Doom: Some impressions

Doom, I don’t know if this is a reboot or a sequel, was released on Xbox Game Pass. I downloaded it and am going to tell you what I thought.

Doom is fun

Like this game is proper fun. There is a simple structure. You go into an area, all the door locks and you have to kill everything in the area to get the doors to unlock. Lather, rinse, repeat. You might think that this will get tedious after a while, but it doesn’t. The game is mostly an arena shooter. You fight it out in confined spaces. It’s like a hyper-fast version of chess you are having to work out the fastest way to take out enemies. At the same time, you are having to work out which one to take out first and what weapon that will best suit the scenario.

This is made all the better by the fact that;

Doom has the best controls in a first-person shooter.

I can’t overemphasise to you how smooth the controls are, everything is silky smooth. All the buttons are mapped out, your character is always running. There is a crouch button, but I don’t think I’ve used it more than twice in my entire run so far. You still feel like you are in complete control of your character at all times. If you mess up and die, it is because of your own overconfidence in your abilities. There is no lag in animations. This leads to some fun platform sections between the constant shooting.

There is also the glory kill system. Stagger an enemy then approach them and perform a move that will have you complete a preset animation. Either ripping off a demon’s jaw or pulling off a monster’s arm and thumping them with it. The animation is brief. The repetitiveness doesn’t become overbearing, and it doesn’t bring combat to a halt. Add in the ability to speed up the animation, and it becomes a part of your overall play style.

Doom is a throwback

Doom 2016 feels like a spiritual successor to the first two entries in the series. I didn’t play Doom 3 so don’t know how it performs in comparison.

I saw that at one point Doom 2016 was going to be more like Call of Duty. I’m glad that they didn’t take that route. When all first-person shooters have iron sights and regenerating health Doom has decided to keep it retro.

Doom does have some hallmarks of modern shooters, but they aid the game to become more fun. Weapons have perks, and your character’s abilities are upgradable. These perks come from exploring and finding secrets.

I could tell you that Doom has a story but to be honest I don’t know what that is. When I’m playing, I usually have the volume down low, and I’ll have something else going on in the background. That doesn’t mean that I have not noticed the awesomeness of the score and the sound effects. Ripping out a flying demon’s eye and shoving it down its throat does sound good and squishy. To be honest, though I have ignored the story, I don’t think that I have missed out on anything, I’m sure it’s okay.

One thing I really like is just how angry the hero comes across. Whether it’s gouging the eyes of some demon or the way he punches elevator call buttons. You get the feeling that the guy you’re playing as is in a constant state of rage. There’s something funny about that.

As for bad stuff, the loading times are a bit long, and I’ve encountered some texture pop in from time to time. You may find that the gameplay gets repetitive fast, but I have been loving it so far.

If you’re a gamer and this has passed you by considering giving it a go.

Bring on Doom Eternal.

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Football: Why I’m not a fan

First of all, I don’t dislike football.

I understand that it can be entertaining. Many people have their identity tied to their team. Many people get self-worth from watching other people kicking a ball.

If you were to press me, I’d say that the closest I came to being a sports fan was during the run-up to Donald Trump’s election. I remember how the surrounding events affected my emotional state.

I got depressed when the Access Hollywood tapes came out. Then there was the relief of the debate that happened that night. After that weekend, I had to take a step back from the election.

Having my mood linked to events outside my control was not a good idea.

I like to have the maximum amount of control over myself. I don’t always have that control, but striving to be master over yourself is preferable to someone else having that power.

You think that I don’t understand the appeal of having the choice taken away from you. I do, it can make life a whole lot easier but I don’t like that.

It’s part of the reason why I’ve never loved football.

I’ve thought about it and here are some of the other reasons I’ve never connected with the beautiful game.

What’s in it for me?

What’s in it for you? When the team win what do you get? When the team lose what do you get? Some momentary satisfaction or heartbreak. Then it starts all over again. I guess that’s cool, but I can’t get anything from that.

I love film but what I get from it is an emotional release or the promise of release. Is that what football fans look for from a match?

Watching football and watching films falls into the category of hobby. I understand that many of our hobbies and pursuits are a waste of time and energy.

Taking an active part in your hobby, like playing football or making a film you’re improving yourself. I like films, but I want to make more movies than the one I’ve made so far.

