Thursday, October 08, 2009

Resident Evil 5 |-REVIEW-|

RE4 was the game Capcom had to beat and they couldn't. It's not that RE5 is a bad game; its still a lot of fun, but it is considerably shorter then RE4. That and the crappy partner AI you're stuck with are my biggest complaints. It would have been a lot better if having a partner AI was optional. It's not like she makes a huge difference, or is crucial to beating the game. I got so frustrated with Sheva that I just ended up going the infinite ammo route, since she wasted most of my ammo otherwise. What is nice about having a secondary character is that you can use her to play through the entire game again if you chose to. There are also a number of character specific outfits to unlock, like the S.T.A.R.S. uniform for Chris and a business suit for Sheva. There is also the standard Mercenaries mode if you just feel like ploughing through a ton of enemies in time attack fashion. This is really fun and gets harder with the passing minutes.

The game is a nice visual upgrade and it plays just like the previous title. It's still not as amazing as some people claim it to be visually as there are some nasty texture or background models here and there, but thankfully they're rare so its just a minor gripe. One fair complaint I have when it comes to graphics is that RE5 is not optimized to run with AA very well, or at all as it would seem. Expect the performance to drop by roughly 50% if you so much as bump the game up to 2xAA. Aside from that its all french fries & gravy, with everything rendered in such a fashion it doesn't need much if any AA at all. I did run some tests to see if there was a huge difference between 2xAA and 0xAA, and found little if any difference at all. Most of this is attributed to the 1920x1200 resolution I'm sure. Clearly this game was meant to run without AA.

On the gameplay side of things, I don't understand why shooting while moving is still so taboo. Its not that big of deal in the long run, albeit its quite archaic. The inventory has also improved and is a lot better in my opinion, with no need for a shady character to manage your stash. Story wise, it's RE so don't expect expertly written dialogue, but it works well for the most part and the cutscenes are shot nicely. Actually, if the recent RE: Degeneration movie was 80% of what the in-game cutscenes were quality wise, then it would actually be watcheble and possibly even enjoyable.

As for the scares that the series has been known for, well...there are none. There are no unexpected moments and you can see things coming from a mile away plot wise, so there are no surprises either as far as that goes. Oh and the final boss, without spoiling anything, is the biggest letdown from a design point of view. I guess Capcom really likes to recycle. You'll know what I mean when you see him. Still, all my complaints aside RE5 is a good game overall. I've experienced no crashing, which is rare when it comes to gaming on PCs these days. Getting a steady 60fps at 1920x1200 with everything at the highest settings(no AA) with only an HD4830(not OC'd). If anything, this was probably the most surprising thing from playing RE5. Overall RE5 is worth your time and money.................86/100

*On a side note, arranging pictures in the posts to go side by side is a pain in the ass. Honestly, you have to be super lucky to get them to agree with what you want. FACK! I give up...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Need for Speed: Shift |-REVIEW-|

I must admit I didn't expect this, especially after the shitstorm that was Pro Street and Undercover. Carbon was manageable, but just barely.... basically anything after NFS: Most Wanted has been awful, god awful and a pile of vomit. I guess EA finally realized that they needed to do something about their beloved franchise and many people's favorite racing series. Whatever they did worked and everyone is sucking on EAs proverbial teet once again.

Unlike the previous titles EA went back to the drawing board and decided to do things a little differently this time around. I'd consider this to be an Arcade-style Sim Racer since its not quite sim and not exactly an arcade racer. It's got a bit of both and that makes it a lot more accessible to a wider audience. I don't really care much which it is, but a lot of people have their preferences. At the beginning of the Career mode you get to do a 'setup lap' which pretty much sets the difficulty and assists based on your shitty driving. You can always adjust them later on if you improve, so its not a permanent thing. This is a good change since SHIFT is unlike any NFS before it when it comes to driving. Also keep in mind that each car drives differently, so mastering one car is not an automatic ticket to winning all races. For example, the fully upgraded BMW M3 E46 has very sensitive steering in comparison to something like the Lamborghini Murcielago LP640 which feels a lot heavier and more forgiving. There is a small learning curve, but once you figure things out you'll be flying right along. There are also drifting stages in the game which are a lot different and harder to master. These courses are extremely slippery so slamming on the accelerator will end with you married to the nearby walls or spinning out of control. Careful use of the accelerator is the key here along with steering in the opposite direction after your car turns into the slide.

