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Console gaming for the next generation

The rise of the console RTS and why developers can't seem to grow balls and throw in the keyboard and mouse that we all know they need.

Author: Draenor

Dawn of War 2

Posted by Draenor Thursday April 8 2010 at 8:56PM
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Okay, so the first Dawn of War stressed giant battles with huge numbers of troops that you would endlessly click to reinforce in the field during the course of a skirmish...it took away from the cinematic feel to the game, but at least the battles were epic in scale.  Sure, base building isn't a part of the actual 40k tabletop game, but this isn't the 40k tabletop game, it's an RTS.  if I wanted a 100% accurate recreation of the tabletop game, I'm sure I could find one online.

So with Dawn of War 2 the developers decided to do away with the base building, their thought was that the tabletop game has nothing to do with building a base, and has everything to do with managing smaller numbers of squads on the table.  

For reference...the smallest game of 40k tabletop that you will ever see played is one HQ unit, and two troop units.  With the largest allotment in a normal game being 6 troop choices, 2 HQ's, 3 fast attack, 3 elite, and three heavy support.  Both games do away with categorizing of troops by having a flat unit cap, the Original DoW may have had separate categories for troops and vehicles, but it wasn't anywhere near the level of slice and dice that the TT game does.

So here we have DoW2, a game that wanted to become more like the original by doing away with base building, and making it more about managing smaller numbers of troops.  It's true that an original DoW army would be the size of an Apocalypse army, but hey, epic is good right?  I am all for the smaller troop sizes of DoW 2 if they were to do one thing that the tabletop stresses like no other: unit customization.  DoW 2 wants to be more like the tabletop, yet it takes away one of the things that the original DoW got right - the customization of wargear.  The only units with anywhere near a suitable customization level are the HQ units, these comprise ONE part of a significant force.  (and only pack the amount of customizations that a squad should have, not even close to what an HQ should have)

Units like Tactical squads, scouts, even the Ork lootas get snubbed by squads with 4 guys, MAX with one special weapon per squad.  The original Dawn of War did this right - Your squads started small (four to five men) and could be upgraded until they were maxed out to the sizes seen in the tabletop game (a marine squad in the tabletop starts with a base of 5 men and can go all the way up to 10...conversely, a marine squad in DoW 2 starts at 3, and can go up to...4 with the inclusion of a Sergeant)  It's not just the size of the squads though, it's the wargear that they can equip.  A squad is limited to one piece of special equipment (generally speaking, there are a few exceptions such as terminators, which have the ability to upgrade the entire squad with a special weapon, though these are special units and don't come into play often)

So you can have a squad with 4 marines, one flamethrower, and nothing else...contrast this with the tabletop where a marine squad can have 10 men and several special weapons if it so chooses.  This is how the original DoW did things, and for a game that touts itself as being more true to the tabletop, it's baffling that DoW 2 went with the "one upgrade per squad" approach to things.

I like Dawn of War 2, don't get me wrong...it just seems odd that I can't choose to give every sniper in my squad a sniper rifle like I can in the tabletop, like I could in the original Dawn of War game.

Button Mashing Goodness for the Three glaringly overpowered characters of SC:IV

Posted by Draenor Friday August 8 2008 at 12:32PM
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Last night something occured to me while I was playing ranked game after ranked game of Soul Calibur IV.

 

Now, I don't like to throw out accusations that things are overpowered...I'll hop on board certain ones that are glaringly obvious such as the rogue problem in WoW right now, the M-16 in Call of Duty 4, and a few others...but there are three characters in this game that are blatantly overpowered:

Mitsurugi, Kilek, Cervantes

 

Now, one of the biggest ways to tell if something is overpowered is to look at the people who play said thing.  The pattern that I have noticed with players of these three characters?  None of them select their character until you have already selected yours, and even then, a large number of them like to wait until there is only one second left on the timer.  Why do they do this?  Well, it gives people less time to just disconnect from the game for one, secondly, it means that their opponent won't choose an equally overpowered character in kind.

What exactly is wrong with these three characters you ask?  I'll tell you:  They are too friendly to move spamming button mashers.

 

Now I know a lot of people who play Soul Calibur are thinking "if you think that button masher characters are overpowered, then why not include Raphael?"  Well, Raphael and Maxi are both generally played by button mashers, this is true...BUT These characters don't include moves that sweep and strike both low and high with basic combos, THAT is the difference.

 

To begin with, let's talk about Kiliek, because I think that he is the least broken of these three characters...Kilek is, quite simply a pain in the ass to fight because his range is so ridiculous.  Many Kilek players will stand at range spamming the same two or three moves because they know that it's impossible for you to get close...Why can't you just side step an attack and move in? Because of sweeping strikes.  Now luckily some characters have one or two attacks that can outrange Kilek.  Algol and Ivy come to mind here...I would include Cervantes and others with long ranged charge attacks, but the problem there is that those are charge up moves, and easily avoided by anybody with more than four brain cells.

