qwiddity: (Default)
I bought early-access Godus because I managed to make myself believe for an instant this would be a return to good times had with Populous. Godus is the game 22cans made with funds generated by iOS users crazy enough to fund their previous, depressingly mercenary project-game Curiosity. I didn't like the concept of Curiosity, feeling it traded people's curiosity for money (and gave a random person a sense of importance). A more important question than whether you ought to play Godus would be: "How does Peter Molyneux continue making games?" The answer being foolish people such as myself continue to fund his hit-and-miss efforts. Let's just say I feel foolish for spending money this way, and hope my decision can be redeemed with the full release.

Other terrible Peter Molyneux games include Black & White, B&W2, Fable, Fable 2, Fable 3, and a number of other games which never made it to market (Project Milo). However, excellent Peter Molyneux games include Populous (the reason I bought Godus), Dungeon Keeper... oh and he produced Magic Carpet and the original Syndicate. With a track record like that, it's difficult to say, based on an unknown element of involvement in game design/programming/production, whether future games are worth it. But it's clear projects with Molyneux in a design/programming role suffer less critical acclaim than projects he produces.

For what it offers players for $20, Godus is only slightly less of a one-sided money-making venture than Curiosity, 22cans say they "thoroughly enjoyed developing our dream game", which misses a salient point. If developers enjoy their work more than players enjoy their experience--something is wrong. What's wrong is that the early access release of Godus isn't fun. By their 22cans combined, Tim Rance and Peter Molyneux seem able to ignore all feedback while marketing terrible game after terrible game. Even after Lionhead Studios' failures. This is probably due to the insatiable hunger of stalwart adherents in the United Kingdom and France for more locally-produced endeavour.

Godus isn't fun, because this sandbox game clamours for your attention like a an irritating hallway monitor, while simultaneously demanding action on your behalf to continue functioning. When you attempt to play in your sandbox, you can't move even a grain of sand, for want of not clicking on what you're supposed to. Good grief, don't you know anything? Better flash some icons to spawn modal help windows filled with irrelevant information explaining why you're so stupid you can't understand the highly intricate concept of repeatedly clicking on things while drooling. To put it bluntly, playing this game is like working with Filemaker Pro through a Zynga interface.

They've said with this early access release of Godus that they're aware that the game "involves too much clicking" and that this and other obvious gameplay deficiencies will be remedied in the final release. Perhaps buy the early access edition of Godus if you're especially tired of your current mouse. Or if you need something to ease any Farmville-esque cravings suffered while jonesing for a Facebook dopamine fix. Early access Godus costs $20.00 -- Cookie Clicker is free!

There are so many Godus elements which would be conspicuous by their absence, here is a list:

1. Obvious elements which will be soullessly used to market virtual hats/cards for cash.
2. Obvious game design for mobile platform (to be monetised for extra cash).
3. Obvious design choices to keep players chained to their mouses forever in the hope they'll swipe their credit cards... for extra cash.
4. Game comes with 50% off voucher for a Razer Naga, so you can use all the buttons for clicking.
5. Clicky-clicky-Clicking on subjects' houses to obtain belief.
6. Clicky-clicky-Clicking on subjects' houses to force them outside to build new houses.
7. Clicky-clicky-Clicking on subjects in utter frustration because they won't do the above, and even when they try, their actions occur at well below snail-pace.
8. A game where making yourself multiple coffees isn't an essential element while waiting for ages of civilisation to advance at 1:1 time-scales.
9. Clicky-clicky-Click-dragging to sculpt landscape which expends all your resources, then rubber-bands back into shape rather than being sculpted.
10. Timers which stop randomly for tens of seconds with 1:24 on the clock.
11. Annoying beeps demanding you click on alerts which display modal timeline menu showing things a tooltip could have related more easily.
12. A game extremely derivative of "From Dust", but less visually appealing, or mechanically rewarding.
13. A game which isn't a terrible money-grubbing attempt to have a game to play over your girlfriend's shoulder. Sorry, did I say girlfriend? I meant wife.

To put all this in a less frustrated way: From Dust is much better than Godus, and has a very different pedigree, being designed by Eric Chahi who also designed Another World. From Dust was released in 2011 and is $14.99. Since I enjoy God games, it's best to conclude this review with one which is far superior to and and cheaper than Godus. Have fun playing "From Dust"! :)
qwiddity: (Default)
I don’t make anything or contribute to society in any way, and for

this reason I feel qualified to comment as an authority on everything. So

in the matter of computer games I’d like to point out that however

realistic, lovely and downright astonishing the game engine is, you’re

still a nerd sitting in front of a computer or television getting RSI in

your index finger or thumbs. With that in mind lets consider that games

these days are targeted to 14 year old boys who want to be trained in

professional soldiering. I’d also like to point out that for people to

design and playtest these days, its apparently an requirement for these

occupations to have your sense of fun surgically removed along with the

sense of humour.

