The Declining Nature of Valve’s Games

it’s safe to say that Valve are one of the best game developers in the industry and have been for many years, with games life the ‘Half Life’ series and mods like ‘Counter Strike’ winning multiple awards from multiple sources. However during more recent times it seems like Valve is slowly losing their prestigious status amongst the gaming crowd and fewer and fewer of their games reach the status of those that came before them.

Some would blame this on the fact that Valve continue to use what is largely an outdated engine to make their games, I am of course talking about the Source engine. Take L4D as an example, on the Xbox 360 the game doesn’t look all that good especially in co-op mode. The game also suffers from occasional frame rate drops and texture problems. The Source engine has been a massive impact on why Valve became the respected company that they are, but it might also be the reason for their recent decline. Gamers always want to be introduced to new things, and with various companies pushing the boundaries even further it’s no wonder Valve is losing some footing.
Another reason for the declining public buzz about valve’s titles, is their semi-archaic design. While this may have worked in Valve’s favour back in 1998 and 2004, the old style of design simply won’t cut it in this day and age. Not being able to use the down sights, is just one example of the incredibly basic design of Valve’s FPS model. With games like ‘Call Of Duty 4′ captivating the public eye for so long, it’s easy to see why people expect their FPS’s to play in a similar way- Now I’m not saying every FPS should play like COD4, but at least incorporate some of the features that are now in every staple shooter.
And the third reason I believe Valve are declining is simply due to their work output, it’s become very apparent that the company needs to grow in number to still remain competitive in this business. The world still awaits Half Life 2:Episode 3 to which valve say they are still working one, excuse me but how long is it taking? I know valve are all about quality and whatnot, but it’s simply unrealistic to keep the public waiting that long for a new game. It’s no surprise why valve are releasing ‘Left4Dead 2′ so soon (to negative public reaction), the company needs to get games out there which they weren’t doing. Not only that but they struggle to develop on more than one platform, let alone on 3.
I think I’ve laid out my reasons as to why Valve are in a slow and steady decline, feel free to agree or disagree in the comment section. Thanks.

Top 5 – Most Anticipated Upcoming Games of 2009

The year is still a few months away from closure, but don’t be fooled into thinking the best games have come and gone, no way – The best is yet to come, this list is a countdown of the top 5 biggest titles that are yet to be released.

This realistic war sim for the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 claims to ‘put the Fear back into first Person Shooters’ this is one shooter that will be gunning for the top spot this year. With tons of true-to-life military weapons, vehicles and equipments, countless military tactics employed straight from the US military tactics manual, a punishing health system and more hair pulling features – This is not a game for the faint of heart. Boasting gritty realism as it’s selling point, Codemasters Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising is one to watch.

Sequel to the hugely successful ‘Assassins Creed’, this time players will embark on a dangerous yet slightly romanticised journey with out new favourite dual-bladed assassin, Ezio’. However not keen on falling into the same traps the first game did, the sequel boasts a ton of variety ranging from side missions to hidden collectibles. With a new notoriety system players will also have to watch their actions carefully, or risk becoming the most wanted in the land. It doesn’t stop there, Ubisoft have also included an economy system into the game, players will now be able to purchase services and weapons to further customise the gameplay. This game is hitting all the right marks.

An expansion pack it may be, but it’s absolutely worth your time, not only does this come packed with a whole new single player campaign from a whole new perspective. Bungie have also thrown in numerous new maps, weapons, and a whole new ‘firefight’ gamemode, this is one expansion pack that will keep you glued to your seats. Just remember to pick this up when it launches on the 22nd of September.

Sequel to the platinum selling PS3 exclusive Uncharted: Drake’s fortune, this game automatically earns a spot in this list. Among Thieves will take us on a journey to new heights, with unparalleled visuals, stunning attention to detail and an all new multiplayer mode, Uncharted 2 is looking great. Does fortune truly favor the bold?

The top spot is reserved for the sequel to the game that won countless game of the year awards in 2007, the game that won 3 BAFTA awards at the annual ceremony back in March, the game that has been voted on many people’s lists as one of the greatest games ever made – It’s self explanatory really if Activition can pull of a similar feat with this new game, it could very well break even more records, so far‘Modern Warfare 2′ is looking sharp and I can’t wait to get my hands on it. With an expanded multiplayer mode and a guaranteed engaging storyline – this could very well be GOTY 2009.

Sony Silences Price Critics, Gains Holiday Season Lead

With the launch of the PS3 ‘slim’ on the 18th of August and the announcement of the price cut to the original PS3 system, Sony effectively cancelled out the ever-persistent hurdle that has stood in the way of their system – The price.
Since inception, the main reason people have refused to purchase a PlayStation 3 system has been becomes of the amazingly ridiculous price point for what is effectively a games system. At $299 the PS3 and PS3 Slim are now cost effective and if you consider all the features included – relatively cheap.
This puts Sony in the #1 spot for the Holiday season, with the price cut, the launch of the PS3 Slim and PSP Go, and the release of various high-priority exclusives like Uncharted 2 and Gran Turismo 5 – Not to mention the already existing back catalogue of great games, Sony is looking to end 2009 with a bang.

