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Member Since 07 Apr 2008
Offline Last Active Today, 09:38 AM

Posts I've Made

In Topic: What Are You Currently Playing?

Yesterday, 10:48 PM

k so I've been playing that there Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and I think this game is bad. Get ready for HOT, SCORCHING TAKES, BOOOOYYYEEEEZ!


I've been critical of Nu Tomb Raider in the past for, among other things, abandoning the puzzle and skill-based platforming focus of the older games in favour of endless waves of dudes to shoot and Uncharted-style cinematic platforming. So you might think that I'd be delighted that Shadow of the Tomb Raider has greatly reduced the emphasis on murdering dozens of fellow human beings, right? Well, I was, for a few hours at least. I'm pretty deep into this game now and I've only slogged through a handful of dude arenas and tutorial-slaughtered a few guys to get caught up on the neck-stab game again. There is very little combat in this game, for which I can only applaud the developers.


BUUUuuuuUUUT.... they haven't replaced that missing combat with anything of mechanical substance. There's nothing to pick up the slack. If Tomb Raider 2013 and Rise of the Tomb Raider were third-person shooters where you climbed on things every now and then, Shadow of the Tomb Raider is... I don't even know. There's no main gameplay style any more, other than just kind of jogging around in a jungle. And swimming a lot. The platforming still has that floaty, automated feel where it's less like a jump mechanic you use skillfully and more like you press the X button at the end of a ledge to activate a cutscene of Lara flying however improbably far she needs to go to reach the next ledge. I've just found a pair of boot spikes which let me clamber around on the ceiling, but there's no added mechanical complexity to it: I just press Square and then uninterestedly point the analogue this way and that, same as I do on the wall or the floor. I guess there are some larger, Tomb-ier puzzles on the critical path this time, instead of being hidden away in side content land, but nothing to really challenge the old grey matter, and you still have your magic button that highlights anything interact-with-able in the area.


I'm reminded strongly of Uncharted 4, which I also complained about for having not enough mechanically-engaging gameplay, but at least there I had the wonderful Naughty Dog writing, acting and character work to enjoy. You're always with someone, bouncing jokes off them, having funsies, and it keeps you going even if you are just trudging down what is essentially just a leafy hallway. Here, though? I hope you like Lara and Jonah, because we are THREE GAMES INTO THIS TRILOGY and those are still the only recurring characters we've got. Like, genuinely, there is nobody else in this universe. It's Lara and Jonah and they're fighting Trinity again. They're even doing the same story from Rise: we're in another hidden city of primitive, earthy folk who are going to get murdered by Trinity, except replace jungle for snow and an olive-skinned Queen for that Jesus dude. And, God, Lara and Jonah still don't have one shred of personality to share between them. The writing is still that same dull, humourless tone where everything is "I've got to ___", Lara still reads every line with the same flat inflection, ugh it's just so utterly lifeless. The only enjoyment I'm getting is from having enabled this option in the menu that has all the background chatter and side content lines voiced in their original language, which purports to be for immersion's sake, but it doesn't change the lines that Lara replies to those people in so you end up with a Han and Chewie situation where each side of the conversation is in a different language :P


It does look really nice, though. I'm playing on a PS4 Pro and there's a great 60FPS mode that holds together pretty well. The game has separate difficulty options for Combat, Exploration and Puzzles, and picking Hard Puzzles is a real breath of fresh air. Levers and buttons no longer glow gold in your Batman Vision, and (crucially) Lara no longer talks in tombs, and you don't realise how much of a difference this makes until you try it. It becomes a whole different game when Lara is no longer dropping extremely obvious hints about what you should be doing next at every stage of the puzzle. Unfortunately she sometimes gives it away anyway, because I feel like they might not have designed the game to have these options from the ground up, but for the most part it works pretty well.

In Topic: moving Wicktures that you are watching

16 September 2018 - 07:44 AM

I've been watching a million things on Netflix lately, including The Good Place (which I really like. Also, ya basic), season 2s of Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist (all pretty unremarkable but still watchable), and finally finishing off Orphan Black (that show's great and I'm super in love with Tatiana Maslany), but I want to talk about this new show called The Dragon Prince, because I really like it. It's a CG cartoon show from Aaron Ehasz (one of the people behind Avatars both Aang and Korra) and Justin Richmond (ex-Naughty Dog, director of Uncharted 3):



I'm six episodes in and I feel like it has great potential. Really enjoyable characters (one of them played by Sokka) and great writing, and just a lovely art style. Fantastic character designs, too. There's big internet controversy out there over its very low framerate, which... yeah, it can be pretty distracting. Fast-moving scenes don't suffer so much, but slower scenes can look terribly stuttery. I don't know why they did it like this, since it's not like you have to draw individual frames with CG animation, but, well, there it is. I can't say it really bothers me once I'm actually watching the show, but I hope they'll change it for the second season (hopefully there is one).


Also I saw Hereditary, which is an excellent horror movie that genuinely made me sick. I watch a lot of horror movies, so I feel like I've built up a tolerance to most of the usual tropes. Jump scares don't work on me because I can feel them coming from a mile off, and the usual monsters screaming at the camera with a mouth that opens too wide are just old hat. But Hereditary doesn't use any of the usual, predictable horror tropes, and it goes some places I absolutely was not ready for, and I didn't feel good for days after watching it. This movie got under my skin in that way where I had to try really hard not to think about it when I was going to sleep that night. So if that kind of thing sounds appealing to you then I definitely recommend it.

In Topic: What Are You Currently Playing?

