chronovore: (sweater)
Trying to figure out when I should stop playing Batman: Arkham Origins.
There are a heap of 'Cheevos I won't be getting. I never manage to get the "all the special moves and gadgets in a single combo" Achievement, and the Combat/Predator Challenges I usually do well, but not Gold Medals across the board. I'm not going back to Deathstroke or Shiva for a perfect victory. I'd just get frustrated. I also won't be touching the tacked-on multiplayer component. No, thanks.
I finished the main story several days ago, then went and did the assassins which weren't part of the main story, then did all the murder cases (neat, simplified use of either Remember Me "rewind" feature), and am now cleaning up Blackgate escapees and collecting Enigma packages.
I just cannot believe the interminable number of Enigma Packages. Earlier, I beat up all the Enigma Data Handlers, revealing all the Packages, OR SO I THOUGHT. Later more Data Handlers were added, meaning I had to backtrack and get more Packages from areas I thought I'd cleared. Also frustrated when a Package is either higher than can be seen while gliding, or hidden underground in one of those indoor sections. Especially the ones I couldn't get on the first time through the area, during a mission. It feels like I have collected a hundred of them, but I've still got 2~3 dozen Packages on the map.
Apparently if I collect all the Packages, there is a way to finally get into the locked door at Enigma's HQ, and I can arrest him. As the most consistent source of cajoling in the game, I'm tempted to play that one all the way through.

THE GOOD: This is probably the best Batman game out of the lot, and it was made by Splash Damage, not Rocksteady. SD clearly understands not only what works from Rocksteady's formula, but has gone further with the established art direction and added more clear color, lighting, and structural landmark cues which make navigating a more intuitive effort than in Asylum or City.

Moreover, the story has a clear arc which is a joy to play through, definitely capturing the angry and brooding nature of young Batman, even if he has a lot more toys than Miller's Batman: Year One ever enjoyed. Unlike the previous games, I can actually tell you what the story consists of despite taking place in a sprawling open-world game. Very satisfying.

Which is part of the problem, I think: I'm done with the story, save Enigma's capture, and it is difficult to motivate myself to keep playing, like a comic which seems to have wordless panels with random character placement even after the story has completed.
chronovore: (sweater)
Fable 2 was a wonderful, engrossing game for me, and Fable 3 is total crap. I'd give the former 4 out of 5 stars, and the latter 2.

I have been desperately trying to figure out what the difference has been between the two experiences. I'd summarize it as:

  1. This Sanctuary "menu" system, where I navigate my character in an aleph, managing my inventory, clothes, spells, etc. is bloated, heavy, counterintuitive crap. My butler, John Cleese, telling me that there's new DLC available EVERY FUCKING TIME I show up is straining our relationship.

  2. Sanctuary "menu" for my Inventory meant I have an armory somewhere, where my character can change his equipped weapon, spell, and firearm. Somewhere. I spent 25 hours in this game before realizing that (a) spells get changed in the armory, and (b) I already owned all the gauntlets which cast spells.

  3. There is no need to actually travel anywhere 99% of the time; Fast Travel will pop me to the Quest location immediately, so I have no sense of journeying anywhere. Oddly, Fast Travel sometimes seems to put me RIGHT where I need to be, and other times it will put me further away than I was before electing to Fast Travel.

  4. They tried to do something interesting with the "Make a promise" (required to advance the storyline), and then introducing conflict/agony over fulfilling the promise. Sadly the game's own economy makes it circumventable fairly easily, and in the most boring manner possible: I can donate my own sizable reserves to Albion's treasury, eliminating actual consequences. If this worked, it would have been really impressive, even heartbreaking. But it doesn't.

The final confrontation in Fable 3 is worse than in 2. It spends a heap of time implying there'll be a huge battle against an even larger foe than the previous, seriously epic battle for the throne, and ends up being a waltz down Main Street Bowerstone. The game squanders its potential for emotional involvement at every opportunity.

I also enjoyed Fable 2's open-world stuff more than 3's. The town jobs actually had some variation in gameplay, there were a few extended non-main storyline missions, and the minutiae were kind of fun to manage. I also enjoyed fighting.

Fable 3 has that Bioshock Infinite problem where it's no longer necessary to work for anything. I never looked into upgrading my weapons because fighting was never a challenge. When I looked into it, I found I'd never used magic effectively; I used Vortex/wind the whole game. I never even knew weapons could be upgraded by performing some challenges -- why not start the Hero with a weapon which sucks, but has easily-met upgrade conditions? This would educate the player naturally. Fast Travel, again, here. There's no reason to actually run anywhere, so there is no perception if distance or place.

