Saturday, October 13, 2012

An open world RPG done right, finally!

I have been a big fan of Bethesda’s open world games since Morrowind. They have always been able to create vast beautiful worlds, but their games have always lacked in most other aspects. Fallout New Vegas runs on Bethesda’s engine but is otherwise crafted by the guys over at Obsidian Entertainment. Maybe that’s why it is such a brilliant game. Bethesda has done what they do best, creating an impressive open world engine but has left the actual content to the successor to the legendary Black Isle Studios.

Whereas characters used to be bland and boring, New Vegas is filled with interesting NPCs to converse with. Missions used to be generic and mostly an excuse to explore the world. Now they are of a higher quality than in most linear games. There are very few meaningless fetch quests, instead they are now more like well written short stories. Combat was never a strength of Bethesda’s earlier games, now it's fantastic. I have to say I prefere shooting down Super Mutants in New Vegas over the action in any Halo game. Admittedly this was fixed already in Fallout 3 but the difficulty balance in enemy encounters is much improved. Rarely will one randomly run in to some overpowered beast when traversing the wasteland.

New Vegas might very well be my favorite western RPG ever. It suffers from some terrible bugs, the longer one plays the more tangled up the game code seems to become, leading to more and more frequent crashes. Since the game auto saves constantly this is not a devastating problem but it can be very annoying and it keeps the game from otherwise being a near perfect gaming experience.     

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A platformer perfectly adapted for the iPhone

Having no physical buttons makes the iPhone ill-suited for most traditional game genres, platformer being one of them. Still it’s not impossible, Rayman Jungle Run is the perfect example of how it can be done. By having the Rayman auto run and in effect turning the whole touch screen in to a jump button Ubisoft has been able to pull it off. The whole game is then designed with this auto run setup in mind, so while it would never work when porting over say Super Mario Bros. it works fantastically well here.  It also doesn’t hurt that the game has the same amazingly beautiful graphics as Rayman Legends on the consoles. This is really the game that all iOS developers planning to make a platformer should look at.

One big complaint is that Ubisoft themselves screws up these seemingly perfect controls by giving Rayman a punch attack in the last ¼ of the game. This adds a punch button to the game but thankfully the rest of the screen still acts like a big jump button. Even if the game still is fully playable the controls do no longer feel as natural as before and I no longer felt like I had perfect control over Rayman.