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#488185 The Video Game News Thread

Posted by Ocelot on 15 January 2019 - 11:45 PM

I don't know if anyone has any energy left for the latest twist in the tale of what was once Amy Hennig's very own Star Wars game, but here goes:


They cancelled it again.


So, for those of you playing along at home, this is the game that has its roots way back in the first version of Uncharted 4 back when Amy Hennig was at Naughty Dog. Some kind of thing went down and Amy Hennig ended up leaving/being forced out of Naughty Dog under circumstances that have never been revealed, and she and her writing partner Todd Stashwick found themselves at E3 working with Visceral Games on what basically seemed like the original Uncharted 4 draft transplanted into Star Wars. We saw exactly this much footage of it back at E3 2016:




Following that, the game was conspicuously absent at E3 2017, and later that year we found out that EA had apparently half-cancelled the game, fired poor Amy Hennig again, shut down Visceral Games and fired everyone of them, too, and handed the game off to EA Vancouver to retool it as some kind of open world thing.


Of course, we didn't see it at E3 2018, either, and now today we get the news that it's been cancelled for good. From the Kotaku article:


Since the publication of this article, I’ve talked to several more people familiar with EA Vancouver’s now-cancelled open-world Star Wars game. This project, which was code-named Orca, was very early in development but would involve playing as a scoundrel or bounty hunter who could explore various open-world planets and work with different factions across the Star Wars universe.



Welp. Hopefully this leads to EA losing the Star Wars licence sooner rather than later. I really can't imagine Disney is happy with this; they've had it since 2013 and have still only managed to put out two widely-disliked first person shooters.

#488184 The Movie News and John Wick Appreciation Thread

Posted by Ocelot on 15 January 2019 - 09:58 PM

Spider-Man vs. Jake Gyllenhaal looks pretty cool and I'm into it, but I would push Jake Gyllenhaal's handsome face out a window to get to that John Wick 3 trailer. Did you see those guys on motorbikes with SWORDS? Did you see Laurence Fishburne about to go Morpheus on some bad guys? DO YOU THINK HE'LL HAVE A SWORD, TOO?



In other excellent news for Ocelot, Christopher McQuarrie has just closed a deal to direct TWO BACK-TO-BACK MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE MOVIES. We are in a golden age of Mission: Impossible, and for my money Christopher McQuarrie gets it better than any of the other M:I directors so far, so I'm delighted that they're going to be cranking out as many as they can while Tom Cruise still has some cartilage left in his knees. The day Cruise Missile can't do the Cruise Run is the day Mission: Impossible dies, so let's strike while the iron is hot, baby. The current schedule is for M:I 7 and 8 to come out in 2020 and 2021, respectively.


And finally, on this Excellent Ocelot News day, the Criterion Collection releases for April include FULL 4K RESTORATIONS OF JACKIE CHAN'S POLICE STORY 1 & 2! This is something I never even dared dream about, but it's happening. Two of my absolute favourite movies ever, and look at these incredible cover arts they've chosen:



#488172 What Are You Currently Playing?

Posted by Ocelot on 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.




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.




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.

#488147 The New! HALO Thread - Hosted by Spark

Posted by Ocelot on 25 December 2018 - 09:43 PM

Oh I used to love RvB back in High School. I was watching it loooooong before I ever even had an Xbox to play Halo on, in fact. I think I lost track of it at some point right around the start of their foray into awesome fight scenes, and then I couldn't remember which season was the last one I saw, so I picked a point at random and I was way off and had no idea what was going on. But now that you've reminded me I'll definitely (hopefully) try and get back into it for real.

#488143 SSLF's 2018 GOATest of all Year Awards, featuring Dante from the Devil Ma...

Posted by Ocelot on 22 December 2018 - 07:40 PM

Some slightly expanded thoughts about various GOTY contenders:


God of War: This game was excellent, and I really don't have too many complaints, but it just didn't quite hit me in the way a true GOTY does, y'know? But I really liked it, enjoyed playing the whole damn thing and getting the Platinum, and I'm looking forward to seeing where they take Bearded Kratos and Boi from here. While the story of Baldur, Freya and Magni/Modi is pretty forgettable, the characterisation is extremely strong and the relationship between angry man and son is where the real meat is (and Mimir was great, too). I had far more fun with the combat than I ever did in any of the old GOWs, so that's a plus, too. Another two or three really good bossfights and some more variety to the enemies would have gone a long way; I think the sequel on the PS5 is really going to blow minds, once a certain fellow with a certain hammer shows up.


