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#4361 Saber-Scorpion


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Posted 04 January 2019 - 01:31 PM

Games I got for Christmas and thoughts:


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


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


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




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#4362 Princess Bacon

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Posted 04 January 2019 - 10:24 PM

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

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

#4363 Ocelot


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Posted 07 January 2019 - 07:52 PM

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


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


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


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


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




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.

#4364 Spark


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Posted 24 January 2019 - 09:49 PM

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


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

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#4365 Ocelot


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Posted 26 January 2019 - 02:37 AM

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


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


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


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


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


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


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

#4366 Ocelot


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Posted 31 January 2019 - 01:52 AM

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

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

#4367 Fate



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Posted 02 February 2019 - 11:05 PM

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


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


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


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


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

#4368 Ocelot


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Posted 04 February 2019 - 04:33 AM

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


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


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

#4369 Spark


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Posted 04 February 2019 - 07:28 PM

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

"The reunion at hand may bring joy. It may bring fear. But let us embrace whatever it brings."



#4370 Ocelot


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Posted 17 February 2019 - 04:56 AM

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

#4371 Ocelot


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Posted 23 February 2019 - 06:58 AM

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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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


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


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

#4372 Ocelot


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Posted 25 February 2019 - 01:39 AM

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


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



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


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


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


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

#4373 God-Emperor Thrawnie

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Posted 25 February 2019 - 07:26 PM


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


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



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

#4374 Dalton Westmoore

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Posted 25 February 2019 - 08:30 PM

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


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

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


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


#4375 Ocelot


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Posted 04 March 2019 - 11:54 PM

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

#4376 Ocelot


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Posted 28 March 2019 - 05:44 AM

I just played the first couple of hours of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, and I'm liking it so far. Very difficult, of course, but I really enjoy the gameplay and the level design so far, and it's been pretty good about having clear tutorials without losing the purposely mysterious From Software style of storytelling. I don't feel like I'm going to waste the priceless item that improves my Estus Flask by just eating it because the menus didn't tell me how rare it was like I did in Dark Souls, at least. Bonfire-style checkpoints are pretty generously placed, with regular "This door opens from the other side" shortcuts, too, so I haven't had any really demoralizing losses of progress yet.


I've found my way into a playable flashback where I'm sneak/stabbing my way through an old Japanese castle on fire, and I'm looking forward to playing more of it. I'm pretty disappointed by the framerate and general sluggishness of the controls, though. I'm playing it on Xbox One X and the framerate is all over the place, and I feel like the timing on the parry move is really inconsistent. Like, not in terms of timing your attack with an enemy's attacks, but in terms of me definitely hitting the button and my guy just not doing it. Sometimes he responds perfectly, but sometimes not, and in a game where missing a parry can mean half your diminutive health bar gone that's really bad. I'll see how it goes from here.


EDIT - Sekiro update: I like it a lot!


I feel like I've reached a point where I have my head above water, with a few extra Estus Flask usages and one upgrade level for each of my health, posture and attack damage values. The biggest lesson I had to learn was that the game favours parrying early, not exactly as the enemy is about to hit you as you might expect. If you parry early you'll at least block the attack and take some posture damage; if you parry late you just eat the attack head on and you really can't afford to.


I still feel like the game is a little unresponsive, but as long as I keep parrying early I'm doing OK. I'm at a point where I have a few different paths forward, one where I have to fight a giant bull with its horns on fire, one where I have to fight a 12-foot drunk man and his toxic poison breath, and one that is apparently... a scary cave full of ghosts that can't be hit unless you use a special item that makes them hittable. So I think I'm going to try the 12-foot drunk man again. The game is good about giving you hints on how to defeat difficult enemies, like using loud noises to scare animals, but it doesn't give the game away by telling you where you're actually going to find something that'll make a loud noise, so I don't know what to do about that bull just yet and the ghosts are too scary :P


EDIT - More Sekiro! I am having a great time with this game. I think I'm at the midpoint of the game right now, but more importantly I feel like I've just seen through the code of The Matrix and my skill level has skyrocketed with this one weird trick (game designers hate him): always be blocking. I've started holding block all the time, and then quickly releasing it and holding it again to parry, rather than simply tapping it once to parry; holding that block stance not only makes your posture meter recover faster, but it'll also keep you safe from the attacks you're inevitably going to miss the timing on. If you simply tap the button when you want to parry, mistiming it means eating that attack head-on. If you're already blocking and you parry too late? No problem, you blocked it by accident.


