Tag Archives: 2016

Welcome back to Mars. Doom 2016 review!

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I wasn’t really following the progress of new Doom since its announcement months and years ago. I’ve heard about it and how id Software is planning on making Doom 4, but I was like OK. I’ve never been that die hard fan of Doom franchise. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve played it a lot because it was just so satisfying to gun down monsters, but I’ve never been a hardcore fan. Spotted a release date that was just few days away and thought, fuck it, I’ll just buy it. It was one of those impulsive purchases and man I’m glad I’ve done it…

Lets break it down how I usually do it, starting with…

Graphics

This has always been the strongest point of Doom and it doesn’t disappoint this time around either. It looks absolutely spectacular, there are no compromises or trickery used to cut corners and make things run faster. And it’s a lot brighter than Doom 3 which is probably the reason why it’s more pleasing to the eye. Models, weapons and world are incredibly detailed, textures are sharp, lighting and post processing is beautiful and it just gives the impression it will age well. Not many engines can brag with this, but new Doom certainly is giving that kind of vibe. And best of all, it runs insanely fast. We are too used to brand new games running like crap on everything but the most ridiculous high end systems running dual GPU setups. But not this one. If you have a decent quad core CPU and at least GTX 970, you can expect the game to run at around 100fps at 1080p using Ultra settings. It’s almost unheard of for a brand new game running on a mid-high end graphic card from last year this well. I’ve been playing it on a very capable overclocked hexa core with 32GB RAM and single GTX 980 at 1080 and it was absolutely flawless from start to end. I’ve even tried it using 4K DSR and it was surprisingly playable. Not up to my standards where I want silky smooth V-Synced 144 fps, but it was playable. On a single freaking overclocked GTX 980. And it’s not even running Vulkan as it was originally suggested. This is plain ol’ OpenGL! Imagine how fast it’ll be with Vulkan πŸ™‚ I don’t know if Carmack was involved in development of this engine, but I have to say, incredible job id software!

Audio

New Doom is a lot less about scary moments like in Doom 3 so, sound doesn’t play such a huge role, but it’s still something worth mentioning. The music score is really good, from somewhat depressing and dark menu music to punchy and energetic gameplay music that doesn’t really stand out in any way but does blend amazingly with the gameplay itself. It can enhance the atmosphere when nothing is happening or just pump adrenaline in your blood during combat. Which is good. That’s the point of music. It shouldn’t ever take away the focus from the game, instead it should always be a supporting component. And as such it’s used perfectly.

Ambient noises and effects are also really good and they compliment graphics well into creating a believable world on Mars. No complaints here.

Can’t complain over sound effects of monsters either. As I’ve said, this isn’t Doom 3, so it’s using monsters sound a lot less to build up the tension and scary atmosphere, but they just blend in nicely with the entire game. I do have tiny complaints over certain weapon sounds. While some are incredibly satisfying like the incredibly deep and punchy faster and faster sound of the chaingun as it spins up and massive noise on railgun discharge, I kinda miss a bit more punchy double barrel shotgun sound as well as more empowering noise from the iconic BFG gun. I miss that tension as it powers up and discharges, you know, like it was in Quake 2… I miss that. That longer weeeeeeeeeee BEEEEEEWWWWWW and everything just gets obliterated from the screen. It is there, but not in such scale. It’s just not as satisfying as it should be. Too bad.

Gameplay

With around 26 hours of total gameplay (probably some counted as I sometimes left the game in main menu or paused) playing it on Nightmare difficulty, which is the highest possible on first run, it was very satisfying. Incredibly challenging as monsters kill you very quickly, but still very satisfying. I did take time to poke my nose everywhere and even restarted one huge chunk of the game because I thought I missed one huge secret (a Rune challenge). Turns out I haven’t missed it. πŸ˜€

We often hear things like “going back to roots” but most games just fail to deliver. I’m happy to report that’s not the case with new Doom which is an actual reboot. While there are some changes to the location, monsters and so on, it’s full on back to roots Doom and Doom 2 and exact opposite of Doom 3. Doom 3 was more focused on terrifying atmosphere and stronger individual monsters in tight and dark areas where new Doom throws you into big “arenas” with tons of monsters attacking all at once. It demands constant motion and smart usage of correct weapons at given situation. Not all weapons are good to counter all monsters so you do have to switch them quite a lot.