Watching movies is a way of learning what works and what doesn’t work. Refining my own tastes in the hope of making the best film possible for myself. Is football like that, if you watch football but don’t play are you wasting your time?

Football is a nerdy pursuit in the same way that playing video games is nerdy.

You could tell me every team that a footballer played for, it’s the equivalence of telling me all of Charmander’s attacks. Watching football is closest to playing video games.

Watching football is a form of consumption.

Football is boring, and the chance of a good game is minimal

The few times that I have watched football it hasn’t interested me.

On a primal level yes, I see the appeal. When there is a chance at the goal, you feel your body tense up ever so slightly, but this is a physiological reaction.

Aside from those occasional moments, football for me is dull.

If there is to be something extraordinary, then there has to be a lot of factors that come into play.

Take for example one of the greatest matches in football history.

That was when Manchester United went up against Bayern Munich to win the treble. It wasn’t that the game itself was good it was all the outside factors. There was the chance at the treble. The drama comes from the last minute reversal. That United produced goals from two corner opportunities which is a statistical improbability. Consider that George Best, an avatar of the club, the ghost of United’s glory, walked out on them. Everyone gave up hope, it made for one of the greatest comebacks in history.

Football at it’s best is good drama but it takes many external factors to result in great drama.

The likelihood of these moments coming around is rare.

Whereas the theatre experience is trying to create that feeling every time.

Football is unending

I don’t watch football for the same reason that I don’t watch soap operas, read comic books or follow wrestling; they never end.

What I like about films is that they are self-contained I can watch as few or as many as I want. You could argue that certain movies need to be viewed in sequence but again you can watch a film and you’re under no obligation to watch anymore.

You’ll say that you are under no obligation to watch football. You and I understand that, but there is more to it than that.

Football seems like such a time investment as well as emotional.

It’s just that most people we know will watch whatever match is on. It never ends. I like my entertainment to have finality. I can rewatch classic films but do you watch old games? Yesterday’s good games are forgotten, what have the team done for you lately?

Football is a conversation starter for basic bitches

You could walk up to a fella and say “Hey there big guy, see the match?” and nine times out of ten he’ll say “You betcha lil’ dude” that’s fair enough.

Now if you encounter me, that one in ten. I have no interest or general knowledge when it comes to football

I’m able to pick up on some names and teams because most lads talk about football all the time. Whether that is among work colleagues or, my main point of intake, a Whatsapp group.

Now you’ve probably heard a repeated phrase throughout your life, mine is “You’re tall” or some variant. Now if it’s your first time meeting me, this feels like an appropriate comment to make. I disagree, put it like this if it’s acceptable to comment on my height do I not have a right to comment on your width? How about when you see a beautiful girl, you say “Wow you’re a hottie.” she says thank you because people love it when you comment on qualities beyond their control.

“Did you see the match?”, is a close runner-up to overheard phrases. When I roll my eyes, sigh and offer a curt “No” it’s not because I’m repulsed by seeing matches. It’s just that this is the 1000th time I’ve heard this question. You’re speaking about a specific game whereas to me all events are the same. This boils down to two irreconcilable views on reality. I’m just going to have to make peace with this. All I can do is keep saying that I haven’t, nor will I. Sometimes I enjoy lying, say that I have and see how long I can go before getting caught out. Watching someone get invested in a conversation and watching their eyes narrow when you pull the rug from under them.

Football is something that I should like

You may think that I am bashing football with this but I’m not. It comes from a place of frustration that I don’t like it, a massive section of conversational options are cut off from me by default, you feel like you’re on the outside looking in on some conversations. Football is also a social glue for many men in Europe and there’s a whole section again cut off from me. Football is a lubricant for many lads that helps them slide into a friendship. Not me, I have to raw dog it every time.

What’s worse is that technically football is something I should like. Men being men, competition, no talking, results are dictated by action taken. Yet when I look at it, I feel nothing.

Enjoy football, some of us would like to be so lucky.

One thing that I would like to ask is what the hell is the point of TV football commentary? Someone literally telling you what is happening as it happens. “Ehh but blind people, some people can’t see” Have people not heard of the radio?

