Currently playing (a kinda game review)

So, GamesCom is still around and while  I could post yet another article about future games, I want to talk about a bit about the games I’m currently playing. The list isn’t sorted in any way and while I already finished one or another I still play them ;)

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn (PS4)

After already playing this MMO on the PS3 last year I took some time of to wait for the PS4 release and me actually having the console to play it again. I still enjoy the game, though I do know the whole story. As I’m streaming the game on twitch.tv I started with a new character on the Cerberus server. The commentary is German, though, so you don’t have to suffer my English ;)
FFXIV is – for me – one of the best games in the series since a long time. Yes, it is a MMO and you have to pay a monthly fee to play it but it’s everything a good RPG needs and has a lot of the things I liked in the older Final Fantasy titles.

Air Conflict: Vietnam (PS4)

I’m currently test playing this for a review and I won’t say too much about it at this time. As the name suggests, it’s an war game focussed solely on flyiing around as an US soldier in the US-Vietnamese war. The game actually is an “ultimate edition”, which means it’s a remastered version of a PS3 game which came out last year. But contrary to remastered titles like The Last of Us and Tomb Raider, this game doesn’t have stunning graphics or gorgeous-looking cut scenes. Both are well……fitting for an okay PS3 game but nothing too fancy.
And then the story which centers around what may be the most controversial war after WWII. I’m not far into the game right now but I have no idea where the game will go. Right now we’re made into a hero from our family and wife through letters we receive. If this will change? I hope so, I guess. I’m neither an pacifist nor a patriot but I can’t think about a scenario which is less heroic than what the US did in Vietnam… Well, wait and see?

Sniper Elite III – Africa (PS4)

Yet another test game which seems like a mix of the stealth-action of Metal Gear Solid and a tactical shooter. Being a sniper means a lot of scouting, looking for cover and making sure no one even knows where you are or that you even exist. But not all maps are made for sniping around fro 500m away. In some you come face-to-face with your enemies and getting rid of them silently as possible is key to survival.
The game’s gore level are high, really high due to the bullet-time cut scenes showing you quit in detail how you killed the soldiers. Oh, the story centers around WWII in Africa where you are deployed as an elite sniper (hence the title) to take out major targets and help to win the war against the Axis.

Watch_Dogs (PS4)

As FFXIV I already played this on the PS3 but I still like the game enough to play it again. The graphics ARE better than on the PS3 but still have some of the same issues which may be down to the fact that the game WAS publish on both plattforms and had to be optimised as far as possible.
Still, the game is far from perfect and more or less only serves as a quick go-to game for me if I don’t want to pay too much attention to what I do. And maybe I’ll even finish the game once more and like it more than I did before?
I still hope, Ubisoft will make a sequel for it and it will be better than the first game.

Crusader Kings II (Mac)

As a fan of fantasy and historic scenarios I really enjoy Paradox’ games quit a bit. The only problem is: my MacBook is waaaaay too old for their latest games and I miss out on a lot of good stuff. Still, CKII runs just fine and I really like it. Playing as a duke or count in the ‘dark middle age’, it really is fun to play the game of thrones ;) Even without George R. R. Martin’s books.
What I would like to play by Paradox, though, would be Europa Universalis IV. Which just looks gorgeous and fantastic and everything ;)

Coming soon II (game previews)

After my preordered game post I bring you some more previews of upcoming games.

Destiny

First up is the MMO shooter by Bungie. I did play the beta a bit and liked the game just fine. But in the end of the day, I’m not super-psyched about shooters in general and I prefer the fantasy style in open world games like a mmo. Still, its a great and a BIG game this year. And as far as pricing is concerned: all you have to pay to play in groups online is having PS Plus, which every PS4 owner should have no matter what. And you can still play it semi-online without PS+!
So, if you like shooters and/or Halo, this is your game this year.