As for the car selection, there isn't an enormous list to choose from, but what EA did decide on is thankfully a very nice lot. There are also no numerous versions of the same damn car ala GranTurismo, so what is there is smartly chosen. You'll be driving things like the Nissan Skyline GT-R, Audi R8, Koenigsegg CCX, Pagani Zonda R, Bugatti Veyron and the McLaren F1. There are also a few iconic drifting choices like the Toyota Corolla GTS and the Nissan Silvia Spec-R Aero. Each of the cars are very nicely modelled both on the outside and the inside so visually the cars are as impressive as the roster itself. All in all, there are roughly 60 choices give or take a few with some unlockables that add to that number. 3 of my all time favorite supercars are on the roster, so this made me giggle with joy like a school girl. The only real glaring omission I noticed is the lack of anything from Ferrari. I'm not sure why they would do this, other then there being licencing issues. This is is quite annoying but forgiveable because of the simple fact that there is all kinds of goodness in the car lot as is....actually, who am I kidding, there is no excuse for omitting Ferrari.

On top of having a nice selection of cars(without Ferraris), you can and will customize them in order to progress through the Career mode. There is also a 'Works' option for a select number of cars, which will essentially convert them to full blown track cars that can compete with the supercars in the later events. These mods are quite major, often times completely changing the way your car will handle and perform. Aside from performance parts, you can customize your car with rims, body kits and vinyls. There is a great selection of vinyls and a good amount of rims. There are only 3 body kit upgrades, 4 if you count the 'Works' option for some. These are also fixed kits, so you cant mix and match bumpers, spoilers, hoods, and the like. Not a huge deal, but more choices would be nice.

When it comes to the tracks, there is a nice selection that is varied from all over the world. There are oval, technical and a mix of both. Laguna Seca, Silverston, SPA and Brands Hatch are a few examples of the more popular ones. The tracks are nicely detailed for the most part, with the trees being the only real exception. I find them looking flat, especially when in the distance. Aside from that, the tracks are well done overall. There is an issue of not being able to race tracks in the opposite direction. For some reason EA thought it was not necessary to give that option. I find that quite dumb, as it's not a difficult task to include that.

Sound has to be one of my favorite things in this game. It is well done and I mean very well done. None of that wimpy shit like some other titles. Depending on the car and its upgrades, each one will sound differently and much like it's real life counterpart. The best way to listen to these sounds is driving in the cockpit view as it enhances the experiance that much more. Of course having a proper set of speakers or headphones will make all the difference, so if youre still using $5 speakers or your Ipod earbuds then you're shit out of luck. Of course if you're playing on your tv then you most likely won't have that problem. What is essential though is a good quality sub with a decent low range for best results. Your ears will bleed with joy.

As far as gameplay goes, I must say I'm having a lot of fun. The big driving force behind this is the cockpit view, which is by far the most addicting thing about the game. It makes up for more then half of the gameplay for me, thus making me come back for more. The events are also varied and there is a nice mix of general races, time trials, drift competitions, time eliminators, car duels and endurance races. You'll never race the same track so many times that you'll get sick and tired of it. Aside from that, you don't have to complete every race from each of the 4 Tiers in order to progress in the career. Your progress is based on you finishing in the top 3 as well as completing bonus achievements like setting the fastest lap, or earning a set number of profile points in a race. By doing this you are awarded stars that let you unlock higher Tiers. You also get different types of badges based on your driving, such as for having clean laps, dirty overtakes, or placing 1st in consecutive races. They're not really used for anything, other then boasting I'd imagine.
Best way to get through your driver levels fast is to learn how to drift. Once you have that mastered you will literally level up after each drift race you enter, depending on the track and number of laps you decide on. Once you have that figured out, you will be unlocking new rims, vinyls, invitational events, garage slots and earning major sponsorship cash faster then anything. Overall, the gameplay is quite fun with lots to do and keep track of. I never found myself bored, especially during the drift and car duels which never get old.

