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Offline honk

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Re: Now Playing (the Video Game Version)
« Reply #1000 on: February 24, 2022, 04:55:17 AM »
God of War

More like Dad of War. But this is actually really good. I think the key to this game's quality is just how well they integrate Atreus, the kid hanging out with you, into the gameplay. This stands out especially when you compare it to how most other games would handle the player always being accompanied by an allied NPC. Put simply, Atreus is never a problem. You don't need to worry about waiting for him to catch up if you're leaving the area, because he always appears right next to you, just offscreen so it isn't too jarring. You don't need to worry about babysitting or protecting him during combat, as he can usually dodge attacks just fine by himself, and while he can be incapacitated, it just takes a quick tap of a button to get him back on his feet. And most importantly of all, he's incredibly helpful in battle, especially once you level him up a bit and unlock the special arrows he can use. It really feels as though Santa Monica Studio went above and beyond in systematically removing every element of escort gameplay that tends to drag the experience down while retaining the parts that keep everything fast and fun, like video games are supposed to be.

The other gameplay elements are largely serviceable, if not spectacular. There's some fairly decent exploration and platforming, along with the occasional environmental puzzle. In stark contrast to the button-mashing combo-scoring of previous titles, combat is now a slower, more methodical hack-and-slash affair - nothing about it is particularly groundbreaking, but there's a nice and crunchy feel to it. Being able to switch between your weapons and your fists is a nice touch. I will say that the enemy variety isn't great, as about 90% of the enemies you fight are the same four or five basic monster types, and the minibosses in particular all feel like the same generic troll/ogre you fight right at the beginning of the game. The full bosses are great, but there are only a few of them. Don't let the padded bestiary fool you, either - enemies having slightly different names or categorization doesn't stop them from being pretty much the same old enemies. The puzzles are kind of lame, too, and particularly when it comes to the collectibles. You're almost always just hunting for hidden runes to smash to open a lock, or hitting a few chimes within a short timespan to open a lock.

Despite all the good things God of War has going for it, it would simply be an above-average hack-and-slash game if not for the story. The hokey B-movie dialogue and juvenile sex scenes of the previous games are replaced with a fairly simple story of Kratos and Atreus climbing a mountain to scatter the ashes of Atreus's late mother, while Kratos does his best all the while to teach his son wisdom and maturity, despite the fact that he barely knows him at all and is only too aware of the fact that his own violent nature and dark history make him a less than ideal role model. There are some things going on behind the scenes and some powerful enemies they eventually have to face, but for the most part, they remain focused on their task. This simplicity allows the game to put the focus on character rather than plot, and it's a genuine pleasure to watch Kratos and Atreus slowly grow to appreciate one another and help each other grow as people. There is one little detail at the end of the game I didn't like - the reveal of whom Atreus "really" is in the mythology. There are a couple of real-life mythological details that back it up, to be fair, but I still don't think it's a particularly good fit for him, and I suspect it was decided on more for audience recognition of the name than anything else. But that's a tiny quibble.

This game is great, basically. Can't wait to spend another few years waiting for its sequel to get a PC port.

HITMAN III

A tiny, tiny game in comparison to the two previous titles in this series. The levels are all significantly smaller, the number of unique challenges you can complete in each level have been dramatically reduced, only a small handful of scripted "mission stories" to help you infiltrate a location or get close to a target are available, when the previous games would usually offer seven or eight per level, and so on. It's just smaller in every possible way, and the fact that this game comes bundled with the previous two - something that I really appreciate, to be clear - only makes the comparative lack of content all the more noticeable. Almost all of my time spent with this game has just been playing the content from the two previous games. What a shame.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2022, 03:53:00 AM by honk »
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Offline junker

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Re: Now Playing (the Video Game Version)
« Reply #1001 on: February 24, 2022, 04:22:49 PM »
The full bosses are great, but there are only  Don't let the padded bestiary fool you, either

Nice copy editing.

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Offline honk

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Re: Now Playing (the Video Game Version)
« Reply #1002 on: February 24, 2022, 06:45:48 PM »
I am a dad of war. I have no patience for things like copy editing.
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Offline Crudblud

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Re: Now Playing (the Video Game Version)
« Reply #1003 on: February 25, 2022, 05:13:42 PM »
Elden Ring is kicking my arse. I wondered if it was because the game is hard or because I'm a naked dude with a club. So I started another playthrough as a dude with armour and a sword, and I still got my arse kicked. The bosses in this game are serious. So far I have only beaten the Beastman of Farum Azula, an optional miniboss. Anyway, I'm really enjoying it so far. It's a very successful expansion of the Souls formula, with a bit of Sekiro thrown in for good measure. The horseback combat is oddly reminiscent of Dynasty Warriors and I can imagine Miyazaki getting a kick out of colleague reactions to the idea when he described how he wanted to implement it.

