Sign up now!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

TERA = awesome

As I wrote in this post, a Community Play Event for TERA was held last weekend. I'm disappointed to say that I didn't have as much time to play it as I'd wanted.  But no matter. I promised to write down my thoughts about the game, so here it is.

Nice, convenient, and not too much clutter. Check out the screenshot. (If you think the text seems small or unreadable, that might be because the screenshot has been scaled down from 1080p) Points for being highly customizable. You can move around and resize every object of the interface.

As you can see, there's two mini maps. The one in the middle marks out camps, quests and other points of interest in your current area. A nice touch is that you can change it's transparency. In the upper right corner you have a kind of battle radar that displays primarily two things; a light cone that show your visual field, and circles that mark out the different ranges of your attacks and skills. Simple but oh so useful. Especially since this game is so action oriented, making it really important to know the distance between you and your enemy.

Combat and camera
Dynamic combat system - check. You really do have to move around during battle. If you just stand still like you'd do in a "regular" MMORPG, expect taking some heavy damage. Most enemies vary their attacks. So you have to constantly pay attention and look out for signs of bigger attacks. Many have the ability to knock you down, punishing you greatly for an idle fighting style. So basically, if you have the skills, you can avoid taking damage at all. This is a fresh breeze indeed for MMORPGs. It certainly makes it more interesting and kills off some of the repetitiveness you get in your standard game of this genre.

I didn't do any PvP at all so I can't say anything about it really. And En Masse excluded a lot of the PvP content, having only duels available. Not sure if I would have wanted to do PvP anyway because of the small bit of lag I had. But that was to be expected, since the servers are in the USA and I was playing from Sweden. From what I saw though, 1 on 1 battles seems to be fairly balanced between the classes.

Camera control is a bit more advanced than just zooming closer or further away from your character. Zooming has 3 stages. The first one has your character in the middle of the screen, with the crosshair above his or her head. As you zoom in close enough the camera shifts its position slightly to the right of the character. I think it is meant to look something like a Gears of War style over the shoulder view. This would have been really neat for rangers, if it didn't do it so poorly. The character still feels in the way. This could easily be fixed if the camera just positioned itself even further to the right. As you zoom in even further the camera turns its focus right on the character. This stage is purely for checking out your awesome character in detail. It ranges from a view of the full body to a close-up of the face.

Oooh pretty Unreal Engine 3. And as you can see on the character design this game is Korean. Meaning women with perfect curves and jiggle physics. Yeah...

The environments of TERA are stunningly detailed. Impressive for such a huge world. It has that handcrafted feel instead of that "generated world" feel that plagues some games with a large world like this. Unfortunately I didn't play enough to leave Newb Island. I would have loved to share some screenies with you of the world outside, just to show how huge and free it is.

I don't know if you notice in the screenshots below, but the game currently lacks an option for anti-alias. What's up with that? Great way to ruin such beautiful graphics...

So is TERA something I want to play when it's released? Yes. I love MMORPGs and I've played my fair share of 'em. But eventually, as with most games, you become bored and hunger for something new. I feel that TERA has the potential to become a really great game and satisfy that hunger a bit. The action-based combat system will definitely bring in a lot of players. That alone might not be enough to make them stay. But TERA seems to have some more tricks up its sleeves, like the political system. Innovative or not, the general feel of the game is currently enough to keep my interest. I'm also hoping for a roleplay server. A game like this is great for it.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The 3DS; to buy or not to buy.

Since Nintendo announced the 3DS I've been thinking a lot about whether or not I should purchase one. Right now I own a DS along with nine games that I've wasted a lot of hours on. I love it and consider it my most trustworthy boredom killer while travelling. I even upgraded to the DS Lite because it was shiny (and for the brighter screen, of course). But am I ready to upgrade once again? Does the 3DS bring enough changes to persuade me to bring one home? Right now the answer is 'no'. I'll try to explain why.

Let's begin with the 3D. This seems to be the biggest selling point for the system. Great move, seeing how crazy the world is about 3D nowadays. But I couldn't care less for it myself. I've been to the movies and seen a couple of films in 3D, like Despicable Me. While a bit cool, I only found the effect useful in one scene, where a huge round object appeared. It helped me get a better feel for how large it was. But just one moment in an entire film isn't enough. No, in my opinion today's 3D is lacking appeal. The technology just isn't there yet. I feel the same about it on the 3DS. 'Cool', I though, as I tried it for the first time. But that was just my inner tech geek having fun for a minute. It adds nothing to the game really. I only played Super Street Fighter 4 for 10 minutes, so I can't say if the increased depth perception is useful in any other game. But I highly doubt it.

Augmented Reality. Now that part looks fun. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, check out this video demoing the feature.) But it will probably not entertain one for long. You'll try it out a few times thinking 'awesome!' and then stop, never to return to it again. Well, maybe you'll boot it up occasionally to show someone new to the 3DS what it can do. Hopefully developers will find some interesting ways to utilize it in their games.

Thumb stick. This is the best thing about the 3DS. A must for 3D games. If only the system had two, I would have bought it at release. (Go NGP!)

Ocarina of Time for the 3DS

But what really makes a console is its games. And right now, there aren't any released games that I find interesting or play-worthy. So maybe, when something I do find interesting is released, I'll buy it. The remake of Ocarina of Time is something I definitely want. But I'm not the type who buys a console for just one game.

What do you guys think? Do you own a 3DS and if so, what are your thoughts about it so far?