Anyway, it's done. I finished the last tolerable Achievement last night, and now it's on to the next thing. In the end F3 was an education in what NOT to do.
chronovore: (sweater)
The XBL Gold Sale of the Fundament-Shaking Magnitude has resulted in a few purchases, which I've booted to confirm that they run:

Kinect Sports Season 2: So far, pretty fun. I now know more about American Futbol than I did yesterday. The golf is pretty good, though seems to lack nuance. There's a lot of content; seems like it would be fun to mess with during parties. Along with this, I've been playing Deepak Chopra's Leela, and Kinect PlayFit for additional 'Cheevos.

Lego Batman 2: Just played the intro. Legos talk now, apparently. So far, no open-world stuff, just standard Lego-game babby-combat and building stuff to move to a new area in a linear level. I may have made a terrible mistake.

Fable 3: (free) Speaking of babby combat, the one-button melee here is kinda neat, but I'm not sure if I love it. Also not clear on how push-to-charge works with firearms. I guess I'm supposedly aiming? Thought I was just going to play for a few minutes, ended up stopping at 2AM. I guess I'm enjoying it.

State of Decay: Played for three more hours today, even though I'd finished clearing the 'cheevos, and have a wealth of new games to play. Definitely my favorite XBLA title ever. I got Marcus up to 7 in all stats, opted for "Ninja" for his Utility Skill, so now he's a silent badass who can sneak fast, no door is locked for him, and Search actions are silent, even when rushed, and only take 1 second. I also found a wakizashi for him, so I guess he is A REAL NINJA: RIP Jim Kelly.

I relocated my peeps to a new house, built improved the facilities to just about everything they could want, upgraded medical and workshop facilities, upgraded sleeping area, etc.

It's funny, the way cars play into the storytelling of any given "run" I've had on this game. They don't change location or state from where they've been left, so if I've hopped out of a car which was on fire, it stays on fire endlessly, and is sometimes a landmark when driving around at night. There's an upside-down Sheriff's car just outside Marshall's eastern bridge, where I hit a rock at a bad angle trying to be fancy. They're always there, and it really adds to the feeling of permanence and persistence for me.

I am probably done now, but may still drop in on my survivors from time to time.

Karaoke: Two levels away from level 50, and being utterly complete on this. INiS still managed to make some bad decisions on UI, and the whole thing feels utterly discount compared to other F2P titles like Happy Wars and even Spartacus, but it is far less buggy and messed up than their LIPS game was.

Oh, hey. I thought I'd bought more stuff, but forgot that I'd been IP blocked from Far Cry Predator Instincts, Far Cry 3, and Assassins Creed 3.
chronovore: (sweater)
How about a Minecraft project replicating the Nazi Germany aesthetic? Call it Mein Krapft.
chronovore: (sweater)
I'm going to rename the game here and now: UNHAPPY WARS.

What is WRONG with Japan, can't grok networking to save their life. The game is plenty of fun when it works right, but even after a sizable Title Update (42MB), the wait in the Lobby has three separate countdowns, and always stalls on the last part of the last countdown, one unit short of completion, for a duration equal to all the previous counts combined. Sometimes, at this point, instead of proceeding to the game, it kicks me back to the main menu, but there is no way to know if it's going to crash out or continue to the delicious fracas without JUST WAITING FOREVER for the result, on "11/12," or "17/18," or "8/9."

Also, right after the Title Update, there was an interesting PVP match where I couldn't damage the enemy team members, but they could cast beneficial spells on me, so there's some kind of binary bit for who is enemy vs. ally, and it got flipped. We played for about 10 minutes before the game crashed. I've had three or four other matches which had gone quite long, but crashed out before completion. Of course, none of these will count toward completion of its grindy "play more than 100 games" -- ffffuuuu...

There's a fair amount of gameplay success/failure tied up in Gear, and good Gear is not awarded randomly; truly sweet items seem to only come from MtG-style Booster Packs of virtual cards, and buying those costs money. Recently the game offered free Tickets (IAP currency) to try, so I think some people were able to see what the nice items are... This is a "first hit is free" kind of gift.  
chronovore: (sweater)
Also, I need to admit that I’ve been avoiding F2P for ages because I would rather play console games, which have seemed more robust and engaging... but the truth is I’ve been pretty hooked on them now that I’ve tried a few.

Last caveat: I try to play these games on zero money for as long as I can stand it, and then I purchase IAP currency to see what kind of change it effects in the experience.

