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#2461 Ocelot


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Posted 31 May 2012 - 09:31 PM

Ooh, I didn't like Revelations either! :P

I don't know if there's a franchise out there with more ups and downs than Assassin's Creed. I remember being so excited for the Jade Raymond-narrated gameplay demos from way back in 2006ish, and even moreso when Kristen Bell accidentally let it slip that there were some sci-fi elements to the game that Ubisoft was trying to hush up. Watching Altair shoulder his way through crowds and parkour around a whole city instead of just predefined platforming sections was amazing, and imagine my surprise when the game came out and wasn't really all that good. I still loved it, but I knew I'd be in the minority, and when it reviewed pretty poorly and was shipped without an ending I was pretty sure the 'Assassin's Creed Trilogy' that Ubisoft had been talking about was dead in the water.

But then Assassin's Creed 2 was announced out of the blue, and it was totally fantastic and I loved it. So that's up, down, up, and then the next down came when Ubisoft announced their plans to turn Assassin's Creed into a yearly franchise (i.e. run it into the ground). What? We're playing as Ezio again? You're not going to end the trilogy? You're just going to re-use assets and pump out a barely different game year after- OH GOD BROTHERHOOD IS BRILLIANT! I really loved almost everything about Brotherhood; I still think it's the best game in the series by a long way, so I was at least looking forward to Revelations on an academic level even though I'd pretty much given up on getting a resolution for Desmond's story.

But Revelations is well and truly the 'run straight into the ground' for the series. It's the embodiment of all the worst things about the series. The overcomplicated controls and overabundance of systems to watch over, the story that remains stagnant because they want to stretch out the series as long as possible, the lack of any real direction or innovation for the future of the series; it's just the same game as Brotherhood but every aspect of it has had an extra thing tacked on top of it.

I actually really enjoyed the assassin-recruitment part of Brotherhood. Once I discovered how useful the dudes were I just stopped playing the story completely and focused on recruiting and training until I had a full complement of Master Assassins, and from then on I rarely killed anyone by myself. It changed the classic gameplay of the series almost entirely, even down to the way I jumped around rooftops, because I was always just calling my bros in to fight for me. Whenever I could get away with it I called down arrow storms to avoid fights, or sent an assassin after a fleeing target so I wouldn't have to chase him; I loved it. I even enjoyed the mechanic of capturing Borgia Towers to unlock extra slots for recruiting more assassins, even if some of those encounters were extraordinarily frustrating (pro tip: call assassins, use crossbow). Revelations has all the same stuff, only now there are five more steps to every part of the process. Your assassin friends now make you go on boring missions with them before they'll follow you, and you now have to raise them to level 10 instead of 7 in the minigame thing. You have to do missions to recruit them, missions to see how they're going, missions to declare them assassins and then more missions to make them masters. The worst thing is that you still have to capture towers before you can recruit assassins, only now the bad guys will take the towers back unless you run around the city finding heralds to bribe to lower your notoriety meter every time you break the law (which you'll do every 30 seconds). If the Templars take back a tower you have to play a terrible tower defence game to get it back. Revelations is a game about filling, emptying, or keeping a constant watchful eye on dozens and dozens of meters and bars.

In Brotherhood Ezio makes his way through the underworld of Rome to eventually become the leader of all the Assassins of Europe. It's pretty cool; I don't really care about Ezio as a character at all, but I enjoyed his story. Revelations throws that all away in the first couple of minutes by having Ezio move to Constantinople and basically be a hobo for the whole game. All the characters call you their master and mentor, but there are precisely zero gameplay benefits to your position; you still have to build up everything you had in Brotherhood and in a far more tedious manner. Worse yet, the whole reason they wanted to bring back Ezio for yet another game is to end his story, and they don't do it. They end Altair's story, but nobody cares about seeing him again because we all hated Altair. Ezio's final years are confined to a dumb animated movie that you can only get from buying the Collector's Edition of Revelations, as far as I know.

And all those cinematic moments where you press push the analogue stick forward to make Ezio do cool things are just the worst. There's a horse-and-cart battle thing in the first hour or so of the game that I honestly considered giving up on because the controls were so bad. I failed it four or five times in a row. Later in the game Ezio parasails behind another cart for like twenty minutes, and you have to fly him between buildings and swoop down on some dudes like you're playing Just Cause 2.

It'd be really easy to consider Revelations a non-canon spin-off for the series. Literally nothing happens to further the overall plot of the series, other than some really uninteresting backstory for Desmond. All the characters who return from previous games have completely different character models now, to the point where it isn't hard to imagine they just aren't the same people. Desmond and his ancestors were all modelled after the likeness of a real guy, and Lucy was obviously Kristen Bell, and the fact that they killed off one character and changed the models of the rest makes me think that maybe they only signed three-game-deals with those people and weren't able to renegotiate their contracts.

Anyway, I'm hoping Ubisoft takes a good look at how crummy Revelations was in time for AC3. I kind of hope they go back to basics and just get rid of all the meters and bars and systems and mechanics they've been cramming in. And I wouldn't complain at all if they just abandoned the classic Assassin's Creed controls. A scheme that wouldn't require a constant on-screen, context-sensitive display of button prompts would be a good start.

#2462 Ryoma


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Posted 31 May 2012 - 09:40 PM

I know this isn't entirely the right place to post this, but I figured it would be better here than in its own topic. The Humble Indie Game Bundle V is here! And it contains some -really- good stuff. Psychonauts, for me, is the highlight, but everything here is strong content. Psychonauts, for me, is the highlight, but this is probably the best bundle yet!