Where’s the fun in being trained to do perfect headshots with an

RPG-style system, or pressing the ‘W’ key and watching your character

trudge through the entire World a'la Second Life? I do enough actual, real

driving through the repetitive landscapes of the real, actual world and I

don’t want to have to be doing it in game while I’m asking myself “ get

bored in about 10 minutes after getting out of the vault, the landscapes

were impressive and wonderful. Wonderfully grey and disgusting, that is.

I can’t imagine why anyone would want to spend hours trudging through this

godforsaken place for hours on end the way the game designers thought I

would. Especially at the speed of a lethargic sloth weighed down with 7

suits of “Painspike” armor all of the same type with slightly differing

numbers. My character doesn’t even have a bag to carry anything, why can’t

she even jog? I’m sick of so-called “open-ended” games which won’t let you

customise anything beyond making your face look a little bit like yourself.

If I had a million guesses I doubt I'd manage to work out why the

majority of the size of the game is mp3s of voice actors voice acting their

little hearts out for the sake of non-plot related crap that nobody, I

iterate, NOBODY is interested in. I spent far more time then necessary

clicking through voices I wasn't listening to and reading the lines of text

which weren't advancing the storyline of the game in the slightest. Where

the fun it NOT is reading irrelevant crap that some old lady who lives in a

post-apocalyptic collection of corrugated iron spouts, however nice she is

when she spouts it. She didn't even offer me any tea, so I decided to kill

the entire town.

I also found it slightly delusional that when I killed the owner of

the saloon, whom everyone apparently hated, they still tried to kill me

instead of hailing me as the new owner of said saloon. So I paused the

game, entered the god mode cheat and massacred everyone in the entire town

for pure pettiness. While I was engaged with the massacre I grew

dissatisfied with the non-deformable environments so I used the cheats to

explore the only fun the game had left me. After realising that not even

the nuke-flinging gun worked properly (didn't deform or explode anything

unscripted) I got annoyed by the skating feet and mutant dogs which snuck

up on my character and tried to kill me by gnawing my ankles off completely

silently, not to mention the survivors of the holocaust who pretend they

are young Palestinian freedom fighters taking potshots at Israeli soliders.

Just because the game wants everyone who plays it to imitate a solider

doesn't mean its fun.

For that matter I'd like to ask the inevitable question of where

the fun is in the minimap? Where is anything on the minimap? This is a

game which prides itself on its use of a plot-driven device called the

"Pip-boy" which is straight from the original Fallout, but falls all over

itself trying not to give you the slightly cinematic experience of the

original. Children (none of whom you can kill for being annoying, which is

itself irritating because if you can't kill children in an post-apocolyptic

nuclear war scenario when CAN you kill them?) run up to you when you've

just finished clearing out a building and ask you to go find their parents

cause giant ants have presumably beaten them with wrenches and left them

bleeding in the moonlight. They give an intricate description of where

they live ("Its near the giant billboard!"), but the game steadfastly

refuses to give YOU any directions to wherever the hell these idiots are

talking about and since nobody seems to understand the concepts of distance

and direction using a fucking compass you've got no chance at all of

finding what they are talking about unless you are dead reckoning using

Jesus as your guide, and you literally trip over the one shack they were

talking about under the one giant billboard they meant out of the tens of

identical ones which dot the intricately detailed landscape. Lets not even

talk about the game crashing when I tried to use the instant travel

feature.

So, on to the intricately detailed landscapes. These looked

incredible for about five minutes until I realised its just the same

intricately detailed destroyed things planted over and over and over and

over and over again by a level designer who was probably hoping nobody

would notice. The intricately detailed creatures are the same.

Encountering hideous mutants would be fun if they were few and far between

and offered a decent fight, which they don't. It falls out far short of

expectations and again I was asking myself "Where is the fun in this VATS

system if everything I do is the same?" Basically as soon as the game

kicked me out of the vault I wandered around doing the same thing over and

over (looking in old bins, lockers, coke machines, metal boxes) for cool

stuff and never finding anything, encountering prostitutes who gave me

protection money even though I was a female younger than them (unlikely!),

and wandering around desolate landscapes hoping for some relief from the

monotony sure to depress the hell out of my character and myself and never

finding anything.

I don't mind first person shooters, I quite like role-playing games

on PC's that are fun. This game tries to take the best elements of both

and combine them and winds up failing miserably. It seems like nobody

making this game even cared about having fun. Perhaps their souls are

already dead from the percieved threat of nuclear war, which means they

either didn't play or didn't get the theme of the original Fallout, which

is rather tongue in cheek. I wanted the humour of "Blast from the Past"

with Brendan Fraser and Christopher Walken, and I got "Demolition Man"

without the comedy. This is a game for 14 year old boys, and I hope they

enjoy the hell out of it, because if they don't it'll probably land them in

a psych ward for extreme dissociative depression and the belief that

everything in their sandbox is grey and brown.

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