OK, on with it:

Way back when, I tried Tiny Tower and Smurf Village. These games were just maniacal little time wasters. I never spent any money on either one, and was surprised to find myself resenting the time spent just doing upkeep on the villages. I was checking in during train commutes to- and from-work (this was a couple years ago, when I worked in Japan), and again during lunch hour. I realized that I would rather be reading a book or watching a TV show or movie on the tiny iPod screen than wondering if any of my shelves were empty. Deleting these was tremendously liberating.

Battle Nations has grabbed me pretty hard, and it became the first F2P I've paid any money for. The art style is fun, and it's a little calm and hypnotic to do base management, and the combat is super light, but fun. Being able to sink time into this on my iPhone, iPad, and even on Mac has meant that it gets a lot of attention from me.

There are a few different resources in Battle Nations, with most of them being stuff you can mine, like steel and wood. Some of them are teeth or skulls you get from fallen opponents'. Some are ribbons you get from helping NPCs' bases, or your Friends' bases. (You can create your own network of friends by both parties agreeing to anonymously connect after any PvP fight.) There are prerequisites for almost all of them, such as being Level 1 or 3, or 20; or having soldiers' stripes.

One of the resources is Achievement score from all games from this publisher, Z2Live. As a consequence, I've also downloaded Trade Nations.

Trade Nations is not, by any stretch, a good game. It was the first game the company put out, it also has OS X and iOS clients, so I can take my actions there in about 30 seconds, and am slowly building up my score, so I can get better stuff in Battle Nations. But I feel a little like a clod. There is no mechanic for expanding your Friends Network, unlike Battle Nations, which allows any player encountered in PvP to be added. The only method for expansion is a separate Invite screen, for email and Facebook spamming of friends. No thanks.

Which is to say I am impressed at the integration of network expansion in Battle Nations. Also, it’s better paced; I was able to get about 2 hours of solid play into Battle Nations, experiencing a sense of progress and having fun, before I hit my first speedbump.

For the Z2 points, I also downloaded and played MetalStorm, Z2Live’s arcade jet fighter game. As far as I can tell, I’ve put more effort into this than most people on my GameCenter list. It is a wildly unbalanced arcade flyer, with what feels like a lift of Area88’s manga plotline. Unfortunately, I’m crap at it, and its in-game Coins can be used to respawn, much like old coin-op quarter-munchers encouraged players to keep going a little further. I’m not fond of this game at all right now. I feel like I was suckered into continuing, as the plane is restored, but Premium Weapons and Ammo are not; so if you think you can finish the mission with limited ammo, or the underpowered generic ammo, wheee.

What else... ?

I've been enjoying Clash of Clans; it's a pretty and fun "defense" game, where you are trying to invade other people's clan grounds, get their mana and money, preferably with a minimal level of expense of your own troops. The troops you can place have different AI goals, such as "any old thing" or "resources" or "defenses" when choosing their targets.

There's the whole opposite side of the game, where you set up your base to prevent it being invaded, by creating walls, buying and upgrading defenses, and reworking them after reviewing Replays of times other players have attacked you... Because the enemy attacks are all run without defender interaction; you set up your plan, the invader gets a half-minute or so to look at your layout before they have to choose to commit troops or move on to a different player's clan grounds (each search for a potential target costs a little gold).

The nice thing is that the IAP currency, Gems, are basically for speeding things up. The in-game currency of Mana and Gold seems intelligently balanced, and then you can purchase gems to speed up construction of the base or army. Gems also come in small amounts from in-game milestones, which is encouraging.

Which brings me to my one complaint here, and with other games I've been seeing: It shouldn't be called "Free to Play," it should be called "Free to Wait," because most of these games seem to ask for payment before the player can get on with their purchases.

Even Zombiewood, a cute little twin-stick shooter, allows for basic play and upgrades, but even when you've got a little cash to upgrade, the game forces a short wait (I've seen 8 minutes, 12, 18...). It is possible to play Zombiewood indefinitely, and progress well, without buying anything -- however, I’d almost qualify this as a “pay to score” game, as the Premium Weapons directly multiply players’ final scores, if they’re using the specified one for any given challenge. But you can upgrade basic weapons pretty easily, and the wait isn’t on the days or even hours scale for improvement. A lack of progress-parity across my iDevices discouraged me from pursuing this much further than my original two week streak. I can't believe they're not using cloud save data, though I know it will introduce additional technical questions they likely didn't have to originally consider.

Lastly, at least for now, I’ve been playing Happy Street. Everyone who sees it thinks it is some kind of Animal Crossing game, but it’s more akin to Tiny Tower, in that most of the “action” involves keeping stock on the shelves, and meeting the needs of the inhabitants: food, lodging, entertainment. The major advantage which this has over Tiny Tower is the ability to visit other friends’ Streets, so you can see the progress they’ve made, and help them along a little with their restocks, and get the IAP currency in small amounts for doing so.