If you don't know, the Humble Bundle takes Independently developed games, and lets you choose your price for the group of them. If you beat the average price, you get an extra game (in this case, Bastion). Plus soundtracks for all games, and it's DRM Free. AND, it goes to charity! If you have even a slight interest in any of these games, getting the bundle just makes sense.

Link: www.humblebundle.com

Hawk and I have been getting every bundle that comes out, and even if we don't play the games, we still get it cuz it's a good cause. Go check it out! :D



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#2463 Hawk


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Posted 07 June 2012 - 10:12 AM

Just beat Dark Souls, therefore proving my awesomeness as a gamer. I shall soon type a rant about the superiority of Demon's Souls relative to Dark Souls that shall put even Ocelot's posts to shame, but that shall come in due time.



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#2464 The Captain

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 05:10 AM

After finding out about Zeno Clash 2 and the revamps it's bringing, I've opted to start playing 1 again. Apart from going through on a harder difficulty, I'm also taking the time after each fight (Or during, in many cases) to explore the environment more. There's definitely a lot of little tidbits to be picked up on.


#2465 Ocelot


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Posted 08 June 2012 - 08:17 AM

I played Enslaved shortly before E3 took its customary week out of my life. It was something I'd been meaning to do for a while, having played the first four chapters shortly after the game came out. I stopped playing it there, because starting games and stopping and forgetting the controls and story and having to restart them months later is my curse. I have a weird relationship with Ninja Theory which started back when I was a PS3-only owner starving for games in a harsh, PS3-has-no-gaem world and Heavenly Sword was the only interesting thing on the horizon. I really like what Ninja Theory does with their performance-capture storytelling, but I don't like the way they make bad games that suck.

Sensational headlines! Heavenly Sword's a fine game for something that came out so early in a console's life. It has a really interesting combat system that only lets you jump during combos and has no manual block feature, but I had a lot of fun with it back in the day. Unfortunately, since this was a game in the early days of the PS3, you're called upon to control projectiles with the SIXAXIS constantly. You play as two different characters, Nariko who wields the titular (teehee) Heavenly Sword and Kai who has a neat crossbow/rocket launcher thing, and you'd think Ninja Theory secretly wanted to make the game a flight simulator for all the SIXAXISing you'll do. Nariko can pick up things and throw them, inside combat and out, so you'll be aftertouching dropped shields and weapons and bodies into dudes all day long. All the puzzles in the game involve Nariko finding a box full of shields and having to throw them at big gong button things. Kai's sections are almost always extended sniping levels, with a little bit of closer-range shooting to mix it up.

What Heavenly Sword excelled at, though, was the insane cutscenes the likes of which had never been seen in vidjergames before. Here was this company hiring actual actors, gluing little white balls all over their faces and telling them to overact as hard as they could, and the result was something that I don't think has ever been equalled. Heavenly Sword wasn't a story of subtlety, is what I'm saying. Andy Serkis, Olivia Dunham from Fringe, were all acting their hearts out, stepping on eachother's lines and no doubt blowing their voices out every day.

Unfortunately, the game got savaged for being really short, in an era before we were used to four-hour Collar Doodies and padding out singleplayer campaigns with wave-based survival level after wave-based survival level. Heavenly Sword was a good six or seven hours long, and once you were done you were done because there weren't any extra modes or Achievements or any secondary goals unless you wanted to unlock all dat concept art. There were some really cool moments during the game, one that really sticks out at me because it's one of the few times I've felt like the ultra-powerful God that a vidjergame narrative has told me I am. God of War is always telling you what a badass you are right before making you fight six or seven basic enemies that you need to hit ten times each to even stagger. In Heavenly Sword there's a moment where you singlehandedly fight an entire army that's so big it takes the framerate down to single digits. Even your basic attacks murder a dozen men and send their corpses flying away and- oh wait, I meant to talk about Enslaved.

So Enslaved isn't very good either. Andy Serkis returns as an overacting gentleman named Monkey, bound by a Running-Man-esque slave collar to a scantily-clad young lady named Trip who wants to get back to her peaceful windfarming colony after being abducted by slavers. Ninja Theory is great at creating unique worlds to set their games in, and Enslaved is even more uniquerer than most because it's a post-apocalypse (stay with me) with colour! It's America after humanity is over, reclaimed by nature and populated by the immortal death-robots we evidently destroyed ourselves with. What little technology exists is a peculiar mix of ultra-sci-fi and whatever came before Steampunk. Brasspunk? Characters have laser weapons hastily repaired with rusty, scavenged metal, and holographic computers to wirelessly hack what look to be barred wooden doors. In the way that the Fallout universe never developed transistors, Enslaved's world seems much like our own but for one small difference: everything is robots. Apparently someone invented the robot one day and from then on nobody wanted to invent anything else.

The bulk of the gameplay is you and Trip climbing through the wreckage of America, being waylaid by an endless supply of robots that you can occasionally sneak past but will usually have to clobber with your stick. The platforming really just a chance to appreciate your surroundings, though, because there's no hint of depth to it. The environments are strewn with highlighted silver objects to let you know where you can jump, and traversal is a simple matter of pointing the analogue stick at the shiny thing and pressing the button. There's not much to the combat, either, with only a few different attacks and no real flash or style. So, where exactly is the meat of the game?

That's a good question. Presumably you'll get attached to the characters and your emotional investment will keep you playing. Unfortunately, it takes fully half the game before they really start talking to eachother. It's interesting to have a game with only two characters in it, but things only really pick up when they meet the third character. From there it's pretty great; the actors all play off eachother really well and the charm level goes way up. There's a really peculiar subplot that I thought was going somewhere amazing, but it doesn't really pan out in the end. It's still a great story that kept me playing despite the mediocre gameplay part, but it's kept pretty strictly to cutscenes and could just as easily have been a movie. Having to jump on things and hit robots with a stick doesn't add anything to the experience, y'know? There are a few moments where they try to foster a relationship between you and Trip by having you help her during platforming or rescue her from robots, but they don't really work very well.

