It has been just over half a year since its launch, has GTAO matured in that time? Continue reading GTA: Online (X360)
Tune exclusively into www.twitch.tv/FireHawkLIVE Continue reading GTAV live stream – 17th September 12:00 – 17:00
So, with September 17th coming fast, I thought it would be a good idea to say my opinions and thoughts of GTAV, along with my plans for content and community around it. Continue reading Thoughts and predictions on GTAV (Grand Theft Auto 5)
STAR WARS: THE OLD REPUBLIC…
Developed a few years back by BioWare and published by gaming tyrants EA, SWTOR was a game of mixed feelings, its conception had killed a much loved and much played MMO Star Wars Galaxies, but had returned players to the same universe featured in Knights of the Old Republic One and Two.
Having initially been launched as a pay to play, it flopped in reviews.
Plagued with bugs, plot holes and Korean gold merchants, EA and BioWare decided to make it free to play, keeping subscriptions for those who want the bonuses. Free to play however reduces the XP you receive, you cannot sit idle in a bar to get resting exp, and you can only list 2 items in the galactic market. You are also restricted to sprinting after level 15… and the normal running speed is horrifically slow. There are still glitches, such as the no head but eyes glitch (2 confirmed by FHG including the one named “Yollo” near the Jedi Temple on Tython) and the strange occurrence where you see AI speeding past you to their patrol point.
The big thing that SWTOR has over Galaxies is that you get your lightsaber pretty early on, and you cannot do what I did on galaxies, which is select Jedi class but somehow join the Imperials.
However, the story is not as open as people may have hoped and the worlds are very closed in and small as compared to the likes of Galaxies, which brings me to another point,
Player involvement with the universe…
There is not much impact you can make, you go on your own storyline that everyone else in your class does but it does not make a difference… in Galaxies, players could make a difference, capturing or desolating entire worlds as part of the Empire or Rebellion or even player made groups, forming their own towns and cities and owning their own homes, having a fully customisable starship they could truly call their own or flying a super specced fighter blasting anything that flies into their crosshairs.
In a way, it is disappointing that these features and gameplay styles are not in the game, but at the same time, it makes it different. For sheer mission based co-op lighsaber and blaster mayhem though, SWTOR is ace. The lightsaber combat is truly one to behold, not since the days of Jedi Academy have I played a game with proper lightsaber duels. The Co-op systems are a bit clunky, and can be annoying when doing the main story missions, however, remote NPC convos where people far away can join in with the group member initiating the conversation and the simple and easy to use group system make it at least workable.
You still don’t feel a true important part of the universe though and there is no real legacy. Similar really to STO, great action and a good story, but until recently in that game, no actual legacy. And that is where SWTOR falls flat on its face. The graphics are nothing to shout about, it has average MMO graphics and it uses a lot of resources but really does not help the lack of immersion. However, the OST is at least decent, and fits in with the era of the game.
All said and done, SWTOR is a good game, but is plagued by its early days, lack of immersion and player interaction and an increasing amount of paid for content, which is bad for the PVP servers as those are usually all level items ahead of everything else. The game would have benefitted from being a co-op based game with locally hosted servers and more streamlined for fewer players… the MMO aspects do not really make sense apart from the PVP and PVP-RP based servers.
It gets a 7/10, still a good game but not a true MMORPG.
So, I have been away from STO for quite a while, about a year, and returned just a few weeks ago. Getting back into the Defiant, and flying some more missions, I quickly reached Rear admiral lower and then upper half, flying an even more powerful ship. I love the escort class ships, even though some fleet PVE players hate them… I saved their asses at the end of the day.
I still had the basic free Odyssey floating around in my bank, so I decided to bring that out when I reached Vice Admiral. Took what I could from my previous ship and built a decent ship from it. Yeah its not the best, and some weapons are not as good as what I could get, but I got a fleet starbase to upgrade too.
So I took my ship on its first battle. And oh boy is it huge and powerful. Its shield could stand up to a lot of abuse, and it had enough power to keep all my abilities and weapons going whilst it was taking all that fire. That battle was a clear victory. The USS Edinburgh had won against some Cardassians… next fight saw it against the Borg. Again, exceptional performance… hardly a scratch would come off of it, and cube after cube, probe after probe would blow up spectacularly.
After a few days of missions, fights and visiting new worlds, I decided to check up on the starbase. After sorting out some freighter ques, I got my ship ready for its voyage to Deep Space Nine. On the way we battled a few level 2 klingons (not much for a level 50 cruiser to handle) and I quickly wiped them out just using phasers.