Now, everything I've said so far makes this to be a very solid game all around with a few minor issues. That is not so unfortunately, as SHIFTs biggest downfall is its performance issues. Apparently EA and ATI hate eachother, or so it would seem based on the craptacular performance their cards are experiencing. I don't understand why there couldn't have been more optimizing done on ATIs cards. Nvidia users seem to have few issues for the most part, but ATI cards struggle really hard pushing 30fps, and not just at the higher resolutions, but the lower ones as well. I've experienced the same problems where I'd get no more then 37fps at any one time. And enabling AA? Forget about it. I've managed to run the game at around 32fps on average at 1920x1200 with maxed settings and 4xAF and 0xAA. I'm running it on a i7 920, 3gigs of ram, and an overclocked HD4830, so I should be getting a lot better results based on comparable Nvidia cards that have AA enabled. Changing any of the other graphical settings makes little to no difference, but once AA is on you might as well turn off the game and wait for a patch. This is bloody stupid and hopefully a fix is being worked on by ATI/EA. People have also reported random crashes; one of which I have experienced myself. It is also graphics related as it makes the game crash at 8xAA.

Other then graphical issues, there are a few dumb design issues, such as the mouseless menu navigation and not being able to choose from the different manufacturer colors when purchasing your car. You're basically stuck with whatever stock color the car is shown in. You can make your own colors once you buy the car, but being able to choose from different stock colors is a good thing. There is only an option for choosing different stock colors in the quick race option. Now, how hard can it be to do the same for the career mode, huh?! Small problem yea, but a stupid one nontheless. Also, the whole no mouse nav is quite retarded and until recently only CAPCOM have done the same stupid shit in that respect. Another thing that is annoying is not being able to quick view your car with the applied upgrades by spinning the car with your mouse, but I guess this comes back to that idiotic mouse issue in the first place. Instead you have to wait for the car to spin itself around in slow motion. There is also the issue of not being able to mirror your vinyls from one side of the car to the other in unison. That's another thing that makes absolutely no sense to me. This pretty much made me keep my distance from making my own vinyl combos and instead stick to the pre made ones. The final issue is the loading times; they're LEGEN...wait for it....DARY, LEGENDARY! And that's not a good thing. At 40secs, they're not exactly short. So basically SHIFT is a great game plagued by the 'too fast out of the factory' syndrome, which brings it down a notch into the 'would have been a great game, but...' category.

If it wasn't for the major performance issues associated with SHIFT, along with the no mouse, long loading times, and customization menu issues, I would have no issues with giving this game at least a 90 overall. As is however I give NFS: SHIFT.........................................84/100   

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Fan Expo 2009!

I must admit that this year wasn't as good as last year, but it was still decent nontheless. Got to see some cool celebs(Lou Ferrigno, Linda Hamilton, Leonard Nimoy and Bruce Campbell), played some COD and Burnout in 3D, and test drove show floor demo of Forza 3 which is coming out in October(Forza 3 = EPIC WIN!). I'm so getting the racing wheel with Forza when it's out:P

Saturday was retarded trying to get in but we managed at the end of the day. Only had 3hrs left to walk around, but thanks to that we got to see probably the best cast of celebs the Expo had in a long time. I also went on Sunday mainly to hang out with Jinny at her booth, which was cool. Got my first taste of attempting to sell stuff which turned out to be better then I expected. Let's sign up for next year Christina... if you're reading this.

Anyway, I hope next year they bring back MLG. That was the best part of the Expo since the beginning of time itself.


Thursday, April 30, 2009

4th YR FILM!

The culmination of a year of uncertainty and frustration. Happily it ended off with a finished film and only a handful of casualties. HAHAHAHAHA!!!! Get it? Casualties....Train Struck....coz the title and....yeah. I'm hilarious I know. I kill myself sometimes.

Ok, I finally managed to upload the film on YouTube, so here it is for anyone interested in the HQ version.


Monday, April 06, 2009

OMG, 1 week left!

'nother layout...

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Film Layout #5

One of my pan layouts from my film. More to come soon...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Flipbook 1&2!

The black/white + color pages for the school flipbook this year. The grayscale page is a rehash of sketches I did earlier in the year and the color page I finished last week as part of the film I'm working on.


Lilith & Dimitri PS painting I did last month for the UDON tribute book. All I'm gonna say is that I should have added textures. O well. Next time.