Monday, October 17, 2011

Gamer Journal : Deus Ex, Rage and From Dust

A weekend spent fighting the evil forces of socialization and trying to get in some game time. Moderate success.

Here's the report :

Deus Ex : Human Revolution

Finally got to spend some quality time with the augmented edition I bought. Mixed feelings.

It's Deus Ex - so we do have an interesting story. The augmentation system seems interesting and well thought-out. The stealthing is pretty decent. The conversation / persuasion mechanics are also pretty cool.

But here's what I didn't like :

  1. The gunplay is all over the place. The game bumps you into third person view when you're in cover, and back into first-person when you pop out of cover. This makes for some very awkward moments during firefights and leaves you scurrying about frantically. The whole cover / shooting system is poorly implemented, and the level design doesn't help - forcing you into situations where you can't play purely as an FPS, nor purely as a cover shooter. The entire combat experience is frustrating and clunky, and also unavoidable. Sure, if you're really, really good, you can sneak through entire levels - but you'll eventually come across a boss fight that you can't avoid. It's pretty bad design - directly impacting the core experience.
  2. I'm about seven hours in, and the gameworld is unconvincing. Walking around Deus Ex's Detroit, I never got the feeling that I was exploring a city. It felt more like a movie set. Wandering around a gameworld, you need to feel that the world around you is real - the places and people should feel like they've been here for ages before you arrived, and go about doing their thing even when you aren't around. A living, breathing world. And there are plenty of games which do it perfectly well - Red Dead Redemption, New Vegas, GTA to name a few. But Human Revolution fails here. I never got any feeling other than the fact that I was exploring a game level with game characters. Perhaps sacrificing the free-exloration in favour of separate levels with loading screens may have lent a sense of distance between locations and fleshed out the illusion better ? But as it stands, Detroit in Human Revolution is simply too small and claustrophobic to be a convincing open world.
I'm about seven hours in, and I'm staying with it in the hope that it gets better. 


Boy Oh Boy! I'm enjoying this one.

Got it running on my desktop - runs beautifully with everything maxed out on my Core i9 powered rig with a two-year old GTX 295 2Gig card, on Vista (yes, yes, I know). Sure - still has some random pop-in (but not nearly as much as on the lapop) and occasional tearing, but nothing that breaks the game.

It looks great, the world seems huge, and the gunplay and vehicle combat have a nice, solid (and slightly old school) feel to them. Which is kinda why I like it. RAGE isn't the most thought-provoking or innovative or cleverest of games, but it nails the fun factor. Driving around and killing things is great fun in RAGE, and isn't that what a shooter should be? It's the exact opposite of Deus Ex, in that it's a game that doesn't try to do too many things, but keeps it simple and does it well.

Five hours in - just reached Wellspring and completed a few quests. Loving it so far. Oh - and Wellspring actually feels like a real place - with personality, a history and a sense of life. Again, nails something that Deus Ex fails to do. Plus - RAGE has a (barely) hidden tribute to Fallout. \m/

From Dust

Just got started with this one - on XBOX. It's rather beautiful to look at, and features some interesting terraforming mechanics. Reminded me of an ultra-modern Populous variant. But I played only past the first tutorial level, and so can't really comment on how good the actual game is. More soon enough - plan to spend more time with this by the next weekend.

P.S. Stopped numbering the episodes. It was foolish to begin doing it in the first place. So hence. Er. Ah.


  1. I had the exact opposite experience, I was really really underwhelmed by Rage and was blown away by Deus Ex HR. HR environments and inhabitants were far more immersive than those of Rage, heck every single person has a sound byte even the non-essential civilians. NPCs in Rage on the other hand would hand you their initial spiel and then never speak again.

    The graphical issues were also a sore point, I just can play a game if there's popup and redraw everytime I turn, it really kills any kind of immersion. The combat system was also meh, specially the first time I unloaded 6 pistol shots into a bandit's head and he DIDN'T go down. They flinch when they're shot in different places but the kill effect is just whittling a health bar, very superficial.

    And my last quibble is the characterization, HR has it, Rage just doesn't. I know who Jensen is, I have no clue about the ark survivor and his motivations. The opening was particularly jarring. Hagar saves you from two bandits, then as soon as you're at the 'base' proceeds to ask you to go out and kill those same bandits. What? I just walked out of an ark, all my friends are dead, I have little to no understanding of the world around me but sure I'll just pick up this pistol and go kill a bunch of bandits for some guy I just met. Brilliant.

    Well, I guess I've ranted enough. I just had higher hopes for RAGE, figured it would be an open-world Fallout-esqe shooter-RPG.

  2. @Damm - Agree that HR had great writing - it IS a Deus Ex game, after all. My problem was more with the claustrophobic and stilted gameworld (Fallout, RDR - plenty of games do fabulous open worlds, so it's possible for sure), and shoddy combat.

    Rage would never satisfy anyone looking for depth from a shooter - but I enjoyed the dumb fun quotient. Did you like Serious Sam? I don't care about plot in shooters - never did, since the days of DOOM. I like a game with a good plot, but it's not essential for me.

    Did you play it on an ATI card? On my nVidia card, it's nowhere near as bad as you claim it is.