Release Date: Sept 9
Publisher: Bungie
Genre: MMO Shooter

Driveclub

Originally planned as an launch title, Driveclub was pushed back several times now and finally will come out in early October. It calls itself a social driving simulation which sounds…interesting and still will be partially free for Plus subscribers, so I’ll try it out one way or another. If I will enjoy it – I don’t know.
The graphics are great, the weather effects look beautiful and well, if the gameplay is good, why not play it for a while? At least till the next game comes out ;-)

Release Date: Oct. 8
Publisher: Sony
Genre: Driving Simulation

The Crew

Another driving simulation and this time by Ubisoft. The US will be the playground of this game and it will be a huge one. In one of GameSpot’s The Lobby they tried to drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles and took about 15mins, which doesn’t sound like much, but if you compare that to a drive from coast to coat, things start to get really crazy. Just as in Driveclub, The Crew will feature online teams and competitions. To earn ‘prestige’ you not necessarily have to win an race but only be good at certain things. Like drifting, safe driving or the highest speed.

As there won’t be a Need for Speed game this year, this will be the two driving games fighting for an audience. I have no real preference one way or another. I’ll have to wait and see ;-)

Release: Nov 11
Publisher: Ubisoft
Genre: Driving Simulation

Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Though still a bit away this game will surely rock the charts, even if its coming out way after the holiday season. CD Project Red are world-famous for their action RPG and it not only looks gorgeous but the gameplay and story look equally good. This will be the first game in the series on Sony’s
platforms and I still have to play the first games but I mostly heard great things about the series and when there’s a book series about a video game, it surely can’t be bad, right?
So, I’m looking forward to February mainly because of this game. I do like RPGs and it doesn’t look as open-world as Skyrim (which was too large for me).

Release Date: Feb. 24 2015
Publisher: CD Project Red
Genre: Action RPG

Coming soon (game previews – pre-orders)

With several new pre-orders for myself and the GamesCom in full motion, it’s time for some previews on what will be in store this holiday season and beyond. First up will be actually two games:

Assassin’s Creed: Rogue and Assassin’s Creed: Unity

Announced just recently, AC: Rogue will be the game for the last-gen consoles XBox 360 and PS3. While some may scream ‘milking the franchise’, I actually like the split of generations. AC IV: Black Flag was already way too demanding of the old consoles and it would be ether impossible to make another game for both systems or it would look and play awfully. So, what is AC: Rogue?
It’s the story of Shay Patrick Cormac, an Irish-born and assassin-trained templar who lives in Mid-18th century North-America. So the setting is right between AC IV and AC III and it was already announced that we will meet Edwad Kenway and possibly other characters from former games. As the player controls a templar this time around and the titles suggests, we WILL be hunting assassins. Who those targets will be or why our character’s gone rogue is still unknown but I’m already looking forward to it.

And while the one is of killing hs formers brothers-in-arms, the other tries to unify a whole country. Arno Victor Dorian is the hero of AC: Unity. The current-gen game will be set in revolutionary Paris and will have a full coop mode. This sounds like it will actually be fun to play with other players for a change. Well I’m sure others enjoyed the multiplayer modes of the earlier titles, but I sure didn’t. Most players I encountered played like they just finished a FPS game. Mindless running around, climbing houses and jumping around rooftops as if stealth was just a possible addition instead of a guideline.
But back to the new game. So it will see huge crowds in a city which is now known as the “city of love” but then was more of a melting pot of crime and violence. A full-fletched cover system, new parcour options and probably my most favourite time period – I’m even more excited about this game than  about AC: Rogue.

Release dates: Oct. 28 (AC: Unity) / Nov. 11 (AC: Rogue)
Publisher: Ubisoft
Genre: Action-Adventure

Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor

Next up is another fandom I really enjoy: The Lord of the Rings. After a quite good LotR: War in the North, which had it’s strong points but lacked an open-world environment or the simple possibility of jumping. But then again, it was an enjoyable hack’n’slash action-adventure which actually included local multiplayer, though only or two people. Which meant you always had  computer-controlled character in your party.
But now comes Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor. A mixture of Assassin’s Creed  parcour and traversing and the lore of THE fantasy story. I do love Tolkien’s work and I’m a huge fan of the gameplay. Shadows of Mordor will be a very dark game with a large potential for replayability, which is another plus for the game. What more is there to say?