So, what else is good? And what crap should be avoided?

And for anyone who has played any of the above, are there any major points I've missed, or misunderstood?
chronovore: (Default)
I'm stunned that I'm not having more fun in [PROTOTYPE], but somewhere between the overly complex control scheme, difficult to utilize combat abilities and powers, and the [UTTER RUBBISH] they are passing off as a storyline, it feels as though I'm struggling through completion because I know I will never pick it up again if I set it aside for even a moment.

It's strange, because it's still a much better version of Sega's HULK game. There are so many things done much better than HULK, and yet the dissonance between Alex's "must find a cure" motive and his "destroy anything which moves" tactics. I don't know that Mother Theresa gameplay to deal with the hordes of Infected people running rampant in Manhattan would be compelling, but at least it would make sense.

I know holding the player's hand and mollycoddling them is not considered "hardcore" -- but in a game with two or three dozen melee moves spread out over five or six distinct power groupings, plus their variants locked to and combined with various forms of locomotion, there should be more prevalent [TUTORIAL] missions to bring the player up to speed on what they just purchased with their Evolution Points. 

When this and inFamous came out at the same time, and so many people were noting the similarities, I was really excited. But inFamous is more internally consistent within its fiction, and the control scheme makes more sense. 
chronovore: (sweater)

Played, finished, loved Saints Row 3.

GTA V is announced, will probably come out next Spring or Fall; it has huge shoes to fill. Saints Row has grown from being the "wannabe GTA" before Rockstar managed to get one out this generation, to picking up all the forgotten mirth and madness Rockstar forgot to put into GTA IV, to out-and-out embracing the utter madness possible in an urban crime sandbox setting.



The very first mission of the game has The Boss (your entirely customizable main character) robbing a bank with a couple Homies from Saints Row 2, and a method actor who is participating in an actual robbery to be able to more effectively portray a Saint in their upcoming movie. Shortly after shooting your way out of the bank, you find yourself in a gunfight in an airliner, and again in freefall. The game immediately sets a very high bar for craziness, then lets the player continue to find creative ways to surpass it on their own.

The game is outrageous, and largely free of the systemic "jank" which characterized the two previous entries in the series.

  • side-missions have integrated as main missions: I love goofing around in open world games, but it's even more fun if there are parameters and win-conditions associated with the goofing. The SR games have always had lots of Activities and Diversions (mini-Activities), but this time at least some small lip-service is given as a reason for why the activities should be undertaken.

  • cred/money economies: This is the first time an Open World Game has actually had an economy which works. It wasn't until the end-of-endgames that I finally felt like money wasn't an issue -- and as a gang leader who had taken over the majority of the city, it actually made sense that I wouldn't be worried about cashflow anymore. Prior to that, there was always something I'd wanted to buy, which was just out of reach unless I saved for a bit. Well done.

  • user selected upgrades/cheats effectively creates a "choose your own difficulty level" feature: based on the economy mentioned above, The Boss' rpg-lite "level" determines which Upgrades become available. The Boss starts out robust, and able to handle himself in most fights, but with the right Upgrades, s/he can become virtually indestructible, even able to perform the casual "walk away from an explosion without looking back (and without being blown up." These upgrades can also include ones Homies and the overall gang abilities.

  • storytelling tone: SR1 was serious, so serious. A big, bad gang story as told by the hard core gaming nerds of Champaign, Illinois. SR2 was less serious, more crazy... but still had a few missions with a very dark tone which stood out as intense, but not necessarily keeping in tone with the rest of the game. It was like Looney Tunes as directed by John Singleton. SR3 keeps a consistent tone; it's as light as one can get when dealing with drugs, whores, and mass murder -- this is the Saints' world, and it is internally consistent this time around.

  • storytelling mechanic: Instead of a massive number of cutscenes bookending each story mission, much of the storytelling has been shifted to phone conversations. Missions are initiated from the player character's phone, so the introductory conversation giving exposition for the mission makes a natural flow into the mission itself. The player-character is shown to touch an earpiece to receive calls, so unlike other games where the character must actively hold the earpiece to their ear, and cannot shoot, drive, enter a building, etc., this allows them to move/play freely while the conversation unfolds. This is one of those minor changes which makes all the difference to a player. Lastly, by shifting the storytelling burden onto voice conversations, there are fewer cutscenes overall; this give a much lower production cost, as well as allowing gameplay to continue uninterrupted.

Five out of Five Raised Fingers. This game was awesome.
chronovore: (Default)
To gamers who bitch about the greed of publishers who are trying to offset the financial damage caused by the used market by offering free functionality codes with new games which are also purchasable DLC for used copies of the game, fuck you.