16 September 2018 - 04:13 AM

Update on Insomniac's Marvel's Spider-Man: it's the GOTY. I wanted to save my thoughts on the story until I'd finished the whole thing, and now that I have I can tell you that they nailed it harder than I would ever have expected. Not only are all the best bossfights in the last part of the game, but the story gets so good and tears came out of my face. I won't spoil anything, but let's just say God of War isn't 2018's only excellent Sony-exclusive about heartfelt daddy issues. Spider-Man really surpassed my wildest hopes, and I just loved it to bits. What a fantastic game.


OK, I'm also still plugging away at Octopath Traveler, but I'm hitting a wall and getting really frustrated with it. I've been keeping H'aanit and Cyrus in my party at all times and swapping others out as I need them, which means those two are way over-leveled, but that's just how I like to play my JRPGs. However, I'm starting to feel like there might be some kind of hidden level-scaling at work, because I'm in Chapter 3 now and even going into bossfights with two characters 10 levels higher than the recommended level I'm just getting absolutely stomped. Bosses are doing well over 50% damage to any given character, which means if I don't have one character devoted solely to healing on every turn it's all over, and then they all have some gimmick that shuffles their weaknesses or just straight up turns a weakness off, and I just hate it. The game has such a boring overall design, with essentially 32 consecutive chapters of talk -> dungeon -> bossfight, and that didn't bother me when I was progressing through it fairly smoothly, but now that I'm having to do a bunch of grinding for every boss the flaws are really sticking out and I don't know if I'm going to finish it.


And, just for funsies, I played through Zone of the Enders 2 again in that new remaster that just came out: ZONE OF THE ENDERS THE 2nd RUNNER : M∀RS (that's the official title, I swear). It's still the same great game, and it still has the same abysmal English localisation (genuinely the worst one I can think of in a 'big' game like this), only now you can play it at 4K or in VR. The biggest improvement this time around is a new control scheme that lets you switch through subweapons in real-time using the D-pad, which is a real gamechanger. The original game had you use an MGS2-style linear submenu that paused the game, but now you can just blast between them without ever halting the action and it feels great. Definitely the best way to play this game if you haven't yet.

In Topic: What Are You Currently Playing?

13 September 2018 - 06:33 AM

So let me tell you guys about a game called Marvel's Spider-Man, or as it may come to be known in a few months' time, Ocelot's 2018 Game of the Year. I've been spending my every waking hour for the last few days up to my elbows in this game, and I need to tell you guys how good it is because it's all I can think about. I'm in the last third of a surprisingly great story, but I have so many genuinely fun side activities pulling me in a dozen different directions that I can't focus on anything. I'm dawdling because I genuinely don't want this game to end. It's brilliant. I love it.


OK, so check this out: this is the best Spider-Man video game ever made. You all know how much I love Spider-Man 2, and while I still love the raw, pure swinging mechanics of that game, Insomniac's 2018 game does every single other thing so well and even has a fantastic swinging system of its own. The new game fudges the physics and automates a lot of what used to take skill and complex inputs in SM2, which I was a little down on at first, but the more I played the more I realised that this new system opened up a whole new realm of gameplay possibilities. So while you no longer need five different buttons and a few dozen hours' practice to pull off a nice flowing wallrun, for example, this keeps you free to concentrate on doing super awesome Spider-Man stuff like firing webs at enemies in mid-air or catapulting yourself over roofs after a vertical wallrun. Changing direction mid-wallrun. Firing out a web behind you to immediately halt your momentum if you overshoot a turn. Stopping to tackle a group of jetpack-clad bad guys and clobbering them all without ever touching the ground. Kicking the hell out of a dude as you swing by. IT FEELS SO GOOD.


And the mission design takes full advantage of your abilities, too. I know you've heard this one before, but Sony's big expensive games this gen have mostly been very well-executed takes on established ideas, and Spider-Man is no different: this is Batman Arkham Knight with webs. A big open world full of side content, great big one-off setpieces, combat and stealth and gadgets and traversal. We're stealthing through interior areas, fighting in arenas, clobbering bosses; it doesn't transcend its genre, by any means, but it is a damn good one of those games, and the wonderful gameplay has kept me ploughing through all that side content no matter how repetitive it might be. There are even some extra characters to play as (and alongside), which come as a nice little change of pace every now and then.


Oh, and I thought the combat system was going to be an Arkham clone, but it really isn't; it borrows a little from Arkham but actually more from Devil May Cry. You can punch, you can web, jump and dodge, and you can hold those buttons to give you launchers, Devil Bringers and Snatches, and you can even knock an enemy into the air and keep them suspended on web shots. Spidey takes big damage from guns and isn't great at crowd control, so the game encourages you to fight in the air as much as possible, and you can stay up there for a long time if you really try. It's a little clunky to switch between gadgets during combat (it's a radial menu), but if you learn to do it while you're doing a pre-canned finishing animation you can really just wreck dudes all day long. It's absolutely fantastic.


I want to finish the story before I talk about it, but what I've played so far has been great. Excellent voice acting, an older, more experienced Spider-Man than I've seen before, and some really good takes on classic Spidey characters. And some absolutely amazing character faces, for what it's worth. Just... man these people have great faces, and great facial animation, too. Between these ultra-high-fidelity mugs and the gorgeous city I'm swinging through, I honestly think this is one of the best-looking games I've ever played. GORE. JUSS. One of the characters licked his lips, and I don't think I've ever seen that in a video game before. Video games look really good, you guys.


OK, enough raving. This game is excellent and I highly recommend it.

In Topic: The Video Game News Thread

12 September 2018 - 07:47 AM

Nintendo Direct's back on the menu, boizzzzzz:



7am on Friday for me. Time for that hot Bayonetta 3 action.