First off Christian Allen (Serellan) = Cool guy. Had a blast chatting with him during the course of the day, really gave me some interesting info about the games features. I’d really like to thank him for that and like I told him, hopefully what I post now will ease a lot of people’s fears.
I’ll start with a major point, the folks at RSE understand that each platform is different. That’s why they are making an XBOX game for the XBOX and a PC game for the PC. The PC crowd here needs to know that they will get a game designed for their platform, not a direct port. If RSE wanted to they could port it, but do they want to? No. After playing the game today and chatting with people I personally would be happy with the XBOX version I kid you not, it was that good. For anyone who thinks of RSE as sellouts because XBOX took the lead, you can add me to that list too I suppose, they made the right choice. I really can’t wait to see what RSE has in store for us PC gamers, I think we are in a for a real treat that is well worth the wait.
Ok first up graphics. The screenshots and movies released so far do not do this game any justice. I brought my camera today thinking I’d snap photos of stuff on screen. After waiting a bit and watching, I knew it was a waste of time. To get a feel for this game you have to see it and play it yourself. The character models are far superior to GR1’s, and IMO far superior than anything else out there right now. And remember I was looking at them on a large TV running 640x480 resolution, what would they look like at 1024x768 rendered with say my 9800 Pro? Something tells me even better. One neat touch is that as the SP campaign progresses you will start to notice the characters uniforms become worn and dirty. So in the first mission they are all new, and clean and eventually you may notice they are not as pristine anymore (a nice touch that most will probably overlook). It’s amazing the engine could render such wonderful visuals on the XBOX, I was down right amazed. The new particle and explosions effects are very nicely done a nice step-up from what we are used to in GR1.
Up next, SP missions. I was the first person to arrive and met Christian Allen and Casey Keefe (BulletTooth). After a few introductions I got a chance to play the first campaign mission, “Airbase” (the same mission shown at E3). Now what ever you saw in that E3 demo footage forget it, the game does not play like it is portrayed in that movie. Remember the “laser like” tracers? They were only set to every round for that demo, the final build has tracers every 3rd round for assault weapons, every 2nd round for LMG’s (SAW, 240 etc), every round for emplaced weapons, and no tracers for Marksmen weapons Since I had never played an Xbox game before, nor held one of its controllers I was at a huge disadvantage in mission, but I eventually caught on.
Like in the E3 demo I proceeded to encounter tangos manning fixed weapons, I fired some rounds, missed every single tango, but my AI teammates did an excellent job of providing support. On my first run through I was “forced” to use the medic feature when my team was strafed by an enemy helo, the interaction with vehicles should really be a lot of fun and add some new challenges for the players. After treating my wounded teammate and ordering Derrick Parker to eliminate the helo, I moved one. Eventually, well actually like a minute later I was shot, the beginning of what I think will be my grudge against the superb, new AI that RSE has developed.
Remember that OXM article posted a few days ago? From what I saw today the reviewer didn’t find a spawn point, he got flanked just like I did on a number of occasions today. Bad AI? I think not, he just didn’t realized he was the victim of some sneaky tangos. Back to the mission, on my second go I faired better, my AI teammates backed me up and got a bit further, but next thing I know I hear someone (an AI teammate) yell “grenade!”, followed by a loud boom. I turn toward and realize I’m playing “Lone Wolf” with out the M29 lol. The tangos had thrown a frag and taken out all of my back up. D’oh! So I carried on alone trying to complete as much as I could, but again I ended up dead. I finally beat Airbase on my third go around, not bad for an XBOX nOOb.
Airbase and the following mission Pagoda are what you should think of as “live fire” training. They are fairly linear and have more scripted events than later missions. Unlike GR1 where you are thrown right into “Iron Dragon” (Caves map) these missions provide players the time to get a handle on the orders system etc. As you progress further in the campaign you encounter missions that are far more open and true to the classic GR mold. For example later in the day Christian set me up on the third mission “Ambush”. This is a night mission, which feature the British Specialist accompanying the Ghosts. This time around Night missions aren’t nearly as easy, the more realistic NV no longer makes it so the tangos glow in the dark. I had a lot of trouble even seeing them as they patrolled in the forested area. I took my time and patrolled towards the objective area (a convoy stalled on a road), next thing I know I hear and explosion and one member of my team is dead and another wounded. My initial reaction was “was that a mine!?”…bad part…it was something far more deadly, and very mobile. My team was engaged by one of the tanks in the convoy, not by a mounted MG, by the main cannon. I didn’t realize that until I observed it turn the turret towards me and fire easily dealing with me like it had my AI teammates.
I think Christian got a real kick out of seeing a “seasoned” GR player get his butt handed to him. Shoulda seen the look on his face lol. I only played three missions, two of which I didn’t complete because of the AI, and my lack a familiarity with the controls and the XBOX in general (I’m blaming the hardware hehe...for now )
However when Christian demoed the first mission a bit he faired much better, him being able to utilize the orders system effectively makes completing your objectives a bit easier, Even though the team numbers have been reduced, the new order system and improved AI makes up for it. At first I thought reducing the number of teams and total platoon size was a bad idea, I don’t believe that anymore.