With the main obstacle in the way of Sony now annihilated, sales of the PS3 system will sky-rocket in these last few months. And with the lingering buzz around Sony’s PS3 Slim and the price cut, the spot-light is very much on Sony right now, and we all know that translates into sales. The funny thing about this is, the general public are yet to get the full gist of things, the moment the mass public realise what is going on the effect will be very clear.
What does this mean for the PS3? is this a sign of things to come? is Sony going right to the top? As things stand the PS3 is basically cheap considering the features it comes included with at a meager price point of $299 - It’s what people have screamed for and it’s finally here. 

Operation Flashpoint 2, Realism is key

The up-coming tactical military shooter, Operation Flashpoint 2, currently being developed by the Codemasters team, is based heavily on one thing, and that is ‘realism’.

Aside from features that are not present in the game that are now pretty much mainstream in FPS games, such as re-generating health, the games also boasts a highly realistic damage model.
Not only is one bullet enough to send you back home in a body bag, depending on where it strikes you, but apparently the Codemasters dev team are actually studying realistic combat wounds, for use in the game. Attention to detail is key.
A.I. The Artificial Intelligence in this game is to be top-tier, not only will enemies put up a serious fight, using cover tactics and flanking, they will also fall back and re-group when out-gunned. Enemies use real-world tactics in virtually everything they do, if they are retreating you can expect them to toss a nice masking smoke grenade in your face, blocking out your view of them and their path.
Furthermore, the scale of the combat proves to be a main feature of the game, a persistent war is going on in the background, and yes you can get involved in these random skirmishes.
The scale of combat also filters into the sounds and environments of warfare, bullets will whizz past your head, and rip through the air around you, the games features real shock and awe, with mechanized weaponry looking scarily detailed.
 Dismemberment. As I’ve said before this game is going out to show what war is really like, we would all love it if war, was a pillow fight with intervals of cake and multi-coloured jelly beans, but the reality of war is entirely different, limbs get blown off, and people are cut in half by gun-fire, hopefully the developers don’t pull a ‘Soldier of Fortune:Payback’ with this game, were the gore is severely exaggerated, but from the looks of it, they are keeping it modest and realistic.
 These are just some of the realistic features of Operation Flashpoint 2, I haven’t even touched on the realistic ballistics model, destructable environments or the sheer sense of freedom yet.

Back to the drawing board for Capcom

To put it short and relatively simple, Resident Evil 5 is rubbish. There I said it, if you are a fan of the game and the series, that is great and I hope you continue to enjoy the game, however there is a clear sign of lazy developer values, and utterly poor gameplay.

Where do I start? there are so many problems with this game it’s unimaginable, firstly the co-op buddy A.I of Sheva is brain dead, “no wait”, that’s an understatement it’s worse than brain dead. either she prefers to stand helplessly around, watching me get attacked by monsters and packs of ravaging “zombies”, or she would waste precious ammo on small and easy enemies, so when the big bosses come into play, she is out of ammo. How convenient.
Playing with a friend however solves that issue, but shouldn’t Buddy A.I be one of the forefronts of any co-op experience?

What next…the controls are an absolute pain to get to grips with, I found myself fighting with the controls half the time, if Capcom thought broken controls will add to the tension, they are horribly mistaken, all it does is frustrate the player, it could and should have been more streamlined. Outdated controls more suited to a survival horror game, don’t work in an action horror game, because that is what RE5 is Action horror.

Capcom clearly decided to sit on their laurels and release a game that is almost entirely identical to RE4 from a gameplay perspective, but this is totally unjustified in a 2009 release, not only is the shooting frustrating, the sluggish movement and knife controls top it all off. I guess you could say the main issues with Resident evil 5, are the poor controls and terrible friendly A.I, more than enough to render any game useless.

It’s not a completely bad game, but some of the design choices are extremely baffling, and once again linking back into the controls, during some segments of the game, you are required to dodge attacks from sub-merged creatures, now in most games you would use a nicely placed dodge button to carry out this maneuver, but in Resident Evil 5 you don’t, instead silly QTE are required to dodge the attacks, another sign of poor design choices.

In conclusion, I believe strongly that Capcom should return to the planning stages, and think things though, what do they plan on doing with the series? because as it stands Resident Evil 5 is a poor attempt at action horror, let alone survival horror. I have this thought, if Resident Evil 5 wasn’t made by Capcom, or a continuation of the great RE story, but instead a new release by a different studio, with a different name…would people even take a glance at it?