wide variety of different abilities. The higher our level the more abilities we can use, we can even switch our skills whenver we want to, without facing any disadvantages, except a short time delay that is. Fighting in itself feels smooth and is still a lot of fun. It is also the flashiest aspect of the game and it’s cool to try out new abilities whenever you are leveling up. Trying new things out is also highly recommended.You won’t just get a new spell every time you level up, but also be able to add certain traits to them. These things are called runes and can for example give you the chance to stun your enemies or increase the amount of mines you are allowed to place on the ground. The neat aspect of this is that your ability will also change its appearance. At times it can be a simple color make-over but other times your flaming arrow can change into a bolt of light, zapping everything in its way.

      Every number on your keyboard from 1 to 4 and also your left and right mouse-button has a special kind of skill assigned to it. Something like offensive, defensive and supportive abilites. At first these key bindings seem to be fixed, making you only able to have one kind of skill activated at a time, except they aren’t. Though blizzard manages to “explain” in their tutorial how the skill system works, they unfortunately fail to tell you that you actually can customize your skills however you want.

       

       It will open unforseen possibilities. The option above is also something not to sneeze at.

      The other option makes you able to see vital information about your skills. I can see why Blizzard didn’t decide to have these settings on default, since it might be a bit intimidating to choose between too many skills in your first run. But it wouldn’t have hurt to tell us this in said tutorial. I for myself only found out about this by accident – much, much later in the game of course.

      Back in my day…

      If you want to compare Diablo 2 to Diablo 3, the keyword would be “comfort”. Nearly every aspect that used to hinder the game-flow got cut.

      • You can teleport to your homebase whenever you want, without having to buy any kind of scrolls.

      • You can change you skills all the time, without having to pay anyone or be anywhere specific.

      • All items will only take up one or two places in your inventar, meaning that you will rarely have to manage your loot.

      • Clicking on every gold coin to pick it up? Nope, just run over it and your character will get it automatically (finally!).

      • Gems can be un-socketed, making you able to re-use them over and over again.

      • Wanting to re-do a quest? No problem, just switch to it from your menu and you are good to go.

      • Joined a friends game but he is too far away? Simply click on his flag next to you and you will be teleported to him instantly.

      • Getting stressed out because of ladders? There aren't any in Diablo 3!

      • Need a weapon? Look for it in the auctionhouse!

      These changes are rather drastic, but I would lie if I said they weren’t welcomed by me. This efficiency on time-saving really gives Diablo 3 a “modernized” feeling.

      First step: Click on the flag of your friend. Second step: Get killing!

      Isn’t there a “better” way?

      The auction house is pretty much just that - an auction house, though it is changing the way you got your loot. Its much easier to buy a good weapon for your character in the auction house, rather than waiting for it to drop. Instead of going into a dungeon to get some cool gear, you will most likely be much more focused on getting gold. This is quite a drastic change. And something a lot of Diablo-fans (me included) are not fond about. That is not to say that it’s a bad idea, it’s just completely different and destroys the “let’s kill some monsters to get some cool stuff!” aspect for me. You still get your gear by killing monsters, but it’s not the most efficient way anymore.

      There is actually another aspect of the auction house that bugs me, for I belive that is has the potential to “break” the balance of Diablo 3. In short: Items rarely disappear but only switch their owner, thus the market is overflooded with gear. This goes on until eventually even good items are too cheap for its worth, making everyone overpowered. Nevertheless, this is more a theory of mine and not something I will address in this review any further, but in another article. If you think of the auction house you have to accept, whether you detest it or not, that it is optional, though one can’t deny the peer pressure.

      Is that all you got!