And here is the interesting part… Weapons have several upgrades and fire modes. One might say such thing has no place in a game like Doom, but you’d be wrong. Weapon modes aren’t fiddly, they are easy to use and give you choice to create your own gameplay style. You can go with brute force and be more up close and personal or you can have weapon modes more suitable for long distance combat, keeping enemies at distance. And the way things upgrade and progress, it’s very hard to mess it up so far that you’d have to start the game all over. Around half way through the game I already had all the upgrades I’ve wanted. So I’ve started experimenting with the rest of them. I did find nearly all secrets though. Which brings me to the next interesting part…

I’ve always been a bit meh for hidden secrets in games. Especially the ones with Doom first person shooter style. I did poke my nose into every tiny hole in games like Deus Ex or System Shock 2 where it’s expected to do this kind of stuff, but not in games like Doom. But here, you’re double rewarded for finding secrets, so you’ll happily spend . You find the secrets, obviously, but doing so, you also earn weapon upgrade points which further encourages you to look for them. You also unlock viewable 3D models of weapons and monsters by looking for miniature Preator toys (basically cartoonish big headed toys of your own Preator suit). You can then zoom and view all the models up close in main menu without having to fight them. It’s a tiny but cool detail. I’ve checked all of the models and they are made really well.

Your protective suit also comes with upgrades just like weapons which are earned by picking up upgrade modules from corpses of Elite soldiers scattered all over UAC Mars base. They aren’t offensive as much as the weapons upgrades, but they focus more on location awareness and faster movement.

And if you’d think this is is as far as upgrading goes, there are also Runes. You have to complete Rune challenges which are again found on various locations and they provide you with runes, special upgrades that can further enhance you or your weapons. You can pick up to 3 Runes at once from selection of like a dozen of them.

Oh and there were some changes to the equipment as well. It was a bit confusing at first, but equipment is unlimited. You can’t run out of it no matter how often you use it. But equipment needs time to recharge and that’s what prevents you from spamming it like crazy. Again, with Preator suit upgrades, you can pump it up to 2 pieces of equipment and faster recharging which makes it an incredibly useful asset.

Snap, I’ve almost forgotten one crucial change. Killing enemies using Glory kills (basically a quick time event) replenishes you health. Which at least on Nightmare is hard to come by and goes down very fast, so you have to balance your gameplay as well. You can either be super careful and gun down everything from a distance or engage close combat Glory kills to risk getting killed or replenish your health. It’s an interesting concept that gives you choice and makes everything a lot more dynamic. Shoudl I look for health pack or should I do that risky Glory kill and get health that way. Decisions, decisions… πŸ˜€

One would think all these upgrades just mess it all up, but to my surprise, they don’t. Somehow id Software managed to combine old school mass shooter with modern elements that give game some depth and interesting stuff to fiddle with. Sure opinions will clash on this one, but they made such an excellent blend of fiddly things and shooting it makes a really badass experience.

Monsters

A lot of them returned from originals, some from Doom 3, but they are a lot more dynamic now and they want to poke you out. Including your guts. Original Doom was rarely up close and personal, this one is very often. Not by your choice, but because most monsters just want to hunt you down and slaughter you. And most have some sort of high distance jumping skills or ranged attacks as well as things like invisibility or teleportation. This also includes boss fights which are pretty badass. Very hard on Nightmare, but really cool. And you need to use some brain to defeat them. Just filling them with lead is not enough πŸ™‚

The Story

Story? It’s a Doom game lol. You wake up on Mars and you frag some monsters. Yeah, story is nothing to write home about, but this is Doom. It’s pure fragging pornography. That’s like expecting deep story and character development in a porn movie lol. But in the end, all the data you collect via Data Vaults and stuff you can read in your logs section of the “inventory”, it explains background story of monsters, weapons, different map sections and people. It’s quite nice.

Extras

Sorry, I’m not going to review multiplayer as I don’t think I’ll even try it, but I did try SnapMap feature. Basically a map editor for people who can’t be bothered with over the top complex level editors. Here, you have tons of predefined world elements, objects, monsters, sounds and triggers and you, just like the name suggests (SnapMap) just snap them together. It’s really easy and they even provide live tutorials. Controls are a bit clumsy, but I’ll certainly spend some more time experimenting with it, maybe even creating a campaign or a multiplayer map. By modifying existing elements and creating complex script chains, you can create more than just a generic map. You can create complex maps where you have to do things in order to unlock doors and progress. Really interesting and certainly a big extra value with the base game.