You aren’t those publishers’ customers, anyway. You’re GameStop’s customer.
chronovore: (Default)
This feels more like my kind of game than Batmetroid did. I mean, I know there will be Metroid elements here as well, but it feels more open, less constricted. I know that may end up making it feel like less of a focused experience, but whatevs.

I saw there's a 'cheevo for completing NG+, so I'm playing on Normal, and will tackle NG+ with a beefed up Brucie.

So far: MUCHO MAS EXCELLENTE

Except: VR MISSIONS, THESE ARE MY BALLS. PLEASE STAY OFF OF THEM.

The VR missions are annoying as hell. The things previously said here about them, how the game assumes the player knows the controls are true. It assumes the player has JUST RECENTLY completed Arkham Asylum, and still remembers the control scheme perfectly, and starts you off with all the stuff you should have earned during a full AA run. Then it piles more on top. It's honestly a little overwhelming, and then the VR missions come in and require that you ace these ungodly runs -- but the flight/divebomb stuff is NEW to Arkham City! There's no reason they shouldn't have a tutorial for this stuff!

I'm not understanding the dislike of the Catwoman missions. It's largely same-y, and the traversal is limited compared to Batman's grapnel-boost, but whatevs. For a while, you're staring at 'dat ass instead of Bat-ass.

Lastly, I am not a fan of the shark. I just don't like sharks. I really, really am not a fan of sharks. And I'd argue that being eaten by a shark repeatedly is not part of Batman's... oeuvre.

Or is it...?

bricked

Nov. 17th, 2011 07:14 am
chronovore: (Default)
My son has totally been sucked in by Lego Star Wars, so we're doing that. I've been sick this week (possibly related?), so I've been going to bed early. My gaming week has been LSW only. Seriously, Traveler's Tales can make a good game, the Finding Nemo game was great for its day. Then they hit Lego-era and appear to have quit trying. 

The first LSW was novel. The sequel LSW, Lego Batman, and Lego Indiana Jones, they're all THE SAME GAME. For a toy which inspires such incredible creativity, the videogame version of it has been coasting since the first entry. Even the save/load flow appears to be holdout from the PS2 era. 

At least I hear they've fixed the camera for Lego Harry Potter. Playing LSW with my son, I can't tell you how frustrating it is to be cast off from a platform because he's exploring something else. When he moves, the camera moves, and it will "shove" my character around to keep him in the shot,sometimes frequently causing him to fall to his death. The Harry Potter version no features an as-needed splitscreen, which merges once characters return to the same region. 

The best "plastic brick" game out there is Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts. That's what a Lego game should have been.
chronovore: (Default)
Just Cause treats itself like an action movie; maybe Commando, but starring Antonio Banderas' "El Mariachi" as funded by the CIA. Unfortunately, the game is just not particularly hard. If there was a difficulty setting, I missed it -- but the game started under all-default conditions is pretty easy overall. No missions were particularly overwhelmingly hard, though there was one where what felt like a bug made it difficult to clear. 
In the end, I warmed up to Just Cause. Once I grokked that the player-facing basics are essentially GTA3-era, and no better, I've come to enjoy it as a return to a simpler time. I wrote the following prior to completing the game to 1000/1000 GamerScore completion:
Who cares that there's no tutorial? Who cares that it's got bugs which prevent mission completion? I don't, at least not anymore. I guess I should say "not for now."

Things that are similar to GTA3:
  • Dirt-simple lock-on and fire gunplay
  • Side missions unlock useful items at safehouses
  • Player must return to a safehouse to Save game progress
  • Death removes your collected weapons
  • Wanted level prevents starting some activities
  • Unnatural animations when the player-character runs and jumps
  • Hitting pedestrians with your car leads to hilarious moments of Havoc-induced physics failing to cooperate with the animation system
  • Buggy!
Things that are improvements on the GTA3 formula:
  • Restocking lost weapons after death is trivial; the gunplay is superbland and no weapon is particularly useful
  • Parachute stunts
  • Grappling Gun (now I see where Mercenaries 2 got the idea)
  • Swimming / no death in water 
  • Collectibles are marked plainly on the map. ALL OF THEM.
The music implementation is really poor; BGM frequently is restarted so I've heard the breezy eurosynth intro to the BGM specific to flying more times than I'd like. Fortunately, the 360 supports user music, so it's an easy problem to sidestep. Thank goodness I'm not playing on PS3 or PS2, both of which have versions out for this game. BUT WHAT TO PLAY? At some point in the murky past, I found some rips of the GTA Liberty City Stories radio stations, which are 20 minute tracks which play continuously. Suddenly the generic Central (South?) American radio landscape becomes much more fun! 

