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Re: Now Playing (the Video Game Version)
« Reply #960 on: May 20, 2020, 02:46:26 AM »
I recently finished the FF VII Remake. Saddam forced me to watch the review by Dunkey, who aside from a nails-on-chalkboard kind of voice is mostly accurate in his review so I won't bother rehashing it. Except the combat system is garbage and anyone who disagrees is wrong.

I am playing through the original FF VII again. In reflection on the remake, I mostly enjoy all of the extra exposition and backstories, I just hate how tedious is it to progress through the game to get to those moments.

I'm sure I have more to say, but I guess I'll release it in two additional installments over the next five years.

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Offline honk

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Re: Now Playing (the Video Game Version)
« Reply #961 on: May 29, 2020, 03:31:05 AM »
Dark Messiah of Might and Magic

At first glance, this game looks to be generic fantasy bullshit. And it is. But under the bland surface, there's one of the best first-person combat systems I've ever experienced. The core hack-and-slash mechanics are fluid and responsive, and the emphasis is less on smacking enemies aside through brute force and more on slipping past their defenses while making sure they can't get past yours. Direct confrontations demand your full attention. The bulk of the enemies you'll face are competent enough to fend off most blows unless they've first been staggered or thrown off guard, and they can take quite a beating before they go down for good. There are a number of different weapons you can switch between to give you the edge in any given scenario - swords for more power, daggers for more speed, staves for crowd control, etc. - and offensive magic in the form of fire, ice, and lightning spells, but taking on enemies in direct, fair fights remains very challenging.

So what you really should do instead is take advantage of the ludicrous physics and your overpowered kick. Dark Messiah makes terrific use of Valve's Source engine and ensures that every enemy encounter takes place in a sandbox for you to slaughter your foes in a number of different hilarious and very satisfying ways. You can use your ice magic on the ground and watch your enemies slip on them like a cartoon and tumble either into a chasm or onto the ground where you can quickly finish them off. You can pick up objects and throw them at enemies to stagger them, or use telekinesis to do it from across the room. You can cut the supports to ledges and watch them collapse and dump everything on them onto your unsuspecting enemies' heads. You can cut the ropes holding up chandeliers or other pendulums and send them swinging into enemies. You can destroy weak floors as enemies walk on them and watch them crash to the floor before. And most importantly of all, you can kick. By itself, the kick briefly staggers enemies, but whenever there's anything of interest behind them, it suddenly becomes far more powerful and launches them backwards. You can kick enemies into spike racks and watch them instantly be impaled. You can kick them into campfires and watch them burst into flame. Kick them into chasms, into deep water, into each other, down stairs, off ledges, you name it. Really, this whole fucking game is about you using your rocket-powered kicks to kill everyone in the most ridiculous ways possible.

Unfortunately, there really isn't anything else in this game to recommend it beyond the wonderful combat and physics. The story is bland and dumb, the voice acting is hammy and annoying, and I especially don't like the level design, which is repetitive and frustrating, and many times left me wondering exactly what I was supposed to be doing to advance. This is one game that would have benefited from adding quest markers, as more often than not the key to advancing turns out to be activating a needle-in-a-haystack lever or switch that you had no idea you were even meant to be looking for in the first place. Dark Messiah isn't a particularly great game, but for me it was saved by the combat. If you're willing to slog through some dull dungeon crawls to get to the good stuff, I'd recommend giving this a try.

Spec Ops: The Line

A passable cover shooter with a remarkably ambitious story that's largely a riff on Apocalypse Now - and yes, it is Apocalypse Now that's clearly the inspiration, not fucking Heart of Darkness. Maybe they thought they could get in legal trouble if they admitted their source wasn't public domain, but whatever. I give the story an A for effort, but large sections of the plot don't really make sense, the tone can get preachy and pretentious at times, and the scripting of the terrible deeds that occur at your hands is so obvious that it was impossible for me to feel any real guilt or responsibility for them. It's like the game gives you a gun, tells you to shoot a specific person, and then when you shoot them it tells you that actually that person was innocent and so you should feel bad. It's a little more nuanced than that, but it's the same general idea. There needs to be some player agency if these consequences are going to resonate. Some RPGs have managed to guilt-trip me in the past, particularly the Fallout games (the good ones) and the Witcher series, but it doesn't work for a game this heavily scripted.
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Re: Now Playing (the Video Game Version)
« Reply #962 on: June 24, 2020, 02:15:16 AM »
now playing rimworld. my crew slings space drugs to neighboring space cities.
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Offline junker