      Some of you have probably already heard that Diablo 3 is way to easy. Which is true, to a certain extent. If you play alone I’d describe the game as easy, not downright freaking easy but still not too much of a challenge. This only gets worse if you play with your friends. Even though enemies get stronger, whenver a friend joins your game, your foes simply can’t keep up, making Diablo 3 even less challenging. But I’d like to add that Diablo 2 too wasn’t all that difficult at the beginning. Nevertheless, this changes rapidly in your next run. Just like in Diablo 2, whenever you “finish” the game, you will be able to re-do the whole story with your currrent character. Why would you do that? Because you just entered the next difficulty, which makes enemies stronger, grants them new abilites, provides better drops and you will be able to level up your character even further. The difficulties are as followed: “normal”, “nightmare”, “hell” and “inferno”. Inferno being the newly added difficulty by the way. If you enter nightmare, things will get considerably harder. I’m especially referring to the uniques and elites (stronger versions of regular enemies)you will be facing, since they have quite nasty abilites at their disposal that will pound that health bar of yours, like nobody’s business. Ironically these enemies will pose a higher threat than the actual bosses. One playthrough consists of four different acts. Each of these acts have their own unique environment. I did quite a thorough search in my first run and took about 20 hours. Combining this with the next difficulty settings, you will have a lot of play-time for your money. At least if you really like the gameplay. Which is something like a hit and miss for a lot of people. For me it works, it’s fun using your skills to slaughter your enemies and get some cool stuff in return, making you even stronger – and so on.

      Seen it!

      I’m not a big graphic-whore, but Diablo 3 simply looks outdated. Blizzard has shown us that they are the masters of making beautiful games with limited technology. It’s astonishing how great WoW sometimes looks, even though its engine is extremely old by todays standards. The reason for that is not only the timeless-comic style but also the great art-team behind the studio. However, after all these years playing the games of Blizzard I thirst for something that looks a bit more advanced. Diablo 3’s presentation still works, mind you. Backgrounds are detailed, the world feels “real” and the physics-effects are awesome, I’m just a bit sick of this cartonish look by now. As much as I would have liked to see a new engine, there are two good points about the current one. First:Because of its cartonish look, Diablo 3 is much more timeless than your average state of the art game. And second: Your PC does not need to be the newest in order to play Diablo 3 properly (if the servers work properly that is) This is especially good for Mac-users, since buying a new one is anything but cheap.

      Looks okay...

      Sounds awesome!

      One of the things that get often overlooked is a proper sound-design. Luckily for Diablo 3, that is not the case. Explosions sound good, voice acting is great and the overal sound of your attacks is simply a feast for the ears. There are enough nostalgic sounds for old Diablo-Veterans, but there are also plenty of original tracks, so one can’t say that everything is just a rehash. This makes for a great atmosphere, combinig the already consistent art style with the great sound-design.

      So much information!

      Laugh all you want, but the story is actually the one thing I was looking the most forward to. Blizzard officially said that they tried to improve Diablo 3 in its story-telling. And from what I have seen, I have to agree. You would be surprised how big the lore in Diablo actually is. The games just give you a small glimpse. Now in Diablo 3 you will find all kinds of notes and diaries, being read out aloud when you pick them up. These messages provide a lot of interesting details about the world of Diablo itself and makes you understand how long this war has already been going on. The actual story has its ups and downs but still stays entertaining overal. I do have some issues with the ending of the game, but it is not something that lessens the worth of the story too much.

      "Hello my friend!  Stay a while and listen..."

       

      In conclusion:

      Diablo 3 is from a gameplay perspective a modernised version of Diablo 2. It’s easy to pick up and there are hardly any barriers between you and the action. The implementation of the rune-system and the abililty to choose freely between your skills whenever you want is welcoming and leaves room for a lot of experimentation. Killing monsters is fun just like always, but you will have to wait for the next difficulty until things start to get a bit more challenging. Storywise you will be able to choose your level of immersion, since you aren’t forced to read and listen to all the notes and audio-tracks scattered in the game. You don’t have to play any of the old Diablo-titles to enjoy Diablo 3, instead the drastic changes in its mechanics (skill-system, too much comfort and the auction house), might displease old Diablo-Veterans. The technical aspect of Diablo 3 isn’t that great, but the cartoonish look in combination with the great sound-design creates a great atmosphere, if you can still get into it. Overal, Diablo 3 is a fun game, though not the break-through its predecessor Diablo 2 was.

