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    Entries in nycc11 (6)


    Force Grip on Star Wars: The Old Republic PvP

    I finally got an opportunity to play Star Wars: The Old Republic, much to my joy. BioWare's latest take on the Star Wars universe just happens to be one of my most anticipated games in a winter season jam-packed with quality titles, so you can guess how excited I was for this hands on. Though I played both PvE and PvP, this article will focus mostly on PvP. I don't think I can convey an adequate measure of the PvE aspect due to a few factors: limited time, lack of party or companions, and starting from an incredibly low level, which veteran MMO players know to be one of the slowest parts of the game. So without further ado, let's talk player vs. player!

    While waiting the 30 minute queue, I befriended a fellow World of Warcraft alumni who was just ahead of me on line. Our two-man party made its way toward the entry of SWTOR's massive PC complex, which easily housed at least 30 stations running the game at max settings. As the last two to make it into the current session, we couldn't really choose which class we played, as classes were predetermined by which station you manned. My compatriot took control of the Gunslinger, an advanced Smuggler class who dual-wields blasters and comes equipped with a variety of tricks. After he was seated, I was informed by the helpful staff - who don't head count especially well - that there were no more available stations and I would have to wait until the next session. Nuts, but I made the best of my time by observing the Gunslinger in action.

    The players of this current session were dropped into a match of Huttball; The Old Republic's official sport, which lead writer Daniel Erickson described as football almost exactly, complete with player positions for the classes. The match is between two teams of 8, on a playing field littered with an assortment of traps and pitfalls. I spotted vents of highly damaging fire, movement slowing pits of acid, and high-pressure air vents which propel the player into the air and has a chance of dropping you into one of the aforementioned death traps. At the beginning of the match, a ball spawns in the middle of the field. The first to touch the ball becomes the carrier, and is tasked to deliver the ball into the opposing team's base, which acts as an end zone. If you kill the man with the ball, you become the carrier. As the carrier, you can attack and use skills as normal, and can also pass the ball off to a teammate in case the pressure of having the entire opposing team's crosshairs on you is too much to bear. A single team can consist of both Republic and Empire combatants, but only same faction players can party to enter the war zone together. It pays, however, to know your team. A lightly armored Jedi Sage may not be who you want attempting to blitz the opponent's end zone. The Sith Warrior makes a strong running back, due in part to good defensive capabilities and Force Leap, an attack that propels the player at his target, who is in the direction of the end zone, ideally. A Jedi Consular, in addition to healing, can use an area-of-effect Force Push which can keep melee heat off of the ball runner. Huttball is one instance where working with the enemy can be beneficial.

    As Huttball ended, players shuffled out of BioWare's brief abode of bliss with mostly all positive reactions. After watching the entire preceding match, I was electrically charged to get on the mouse and keys. As the first person in, I had pick of the litter among the classes. Boba Fett fanboy that I am, I chose to play a Bounty Hunter, which is a class I was leaning toward to start my adventure in The Old Republic anyway. The real decision came between advanced Bounty Hunter classes: Mercenary, ranged DPS dynamo akin to Jango Fett, or Powertech, defensive juggernaut akin to Boba. My choice was simple. I always thought Jango was a bitch anyway. Once the players were set, we were thrust into the Alderaan war zone, which played a bit like a 'territories' game type. Teams began play away from the battlefield, and mounted speeders to be automatically flown to one of three turrets of their choice. After a short period spent to capture the turret, it would fall under your faction's control, and begin firing on the opposing faction's transport ship, which is chilling in low orbit. The more turrets you hold, the sooner your faction will win.