Release date: Oct. 7 (current/last gen, PC)
Publisher: Warner Bros.
Genre: Action-Adventure

While this are all the games I currently have pre-oredered, there are – of course – other games coming out soon, but this shall be all for today ;)

Owning a tablet (vs. a laptop)

Disclaimer: This won’t be a review. I won’t post the specific tablet model I own nor will there be photos of the tablet.
This is merely an experience report of someone who just got his first tablet ;)

So, I own a tablet now and apart from it being an Android device and me being otherwise an Apple-only guy I can’t really complain. It does what it’s supposed to and after some (prior) research even the OS problems are solved. Which consisted of two questions: how do I get my files from my MacBook to the tablet and how do I synchronise my iCloud calendar with the built-in calendar by Google.

The first answer was easily answered: Android File Transfer for Mac. Just download and install, nothing else required. The latter was a bit more tricky. First I tried a tablet app solution which just failed miserably. But as ever, Google knows everything and the answer was found in an apple forum.

But enough of all that. Getting started was easy as hell, finding all the initial apps I ‘need’ just a bit harder and getting used to the interface is still a bit weird at times but overall I’m using it every waking and free minute. Which brings me to the next big question:

As said, I do own a MacBook And a pretty old one as that (early 2008). Though it does still run like a kitten, I do eventually want a newer OSX machine. But does it need to be a moveable (i.d. laptop-y) device or should I get an iMac for better hardware or at east a larger screen?

I do love the tablet – though I will be switching to an iPad eventually must for OS-simplification. And with a screen which is large enough to watch videos at, to chat and do other basic internet things, for what would I need a MacBook for?

So, tablets yay, Laptops nay? I’m still not sure. I’d like an OSX system to play the some games at – like Crusader Kings and Europa Universalis – which means I do need something more powerful as I have now but it doesn’t have to be high-end. And if I can hook up my system to my TV, screen size wouldn’t matter as well.

Guess I’ll have to visit an Apple store and see what the real difference is. Because right now all I see is “it’s mobile” vs. “it’s stationary”.

GamesCom, LAP, neue Arbeitsstelle oder kurz: STRESS (Meta)

Es ist jetzt bereits über einen Monat her, dass ich zuletzt einen Post geschrieben habe, doch irgendwie habe ich eine Ausrede (wie immer).

Neben dem erfolgreichen Lehrabschluss – samt Prüfung – darf ich mich nun seit Anfang Juli auch offiziell als “Buchhändler” bezeichnen. Nicht, dass ich großartig für die Prüfung gelernt hätte, aber stressig war die Woche davor dann doch irgendwie.
Und statt eines womöglich verdienten Urlaubs ging es direkt zur neuen Arbeitsstelle, was nicht nur eine ziemliche Umgewöhnung mit sich zog, sondern auch extrem viel Arbeit bedeutete. Nicht, dass ich mich davor scheue – im Gegenteil! – aber auch das grenzte meine Freizeit gehörig ein ;)

Uuuuund dann kam endlich meine PS 4. Und mit ihr alte und neue Spiele und statt einen Post-WM-Beitrag zu schreiben, mal eines der Dutzend Bücher zu lesen, die ich in den letzten Monaten begonnen habe, hieß es zocken, testen und endlich mal wieder abzuschalten nach zehn Wochen Schule.

Als nächstes geht es dann zur GamesCom und auch das wird viel Arbeit – und noch mehr Spaß. Für kryschen geht es hinter die Kulissen und vielleicht schaff ich es sogar zu einem kleinen “GC-Tagebuch” – wobei die Beiträge sicher sehr kurz werden, da ich mehr mit den eigentlichen Artikeln beschäftigt sein werde.

Aber wir werden sehen ;) der Stresspegel ist also auch weiterhin recht hoch, aber nun extrem positiv. Mir geht es großartig und (trotz kleiner Sorgen…) genieße ich meinen Job fast mehr denn je.

Tschaka, vamos, let’s go!