Oh, and it handles collectibles almost as terribly as Alan Wake did. In this age of Achievements, all games are required by law to make you hunt for a certain number of hidden items that you'll never find on your own but will make a big enough dent to the number of to make using a guide later on harder than it has to be. Sometimes these are integrated into the game well, such as in the Batman games, and sometimes there are just hundreds and hundreds of the things scattered all over the place for no reason at all. Alan Wake has about seven different kinds of collectibles, while Enslaved only has two but there are eighty million of them. They're called tech points, and they're literally just orange orbs floating in the air for no reason at all. You give them to Trip in exchange for her teaching you how to hit robots better, which is the most contrived way of inserting an XP system into a game I can think of. They aren't magnetic like, say, coins in the Lego games, and Enslaved is big on animation over control responsiveness, so circling around to pick them all up is needlessly frustrating. It's the worst.

So, Enslaved is a game that transcends its rote and played-out gameplay, but it doesn't transcend it very far. I also have the DLC for it, Pigsy's Perfect 10, but I don't know if I really want to play it because all the reviews I've read say it's frustratingly trial-and-error-y.

#2466 Risk



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Posted 08 June 2012 - 08:53 AM

Playing plenty of Killing Floor, always fun. Wish I had some character packs, though.

I'm also playing Planescape: Torment. It's on the top five list of the majority of the darkest nether region of the Internet which shall not be named, so I had to try it out. It's actually pretty great and well written. I just hope I have the motivation to play it through to the end.


#2467 Nine



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Posted 08 June 2012 - 10:03 AM

The Witcher II, Skyrim, TF2.

#2468 Risk



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Posted 11 June 2012 - 11:22 AM

Dark. F***ing. Souls.

Me and my cousin just bought it today, and I have no place to play it but his house. But got-dang I'm digging this game. The difficulty, the heavy combat, the dark atmosphere. It's one of those few games that are fun to even watch, because you can't help but go "OH DAMN" when your bud gets iced.


#2469 Delta


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Posted 11 June 2012 - 07:03 PM

Ghost Recon: Future Soldier - Just finished the campaign last night, now time to go back for challenges and play a bunch of Guerilla mode and Multiplayer woo

Gears of War 3 - got this one recently too (yeah I know, I'm late lol), already finished the Campaign, but I gotta do it on Insanity and try my hand at Horde Mode

Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword - Been progressing through this one a little slowly simply because I don't get my hands on the Wii very often. But yeah, it's amazing

Pokemon White - started a new playthrough not too long ago, only at the second gym right now

Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past - found a GBA copy the other day, HAD to grab it, best top-down Zelda ever. At the first temple.

So yeah, I have a lot of games to play right now lol

EDIT: Oh yeah, forgot about Okami, which I've barely touched cuz when I'm on the Wii I'm playing Skyward Sword lol

Edited by Delta, 11 June 2012 - 07:04 PM.

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#2470 Kasab


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Posted 11 June 2012 - 11:00 PM

As much as I like to say that I'm in love with EVE Online, I've realised that I'm lying to myself. I don't love EVE Online; I love a picturesque ideal that's possible to achieve in EVE Online, but that I haven't yet seen for myself. Mostly.
This is EVE Online in my imagination:
Brutal, never-ending war across all sectors of the known universe between a thousand profit-driven corporations, making and breaking alliances like clothing in a tumble-dryer without cling-free. I think of carriers, battlecruisers, logistics units, tactics officers, railguns, missiles, lasers, munitions, chokepoints, warp gates, sabotages, ambushes, ransoms... and I think of how sweet it is to have a giant, phallic black titan in which I can don my sleek future space duds and stroll over to my 100" plasma screen TV and use it to order my entire fleet to warp in like it's hot drop 'o' clock.
This is EVE Online when I actually play it:
EVE Online's sprawling, emergent universe of advanced economics and backstabbing is possible to navigate, it just takes a huge amount of time and dedication. It becomes a job. A routine. Ratting and mining, maybe with the occasional bit of piracy. Unless you have good contacts, it takes a very long time before you get to even flying a ship in a small battle, let alone commanding or participating in pangalactic scrimmages. I happen to be in a corporation that cripples other ships and forces the pilots to choose between singing My Little Pony songs or getting completely obliterated.

Trying to describe the merits of EVE Online to another person means not telling them that the majority of players won't be doing this.
Anyone reading this probably has the impression that EVE Online is a job that takes money from you, and I'd say that's pretty true. It's not a game for everyone, and it's often a game that sounds more fun than it is. Yet it's still offers an experience that- aside from DayZ -is completely unique: that of a completely player-run environment in which people live, fight, and die for reasons they decided on, not the game.

Psst. I no longer come here anymore.

#2471 Rune Walsh

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Posted 14 June 2012 - 05:04 AM

Finished my first playthrough of Mass Effect 1. Continuing with this character in Mass Effect 2.

#2472 Risk



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Posted 14 June 2012 - 08:40 AM

I have to set Dark Souls aside, for my cousin owns it, and my cousin I am not. However, I have started on a classic of classics... S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Shadow of Chernobyl.

My god it feels good to finally be able to play this game.