    In the Alderaan war zone, my Powertech was impressive, raking an 11:3 kill-to-death ratio. He chipped away at enemy health from distance with wrist-mounted rockets and his trusty blaster, and when the enemy got up close and personal they were greeted by a flamethrower and a rocket punch to the teeth. It took about 2 or 3 enemies to take the Powertech down, a testament to his defensive capabilities, especially with his shield buff active. I would usually stay at a distance from the turret and attempt to pick off the Republic do-gooders, usually pulling them away from their objective one at a time, which is where the Powertech excels it seems. I made a point of asking every Old Republic staffer which class they preferred playing as, and the response was surprisingly well spread out. Not once did I receive the same answer, which means either there is incredible character balance, or those dudes are very well trained to tell players what we want to hear. According to Mr. Erickson, 6 of the 8 playable classes can be played as either tanks or healers, meaning you won't often find a shortage of two of the most important in-game roles.

    What I think is one of the coolest parts of the PvP experience is the level playing field that BioWare has created. Players can PvP beginning at level 10, and the war zones are built with players ranging from the entry level of 10 to the level cap of 50. Base stats are evened out, so a level 10 and level 50 may have the same amount of base HP and other attributes, meaning the polar opposites could technically stand toe-to-toe, with the fight going either way. Of course, the level 50 will have superior equipment and a wider range of abilities to use, so there is still an advantage for he who has invested more time into the game, but the lackadaisical end-game PvPer will be punished. Some players may not agree with this aspect of the design, but I think it solves more problems than it creates, so consider me a fan.

    Star Wars: The Old Republic is gonna be hot fiiiiiiire. I cannot wait to spend a good portion of my winter humiliating would-be Jedi who cower behind the false sense of security provided by a lightsaber. If battling other players ain't your thing don't worry, it appears SW:TOR will have something for everyone. With 50 man years worth or writing in the story how could it not? Unique storylines for each class means you'll have to play with all 8 to truly experience all The Old Republic has to offer. December 20 cannot come soon enough.


    New York Comic Con 2011: Cosplay Gallery

    Photography by Ernie Deeb & Eric Blackwood

    Photography: people suck at it. Whenever I browse convention galleries, I can't help but notice how terrible the photos are. Here at OBG, we try not to suck as bad as some of the other guys when it comes to photography, because we know a good image will make you feel like you're on the show floor with us. So without further ado, here are the notable get-ups from our time at the show. Enjoy!

    New York Comic Con 2011: Cosplay


    Max Payne 3 Demoed at NYCC'11, Valkyr Not Included

    If you have never played Max Payne, buy and play it right this instant, then come back and read this post. Go on, I'll wait.

    All settled?

    Right then, Max Payne is one of the most revolutionary action games to date. A disturbing, multilayered story coupled with the first uses of 'bullet time' created a winning product, no doubt. When Rockstar announced Max Payne 3 - 8 years after the second entry - I raised an eyebrow. That was all. I didn't expect the newer, older Max to be of any interest to me, but after watching 15 minutes or so of gameplay.. Well, let's just say I've underrated Rockstar, again.

    Max Payne 3 is set several years after the conclusion of Max the second. Max is now an older, fatter gentleman who continues to deal with the traumatic events of his past by turning to the bottle. The demo starts with a flashback to Max's time in New York, to help to illustrate how he came into his current situation as a bodyguard for one of Sao Paolo's most politically powerful families. James McCaffrey's return as the voice of Max, together with hints of Max Payne's iconic theme sets things off in the right direction. A ghost from the past has shown up at Max's doorstep with an army of mobsters, seeking consolation by way of bullets. As the mafia mobs Max's misshapen manor, the bullet ballet begins. Right now, the HUD almost exactly resembles its previous incarnation. A white silhouette represents health, with a number within to note the amount of painkillers carried. Next to these is the bullet time meter. Max can wield either one or two one-handed weapons, or one two-handed weapon, quickly accessible via weapon wheel.

    Players familiar with the series will already know what Max is capable of, however Rockstar has done its best to add something fresh here and there. Bullet time, as I hope you know, slows the world around Max, while allowing him to aim at normal speed. You're also less likely to be hit by any incoming bullets when this mode is active, providing you don't just stand around like a lame duck. The best course of action in bullet time, is always to activate and dive, which not only gets results, but looks cool as hell. As you would expect from Rockstar, all sorts of attention to detail has been paid to animations, assuring that Max looks as realistic as possible when completing a dive, after which he has full 360-degree aiming control while on the ground. On the topic of animations, get this: the motion capture process was so thorough, Rockstar created full scale sets to mimic the environments found in game, so every fence-climb, every median-vault, and every dash for cover is preformed by Max & company with unparalleled realism.