      “I didn’t regret buying Diablo 3: It’s a lot fun to play with your friends and the gaming experience is quite smoother compared to its predecessor. However, I wasn’t exactly satisfied with the supposed ending of the game. The new auction house also makes getting good gear a bit too easy for my taste. I’m looking forward to get cool equipment for my characters and overcome the next challenges the game will pose in front of me, though I’m not as thrilled about it as I was with Diablo 2.”

       

      My Recommendation:

      If you don’t dislike the thought of using simple commands to kill waves of enemies to get your loot, you should give Diablo 3 a try. But if you are not sure whether you’ll like the gameplay, try to get your hands onto a demo-key. The demo allows you to play each character until level 13, which is enough to get a good first impression of the game mechanics. Two of these keys are in the game-box so you will just have to ask one of your friends that has the game to give you one or wait until june 15 when everyone can access the demo for free.

       


      Thanks for reading my review of Diablo 3. Since this is my first review for the site, I thought it would be appropriate to give you some kind of introduction, about me and the content I’ll release in the future.

      My name is Phillip, I’m currently 21 years old, live in Germany and aspire to work as a gaming journalist and video-entertainer.

      The blogs I’ll be releasing in the next months on Screwattack are reviews, rants about certain gaming aspects, News, that catched my attention and some original articles. My aim is not to only inform you, but also give each of my articles a personal touch.

      Originally I didn’t want to make my internet-debut until I have all my video-equiptment ready, but since this will still take some time and Screwattack gave me the opportunity to share my written articles that much easier than before, I thought why not already start?

      If you want to be up to date with my blogs, I recommend you to check out my twitter. There I’ll be posting informations about future blogs and “cool” stuff I found on the internet. Oh and don’t worry, I’ll try to keep non-sensical tweets to a minimum.

      See ya!

    • Elrood

      Channel recommendation: "Warialasky"

      4 years ago

      This blog post has nothing to do with my own work, but with a channel I've been following over the past few months. What makes it stand out among the competition is there quickly growing production quality and the execution of their ideas.

      Their videos are mostly action related and probably inspired by the likes of "Freddiew" and "Corridor Digital”. I'll give you some game-related examples of their work. Oh, and I don't "advertise" these guys because they asked me to. I am sharing this because I think they are good at what they are doing and relevant to your gaming-interests.

      Have at it!

      Hacking in real life!

       

      How far will DLC go?

       

      Beware the blocks!

       

    • Elrood

      What makes a good or bad DLC?

      4 years ago

      Editor's Note: Whether you agree with him or not, Elrood definitely provides some very good food for thought when it comes to the nature of DLC.

      Of course, we do not all share the same view on DLC. Some people just want to see a continuation of a story, others are fine with having a few new skins for their favorite Beat ‘Em Up. But there are undoubtedly a few things we all want from DLC.

      __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

      • Value: Simple yeah, but if the provided content isn’t really worth the money, there is no reason to buy it. Who cares about new maps that essentially are just slight variations of already existing ones? New quests for my RPG? Cool! But don’t sell me uninspired fetch-quests!

       

      Some DLC that had good value:

      1. The Binding of Isaac: “Wrath of the Lamb”. New Items, Bosses and Rooms make for hours of new gameplay!
      2. Dragon Age Origins: Awakening”. Unfortunately a lot of bugs, but the content was quite interesting.
      3. Mass Effect 2: “Shadow Broker " and, “The Arrival”. Tells interesting stories and lessens the wait for Mass Effect 3

      Some DLC that had bad value:

      1. Oblivion: The notorious “Horse armour” (subjectively)
      2. Assassin‘s Creed Revelations:Vlad the Impaler Prison”. Extremely short, not even a decent cut-scene – simply a waste of time (and money!). All you can get is a good weapon (which you don’t really need anway).
      3. Dragon Age Origins: “Return to Ostegar”. This dull, uninspired quest is not worth taking.

       __________________________________________________________________________________________________

      • A reasonable Price: Overpriced DLC is something we see quite a lot. Be it map-packs or new characters, whatever. You can’t charge 10 Dollars for 30 Minutes of new gameplay! (“From the Ashes”)The sad truth is that people keep on buying these ridiculously priced DLCs.

