Sunday, 30 October 2011

Battlefield, I am not angry, just disappointed (and angry)

 

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fish[2]It is said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, if this is true then I think right now Infinity Ward and Treyarch would be blushing. Having finally gotten my hands on Battlefield 3 after months of excitement and anticipation, I can’t quite get the bad taste out of my mouth. 

I have just finished the single player campaign of BF3 and a couple of times I felt that I should check the box to make sure it definitely says Battlefield. The single BF3_M136_AT4player is very linear, extremely scripted and, shudder, has at least half a dozen instant death situation with “in game cut scene” where if you don’t do exactly what the game wants, you die. This is not to say it isn’t enjoyable, but if you have played the previous COD games, you have pretty much already played it. It even has an attempt to stir a controversy, much like MW2’s No Russian level, where you are a running through the streets of Paris, shooting cops that are in your way.

The best example of the single player is that at one point you are lead out onto the deck of an aircraft carrier and climb into a fighter jet. So you are thinking this is going to be awesome zooming around the skies, however you are just the co-pilot, and you job it to enjoy the view and point the reticule at the enemy fighter jet and fire. If that sounds cool to you, then the single player is your kind of game. However if you are disappointed by the lack of freedom and options from a developer renowned for their large multiplayer maps and use of vehicles (you get to use a tank “properly” for a bit), then you will have had your hopes dashed like me.

Ah the multiplayer, finally I get to the meat of it. Me and Hex had a good go at it last night. When we found a full server it is amazing, the game genuinely feels like an actual battle, rockets firing, buildings collapsing and the constant sound of gunfire. It is still remarkably well balanced too, some people have clearly hammered it and were much higher levels than us, but it never felt unfair. Though a word of warning, it does not reinvent the wheel. If you didn’t like Bad Company 2, chances are you won’t like Battlefield 3. They have, well I think it wouldn’t be unfair to say perfected, their multiplayer. It’s action pack, frantic, exciting and crucially you never feel you have no influence on the battle (unlike the single player). There are ample opportunities for last second revives, sneaky point captures and to get the drop on the enemy.Battlelog

But (oh you so knew that was coming) it took a few attempts to find a server that wasn’t laggy as hell. However the game has not been out long and I can forgive that. What I can’t forgive is Battlelog (oh this is the PC version I am talking about, should I have mentioned that before?). Battlelog is EA’s stat tracking service, however on the PC it is so much more than this (not a good thing). Allow me to guide you through the process of getting into a multiplayer match. You click on the game in Origin (oh yeah you need Origin to play the game, really not sure why) and the game doesn’t load, the battlelog website loads. From here you can choose the single player, the co-op (more on that in a bit) or the multiplayer. You cannot play any part of the game without going through the website, Ea-Originif the thought “but that’s stupid” has just run through your mind, congratulations you are human.

So from there you can click quick match, though on the 2 times I have tried it the first it dumped me on a server all by myself and the second it dropped me into a server with 15 other people, so I would recommend the server browser. Find a server, click join and then the browser add on (you installed the add on already I take it) will load the game. It was at this point when I could add hex to my server, though there doesn’t appear to be anyway set up specific squads or even change sides. And if you want to change servers you have to exit the game, find a different server on the website and then re-launch the game. I am a man with a not inconsiderable amount of hate to go around, and at the moment a large chunk of it is pointed at Battlelog.

At best it is awkward, annoying and a pain to use, at worst there are features it doesn’t explain and just don’t work. I am guessing this is EA’s attempt to limit piracy, but once again the faithful gamers have to put up with shit, that the pirates can funny-glitches-from-the-battlefield-3-beta-300x168easily bypass. Gah I am seething just thinking about it. Ok deep breaths.

Were was I, oh yeah co-op. There are a serious of co-op missions, which seems fairly diverting but nothing that exciting. They are not dissimilar to the Spec Ops mode in Modern Warfare (which is, entirely coincidentally, coming back for MW3), however the are need to be either shorter or have some sort of checkpoint system as me and Mr stand in the open and get shot repeatedly , erm Hex, struggled to complete one.

Sigh I was excepting Battlefield 3 to be my game of the year, but that isn’t going to be the case. My hope is that the lag a lot of servers experience will be sorted by patches, and that they will figure out ways to improve the Battlelog. However they have built an amazing, if demanding, engine that looks fabulous and the destruction engine is capable of changing a battle from one second to the next (as I found out when  I ducked behind an ineffectual wall when I saw a tank). The multiplayer is worth the effort, when you hit the sweet spot, erm server, and you are running at the flag with gun fire pinging all around you, you know that DICE are still superior to all their competitors.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Order & Chaos or as i call it - pocket WoW

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hex

It has finally happened, my mobile phone can now do something that my PC can’t. It can allow me to play an MMO on the go (happy-poopy-time). Thanks to those semi skilled folks at Gameloft and of course the now mandatory Halloween games sales I have purchased Order & Chaos (and a 3 month subscription) for a very reasonable price.

