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Member Since 07 Apr 2008
Offline Last Active Today, 05:43 AM

Posts I've Made

In Topic: The New! HALO Thread - Hosted by Spark

Today, 04:55 AM

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

In Topic: Devil May Cry 5, a.k.a. Ocelot's Action Game Extravaganza

Yesterday, 07:42 PM

Surprise trailer! This time it's V's gameplay, with some veeeery interesting hints at how the story's going to go:



k, so these are definitely red herrings, but I'm still super hyped. We've got V saying he's only two days old and doesn't have a real name, then immediately saying he's just kidding, but omgbro what if he's not? He has so much in common with our boy Vergil, from the name to the white hair to the summoned swords to this:






And now he's using the Sparda sword to stab an apparently dead-ish Dante with black hair, while his demon familiar bird friend screams at him to stop. What is going on!? I haven't been this hyped for a DMC story since I saw those first DMC3 trailers back in 2004. I mean, obviously Dante's going to be OK, since the guy gets impaled on swords basically every day of his life, but what happens when he gets impaled with Sparda, the ultimate sword of the DMC universe? I can only imagine he's going to transform into Super Dante or something.


Also check this out:




V's panther familiar does the same spike attack that the Shadow enemies from DMC1 used to, and you can walk on it just like you could in that game. I love DMC you guys.

In Topic: The Video Game News Thread

16 December 2018 - 11:57 PM

On the heels of Joker's invitation to Smash, we have rumours about Persona 5 coming to Switch, and a 'complete' version of Persona 5 (ala Persona 3 FES and Persona 4 Golden) coming in 2019. I hope the Switch port part of it comes true, at least, because I haven't gone back to Persona 5 on the PS4 since last year and I think the only way I'd get through it is on the Switch. I don't know if this rumour is anything worth paying attention to, though. The leakers credentials seem to be that he leaked a Granblue Fantasy fighting game last week, which was just announced officially over the weekend, so he's got one thing right so far, at least.


Speaking of Granblue Fantasy, I still don't really know what it is, but Platinum is still making that action RPG about it and here's some new gameplay:



Here's some Rage 2 gameplay, with the tall man you might remember from E3 talking about "double yump"s:



And finally, I don't know if anyone else will care about this, but my favourite idiot LPers on Youtube, The Super Best Friends, have called it quits. I've been watching them play stuff for... boy, several years now, including a whole run of DMC LPs they've been doing over the last couple of months in the run up to DMC5, but that's that. It seems like the strain of basically being friends as a job for several years eventually got to be too much and none of them really want to keep doing it.



EDIT - Here's the final Kingdom Hearts 3 trailer:


In Topic: The New! HALO Thread - Hosted by Spark

13 December 2018 - 06:06 AM

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


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


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


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


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


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


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

In Topic: What Are You Currently Playing?

11 December 2018 - 04:24 AM

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


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


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


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


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


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


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



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