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#4361 Saber-Scorpion

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Posted 04 January 2019 - 01:31 PM

Games I got for Christmas and thoughts:

 

Red Dead Redemption II: Surprise surprise, it turns out Ocelot's posts already summed it up better than I could. :P Big, beautiful, immaculately detailed game - a work of art, really - that is tragically quite boring to play. I don't think I've ever played a slower game in my life, and it's amazingly linear.

 

Shadow of the Tomb Raider: At least I think that's the right title. Can't keep them straight. How come no one uses numbers anymore? Anyway, I still vastly prefer sexy stone-cold badass Lara Croft from the old games to the little (literally - she's so small!) girl-next-door reboot version, but what can you do. Game seems alright so far - at least it's not set in the snow like the last one. Jungle > snow. Also, I always thought they were turning Lara into Katniss from Hunger Games, but it turns out they were actually turning her into straight-up John Rambo this whole time. In addition to self-treating horrible wounds, she gets covered in mud and stabs people in the throat with ruthless violence. There's even a trophy that references First Blood. But I just have one question: can we please get a game without Jonah in it? He's the most boring block-of-wood "character" of all time and a terrible sidekick. Lara shouldn't have a recurring sidekick anyway. She's a solo act.

 

Monster Hunter World: I considered buying this for a long time since it ticks a bunch of my usual boxes and I loved Dragon's Dogma, but I was massively turned off by the whole anime-steampunk vibe. Finally got it when I heard they would be putting Geralt in the game, because yeah I'm that bad. The game started off okay, but by the first real mission I was already bored. I wailed away on the first boss for what felt like hours to no avail - I never managed to defeat him. I guess my damage numbers weren't big enough to offset his self-healing numbers, or I wasn't doing something right. Maybe I should try a weapon other than the awesome pet-beetle-staff, but I don't want to do that. I'm not sure I'm a big fan of what seems to be a Destiny style "do a mission and then return to the hub, rinse and repeat forever" formula. From the name I was expecting something a bit more, well, open world. Maybe one of these days I'll give it another try...


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#4362 Princess Bacon

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Posted 04 January 2019 - 10:24 PM

MHW is a weird game. Each monster has different weapon type and elemental resistances that do not mess around, so if you use the wrong stuff you're doing half or even worse no damage. It's very much built around taking the right equipment to a fight rather than having a main weapon you use for everything.

And yeah, the mission structure is pretty boring, especially when you finish what story there is and the game goes "Congratulations, you did it, you saved the New World! Now you can fight the exact same things you've already fought all over again, but they have bigger numbers this time."

#4363 Ocelot

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Posted 07 January 2019 - 07:52 PM



Shadow of the Tomb Raider: At least I think that's the right title. Can't keep them straight. How come no one uses numbers anymore? Anyway, I still vastly prefer sexy stone-cold badass Lara Croft from the old games to the little (literally - she's so small!) girl-next-door reboot version, but what can you do. Game seems alright so far - at least it's not set in the snow like the last one. Jungle > snow. Also, I always thought they were turning Lara into Katniss from Hunger Games, but it turns out they were actually turning her into straight-up John Rambo this whole time. In addition to self-treating horrible wounds, she gets covered in mud and stabs people in the throat with ruthless violence. There's even a trophy that references First Blood. But I just have one question: can we please get a game without Jonah in it? He's the most boring block-of-wood "character" of all time and a terrible sidekick. Lara shouldn't have a recurring sidekick anyway. She's a solo act.

 

These new Tomb Raiders are like the ultimate realisation of the weird trope with reboots where they go back before the original thing started, make a big song and dance about doing it differently this time, but then awkwardly transform themselves right back into the status quo right before the end. I don't know why they do this but it happens like clockwork. Fant4stic ends on a bad comedy skit about the team coming up with the name 'Fantastic 4' right before a smash cut to credits. DmC Devil May Cry begins with a joke about old Dante's white hair, then ends with Nu Dante getting white hair and having a bossfight with Nu Vergil over an ideological argument that literally pops up in the final mission. Apparently that new Guy Ritchie Robin Hood movie ends on a dramatic post-credits stinger of the real Sheriff of Nottingham accepting his title. Tomb Raider 2013 ended with Lara picking up a second pistol to become... THE TOMB RAIDER.

 

Except she didn't, though, because she went back to the bow and they basically just did the same story all over again in Rise of the Tomb Raider. And now we're up to Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and they did it all again! Poor old Nu Lara is stuck in this Groundhog Day loop of eking out the tiniest little shreds of character development in each game, ending on a tease of her becoming the thing we used to like about her, only to have it all reset to zero as soon as the new one comes around. I've played all three of these games and, I am being 100% honest with you, I don't know if she's supposed to be 'The Tomb Raider' yet. Like, genuinely, no idea. I absolutely do not understand what the writers are doing with this series. Three games in, a full trilogy of cinematic, story-driven games, and they just haven't gone anywhere!