    After the flashback in New York, Max is now in current day Brazil, looking a bit on the haggard side. This scene begins with a new take on the graphic comic style of storytelling the first two entries in the series used. It's been described as a motion comic, but it seems more along the lines of an interlude scene from 24: full video clips occurring in multiple panels, with more cross processed color, and less Jack Bauer. I am not a fan, but should they keep this style in the final product, I'm sure I'll get used to it. Max is accompanied by a lovely young Brazilian woman, whom it seems he is tasked to protect. Of course, the duo is then assaulted by waves of men possessing body armor and assault rifles. Here is where the combat shines. Max is now able to take cover behind objects to help shield him from harm when bullet time is not an option. In past titles, having to rely solely on bullet time instead of cover encouraged an aggressive play style, whether or not the cover system will detract from that remains to be seen. Environments contain a high level of detail, especially when being shot and blown up. Just about everything comes crumbling down as it soaks up the hail of bullets and explosions, and I wouldn't have it any other way. When the last enemy of each wave is set down, bullet-cam makes its glorious return. As the enemy is shot, the camera takes a unique, dynamic angle to show the bullet exiting the barrel of Max's gun. As the bullet heads toward its final destination in slow motion, you have a great deal of control, including increasing or decreasing the speed, so you can savor that final kill any way you'd like. My words don't do this much justice, it looked pretty damn good.

    I was slightly skeptical about this title before, but Rockstar has done well to ease many of my concerns. Many, but not all. With no sign of deviating from the classic Max Payne formula, will this title lack depth to the game mechanics? Lips were sealed tight regarding multiplayer, but rest assured it will be an integral part of the title, however in what form is completely unknown. Max's internal monolgue is in tact, and we were told Remedy Entertainment - developers of MP and MP2 - like what they've seen and have given their blessing. Max Payne 3 is still a ways off, but from what I've been shown, Rockstar appears to be on the right track. Will a vicious Valkyr addiction ruin Max's return to glory? Stay tuned.

    BONUS: Free T-shirt Giveaway
    Leave a comment below for a chance to win a spiffy Max Payne 3 T-shirt courtesy of the loving folks at R*. Let me know what intrigues you most about Max Payne 3, or just say "I want free shit." Winner to be announced on Friday October 17, so get on it!


    Turtle Beach: Ears Need Love Too

    By and far, one of the most underrated and underappreciated aspects of gaming is the sound. Whether it's developers thinking players won't notice second rate sound effects, or gamers thinking their TV speakers are adequate, these atrocities must end! Ears need love too.

    I adopted a Turtle Beach Ear Force X41 surround headset early this year and haven't looked back since. So when asked if I wanted to check out the Turtle Beach wares at New York Comic Con, I didn't hesitate to say "hell yeah!" TB had a nice assortment of existing products on display at their large booth, allowing players to test a range of wired cans with directional sound sensitive games such as Black Ops. Call of Duty being the cash cow it is, TB had a few Modern Warfare 3 skinned versions of their current range of cans; the Z6A, PX21, PX3, and PX5, with the latter being the most impressive. The PX5 variant, called the Ear Force Delta, features such perks as an actual Army Ranger letting you know which preset you've switched to, for those of you who are truly enamored by the whole military combat thing. Infinity Ward has even lent a helping hand, designing a few MW3 specific presets that will be exclusive to the Ear Force Delta.

    The preset profiles are stored in the headset and can be changed on the fly, meaning when it comes time for you to camp, you can switch to the built-in footstep focus profile to be better prepared for those sneaky sniper slayers. I was told creating your own presets could be a little complicated, but that's a caveat of having fine control over what you want to hear, and is well worth it. For the non-experimental, Turtle Beach has plenty of presets available online for you to grab and go with, as well as the high possibility of a forum area dedicated for user-created preset sharing.