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The game usually retails on the Android market for a hefty £4.99 but this week was available for a modest 69p ($0.99) so, I decided that it was worth a few penny's to try the premium mobile MMO. (this game has NO f2p option at all)

Firstly I was shocked to find that the ~3meg client wanted to do an update to SD card that was over 600 megabytes. I left this on overnight (wifi) not that it would have taken that long at all however it would have killed my data plan (I believe it was wifi only though)

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The game allowed me to log in with my Gameloft LIVE details (seriously game loft, get original names for stuff) and surprised me with the information that I have a subscription that sees me into 2012 with ease (and the world ends in 2012 so that’s okay) the subscription prices are more than fair for a mobile game of this type so i was all set to begin my exploration of the game.

The game its self runs flawlessly on my HTC sensation (even thought some people had commented in the market that this handset misbehaved) it played the game for about an hour, in the world of phone games an hour is like a week so its safe to say that i liked it.

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Now, I don’t intentionally mean to be negative here but the game is as far as i can tell World of Warcraft inspired to the point of legal issues. but for some strange reason it works as an android game.

The controls are natural and fluid, as i have come to expect from Gameloft titles and as i said the game is pretty much WoW mobile so there is very little to report there.

Lots of people on the forums have been saying that you can not play the game over 3G/4G but i have had no problems with this at all, the game does abuse my battery though so long periods of gaming are not advised without some cans of electricity at hand (or a charger, whatever)

I can not make any judgments about the long term appeal of the game at the moment but I am hoping that it diversity's a little and steps away from the heavy WoW similarity's as i play through. i can say for certain though that this is the most polished and well presented MMO on android or indeed any mobile platform (it is available on IOS also)

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TL DR – Its good but I’m not sure if its a lasting love. Is there even time to play an MMO on a phone?

WoW I should have cherished my mmo friends

 

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fish[2]I have just had a very nice meal with a few people from work, and it (like so much I do) got me thinking about games and mmo's. The reason behind this thinking is that the people whose company I have just share, only really have one thing in common, our work. So while I had a pleasant time, the conversation revolved around people who we used to work with, funny things that happened at work etc.

imagesIt occurred to me that surely mmo friends are not so different from work friends (no, I am not going to moan that mmo’s are jobs). Having at one time meet up with some World of Warcraft friends, I can't help but remember that we pretty much just talked about stuff we did in WoW. If anything mmo friends are probably even harder to relate to than work colleagues, because they all predominately enjoy doing the same thing, at least with work colleages there is a chance of discovering someone cool.

The problem with mmo friends is that is that they only love the game, so when it comes to stopping playing, the friendships tend to die off, much like the friendship with workmates. It just seemed odd to me that you can speak to Karazhanpeople on a daily basis for years (as I did when playing WoW at it’s peak) but those connections are now lost to me. from my WoW days I have one friend I see on the odd occasion and one who I follow on twitter. Much like in my working life the only person I have contact with from previous jobs it my fellow blogger Hex.

I guess it seems a shame to me that we make all these connections that are doomed not to last. With connections through work, they are, erm forced i guess, upon you. However whenever we play a mmo we are volunteering ourselves for friendships that have a good chance of not lasting. One could argue that if you play a mmo, you love all games and that is a significant commonality. However mmo’s have very wide player bases and we all have know people who only play mmo’s, and a lot of them only play the 1 game.

What I am saying is if you make a connection in a mmo, and you find yourself talking about movies, or comics or, I dunno, rock climbing, that you both enjoy and have a passion for, try and keep that friend, as they are rarer than you might think.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

I am Mystified as to why they would choose Pandaria

 

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fish[2]I am quite annoyed with myself. A few months ago it was leaked that Blizzard had trademarked Mists of Pandaria. Blizzard denied that this was going to be the name of the new World of Warcraft expansion, however, lo and behold it was.