Assassin's Creed Odyssey: This is my favourite Assassin's Creed game, and I never thought this series would get its hooks into me again after such a long slump post-Revelations. They've totally overhauled the game from top to bottom, ditching the excruciating control scheme of old for a setup that's light, fun and easy, and turning the bloated action/adventure/stealth design into a pretty respectable attempt at an RPG (admittedly still a bloated one). Odyssey is a gorgeous Ancient Greek world full of memorable characters and wonderful accents, headed by the best lead character in the entire series, Kassandra, a big muscly woman with a husky voice who I had so much fun getting into all sorts of questing trouble with. They even manage to take the tortuous First Civilization story in interesting new directions, positing that First Civilization mad scientists used Ancient Greek times as a testing ground for their unethical experiments and essentially declaring that all Greek Mythology is 'real' in the canon of Assassin's Creed. It's long, the world is too big, and if we're being honest Ubisoft has a long way to go before they're rubbing shoulders with the greats of the RPG genre, but I loved this game to bits.


Spider-Man: Young Ocelot would never have imagined that one day Sony would be funding a big budget blockbuster Spider-Man game. Superheroes were once exclusively the domain of quick and nasty movie tie-in games, but times have changed, and here we are with the madmen signing cheques at Sony having approved this masterpiece of Spider-Man-ery. God it's good. I never expected anything more than a nice-looking New York to swing through, but this game went above and beyond with excellent swinging, fantastic DMC-inspired combat, a genuinely wonderful story, and somehow this open world that you swing through at a hundred miles an hour is also one of the best-looking games I've ever seen. I've seen people complain about the stealth sections and parts where you play as Mary Jane or Miles, but I actually really liked those, too. The bossfights are excellent, the side content is repetitive but so fun to play that I happily cleaned up the whole map; I've seen people complain about the Mary Jane and Miles segments, but I really liked those, too. This game is just pure joy under the thumbs.


Vampyr: On paper, this game is janky, unattractive, and middling at best quality-wise. But once you play it... well, it's still all those things. I don't think Vampyr is really a great game, but it has a series of ideas about RPGing that I found fascinating and that fire it lit inside me kept me pushing through all the mediocre combat and terribly lacking quality of life features it could throw at me. This game is just so clever about meshing traditional RPG morality systems and video game difficulty curves with the actual moral quandaries inherent in being a newly-turned vampire who needs to feed on humans to survive. Feeding gives you huge XP gains, but will lock you out of sidequests and story content because you're eating the quest-givers. Not feeding might seem like the moral high ground, but you actively make the game more difficult by not getting that XP you need to level up. Some NPCs are evil enough that killing them might seem like the right thing to do, but once you start down that road you need to confront your own sense of morality to decide when to stop. It isn't all perfectly executed, but I just thought the game had such excellent ideas to keep you paralyzed by the kinds of excruciating shades-of-grey choices that all the best RPGs force on you.

#488140 The Video Game News Thread

Posted by Ocelot on 21 December 2018 - 03:25 AM

Here's your semi-weekly half-hearted video game news update of things that Ocelot thought were interesting:


The Steam Winter Sale is under way, despite this clearly being Summer in the best hemisphere. I bought Thronebreaker, so hopefully I remember how to play Gwent pretty quickly.


Info about a Resident Evil 2 Remake "1-Shot Demo" has been discovered on the Microsoft Store. It sounds like you get 30 minutes to get to the end of the demo (per try, not 30 minutes total). It's not available for download yet, but hopefully soon.


There's a new trailer for Remedy's upcoming game Control, narrated by the voice of Max Payne, James McCaffrey:


#488135 The Movie News and John Wick Appreciation Thread

Posted by Ocelot on 18 December 2018 - 11:31 PM

Avengers: Endgame





#488133 The New! HALO Thread - Hosted by Spark

Posted by Ocelot on 18 December 2018 - 04:55 AM

OK, fellow players of Halo, let's talk about Halo 2! I... can't say I really liked it. I definitely appreciate the move towards all the dumb video game tropes that I like, like massive setpieces, bossfights, villains to hate and Keith David to listen to. I really liked some of the new Covenant weapons, and I loved that bit where you jump off a bridge onto the new Covenant Metal Gear to kill everyone inside it and shut it down. I still had a fun time blasting through another Halo campaign, buuuut...
It didn't really keep me engaged like the first Halo did, though. Despite a lot of really nice improvements, I could only get through the game one or two levels at a time, whereas I finished the first game in a couple of days. It could just be shooter fatigue, but I also feel like that first Halo has such a solid throughline of "we crashed on a Halo and we have to escape", so you always know where you're going and what you're doing. Halo 2 adopts more of a globetrotting style with a different goal, a different environment, and even a different playable character for seemingly every mission, so it's constantly halting its momentum and restarting over and over. 
But more than that, I think it's just that I found the story totally impenetrable. Bungie likes to come up with a couple of dozen generic nouns to use as names of characters or McGuffins, breezily introduce them exactly once, and then just assume you're keeping up for the entire rest of the game because nobody has time to explain why they don't have time to explain anything to you and the game never slows down to take a breath. You're endlessly pushing towards the next thing while characters throw around capitalized word salad like Truth, Regret, Oracle, The Sacred Icon, High Charity, Brutes and Grunts and Elites and the Forerunners and the Reclaimers and the Demon. I suppose you can either keep up with all of it, or you can just fall hopelessly far behind with no chance of ever catching up.
Adding to my confusion is that the Covenant just speak English now. At first I thought it was an MGS3 situation where their BLARGs were being translated into English for my watching benefit, but then I got to a scene where the Arbiter and Master Chief spoke to eachother in perfect, American-accented English, while being held by a giant tentacle monster that also spoke English, so I don't know what's going on. Honestly, I even had trouble keeping track of where anyone was during the story in the game. I was playing as the Chief on a new Halo and I fell into a tropical ocean, and then I played as the Arbiter for a bit on what I thought was a totally different planet, only to fall down a hole in a snowy installation and end up in a chamber with the aforementioned giant monster... with Master Chief right next to me. And then the very next mission started with Chief teleporting into the inner sanctum of the Covenant's holy city. And I accept that some of this is probably down to me being dumb and missing stuff, but I feel like once we're getting to giant tentacle monsters that live inside Halos and can teleport you wherever they please, you can cut me some slack for losing the thread. The tentacle monster doesn't even come back until after the credits.
I don't mind so much when the rickety, held-together-with-duct-tape Master Chief Collection crashes, but it really sucks that it lacks any kind of individual audio mixing sliders, and its subtitles option doesn't actually seem to work. You get subtitles in cutscenes, where you probably don't need them, but you're left high and dry during gameplay where the bulk of the exposition actually happens, and the audio mixing is such that the in-game dialogue is completely drowned out by the general roar of combat. Basically I just couldn't hear about 75% of the script, and the parts of it I did catch sounded like they wrote a normal script and then went back through it to cut out any of the connective tissue or explanations for things to make absolutely sure I wouldn't understand anything. And then there are these terminals you find that boot you right out of the game to a separate Halo Xbox app to show you some cutscenes of 343 Guilty Spark studying Covenant history or something, which I'm sure the Halo Wiki editing crowd must eat up but doesn't really do anything for making the actual moment-to-moment storytelling of the game any easier to take in.
It is a joy to watch Halo 2 Anniversary's NNGOOORGEOUS cutscenes, though, even if you aren't following the story they tell. It feels like an entire high budget CG movie's worth of goodness, writing cheques that the in-game graphics absolutely cannot cash.You watch the beautiful cutscenes, then the gameplay starts and you think "Oof, these must be the old graphics", so you hit the button to swap to the new style but then you realise, double oof, you were already on the new graphics and these are the old old ones. Again, it's still a nice-looking game, but that ability to A/B so quickly between two sets of graphics just puts it all in such stark contrast. Music is still incredible, though. I don't know what they paid Steve Vai to shred as hard as he did, but whatever it was they got their money's worth.
So I think I'm going to take a break from Halo-ing before 3 so as not to Halo myself out. I was already just sprinting from checkpoint to checkpoint at the end of 2. It's not an ideal point to take a break, considering Halo 2 doesn't really have an ending, as such, but I suppose I'll have to manage.