    As the proud father of an X41, I cared mostly for the next generation in gaming sound; wireless surround sets. We spoke a bit about the existing PX5 and yet to be released XP500. These two headsets are mostly identical, and feature a slew of slick shit: multiple preset profiles, the ability to create and fine tune your own profiles, and dual-band radios, which means bluetooth support. A Bluetooth dongle is packed in with the XP500 - it can be purchased separately and used with the PX5 - to negate the need for any wires when chatting on your X360. Bluetooth also means effortless PS3 chat connectivity - a far cry from the X41 - in addition to pairing to your mobile phone to field calls right in the midst action. That's what I'm taking about, Turtle Beach is keeping us in the game.

    The XP500 releases in about two weeks at a price of $269. For owners of the PX5 ($249), get your X360 Bluetooth chat on with the wireless dongle for $29. The Delta, Bravo, Charlie, and Foxtrot will retail for $299, $149, $129, and $99 respectively. Unfortunately, the Turtle Beach boys had their lips sealed when I asked about future products. Looks like were just gonna have to keep our ears open for news, stay tuned.


    GoldenEye Reloaded: It's Odd Job, Bitch!

    When GoldenEye Reloaded was announced, I let out a long, drawn out sigh. Another remake we don't need that will probably fail at capturing the magic of the original and end up as a perpetual bargain bin title. GoldenEye was the first-person shooter back in the day, mostly because of the 4-player split screen deathmatches that are near impossible to find in current gen titles. At New York Comic Con yesterday, I got a chance to play the new GoldenEye, and the 4-player deathmatch no less. I came away feeling thoroughly nostalgic and extremely impressed. 

    Aside from the bump up in graphics, many changes and additions have been made, all seemingly for the better. Before we started our match, game altering modifiers were set. In this case we got to play with Paintball mode, a GameStop preorder exclusive that replaces blood stains with multicolored paint. Shoot the rainbow! Once the game got underway, it was all good. Off the bat I noticed how good the control scheme felt in my hands. While many shooters these days take liberties at whipping up their own new control schemes, GoldenEye Reloaded feels along the lines of a Halo or Modern Warfare. As soon as I sat down, I felt right at home. 

    It was very fitting that I was handed a controller which was attached to Odd Job, my favorite twerp from the N64 days. A chat with one of the developers revealed that Odd Job would no longer have his 'unfair' height advantage, where players would say he's too short to be hit. That's right around when I would say "you just suck, step yo' game up!" But alas, this is a moot point now. Aside from having a primary and secondary weapon, Odd Job came equipped with two flash grenades and 3 hats - yup, 3 blade-brimmed domes of spinning death - awesome. My one complaint would be the grenade and hat attack, activated by pressing LB and RB respectively on the 360 control, were a little too slow to leave the hand after pressing the button. The game as a whole is pretty fast paced, so having to wait for your secondary attacks to launch is a bit of a pain.

    I played a Golden Gun match, where the object is to get the Golden Gun! There is only one on the map - clearly marked in your minimap - which you must track down and get kills with. The good thing about the Golden Gun, one shot kills. Conversely the clip can only hold one bullet, so that's a lot of reloading. Unfortunately I didn't get into any slap fights, or give the killer RCP90 a spin, or burn watch lasers, or frustrate dummies with proximity mines. I guess that stuff will have to wait for release.

    GoldenEye Reloaded is due out on November 1. As a retail title, I'm not sure if the game will command $60, as all I had a chance to try was the multiplayer. But rest assured it was a blast, and might be worth the investment a couple weeks after release if you can find it at $45 or so. 


    New York Comic Contra

    It's that time again! New York Comic Con is upon us, and Team OBG will be there to bring you the most excellent coverage found on this side of the interwebz. Be sure to follow @itsOBG on Twitter for live updates and impressions from the show floor, permitting the Javitz Center is cellular data friendly, which it usually isn't. Curses! 

    Anything in particular you'd like to see in our coverage? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter, and I'll make it happen with magic.