chronovore: (Default)
I played several Kinect games recently. The differences in front end implementation are stunning. Adventures! and the Kinect Hub have very similar models, where the "stickiness" of the cursor remaining on an interface icon feels similarly weighted, and the timing with which it initiates and processes item selection are nearly identical. Joy Ride seems to ape some of the conventions without actually understanding why it's doing it. Specifically, it makes the cursor stick when over a selectable area, but then the timing of initiating the "selection countdown" seems to trigger quite late. This works in negative conjunction with whatever tolerance they've built into the stickiness, so right when it seems like I'm going to get what I was trying to select, it instead leaps off the item and forces me to re-select.

Don't even get me started on the maddening, unclear, complete freak-out Joy Ride had when I tried to start a two-player race with my kids' accounts logged in. It managed to completely kill their enthusiasm for the game before it had even started.

Dance Central, OTOH, seems to have its ducks in a row. They made some very smart decisions about limiting the selectable items, and instead of using the "mouse pointer" and countdown timer model of everything above, there is a stack of selectable items, and then use relative limb speed to move between the selection. Did you ever own one of those cell phones with a jog wheel? This feels like that; you can very quickly move to the item you want, even within a large list. There is also simple and consistent separation between right-hand and left-handed operation, where a swipe with the right hand is "select" and left hand is "go back." Super simple, very low user stress.
chronovore: (Default)
So, this is another one of those games which stops just short of being INSANELY AWESOME.

Executive summary:
Open World Game in which you're a Resistance operative in Nazi-occupied Paris.

Gameplay:
In addition to driving and shooting like GTA, you can also climb things and stealthily assassinate people like Assassin's Creed. And you have dynamite to make the explodo.

At this point, if you're into Open World Games, you should be crapping your pants with the Potential Awesome of this game. However, if you're like me and played Pandemic's Mercenaries 2, you know enough to be skeptical. And you should be very skeptical. )
chronovore: (Default)
Currently playing a cycling rotation of:
  • Rock Band 3 vocals/bass
  • Karaoke Revolution Encore 2 (any takers for boosting co-op Achievements? I'm not joking...)
  • Band Hero vocals (same offer...)
  • Le Saboteur: Mostly playing this. Elsewhere, my fascination with this game and willingness to continue playing it despite a couple disastrous game design decisions has been referred to as "Le Syndrome Stockholm avec Paris." Expect a full write-up to follow on the heels of the game's completion, or after I snap the disc in half.
  • Pac-Man Championship Edition DX This game and its predecessor should be the focus of a ludology class. Goodness me, here is a 30 year old game with barely updated graphics, but the gameplay has been revised and adapted to expose the ungodly amount of depth available. Just remarkable. It makes me think back to the experience of developing Pac-Man World 20th Anniversary Edition, and just how badly we knew we were FAILING to include the important portions of the classic gameplay.
  • UFC 2010 Undisputed, everything except online. Kind of stalled.
  • Kinect Adventures
  • Kinect Dance Central

Games to which I say "good-bye, good riddance." These are about to go to A-Too, a local game shop which has overseas (Western) games.
  • WANTED: Weapons of Fate - Double-dutch duct-tape done with this. Didn't finish the collect-a-thon, I decided to take my sanity and go home. Also decided that I'm probably never buying Grin's Terminator game, just on prinicple.
  • EA Sports MMA --- so, so done with this. I went from being fascinated with the fight system to being frustrated and angry with it. There are people who say it's better than UFC; I am painfully curious on from where they are drawing this assessment.
chronovore: (Default)
Started playing WANTED: Weapons of Fate tonight. I heard it was short. Apparently, it's really short: I played for an hour and a half and am up to Chapter 4. I think there are 7 total.

The writing is at least interesting; the game takes place on the heels of the movie's events, with Wesley trained up, and the Chicago Loom in a post-explodo state. The story alternates chapters between Wesley dealing with a new Fraternity trying to destroy him for heresy, and flashback missions playing as Wesley's father, Cross, making his escape to America when Wesley is still a baby.

The game has tutorials which walk you through all the stages of the interesting things you can do: walk, aim shoot (ho-hum), use indirect fire to create an opportunity for discreet movement to flank enemies (WOOOO!), curve a bullet's flight (rawk!), and slo-mo traversal firing (meh; every shooty game since Max Payne 1 seems to have this).