#2473 Ocelot


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Posted 14 June 2012 - 07:35 PM

With E3 out of the way for another year I'm left feeling refreshed and reinvigorated for another year of video games. My biggest takeaway from the show was something along the lines of: "PC GAMING WOOO!" With the WiiU being sent out to die and the real console-makers demoing all their games on PCs anyway, I was spurred to waste some more money on my PC. I can justify the new graphics card, because my old one literally had a fan duct-taped to it after the one it came with broke, but the new CPU is there just because. The old one didn't have a 'K' on the end of the model number, clearly it had to go. So, after a morning of surprisingly-smooth-sailing PC-rebuilding, I decided to put my new rig through its paces. I redownloaded that universal benchmark we all know and love, the game that, despite its age, can still give any computer a run for its money. That's right, Tomb Raider Underworld!

I really liked Tomb Raider Legend, but I haven't played much of the other two games built on the Legend engine. Anniversary was a remake of the first game, but Underworld seems to be a direct sequel to the events of Legend. Those of you who played Legend to the end will no doubt remember the "WHERE *BLAM* IS *BLAM* MY *BLAM* MOTHER?" scene, but if you're anything like me your appreciation for Keeley Hawes' lovely shouting voice completely overshadowed the answer to that question which, it turns out, was "Avalon". Tomb Raider Underworld is all about Norse Mythology, so naturally the opening level has you brutally murdering a Kraken. Cartwheeling into ancient tombs and killing everything inside: classic Lara.

I played the demo for Underworld a while back, and I remember thinking it controlled awfully. I was playing the PC version with a 360 controller hooked up, and the camera was so bad I just couldn't make any jumps and a bunch of tigers gored me to death. This time I decided to go the mouse-and-keyboard route, and I'm having much more success. Lara's an Olympic-level gymnast, but she prefers to see the world in 90 degree angles so it helps to be able to swing the camera around to get your jumps lined up just right. Unfortunately the camera likes to swoop around to show you where to go, and if you happen to be wiggling the mouse while it does so it's like booking a one-way ticket to seizure-ville. It's alright for the most part, but when it's bad it's ruh-heally bad. All the help forums I went to when I was trying to find out how to make the game not broken (long story short: turn on V-sync) mentioned that the developers had changed the camera for the worse since Legend and Anniversary, which is a shame.

After some teeth-grinding and swearing-until-hoarse early on, I feel like I have a pretty good handle on the controls and I'm remembering how great TR Legend was. Underworld is very much just another Legend in HD, and as such it feels sort of dated in today's world of press-A-to-win cinematigames, but you just don't get games like this anymore. Running and jumping off a ledge, grappling a hook in midair, running sideways along the wall beneath it and flipping outwards off the wall to clear a gap is pretty damn hard, but when you pull it off you feel super awesome. You have to put the time in to understand how all the jumping and flipping and swinging works, and that involves a lot of falling all the way down and climbing all the way back up, but the skills you develop make it far more rewarding than, say, Enslaved, where you point the analogue stick at the next shiny thing and press the button. Spending forty-five minutes quietly climbing around a room pulling levers and swinging around stuff, slowly nutting out a huge, level-spanning puzzle is something only Tomb Raider can deliver, and I'm really enjoying Underworld so far.

I wish there weren't so many monsters in all these ruins, though. I enjoyed shooting sharks in their faces with a speargun in the first level, but then I had to murder a bunch of men on a ship and then a bunch of tigers and then some giant lizards and it was all awful. It's boring old lock-on shooting, where all the enemies have too much health and move way faster than Lara and all the poor lass can do is somersault her little heart out and hope for the best. There's a slowy-downy-time system, because of course there is, but it seems almost impenetrable. The game popped up some text on screen about using it to enter some kind of headshot mode by pressing Z and holding G and pressing H and aiming carefully or something, but all that did was get me mauled by a tiger so I'm just going to stick to somersaulting. You can't shoot while you cartwheel, which seems like a missed opportunity; I'm of the firm opinion that almost all shooters would be better off if you just dropped Max Payne's control scheme into them and called it a day. If you must interrupt my free-climbing by making me murder lizards, at least let me do it with slow-motion mid-air headshots.

I have to mention Keeley Hawes, because I may be a little bit in love with her. The final scene of TR Legend is indelibly imprinted within my soul, but even when she isn't screaming her lungs out she's magnificent. She gives Lara this sense of quiet intelligence and understated poshness, of determination but with a hint of frivolity that I just lurve. She makes it perfectly believable when Lara strolls into an ancient crypt and fluently translates the proto-Norse runes etched into the walls before backflipping off a wall and shooting four tigers. She speaks with just the right accent, and it seems like maybe she's talking quietly but very close to the microphone because there's this confidential quality to some of her little asides. Whereas Nathan Drake keeps up a constant stream of grunts and yelps because he's always juuuust barely in control of his situation, Keeley Hawes' Lara seems perfectly confident in her abilities, quietly leaping and flipping with perfect technique. I really like that difference between the two of them, Tomb Raider and Dude Raider. Nate trips over everything, catches every ledge by his fingertips and survives by the skin of his teeth, whereas Lara is much too prim and proper for any of that nonsense and it shows in her animations and voice acting. When Lara does let out a sardonic quip it seems even funnier for its rarity. Also, maybe I just like listening to Keeley Hawes saying things, alright?

#2474 Fortiest of all K's

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Posted 15 June 2012 - 02:40 AM

Sooooo... I decided it would be a good idea to buy Final Fantasy XIII and XIII-2. (Which are confusing in the names themselves, why isn't XIII-2 just XIV?)

I did so because I've never really played a Final Fantasy game before, other than about an hour on my cousin's save of X (or X-2, I can't remember) yeeeaaaarrrrsss ago.

