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Member Since 07 Apr 2008
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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.

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

10 December 2018 - 09:25 PM

Alrightyroo, after about 20 runs through the DMC5 demo I finally feel like I have enough of a handle on things to write a bunch of stupid garbage about it!


It's excellent! Nero feels pretty much the same as his DMC4 incarnation (which is a good thing), but with some really interesting new ideas and some great quality of life improvements that cut down on some of the finger gymnastics you used to have to do to get the most out of him. He still has his crazy sword with a motorbike engine in it that lets him rev the handle like a throttle to blast a gout of flame out the exhaust pipes on the back to hit people harder (have I mentioned that DMC is the best series ever?), but now you can rev the sword while running through the level, whereas before you slowed down to walking speed to do it. He still has his charged pistol shots, done by holding down the Shoot button, but in DMC4 this meant you had to keep the Shoot button held down for like 99% of your playthrough because the charged shots were just too good to miss out on. Here they've changed the mechanic to one where you hold the Shoot button down for like two seconds and Nero loads in three special bullets, allowing you to let go of the button and keep your charged shots. Stuff like that keeps the skill ceiling high, but lowers the skill floor so that you don't have to be a hardcore controller-claw-er just to play the game, which is wonderful.


The timing and inputs on all Nero's sword combos feel identical to DMC4, but the demo is unfortunately missing some of his unlockable moveset so the combo potential isn't as high as the full game will be. As for new moves, Nero has a full complement of new taunts to play with, including an air taunt that can function as an air dodge in a pinch, but the real game changer is the Devil Breakers. Having consumable power up items in a DMC game has been pretty controversial, but after actually getting my hands on the game I'm having a lot of fun with them. Each robot arm has one move you can use over and over, those being a big electric knock-back move with Overture and a spammable air dodge with Gerbera, but they can also be charged to blast off a super attack that does huge damage and breaks the arm. And when I say huge damage I mean huge, boss-melting, SSS-ranking daaamaaaage. It's up to you whether you want to just keep using the regular ability (which can be extremely useful) or do the super attack for huge damage but lose the arm in the process. We'll have to wait for the full game to see how the system really works, and whether you're going to be left at the mercy of how the Breakers are strewn about the levels, but for right now I'm OK with it.


The demo ends with a big ol' bossfight against Goliath, the large angry fellow with a mouth in his belly who can feed cars into his bellymouth and then spit them out at you, and this is just a great first bossfight for a DMC game. A big bruiser whose attacks are fairly slow and deliberate, perfect for getting new players used to DMCing but also great for more experienced players to just wail on. He has some really fun AI routines you can bait out if you want to get your style on, like reflecting his tummy projectiles straight back at him with a perfectly-timed slash, or making sure you have an Overture arm to stop him in his tracks when he tries to charge at you. The way the fight progresses between different environments gives you a great opportunity to plan ahead with your choice of Breakers, too: Gerbera's in-air super attack works really well in the confined space inside the church, so you can make sure you have one ready to use at the right moment. I like it a lot.


About my only complaint at this point is that it feels a little on the slow slide. The game speed is identical to DMC4, but these days when I play DMC4 I do it on Turbo Mode, which is an option to increase the overall speed by 20% that was added after the original release. Capcom is being coy on whether Turbo Mode will be in DMC5, but I really hope it is. The other thing is that hitting Start during a cutscene will skip it straight away, rather than bring up the nice "Pause/Skip" menu I want to see in video game cutscenes these days, but that might just be something for the demo. Other than that, I am 100% convinced that this game is my dream come true. This is everything I've been waiting for for the last 10 years. As the splash screen you get on beating the demo says, DEVIL MAY CRY IS BACK!

In Topic: Scorp's RPG Corner - Pathfinder: Kingmaker is here

08 December 2018 - 01:19 AM

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



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



In Topic: The Video Game News Thread

07 December 2018 - 04:52 PM

Here's a quick roundup of some TGA stuff:


Rage 2:



Far Cry New Dawn:



Persona 5's Joker in Smash Ultimate:



Dragon Age: The Dread Wolf Rises:



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