Then it drops you in a turret for no good reason, and fails to explain that whenever you're not actively aiming or firing you've got perfect cover. Yeah, that makes no sense: put a guy in a turret and expect him not to be firing constantly? What about that indirect fire, about which you just taught me, that forces everyone to take cover? Me, blazing away with a 50 caliber emplaced weapon, actively aiming at them and mowing down legions of the bad guys doesn't make them defensive or distracted in the same way blind firing a pistol does?

So, yeah. The game's pretty inconsistent, but there are some badass Time Crisis-styled sequences that make up for it. These play like Quick Time Events, in that player input is kept to a minimum, but only successful input allows continuation of a scripted cinematic sequence. For instance, a scene where a jumbo jet is plummeting near vertically toward the ground, Cross has to climb up from the cockpit toward the rear cargo hatch to escape. Along the way he has to face many survival-instinct-challenged enemies. additional rambling )

viking!

Dec. 18th, 2010 06:32 pm
chronovore: (furious)
I told myself at midnight last night that I'd just clear the one Viking dungeon that had been giving me problems. Then I did another, and another, and ended up at the last boss. At 2 a.m. I was not the most rational player, so I ended up re-doing the stage 6 or 7 times before realizing that the adrenaline was going to keep me from sleeping -and- fatigue was going to keep me winning. The former condition might change, but the latter wouldn't, so I called it a night. Morning. Whatever.

As of this afternoon, Viking's done. The last sequence ended up giving me a little better appreciation for the fighting system than I'd had to develop over most of the game. The last fight sequence ended up being satisfying. The final boss, not so much: I'm not a fan of QTEs.

There are some camera management requirements in the march up the final tower and the end. In many instances the camera doesn't know what to do with itself. Essentially, the indoor third person camera, with cheap fire barriers bounding three of four sides in the final battle means situational awareness is key. Dodging has not had consequences at any other point in the game. Suddenly the player can dodge backward into flame... which was off camera when the control was input.

Overall, it's a fun game it isn't something I'm likely to play again at any point, and the "open world" stuff is iffy. It could have easily been a sequence of simpler missions with no unified world for easy wandering around. The wandering is limited to a few simple paths between major areas. I didn't feel like I was ever exploring. The fighting was fun, it was less glitchy than THQ's Conan action game, and the last boss was at least manageable. Man, I'm still hating the last Conan boss...
chronovore: (mouthy)
The guy in the song Lips of an Angel is a dick. How did this song become popular? Is it that common to talk to your ex secretively on the phone, to want to go back into an unhealthy relationship with your ex,  when she's with someone else already, too? Hang up. You're both bad news. Grow up.

Why I am even listening to it: I have to sing it. Grooveshark.com lets me build a playlist of songs they have on their database, so between it and the wikipedia track listings, I am able to listen to the entire playlist of all of my music games, which is useful for anything they have that's not in my library, like this song. This song is in at least two of the games, Karaoke Revolution Encore 2, and Band Hero. I guess it was pretty big. You guys probably heard most of this stuff on the radio, at supermarkets and coffeeshops and bakeries, ad nauseum.
chronovore: (Default)
Work got a Kinect for the shared area xbox. I played some Kinect Adventures! during lunch. It's definitely something that would make a party more fun; it's weirdly magical, the way that the Avatar mirrors my own actions. I worked up a sweat jumping around in the break area. When I wiped the sweat off my forehead, my Avatar did too. That surprised me. In cutscenes where my Avatar is waiting for a prize to be delivered, however I move, it does, too. I got impatient waiting for a score at one point; when it showed it again, it was in a weird pose -- I had unconsciously crossed my arms, and the Avatar was giving a near approximation like I was hugging myself.

...I wasn't hugging myself, honest. It was a natural, defensive, pouty, arms-crossed pose. Technology! Pfeh!

The device requires space. This is a problem in Japan. Hell, just being an xbox accessory in Japan is a problem in Japan. But lack of space is really going to hurt their uptake. It wants 1.8~3.0 meters for a single player. Closer to the 3.0 m for two players. We were barely able to scrape up 1.8 m. of free space by pushing tables further away from the TV in the break area. Several times, the Kinect warned me that I was too close. Because of the conic nature of its pickup area, I was also able to go out of bounds without getting too close.

Even so, the general "interface" of using the Kinect worked quite well in medium lighting conditions and limited space. I didn't feel stress at the full body movement, and there are a number of interesting user experience cues which seem fairly consistent: When you can interact, it ghosts the Avatar on the screen, prompting movement. During gameplay, if the player moves closer to the Kinect/screen, the game's camera also pulls in somewhat tighter, giving a quick and intuitive reinforcement of movement (which supersedes noticing the Avatar's legs aren't really synchronizing super-impressively).