Casual gamer: 5 reasons I became one

Just like that, I’m a casual gamer again. I played a lot of Metal Gear Solid 5 but all of a sudden I’m no longer interested. It just happens, lose all investment and not play now until maybe Christmas again.

If I do end up playing it’ll be my go-to downtime games such as Perfect Dark, Street Fighter 3 and Cuphead in small chunks. I’ve cancelled my game pass because I know I won’t use it. There are a couple of other reasons why I’m no longer big into games. Some might say “Kieran your 32 years old of course you should be done with games.”

Maybe I should grow up and get rid of the console. Probably, but playing games fall into the “consumer category”. If you told me that you played video games, you’re the same as a person who supports football or watches Netflix. You’re pouring money and time into something that will not return your investment.

There are a couple of other reasons why I consider myself a casual gamer, here’s a few.

1: Graphics blind

This is more to do with my age than anything else, but I swear, I struggle to tell the difference in graphics from generation to generation. Having played the Phantom Pain on both Xbox 360 and Xbox One I had to watch a video that pointed out the differences between the two versions. Aside from subtle differences like draw distance, I couldn’t tell the difference.

You have sharper eyes than I do so you can tell the difference. To me, it all looks the same. I guess you could say that I’m graphics racist.

All these 4k 1080p 60fps is gibberish to me, I mean I understand the essence to me, but it all just looks meh. Gaming is trying to mimic real life so much that it sends you barrelling into the uncanny valley.

Watch Lea Seydoux eat at the end of the Death Stranding trailer. Graphics wise, impressive but the mouth movements when she is chewing is just; I don’t know, there’s something off.

2: Mass Effect 3

The first Mass Effect had potential. It was a sci-fi RPG that was something like playing your version of Star Trek. What interested me was that your actions would carry across sequels. This wasn’t the first game to do that. Shining Force 3 was the first game to implement the “synchronicity system” as it was called.

Imperfect but pretty close

While the first Mass Effect was far from perfect, it intrigued me to stay invested. Along came Mass Effect 2 and it was great. The main plot wasn’t great. The end fight was anti-climactic but everything that leads up to that moment was brilliant.

It had great side quests with some beautiful sci-fi concepts. There was the crashed ship storyline. The captain feeds his crew local vegetation which makes them retarded. The captain turns his crew into slaves.

There’s the story of the scientist who merges an AI with his brother’s conscience. The only problem being that his brother has autism. I don’t know if these are original concepts. Knowing sci-fi, probably not, however, the game was enjoyable, and I was looking forward to Mass Effect 3.

Harbinger of doom

Mass Effect 3 single-handedly tainted any future investment I would have in a game franchise. Mass Effect 3 started the ball rolling for me to become a casual gamer.

Mass Effect 3 was eye-opening. If Mass Effect 1 and 2 were seasons 1-4 of Game of Thrones then Mass Effect 3 is the following seasons. Characterisation and in-world rules are cast aside as it became a race to end the story.

All that choice over three previous games is reduced to an option of A or B. There was no consequence to my actions. It was a rushed and unsatisfying conclusion to what was gearing up to be a perfect trilogy of games.

After that, I stopped playing games with too much depth. I played some of Witcher 2 and thought, this is going to take me too long to get into and stopped playing.

3: Online all the time, casual gamer will get suspicious

This is a short entry but why do games even single player games need a constant online connection? Again because I’m most familiar with it Metal Gear Solid 5 is shocking for needing to be online. Why does it affect the menus so bad?

Let me stay offline and don’t have it affect my playing.

4: Cutscenes are too long (and the writing mainly sucks)

There are so many games that want to tell you these complex, in-depth stories. If you want a casual like me to sit through those scenes, make the writing good.

The problem is the writing isn’t that good. Film scripts are about 120 pages. Video game scripts can run to 1000 pages.

It’s very rare that the writing in a film script is excellent. The likelihood of a video game script being good is even more unique.

One of the few examples of a good script and good acting is a game called Enslaved. Developers, Ninja Theory hired screenwriter Alex Garland to write the script. It also had it’s acting directed by Andy Serkis. I watched all the cut-scenes to, what a shame that the game itself was dull.

I play a game because I want to play. Don’t make me watch for too long. In fact, I skip through the cutscenes most of the time.

