Monday, February 23, 2009

Oh, hi there.

Yesterday I finished up Red Alert 3. Oh, what's that? I haven't posted in a while and how could I just start right back up as if nothing had happened? Well, nothing had happened. Actually, I got a bunch of games for Xmas, and simply have been playing those. One of which was RA3.

So, how does it stack up to other RTS games out there? It's fun as hell, that's for damn sure. But in its over-the-top zaniness comes the price of gaming longevity. The game is very fast paced, and, much like C&C3, online matches are more than capable of ending in under 5 minutes. For some people, that might be just fine. But I like to think about my RTS games a little bit more. And for me, RTS games are really all about the multiplayer. That's where they shine; seeing people utilize the game in newer and more interesting ways, implementing strategies you would never see outside of such an environment.

And it's a shame, too, because a lot of good thought was placed in this game. Pretty much every unit has a useful secondary attack function, for example. Take the Devastator Tank that the Soviets have: it can either fire its double barrels (ho-hum), or engage a tractor beam that pulls enemy tanks into giant metal-shredding gears, destroying them shortly thereafter (!). Each of the three factions has its own unique building process, too--though not as diverse as, say, Starcraft or Warcraft 3. The Allies have to wait until their structure is fully built before placing it, the Russians can start building on the ground immediately, but their building is vulnerable until completed, and the Japanese can build anywhere, but must unpack their building via mini-MCV-like things.

Like I said before, things happen very quickly, though. And like most things in life, when stuff happens too fast, it leaves those involved disappointed. Many times during the single-player campaign I would attempt to strategically construct an army, only to have it wiped out by sheer brute force not more than 10 seconds into my invasion. This meant that several times during play I was forced to simply build a massive unstoppable force of quantity, rather than quality. That kind of crap, to me, is an RTS no-no. There are the basic unit counters, though--artillery is powerful but vulnerable, tanks have no anti-air, blah, blah. Outside of that, though, the unit countering isn't anything compared to the intensity of Warcraft 3. Units have a minimal Bar O' Health above them, but no hit points by which to compare to other units. Damage functions the same way, where you just have to figure "big laser beam must make stuff go boom better than missile."

All of this is geared for the game to be, essentially, a run-and-gun RTS, if such a thing can exist. C&C3 did this, too, and I hated it for it. It was a great game, but I can't remember the last time I played it. When you're forcing players to race to end-game units because that's where the key to victory is...I don't know. It seems kind of easy. But it's weird, because the thought and unit variety put into this game begs the player not to do such a baseless strategy. I'll just have to play a few more games online and see what happens, I guess.

Oh, and let me just say that graphically, it's beautiful. Everything in the game is very pretty, especially the water effects--not only are the physics nifty as hell, but the water reflects everything in a spectacular fashion that, during a heated sea battle, lights up the whole experience. Even ships, when they kick the bucket, sink beneath the surface and stay there for the rest of the battle (and of course they are distorted accordingly depending on the waves, etc.).

Simply put: RA3 is a good RTS. It isn't great, but it's fun enough to be more than worth the purchase. I sunk well over 20 hours into the single player campaign on the Hard difficulty. The missions are varied nicely, and really make the game shine strategically. If multiplayer could only be like the campaigns, it'd probably launch the game into greatness. But no one wants that kind of constraint in multiplayer. So, whatever. Also, there are plenty of boobs in this game. Plenty (see above picture).

Moving on, I also finished up Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction for the PS3. Wonderfully fun game. It played just like the R&C games on the PS2, but with much prettier graphics. The game is pretty easy, but it's supposed to just be stupid fun, with lots of shooting crap with wacky guns. It is this to a T. Also: you can throw disco balls at enemies which force them to dance like John Travolta before you annihilate them. Pure genius.

I'm working on Valkyria Chronicles and Resistance: Fall of Man, too. I have a lot more to play through beyond those, too. I love videogames. Till next time!