 

I don't mind them trying to give Lara a new support crew, but, yeah, Jonah ain't it. I mean he'd be fine if he was just one part of a squad, but, again, we're three games in to this baffling continuity that keeps resetting itself and he's the only recurring character other than Lara herself. There's nowhere to go when you just have two people who are, polite, platonic friends at best. I'm not saying they need to give Lara a love interest, but jeez do something with it. This is why the Uncharted games kept introducing every new character as an old friend/enemy from Nate's past with ambiguous morals, because that's just such fertile ground for interesting storytelling. In Nu Tomb Raider every character is someone Lara literally just met that day... or Jonah.

 

So at this point I don't know if they're even going to make a fourth "____ of the Tomb Raider", because it seems like Shadow bombed pretty thoroughly. I feel like it's time for Tomb Raider Reboot #3.

 

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Anyway, I'm still playing Judge Eyes, and I'm still absolutely loving it. The Yakuza games are all really enjoyable games about brawling, finding side missions, ticking off enormous checklists of open-world content, but I think their greatest strength is in their storytelling, and particularly the command the writers have over characterization. Whether they're introducing a new character or taking an established one to a new place, whether it's a shorter vignette or a long, game-spanning story, they excel at writing these immediately well-realized, compelling characters. I honestly think they're some of the best in the industry, right up there with Naughty Dog and Rockstar. They'll introduce you to a dude and within like five minutes you'll have the measure of him; you'll know his motivations, you'll know what kind of a person he is, you'll know whether you like him or not, and you'll fall right into the writers' trap when a few hours later he turns out to be something completely different because they were playing you like a fiddle the whole time. Character arcs for days, baby. It's so good.

 

But, much as I love Yakuza, there's only so far the writers can go with the kinds of characters that fit in a story about organized crime. It's a lot of father figures, sworn brothers, traitorous second-in-commands making power plays, initially hostile dudes who come around at the pivotal moment. That's why Judge Eyes is so exciting, because we've stepped outside the bounds of yakuza business, and the writers are getting to try their hands at all new kinds of characters and relationships between them. And, you guys? They're nailing it. Judge Eyes is basically a season of a TV legal drama in video game form, complete with a cast of regulars, a compelling over-arching story and smaller subplots that wrap up within an episode or two, even a cheeky little flashback episode. It's so GOOD! I love it.

 

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So, yeah, when this game comes out in English next year I really recommend you all check it out. I can understand being reluctant to get into the Yakuza series when there are just so many games, but with Judgment I'm not accepting any excuses. This is an entirely new story, no lore or continuity baggage, just an absolutely wonderful game that you can pick up and play and love as much as I do.



#4364 Spark

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 09:49 PM

I've only played the first 30 minutes of the 2nd episode for Life is Strange 2 so far. I'm not sure if I can play anymore tonight.

 

What happened was a little too painful. Eyes are still red.


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#4365 Ocelot

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Posted 26 January 2019 - 02:37 AM

I've been playing Ace Combat 7, which I've been really enjoying.

 

I haven't played an Ace Combat in... 13 years, according to Wikipedia. The last one came out in 2011, and I never played it because I heard it was bad, so the last one I played was Ace Combat 0 on the PS2 back in 2006 (the year I graduated from High School, oh no I'm an old man now). AC7 is apparently a direct story sequel to AC5, which I definitely played, but boy oh boy I don't remember any lore from this series. Ace Combat is all about incredibly melodramatic stories of the tragedy of war, delivered with 100% perfect sincerity at all times, and it's set in a fictional world where all the continents and countries are different but they still fly the same modern military jets as we do in this world, and I love it but man I can't keep track of who's who and what's what. I'm just here to fly planes and hear people say "FOX TWO!" when I fire missiles.

 

So good thing that's as good as ever in Ace Combat 7. This game's actually surprisingly difficult, and it took me a while to get my sea legs back, but now that I'm at the pointy end of the campaign I'm feeling like a proper ace again. It's so satisfying to just scythe through a whole squadron of enemies, or have a one-on-one dogfight with an ace from the other side where you'll go five straight minutes without actually landing a hit on him. What I always love about Ace Combat is that they keep the flying physics realistic but love putting you in totally absurd situations, and so far I've defended a giant surface-to-air cannon in the desert against attack while it charged power to fire at an enormous aerial drone carrier, and flown through a narrow canyon avoiding spotlights to sneak up on an enemy base undetected. They put a stealth mission in their flight combat game, the maniacs.

 

I think I'm only a few missions from the end now, so I can't wait to see how it wraps up. It wouldn't be an AC game if it didn't make my fly through a tunnel at some point.