It's made an absolutely night-and-day difference to my ability to play this bad boy. I went from being fine with regular enemies but taking embarrassing against basically every miniboss, to actually hunting down minibosses because I feel like I have their number now. Two bosses that I'd tried to beat 10+ times each, Lady Butterfly and Genichiro at the top of the castle, I killed on my first try today. With Genichiro I got through all three phases of the fight without even having to heal; I felt like the king of the world.


So I'm making my way through the Gun Fortress now (guess what the bad guys there use), and just loving it. What a great game. If it hadn't had the misfortune to come out in the same year as DMC5 it'd be a genuine GOTY contender.


EDIT - I need to tell you guys about this amazing bossfight in Sekiro: The Guardian Ape. It starts off as a fun, creative fight against a huge, 12-foot-tall shaggy white gorilla. He's a big bruiser who'll leap around, pick you up in one hand, grinding you into the ground before hurling you away like you're nothing. He'll even throw big ol' clumps of poop at you, and he can fart out a cloud of poison gas if you linger too long by his big pink pooper thinking you can safely get a few hits in after one of his attack strings. He's also sporting a sword through his neck, obviously a remnant from a previous battle.


He's big, tough, and you'll die a few times before you finish him off, but once you do you get this wonderful animation of your taciturn shinobi leaping up to his shoulders and using the sword to brutally hack the beast's head all the way off. The fight is over.



lol psych actually you're just up to phase 2, where a GIANT CENTIPEDE erupts out of the ragged neck hole of the headless corpse and starts driving the ape around like a big hairy car. It picks up the giant sword you've just used to cut off its head in one hand, and the aforementioned severed head in the other, and it comes at you anew, only now its animation has changed to show it being manipulated like a horrifying marionette. I lolls and stumbles, swinging its sword in bizarre patterns, and it gains a new attack: it will now hold its severed head against its neck stump let loose a deafening screech that'll just melt your health bar.


Boy what a great boss!


EDIT - lol later on you fight two Guardian Apes at the same time, one in its second phase with the sword and the other jumping into the fight halfway through doing phase one attacks.


Once this game clicks, though, it clicks hard and it stays cluck. I'm in the mid-to-late-game now and I'm just breezing through it. I beat a miniboss so convincingly that I didn't even need to rest at a bonfire afterwards, so I kept pressing on, found the next real boss, and then beat her on my first try, too. When you get the feel for parrying the only thing you have to watch out for is their unblockable attacks, and even those are opportunities to do some damage once you know what to look out for. Any low, sweeping attack is an opportunity to jump the sword and bounce off their head, and any lunge is your chance for a Mikiri Counter, where you simply stomp the tip of their blade straight into the ground as they try and thrust it at you. I love Mikiri Counters in this game; it is so utterly disrespectful to just stand on someone's sword in the middle of a fight :P


EDIT - I beat Sekiro, and I thought it was great. I have absolutely no idea what happened in the story, but the latter half of the game sends you to some really crazy locations and has a lot of great bossfights. The final bossfight is no fewer than four phases, and took me a good 90 minutes to beat, but I was enjoying myself the whole time. This game has a kind of enemy attack where a dude will leap up into the sky and call down a bolt of lightning to strike you, and if you just stand there and take it you... basically just die. But if you jump up to meet it, thereby breaking contact with the earth and giving the electricity no path to ground through you, you can catch the lightning on your sword and throw it straight back, which is just the coolest thing.


