I picked up EA/Criterion's Black yesterday, and put it through its paces a bit.
I've been waiting for this title for some time, from the EA-purchased Criterion Software (the folks behind the Burnout franchise).
Black wants to do for the FPS genre what Burnout does for the racing/wrecking genre -- make it loud, ridiculously unrealistic, and a ton of fun.
Based on the premises "if Hollywood can make a handgun sound like a Howitzer, why can't we", and "the bullets are the heroes", Black has been described as "gun porn" and "The Matrix lobby scene".
So how does it play?
I mean, the wanton destruction is good fun. The guns are gorgeous. Slowly chipping away at a concrete pylon is impressive.
But I have two big pet peeves in gaming:
- Stupid AI
- Bad usability
On the stupid AI front, I don't like coming down staircase and seeing one of my squadmates (who I can't control) and a terrorist standing -- barrel to barrel -- blasting away at each other until one of them falls down.
That's stupid AI.
I can't remember who died first, but I killed the other one out of spite.
I'm hoping Online Alchemy does something genuinely innovative with their "ground-breaking AI technology for use in next-generation massively multiplayer online games as well as training and other applications."
Hey, how cool would it be if developers could license AI engines and toolkits for other games, like Project Offset and Epic Games do for the Offset and Unreal Engine for graphics, and Havok does for its physics engine?My second major pet peeve is basic usability problems.
In Black, this plays out when you start up the game and can't skip the developer and publisher spalsh screens. Worse, I watched the opening "thetrical credits" cinematic when I first watched the game, and thought it was really cool. Later, when I restarted the game, I was annoyed that I couldn't skip it.
Worse, when I created a new profile for some friends, I had to watch the mission cinematic in total, and couldn't skip it. And it's looong ...
Skipping cinematics and splash screens is basic stuff, and really noticeable when it's missing (and when the unskippables are long and/or suck; at least in Black they don't suck).
There are also some unneeded extra steps in the options and profile creation set up that are unneeded.
The menus are slick, however.
Oh, and there was some weirdness in the game where the game controlled super slow. Not stuttering, but almost like my guy was underwater. Annoying, that.
I'm only about 30 minutes into the game, so it remains to be seen if these things will keep me from enjoying the game.