Next up is Mitsurugi...Mitsurugi is a guy with quite a few multihit combos that can be spammed at great speed...Not such a problem, except that fighting back requires more precise timing than any other character in the game (minus Cervantes, more on that later)  The real problem with Mitsurugi though is one of the same things that makes Kilek so unstopable:  The basic sweeping combo.  Mitsurugi posesses a combo that entails a long range sweeping attack that cannot be avoided by side stepping, and requires that a player crouch and guard in order to block...Of course, the attack is so fast that no person could reasonably be expected to ever block it with any real consistency in a fight.  Additionally, Mitsurugi's recoil from being blocked is so fast that any button masher will quickly be spamming a different combo as soon as the attack is guarded against...This is a problem because Mitsurugi seems to have faster guard recoil than other players, and as anyone but the quickest characters, he is extremely difficult to counter attack...If you can't counter attack a button masher, you really don't have very much defense against him.  A kick will generally do the job, but kicking combos tend to be low damage, and if you're lucky enough to actually land a hit on Mitsurugi, it shouldn't have to be one of the weakest attacks in the game.

 

Cervantes...Oh boy...what ISN'T wrong with Cervantes?  He's too damn fast for how strong his attacks are, he has too many spammable power moves that get him out of range regardless of whether or not they are guarded against, and well...he just doesn't really have any discernable weaknesses to speak of.  A character with this kind of speed should not be killing people for a quarter of their life bar in the opening three seconds of a fight.  One power move of Cervantes' in particular has me scractching my head...that is, his flying dive move...Where even if the attack misses, Cervantes lands BEHIND the enemy, and always is able to get an attack off first, regardless of whether or not the defending player uses his fastest attack, he simply will not get the attack in...This means that Cervantes is not punished for making huge mistakes that would have other characters lying on the floor in a puddle of their own misery.  I cannot think of even one other attack that is this powerful and involves this little risk to use...Hell, even Siegfried's ridiculously powerful strikes come with the risk that they will be sidestepped...There has to be risk versus reward with every attack in a fighting game, and with Cervantes, there really is none. 

 

This is not a rant to get these characters fixed, as I know that they will probably remain the same for the rest of time...my intiial point was that people who play these characters need to stop being so cheesey and just man up and select the character that you intend to use at the outset, rather than wait because you know that your character is cheap.  So why did I put the reasons that things are overpowered?  Because this is how I percieve the game after over one hundred ranked matches, with these characters.  My opinions here are based upon a great deal of play time.  I have to give a reason why these characters are overpowered if I'm going to say that they are, right?  The thing is, I don't care that people use these characters...hell, I use the M-16 in Call of Duty...it's just a matter of the courtesy to not try to pull the wool over your opponent's eyes by waiting for them to select their character first, to fake like you're going to pick a different character, or to let the time limit run down.

 

Be kind, pick your overpowered character fast so that I can make fun of you in a private chat with my friends before the match starts.

The Console RTS

Posted by Draenor Wednesday March 26 2008 at 5:58PM
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It has come to my attention, and the attention of many prominent game review sites, that this generation of consoles, especially the Xbox 360, seems intent on bringing the Real Time Strategy experience to the consoles.  I am primarily a console gamer, this is mostly due to the fact that my PC is utterly out of date and useless when it comes to any game that came out after Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War.

This brings me to my big question for developers:  Why not develop a keyboard and mouse attachment for the Xbox 360 that is usable for the RTS games that they seem intent on developing?  Now, I am not one to go around yelling at console gamers about the superiority of keyboard and mouse controls for First Person Shooters, but it would be difficult for me to deny the superiority of a keyboard and mouse set up for Real Time Strategy games. 

Now I know the most common argument against a keyboard and mouse peripheral for console RTS games is that it would give an unfair advantage to players who did not have the money to buy a keyboard and mouse for the game. It's a valid concern, but not one that does not have easy solutions.  My proposal is to include options and settings for online match making that allow game hosts to choose whether or not to allow players who have USB keyboards and mouses attached to their 360's.  Of course, a host couldnot select to allow only players who are playing with a controler if the host was using a mouse himself, and any attempt to plug in the peripherals once the game had already started would simply boot the player and result in a loss for his or her (lol girls play games?) record.  PROBLEM SOLVED!

I desperately would love to see RTS games come to prominence on the console scene, but i just don't see it happening until one developer grows some balls and throws in mouse and keyboard peripherals with their game.

 

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