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Re: Now Playing (the Video Game Version)
« Reply #963 on: June 26, 2020, 06:47:53 PM »
I just finished L.A. Noire

What a dogshit ending that ruins most of the time spent on the game.

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Offline honk

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Re: Now Playing (the Video Game Version)
« Reply #964 on: July 18, 2020, 12:10:51 AM »
Death Stranding

Hideo Kojima is a brilliant auteur who is finally able to give us his pure vision, free from any corporate oversight and restraint. 4/10
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Offline ChrisTP

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Re: Now Playing (the Video Game Version)
« Reply #965 on: July 30, 2020, 10:01:43 PM »
Microsofts new Flight Sim coming up and will have VR support. I'll have my yoke and pedals ready (preordered). Nothing too special, a foldable playseat and the logitech flight sim yoke;

https://www.logitechg.com/en-gb/products/flight/flight-yoke-system-rudder-pedals-bundle.LOG-FLIGEU.html

The selling point about this game for me was the fact that it's using Bing maps to let you fly anywhere in the world with live feed of data from the real world, but VR has just topped it as a reason to play. It's on gamepass day one too... Win Win Win
« Last Edit: July 30, 2020, 10:04:43 PM by ChrisTP »
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Offline beardo

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Re: Now Playing (the Video Game Version)
« Reply #966 on: August 02, 2020, 01:19:35 AM »
Tyranny

Along with Pillars of Eternity, as spiritual successors to the classic Black Isle Studios/Bioware CRPG's, Tyranny imo deviates too far from the classics in regards to game mechanics and RPG rule system, even more so than Pillars, but I've nevertheless been playing it almost non stop the past 2-3 days. It's p. fun so far but I have my problems with it. I haven't finished it yet so I won't give a rating.

Edit: I just beat it. It's pretty short. 7/10. Time to start over and join a different faction. Also the DLCs are on sale rn so picked those up too.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2020, 02:45:33 PM by beardo »
The Mastery.

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Offline Crudblud

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Re: Now Playing (the Video Game Version)
« Reply #967 on: August 02, 2020, 08:32:45 PM »
Borderlands 2

Braindead loot grind with the most *holds up spork* humour imaginable. Lost interest pretty quickly. I guess it's more fun in co-op but I don't know anyone who has it or would want to play through a game that old.

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Offline honk

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Re: Now Playing (the Video Game Version)
« Reply #968 on: August 03, 2020, 01:59:50 AM »
Deadly Premonition

The most important thing to note about this game is that under no circumstances should you play it on PC. This is literally the worst PC port I have ever played in my life. It's fucking broken. It's not simply that the frame rate is choppy sometimes, that there are numerous visual and audio glitches, or that cutscenes often freeze for a few seconds at a time - although there are all of those things - it's the constant crashes. This game's shoddy technical quality is often cited as part of its appeal, and to a degree I can see where that's coming from, but there is nothing endearing or charming about the game regularly crashing. Bear in mind that saving can only be done at certain points, so you're often going to lose large chunks of progress when it crashes. It was a nightmare constantly having to restart the game, reset my computer, and even once or twice reinstall the entire game to get past the glitchy parts, and I wouldn't wish that experience on my worst enemy.

