Sunday, July 8, 2012

Black Light Retribution and other free fps games

There is a new trend happening in the video game world, I would like to think it probably started with the IOS and facebook games, like Farmville, Tiny Towers, etc. Or it could have started with all of the failed MMO's, who knows... I mean someone probably does, but I dont want to do the research, what really matters is that there are a lot of free to play games entering the game world right now. In the last couple months I have tried 3 different free first person shooters (FPS) and I am going to give my honest opinion of them.

 I will start with the most recent game since this is the game that made me want to write this post. Blacklight Retribution is a free to play game created by zombie studios. I dont know if they created the game with the intention of it being a free to play, but it is now. I think it went live a couple weeks ago, and I downloaded it about 3 days ago. The first day I downloaded it was the day before the 4th of July and all the servers were down. So not the best first impression, but still I tried the game.

I dont know too much about the background of the game or if there really is any story, but you start with a tutorial where you learn the basic controls. The game controls pretty well for the most part similar to Counterstrike, although it feels a little sluggish, but that could be my crappy pc. There is a camera feature that works similar as a heart beat sensor of call of duty,  that can be activated anytime throughout the game as long as you have let it recharge, its called HRV (Hyper Reality Visor). Its a cool feature that allows you to plan your moves, by allowing you to see through all the walls and track your targets. It is not without its risks though, basically if you activate it you are vulnerable for a couple seconds while you turn it on and off, usually just about enough time to get shot if you realize an enemy is right around the corner. The big downside is that it makes sneaking around a little tougher, but the plus is that this probably eliminates camping. My biggest complaint with the controls are that when you press zoom in or crouch you stay in those positions until you press those buttons again, instead of press and hold. I would rather press and hold shift to zoom-in and release when i am done. Its just how I do things. Other then that the controls are ok, but this is probably the best part of the game.

The reason I downloaded this game was because I was looking for something to scratch that multiplayer fps itch I have had since I got rid of battlefield 3 and until Black Ops 2 comes out. I dont only play FPS games like I use to, but every once in a while I need to scratch that itch. With a free to play game I wasn't expecting anything amazing, but it looked cooler then most. I got in the game and the first problem I noticed was the bugginess of the game. In 2 or 3 session I have crashed 2 or 3 times already. The game overall seems a bit laggy, once again could be my crappy pc, but for sure there is about a 1 minute window when a round starts that it seems like everyone is struggling with lag. Even if they smooth out some of these wrinkles, I still have too many other problems with the game to continue to play it.

I have played a lot of FPS games in my lifetime on all systems including Xbox, Xbox 360, Playstation 2, PS3, PC, and even in an arcade. With that being said I have built up a pretty strong ability to get into almost any fps and do pretty damn good. I am not going to pretend I am the best, but I can do better then average. With all that being said I dont know what it is about this game, but I cant quite find the hit box. There have been multiple times where I was lined up on a head took 3-4 shots and missed. I have only played MW3 once and I could get on there right now and hit 10-15 kills in a single match without upgrading a gun, but in this I take a head shot and miss. Its crazy. Also I got into many exchanges with this guy running around with a knife, I see him getting hit, but I was completely unable to kill him and he would just run up and knife me, I couldnt believe how frustrated I was getting at this game.

 At this point I want to talk about another free FPS game, Tribes Ascend. Tribes is a game that hit the PC world back in the 90's (I think) and was remade for the PC in the last year. The biggest difference between this game and almost any other FPS is that there is a slide and glide mechanic that changes the tempo of the game. With the mechanic the game is so fast that there is no question about campy and sniping and killing becomes second to moving. As far as I can tell the only real game mode is capture the flag. The game is fun as hell, but falls into a big trap of all FTP FPS games as far as I can tell.

 My big problem with these FPS games as far as I can tell, is that there seems to be this point where if you dont pay the money you are at a huge disadvantage. Now I cant prove this, but I have noticed a couple times where it seems I am behind the curve, for example the knife guy mentioned before. I saw the perk he had and its the ability to kill a person with a single knife strike. This cant be bought, until you hit level 19 or so, but you can use zen points (real money converted into ridiculous money) to buy a perk that can be active for 1 day with each purchase for 800 zen bucks that gives you the ability to earn an extra 50% xp for that day. Now quick math, I played about 2 hours and got to level 4. If I had this perk on I could have probably been to level 6+. If I played for 1 day, with this perk, I could probably hit level 20 easily enough. This opens up just about every perk and weapon I could imagine. Now I dont know what that costs, but I could see how it would help other people. With this advantage, a free to play game is free until you are tired of being at a disadvantage and becomes a "pay for advantage game" or a "dont pay for a disadvantage game". This is my major problem.

Quick overview: Tribes Ascend is a pretty fun game for a short while, I dont remember ever feeling too disadvantaged, but I only played a couple hours and killing is only second to sliding and gliding. So far in blacklight I felt at a huge disadvantage without paying. Maybe they had played more, but it felt as though they found a way to move up, with better guns, xp boosts, etc. I dont know for sure, but I felt that. Plus the game was pretty janky, so I dont think I will be coming back.

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