Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Chapter 6: Mr. Roper, Tear Down This Wall!

Ah, time for one of my all-time favorite quests: The Wall. Of course, when I mean favorite, I mean favorite for being such a disaster. But we'll cross that bridge when we get to it. First off I'd just like to take the time to talk a bit about enemy AI once again. Yes, it always seems that just once you think the enemies can't get any dumber, they up and surprise the heck out of you.

Considering himself unpopular with London survivors, Lord Sloranas was first reluctant to join the party he was invited to. Of course, once he arrived and found he was too fat to fit through the door, he became the source of many great party jokes as he stood outside crying.

I mean, I don't get it. Why even put enemies in an area in which you can just run into a building and they won't be able to get at you? What's even more is that these buildings seem to be much more frequent in the street levels, being found in the middle of the area so you can quickly run up the stairs and laugh at the enemies that can't get at you below. If I wanted to exploit the enemy, I'd use a trainer, not have it spoon-fed to me in gameplay mechanics.

And this is just one of the many experiences I had on my run to the helpless Fist. I mean, not only was it more of a joke that I killed a legendary enemy without him ever being able to touch him, but a rare gremlin trooper also happened to surprise me with his "tactics" in battle as well.

Someone didn't have their Wheaties this morning.

Though the picture might not translate what exactly is happening, I'll gladly elaborate. You see, this fellow here decided that it would be infinitely better if he walked the entire way in his line of attack. Now, I know my inhibitor bots don't stop enemies from charging at me, which is what gremlins are supposed to do, but apparently this guy didn't get the memo. What's more is that he's a rare enemy--one that should be a challenge to bring down because he's liable to drop some good loot. So either he's giving peace a chance or someone messed up in core game design. Hmm, I wonder what it might be!

Besides the AI however, I found myself taking a gander at the rag doll physics of dead enemies. Now small enemies really have no trouble at all at falling down and dying, especially with some of the zombies, who might've been gymnasts when they were still alive. However, the bigger the enemy gets, the more clumsy his rag doll physics seem to be once he dies. This becomes more apparent with bulky enemies, who just can't seem to figure out that gravity weighs things down. However, in some cases, to over come floating corpses, sometimes you just have to do the opposite and clip through the ground.

"Ugh, I am never partying with those London survivors again." "Yeah, you said it Jimmy, I meaAAHH! MY LEGS! I GOT NO LEGS! I GOT NO LEGS JIMMY! AHHHH!"

I ask, once again (at I'm sure many times in the future as well); what exactly is so hard about doing things that other people in the industry of video games have ZERO trouble of doing? Why am I still finding stuff that I was looking at in alpha/beta? But my biggest question definitely has to be as to why this sort of garbage is still happening? Then again, those are apparently the same questions the droves of disappointed fans have asked the developers since release. Funny how there hasn't been much of any sort of real response other than, "We're working on it."

Anyways, I finally found myself at good ol' Embankment Redoubt. Of course, not to my surprise, there still doesn't seem to be any sort of fortification to be found. Maybe the Fist, in their infinite idiocy to be helpless whelps, were in charge of building it? All the more reason as to why the "redoubt" seems to be a few chest-high barricades. Yeah, that's going to stop something. Maybe my grandmother. Considering they are retreating, however, something tells me granny is the least of their worries.

Like good ol' alpha/beta days, I decided the best method to go about the mission is to run pass the nitwits as per the car "blocking" your way out. Yes, I know that you're supposed to control the Fist and get them to a portal that just happens to be on the other side of town, but hey, I'm no idiot. Considering how every other thing has only went from bad to worse in my experience so far, something also tells me that the AI for the Fist are just going to be as idiotic as they were back in August. Of course, to my surprise, the way is actually blocked this time around, as I cannot magically clip through the van at the doorway any more. Bummer. And I enjoyed so much being able to beat this mission and getting the drops as well.

So I sigh, run up the stairs, and find our good and trust-worthy Hobbit friend Rob Someone. My, what an imaginative name! Still as inconspicuous, however, he doesn't bother to say a word to you. You, however, are to click on a magical rectangle thingy over-looking the Fist. Once you do you are transported to a static camera with a top down view centered around four Fist members. And, like good times, this is where things just get ridiculous.

The Fist AKA Why We're Losing this War

Yes, it's nice that Flagship Studios, in their infinite scrounging around to try and break the mold, try and add an aspect into an action RPG game that already has FPS elements by mixing some old fashioned RTS into the mix. However, if you're going to mix things up, you might actually want to get your priorities straight. Or, you know, maybe do this more than once to give the impression that it wasn't lost content on the floor that was picked up and scotch-taped to the game to add play time.

You see, not only are the four bumbling baboons you control adept at sucking at doing damage to enemies, but they are also adept at standing still and being sadomasochists while they get pummeled by enemies. To add more insult to injury, Flagship almost seemed to know this, so they added an AOE bomb that you could call in and the ability to heal all members magically. However, the real magic to this mission was to what exactly transpired. Usually the main big bad ten-times-too-big fellbore Beezlebub is the main source of the problem, as he's also adept to calling in AOE flame strikes (to which the Fist will not run out of unless you hold their hand and guide them to another direction). So what it ends up becoming is about a five minute battle of spamming air strikes and heals, all the while the Fist run around like a bunch of idiots, usually hitting walls and cars more often then the enemies you even tell them to shoot at. Of course, Beezlebub did eventually die, but not before spawning four kamikaze fellbores, to which I tried to single out in attack with the Fist, but, like the good guys they are, they just sat their like idiots shooting walls and barrels. Amazingly enough, however, as the four kamikaze fellbores rushed in, I quickly tapped the heal key after the first explosion. After things had subsided, only one Fist was left alive, hanging by about 40 health. That's also when the portal decided to open, at which point I immediately rushed the last man in through before he was over run by the enemies surrounding him.

And the worst thing is is that this isn't really gameplay at all. It's more like torture. Whereas we were once given the option to make the run and clear the way for the retarded Fist, we are now stuck playing commander while being heavily handicapped. It's like being a casual gamer and trying to play Microsoft Flight Simulator. You're going to crash and burn because the learning curve is higher than Mt. Everest. And that's how it is with this little section of gameplay. You aren't actually told how to play or what to do, and you also aren't told that you're going to be leading idiots who can't tie their own shoelaces to fight an overwhelming number of enemies that the air strike command will be doing most of the killing. I mean, if I wanted to stab myself in the eye, I should at least be given the option to. With Flagship Studios, however, they just shake your hand, jam the knife in their selves, and pat you on the back like nothing ever happened.

Flagship Studios offers a friendly reminder that you could be playing a better game for free.

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