PandarenvillageThe reason I am annoyed with myself is that having seen the new launch trailer, I am pretty confidant that I could have written a blog predicting the expansions new features and nailed most, if not all of them. This is not because I am some kind of super genius (i am, but it embarrasses others when I say so), more that the expansion details seem remarkably generic and unsurprising. Lets do the list, new continent, new race, eastern/asian theme, a new class (that shares a name and probably more with a Diablo 3 class), new pvp area and 5 more levels. Any surprises? Well the fact that the new race, the Pandarians (asian panda people essentially) are able to choose to diablo-3-monk-skillsgo either alliance or horde is interesting, though this smacks of just being easier than creating one new race for each faction. The only other vaguely unexpected change is the pet battles, but given the introduction of tanks and such in previous expansions I suppose it is the next logical step.

Am I even remotely excited about Mists of Pandaria? Nope, not at all, in any way. It is 100% an expansion for people who love WoW and don't see/are willing to ignore it's flaws. I don't think it will do anything about the end game Raid grind, the unbalanced pvp and dull gear focused system.

It is a shame as Blizzard really do  create lovely world and entertaining quests, but I just can't shake the feeling that there will be no point playing Mists, because I already know what the new areas will look like, what the characters will be and what the quests involve. I also know, perhaps most importantly, that if I did level my 85 character to 90 I would be stuck with boring dungeon grind, again.

CataclysmlogoCataclysm very cleverly stroked my nostalgia gland, so even though I didn't really want to go back to Warcraft, I really wanted to see how the fondly remembered areas had changed. This time when I see screen shots of pandas doing kung fu, my brain instead turns to scorn and  disappointment in a once great developer who now seem content to just coast along.

Desura – Hipster gaming store, you've probably never heard of it.

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hex As I mentioned in my last blog, I brought a rather well priced indie bundle from that internet place, you know the one.. the internet.

The games could be redeemed on both Steam and a newer service called Desura, well, what has shocked me is that this Desura service is, pretty great. It offers mostly indie games at very reasonable prices.

There are a few games i heard of a while back but I pretty much exclusively shot on steam but this service has some great titles so I think I will be investigating further.

One of the titles that made me raise my overly geek infested eyebrow was ‘To the Moon’ one of the many games that I notices a while back. Just one of the many ‘story’ games that the indie folk churn out that never quite hits the mainstream gaming populous. There are so many other titles that i have not even heard of but I am sure are excellent and just need more momentum to ‘break through’.

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Desura does not look to be set to replace Steam but It maybe THE store to get your indie fix from.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

cheap as chips indie games (literally)–Indie Royale

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hex My local chip shop sells a large bag of chips for £1.60, I just brought 4 awesome indie titles for £1.52. I must confess that my blogging partner in crime Mr Fish (@Hangmansj0e)  is the one who first alerted me to the deal via twitter.

The Indie Royale website is offering a pack of four indie games for £1.52 at the moment, according to the website as people purchase the it, the games will rise in price slowly, encouraging you to buy early.

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The pack includes:

A.R.E.S Extinction Agena

Gemini Rue * the one I REALLY wanted *

Sanctum

Nimbus

Any one one these games is worth the money but together they are an amazing bargain. The website is http://www.indieroyale.com/#1 and I suggest you buy it right now!

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Three of the four games can be redeemed on steam however all four can be redeemed on a service i have never heard of called Desura (it does seem quite good, very indie friendly)

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

I may Netflix through it by I will probably keep Loving Film

 

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fish[2]Apparently Netflix is coming to the UK very soon and as Brits (as I am sure you have realised by now) I thought now we be a good time to look at an existing service that I have been using for quite some time. Now from what I understand Netflix is a pay monthly service that will deliver TV shows and movies directly to your HD console of choice.

I have been using the similar Love Film for over a year now,  which has a selection of films that can be streamed to either a PC or a PS3.  The big difference being that they deliver physical media via the post as well. So for about £12 pound a month I can have games or films delivered to my door in addition to the online films. With the incoming competition from Netflix, should Love Film, and indeed their parent company Amazon, be concerned?

Perhaps, though the pricing for Netflix had yet to be confirmed it does look lovefilm-ps3-900x505liked it will be less than what Love Film is currently charging. Also if the American Netflix is anything to go by, it should have a significantly larger database of videos than Love Film's current offerings. But with Love Film you do get discs delivers to you door.

So where do I stand? Well I will be sticking to Love Film, but I am an unusual case. I don't really watch very many films or TV shows, so for me Netflix would simply be a waste of money. However I have played a wide range of video games for my 2 consoles, all rented from Love Film. There turn around on discs is excellent, usually only 3 or 4 days between sending one game back and receiving another.

Humm this is beginning to sound a lot like a plug for Love Film, but it really isn't. Just me thinking that while Netflix coming to the consoles in the UK is cool (and about time), I will stick to my video games.

PS If anybody at Love Film does want to hook me up I would be totally cool with that.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Where is my gaming news?