That's my first From Software game in the bag, then. I'm not going to replay it, at least not right now on my Xbox One version because, honestly, the framerate is just bad. But if they do some DLC and put out a Deluxe Edition on PC somewhere down the line I could see myself double-dipping. And I'll definitely be there day one if they want to make a Sekiro 2. I hope they work on some glaring issues, like the console framerate and the dreadful camera, but since I've been hearing about those problems with From games for like a decade now I don't think I'll get my hopes up.


I think I want to play Bloodborne now.

#4377 Xarky


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Posted 17 May 2019 - 06:36 PM

Currently playing booth CoD: MW2 and Fallout 76 if anyone wants to join!

"Only the Sith deal in absolutes" is an oxymoron.

#4378 Ocelot


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Posted 01 June 2019 - 04:47 AM

Dear Diary: I haven't posted about what I've been playing in two months and now I have a massive backlog of stuff to talk about. This is going to be a long one...


Ace Attorney 4: Apollo Justice: I just don't like this game, man. They went off in a new direction with the story, with a seven-year timeskip, putting you in the shoes of a greenhorn lawyer and reframing series hero Phoenix Wright as a down-and-out bum with a mysterious daughter, and I actually like all that. It's just the game itself I couldn't get along with. The cases and the writing and the stuff it expects you to do in court are just all irritating and unintuitive, and I probably had to check a walkthrough for the answer more than any other game in the series. I could not get on this game's wavelength for the life of me. Just a really frustrating experience all round.


Yakuza Kenzan: This is one of two Yakuza spinoffs set in period Japan which were never localized into English, the other being Ishin on the PS4. Where Ishin is set in around the 1860s, Kenzan is way back in 1605ish, and where Ishin was a really excellent early PS4 game, Kenzan is a really terrible early, early PS3 game. I'm talking pre-Trophies early. I'm talking, this is literally the third game the Yakuza team ever made, early. This game is a tedious, frustrating ordeal with one of the worst combat systems I've ever endured in an action game, and after an OK start it all went sour and I ended up hating every moment of the last 10-15 hours or so. Don't worry about not being able to play this one in English. It's the only Yakuza game that I just haven't enjoyed at all, and I've now actually played all of them.


X-Men Origins: Wolverine: Remember this game? The licensed tie-in game for the godawful Wolverine standalone movie from like... 2009ish? I always really loved this game, which was a fun little character action game that was far better than it had any right to be, but I never managed to get the Platinum Trophy in it. I missed out on a collectible Trophy by missing two out of the ninety-five whatsits they expected you to pick up, and the thought of having to start over again from the beginning was so demoralizing I never went back to it. UNTIL NOW, that is! Ladies and gentlemen, almost ten years to the day after I first started this game, I'm now the proud owner of my longest-in-the-making Platinum Trophy yet. I started a new playthrough on Hard mode to clean up the last two Trophers I needed, and there it is.


If you can get over the fact that it's an Unreal Engine 3 game from ten years ago, and thus runs at about 18FPS and the textures take 30 seconds to load in for every new environment, Wolverine is just such a fun game. You can hurl yourself at enemies like a hairy, screaming banshee, you can make people eat their own shotguns, you can just throw a guy at anything, any time you like; it's brilliant. It was made by Raven Software, which was a wonderful little AA game developer with an incredible track record (Jedi Outcast, X-Men Legends and Singularity to name a few) that was unfortunately set to work in the Call of Duty mines shortly after Wolverine came out and hasn't worked on a game without COD in the title since. Stop me if you've heard this one before, but it really does suck that the game industry is like this.


Anyway, that was basically the last hurrah for my old Playstation 3, too. With Yakuza Kenzan and that Wolverine Platinum checked off my to-do list, I don't need the PS3 hooked up to my TV any more, so farewell you old... workhorse, I guess. You were by far my least favourite of the four Playstations, with your slow-as-molasses OS and your endless need for System Updates, but I still must have spent at least a thousand hours playing video games on you, you big lug.


Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare: Another game that's been hanging over my head for like ten years now. I finished RDR back in the day, and then I put it down for good, but eventually Rockstar came out with that Halloween DLC with all the zambamboes and I bought it... only to never ever actually load it up. I did mean to, but, y'know, these things happen. Anyway, now I have this Xbox One X, and Red Dead Redemption is one of those games that gets up-res'd to full 4K via backwards compatibility, so I thought I'd load it up and give it a go. It does look really nice at 4K, in that particular super-clean way that an old game raised to a skyhigh resolution always will, but unfortunately the DLC was just the most boring thing. It seems like the only gameplay idea Rockstar could come up with was "shoot waves of zombies", because that's all I did for the first few main quests, and then a couple of hours later the main quests dried up and the game told me to go and do some side content to progress in the story. Guess what the side content is. Yeah, I didn't stick with this one for long.


Uncharted: Drake's Fortune: Hey, remember this game? The game that literally taught me how to use my right thumb to aim at things in video games? An absolute, genre-defining masterpiece that inspired countless cinematic action spectacles to follow? Guess what: it's still incredible. I haven't gone back to the PS3 Uncharteds in years, but playing Drake's Fortune again was like slipping into an old jacket and having it still fit perfectly. What a fabulous game. The dialogue still zings, the characters are still immediately lovable, the pacing is still excellent. I blasted through the whole thing in a couple of play sessions, feeling that wonderful sense of half-nostalgia, half-rediscovering things I'd plum forgotten about and being delighted anew. What a game.


I played the PS4 remaster, and I tried to find all the differences between the original game and the remake but, to be honest, I just can't remember the original game well enough. From what I could dredge up from my mothbitten memories, I know they've updated Uncharted 1's grenade controls to have their own dedicated button like the latter two games, which is a nice convenience, but it unfortunately loses the Sixaxis gyro controls for grenade aiming that let you hurl 'nades ridiculously far by flicking your controller upwards. You don't have to Sixaxis-balance across narrow beams and logs, but I don't actually remember if you had to do that in the original (or if I'm just confusing it with every other early PS3 game :P). I know they updated the characters' face models for the PS4 version, and I remember not liking that when I first found out, but time has healed that wound because (stop me if you've heard this one before) I just don't remember what the original game looked like well enough. At the end of the day, there are always going to be trade-offs with any video game remaster, and considering this one made me fall in love with one of my favourite games all over again I'm going to call it a solid win.


Days Gone: I should probably give this one its own post, since I spent like a month playing this game and ended up getting the Platinum Trophy. I might come back and do that, but for now I'll give you the main points: I liked this game, but it's really heavily flawed, and having finished the whole thing I came away thinking that Bend Studio basically buried their best, most unique gameplay idea under a pile of overly-familiar, repetitive, generic AAA open world guff that just wasn't necessary. Days Gone is the same giant open-world full of bandit camps to clear out that you've seen a dozen times this generation, except those games usually have some kind of unique selling point to set them apart. A unique setting, a distinctive art style, a great story or a likable cast of characters. Horizon has its robo-dinosaurs and its bow-based combat, Assassin's Creed has its historical settings, Far Cry has its irreverent tone and a bear friend named Cheeseburger. Days Gone is exactly what everyone picked it as the moment we saw the E3 reveal: it's The Last of Us with bikers.


The first 15 hours or so of Days Gone are straight up bad, then it hits its stride for a while with some genuinely great characters and writing, then towards the end it starts to peter out again. This game is long, surprisingly so at like 60 hours for just a story playthrough, and most of it is just repetitive slow-walking and bandit-camp stuff. Then almost at the tail end of the story it finally starts pitting you against zombie Hordes. Horde combat is a life-or-death matter of staying on the move while hundreds upon hundreds of zamblers just pour out of the environment in an almost fluid wave of rotting flesh. You have to use the environment to your advantage, trying desperately to funnel them through chokepoints to buy yourself any kind of room to breathe; they move faster than your run but slower than your sprint, so you're always on the verge of being overtaken. It's where the game finally comes alive; you have to use everything at your disposal to defeat an entire Horde, and it's just brilliant.