#488121 The New! HALO Thread - Hosted by Spark

Posted by Ocelot on 13 December 2018 - 06:06 AM

Does anyone remember this one game called Halo? This little game that came out about forty years ago on a console that you can't even refer to by its original name any more because history has stolen "Xbox 1", before video games had any of those things that we apparently love these days like lootboxes and having to pull two triggers to shoot guys instead of just one, and people have been telling me for years that I should play it because apparently it's pretty good? That Halo? Well, I played it. And guess what it SUUUUUCKED lol more like suxbox I'm gonna do a 360 and then walk away lol


No I'm just kidding it was actually really good. I ploughed through the whole game in two days and really enjoyed... most of it, and I'm excited to talk about all this Halo stuff now that I've finally played it after only SEVENTEEN YEARS. What a great game! I've never been much of a shooter guy, but even I can tell when a developer just nails all the dude-shooting mechanics as well as Bungie did here. Every gun feels great to shoot, every enemy has an interesting little quirk to keep you on your toes while you're fighting them, your movement speed and all that sticky-aiming stuff Bungie does feel just right the moment you lay hands on the controller; it's really good. I always hate bullet sponge enemies in shooters, like those big mechs that turned up in Mass Effect 2 that you just have to duuuuump ammo into forever, and to me a good shooter will always give you some way of dealing with everything it throws at you in a fun (and timely) manner. Doom 2016 did this by always giving you that huge arsenal of weapons to make sure you always had something big in stock, but Halo does it with all kinds of different sneaky little tricks, like charging a Plasma Pistol, or hitting Hunters in their gooey lower back bits, or sticking someone with a Plasma Grenade and then running away laughing. It just feels really good to fight dudes in this game.


And then you're fighting dudes for a little while, and you're thinking that this is all pretty great, but then the MUSIC kicks in and you're just like UNG UNG UNG UNNNNNNNNNGH. I don't know if the game sounded like this back in 2001 or if all the music was remastered for the Anniversary remake, but boy oh boy does it sound incredible. Once the string section starts up and those drums kick in? Forget about it. FORGET. ABOUT. IT. Even when I was technically just running around shooting my two-thousandth dude, that music just turns the whole experience into this volcanic, transcendent... thing. Did I mention the drums? Oh my GOURD.


Speaking of the Anniversary edition, I'm a big fan of the button that pops the game back and forth between original and remastered graphics. I hit that pretty regularly over the course of my playthrough, and I think the game looks pretty good either way. The newer look goes pretty hard on the purple, and is maybe a little busy for its own good, but it can also look really nice, too, and the original has that nice, clean look of an older game running at a modern resolution. Though, if I'm perfectly honest, I'm such a spoiled Millennial that I quite often forgot which set of graphics I was looking at, because in the comparison between 17 year old video game graphics and 7 year old video game graphics... they both look kind of old. Nice, but things only stay state-of-the-art for so long, and what was cutting edge for 2011 is now just "Yeah, this looks great for its time". I'm sorry, I hate myself too :P


If you'll allow me to segue into the complaints section, though, I'm surprised nobody seems to talk about how much asset re-use there is in this game. It honestly reminded me of Devil May Cry 4, a game that famously has you turn around at the mid-point and then play through the entire first half of the game again in reverse. You spend the beginning of Halo fighting your way through all manner of Halo environments until you hit the Library, and then the Library is the exact same giant corridor like four times in a row, and then you practically go all the way back to the beginning through all the same levels again. They even find a way to re-use the Covenant ship and the Pillar of Autumn. And, to be fair, there is still some new stuff in the back half; it's definitely not to the same extent as DMC4. The addition of the Flood changes your playstyle a whole lot, and it's a whole lot of fun seeing the absolute chaos of all the different enemy types fighting eachother as you steamroll through with your new shotgun. It didn't ruin the game for me or anything, but, y'know, you like to see new stuff all the same.


My biggest complaint about this game is that it ranks pretty highly on the "WHERE DO I GO!?"-o-meter, with the bulk of the indoor levels made up of identical-looking rooms where I'd get into gunfights, get turned around and then forget which door I came in. It's one of those games where you have to play the "Oh, enemies, I must be going the right way" game a lot. That is, until I realised in THE FINAL LEVEL that there's a little waypoint arrow on the assault rifle's little ammo-counter screen thing that always points towards your objective. I legitimately never even saw it. I... I am not a smart man, you guys.