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With Kotaku being destroyed by the corporate mind set and Massively dying a slow and AOL fuelled death you maybe wondering where you can get gaming news from. Obviously Quest Hard is not the place as we have over opinionated yet entertaining (we hope) rambles not cutting edge gaming news.

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There is one place on the internet where you can get your gamng news that will not disappoint, I am of cause talking about the fantastic Rock Paper Shotgun, In my opinion the single best read on the internet (since Kotaku caught some fail).

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Other great places for gaming news are strangely Eurogamer (yeah I like them, I know they maybe a little tainted with evil but I really enjoy their articles)

destructoid-logo-roundedThere are also social streams like Destructiod that can provide many gaming news nuggets but be prepared for the ass hat wearing masses who troll and argue, if you can tolerate them then Destructoid is well worth a visit.

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Reddit/r/gaming is also another great place to get gaming news (in fact, one of the best and fastest news feeds on the internet) and other such nuggets but its not everyone’s cup of tea. If you plan on using reddit regularly you can seriously benefit from getting a reddit helper browser plugin.

There are also bazillions of other lesser known gaming news sites and streams out there, feel free to link to some in the comments to this post or indeed any other but with so many choices out there I have only mentioned the more widely known sites.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Console yourself with my gaming picks

 

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fish[2]My wonderful co blogger here at quest hard, Hex, has recently been considering buying a HD console, in particular a PS3. Now both of the consoles now have a pretty large collection of games to play, so if you are a johnny come console lately, what are the essential purchases?

So I am going to give you a few of my favourite console games to get you going. All of these games you should be able to pick up reasonably cheaply if you shop around (£20 or less) and not one of these games is going to be available on the PC, as me and Hex are both PC gamers at heart.

65492874_1-Pictures-of-Sony-PlayStation-PS3-Slim-120-GB-Console-Make-OfferI think to start with it would be remiss of me to not mention the Uncharted series, particularly the phenomenal second game. While they do not do anything especially original, they are third person action adventure shooters of a startling level of polish. You play as lovable rogue Nathan Drake, who is a mixture of Jason Bourne, Indiana Jones and Lara Croft, who trouble seems to follow and ends up accidentally saving the world. In terms of visuals and cinematic gameplay they are without equal.

There are other PS3 exclusives I would heartily recommend. In the world of shooting both the Killzone and Resistance series are worth a look (not played Resistance 3 yet though). They are both sci-fi shooters, but set in quite believe worlds, especially Resistance as large chunks of it are set in Britain. As said before I am very fond of Killzone 3 multiplayer, which takes good ideas from a wide range of shooters and combines them into a fun, fast and action packed game.

There are two other exclusives that I want to mention, the first is a often imitated
God of War, the third in this case. There isn't really anything that compares to to the sense of scale involves in this game, where you fight enemies that are, literally, the size of mountains. God of War realises better than most games that you should be doing something awesome at all times. The final PS3 game I want to mention is Infamous, which is a great free roaming superpower game which choice of being a hero or villain. The choice between good and bad is a little too laid out for my liking, but it doesn’t stop the electricity based powers being a lot of fun.

Speaking of free roaming games, there is one that is nigh on essential, Red Dead Redemption. The ultimate cowboy game, it has a great story, wonderfully deep 6466characters and some of the best voice acting I have ever heard. I have never been a fan of the GTA games and I can safely say the RDR is really nothing like them, Rockstar showing what they can do when every character is not an annoying arsehole.

Two other games spring to mind, both of which sold very poorly despite being great. The first is Vanquish, another third person cover based shooter. Yeah I know what your thinking, but this one is bat shit crazy. It throws bullet time and a power slide that sees you skid across the floor at high speeds. Through in crazy bosses, a nuts storyline and over the top voice acting and you have a very fun game.

enslavedps3The other game is Enslaved, which is set in a unusually colourful and vibrant post apocalyptic future. You play as Monkey and you are forced (hence the title) to escort a girl across a mech infested New York, using your strength and agility and here technical abilities to survive. The fighting is fast and fluid, there is nice arraying of puzzles and the story is actually quite touching, especially towards the end.

A few honorable mentions, Bayonetta is an immensely fun, immensely silly God of War clone that is well worth a play. Yakuza 4 is a very ploy heavy free roaming beat em up, I loved it but I can see why others would tire of the many long dialogue saturated cut-scenes. The little Big Planet games are great and beautiful platform games I am not interested in down to personal tastes, rather than anything bad with the game. The same goes for Mod Nation Racer, which is an excellent, very customisable, kart racer.