But the story only pits you against like four of them, and the game only gives you the powerful weapons you need to take them on after like 40-50 hours of bandit-camp-'em-up rubbish. This game should have been all Hordes, all the time. Forget the bandit camps, forget the crafting and XP and skill trees and side quests that all AAA open worlds are apparently required to have, strip Days Gone into a lean, mean 20-30 hours of Horde fighting, and you would have a really incredible game. Like I said, Bend Studio didn't do justice to their own best feature. As it is, though, I honestly can't recommend anyone devoting all those dozens of hours to this game when there's just better stuff out there. Take those same 15 hours it takes for Days Gone to even get good and you can almost play the entirety of The Last of Us. And have a better time doing it.


Bloodborne: I told you I was going to play this after finishing Sekiro. I just started it up today and I like it so far. The way Yarnham twists and turns back in on itself to re-use the same bonfire is really brilliant, and I'm having fun with the combat. I went with the whip cane weapon and I like the dynamic of gentlemanly rapier strikes for power and devious bladed-whip cracks to just melt groups of dudes after I bait them into narrow areas and they obediently line up for me.


I'm still dying over and over like an idiot, of course, but I feel like I've made some reasonably good progress. I beat the Cleric Beast in maybe six or seven tries, and I think I've explored just about every nook and cranny and found every item available to me right now (I know I'm probably missing a whole area hidden behind some detritus, though :P). There's a big angry pig/rat-looking thing chilling out in a little tunnel that I'm too scared to visit right now, but maybe I'll come back to him later.


EDIT - Good news: I found a way around the big scary pig, stabbed it super hard in the butthole and now it's dead. Bad news: this Father Gascoigne fellow is really, really tough :P


EDIT - k I beat Father Gascoigne, finally. It was a really fun fight once I got the hang of parrying him with gunshots, but the run from the bonfire to the boss really grated on me after a while. I think I spent longer fighting Gascoigne than any individual Sekiro boss, but half of that time was probably just me running from the bonfire to the graveyard over and over to start the fight. I can already tell that I'm not a fan of this Blood Vial system, either. Oh well, let's see what the next area has in store for me. I just got grabbed by some kind of giant invisible tree thing in a graveyard, so I'm thinking it should be pretty interesting.

#4379 Ocelot


    NOW I'm a little motivated

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Posted 07 June 2019 - 01:48 AM

Bloodborne update: Since we last spoke, I explored the Cathedral Ward, had a couple of goes against Vicar Amelia and then chickened out, then found my way into Hemwick and cleared the whole place out. Came back to the Cathedral Ward and... still struggled really badly against Vicar Amelia, to be honest. Who would've thunk a giant wolf lady could hit so hard? I had a really bad time for a couple of hours getting more and more disillusioned with having to sit through a load time and then running aaaall the way back to the bossfight, sitting through the nightmare fog animation, and then having to run all the way across the church again to reach her, because heaven forbid she might at least meet me halfway.


Then I had a really really bad moment where I was having my best fight against Amelia ever, I was absolutely killing it... and then she started healing. And then I broke her out of the healing animation... but then she kept doing it. And I just watched as this giant health bar that I'd spent so long depleting just kept filling back up and filling back up over and over again, and I died after wasting a bunch of Blood Vials, and I wondered if maybe that was the sign for me to say farewell to this here game by the name of Bloodborne.


But I stuck at it, and I changed up my tactics to start using the Hunter Axe, and basically any time I could squeeze one in I'd hit her with the charged R2 double spin attack, and I beat her! Took that giant wolf down, boyee. Don't @ me.