Verdict

I could go on and on about it. Damn, just look at the “Gameplay” segment of the review which exploded from 2 paragraphs into 9 haha. This game is certainly one of those that will be written in history just like original Doom games. I honestly can’t complain about anything specific. It looks amazing, runs amazing has tons of cool and badass weapons, challenging monsters, beautiful environments and best of all, it’s super fun from start to end. And that’s the whole point of games. They need to be fun. And new Doom most certainly is!

It is a properly good game and id Software really outdone themselves. If you’re a Doom fan or just someone who likes to poke things with virtual guns, you have to play it. It’s really good and I can easily say one of the best games this year, hands down.

Need for Speed 2016 review

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So, here we are again. The new Need for Speed. I call it NFS 2016 because this is when PC got it, it was actually released long ago in 2015 on consoles. But since EA wanted to ensure better PC support, they postponed the PC release date to mid March 2016. But in general, this is a franchise reboot. So, no sub title or number for it. Just Need for Speed.

And off the start, I’ll just say that my experience is mixed as a whole. Part of me loves the game and other part of me hates it quite badly…

Visual and audible presentation

It starts with the presentation itself. Graphics wise, the game runs latest Frostbite engine. It looks spectacular and there is just no way in denying that. The engine is very fast and looks amazing. The game is set in Underground-ish world so you can expect night time only with lots of glare, reflections, neons and rain. The city is huge and has different areas from high speed highways, winding hill roads to dense packed city streets through central city or through industrial parts. The city on the other hand is kinda forgettable. Maybe it’s because of the night or my poor memory that is incapable of memorizing the streets. But I think it’s mostly because of the darkness which just sort of swallows the memorable buildings, landmarks and sections and in the end it all looks very similar. Dark and reflective. Which is strange, NFS Underground 2 was like that as well and yet I could memorize whole city very quickly. Hell, if I close my eyes I can drive through it in my mind and I haven’t played that game for 10 years at least.

Second thing, the audio. While car noises are very distinctive, I miss a bit louder engine noise and more distinctive supercharger/turbocharger whine. It’s there, but you really have to pay a lot of attention to hear it. And kinda kills the atmosphere. I want to hear the engines roar. Every petrol head loves that. But in general it’s pretty good. This experience however is again ruined by atrocious music design and usage. At first I was all thrilled when I first heard legendary tracks from old NFS games in the garage. But that soon became an issue by itself because those tracks are only being used in the garage, but never in the All Drive world or during races. While driving, I got the feeling there were 3 generic uninspiring forgettable tracks playing on some crappy 10 watt cassette player. I just don’t understand what the hell they were thinking. To me it seems like they finished the game and remembered they forgot to insert any music. So they picked bunch of old tracks and composed some crap for the driving part. And they were ok with it somehow. Very lazy EA.

Car driving model

Now, lets talk about the most important part of every racing game. Driving model. I’m happy to report they’ve done a good job here. Cars have very distinctive behavior and feel. They also behave vastly different depending on the drive type, FWD, RWD and AWD cars behave very differently and in general, they feel very good on the road. With wide range of car handling tweaks you can really tune car behavior to your taste and driving style. You can make them super sticky or you can make them crazy drifty. I like them somewhere in between. I need the cars to be responsive on corners and easy being thrown into a precise and controlled drift, but sticky enough so I get a fast acceleration when straightened. Only thing that I really dislike about car handling and drive model are the collisions with the world, something we’ve been complaining for quite a while and we are still waiting for the fix. A lot of times, you grind against the wall while racing and even though the wall is seemingly smooth, you just get stuck into it like you’ve hit a wall corner. I don’t know what goes wrong within the physics engine at that moment, but this shouldn’t be happening. I’ve never seen anything like it in any older NFS game. It was always just dramatic deceleration and lots of sparks, but that was it. Here, you’ll just crash for no reason simply for grinding against a wall at very tiny angle. It just feels awkward and weird and I really hope they’ll fix it in the future, because it’s a really annoying one. Same goes for slightly harder hitting of the wall sideways. It should destabilize the car and slow you down, but here you just crash most of the time. And I think this is still related to the same collision bug.

