mandag, januar 30, 2006

Heroes V Public Beta (PC game)

These impressions have not been posted on the official forum as most of these issues have already been discussed. This is simply my impressions of the beta.

First of all I would like to thank Ubisoft for the public beta. And I would put a finger on all the people who complain about the beta.

a. not having a single player option
b. Having copy protection

For all Ubisoft let all of us play this game before its out for free. Of course in the interest of making the game better and more popular, but still – it’s a gift that is not too normal in the gaming world. More public betas of games!!! More!

Copy protection. Yes I don’t like this protection much either. But again – copy protections have been around almost as long (or longer?) as viruses. So why complain about it?

Now to the game itself.

Graphics are gorgeous! The 3D is so nice, I almost rock myself over. The graphic is dedicated to give the HOMM feel. The only problem with the free 3D design is that it is easy to miss certain items or armies on the map. To solve this with partial transparency or leaving this as is to keep the player more on the edge with exploring? I don’t really know – the option to choose would be nice?

Impressions of sound are not much as they are not well implemented in this beta. But I expect sound and music to be really good in the final game

The game plays were tight to HOMM 3 game play. When they made HOMM 4 they changed the game play a lot by adding and changing core game elements and adding new elements. These elements came from other evolving games that in fact did these “improvements” very well. Mostly the team does not need a hero, or can have several heroes.

In HOMM4 the heroes universe got a whole new feel. Personally I don’t think it was too bad. The major issues with HOMM4 was that the game was not well enough balanced and that the new graphic was too much trying to fanzy 14 year old girls with its “My Little Ponny/Barbie Girl” look. And of course it was not Heroes as we knew it anymore.

The decision to go back to HOMM3 style is probably a good one. However I do feel that in this beta a few of the tinkering has been removed as well so we truly get a less is less or more game. Not that much tough and all the new graphics and redesign of interfaces will make up for it. And there will be plenty of time for expansions.

Many of the people that came up with the wrong ideas for HOMM4 are the same people complaining about stuff this time around!

HOMM5 plays like a charm, yes it requires a good spec PC and this does kill all the lo spec players. But hey – Windows Vista is around the corner – time to upgrade to a decent 3D card anyway!

Since many of the HOMM gamers a people with low spec machines and it is also one of the few games that attract girls. Ubisoft will probably loose some costumers by making the spec so high and not having a low end solution (software renderer or something)

Trying to play the game in multiplayer with a low time limit gonna make the game a pain as you hardly will have time to do anything. On the other side – the wait for the other players is a drag. And I mean Drag! In hotseat it is ok as you see and interact with the other players. Online its plain boring. To compensate for this Ubisoft plan to implement something of a ghost mode. For what I have heard of it – it’s a way to interact rather dirty on the other players. So I would strongly go against this mode.

To look into a game that did simultaneously moves extremely well (as well as balancing and implementing other interesting elements) is the original Age of Wonders. I recommend Age of Wonders for all of you – if you can get hold of it nowadays. Do not go for the shitty sequel.

The other way to cut down waiting time would be to let the player plan next move, or look at more options, or even cooler – play (plug in based!) mini games during waiting. Space invaders, Tetris, a game of cards or anything you want!

There has been a rage about the size of the battlefields. I must disagree with all the people that say that the battlefield is too small. Making it bigger will only make us players waste time for moving the monsters to get to the other side. I strongly disagree with the people that has gathered together and forced the game to be redesign with a bigger battlefield.

I just hope it will not ruin the game.

The battlefields are using squares instead of hex-diagonal fields which I feared would be shitty. But indeed the new squares work just as well, and that is an excellent achievement.

One real concern in the end: Resource management seem to be really tight maybe too tight and this will lead to less options in freedom of playing styles as well as a “small” mistake in the beginning of the game will lead to instant death 5 hours later.

And I hate games that compensate this with the “pretend to add more gamplay by adding a marketplace” option. No no no! Resource collection is good but not when its too tight and Marketplaces sucks!

After all this gibberish talk: HOMM5 is a charm. Its beautiful, addicting and ready to waste plenty of hours of our lives.

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