I had some frustrations with some of the vehicle levels, like getting insta-killed any time a Ghost or a Banshee even brushed up against me (I even got killed by MY OWN Banshee once by getting out too far from the ground and having it fall on me), but overall I found Halo incredibly playable for a game of its vintage. And now I have three more Halos in this here Master Chief Collection, so I suppose I'll have to play those, too. I still remember some guys I knew in High School taking the day off school when Halo 2 came out, so it feels weird to have it ready and waiting to go right after I finish the first game :P

#488116 What Are You Currently Playing?

Posted by Ocelot on 11 December 2018 - 04:24 AM

I feel like this is truly a momentous occasion. I think you should commemorate it with a full Ocelot Write UpTM for each entry in the series. :P


Oh God, this is that peer pressure they always talk about, isn't it? I suppose I can't back out now :P


But first I've been playing... well, I've basically been playing the DMC5 demo over and over, but I managed to tear myself away from it long enough to play through Gears of War 4, which I thought was pretty fun.


I'm peripherally aware that there's a whole Gears of War expanded universe out there of books and comics, and I know that stuff had started trickling into the games by the time Gears 3 rolled around and featured a ton of new characters I'd never heard of before. I've been on both sides of that situation, and I feel like there's never a good way of doing it. When comic characters started turning up in Gears and Assassin's Creed I just felt left out, whereas when Kahlee Sanders from the Mass Effect books popped up in ME3 I just felt like such a corporate drone for having bought all their dumb cross-media material and clapping like the trained seal I was. From what I understand the same sort of stuff starts happening in the Halo series at a certain point, too, so we'll see how that goes.


Gears 4 starts with a clever little recap of the history of... the planet they live on in Gears land, where you play through little snippets of historical battles as various nameless soldiers. The first one has you fighting "Indies", who at first I thought were Locust wearing armour but then I realised must actually be humans, and that this particular historical war must have been fought before the Locust ever dug their way out of the ground on Gears Planet. Y'know, I have no idea what the lore of Gears is. I don't know if Earth is even a thing in Gears, to be honest. Anyway, eventually you skip ahead to what I think they said was 20 years post Gears 3 and you play as Marcus Fenix's son J.D., who I feel like must be older than 20 but Gears character proportions make it impossible to tell.


J.D. Fenix and his friends Del and Laura Bailey shoot a bunch of robots, then some monsters called Swarm, then after a little while the Locust come back and so does old grumpy Marcus, and it's all a bit of face shooting fun. The writing strikes the same "lol memes" tone as Mass Effect Andromeda, to the point where the entire game feels like an extended hack comedy skit running through all your favourite Reddit vernacular.. The only thing this game loves more than network-sitcom-esque jokes is teasing dramatic reveals of characters and things you remember from the older Gears games (drink every time a character says "I know someone who can help us..." and almost looks directly into the camera). I don't know if I've ever played a more painfully self-referential ourobouros of a game.


But the thing is that Gears has always been an unabashedly stupid game about meatheads screaming all the time and shooting giant worms, so pivoting to idiots saying memes at eachother while shooting giant worms isn't as jarring a departure from the norm as Andromeda was from my beautiful boy Mass Effect. Gears 4 is really short, has some gorgeous graphics and art design, some absolutely ridiculous setpieces, and ends with you and Laura Bailey getting into Gears of War Megazords to just kill everything in the entire world:



And I'm pretty OK with that. I'm also pretty happy that Gears 5 seems to have Laura Bailey as the main character, because J.D. really left no impression on me in 4.

#488112 Scorp's RPG Corner - Pathfinder: Kingmaker is here

Posted by Ocelot on 08 December 2018 - 01:19 AM

I've got some serious hype going for Obsidian's new salt in Bethesda's Fallout 76 wound video game, The Outer Worlds. Here's 15 minutes of gameplay, and it's looking goooooood:



So it's Tim Cain and Leonard Boyarsky, and it seems like they've basically made Fallout New Vegas 2 in all but name, with care taken to cram the game full of basically everything people complain is absent from modern RPGs. Real dialogue options that aren't just the same sentiment worded three different ways? Got'em. Fully-worded sentences instead of one-word summaries? Yep. Companion characters who aren't just there to idolise you? Mm hmm. The overall style seems like Fallout mixed with Firefly, and while I'm not crazy about the No Man's Sky colour palette it does look impressively solid for an Obsidian game. And, boy oh boy is this reveal perfectly timed given what Bethesda's going through right now with Fallout 76 :P



#488109 The Video Game News Thread

Posted by Ocelot on 07 December 2018 - 04:52 PM

Here's a quick roundup of some TGA stuff:


Rage 2:



Far Cry New Dawn:



Persona 5's Joker in Smash Ultimate:



Dragon Age: The Dread Wolf Rises:



The Pathless, from the makers of Abzu, your requisite great-looking indie game:


#488088 What Are You Currently Playing?