Mission briefings(in SP, I didn’t play any missions in MP) are no longer just written text, they include a full cinematic movie with the Ghost who were on that mission being interviewed. Basically it’s a documentary film, so the objective behind the mission is outlined by the Ghosts(it was kinda of hard to hear what they were saying so with the 7 other TV’s going). This documentary is hosted by the lone returning Ghost from GR1, who is that you may ask? Not gonna say..sorry
Next on the list the AI. They are greatly improved for both your teammates and the enemy. They will now use cover very effectively and also peek around corners just like the player will. I got a kick out of seeing Nick Salvatore peek around a corner to engage a tango hidden behind his own bit of cover. Something tells me firefights are going to be a little more interesting this time around. Unlike GR1, the AI will now actively seek cover points and figure out ways to attack you, analyze choke points etc.
On a number of occasions I was down right embarrassed by these guys, most notably when trying lonewolf mode I lost track of a single tango. I kinda wondered where he ran off too but continued to engage a few others in front of me, the missing tango down right snuck up next to me and that’s all she wrote. I can only imagine what waits in later missions. Your AI teammates now will use frags a lot more often than the 1 in a million chance in GR1.
What next what next… Maps I suppose. I got to see a number of them, including Bunkers, Ghost Village, Peninsula (a small map, full of lots of fog and rain), Warzone, Lost Convoy, Mountain Falls and Ancient Ruins. Each one offers something different, Ancient Ruins for example is a nicely wooded map that should make for some fun games. But of the group I think Bunkers will become the most played of them all, defiantly a cool one.
The dedicated MP maps feature a bit more foliage, trees etc than the SP maps due to the fact that the MP maps won’t have to handle large amounts of AI, this allowed the map makers to push the hardware a bit more. But trust me, the SP maps are not sparsely wooded, they feature a lot more than GR1. Included in a few of the maps is a dynamic skybox, with moving clouds (I’m unsure if the sun moves because I didn’t observe it). Looking forward to seeing the rest of the maps later on!
Ok a few things on weapons. The only suppressed weapon in the Xbox launch version are the M9SD and Colt.45 SD, everything else is loud. The weapons are fairly balanced, the only true super gun that I could see was the M29. Doesn’t is suck to go on servers only people are only using SA80’s and OICW’s (without GL’s)? This time around the weapons are far more balanced, each with their own strengths, no “super duper” weapon of choice now.
The M29 was a blast to use, the airburst grenades were fairly simple, point at a target, lock in the range by hitting a button, fire grenade. Simple. Effective. Deadly. And a blast to use! In Lone Wolf you can also call in Air strikes in a similar fashion, you target and object hold down a button, and the air support rolls in. You have to make sure you use this ability wisely as after the aircraft drop their payload they are unavailable for a duration of time.
Related to weapons is reloading, switching kit etc. All of these actions and the times it takes to complete them are based on the animations. When RSE did the motion capture with the SF guys, the speed at which they did the actions is what you see in game. For example, when switching to AT the animation takes a lot longer than switching to frags or a pistol, because of this the time to switch is alt longer. I saw on a few occasions’ people getting shot because they were stuck trying to switch to the MAAWS.
Heck since I started talking animation here’s a few more tidbits, the combat roll in FP view doesn’t actually make the screen “roll”, in testing it was found to make people dizzy so it was replaced with a meter similar to switching weapons. Also a new crawl animation was added, the fast crawl allows a player to move forward faster but the will not cradle their weapon as it is done for real. While fast crawling and combat rolling you cannot fire your weapon.
A few misc. things I’m just remembering: No medic in MP, it was found during testing that most people didn’t stop to heal their teammates, you may be disappointed but do you want to be the guy stuck on the ground rolling around in “pain” while the other folks on the server leave you there? I wouldn’t. Also air strikes are no in MP, they were found to be buggy, and just imagine 10 air strikes at once, can you say server crash?
Here’s the big one. With the upgrade of the engine it has been assumed there is an IGOR2 that has been developed along with it. That is very much the case! The GR2 projects codename was/is “Stonewall” and that helped to coin the editor’s name “StoneEd”. “StoneEd”, based upon IGOR, is still a very powerful scripting tool, with some user-friendly additions. For example, trying to make an AI use a mounted weapon in IGOR takes about 4-5 plan steps, with StoneEd it only takes one. Simple things like that probably make it a lot less “boring”, and much easier to use than IGOR.
A very important note! Even though we now know the program exists, we do not know when or if it will be released to the community. Do not assume it will ship with the game, basically don’t assume anything, and especially don’t starting getting angry/upset at RSE, we as a community will have to wait it out and see what happens.
All and all I’m totally sold that Red Storm is still the best at what they do. They care for the community, and respect how die-hard and passionate many of us are. Once people who have doubts play this game I’m pretty sure they will be singing a different tune. My hats off to the team at RSE for continuing to produce quality work for us gamers to enjoy. And again thanks to Christian Allen for taking the time to chat with me today, much appreciated!