       

      Some DLC that had good prices

      1. Oblivion: "Shivering Isles"costs 30 dollars, quite pricy one might think but considering what you get for that money, it’s fair.
      2. The Binding of Isaac: "Wrath of the Lamb". Again? Yup, sorry, but you just get so much more for no more than 3 dollars!

      Usually, if it’s an addon rather than a DLC (both mean essentially the same but DLC can be small and big) the cost effectiveness is fairly good.

      Some DLC that had bad prices

      1. Modern Warfare 2. “Map-Packs”. 4 Maps = 15 Dollars? Yeah right. The worst part is that it worked…
      2. Street Fighter 3 Third Strike Online Edition: “Alternative Colours”. Each character gets 7 different kinds of colour swaps for 2 dollars. Swapping colours, eh? Isn’t that normally, uh I dunno a standard feature!?!

       __________________________________________________________________________________________________

      • Content that should have been in the game anyway: Day-One-DLC doesn’t exactly have a good reputation. It looks like the developers willingly sliced out a part from the finished game, in order to sell it seperately. Whether that’s actually true or not is debatable. If a developer team has finished the game, but there is still one month to go until the game releases, what will you do with these people? Sure, why not work on DLC. Though is it really so hard to offer DLC, 2 weeks after a games release? What ticks me off about Day-One-DLC is its tendency to be something quite important. A really interesting character for example.

       

      Some DLC that felt like it got “cut-off” from the main game.

      1. Mass Effect 3. “From the Ashes
      2. Honestly? Every “Day-One-DLC”. As I said, there might be legit reasons for why “Day-One-DLC” isn’t as bad as we all make it to be. But from a consumer perspective you feel ripped off.

       ___________________________________________________________________________________________________

      • DLC that is not already on the Disk: I can’t think of a reasonable excuse for this. I bought the damn disk, doesn’t that mean I should be able to access its full content? It’s called Downlodable Content, not Downlodable Code!

       

      Some Games that fall into the on-disk category

      1. Bioshock 2: “Multiplayer”
      2. Risen 2: “Missions and Items”

       ___________________________________________________________________________________________________

      • Don’t do retail-DLC: This is a lost cause, but I‘d still like to address it. “Oh look GameStop sells their game with this extra mission, but Walmart offers me cool skins and Amazo-“ Stop! Am I supposed to buy four different versions of my games now? I know that retailers do this kind of stuff to be more competetive, but for me, it’s just an annoyance and I feel like I bought an incomplete game. (The same goes for Collectors Editions, obviously. Action-Figures? Sure, but don’t advertise your collectors edition with “new missions”).

       ___________________________________________________________________________________________________

      In conclusion:

      DLC is a great tool to lengthen the lifetime of a game, but for every good DLC there are ten new overpriced map-packs on the way. Whether that will change is completely up to our decision to buy said DLC.

      Note to reader: When I thought about important aspects of what makes good DLC, I tried to mention things that most of us can agree on. If you find yourself disagreeing with my examples, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on the matter.”

    • Elrood

      Torchlight 2's Opening Cinematic released

      4 years ago

      Runic Games worked together with Studio Klei Entertainment to give Torchlight 2's opening cinematic a strong  comic look.  As Studio Klei Entertainment has show with their games Shank 1 and 2, they have some experience doing so.

      No word on Torchlight 2's release date yet, but the developers  said that they  want to wait  until Diablo 3 has released, for obvious reasons.

  • About Me

    Hey,

    my name is Phillip and I've been into gaming since I was 6. Many years have passed now but I still think it's my favorite medium. I recently started making my own video game related videos and I can't wait to produce more content!

    Aside from that I enjoy, anime/manga, japanese-music, Electro-Swing, singing, working out, lurking on the internet and of course meeting up with the people I care for.

    You can find my channel here https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCH0Uuf24pO89Hg6YqBk5XAw

    Regards,

    Phillip

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