So today I had a really good day where I made some juicy progress into the Forbidden Woods and brought home a nice 30,000+ Blood Echoes to my living doll friend, then I went back to Old Yarnham and cleared the whole place out. Smoked the Blood Starved Beast on my second try (I'm pretty sure I was just massively over-leveled :P), and now I'm going back to the Forbidden Woods to see what I can do about this big scary cannon at the end of the village. This game's great!


EDIT - This game is so good! Why didn't anyone tell me? What's that? "Everyone who played this game has been talking about how good it is non-stop since it came out four years ago"? OK, well, yeah, that's true.


So today I cleared the last couple of enemy Hunters out of Old Yarnham and put the whole place in my rearview, then promptly went back there to farm some Blood Stone Shards because I unlocked Ludwig's Holy Blade and now I have to level that up. Apparently killing the Blood-Starved Beast way down in Old Yarnham magically unlocks a door right next to the Cathedral Ward lamp, and there's a cool tower full of bad guys beyond it with a locked door at the top and a WEREWOLF WITH FIRE MAGIC lurking at the bottom. But there's also a badge that lets you unlock this sweet sword that you can plug into its giant scabbard and use the sword in the scabbard as a giant sword, which is really sweet. Between my giant spinning axe and my sick broadsword, I don't think I'm going back to the Threaded Cane any time soon.


After that I braved a scary poison bog at the bottom of a cave in the Forbidden Woods and ended up finding a route all the way back to Iosefka's Clinic, literally the beginning of the game, which is just so cool. That feeling when you muster all your courage to push just a little bit further through a gauntlet of terror and roiling evil, and when you finally see light at the end of the tunnel it turns out to unlock a shortcut back to an area you'd been hours before is just so wonderful. I get it now. This whole From Software, Soulsborne, permadeath-but-not-really thing? I get it. I mean, ask me again when I hit the next brickwall bossfight and I'm hating my life running from the lamp to the fight over and over and over, but right now? I get it.


Anyway, I'm deep in the Forbidden Woods in the valley of the big snakey bois right now, and I can't wait to see what's on the other end.


EDIT - How 'bout this dumb spider who lives in a colourless void inside the reflection of the moon on the ocean at night? Not a fan. This is the kind of fight I'm really bad at, where it isn't difficult but it's really long and involves carefully taking out a bunch of baby spiders before tackling the real one, and every time I spend a long time doing it meticulously and then fail it just saps my will to live. I'll do it tomorrow when I've cooled off.

#4380 Ocelot


    NOW I'm a little motivated

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Posted 15 June 2019 - 03:40 AM

OK boys, we are back in Bloodborne business. I kind of psyched myself out with Rom and took a few days off, but I looked up some strats to psych myself back in, and I beat him on my first try when I went back to him.


I went and explored a few areas beforehand, though, so I got a nice chunk of Bloodborne-ing done. I definitely would never have found the Hypogaean Gaol without the internet's help, so that was a fun little area to clear out. There's something so satisfying about knowing you've mooshed your character's face into every last corner of the geometry of a level, found every single glowing lump of whatever that signifies an item, and killed the boss just for good measure. I figure I must have been way overlevelled for Darkbeast Paarl, because I played really sloppily and still took him down fairly easily. I just wore all the clothes I had with good Bolt resistance, then stayed underneath him and just swung away wildly at whatever I could reach, occasionally skedaddling when I spotted him charging a big explosion. I kind of feel like I cheated, but, hey, it's nice to have a quick and easy one every now and then.


