Sunday, May 17, 2009

Most Disappointing Game Ever - Spore

Hands down, the most disappointing game ever has to be Spore.

This game was hyped for over three years and what did it deliver?

Ok, the Creature Creator is great. No one has done anything similar. It is powerful and simple to use, and some of what people has put out is unbelievable.

But where is the game? The rest of it is so shallow so as to be some flash game made up but some teenager for a computer class project. I am not a big fan of The Sims, (although the wife likes it) but I prefer it to Spore.

Surprisingly enough, the best part of the game for me is the Cell stage (1st stage). Although a cut down version of Pac Man, it doesn't pretend to be anything else. The second stage, the Creature stage, also has some promise, but it quickly evolves into a very simple mini game of repeating the dances of other creatures or killing them.

Stage three and four (tribal and civilization) are equally boring, made worst by the fact that some more depth is expected.

Only the Space stage provides some gameplay. However, once you have seen enough of the stage and discovered the secret of the universe (more disappointment), the game is pretty much done. Even tweaking the colour, etc of planets gets boring. Do you want to put chocolate swirls or spirals on that planet? What colour should they be? Compared to the options you have in the Creature Creator, terraforming is a pale shadow. There is no reason to keep playing, as every planet seems to be only slightly different than the last. Spore tries to cover up this lack of depth with various achievement type discoveries you can make, but most will easily see through this.

Overall, great concept, executed with the polish expected of a Will Wright game, but no depth.

Spore is a huge disappointment.

Note that Spore: Galatic Adventures will soon be released. This promises to add various more missions to the space stage and looks to have some promise. However, too little, too late for this gamer.

Add your most disappointing game in the comments.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Best Game - World in Conflict

My pick for best game has to be World in Conflict.

World in Conflict poses the question "What if the Berlin Wall had not fallen in the 1980's and the Soviet Union had attacked the United States?".

WiC was released in September of 2007, and it still commands the majority of my gaming time. It is an RTT (Real Time Tactical) game, an RTS without the base building. The engine for the game is amazing, even after almost 2 years. Although the game is mostly played zoomed out, try zooming in and listening to the unit "chatter" sometime.

Players choose one of 4 roles (Armour, Air, Support, Infantry), and work together to capture Command Points (CP's) on the map. Whomever controls the most CP's sets the Domination Bar moving in their direction. The team that pushes the Dom Bar all the way over, or who has the majority of the dom bar at the end of 20 minutes, wins. Players get a certain amout of Reinforcement Points (RP's) to bring in various units. As they lose units, the RP's trickle back to them so that they can bring in more units. In addition, various actions (killing enemy units, capturing CP's) give the player Tactical Aid (TA) points, which can then be used or pooled to bring in additional destruction, from a light arty barrage or paratroopers, up to the tactical nuke.

In addition to the excellent gameplay, great graphics, etc, there are a few additional features than make WiC stand out:

Easy drop in and out - I played the beta (well, it was really a demo) of Dawn of War II, and could not believe how (relatively) clunky the matchmaking was. WiC's matchmaking allows players to drop in and out as they please. With up to 16 players (8 per side), the loss of a player is not such a big deal in a public match, and new players can quickly jump in.

Easy to learn - WiC stands apart in that is an easy game to learn, but difficult to master. Even with all the time I have played (over 45 days), I still have something to learn. At the higher levels, the game becomes less about individual skill and more about teamwork.

Developer support - Even after almost 2 years, patch 10 was just released and an 11th is planned. Maps are comming out on a regular basis, and many of the most recent maps have been user created, with the developer doing testing and releasing the map to the entire community. (As a side note, there has been a lot of criticism lately towards the developer regarding patch 10, as many in the community feel it has been detrimental to balance and gameplay. Putting aside who is right or wrong, the developer is doing a community beta test of patch 11 which may address some of these issues.)

This is not intended to be a comprehensive review of the game. There has been many of those over the past 2 years. As a gamer, this is the best game I have played and I wanted to share that with you.

Pick up the game or download the demo.

Come and give the game a try on my server, Grusome's Garbage Pit.