 

I've also been steadily chugging through Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga on the 3DS, which I understand is a remake of the original GBA game, and it's OK. I'm mainly just doing it as Japanese practice, but it's a fun little way to spend some handheld video game time. Pretty standard JRPG-ing, except when you select the attack you want you can hit a button at the right time during the animation to do more damage, and avoid damage from enemies the same way. I don't really have much to say about it, but it's neat.

 

EDIT - Ace Combat 7 was really fun! Amazingly difficult, though. The final sortie is a two-on-one bossfight against two evil laser-armed drones that have been programmed with the battle data of the top ace of the last two aerial wars, which transitions to a second phase against one even tougher drone (with no checkpoint in between). Just when you think the threat is over, ANOTHER drone appears out of nowhere and flies into an underwater tunnel trying to reach a giant signal tower/space elevator that'll enable it to upload its programming to every drone manufacturing facility on the continent, so you have to fly into the tunnel to chase it and scrape under closing blast doors while desperately trying not to hit the walls or ceiling. Then you have to re-enact Poe's bunker bust from The Force Awakens in a large underground chamber, blowing up transmitters on the walls and shooting down the evil drone, before finally making your escape by rocketing straight UP the inside of the signal tower to freedom. My nerves were absolutely shot after I finally did it :P

 

I've also started playing Catherine, one of the last remaining games I want to finish on my PS3 before I say goodbye to that slow-as-molasses hunk of junk for good. I'm not far in, but I'm far enough to know that I'm going to have to set the difficulty to Easy to get through these climbing puzzle sections. I usually really like puzzles, but I find something about this game very hard to wrap my mind around, and it has this Lives system where I can only retry a certain number of times before having to go all the way back to my last save and I just hate that. It's a needless source of stress for me.



#4366 Ocelot

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Posted 31 January 2019 - 01:52 AM

OK, bozos. I decided to play Kingdom Hearts 3 as someone who's only ever played the first two games for an hour or two each back on the PS2 and then hasn't touched the series since then. I basically just wanted to enjoy the spectacle of a huge-budget Square game, knowing I'd probably be completely baffled by the story, but honestly I'm finding the story pretty easy to follow and it's the gameplay I'm not liking.

 
The controls are all wrong and there's no way to change them, but I got used to the goofy setup of 'attack with A, jump with B, dodge with X' after a couple of hours. What really gets me is that it just... feels bad and unresponsive and so automated that I get no sense of satisfaction from hitting guys. And the camera is terrible. Mashing A sends Sora flying all over the place, locking you into elaborate animations that aren't easily cancelled out of. Enemies have poor attack telegraphs and dodging isn't great. I use my magic and summons and and RB and Y button stuff but they're all extended animations that take me out of the fight for a few seconds. You lock-on target, and it selects one dude in the maelstrom at random, and then when you've killed that guy it doesn't auto-lock-on to someone else so you have to manually lock-on again, usually by pointing Sora this way and that and mashing the lock-on button hoping you find someone so you don't have to sweep the camera around again with the same thumb you want to use to dodge. I feel like I need a video of high-level Kingdom Hearts play so I can work out if I'm missing something or if it's just... like this.
 
The Disney stuff has been the highlight so far, but it honestly feels very off-brand, like some tier below those straight-to-DVD spinoffs they do. The soundalikes aren't great, but moreso than that the characterisation (particularly for Buzz and Woody) feels really questionable. The graphics look great until characters start moving and all that lively Disney/Pixar animation is replaced with JRPG-style "Let's just stand on the spot for ten minutes delivering exposition and gesturing occasionally" cutscenes. Any attempt at comic timing is ruined by the inexplicable several seconds of dead silence in between each characters' lines (seriously, why is it like that?), and it's never not obvious that the English voice actors are awkwardly contorting their dialogue into lip flap animations tailored to the Japanese voice track. "Sora, are you sure... ... ...that will work?" *several seconds of dead air* "Sure it will! If we just follow our... ...hearts!"
 
The Square original worlds feel like they're trying to ape MGS4-era Kojima's writing style, where all thought of enjoyable, concise prose goes out the window in favour of these endless, slow-ass cutscenes that take ten repetitive, circular lines to say what could be explained in two. My Xbox has already tried to put itself into dim-screen power-saving mode a couple of times, and half the time you'll end one cutscene only to run down a corridor for about four seconds and hit another one. Like I said, the story itself isn't that hard to pick up on, but that's mostly because I've sat through so much repeated backstory exposition over these last few hours. Nomura apparently has no compunctions about using the trope where two characters loudly and clearly explain something that both of them are already perfectly familiar with for the benefit of the audience.
 
So, I don't know, I've enjoyed seeing the parts where Square has clearly spent all their money, but the meat and potatoes of running down corridors smashing breakables and fighting Heartless had already turned into a slog after the first four or five hours. The game crashed on me last night, and I don't think I'm going to go back to it.


