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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 juner

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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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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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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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Re: Now Playing (the Video Game Version)
« Reply #1013 on: October 29, 2022, 08:47:43 PM »
Uncharted 4: A Thief's End

I played a few hours of this and couldn't take any more. I'm sorry to have to sadaam all over a game that has earned nothing short of universal acclaim, but I just wasn't having any fun with it. It's too scripted. The combat sections are scripted. The exploration sections are scripted. The stealth sections are scripted. The climbing sections, which seem to make up the bulk of the game, are scripted. I played this until I reached what looked like something of a boss fight, and even that turned out to be scripted. The game has virtually every step you need to take to complete it precisely calculated, and if you deviate from the set path, the game won't progress until you go back and return to the script. The story seems intriguing, the dialogue is crisp and witty, and the game certainly looks great, but I simply can't enjoy a game that only grudgingly allows me to participate in it.
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Re: Now Playing (the Video Game Version)
« Reply #1014 on: April 23, 2023, 04:13:07 AM »
The Last of Us Part I

This is what gamers have been raving about for the last ten years? This mediocre walking simulator crossed with a mediocre third-person shooter? Boring level design, overwrought "emotional" dialogue, uninspired combat, and a thoroughly unlikable main character, all wrapped together in yet another zombie game, because that genre hasn't already been oversaturated for years now. This one goes in the trash for me.

Just kidding, this game is terrific. The characters and story really are as great as everyone has said they are. For all the terrible things Joel says and does, he has a weird sort of menacing charisma to him that makes him compelling, and Ellie is portrayed as a realistic and likable teenager rather than the impossibly pure and innocent waif that so many games with a similar premise show us instead. It feels kind of silly to weigh in on this debate ten years later, but I loved the ambiguity of the ending and how far from black-and-white the awful dilemma that Joel is ultimately faced with is. I wasn't expecting to be wowed by the gameplay, but it's almost as good as the story. The combat is weighty and visceral, the scarcity of ammo and resources really makes you feel like you're desperately scrounging in a post-apocalyptic world, and even the quiet exploration scenes that let you soak in the beauty and bleakness of the world are gripping. It's done so much better than, say, Bethesda's Fallout titles, where virtually every location you can visit feels untouched since the collapse of society, and the "environmental storytelling" is limited to arranging skeletons in silly positions because the devs think it's funny (it's not).

There are a few flaws with the game, but nothing major. The shotgun feels underpowered, as you have to be at practically point-blank range for one shot to take down an enemy. It's so jarring to see an enemy stagger to their feet as if you've only winged them after you've blasted them from just six feet away. The idea was presumably to stop the player from dominating the game entirely with just the shotgun, but they would have been better off just making its ammo more scarce than so obviously nerfing it. There are also a number of times during the non-combat sections where you're presented with an obstacle, typically a high wall or a body of water, but rather than solve an environmental puzzle or anything, all you do is grab the nearby ladder, pallet, or raft and bring it back to where you are. It's that simple. I'm not exaggerating; the item you need is always right there. No puzzles, no platforming, just grabbing the item that's always literally right there. It feels like a placeholder for an environmental puzzle, and it's little more than busy work. If they didn't want to take the time to create puzzles, then I honestly think they would have been better off just removing these weird sections entirely.

I'm also puzzled by the role of the military in the story. The game quickly establishes that the military are needlessly cruel and oppressive, but never really takes the time to explain how or why they came to be that way. I don't know, I feel like the U.S. military being petty tyrants is kind of a big deal and something that's worth exploring in a bit more detail. It's not helped by the fact that after the opening chapters, the military vanish from the game and are never encountered again. Why even bother having the military as antagonists when the Fireflies are there to play the role of a (supposedly) reasonable authority figure? The story would have been a lot simpler if they had dropped the idea of a military junta and a plucky rebel alliance opposing them and instead just had Joel be delivering Ellie to the remnants of the U.S. government/military who are looking for a cure.
« Last Edit: April 25, 2023, 02:20:06 AM by honk »
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Offline juner

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Re: Now Playing (the Video Game Version)
« Reply #1015 on: April 24, 2023, 06:08:23 PM »
the gameplay is more repetitive than doom, and that is saying something

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Offline honk

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Re: Now Playing (the Video Game Version)
« Reply #1016 on: May 14, 2023, 02:53:05 AM »
Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales

For better or worse, this is more of the same of the previous PS4 spoder game, only it's not all that much more. I don't usually like to try to quantify the value of a game by how many hours it takes to complete, as I think that's a very flawed perspective, but when you release a game that's this much shorter and smaller than the one it's a direct sequel/spin-off to, you're inviting negative comparisons. The 2018 spoder game has 44 missions in its main story and 26 in its DLC. Miles only has 17 missions in its main story, no DLC, and an open world with considerably fewer things to do in it. If the first spoder was "worth" $60, then Miles simply isn't worth the $50 it's going for. I think $30 would have been a far more reasonable starting price.