Setting that aside, is the game good? Well...no, not really. It's earned something of a cult following since its release in 2010, but that seems to be more ironic than anything else. It's janky and stilted, the combat is some very, very dull and repetitive shooting of the exact same enemy type a million times over, it all takes place in a far too large open world of which only about one percent can be interacted with, and the story is ludicrous. However, as nonsensical as it is, there's definitely some goofy appeal to the story - a bizarre pastiche of Twin Peaks wherein an eccentric FBI agent investigates a series of murders in a small town - and I'll admit it had me hooked all the way through. I'd have liked there to have been some actual detective work in solving the mystery, as the main character seems to rely on apophenia and psychic visions to put the clues together, and the reveal of the culprit in particular doesn't make any sense at all, but it was all so delightfully funny and weird that I couldn't help seeing it all through to the end.

That being said, I'm not sure I can really recommend buying a game where a demented story and cast of characters are its only redeeming qualities. There is something to enjoy with this game, but you could probably get the same experience by watching a playthrough on YouTube instead.

Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen

Blanko recommended this game a few years ago, and I wish I could talk to him about it now. It's good for the most part. It's an open-world fantasy RPG where you play as a chosen one who alone has the power to defeat this mysterious ancient dragon that's suddenly appeared and begun wreaking havoc on the world. The obvious comparison is to Skyrim, and I really like that this dragon is a far more memorable and intimidating villain than Alduin ever was. But the story isn't really the focus here; the combat is, and it's great. There are no skills or attributes, just you selecting one of many vocations (a fighter uses a one-handed weapon and shield, a warrior uses a two-handed weapon, mages specialize in defensive and restorative magic, sorcerers in offensive magic, etc.) You also select up to three pawns - AI characters who'll help you out - to accompany you, and naturally you'll want to pick vocations for them that complement yours. The action is incredibly fun, especially when you're fighting large monsters with several bars of health. A lot of the time what you have to do is jump onto these big enemies and clamber over them until you reach a weak spot and hit them there, although this cool feature is frequently undercut by the camera wildly spinning the moment you cling to one so that you can't see what you're doing or in what direction you're climbing.

Sadly, it almost feels like the rest of the game is trying to ruin what really works. For example, exploration in the overworld is a drag. The world of Gransys, the setting, feels very small in comparison to the worlds of Skyrim or TW3, with large stretches of the world map being inaccessible ocean and mountains, but the game seemingly "compensates" for this by making you as slow as molasses. Well, you move quickly enough when you're sprinting, but your stamina depletes very quickly and replenishes very slowly, and when you're not sprinting, you're going about as fast as a crawling baby. Exploring is also tough because you can't really go cross-country and cut through the wilderness, because if you do, you'll more often than not hit a dead fucking end in the form of a strategically-placed impassable ravine, cliff, or river and have to backtrack to the road. You're not really supposed to leave the road at all. So you have to keep following the road and just hope it takes you where you're headed, and blindly guess which way you're supposed to go at a junction. Maybe the road heading south will eventually turn around and lead you to your destination in the east. Maybe it'll take you in the wrong direction entirely, and you'll have to spend more time backtracking when you finally realize your mistake.

There is a fast-travel system that can alleviate this, but even that's not especially convenient. It could have been worse, though. In the original Dragon's Dogma (Dark Arisen is essentially an expanded re-release), you could find a finite number of crystals you could drop on the ground all over the world map, and then use a disposable "ferrystone" to warp yourself to any one of the dropped crystals. The ferrystones weren't exactly finite, but they were rare and expensive, so you were meant to use them very sparingly. In Dark Arisen, you're at least given a special ferrystone that you can use repeatedly, but you're still hampered by only being able to warp to wherever you've dropped a crystal. It wouldn't really be a problem if not for how slow and laborious traversing the world is.

There are a number of side quests you can take on, but many of them are scripted to automatically fail or become unavailable at almost any given point in the main quest. There's no logic to this and no predictability. I ended up having to look up which quests would fail when because it got so frustrating, and you can take a look for yourself if you don't believe me. There are a lot of quests that will automatically fail, and of course the game gives you absolutely no warning whenever it's about to happen. You can't quickly load a previous save once it does happen, either, because for some reason you can only have one save file, and the game very helpfully automatically saves whenever you finish a quest, setting your failure in stone.