#4367 Fate

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Posted 02 February 2019 - 11:05 PM

I can understand being reluctant to get into the Yakuza series when there are just so many games

 

That's exactly what I've been doing! I've been meaning to play them since 1935 or whenever it was they came out, and I've finally managed to complete the first two. They're bloody brilliant, I love them. I've been tempted to pick up the remakes and prequels for the PS4, but I'm pretty determined to play them in the order they were released. They really strike the right balance of what I'm looking for in video games right now; fantastic and fun stories, great but pretty simple combat, lots to do and see, but nothing I have to really sink a bunch of time into in order to avoid feeling like I'm missing out on something. Much as I love a good RPG, I'm so obsessive I often have to reload a million times and go through dialogue trees over and over again in order to feel like I made the right choice and that I wasn't missing out on some good bit of writing or character development or something. I also like the fact I don't have to traverse a big boring empty world, too. I can just pick up a Yakuza game, break some bicycles on dudes heads, be a badass, hit a few baseballs, wine and dine some hostesses, get into some good drama. They're perfect.

 

I've been really getting into simpler games now, games I can just pick up and play. I've gone through a lot of old Castlevania games and a Metroid game or two. 

 

That being said I do feel like I've missed out on the Witcher, which apparently isn't too shabby of a game. Because of my aforementioned obsessive nature, however, I'm almost positive I'd want to start at the very beginning with the first one... and then there's the books, too. So I don't know. You guys think I should start with the 3rd, and if I'm hugely enamored go back and play the earlier ones, or would they be spoiled?

 

At the current moment I've just started a classic PS2 era Capcom game called Shadow of Rome. It's good fun, chopping people to bits and using their arms and heads as weapons, furiously pressing a button to chomp haunches of meat in the middle of combat to recover stamina before suplexing an 8 foot tall 400 pound viking with a horned helmet to death. It sounds like your type of thing, Ocelot, you should play it and type some paragraphs about it so I can validate myself with your opinions!



#4368 Ocelot

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Posted 04 February 2019 - 04:33 AM

That's exactly what I've been doing! I've been meaning to play them since 1935 or whenever it was they came out, and I've finally managed to complete the first two. They're bloody brilliant, I love them. I've been tempted to pick up the remakes and prequels for the PS4, but I'm pretty determined to play them in the order they were released. They really strike the right balance of what I'm looking for in video games right now; fantastic and fun stories, great but pretty simple combat, lots to do and see, but nothing I have to really sink a bunch of time into in order to avoid feeling like I'm missing out on something. Much as I love a good RPG, I'm so obsessive I often have to reload a million times and go through dialogue trees over and over again in order to feel like I made the right choice and that I wasn't missing out on some good bit of writing or character development or something. I also like the fact I don't have to traverse a big boring empty world, too. I can just pick up a Yakuza game, break some bicycles on dudes heads, be a badass, hit a few baseballs, wine and dine some hostesses, get into some good drama. They're perfect.

 

Bruh, welcome to the Yakuza club! I'm glad to hear you're enjoying them.

 

I do think it's worth playing through the PS2 originals before you play through the Kiwami remakes on PS4, just to see what they were originally like. That very first Yakuza is pretty clunky thesedays, but Yakuza 2 was a hugely-improved sequel, and once you get to Yakuza 3 they've really nailed down the whole formula.



#4369 Spark

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Posted 04 February 2019 - 07:28 PM

Unlike Ocy it seems, I'm really enjoying Kingdom Hearts III speaking as someone who turned off the first game and never went back after that first gummi ship section.


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#4370 Ocelot

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Posted 17 February 2019 - 04:56 AM

I've been working my way through some Game Pass games recently:

 

Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice: I wanted to like this game, but ultimately it just turned into such a trudge. It's an interesting game from Ninja Theory, with their trademark "we've never heard the word subtlety" approach to storytelling and an interesting little God-Hand-inspired combat system, but it's quite long, plodding, and honestly you just move too damn slowly. For a game where the main gameplay style by volume is "jog around looking for things to interact with", you move way too slowly and it makes the game a chore. You're solving standard video game puzzles where one object opens a gate and the other closes it but activates some other thing, and you need to work out how to be on the other side of the closed gate by hitting the things in the right order, but it takes so long to schlep over to the other side of the level to pull a lever and then schlep all the way back to where you were at the start, that it really takes the wind out of your sails.

 

There's this one section where you have to plod through a labyrinth at a veeeerry sloooow walking speed that is just abysmal. These days if a level designer will present you with a puzzle that requires you to activate three objects around a central area, they'll give you some kind of shortcut back to the centre so you don't have to slog all the way back each time, but not Ninja Theory. This game is slow slow slow, and if you aren't completely taken in by Ninja Theory's 100% DEAD SERIOUS storytelling, where they expect you to be wowed by a extreme closeup of an anguished face every single time, it can be a real drag.

