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June 4, 2008

Meat Shields and Mayhem.

It would seem that I was wrong. I will now offer an official Gears of War 1.75 classification, as opposed to the 1.5 I had given it earlier. The new multiplayer details announced by IGN state that new weapons, more execution options, an ability to block chainsaws/retaliate, and other things will be included.

That's all fine and dandy, but I still hold that none of this makes it a sequel. I suppose you can justify it by saying that the story progresses, as it does with Rainbow Six Vegas 2; but honestly. Gears of War's story? Who would even want to use that as an argument.

I will probably give in to peer pressure and buy this thing when it comes out, and I have to admit that the new pistol and improved Boltok specs sound interesting. Returning maps are the super-popular Gridlock, and the DLC Subway, also known as "map of a thousand ways to roll into the abyss and run around pissing people off".

You may not have been aware of it before, but the Hammerburst was one of the most overpowered weapons in the game. Firing incredibly accurate and quick burst shots, an experienced Hammerburst user could easily have you down in seconds, popping your knees and melee'ing to finish it off. It's brutal, efficient, and fairly easy. And now it appears they've gone and made it even more powerful. Sounds like a lot of fun.

My point is, they've managed to add a lot of new features. That's a good step in the right direction for really fleshing the game out, and I'm glad they took it. The problem that remains is still in the technical parts. Will Gears continue to trade performance and color range for super-detailed bump mapping? Have the idiots at Epic figured out how to write proper netcode? What use is all the new features if we still have a pile of glitched-out shit when the dust settles? How will they balance all the new features out, when it took them over a year and a half to get it marginally acceptable the first time?

I point to a quote from user Mr_Shingles at the IGN boards, who sums up my position fairly well:

"Gears of War was a flawed game. It was built on an engine designed specifically to look better than it actually performs (hence heavy texture pop-ins and lack of diverse color palettes). The game's online netcode is some of the worst ever conceived, resulting in rampant bandwidth wasting, poor usage of combined processing power, and extremely limited application. Tweakable settings are minimal, the lobby system is terrible. Lag/"host advantage" caused by stupid and lazy programming puts heavy strain on host's connection. When the host DOES have an acceptable connection, game performance is fine, but the host then gains enough of a speed boost to dominate the match uncharacteristically. Because all actions must pass through the host's router (the central hub), all outside connections take twice as long to transmit data to other players compared to the host. The host's packets only travel half as far, because the data originates at the host router, so no time is wasted transferring data twice.

These flaws also allowed for the game's many glitches, more than I have ever seen in any triple-A rated game before. Not only does the flawed multiplayer design make it nearly impossible for Epic Games to make a permanent fix for these problems, it is the reason why players can keep on making up new ways to break the game.

That's not even getting into balancing issues, incredibly stupid enemy AI in campaign, and the generally uninspired drivel that was campaign. "

Has Cliffy "The Bitch" Blezinski learned from his rookie entry? Will we finally have balanced gameplay, functioning multiplayer, and actual features? That all remains to be seen in the coming months; and I really do hope that I'm proven wrong. For Gears of War 1.75 to be an amazing game would make me really happy, because although I love to hate on the original, it had some great ideas that I hope have been polished and upgraded.

Hit the link for the IGN article that inspired this post.

Disagree? Think I write like a monkey with Alzheimer's? Post a comment!


Tha Pirateninja said...

I read both articles, and while I do think a lot of the new features are pretty cool, it won't matter if Gears still sucks. I'll still play it but I will make it known to everybody around me as often as possible that it's good, but will never be great. I'm glad Subway is returning, that was my favorite map, but only keeping two old maps? I understand they wanted a bunch of new maps, same here, but they shouldn't sacrifice fan favorites to do so. Ah, whatever, I just hope this game doesn't FLAT OUT suck.

Tha Pirateninja said...

Oh yeah, aren't you unbanned tomorrow night at midnight?

ben said...

As far as I know I am.

Did you change my tags, or did Josh?

Tha Pirateninja said...

Must have been Josh.

Ben said...

I've got to talk to you sometime today. Hopefully I'm unbanned.

Anonymous said...

Yes we do need to talk about what you think we should do with the tags.