That’s why I’ll never play Heavy Rain or any of that. I want to play. Let me play.

5: Too complex for a casual gamer

The reason a casual gamer likes old favourites is that they have simple rules that are easy to follow.

Take Street Fighter 3; you can attack, block and avoid like other fighting games. However what makes this game special is the parry system. You can risk getting an attack in but you risk taking damage yourself. It is this mechanic that makes it one of the best fighting games.

Perfect Dark another old favourite. The enemy AI works like this, evaluate-act-revaluate. It is this fundamental concept and you as the player must work around this AI system. I don’t like Perfect Dark because it’s a highly realistic shooter, I love it because it’s fun to play.

Even Tetris has a simple rule system, make lines using the blocks, over time the rate the blocks drop speeds up.

The more simple a game, the more fun to play.

Once you realise Dark Souls is about watching your stamina bar, it becomes more enjoyable.

That’s why I don’t like Metal Gear Solid 5 as much as other entries in the series. Resource management has made it too complicated. The rules of the Metal Gear franchise were to get from point A to point B while avoiding the enemy. Metal Gear 5 discarded those rules. The game failed to replace them with anything meaningful.

Remember the writer’s adage KISS: Keep It Simple Stupid

Xbox hasn’t got a clue. Here’s 5 reasons why.

Xbox loyalty

Be forewarned this post is about Xbox. The next two are also going to focus on gaming. So if you’re not interested, then I’ll see you next week.

I’m going to use Xbox and Microsoft interchangeably.

 

I’ve had an Xbox 360 for a while. Only recently did I upgrade to an Xbox One S. It’s mainly a £300 paperweight. I use it to play Cuphead now and then. At some point, I could have switched over to PlayStation but I like Xbox.

I don’t play games as much as I used to but I’ll go through periods where I’ll play consistently. Then after a while, I’ll get bored and won’t touch a console for months.

I’ve been playing more due to the Games with Gold giving away Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain. As I’ve been playing more, I’ve been more interested in Xbox. I looked into what they are up to, and I realised that Xbox hasn’t got a clue.

I like the console and want it ti succeed but the way it’s conducting itself is worrying.

1: They have good ideas, poorly implemented

It’s not that the company is entirely clueless. Part of the frustration that I have with the system is that there are many good ideas, just not well done.

Games with Gold

Games with Gold offers two free games every month. These aren’t indie nonsense that you’ll never play, these are often good top tier releases. If you’re patient you’ll never have to buy a game which suits a casual gamer like me.

Occasionally you’ll get something that isn’t good. Recently there was The Witness which I played for five minutes before uninstalling. Despite the occasional dud the good thing about Games with Gold that in the long run, it balances out with some top titles.

There have been several Assassin’s Creed Games as well as Mass Effect. In fact, sometimes the indie games that they give you are hidden gems that you would never think to get. The bullet time puzzler Super Hot is a good example.

What I’m trying to tell you is that the Xbox Games with Gold programmes is one of the best deals for consumers. All it costs is an Xbox Gold membership which is £40 per year. Even if all you use Gold membership is for Games with Gold that works out at £1.70 per game.

Xbox Game Pass

Xbox also has a game pass feature. For £7 a month you have unlimited access to a library of games. It’s the Netflix of gaming, and it’s a good idea.

Unfortunately, it’s still just that, a good idea. The problem, the library is limited. They had the gorgeous yet tedious Mad Max game. There is also a Tomb Raider game on there, but aside from that, it’s older arcade games that are available on Xbox 360.

Xbox Game pass releases system exclusives like State of Decay 2 and Sea of Thieves directly to Game Pass. Wanting to play State of Decay 2 was what made me sign up in the first place.

Having played State of Decay 2, I’m going to cancel my membership.

Xbox Game Pass is a good idea now that has potential to be great in future.

2: No exclusives

Having no exclusives is a more significant problem than I realised. PlayStation has way more exclusives than Xbox. There have been so many games that have been PlayStation exclusive it’s kind of sad.

Exclusives still sell consoles. PlayStation has seen an upsurge in sales due to the exclusivity of the critically lauded God of War.

That’s just a recent example.

There was the game about the girl who fought robot dinosaurs that looked great. Again, another PlayStation exclusive. Not to mention The Last of Us 2 which will further boost console sales.