Cars customization

After car wide range of handling tweaks, we should also talk about car customization. And here is again the part which makes the game this weird mixed experience. They bragged about all this Underground-ish culture, customization of cars, bunch of stuff to do to your car. The reality is, car customization is VERY limited and horrendously clumsy. Each car has just 1 body kit available. ONE. And most of them look horrendous. C’mon, even The Run had 3 or 4 body kits and most of them were actually quite nicely designed from mildly aggressive to space looking. You want to spice up your car to be unique on the streets? Most of the time and I mean 80% of the time, you’ll see text “No parts available” when you move around your car. I’ve bought 8 cars so far ranging from tuners to muscle cars and sports cars and not a single one of them can be fully customized visually. Not even bloody Mitsubishi Lancer Evo which is a definition of a ricer. I understand Ferrari being anal about customizations on their cars, but I don’t understand it for all others. And even those that do have parts available, you’re again limited to mostly really ugly bits, one type of bumper, one type of side skirts, really butt ugly exhausts, no parts for lights and those that are available are stock lights with yellow cross taped over them (what!?) and 2 sets of identical lights. I shit you not, Lotus Exige S has stock front lights, yellow taped over ones and 2 sets of IDENTICAL carbon fiber. And that’s it. Anyone who played Underground 2 knows there were like 10 types of headlights and like 8 light temperatures from halogen to coldest xenon, at least 6 types of sideskirts and bumpers for front and rear. None of it is in this game 12 years or so later. Remember the dynamic modification of car parts from NFS Carbon where you could sculpt car parts? Well, this game has none of that either.

What they’ve put lot of effort into is car painting and stickies/vinyls for them. You can paint cars in countless many ways and people make all sorts of amazing designs on forums and on Need for Speed subreddit. But again, I’ve tried it myself and it’s so god damn clumsy I couldn’t be bothered to spend 5 more minutes in the editor. And I’ve just wanted to paint my BMW in the M colors from back to white front. Keyboard controls for it are utterly moronic, clumsy and imprecise. Shuffling vinyls through layers and doing symmetry on both sides of the car was a dreadful and painful experience. Aaargh, just awful. I know Underground series, NFS Most Wanted and Carbon had more basic vinyls systems, but they were at least usable and something inviting to do. In NFS 2016, it just isn’t.

The biggest grudge I have with the garage is possibility to rotate view when picking car parts. Camera is always locked when buying parts and you just can’t check how it looks from far away or at different angle. Because of this I’ve spent like 10 minutes shuffling rims back and forth because I just couldn’t decide at the given angle. Or for the body kit. You only see the car from the front. You can’t even know how the car will look like from behind until you purchase it and go into free look mode where you can rotate the view. When you waste 8000 credits for some crappy ass ugly body kit that looks horrible from behind, you’ll know what I mean. That’s so idiotic it makes my blood boil.

The Police and opponents

Every Need for Speed game that’s about illegal street racing also has to have cops in it. And I’m happy to report they are in this game! What I’m not happy to report about is how utterly crappy, incapable and boring they are. Not only they are so hard to find in the city they had to place police station icons on the map so you can even find them to complete daily challenges which usually involve something with the cops. And not only this, they also drive worse than my grandma and she’s not even driving a car. At all. They are slow and to do challenges or even initiate a police chase you have to intentionally crawl around at 60 km/h for 15 minutes and keep hitting them until you reach at least heat level of 3-4 where they can at least keep up with you for 2 seconds. They use some crappy Crown Victoria grade garbage and they don’t even bother apprehending you. And only way of getting caught is to get stuck in the impenetrable roadblocks by some stupid random chance. Gone are the insane high speed chases through downtowns and highways from Most Wanted 2005 where cops upgraded to Corvettes at higher heat levels, they started using Rhino SUV’s for roadblocks instead of normal cars and they even used helicopters to prevent you from evading at high speeds and a duo of Rhino SUV heading straight at you head on. There is just none of that here. Roadblocks are now just bunch of blue wooden crap with lights across the road that slightly slows you down when you hit it. And that’s that. Not even 1 police car next to it. Or concrete blocks with a police van. It’s the worst attempt at doing cops I’ve seen in my whole entire life. And with this part so horribly nerfed and broken, game simply doesn’t give the player that thrill of doing hot pursuits, because they are so dreadful I can’t even be bothered with them. I just do them for easy money for daily challenges and that’s that. Where in Most Wanted 2005, I could initiate a chase and have amazing fun in it for 10-15 minutes at a time. You can just forget any of that here. EA, seriously fix this shit. Like NOW.