And then there are the pawns. They're so fucking stupid! They can't sit still for a moment. They're always running in circles, always sticking their noses in everything, always slipping off ledges to their deaths, always running into obvious traps and into the range of AoE attacks, and you don't have the options to properly order them around. You can tell them to run ahead (which isn't very useful, because they're always running ahead), to come to where you are now, and to help you out (which usually means healing you). That's it. You can't order them to regroup, to spread out, to ignore enemies until you engage them, to be more aggressive or more defensive, to stay in a particular spot for a moment, or any other useful thing you can think of. It's especially annoying when you're facing a tough fight and you want to handle things delicately, but your pawns won't let you. They will always charge blindly into battle, whether you want them to or not.

Finally, and this is not at all a big problem with the game, just something that's very weirdly handled, there's the romance. You'll have a love interest by the end of the main story, who ends up playing a role in the climax. You don't exactly get to choose who it is, though. The game has a weird system where the character who likes you the most automatically becomes your love interest, because if they like you, you must like them back, right? And no, the game is not trying to critique heteronormativity or anything like that by presenting you with a love interest you didn't ask for who could easily be a member of the same gender. You can clearly tell that the female love interests were a priority for the devs - there are more of them, they're all conventionally attractive, and the cutscenes they share with you are full of tender dialogue and declarations of love, whereas the male love interests never treat you as anything other than a platonic bro. Again, this isn't a big deal or a huge issue, but it stands out because of how bizarre it is. Why not just let you choose whom you want your love interest to be? Why be so weird about it? Why not be normal instead?

Despite all my bitching, I loved this game, and I strongly recommend it to fans of action RPGs.
« Last Edit: September 17, 2020, 10:44:40 PM by honk »
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Re: Now Playing (the Video Game Version)
« Reply #969 on: August 03, 2020, 05:58:30 AM »
Borderlands 2

Braindead loot grind with the most *holds up spork* humour imaginable. Lost interest pretty quickly. I guess it's more fun in co-op but I don't know anyone who has it or would want to play through a game that old.
Borderlands 3 is even more in the same direction. They are games that are really only enjoyable in a group that makes fun of the game.
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Offline honk

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Re: Now Playing (the Video Game Version)
« Reply #970 on: September 05, 2020, 12:27:33 AM »
Some preliminary thoughts on a couple of recent PC ports, neither of which I've beaten yet, and may not do so for some time:

Horizon Zero Dawn

I want to like this game a lot more than I do. It's undeniably beautiful, and I really like the premise of exploring the wilderness of a post-apocalyptic world. But what holds this game back is how painfully derivative everything feels. If there's a single original idea in the game mechanics, I must have missed it. It might not have been such a problem if there were a broad range of influences and a decent balance between them, but there aren't. It's mostly based on Far Cry. And because Far Cry shares so much DNA with some of Ubisoft's other popular series, particularly AssCreed, and has been pretty influential in its own right, it leaves the game feeling tired and worn-out. Almost everything I do in this game, I feel like I've already done to death. Climbing towers to unlock parts of the map, clearing out bandit camps which then become friendly settlements, using specific animal skins to upgrade your equipment pouches, skill trees where you can improve your stealth, combat, and resource-gathering, and even visually, the inventory/journal screens as well as the buying/selling screens look very similar to Far Cry. This is the first open-world game from dev Guerrilla Games, and I understand that making a whole new kind of game is a big challenge, but I would have thought that them being new to the genre might have led to some originality in their game design, a way for the new guys to make their own stamp on this crowded genre. To do what they've done - look to Ubisoft, the undisputed king of churning out competent but repetitive open-world games every year and say, "Let's do what they do almost exactly!" - is very disappointing.

Also, the melee combat outside of stealth is terrible. You're supposed to rely on your ranged weapons primarily, and treat melee combat as more of a last resort than anything else, but if the option is there, they ought to do it right. There's no lock-on option, and swinging your spear feels like random flailing. It looks bad on screen, and it feels bad to play. Oh, and when you're fighting human enemies up close, their blocking shields them from all angles, even though their blocking is literally just them sticking their weapon out in front of them. My jaw dropped the first time I saw my attack bounce harmlessly off an enemy's seemingly unprotected back simply because they were blocking in a completely different direction. Like, holy shit, even Bethesda games understand that a block only works if it's situated between the incoming attack and the defender! Speaking of Bethesda, this game also struggles with some very hokey dialogue and a relatively small cast of mediocre voice actors.
 