Upon reaching the sector block, I engaged the slipstream drive which took me to equivalent of Warp 38.9… and incredibly quick speed. Within minutes we had reached DS9 and proceeded to deliver supplies and personnel, along with engaging with missions against the local hostiles.
Now onto the opinions I have:
The game has massively improved, space combat is quicker and deadlier, ground combat has got a lot better, although still average, and the interiors have more variety. Although they are still MASSIVE. And that is one of the issues I have. Corridors, even in the small ship layouts for classes such as the saber (a light escort) are way too big, you feel like a midget in a giants house. Some of the new features such as projects and stuff are amazingly complex, I dont even know how to craft many items yet alone do all this. Although I am sure I will learn quickly, it could be too much for a new or casual player to deal with.
So, all in all, in my opinion, worth playing and learning the ropes. Join a fleet, have a good time, shoot some stuff… Oh and Discovery Alliance fleet… Join it.
Star Trek Online is a free to play MMO developed by Cryptic Studios, originally published by Atari with a pay-to-play model, based on monthly subscriptions, the game was horribly rushed and broken almost beyond repair. Luckily, Atari ditched STO after they realised they were flogging an almost dead horse. Soon after, with STO’s fate almost consigned to the history books, Perfect World Entertainment took over the publishing rights, bringing their free to play model to the game. Soon after updates began to flow in to fix the many problems still with the game, and the subscription model was changed to reward players who pay with more free content in the form of Zen point stipends and rewards. Lifetime subscribers still get more and more content, and the Zen point stipend. Zen points are PWE’s online currency, however, those rewarded through STO’s subscriptions are not transferable to other games and can only be spent in the C-store (Cryptic’s STO store) or traded for Dilithium, an in game currency used to purchase rare items and more powerful weaponry (which can be traded in the exchange for energy credits… another resource usually used for common items or duty officers/bridge officers along with commodities and consumables)
The gameplay as of mid-2013 is solid, although ground combat is average and a bit tedious with its samey samey levels and oversized corridors and rooms, but still plays better than many other MMO’s. the space combat is what this game is about however, and it plays well. Ships speed about firing their phasers and torps at the enemy, shields take damage in different shield arcs, fighters explode and battleships use all the abilities at their disposal to try and take each other out. Ship classes are well balanced, all having weaknesses and strengths, and the levelling system is nice and easy to understand.Onto weapon types… again nicely laid out, if a little more complicated to understand. You got your standard Phaser weapons which deal normal damage but with a chance to knock subsystems offline, and then you have your plasma which can cause continuing damage with plasma fires, you have disrupters that lower the enemy’s resistance to further damage, amongst others.
Being an MMO, teamplay is important… and recent fixes have solved various issues. Players no longer have to worry about ships being the level of the highest team member (despite all matching the lowest) and overall co-op runs fairly well. Difficulty is scaled to the amount of players involved, 5 being the maximum, but that is fairly insignificant if you have a level 50, say, helping a level 6.
A mixture of larger team modes such as Players vs. Environment (AI) and Players vs. Players in both ground and space battles with different factions such as Federation starbase defence vs . Klingon raiders or a fed fleet attacking the Borg transwarp hubs… Or a party of Klingon ships going up against some Cardassian True Way invaders.Once you reach the higher ranks of the game, you have access to different areas that were not open to you, and new missions that were locked to certain ranks. You will never find yourself without a mission to do or a deep space encounter to fight some ships at, and the gameplay is highly replay able due to the choice of multiple races, 3 classes and 3 different factions.
The latest expansion pack, Legacy of Romulus, has added a great deal of content, including the Romulan faction where you can play as a Romulan or Reman officer, new ships, new weapons and a new set of missions including a set specially for level 50 players of both the Klingon and Federation factions. The fleet system has been bolstered now with a fleet embassy on New Romulus which can be upgraded and various visual enhancements added.
Talking of the fleet system, fleets can have a maximum of 500 characters, and have a fleet starbase and embassy to upgrade and use. As those upgrades improve, fleets have access to new fleet upgraded ships and equipment, along with new services and higher challenge fleet missions. Fleets that work together in missions also receive multiple bonuses, and can share abilities that boost their team in battle. Overall, Star Trek Online is a very good MMO, however it suffers from occasional server down time, sometimes can lag, and average ground combat. If ground combat were to improve (a cover system might be too much to ask for however, and they fixed weapons going through most objects) a lot, it might score higher in that front. However, the rest of the game is solid, space combat is fantastic and the levels and gameplay are easy to understand but can also be used to tailor high end character/ship builds to add some extra power or defence to your ship and crew.I give Star Trek Online a 8/10 score, and I suggest that anyone who likes Star Trek, sci-fi, MMO’s and space games to check it out, links below:
Written by Steve