Ai controlled racing opponents aren’t much different to be quite honest. Maybe I haven’t noticed it all that much myself, but I’ve seen quite a lot of complaining by others. The Ai ranges from retarded amoeba to idiotically capable drivers. They can be so bad you leave them behind by a lot in points or distance, but they can also be stupendously good for no logical reason. Especially in those timed circuit races where you have to get best lap time. The catch up system is a bit broken and needs some adjustment to make them feel more challenging, but not robot like.

The Story

I know not many people expect story in racing games, but if we again go back in time, Most Wanted 2005, Carbon and The Run tell a different story. And I loved those games for it. Especially Most Wanted 2005 which had really iconic and unforgettable cut scenes with original 3D game world and live actors merging. And I was very enthusiastic at first because the initial intro sequence brought back those memories. Until I realized it was just that. And that every next video sequence doesn’t really tell any story, just bunch of people doing some random almost unrelated stuff. And that’s suppose to tell me a story of some sort? Sigh. There is a hint of it, but it’s so uninspiring I don’t even care about it anymore. Your so called friends keep calling you and texting you and you keep showing up to places they say you should meet them up. And that’s all there is to the story. The cut scenes don’t interconnect races and happenings outside of the racing as they used to in Most Wanted 2005. One part of the game is racing and the other are video cut scenes and chats through phone calls. And they don’t give much impression they are related to one another. So much potential and they wasted it all. Even if some missions were scripted, at least it would be interesting and not this dull grinding of races. Hell, I absolutely loved QTE’s in The Run and I’d be the last person to appreciate QTE’s in any game. But I loved it in a freaking racing game. It brought story and action between races and it was freaking great. Why wasn’t that used here? Imagine all the possibilities with the cops, with other gangs with your “crew” of race friends. But nope, none of it is in this game.

Multiplayer

Lastly, the multiplayer which people say it even has lobbies, but I have yet to find them. You can invite people to races and even make crews somehow and even voice chat with people. Or so others say. In my experience, game has no lobbies. There is no menus like with NFS Hot Pursuit 2010 where you picked a game type, car class and waited for game to drop you in a lobby. Then you’ve waited for people to join up and start a game. It was very straight forward and it just worked. Instant races one after another. There is no such thing in this game. It’s again so clumsy and stupid I hardly ever do any race with actual people. And most of them initiated by others are Drag race or Drift which I’m not really interested in as much as I am in Sprint or Circuit races. I can’t selectively play just those. And that’s so stupid and infuriating. Stop making this seamless offline/online mode because it just doesn’t work. It never worked in Rivals and never will. Just bring back the damn normal menu lobby like in Hot Pursuit 2010 and be done with it. Doing random Sprints or Outrun races with real people is nice, but it just doesn’t outweigh the overall crappy and clumsy multiplayer.

Verdict

Like I’ve said, there are great parts of the game and there are really shitty ones. I keep wanting to give it a good review because I’m a huge fan of NFS series, but I just can’t because this game is mediocre at best. Which is very sad to say the least. I’m having some good time in it, but mostly me fiddling with various cars, their handling to emulate NFS Hot Pursuit 2010 drifty cornering and just driving around with no purpose, because I like doing that. But the game, if I judge it based on content it provides, it has very little substance. And for a reboot of the franchise, I just can’t shake off the feeling developers behind it don’t have a clue what Need for Speed franchise even is or should be. It’s giving me the impression not a single person from game development team has actually ever played any of the old (good) legendary NFS games like constantly mentioned NFS Most Wanted 2005. And that’s most likely the reason why it’s not as good as it could be. You make a reboot by taking all the best bits of old games and start all over. Not by dumbing it down or entirely scraping most of the good stuff we already had and loved in old NFS games. Because when you do it like that, you’ll end up with a mediocre or even really bad game.

Only thing that brings tiny bit of confidence is, unlike other times, EA or more specifically Ghost Games folks are actually reading feedback from people and are fixing stuff as well as adding new content (recent update brought expanded garage and new Drag racing mode as well as bunch of fixes). It most probably won’t change things like story, but there is a possibility they’ll fix moronic cops which could up the game value by at least 10x as far as I’m concerned. I love cop chases and so do other people. Bringing in more car customization parts is also a possibility. So, unlike other times when game remained the same after release, this game will evolve for the better. Slowly and in small steps, but at least something is happening.

It’s not a great game, but it’s not absolute crap either. It has its moments. Just decide if those that aren’t crap are important enough to you to justify the purchase of this game.