FInancially unFAir

I’m a big football fan and have been now for almost my whole life. And while there was a time when I didn’t pay to much attention to it it stayed with me until now – and beyond

But – and that may be due to my age and my broadened world view or whatever – I find myself struggling not with the sport itself or its rules or even fans (however annoying THEY can be) but with the officials. The ones trying to organise tournaments, leagues and cups. Those who say there interest is fair play and the idea of peace, understanding and equality through sports. I’m talking about FIFA – the Fédération Internationale de Football Association – with Sepp Blatter at their lead.

With the World Cup and the different continental tournaments only being around every other year one would think it’s mostly about the national leagues and cups in the meantime. Big transfers, losses, wins, fired managers and the like. And while all of this happened, probably the most talked about topic in football for several years now is a tournament eight years in the future: the World Cup 2022 in Qatar.

Blatter already said that the decision to have a World Cup in a country with summers around 50C was a mistake. That it took four years for that enlightenment is as sad as the alleged frauds concerning the original vote. Several millions may or may not have been paid to essentially buy the World Cup. It makes me furious that one of the most prestigious sport tournament in the world is nothing more than a sellout for a sell-proclaimed non-profit organisation.

I hate that football changed this much – or that I grew too old to believe that it’s all about the game and not the money.
I will root for Germany this year – like I always do – but I’m not sure I’ll remember the games as vivid as I remember Oliver Bierhoff’s golden goal in 1996 which took us first to the final and then to European glory…

What a hack of a game (Watch_Dogs review)

So I was playing Watch_Dogs on my PS3 the last couple of days after I’ve waited a very long time for that game. And while some may say it’s advertises hacking – which is both stupid and untrue – I really enjoyed the game. And I really look forward to the next game in the series, because the game isn’t perfect and – like with Assassin’s Creed – Ubisoft proofed to be able to step up their work with second instalments.

So, what did I like about the game and what should be improved?
I like the size of the map and the different parts of the city – even if it’s not as big as the map of GTA V or the like but also not so large as to get lost or to have to drive endless times around the city to get from point A to B. A smaller map also means less loading and more processing power for my good old PS3 and there are way enough problems as is, so it’s better this way.
Hacking is fun and intelligently done. it’s both easy to understand and deep enough to not get to bored out immediately. Even better than the hacking is the combat or the ‘lack’ of it. Used to playing games like Metal Gear, I much prefer a stealth gameplay to running around gun’s blazing. And though Watch_Dogs is an open-world action game, it’s not forcing me to one style of playing. Most of the time I could just hack my way through several cameras, take out several guards this way and then – if necessary – make may way through the area with a silenced gun – from one cover to the next.
The story is good, too, but I don’t like the pacing that much. The first two acts are really slow and feel much longer than the last three which took me maybe five hours put together. Maybe I was just too focused on the story after the first act but in the end it still felt a bit of. Then again, I enjoyed the story and even if the speed of the story was a bit too high, it kept me on my toes and it was quite hard to put the controller down.
What came way too short, though, was Aiden’s past as the vigilante. Not even is there a whole year missing between the accident and the game itself but also his whole past before that. But maybe we’ll learn about that later?!
Also Ded-Sec. Though we have Clara and Defalt, the hacker group stays mostly in the shadows – as they surely want to act – but considering the ending it’s a bit weird Aiden isn’t interacting with them more in the main story.
Performing-wise, the PS3 is really pushed to her limits with the game even if the graphics aren’t as good as in other games – but I don’t mind that. What I don’t like, though, are random cars, pedestrians or even enemy soldiers popping out out of nowhere. Especially when you’re re-infiltrating a base after dying and the enemies don’t load instantly.
A minor but also frustrating thing is, that you can’t start mission while in a car or on a motorcycle.  It may seem silly, but after a while it’s getting really unnerving that you always have to get out of your car.
Otherwise, it’s a solid, fun game to play with a great story, very cool game mechanics and an idea which could work for several games to come. And as said at the beginning, Ubisoft has proven that they CAN improve new IP’s quite a bit and I’m curious to see where they’re headed with this new franchise.