Of course, it's not all good. As is typical with From games, the technical side is lagging behind the incredible design. There are definitely some performance issues on PC, I've been getting stutters and frame drops despite my rig meeting the recommended specs. Hopefully it's fixed soon.

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Offline junker

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Re: Now Playing (the Video Game Version)
« Reply #1004 on: February 26, 2022, 03:52:13 AM »
Elden Ring is kicking my arse.

i am also getting my shit kicked in, it is great

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Offline Clyde Frog

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Re: Now Playing (the Video Game Version)
« Reply #1005 on: February 27, 2022, 06:57:33 PM »
Loving the Elden Ring ass whooping as well

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Offline honk

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Re: Now Playing (the Video Game Version)
« Reply #1006 on: February 28, 2022, 05:49:07 AM »
ELDEN RING WHUPPED MY ASS

From have achieved what I wasn't sure was even possible and successfully transplanted the Souls formula into an open world. My biggest worry when I started playing was that exploration would be technically possible, while 99.9% of players would be promptly killed by overpowered enemies the moment they strayed from the path the story prescribed, but no. You really are free to wander even in the early stages of the game, and that's really the smart option so you can both toughen yourself up and hunt for useful equipment and items for when you tackle the main story. A lot of games struggle with horseback riding and go overboard in trying to limit how useful it is the player, but this game notably does not. You're certainly not invincible on horseback, but your horse is fast, can jump high, has plenty of health and stamina to work with, and in general just feels really good to ride. I'll probably have a few criticisms once I've completed more of the game, but so far pretty much everything is terrific.
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Offline Crudblud

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Re: Now Playing (the Video Game Version)
« Reply #1007 on: March 03, 2022, 05:25:05 PM »
Well, I just discovered a new bug. If you quit out after respawning at the Stake of Marika before Royal Knight Loretta, when you load the save you will appear in a void and instantly die. Not sure if this is just for this Stake or a problem in general but I found it pretty funny so I don't mind so much, even though the run back from the bonfire is kind of annoying.

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Offline junker

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Re: Now Playing (the Video Game Version)
« Reply #1008 on: March 03, 2022, 08:57:27 PM »
Well, I just discovered a new bug. If you quit out after respawning at the Stake of Marika before Royal Knight Loretta, when you load the save you will appear in a void and instantly die. Not sure if this is just for this Stake or a problem in general but I found it pretty funny so I don't mind so much, even though the run back from the bonfire is kind of annoying.

it doesn't happen on ps5 at least

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Offline Clyde Frog

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Re: Now Playing (the Video Game Version)
« Reply #1009 on: March 21, 2022, 01:14:03 PM »
It's taken me a while, I haven't been able to play it quite as much as I really want to, but I finally made it through Stormveil Castle. That place is no joke. I have a really major portion of Limgrave and Weeping Peninsula explored at this point - I'm sure there are things that remain to be found, and I know I still need to go back to the Minor Erdtree in Weeping Peninsula to kill the Erdtree avatar. I definitely need to do more wandering around Caelid too, but Liurnia is really fun to explore and just looks more inviting that Caelid.

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Re: Now Playing (the Video Game Version)
« Reply #1010 on: March 25, 2022, 09:37:16 PM »
I have become Elden Lord.

Excellent game, would play again.

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Offline Clyde Frog

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Re: Now Playing (the Video Game Version)
« Reply #1011 on: May 10, 2022, 12:59:32 PM »
I have ascended to Elden Lord finally. The final run of bosses at the end is not for the faint of heart. And there's a bad bitch that I have yet to slay and continues to have never known defeat. Which is to say, I'm not nearly done with this game yet.

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Offline honk

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Re: Now Playing (the Video Game Version)
« Reply #1012 on: September 03, 2022, 03:53:33 AM »
Marvel's Spider-Man

This game is an absolute blast. Controlling spoderman as you swing, zip, and dash around Manhattan just feels fantastic, and might even be the highlight of the game. The combat obviously owes a lot to the Arkham series, as many modern brawlers do, but there a few tweaks to make it feel a bit more unique, like how you dodge instead of countering attacks. I rolled my eyes when I first saw that there were going to be stealth sections, because it felt even more derivative of Arkham than the combat (stealth isn't exactly something spoder is typically known for, after all), but it really grew on me, and I soon started looking forward to every chance I had to take down a group of enemies entirely undetected.