And then I read the reviews which says that it slaughters not only the FF franchise, but RPGs in general. The latter of which was the opinion of someone from BioWare, one of my most respected (and of which my RPG diet gets its meaty substance) video game companies.

I've played about 2 hours so far, and its confusing as hell. The plot is non-existant. I don't know whether its all stuff I'm meant to know from previous FF games that I haven't played, or whether this is independent and just tight on the detail-revealing.

The characters are... crazy. So is the action. But I've heard what JRPGs are like, so I went in expecting that sorta thing. The closest I've ever got to a JRPG are Lost Planet and Dead Rising. Yeah. I don't really head into foreign territories all that often. I like to stick with games which start off in the English language.

I'm kind of enjoying it so far, but I sense that's just because it's something new, not because its something good. The camera, for a start, seems to throw a hissy fit every time I tear it from its designated viewpoint. If it doesn't want to look around, just keep it from doing so entirely, like in a game like Jade Empire where the camera just looks where the character goes.

As I said, I'm two hours in and... well... not much has happened. I'm still in the same city I started in. The three seperate character storylines are kind of starting to hook up together, and some plot points are being tantalisingly thrown into the fray, enticing me to carry on to find out more. I guess this Serah chick is gonna be the gal that gets Snow and Lightning to work together. (Which, in itself, would be a meteorological anomaly :P).

The kid characters are... eurgh. Irritating. Vanille has this stupid not-even-Australian accent which just pees me off. And the snotty little wimpy kid that I can't even remember the name of irritates me every time he says 'oh no, you can't fight THOSE' and then proceeds to whoop said foul timorous beasty's behind within 10 seconds.

The other characters are kind of likeable. Sazh seems pretty cool and funny with his little Chocobo chicken thing Lightning just seems to be the strong silent type, polar opposite of Snow who DOESN'T SHUT UP. :/ So far Sazh is the only character to have made me laugh.

The combat... Well. I've never played a FF game before but it seems a little... rushed, but... slow at the same time, if that makes sense? The interface takes too long to make an action happen. I've already died a few times from rushing to select a potion as I've realised too late that my health is low. Being able to control just one character seems a little out of place for a strategic kind-of turn-based RPG. I can understand it in something like Mass Effect where the combat is FPS so controlling more than one character would be silly, but in something like this it'd be handy to control more than one person so that when one dies you just swap characters, like in Dragon Age.

It seems fast because the combat takes place whether or not you're actually using up your action points as the bar refills. Another point, there's so many bars to keep track of in the combat system! Especially when it all happens so quickly. Isn't the point of a turn-based combat system the fact that you take it in turns, not just mash the A button to attack and gulp down the odd potion if you can get it out in time?

It's a world I wanna get involved in, I've heard good things about the FF series. I just don't think that this seems to be the game to start off in the series with.

EDIT: I do believe that was a rant...

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#2475 toast123


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Posted 15 June 2012 - 07:52 AM

Minecraft on xbox360

#2476 Ocelot


    NOW I'm a little motivated

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Posted 15 June 2012 - 07:32 PM

Well, it didn't feel like it but I apparently put 9 hours and change into Tomb Raider Underworld over the past couple of days and now it's all over. I guess that's a pretty good length for a game, hour-wise, but I didn't even realise I was at the end until I was dodging the hadoukens that a giant lady with bat wings growing out of her back was throwing at me. I just really like raiding them tombs and I wanted moar.

There's this one level set in some Mayan ruins which is just one huge puzzle that's a good two hours long. It uses all of Lara's abilities, unfortunately including man-shooting and motorcycle-riding, and the game just throws you in with no instruction. I loved it. You're trying to open this enormous door in the Mayan ruins to access the much older Norse ruins buried beneath, and you make your way between large puzzle sites by riding along muddy jungle roads on your sweet hog, but the only way you know where to go is by just exploring. You'll solve part of the puzzle, move on to the next bit, realize you need a certain thing, go looking for it, and you do it all under your own steam without a cutscene or a waypoint or a minimap or anything. The game just trusts that you'll figure it out because you're a clever guy, and if you do get stuck there's a built-in hint system in the form of Lara's internal monologue. You open up the menu and click on 'Field Assessment', whereupon Keeley Hawes will tell you your objective if and, if you ask her, exactly what you should be doing. I imagine it could be quite frustrating if you found yourself searching back and forth with no idea what to do, but I'm a master at getting hopelessly stuck in games and I managed to work it all out by myself so I'd say it's pretty well-designed. They even made the motorcycle much less obnoxious than it used to be; you no longer have discrete 'ride the bike!' sections, instead you actually bring the bike with you down into the tombs and actually use it in some steps of the puzzle.

The story is extremely barebones, which I really liked in the middle of the game because it allowed me to just get on with my Tomb Raiding. The most interruption you'll get is a loading screen asking you what you want to wear when Lara reaches her next destination, at which point maybe she'll call home to see what's going on as she ramps her bike into another ancient crypt. It's just enough of a palate-cleanser to get you ready to start the climb down into a new area, and I also just like the notion that you're in control for aaalmost the entire game, yaknow? With no long cutscenes loading you down with information you're free to uncover it all for yourself, find your own way through every area and just be Lara. The game has slowy-downy-scripted-action-scene moments in it, but the crucial difference is that there's no flashing button prompt and you just have to do what the situation calls for. Floor collapsing behind you? Run faster. Giant door closing on you? Roll, sugar. Those moments don't detract from the feel of the game at all because they call on you to just play the same game you've been playing all this time and simply up the stakes.