 

Crackdown 3: Who'd've thunk this game would actually come out after all these years? Well, it's here now, and I can't really think of much to say about it. They've basically just made another version of Crackdown 1 with newer graphics and basically nothing else. You can play as Terry Crews now, but he doesn't say much outside of the opening cutscene (I've only ever heard him say "**** you, gravity!" during gameplay, which he says over and over again). It's another city full of Agility Orbs to collect and crime bosses to kill, and they apparently haven't figured out how to do anything more with Crackdown in the twelve years since the first game came out. I guess I can't complain, because this is a brand new game I'm getting for essentially free with Game Pass, but I wish they'd done something more in the decade or so since Crackdown last existed.

 

One thing it does do really well is quick and easy restarts for the race and platforming challenges. If you screw up a race or even take a long fall off a tall tower the game wants you to climb, you can just hold down right on the d-pad for a couple of seconds and it'll restart the race or take you back to a checkpoint, which is really nice. I think I might plug away at this one here and there, but I don't really enjoy it enough to get deep into it.

 

Sunset Overdrive: I played about an hour of this right after Crackdown 3, and I don't think I have it in me right now. It seems pretty fun but it's also one of those games that is really excited to shout memes at you the whole time you're playing ("I call it the AWESEOMPOCALYPSE!"), so I'm going to come back to it some other time.

 

Super Lucky's Tale: Boy oh boy does this game look like a very high-res iPhone game. I mean, it's nice and colourful and sharp, but it just has the blandest style. And, unfortunately for a platformer, it doesn't really feel good, either. Have you ever played a platformer where the jump feels bad? Try out this game if you're interested. I don't think it's outright bad, but it's just such a nothing experience that I skipped back to the Xbox Dashboard and deleted it in probably less than an hour. Ain't nobody got time etc etc.

 

Snake Pass: I like this one, though! You play as a happy little snake named Noodle, and the first tooltip the game gives you is to hold RT to 'snake around'. You use the left stick to control his body, hold A to raise his head, and squeeze LT to make him hold on to things, and the whole game is about twisting him this way and that, tying him in knots around bamboo framework to climb, platform and generally noodle around a bunch of fun levels collecting orbs. It's a really neat idea, and I can already tell it's going to take a lot of skill to play it well. I'm going to keep playing this one now and again.

 

ABZU: Take Journey and put it under the sea, and replace the nameless co-op partner with a bunch of nice fishies you can swim around and ride on, and you have ABZU. It's only a couple of hours long and I really enjoyed playing through it. Just when I thought I'd seen all the fish, they'd throw in a new fish, and I'd be like, hey, what's this little guy's name? When you swim up to one and grab on it'll tell you that fish's name, and each fish has its own personality that makes it more or less suitable to being ridden, and they don't just stop at regular fish either. Eventually you get whales, big ol' sharks, and even some neat prehistoric bois. Unfortunately it doesn't seem like the game's had an XB1X patch, so it's really low resolution, but it's still perfectly playable.

 

Below: I found the opening half-hour or so pretty interesting; a slow, moody top-down Souls-like about, presumably, climbing down deep under (or below) a mountain. It has bonfires and a sword and a bow and arrow and stuff. It also has traps, apparently, which I only know because I guess I stepped on one. The camera is zoomed out a long way and whatever it was was hidden in tall grass, so I don't really know what I did, and then after being instantly killed the game put me in the shoes of a new traveler reaching the area and apparently expected me to schlep all the way back to where I was. None of the fires I lit along the way served as checkpoints. So I uninstalled it.



#4371 Ocelot

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Posted 23 February 2019 - 06:58 AM

I've been playing a little game you may have heard of by the name of Anthem. It's the latest blockbuster from Bioware, a game six years in the making, that has no doubt taken a big chunk out of EA coffers along the way. A game upon which might rest Bioware's very future as a video game studio. A game that is currently sitting at 60 on Metacritic, and moving on a downward trajectory. We live in a world where video game development and the business that surrounds it has been honed so tightly that Metacritic scores of, like, 83 are frequently decried as 'disappointing' by publishers, and here we have this massive event of a game (not a spinoff, not a game by the B-team, but Bioware's best and brightest) potentially dropping into the fifties.

 

So it's a disaster, and aspiring memelords should probably have that "Where are we going PapEA?" picture ready to go for the next few weeks. But, honestly, I'm still enjoying it. I think 6/10 is a pretty accurate score for Anthem, but I'm talking about the full scale from 0-10 where there are still quite a few numbers lower than 6. This game has some serious issues, but it looks great, it feels even better to play, and there's still a fair bit of that particular Bioware magic that Mass Effect Andromeda tried and failed to imitate. ME Andromeda was truly wretched, but Anthem has some redeeming features. Lemme get into the good and the bad.