The PlayStation exclusives kick the shit out of the Xbox exclusives. Halo has lost a lot of prestige since Bungie handed the reigns over to 343 studios. The series peaked at Halo 3, and it’s been a gradual decline ever since.

Xbox has few exclusives and let’s talk a bit about the ones that they do have.

3: The exclusives they do have leave a lot to be desired

Sea of Thieves

Xbox bought Rare studios the guys behind some of Nintendo’s best games in the 90’s. Xbox bought Rare, and as soon as they did, they turned them into garbage. That hasn’t been any different with their release Sea of Thieves. I have played this and to be honest, I hated the game. There’s nothing to do.

All the game appeared to be is a series of fetch quests with other people I couldn’t talk to.

Imagine Zelda: Windwaker only with more sailing. You have to manage all the minutiae of sailing, like rigging and sales.

State of Decay 2

The other big exclusive is State of Decay 2. I have to tell you that I loved the first State of Decay. It showed up randomly in the arcade store and was £20. It was a pleasantly surprising action RPG set in rural America overrun by zombies.

There is no way to get around this, but the game is dull. I enjoyed the dullness.

You manage resources, kill some zombies and make sure survivors are happy. There was permadeath which added tension to missions. It was repetitive, but it was fun. The game was buggy as hell. Zombies would glitch through walls you would bounce all over the map. For the gameplay, you got from the price you paid the problems were forgivable.

The problem with State of Decay 2 is that it is the same game. State of Decay 2 is State of Decay 1 with a fresh coat of paint. The only thing that has improved is the graphics. Somehow the bugs have gotten worse. The bugs would be fine had the game been released for the same £20 with no fanfare; however, this is not the case. The game is broken

Now State of Decay 2 has been pushed from second tier to top tier. State of Decay is not a top tier game. The amount of money and publicity Microsoft has thrown at this game is embarrassing.

Xbox may have noticed that they have nothing coming out for a while, so they pushed State of Decay 2 to front and centre. This was an error.

4: Xbox needs to get it’s house in order if it is going to compete

Microsoft needs to work on it’s relationships with studios. Xbox can’t control their developers.

This has always been the case since 360 days.

One of my favourite games Alan Wake had an overlong development history.

Alan Wake was supposed to be an open world survival horror game. The development overran, and Xbox prematurely forced the game out. The final game was a hybrid between straight shooting sections and empty open world segments.

Today is no different. Crackdown 3 should have been out ages ago but it’s still in development. Crackdown 3 a game in a series that wasn’t that popular to begin with is now two years late.

Get your house in order Microsoft.

5: Xbox are running a risk of becoming Sega

I see patterns repeat even though that may not be the case. Xbox is following a path that appears similar to Sega in the 90s.

Sega won the Mega Drive/ Super NES battle in the same way that 360 won the battle against PS3.

Victory has made Microsoft overly analytical in the same way as Sega. Both were successful in their respectful generations however I have a saying; you learn nothing from success. Microsoft and Sega are proof. When you reach the top the only way is down.

Sega after the success of the Mega Drive developed a load of peripherals. Sega developed the Sega CD, 32x and the next generation Sega Saturn in quick succession. These peripherals were expensive, oversaturated the market and that put gamers off.

The failure of these three hardware items made Sega rush out the Sega Dreamcast. The Dreamcast ensured their exit from the console market.

History repeats?

Do I see Xbox bowing out of the console market? It’s hard to tell. I consider myself a casual gamer, so am not the most informed on the matter but here’s what I see.

Xbox has three different versions of the one console. There’s Xbox One, Xbox One S and Xbox One X. Aside from terrible names, it’s the same system with different cosmetic qualities. There was also Kinect which Xbox has finally taken the hint and given up on. Don’t forget that they were also going to try and set up their version of Netflix. A company who make games were going to move into film production. Let that sink in.

The console is lucky it’s part of Microsoft. Sega only had itself to rely on which is why it exited the market early. Xbox will be around for a few more years, but if they keep making dumb decisions, it’s not going to matter.

Hopefully, Xbox, the underdog, are learning from their mistakes and course correct.

I want them to do well so whenever I next get an urge to game I won’t be stuck for choice.