Death Stranding

There are some good things about this game. Navigating your way across a challenging terrain using the environment and your tools can be fun. I like the social elements too, like the way you can take advantage of the ladders, ropes, and other "paths" left behind by other players, and if they do so with yours, you get a nice little thrill when the game tells you that other people are using the paths you laid down and "liking" them. It goes hand in hand with the main theme of the story, connection and cooperation with others. As our heroes struggle to bring America together, players are also being brought together through shared pathfinding and the signs, warnings, and bonuses that can be thrown down for others. It's goofy and sentimental, but in these uncertain times, it's not a bad message to be taking away from a video game. And there's a great soundtrack of pleasant folk-rock tunes, which can be a nice distraction when you're on long treks.

It's just too bad that all that good stuff is buried under a barrage of irritating elements that mainly seem to have been added to the game for the hell of it. For example, there are all the meters and gauges you have to keep track of. There's a health meter, a stamina meter, a stress meter for the baby you carry around, a meter for the condition of your cargo, a meter for the condition of your cargo containers, a meter for your boot degradation, and an energy meter for your exoskeleton or vehicle if you're using one. You have to be mindful of the weight of the cargo you're carrying and how it's arranged on your body. You have to be mindful of the terrain you're walking on and how likely it is that you'll slip or stumble on it. The rain that ages everything can fall at any time and damage both your cargo and cargo containers. You can be attacked by enemies looking to steal your cargo and have to be ready to fight or flee. You can be attacked by mysterious ghost-like enemies that force you into survival-horror scenarios where you have to very slowly sneak past them while your baby warns you where the nearest enemy is. The game doesn't let up, in other words. It's at its strongest when you can just relax and enjoy your backpacking in peace, but it very seldom lets you do that.

What really kills me about the combat and stealth sections is that they'd be okay if the game treated them as their own separate things, and gave you missions that "specialized" in them, like having to sneak into a hostile area and retrieve some cargo. The game does occasionally give you missions like that, and they're not bad. The combat and stealth are pretty solid mechanically, and you have some very interesting weapons. But most of the time, you'll encounter enemies when you're in the middle of a long delivery, and they're just in the way. Whenever that happened to me, I just wasn't in the mood for a fight, and I certainly wasn't prepared for one either. I just wanted to get the delivery done. I think this is pretty normal. People generally like compartmentalization. It's fine to have peaceful hiking, stealth that can turn to action at any moment, and tense survival horror all in one game, but we don't want all three elements at the same time.

The story is ludicrous nonsense. Everything from the characters to the background lore is presented as vague and incomprehensible. The all-star cast do about as well in their roles as anyone could (with the exception of Troy Baker, who doesn't seem to be acting so much as he is doing a really hammy impression of John Travolta), but it's hard for me to see them as their characters rather than their actors. Why a French actress like Léa Seydoux was given distinctly American-sounding dialogue is beyond me, but it's pretty awkward whenever she stumbles over her lines. Also, the main character very seldom talks outside of cutscenes, which wouldn't be a problem if not for the fact that NPCs are always seemingly trying to engage him in conversation. And they didn't need to be! Whenever you deliver a package to a settlement, the person in charge will appear to talk to you, and they always feel the need to have a one-sided conversation with you. They typically say something like, "Hi, Sam, nice to finally meet you. Did you have a good trip? And what did you bring us? Let me take a look at this. Wow, it's in great shape. Thanks for making this trip. By the way, what's your boss planning next? Okay, see you around." It's like they're drawing attention to how awkward the silence from the main character is. I get that they can't be paying someone like Norman Reedus to record a million lines of dialogue, but then they shouldn't be having NPCs trying to chat with him!
« Last Edit: September 11, 2020, 09:33:49 PM by honk »
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