 

This game is no Mass Effect, but it does have a hub area full of NPCs to talk to, and some of them are pretty good. I immediately liked Owen, the main voice-in-your-ear handler guy who runs operations while you're out shoot-flying. Anthem's facial animation and character models are great, and there have been quite a few times where Owen's made me laugh out loud by punctuating a conversation with a wry face instead of saying a line. Faye and Haluk, two old squadmates of yours that you have beef with, are standouts, too, and the people of Fort Tarsis are an eclectic, very Bioware-y bunch. Unfortunately you can't really have proper conversations with them, since any form of dialogue tree/wheel has been replaced with a binary "positive/negative" choice, but at the very least it isn't the Andromeda-style "Say yes normally or say yes sarcastically". Well, sometimes it is. Oh and also conversations lock you into the Bethesda-style "stare directly into this character's face" camera rather than a Mass Effect shot/reverse-shot camera, which I don't like. Basically Anthem is a game about being talked at, not about talking to people, but it does at least tickle that Mass Effect itch ever so lightly.

 

The real meat of the game comes when you set out into the world and just start tearing things up with your giant robot suit. It feels fantastic under the thumbs to just zoom around, rat-a-tat-tatting away at whatever's in your way, popping special abilities, switching between on-foot, hovering and full-on flight with ease and looking awesome the whole time. I even customized my Javelin's paint job, which I almost never do in games. There's even an interesting system where flying for an extended period will make your suit overheat, but you can cool it down by flying downwards and letting gravity aid you, or by skimming water surfaces or splashing through waterfalls. It can be a bit of a pain when you're just trying to get to a waypoint and you have to stop and jog for a bit while your jets cool down, but when you can string together a nice run between surfing across a lake, skimming a waterfall and plummeting down a cliff it feels awesome. I wish you had guns mounted on your suit so you could shoot while flying, though. I guess nobody at Bioware played Dark Void, because in Anthem you instantly switch to hover mode whenever you try to shoot from the air. Maybe something for the sequel. If there is one.

 

OK, so let's get to that bad stuff, then. First off, they designed this game wrong. You have a hub area where you can walk around and pick up quests from NPCs, and an action-y gameplay area where you go to do those quests. Seems normal enough, right? Well, check this out: in Anthem, walking around the town, exploring the outside world, and doing a quest, are three different gameplay states. You cannot pick up five quests in town then go out into the world and just do'em all. You can go out into what the game calls Freeplay, where some fetchquest and collectible hunt kind of objectives are available, along with World Events that spawn randomly, but if you want to do a real quest you have to quit Freeplay, come back to Fort Tarsis, then go back out into the real world again in a separate instance where only one quest is available to you. You do that quest, and when you finish it the game will automatically bring you back to Fort Tarsis. It's just crazy to me. Why did they design it like this? And this is a game where every little thing you want to do comes with a significant load time, so separating every quest into its own little envelope like this stacks up those load times pretty seriously.

 

What's worse is that it's clear Bioware only had three ideas for mission design when developing this game. You can:

A: Fly around picking up glowing basketballs to carry back and dunk into a wibblywobbly time vortex thing

B: Run around picking up mechanical parts of a different time vortex thing (they're heavy, see, so you can't fly)

C: Stay within a marked area shooting dudes until a progress bar fills up

 

That's it. That's every mission in Anthem. Sometimes you'll just shoot dudes with no pretension to one of those goals, but for the most part you're going to be doing one of those three things (sometimes all three in some of the longer missions). There isn't much variety to the enemies, there isn't much variety to the weapons (something not so great in a loot-shooter, right?), and most of the world looks like the same jungle biome. You don't visit any other planets or anything; the world of Anthem is just this one place. If you don't like shooting dudes in the jungle while carrying things to a thing or defending a point... you might just be out of luck here.

 

So, yeah, that's Anthem. It's got some problems, to say the least. But I'm going to see it through to the end of the story, because I do want to finish it. I've played maybe 3-4 hours of Destiny, spread across those two games, and never been hooked by it at all, whereas Anthem has me much more compelled to keep going. I'll be interested to see what happens with it from here on. I'm not going to stick around and play it for a thousand hours or anything, but I want to see if Bioware can turn it around into something more respectable, and if EA will even let them. I'd be into it if they ever got to make a proper singleplayer RPG in this world, where I could explore the world at my own pace and actually talk back to the people I meet, but singleplayer RPGs obviously don't pay the bills at EA.