Well that is a fair number of games, I know that most of them are PS3 exclusives but I haven’t had an xbox in nearly a year and their exclusives don’t interest me. What are you waiting for, go buy.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Get more for you really expensive monthly sub

 

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fish[2]I seem to recall, on one of our (sporadic) podcasts, that me an Hex predicted that there might be a bundled account for WoW when Diablo is released. As it turns out that wasn’t that far from the truth. Blizzard are very aware that while there World of Warcraft player base, whilst slowly diminishing, is still very large and should be abused, erm given a great offer.

For a limited time only WoW players can sign up to the World of Warcraft Annual Pass, which is 12 months of £8.99, which will get you a free copy of Diablo 3, a free special flying mount and guaranteed access to the newly announced expansion Mists of Pandaria. So yet again we see beta’s used to take advantage of loyal fans.

I guess this does appeal to the sort of obsessive fans who pay blizzard on a monthly basis and have done for years. I dunno it just got my nerd rage flowing. The thought of being locked into any game for twelve months seems suffocating to me. Sorry just had to spew that out.

As for the expansion? Just the sort of band aid improvements that I expected that neglects the underlying issues. New areas, a new class, a new race, new talent YAWN sorry nodding off.

All the usuals

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Dr Who Adventure Game: The Gunpowder Plot.

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hex On October 31st the fifth doctor who adventure game will launch from the BBC website and will be freely available to the TV license paying British public.

The game will focus on the gunpower plot of 1605 and cast interviews are already available from the website. There are references to this being ‘part one’ however if that refers to a new series of games or that this one maybe a two part title I am unsure.

The official site says this about the game:

The TARDIS lands in London, 1605, encountering a group of men who are plotting to assassinate the Head of State. The Doctor, Amy and Rory realise they are at a pivotal point in time but so are two alien races, each of which are more than happy to change history to suit their own ends...

The previous games have varied quite a bit in quality when it comes to game play (the visuals and polish have always been very good) and as I have said before on this blog the Doctor Who games are great tools for getting more people to play games on PC as well as showing how TV/game cross over’s can be done successfully.

I will have my 7 year old daughter help me play test the game on day of release. We have finished the other games in one or two sittings and according to the website this is the largest one yet so maybe it will take me a few days to get a post written.

Strangely I am more excited about this game than I am the coming doctor who special. maybe its because I am a gamer more than a television watcher or maybe its because my daughter and I get so much pleasure from them. either way its a good sign that the BBC are doing something right.

Rage! - I was wrong.

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hex I wrote a post recently where I may have been a little negative towards Id’s new shooter Rage. In the post I was very firm that it was a Borderlands clone with all the humour taken out. I have now finished Rage and realise that I was wrong with my initial thoughts about the game.

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Rage is a unique game, it does have a similar ‘vibe’ to Borderlands at the start (I stand by that much) however as you play you start to realise that the joy of Rage is that the plot is nothing more than an excuse for you to go off shooting things. Its the next logical successor to games like Doom and Quake, the joy of the game is to run about shooting things and not getting killed in the process.

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Once you get to the point where you realise that the plot is not the main drive of the game it becomes a wonderful shooty sandbox where you can follow the ‘mission’ thread and simply run through battle after battle or you can ignore it and drive about killing stuff for lol’s (that’s a word right?). Rage can be played however you like and that is the point of it.

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Bask in the environments and kill the Bad guys while having as much fun as possible. That, in my opinion is the Rage mantra.

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The multiplayer side of the game takes a similar approach as the single player, the most fun you can have in Rage is shooting stuff from a car, so Id have turned this into the meat of the multiplayer, you enter a match in a vehicle you can upgrade (through some kind of rudimentary XP system) and collect/race/shoot your way to the top of the score board. much like in single player the plot is the excuse to shoot things and not really a massive part of the game in the online match XP/unlocks gathering is your excuse to have some fun and should not be considered as anything more than that.

Captur2eThey do however make sure that the people handing out the plot nuggets are memorable and likeable. Even the people that are basically part of the shop menu’s are unique individuals. Considering how little the plot matters in rage this is a really special touch that they could have missed but Id did everything right in this game, it just took me a while to realise it.

Rage is fun and in 2011 we need a reason to go off and kill the bad guys. Id understand this and have created a game where your constantly being given reasons to shoot stuff without that reason taking over the joy of the game its self. its enough to make me want to help out the residents of the little outposts and give me motivation to play through without being bogged down by the RPG tool set.

My only real complaint about this is that once you finish the game your not given the change to explore the world freely, instead you end up with a save game right before the last mission, a small oversight but still an irritation.

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TL DR version - Rage is good honest shooty joy! – play it and stop over thinking it!