I'll probably pick up a Kinect and Dance Central next time I'm in the USA. If there's a sequel to You're In The Movies with Kinect, I'll buy it. But much like the original, I'll probably be the only one. :^(
chronovore: (furious)
So I put aside EA MMA for a little bit to try Viking: The Battle for Ass-Guard. It's not just any vikings; these are Dungeons and Dragons style Vikings, with magic pendants and teleportation portals and dragons!

In truth, they could have made it about raiding neighboring villages and stealing their crap. The whole game is about "reclaiming" your island from the forces of Hel, which involves leaving your little village, going to neighboring areas, and beating the hell out of anyone in there. Then it becomes your... er, "returns to being" your land.

I blame [livejournal.com profile] aalfonso for this purchase. We were in the game store, and he used several terms in a single sentence which overwhelmed my reticence to buy: "viking," "open world," and "stealth." One of the things I like about OWGs is revisiting old areas to do new tasks, using what I learned before to my advantage. It's not the case here; it's a series of linear battles which happen to take place in little strips of a larger world. You visit them once to do the mission, and that's it. If I was short on cash maybe there would be a reason to return for hidden gold, but I prioritized buying items which make them appear on my radar (VIKING RADAR), so now I'm cleaning up during the initial playthrough or immediately after clearing the area. The waiting-to-be-freed viking brethren are in the same poses as the bare-breasted maidens who needed to be rescued in THQ's Conan game, so I'm always disappointed to get near and discover bearded men in bondage.

Overall it's pretty, doesn't yet seem particularly deep, and suffers from a janky camera (most likely from someone in marketing telling them to move the camera closer to the main character so he's larger on the screen). The close up, speed-ramped dismemberment kills are satisfying.

It was disappointing to find that, after the final battle on the initial island, the game just peremptorily shunted my ass directly to the next island with no way to return. This is grounds enough to outright rescind the "open world" label for the game. I had planned to scoot around and pick up all the remaining treasure after cleaning house but, BOOM, there I am on a new island without the windfall of funds I'd been counting on, and no way to hunt out the remaining collectibles. Want to get all those Achievements? Did you get 5 out of 6 Hidden Red Skulls? Start a new playthrough and re-do EVERYTHING. Wheeeee~.

The new island was more of the same, more of the same, and it had that half-finished feel that seems typical of Sega external developed stuff. There's a certain "reek" given off by Viking that makes it feel a little like Sega's almost-good HULK game. The camera has the same shuddering, overreacting sweep to it. The QTE's have the same mediocre implementation, blitting a button cue on the screen briefly, but not showing whether it's a single press or a repeated tapping clearly. It's just... some kind of Sega jank they must insist on during QA.

So I was getting frustrated with the controls, and then was having huge troubles with a major base run at Holdenfort. It was the first time I had to take the controls seriously. I was getting my ass handed to me by Legion Champions since they decided to put in two in a row, and placed these where the camera could be easily obscured by buildings and rooftops. EXCELLENT! >:-(

When I finally met the win condition for the run, nothing changed. I was on top of a hill with enemies endlessly spawning out from a Leystone warpgate. I couldn't use it, I couldn't go back through the base without dealing with the repopulated regions, and it was unclear how to open the next gates to the next area. What is the actual solution?

Well, since the win condition was met, I was actually free to use my map! The map, oddly, is just a map except for set-piece missions where the player-character leads a massive number of troops into an epic battle. These are huge battles, truly impressive. I've got -NO IDEA- why the designers want them initiated from the map when NOTHING ELSE IS. The map allows waypoint setting, and shows updated locations for where missions can be started, remaining tasks before a mission can be started, that kind of thing. But the big battles can be activated directly from the map. The game does show a "Your map has new information" message that keeps creeping up as important. Instead what needs to happen is a message like "YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO DO ANYTHING ELSE UNLESS YOU CHECK YOUR MAP" -- or how about a dialog box with "You've met the conditions to start the battle. Do so now?"

Why can't this crap be simple? This feels as logical as crawling around a high school, fighting bullies all day long, but I've put all the pieces in place to have a brawl in the quad, I have to do it by opening up my Pee-Chee Folder and writing "start the brawl." It doesn't follow the rest of the given context.

Despite all this, I'm enjoying the game. The stealthy stuff is difficult because the Legion are on patrol, and likely to be staring down most paths of approach. Going around to a different approach angle usually wanders me right through an encampment of them. But when I can creep up behind a patrol marching in a line and leap in like a wolf behind them, take them out one after the other before any of them notice their buddy isn't behind them anymore? That's fun. And the massive battles between two large forces are also fun. When I finally did use my map to start the fight, it was huge, inspiring, and as big as anything for which I could have hoped.

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