#4372 Ocelot

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Posted 25 February 2019 - 01:39 AM

Well, I finished Anthem. I had to quit last night because I got a bug that stopped a mission from progressing, and after loading it up again and hoping for the best today it turned out that it was the second last main mission of the story and now I'm done. I mean, technically you're never supposed to be 'done' done, because there's always going to be a drip feed of new content to keep you playing and buying microtransactions, and the game is eager to assure you that you can go back and play the missions you've already played at higher difficulties in the now classic Bioware post-game message to the players. Commander Freelancer has become a legend by ending the Monitor thread. Now you can continue to build that legend through further gameplay and downloadable content. Please buy cosmetics so EA doesn't turn the lights off...

 

I'd like to use this cutscene as a demonstration of my argument here, so please watch it. It's probably my favourite part of the whole game, so I promise you'll like it. For context, the two characters on the right side of the table are our character's old frienemies that we haven't spoken to in a couple of years and now have to come awkwardly begging for their help while they're negotiating with a pirate princess:

 

 

Doesn't that feel like Mass Effect? Doesn't that feel like Bioware's best? Those facial animations, the characters, the bit where your character reaches out and eats the pheromone sac might as well be a Renegade Interrupt. It is such a great cutscene, but that's exactly the problem: it's just a cutscene. You just sit there and watch it, and then right after it ends you start killing guys again because that's the only agency you have over the world in this game. This game is screaming out for the Bioware touch. The characters are there, the lore is interesting enough, this could have been Bioware's newest and shiniest singleplayer RPG, and it could have been a great one. And instead it's just this monotonous loot shooter where the loot isn't even good and there's nothing interesting to shoot at.

 

Uuuugh, just... why did they do this? Why does a studio synonymous with great singleplayer RPGs bet the farm on a loot shooter instead? Have any of them really been successful? I still don't think I've ever met anyone who thinks Destiny is truly good without a laundry list of caveats. I don't even know if anyone plays The Division outside of the scripted banter gameplay demos they capture for Ubisoft's press conferences. Fallout 76 was a several-month-long slapstick comedy routine that couldn't stay out of the headlines for more than a week. It seems like all I ever hear about this grand new genre of Games-as-a-Service is dubious content-to-price value propositions, patches and updates that break everything overnight, and all the newest, lowest depths in the field of aggressive monetisation schemes. All these big name developers threw their lots in with loot-shooters six years ago thinking they'd be the next biggest thing, and now that they've actually got their troubled projects out of development hell and onto store shelves it turns out that people only want to play F2P Battle Royales now and maybe they should just have stuck to their strengths.

 

There's a parallel universe out there where Bioware did make Anthem as a singleplayer RPG, and all our mirror selves are having the time of their lives playing it right now. We know Bioware knows how to make that game, and make it damn well, and instead of focusing on all this multiplayer GaaS guff they could have been filling it to the brim with delicious sidequests and using those wonderful facial animations to build the next great leap forward in the field of RPG conversations. Perhaps then they might have come up with a better story than "evil man wants to use power to take over world, you should stop him". Perhaps then they might have thought up more than three types of mission design that repeat over and over for 12-15-ish hours of story campaign, and then presumably infinite hours of grinding after that. Yet here we are, we putzes, in our regular dark universe where Anthem is not a singleplayer RPG and dreams don't come true.

 

I'm upset, you guys. When I played Mass Effect all those years ago it hit me like a bolt of lightning, and Mass Effect 2 did it all over again, but then this developer that once upon a time I considered one of my favourites has embarked on a near-decade-long string of just not getting it, man. Mass Effect 3 has its moments, yes, but that ending is something I'll never get over. Mass Effect Andromeda is absolutely awful. Anthem is either going to be patched up into an acceptable state and then used as a microtransaction platform, or EA's going to cut the cord and that'll be that for Bioware. How did it get to this?



#4373 God-Emperor Thrawnie

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Posted 25 February 2019 - 07:26 PM


 

Uuuugh, just... why did they do this? Why does a studio synonymous with great singleplayer RPGs bet the farm on a loot shooter instead?

 

Same reason they made SWTOR. EA thinks they can shoehorn elements of the BioWare* Experience™ into online Live Service games and have the best of both worlds. They don't understand why singleplayer RPGs work.

 

 

Anyway, if I'm gonna be honest, I've been hoping Anthem was gonna flop ever since it was revealed. The sooner EA puts BioWare*'s corpse to rest the better, it's been dead since 2012. Let it rest, and we can go back to pretending ME2 was the last game they ever made.



#4374 Dalton Westmoore

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Posted 25 February 2019 - 08:30 PM

I honestly thought that Anthem had an interesting premise: the gods have abandoned earth in the middle of creating it, leaving humanity itself. There were two things about this that were immediate red flags:

 

1) While it was stated that the gods left, this didn't really sink in until I read it in the video description. Regardless, that's not a good sign.

2) This is a more interesting premise for a Fantasy Game. Not high-fantasy, but a Conan-style Prehistoric Fantasy, where humanity has to face half-formed creatures in order to find out why the gods left. Here, it just looks like somebody decided to combine Attack on Titan with Destiny and then crapped out this game.