I went and braved the scary werewolf with the fire hands down at the bottom of that tower, too. I was all set to have a mano-a-wolfo fight against him, but then he didn't even aggro until I got right up on him so I took him out with the old charged-R2-into-stab combo and that was that. I was surprised to find that the area beyond him was basically just a couple of streets with one of those octopus-head ladies at the end, but it was nice to finally reach that glowing item that taunted me on an unreachable ledge every time I ran up those stairs in Cathedral Ward to get killed by Vicar Amelia :P


I fortified the electric mace I found in Paarl's area and went to introduce it to Rom and his babies, and I took him out fairly easily. This time I just threw caution to the wind and went in for hit-and-run attacks while trying my best to avoid all the babies, and it worked pretty damn well. I think one of my biggest problems in Bloodborne-ing is that I'm just too stingy with my Blood Vials. I hate that they're limited, so I avoid using them as much as possible, and when I do give in and use one I never top myself up properly. Enemies hit so hard in this game that filling yourself back up to 60% health isn't really that useful, though; you could still easily get taken out in one hit. I need to really drill it into myself that if I'm going to heal, I need to do it properly.


Oh well, lots of juicy new areas to explore now, though. I hit up the back entrance to Iosefka's Clinic and found the ticket to Cainhurst Castle, and I scooted under the big scary alien boi to make my way into Ya'har Gul or however you spell it. It seems like the aforementioned Unseen Village is the recommended path forward, judging by the scary insect things that murdered me real good right outside Cainhurst, so we'll see what that place is like tomorrow.


EDIT - Hey, you guys, I'm starting to think that murdering the big dumb spider under the lake was a pretty bad idea, because now the moon is red and the sky is purple and the giant long-limbed monsters that used to be invisible are now just hanging out on the sides of buildings all over town... and also firing lasers at me.


I figured this magical, unending night of the hunt was going to get worse before it got better, but I was not prepared for just how much worse. So the first thing you have to know about the Unseen Village of Yahar'gul is that all the enemies get back up after you kill them, so if you dilly dally in one spot too long a bunch of surly men with garden tools come and hack you to bits. OK, that's fine, eventually you realise that there are some ladies with bells that are resurrecting the enemies, so you just kill them and you're free to look around for glowies. The second thing you need to know is that Yahar'gul is right on top of the Hypogaean Gaol, so those one-way doors you opened back before Rom are going to be nice little shortcuts now that the big angry men with sacks who used to guard the place have been replaced with enemy Hunters that you don't particularly want to fight.


But then you walk outside the doors and find that every other enemy in the area has been replaced with... these:




This is not a good place. Anyway, I eventually found my way through this nightmare to fail my way through killing a boss that is best left undescribed. If that thing up there looks like a whole bunch of corpses buried in the same box and glommed together into one awful, angry thing, the boss of this area looks like a bunch of those things glommed together, which somewhere along the way learnt how to open holes in the sky so it can rain more corpses down on you. Not a fun time.


Following that ordeal, a brief reprieve came in the form of a spooky university, where the worst on offer was merely a bunch of gross, slimy monsters wearing robes and mortarboards and projecting some kind of harmful goo at me. Practically a nice Sunday stroll in the sunshine after facing a mountain of rotting flesh that fell out of a hole in a ruined sky.


Now we're back in it, though. The game has dropped all pretense and now the next area is just straight up called 'The Nightmare of Mensis', and features such delightful tourist attractions as:


- Giant beasts wielding flaming torches that explode into evil slugs when you kill them

- Some kind of giant red glow coming from the upper windows of a far-off tower that sends out pulses of light that literally send my character insane until he dies from it

- A castle entrance room populated by a giant spider and all its babies

- A platoon of tiny little men, possibly children, probably actually child-shaped monsters if we're being honest, in full suits of plate armour. They aren't hostile towards you, which is somehow even more unsettling


It's a bad place, is what I'm getting at. I've just met a jolly fellow named Micolash who seems to be having a whale of a time, though. He wears an absurd iron cage on his head and seems intent on me following him through a foggy maze of horrible marionette creatures, armoured shorties with crossbows, and glowing mirrors that he can leap through but I can't, and I'm hoping if I kill him I might be able to wake up from all this. Because that seems likely, right? I'm sure the nightmare will die with him and everything will be fine and no other horrible things will happen. Things definitely won't just keep getting worse.

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