Posted by Ocelot on 04 December 2018 - 10:29 PM

Hey, what's up, you guys? Oh, me? Oh, nothin', just LOVING MY NEW XBOX ONE X LIKE A SON.


So I was trying to work out how to get Ninja Gaiden Black, because I know it's available on XB1 through backwards compatibility and I know the 1X magically increases the resolution to FOUR KAY, but the game was never released in Australia and as such isn't available on the online store here. So I was trying to work out the exact steps required to make a new American Xbox account, and then buy a prepaid card on eBay or something, and then I guess use a VPN to actually buy through the US Xbox online store because it always seems to detect me as a filthy down under convict even when I specifically type in the US URL...


And then I stumbled across a Reddit post implying that, with a Game Pass subscription, you can just change your console's region to access another country's Game Pass lineup. And Ninja Gaiden Black happens to be a Game Pass game in the US. But there's no way it could be that simple, right? That's just not how region-specific licencing contracts for subscription services work in this nightmare dystopia of 2018. Nope. Couldn't possibly be right. Except I tried it and it worked. It just worked! I just told the Xbox I was in America now, restarted it, and suddenly it was treating me like a real American: misspelling words with 'u's in them, giving me a handgun I hadn't asked for, but most importantly letting me buy all the video games!


So, yeah, I have Ninja Gaiden Black now. I mean, I haven't played it yet, but I can, and you don't know how much that means to a lifelong PAL peasant like little old me. I've also filled my hard drive with Game Pass games, so I'll be chewing through some of those over the next few months. I've played the first few hours of Forza Horizon 4, which is great, and I think I'm finally going to play all the Halos. And I know Hellblade is coming to Game Pass in a few days, so I'm excited to try that one too. Video games!

#488073 What Are You Currently Playing?

Posted by Ocelot on 24 November 2018 - 07:29 PM

I've been playing the game of hanging out for Black Friday deals, hoping to find a nice cheap Xbox One S that I could use as a 4K Blu Ray player and Game Pass machine, and I think I accidentally played it too well because... I bought an Xbox One X, you guys. I got the most insane deal on it by creating a US eBay account to take advantage of a limited time offer they were doing for a 15% off code if you use the eBay app, using that to buy an 8 game bundle that Australia's EB Games eBay store was doing, and then I sold all the games and kept the console. At the end of it all I now have a brand new XB1X for $315 Australian, which is like $230 US, which is basically the greatest thing I've ever done in my life. It's a cool limited edition one, too, that reminds me of my old Pokemon Gold/Silver Gameboy Colour from back in the day:




So I've been playing around with it for the last few days, and I love this thing! I'm now a pathetic slave to capitalism who owns all three of the current gen consoles, and this is by far the best one. It's teeny tiny, it's dead silent, and I paid a buck to get two months of Game Pass (they gave me an extra one for turning on automatic renewal) so I'm currently downloading every Microsoft exclusive of the entire generation. The dashboard menu is a little confusing and definitely not as snappy as my PS4 Pro's, and I wish it had a dedicated screenshot button on the controller, but everything else here is just so good. Sony screwed up with the PS4 Pro. I know the XB1X is $500 and the Pro's only $400, but, straight up, Sony should have charged $500 too and just made a better console. I've had a 1X for half a week and I already never want to play my Pro again. I mean, I will, because of those damn irresistible Sony exclusives, but I'll be thinking about my X the whole time :P


Anyway, how about some actual games? Well, now that I have the ultimate graphical powerhouse video game machine, I naturally chose to put that horsepower to the test with the stunning visual spectacle that is... Sherlock Holmes: The Devil's Daughter, because it's leaving Game Pass at the end of the month and I wanted to get in on it while I could. And it's great! Though I prefer to call it Sherlock Hamms: The Devil's Draper, because Sherlock looks so much like Jon Hamm in this game I can't see anything else:




This game is all the wonderful creativity and joy of that prince of genres, Eurojank, but with a very welcome attention to logical mystery gameplay design and quality of life features that make it really enjoyable to play. Thanks to certain conveniences like clear indications of when you've investigated everything in a given room, good checkpointing in the occasional goofy action sequences, and seemingly no missable clues or points of no return, I'm having a really relaxing, thoughtful time churning through some solid detective work. 
I really appreciate the sense of agency the game gives you in your sleuthing, too. I love detective games, but all too often the player is only allowed to do the rote footwork, while the actual epiphanies and dramatic accusations are either pre-scripted or only happen in cutscene land (AHEM L.A. NOIRE AHHRMCOUGH). Devil's Daughter carries over the Deduction Board from Crimes & Punishments, that allows you to link together various clues and leads you've uncovered, but what I really like is that the game trusts you to work things out for yourself and won't step in to lead you down a particular part. You're free to twist the clues in whichever direction you like, and you can almost always end a case before you've even seen half the content by accusing the first guy you can drum up a cockamamie case against. There will always be some hints there if you go looking for them, but for the most part it's very hands-off, and all about the thrill of the chase.
It's not all amazing, with a few more one-off action sequences and minigames than you'd really want. Apart from a very ill-advised extended Sherlock-o-vision section in an imaginary Mayan temple, though, they're all fairly inoffensive and short. I think this is a really great game, so if you have Game Pass (or you're one of those dinosaurs who still buys games) and you're in the mood for some high quality detective-ing, I'd strongly recommend it.
I'm also dabbling in a bit of The Technomancer, also Eurojank, also leaving Game Pass this week. It's an action RPG set on Mars, with a grungy cyberpunk kind of aesthetic and a whole bunch of lore that it very confusingly dumps all over you in an opening cutscene that nobody could possibly follow. The writing has a very non-native English feel to it, and the mechanics of the storytelling are pretty poor, trying to drop revelations on the audience before they've set up why said revelation is significant. The titular Technomancers are your Spectre/Grey Warden/Pathfinder du jour (basically science wizards with bonking sticks), and your character is a new initiate to the fold, and your initiation ceremony involves watching this holotape recording of a guy from the past telling a doctor that he feels this new power growing in his body, which I took to be the origin of the Technomancers. Except the game treats it like this terrible secret that all Technomancers must keep, and if it ever got out they'd be cast out, and... I have no idea why. It's just not well done.
And neither is the combat, unfortunately. It's a very simple melee attack system where you can switch between three fighting styles, throw out some magic attacks and dodge, but the camera is set too low so your own character model obscures your enemy's model and you can't see whether they're attacking you. Enemy attacks aren't well telegraphed, it's hard to know which part of the attack is actually going to do damage so you never know quite when to dodge, and worst of all there's this screen shake effect when you do damage on enemies and I swear it makes it impossible to tell when you're taking damage because the screen is just shaking all the time.
I hate to be so critical, because I do love my janky European RPGs and it pains me to think of so many devs working away on a project like this and then having some schmuck on the internet systematically go through how every element of it is bad, but... it's kind of bad, though.
And, of course, I'm still slogging away through Red Dead Redemption 2. I kind of hate the game at this point, to be honest. It's just too long, too boring, too dull. And I want to be clear that the beautiful world and the attention to detail and the wonderful character writing are all absolutely 12/10 masterpiece level, but gaaaaawd actually playing the game is just the most rote, repetitive gameplay design over and over and over forever. I'm in Chapter 6 now, which I understand is the last one, but then apparently there are long epilogues after that, and I've been ready for this game to be over for like thirty hours now.

#488064 The Video Game News Thread

Posted by Ocelot on 16 November 2018 - 11:10 PM



So hot on the heels of the potential PS5 hype, we have a rumour about a new Xbox coming in 2019: apparently it's an Xbox One S with no disc drive:


The company is planning to release an updated console next year, but this device will not be in the Scarlett family, according to people familiar with the company’s plans...


...In addition to the new console, there will be a ‘disc-to-digital’ program that, as the name states, turns your physical games into digital downloads. The idea is that you can take your disc to a participating retailer (like the Microsoft store) and trade in your disc for a digital download.

So that's cool for people who like that kind of thing. It seems like you can go pretty far with just Game Pass on an XB1, so a really cheap one will probably sell well. I think I'm going to get a regular Xbox One S this Black Friday, though. The 4K Blu Ray drive is a huge selling point for me, and going all digital isn't really an option where I live (bad internet, and games are much, much cheaper at retail).