I wished there wasn't so much combat when I was in the early stages of the game, and at about the three-quarter mark my wish came true. Lara's searching for Thor's magic clothes in Underworld, and after finding two gloves and a belt she finally pulls the hammer out of a god-forsaken frozen crypt and then the game turns totally awesome. You play through what is basically an exact repeat of an earlier section of the game where you have to murder a bunch of men on a container ship, only this time you strike them all down with Mjolnir and it's so sweet. You can slam it into the ground or fire out lightning bolts that blow the guys clean off the deck, and Lara's hammer swinging animations are dependent on which way she's moving so you can make her daintily pirouette at the centre of her own lightning storm. Later you smoke some giant sharks with the thing, because it also works underwater, and then you fight an army of Yetis and those Draugrs from Skyrim with it.

The odd thing is that there aren't any bossfights in the game. The closest you get is having to fight a Yeti with your regular weapons so you understand how tough they are and are suitably impressed when you start slaughtering them with your magic hammer. As much as I find the repetitive combat in these games dull, I missed those bossfights. An action game just doesn't feel right without them. It doesn't even have to be a classic big guy, arena, health bar sort of affair, just some way of splitting the game up and testing you on your skills every now and then. You can do non-standard 'bossfights' in platformers, just look at that final platforming section in Prince of Persia Sands of Time where you lose your time dagger and have to pull of crazy stuff with no safety net. TR Underworld has a final platforming level, of course, but it isn't really any harder than the others. The final act you perform in the game isn't killing a huge beast or dancing through a fiendish, timed platforming string, it's pressing the 'interact' button to hit a thing with your hammer and then watching Lara kill the bat wing lady in a cutscene. Anticlimactic, to say the least.

And once it's over it's really over. Due to a "this ain't your grandpappy's Tomb Raider" stunt, the game begins with you escaping from Lara's mansion as it burns down, so there's no Croft Manor level to explore and try out your skillz on. There are oodles of treasures strewn throughout the levels, but they're just the same shiny object every time and they only unlock concept art. It doesn't even seem like the Barbie Lara Dressup thing from TR Legend is here, because she only has five or six outfits. There are apparently two DLC levels for the game but they were only ever released on the 360.

So, Tomb Raider Underworld was a great game. Or... well, it froze like seven times and it has a really bad autosave system that forced me to repeat about half an hour of gameplay, and I had to reload a checkpoint on the last level because it's actually harder not to screw yourself over and ruin the sequence of the huge puzzle. Also it feels like maybe they wrote the story on their lunch breaks, because there's no explanation of who anyone is or why that lady has bat wings and there's this awesome Dark Lara doppelganger who just gets handwaved and thrown in a pit at the very end. But I still think it was a great game. I'll definitely be getting Legend and Anniversary in the next Steam sale, because I just love losing myself in dem tombs.

It makes me really disappointed that they've abandoned the classic Tomb Raider style for the new reboot. Keeley Hawes is out, the established fiction (what little there was) is forgotten, but the worst thing is that there doesn't appear to be any actual raiding of tombs to speak of. There's plenty of manshooting, QTE button pressing and watching while the game plays itself, but I don't believe I've seen a moment of platforming. I think she jumped once in that E3 stage demo. It's a shame to see a whole genre of video game be lost to the next-gen homogenizationing.

#2477 HJLFcreator


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Posted 16 June 2012 - 10:50 PM

Minecraft on xbox360

I was playing that but today I cracked out the old KOTOR games and I'm playing them now.
Edit: Just found 6 more games I haven't played for ages.

Edited by HJLFcreator, 16 June 2012 - 10:54 PM.

#2478 Irondrone 4

Irondrone 4

    Omnissiah be praised; I have a Servoskull!

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Posted 17 June 2012 - 05:11 AM

Got Defender and S.L.A.I. from a friend for the PS2, and Freelancer for the PC. I am SOOOO glad to finally have a game my PC can run, even if it is from 2001.

Defender's the runt of the litter. It's about as standard an aircraft shooter can get; fly your spaceship and shoot the enemies in the tiny levels that all look orange. I doubt I'm even going to pick it up again.

S.L.A.I. is more interesting, if very unwieldy; it's a mech simulator that's distinctly Japanese in both asthetics and story, with lots of text and no audiable dialogue. It's supposed to be based in a virtual, online deathmatch game where you build mechs and go into arena battles with them, so it's like playing a game within a game...sort of. Every match is an arena fight; kill a certain number of "human" enemies and the boss will show up, who is ridiculously better than both the other "humans" and you. There's no auto save, which is astounding for a game made in the 21st century, and you have to pay for literally everything; I was bankrupt after losing my first match, and promptly decided to just restart from my last save rather than continue. Still, I have hope for it, but I'm putting it on the backburner for the moment.

Freelancer. I think Scorp brought it up in one of his LEGO pages before, but I might be wrong. It's an awesome space combat game (I've never tried the genre before, and I'm going to have to look into more of it, now), and I imagine that a lot of you probably already know about it. I'm cruising in my freighter right now and venting some Rogue atmospheres, and I find the gameplay quite addicting. I love it, no matter how awkward the dialogue is.

SSLF's Resident Extraterrestrial

Future Emperor of the Known Universe

#2479 Ocelot


    NOW I'm a little motivated

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Posted 19 June 2012 - 07:48 PM

I am an absolute sucker for crazy PC game sales, and it's only due to the fact that Gamefly won't let non-US folk register for their site that I'm not currently playing Singularity (if you US folk are interested, Gamefly's having a big PC download sale). Luckily Amazon has my back as long as I can think of a US address to give them, and thanks to that one Wesley Snipes movie I know where the White House is. So I bought The Darkness 2, and I think it's pretty cool.