 

I think it's clear that there was some small amount of talent behind whoever put this idea together, but unfortunately this is EA we're talking about, so...

 



#4375 Ocelot

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Posted 04 March 2019 - 11:54 PM

So with the sleeping dragon that is DMC5 about to wake up and obliterate all my free time, I've been reluctant to get into anything too deeply (I still load up the DMC5 demo daily, to be honest. It's a sickness). It's time for another episode of Ocelot downloads and tries out a bunch of Game Pass games:

 

Oxenfree: I honestly had no idea what to expect going into this game. I thought it might have been a rhythm game or something. It turned out to be a 2D indie story/puzzler kind of thing, and I quite enjoyed it. You play as a teen girl name Alex who goes to an island to have one of those teen movie end-of-summer coming-of-age parties with her closest friends, which turns into a weird supernatural adventure involving time loops and maybe kinda-sorta alien phenomena. It's definitely a product of a post-Life-is-Strange world, but I think it's pretty good in its own right, too.

 

My only complaint is that you move way too slowly for the size of the world you navigate, which makes it quite tedious to get around in the late game where a new sheaf of collectibles drops on you and you need to hunt them down if you want to understand the story. I didn't do it, and I found the ending really abrupt and unsatisfying, so it was a sore spot on an otherwise enjoyable experience.

 

>observer/: Do you remember seeing a game with a cyberpunk Rutger Hauer as the cover art? This is that one. It's a first-person Eurojank sleuth-'em-up, which sounds like the exact definition of my jam, and for the first few hours it was, but then towards the end it started getting into some really ill-advised stealth sections and a lot of cyber-psychedelic hallucination puzzles that... weren't great. It's a really interesting game, though; a detective story that's almost entirely contained within one dilapidated future-slum-chic apartment building, where the aesthetic is one of grimy, jury-rigged cybernetic implants with the visual fidelity and reliability of VHS tapes, so invasive to one's own body that constant drugs are needed to combat rejection. You're Detective Rutger Hauer, called in to investigate the murder of a headless male body that may or may not be your own son, using several different vision modes to analyze data and a hardwired brain connection to a central Police database to do your detective work.

 

I liked it, but I could only recommend it with some caveats. First of all, definitely don't play it on the Xbox One, because this game has the most unstable performance I've ever come across. The framerate is unlocked, and will literally go from 60FPS to like one second per frame if you dare to walk across a room. It's terribly hitchy and gave me headaches, and this is a game that apparently has an Xbox One X patch so I dread to think what it must be like on a standard XB1. The second caveat would be that you have to have a certain appreciation and patience for Eurojank, and I know people aren't always on board with that. Lots of pixel-hunting, lots of jank, lots of "it's too dark and I can't see anything". I think it's worth playing, but it can be a bit obtuse, to say the least.

 

Headlander: They just added this to Game Pass this month, and I played almost the whole game in one day. It's a Metroidvania where you play as a disembodied head in a jar that can fly around with little rockets and attach itself to various different bodies that have different abilities. You can't jump in this game, so navigating levels becomes a matter of popping yourself into and out of the neck-sockets of robo-bodies to get where you need to go. Ditch a body and fly through a narrow tunnel and find one on the other side; it's a cool idea, but more importantly it feels really smooth and slick every time you do it. It's also a nice small Metroidvania, with a great map screen for you to find all the little hidden rooms with upgrades in them. It gives you that great feeling of exploring every nook and cranny, checking off all the good stuff before you move on or being able to keep track of what you'll need to come back for later.

 

It has a nice retro-futuristic art style, too, set on a very Buck Rogers space station full of robots with laser guns, with a story that mostly stays out of the way but for an endearingly Southern voice in your ear named Earl who'll tell you where to go and pronounces the word 'data' as 'dater'. I like it a lot. I'm at the end of the game now, and the difficulty is leaning a little bit too far towards irritating so I don't know if I'm going to finish it, but I've had a lot of fun along the way.

 

Crackdown 3: I went back to give this game another go to see if there was any fun to be had, and I just can't do it. It's fine, it plays reasonably well, but it really is just a bland open world full of repetitive tasks to tick off; the kind of game we rag on Ubisoft for, except without any of the artifice that makes most Ubisoft games actually pretty good in the end. I don't really enjoy fighting guys, so I went out to tick off the one strain of repetitive tasks that I did actually enjoy: climbing towers. There are 12 of them, and I did the first 11 before being told that I couldn't complete the last one without leveling up my Agility, so I declared it good enough and uninstalled the game. It isn't a bad game, but I think standards have risen since Crackdown 1 came out and with so many other great games out there I just can't spare it any of my precious, finite time on this mortal coil.






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