The story is decent for the most part. This is a very likable Peter, even if his quips are sometimes terrible, and I really liked how they played up Norman Osborn's Trumpiness, but I will say that I think Octavius becoming Doc Ock would have been better left to the inevitable sequel. The relationship between him and Peter is great, but his turn as a villain is too rushed to resonate as much as it should. It also leads to story beats that feel a little forced, like how literally the first thing he does as Doc Ock is arrange a large-scale breakout at Ryker's and the Raft and form the Sinister Six. Kind of a wild first move for a brand-new supervillain, right? Octavius's similarities to Martin Li, particularly regarding his understandable animosity towards Osborn, also leave him feeling a little redundant in the overall story, and it's kind of annoying that at the last second the game apparently loses interest in Li and doesn't bother giving his character a proper conclusion, instead focusing entirely on Doc Ock.

The worst parts of the game are the fucking stealth missions where you play as MJ and Miles. They're disastrously bad. For one thing, they make very little sense in the story, especially for MJ. Her constantly sneaking into locations full of armed men hostile to her is stupid bordering on suicidal, and there is absolutely nothing she accomplishes that spoder couldn't and wouldn't have done a hundred times more quickly, more easily, and more safely. I might almost forgive their inclusion if they led to MJ growing as a character and realizing that there are other ways to help both her community and spoder than needlessly risking her life doing things she simply isn't equipped for, but no! When spoder finally confronts her, she argues that she's a Strong Independent WomanTM who can handle herself, the game frames her as being totally right, and spoder ends up apologizing for it! Even though she's clearly, objectively fucking wrong!

And even just looking at the actual gameplay, the missions are garbage. They're very simplistic, they're always on a set path you pretty much have to follow strictly, the mechanics are too shallow to experiment with, the AI is too braindead to enjoy trying to outsmart, the automatic fail once you're discovered is frustrating, and above all, they're dull and monotonous. Look, I have no doubt that at some point, there was a good idea at the core of what putting these missions in the game was meant to accomplish, but precisely none of that comes through in the final product. These missions should have been cut from the game, and the fact that they weren't suggests to me that they were probably a "pet" feature of someone too high up the corporate ladder to overrule who was determined to keep them in the game no matter how bad they were. I sincerely hope that these missions won't end up being in the sequel. Find something, anything else to do with MJ.

I wasn't sure if I really wanted to mention this, but the more I think about it, the more I feel that I have to - I have never seen a version of spoder this closely aligned with the police in any medium. Occasionally he'll comment on how he doesn't get along too well with the police, and sometimes a cop will throw a canned line at him about how he's not wanted, but for the most part, spoder seems to work with them pretty closely. He directly participates with and fights alongside them in multiple missions in the main story and the DLC, many, if not most of the side-missions and optional crimes he can complete involve him fighting alongside the police and helping them defeat criminals, and he "unlocks" each chunk of the world map by climbing a tower and hacking into their expansive surveillance systems (Ubisoft called, they want their dated game mechanics back) for the police. This wasn't a neutral or objective choice to present the game to the player. It was a narrative decision, and something that they could have very easily avoided, seeing how no other video game has featured spoder working this closely and directly with the police.

And there's no use dismissing this subject with a line like, "Oh, it's just capeshit, of course they're not going to go much deeper than the police being good guys," because this game does explore the ramifications of New York being oppressed by an authoritarian organization abusing its power - it's just the private military company Sable International that does it, not the NYPD. In the latter part of the game, these mercenaries begin using excessive force, trampling civil liberties, and imprisoning innocent protesters. spoder naturally finds this behavior unacceptable and soon becomes their enemy, even as he reasserts his allegiance with the NYPD, whom the game explicitly portrays as the "good" version of law enforcement, the organization that by contrast apparently doesn't infringe on civil liberties or hurt and imprison innocent people. But the game can't even keep this anti-authoritarian message consistent, because by the end of the game, the head of the company inexplicably joins your side, and in the DLC, spoder discovers that she's actually a wonderful person and a true hero deep down, just like him. I'm sure Insomniac meant no harm, but this simplistic portrayal of the police as unquestioned "good guys" and regular allies of spoder was tone-deaf back in 2018, and comes across as even worse now. Again, I'm really hoping that the sequel will do better on this subject.

Oh, and the DLC are pretty mediocre. They're not the absolute worst, but they're very short, don't have an especially interesting central conflict, end on very abrupt, unsatisfying notes, and in general have a very rushed, half-assed feel to them.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2022, 01:23:19 PM by honk »
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