I never played the first game, but I always heard good things about it. Or, rather, I heard that it was verging on being crappy junk in the gameplay department but had charm out the wazoo in every other areas, and that's something that always appeals to me. The Darkness 2 has a completely different art style and was made by a different developer, but I still wanted to check it out. I spent quite a while walking around the mansion that is my kinda-sorta-hubworld between missions, talking to my hilarious Eye-talian American stereotypes and and bumbling over hidden stuff, and then I went and gruesomely murdered a whole lot of people and really enjoyed myself.

It's a first-person shooter where you play as a gentleman who essentially has four arms, all of which he uses for murder. You have two human hands for shootin', but also two demon snakes growing out of your back that you can use for such screen-splattering activities as slicing men in half, crushing their bodies, pulling their heads off and eating their hearts. They'll also pick up guns for you at a distance, or pick up environmental objects for throwing or hiding behind. They're pretty useful, is what I'm getting at. The cool thing is that, once you start getting a feel for the controls and really get your APMs up you can do some crazy stuff. In most games that let you dual-wield weapons you can do the old trick of firing one while reloading the other, but in this game you can also be whipping your snake-blade thing around and throwing a metal pipe through someone like Arnie in Commando. I'm a terrible first-person shootist who still stops moving to shoot things, but I imagine if you weren't a child you could become a walking death machine.

Things get a bit hectic when you take into account that you can't walk into a source of light without losing your cool powers and having your screen go all flashbang-y, so you have to shoot all the lights you see while killing all the guys and trying to remember what all the buttons do, and halfway through the game you start fighting a new crop of enemies who have all sorts of specialized ways of taking you down. There's the guy who carries a big spotlight to shine at you, one who'll pull the guns right out of your hands, a big guy with a shield and loads of health and a lot of those jerks who wear helmets that you have to shoot off before they'll have the decency to die to a headshot. I had a lot more fun destroying the regular goons, but then I'm not really in it for the tense gunfights and tactical pressure. I think the story has been pretty cool so far, and it seems like the game's only four or five hours long, so it's just a nice thing to blast through.

And I've also been playing a little bit of Resonance, which is a new point-and-click adventure game from WadjetEye, the company that brought you such gems as Gemini Rue and The Shivah. Also the Blackwell games, which I got through one of those Indie Bundles and haven't played yet (though I've heard they're great). Resonance is their newest thing, and I know that because they sent me an e-mail about it last night and I thought it looked cool. When you buy it through their website they'll give you a code to activate it on Steam, and guys I think it's really good.

It seems to be a game where you'll take control of four different characters whose stories will connect, and there's some nifty non-linear storytelling going on. And that's about all I know, although I'm really intrigued by the story so far. Other than that it's straight-up point-and-click adventuring; examine everything and then click on it. It's got some neat systems to the puzzle-solving, like dragging inventory items into dialogue boxes to talk to people about them, and some of the puzzles I've seen so far have been really great. Even before the title card comes up you'll be digging through e-mails finding log-ins and passwords, typing things into in-game command lines and doing some classic Detective Tricks that adventure games are so good at.

So I really like it. I'll let you know how it turns out.

EDIT - I played some more video games you guys. I finished off The Darkness 2, and that was great. I switched from keyboard'n'mouse to a controller towards the end and I think it actually worked better that way. I think a more nimble-fingered keyboardist could probably be a whole lot more effective than I was, but the controller gives you access to all your Darkness and shooting powers without requiring you to take your fingers off WASD so it worked better for me. Slashing with the Darkness arms is done by holding the middle mouse button down and moving the mouse, which screws up your aim completely, whereas with a controller you just press R1 and move the stick.

Just as I felt myself really getting good at spewing death from all four limbs, though, the credits started rolling. Less than five hours of video game. I usually don't begrudge the length of games I get on 75% off sales, but I actually really wanted moar Darkness and I wasn't ready for it to end. There's a New Game + mode, which I always like to see, and I think there might be two different endings that branch at a point that would make them meaningfully different, so I think I might play it again some time.

I finished Resonance, too, and I liked it quite a bit. There are some really excellent puzzles in there, and the story is... well, not quite as great as I'd hoped from the way the game began, but still pretty alright. I want to say that I really recommend it before I start tearing into it, because unfortunately the last part is the worst and it left me feeling a little sore. As a point-and-click adventure game it's fantastic, and the worst I can say for the puzzles is that some of them can give you a little too much to think about when you start controlling all four characters in the game (and you could take that as a good thing, depending on how much you enjoy puzzling).

The bad part is that the game just ignores all the modern conveniences developers have thought up in the decades that point-and-click adventure games have been made. Like, for example, having to walk aaaall the way across a room nineteen times while you're trying to figure out a puzzle. Some games will let you just skip an animation entirely and warp to wherever you want, but most will at least have a run animation for when you're in a hurry. Resonance? Nope. You have to walk everywhere, you can't skip anything, and you control four characters who all have separate inventories. If you want to move them all to one spot you have to ask each of them to follow you one by one, and the same if you want them to stop following you. To transfer items from person to person you have to walk across the room to them, and every time you pick up something new the game flashes your 'INV' button for a few seconds so you don't miss it. It's super slow, is what I'm getting at.

And also you can die in it. The game won't let you walk into environmental hazards, but it will put you in situations where you can die and then when you do it'll rewind aaaall the way back to the start and make you do it again (and you can't skip the rewind animation). These include several long conversation parts, including the final 'boss'. I can't really think of a better way to do important talky bits in an adventure game (there's a "keep him on the line while I trace the call" scene in Resonance), but the insta-kill puzzles are always the worst.