The good news is that the core gameplay, spodering about New York and beating up criminals, is still a lot of fun. Miles has a few different abilities to Peter that are fun to play around with, and I like the little touch of his animations of swinging and fighting being a bit different to Peter's, presumably to emphasize the exaggerated swagger of a black teen his inexperience at spodering. Miles is a likable character, and proof that you can have a spoder who's a believable teenager while also not being aggressively infantilized like he is in the MCU. The story itself isn't fantastic, but it's largely carried by the characters and their relationships - Miles and Peter, Miles and Ganke, Miles and his mother, Miles and his uncle, and so on. Speaking of that last one, it would have been very easy for the subplot involving Aaron to feel derivative of how it was handled by the excellent Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which came out only a couple of years before this game, but they managed to tell the same basic story in a different but still effective way, and I really respect that.

The one element of the story that I feel just doesn't work is the main antagonist and her relationship with Miles. For a character that we're repeatedly assured is an altruistic genius, her overall plan is remarkably stupid and short-sighted, and her interactions with Miles reek of hypocrisy. She's secretly working with a terrorist group as part of her extensive plan for revenge against an evil corporation that's wronged her, but how dare Miles not trust her enough to tell her that he's spoder! She takes part in a terrorist attack that almost kills hundreds of people, among them Miles's mother, but Miles is the one who betrayed her by infiltrating her group to try and stop her insane scheme! And just like with MJ and Peter in the previous game, spoder actually seems to concede that he's to blame, and the game frames her as being right, even though she's very obviously wrong. To top it off, she has a last-minute redemption and heroic death at the very end of the story, so she never gets any meaningful comeuppance for her actions. I really wish that these franchises would stop this awful sort of unsympathetic-girlboss writing for their female characters. Whatever progressive message they think they're sending - they're not. It's bad representation as well as bad writing.

This is still a good game, though. It just can't really be called a proper sequel to the last one.
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Re: Now Playing (the Video Game Version)
« Reply #1017 on: June 21, 2023, 08:23:40 PM »
smrpg is getting rebooted and it will literally be the best game ever made

also neverending fantasy part 16 tomorrow

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Re: Now Playing (the Video Game Version)
« Reply #1018 on: August 25, 2023, 01:51:04 PM »
I would just like to say that Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon is a good game and I am enjoying it very much.

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Offline honk

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Re: Now Playing (the Video Game Version)
« Reply #1019 on: September 08, 2023, 09:20:05 PM »
While I agree that it's a fun and entertaining game, it's definitely From's weakest game in years. It simply doesn't meet their usual standards. To me, the biggest issue is the frankly enormous difference in difficulty between the missions and the boss battles. The missions are mostly fairly easy, while the boss battles are generally pretty tough and intense. It's jarring and dissonant whenever a leisurely mission suddenly gives way to a demanding boss fight, and I can't see how it works in the game's favor. Speaking of which, I honestly think that the tutorial boss battle is kind of bullshit. A key element of this game is the ability to design your mech how you want and thereby choose how best to tackle missions. But in the tutorial, you're stuck with a shitty loadout and you're stuck with having to fight the boss in one specific and very awkward way. It's more frustrating than it is properly challenging, and it doesn't help that this boss regularly flies outside of the area limits while continuing to shoot at you (and melee attacks are essentially required to defeat it). From's tutorial bosses work well in the Souls series and their similar games (apparently the accepted term for From's Soulslike games is Soulsborne? I thought that was just a dumb synonym that arbitrarily singled out Bloodborne as apparently being the only other game similar to Dark Souls in the world, but whatever), but it doesn't translate well into this game.

The level of customization available for your mech is incredible, every weapon and mech part looks awesome, and theoretically this game should support a number of playstyles that rely on mobility and firepower to different degrees. In reality, however, going with a heavy, high-firepower build is strongly incentivized, especially when it comes to the bosses. Battles tend to be visually chaotic, reliably dodging the constant hail of enemy attacks is extremely difficult, and light builds have severe weight restrictions on the weapons they can carry, limiting their ability to use the heaviest and most powerful ones. I'm not saying that it can't be done, only that dancing around the bosses and slowly chipping away at their health is significantly more difficult than smashing through them with a powerful tank, and I have no doubt that most people playing this game are going with the latter option. I don't know if this dichotomy was intentional on From's part, but it stands in stark contrast to their other games that support a number of very different but all entirely viable playstyles. Still, I appreciate the wide variety of possible builds, even if most of them simply aren't practical.

Another holdover from From's other games that doesn't work well in this one is how it handles its story and lore. It's fine when you're in a desolate, ruined world and there's a mystery of what this place is and how it came to be this way in the background as you fight to survive. This game, however, rather than taking place "after the end," is set in the middle of a war involving several different characters and factions, the events of which the player character soon gets caught up in. In other words, there's no reason why this game should be vague and cryptic about what should essentially be "common knowledge" among everyone in this setting (undoubtedly including the player character), but it is. What is Coral? What is the Fires of Iblis? Who are Balam Industries and Arquebus Corp? Who are the Rubicon Liberation Front and the Planetary Closure Administration? From should have just put a codex into the menu option for the player to fill themselves in on what's going on. Being vague and cryptic with the lore works for the Souls series. It doesn't work for a game like this one with a more straightforward narrative. It's a minor issue overall, though.

Still, the game is a lot of fun. Even a lesser game from From is a lot better than the games from most other devs.
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