But it's ten buckaroos for a good ten hours of point-and-clicking, and if you can forgive the slowness it's a damn fine game. I'll definitely play it again to see how some of the story choices play out from the other side, and there's a whole Valve-style commentary track to listen to. Between this and Gemini Rue I've really taken a shine to the folks at Wadjet Eye Games, although I still have no idea what their name means.

Anyway, who cares about dumb puzzle games for stupid jerks when you could be playing the greatest game ever made: SPIDER-MAN 2? After almost eight years of playing it I'm proud to say that I finally finished that sucker! Also I'm the best video-gamist in the world.

When I was young it was enough for me to just swing around the city for hours and hours after school every day. I had nightmares about the first Doc Ock bossfight so, knowing I'd have to fight him two more times, I wussed out and stopped playing story missions right near the end of the game. I lost that save file, though, so when I started playing the game again a few weeks ago I started a new one and I've just been powering through it. My current self is just embarrassed for my inner child; what a loser that kid was. That first Doc Ock bossfight is still probably the worst part of the whole game, but I yelled my way through it and the rest of the game was a breeze. Even the two Ock fights and the awful press buttons/pulsing death field/insta-kill-water-hazard in the final chapter went down easily enough, and then all of a sudden the credits were rolling. I'm thinking of going pro pretty soon.

Although, the final bossfight is actually in chapter 15 of 17. Chapter 16 opens with only one goal: earn 50,000 Hero Points. Those are this game's XP, earned for doing Spidey things and spent in the Spidey store on Spidey upgrades. If you're wondering about the exchange rate, 50,000 is a lot. It took me about six straight hours of beating up dudes, delivering pizzas and swinging through glowing rings to finally get them all, at which point I ended up needing another 15,000 because Chapter 17's only task is buying the Level 8 Swing Speed upgrade. You need Level 7 first, so I came up short, but by that time I was like a Hero Point machine and the grind was nothing.

So, lemme tell you about the Level 8 Swing Speed upgrade. IT IS THE FASTEST THING. No qualifiers. Level 8 Spidey is faster than light. You swing so fast that random street crimes can't keep up with you; the icon appears and then disappears immediately as you just rocket out of its range. The game stops loading pedestrians and traffic and eventually textures because the developers knew you just needed framerate and basic geometry. You can get miles into the air in seconds because your boost gets ultra-hyper-turbocharged, and you have to relearn your swinging rhythms entirely because you're now the fastest being that has ever lived. Spider-Man 2's swinging mechanics are the finest form of mobility that exists in all of video games, but the rest of the game isn't really remarkable until it turns out that the reward for finishing it all is that the swinging gets even better!

Spider-Man 2. Greatest video game ever made.

#2480 Kasab


    It is pitch black.

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Posted 22 June 2012 - 07:42 PM

There's a period from about 2004 to 2006 where upon every game that came out touting some level of graphical fidelity would end up looking absolute garbage the moment the "next generation" arrived. If you've seen a single screenshot of Doom 3, Prey, Quake IV, Invisible War, or Thief 3, you know what I mean. It's the hideous bump-mapping, the waxy environments and facial features, the ridiculous amounts of bloom, and the focus on cranking out the darkest, most level-swallowing shadows possible. Everything ended up looking like it was splattered in vaseline.
It was a time when John Carmack was determined to drag PC gaming (and console gaming too, in a way) straight into the next generation, ignoring the fact that it wasn't possible to do the sort of lighting he wanted on measly 2004-2006 hardware.

In fact, let's go back to Invisible War and Thief 3. Today I realised that I'd never actually played Invisible War, despite the original Deus Ex being one of my favourite games of all time. If you have to ask why, you've clearly never mentioned the game amongst the PC faithful. They'll state enclosed environments, a terrible HUD, an unengaging narrative, poor optimisation, a loading screen every five minutes, and a whole host of other flaws as a reason why Invisible War is a festering piece of excrement that shouldn't be allowed to soil the hallowed halls of the holy hard drive.
After picking up a retail copy because I didn't want to defile my Steam Account, I can just about agree with all of that.

It's not really that Invisible War is a bad game- it's perfectly servicable, even if it does need two texture packs before it stops gouging out the eyes -no, the problem is that Invisible War isn't Deus Ex. The original Deus Ex is a game that offers a huge playing environment and gives you the tools to complete your myriad objectives. Invisible War (Human Revolution also tends to do this) stuffs you in a corridor and pretends to be surprised when you stumble across a completely obvious vent, then stuffs you in a loading screen because Ion Storm'll be damned if they can't fit the game on the Xbox's limited RAM. I'll make an effort to complete it, but the first hour is a mess.
The loading screens really are a problem. The power of modern technology means nothing to the game's limited compatability. Thief 3 nearly had the same problems, as they both share an engine. It's a heavily modified Unreal 2 that sucks the lead paint off 1930s toys.

Along with Invisible War, I picked up another game. 2004's Escape From Butcher Bay.
Last year I played through the majority of Dark Athena, and I remember really loving it for being an immersive, brutal stealth game set in a hard sci-fi universe. Butcher Bay is included in Assault on Dark Athena with a HD upgrade, but I never got around to playing it.
After cutting through the first few sections of Butcher Bay, I'm really sorry I didn't.
This game. This game. It's a grim, atmospheric, interesting stealth game that's absolutely fantastic. I love it. I really, really love it.
I want to dig into the whys and wherefores, but I have it alt+tabbed right now and want to get back to murdering people in the dark.
This game also has the best main menu of all time.

Psst. I no longer come here anymore.

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