Ben X

The Big FPS Playthrough MISSION COMPLETE

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6 hours ago, twmac said:

 

Please note a lot of the Big Daddies are not supposed to be beaten until you have improved a bit. Daddies become a piece of cake in the latter half of the game.

I was too afraid of not being able to backtrack so I forced my way to saving all of the little sisters in the first few areas while being a bit underpowered. However I forgot that I learned later you can literally backtrack to almost any area of that game. Your save file at the end takes forever if I recall. Like some 30 MB behemoth (well on my PS3 at least).

 

Bioshock 2 you can't go back. At least I'm pretty sure.

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I played a bit more since then, so I've now had the Would You Kindly revelation and gone through the Little Sisters room.

 

The revelation with Ryan was fantastic, the only issue really was that I didn't know who Fontaine was, due to a combination of audio sometimes getting drowned out and a lot of exposition being done by boring audio logs. When this game is showing, it's wonderful; when it's telling, not so much.

 

I think the reasons the game is starting to feel like it's dragging are:

It's promised me Ryan a few times now, and once I finally get to him he's replaced

The stuff discussed earlier about the game not really allowing me to set traps etc

The fact that it's so stingy with upgrades. Empowering me a lot more with stuff like hacking, combat and supplies would freshen up the mechanics a bit. Instead, Fontaine actually just reduced my max health!

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Post Ryan meeting it's generally agreed the game just isn't as good and it starts to drag. Lots of what you're doing feels a bit like filler.

 

Olympus Heights and Apollo Square are really interesting areas I think as far as the World goes but it's definitely the stage where the gameplay starts to suffer due to video game things. (The reduced health as you mentioned and so on)

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Also, like someone else said, all the enemies get increased health at the same time!

 

Thankfully, I've now cured myself and got everything back. I'm now in the bit where your equipped plasmid keeps changing and you can't flip it back, which is actually quite interesting. Seems from walkthroughs like I don't have too long left now, just a couple more sections then the end boss. I've got a lot less thorough now in checking every inch of the maps, so hopefully I can just steam through. I'm also hoping the next batch of antidote will super-power me finally.

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I just read a (very short) RPS 'have you played?' retrospective where they mentioned that the end boss is disappointingly simple and easy. On the one hand, a shame they didn't do something really clever; on the other, a relief to hear!

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The final boss of BioShock is one of the worst parts of the game. Honestly, everything after the Andrew Ryan moment feels superfluous. But then, I'm in the minority of people for whom BioShock never clicked. The art direction, the animations, the style of the audio logs, it all just put me off the game. My tastes are frequently quite different from yours though Ben!

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I can never get past a point early in the game where you find a plasmid, but you have to ditch another plasmid in order to equip it. I freeze up and just quit the game.

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Ha, yeah, the RPG problem.

 

Well, I've become a Big Daddy now, which is cool, though it took a lot of scavenger hunting. I've got a Little Sister waiting to go to the next level with me, but a warning came up that I need to harvest more Adam before moving on. I don't know how much, or whether I'm supposed to use it at the Gatherer's Gardens to level up before I move on, and it's a pain in the tits trying to find a Big Daddy in this level. I've found one, but I'm already sick of wandering around looking for stuff in this place. I'm kind of tempted to just move on and if I hit a dead end so be it. I'm going to take a break now anyway as the game has exhausted me; when I come back maybe I'll do a thorough search and get the other two sisters then just level up my health and eve max levels before heading forward.

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Ah ha ha, oops!

 

EDIT: I found one more LS to harvest but am still getting a "it will be very difficult to survive without more Adam" warning. I can't find this other fucking Daddy. One more try then I'm just going to see how far I can get without it. I still don't know what I'm supposed to be doing with the Adam. What if I'd gathered it all then spent it before leaving the level?

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Okay, so turns out I didn't have to do anything special with the Adam, they were just warning me the endgame was coming up. I got my max levels up and got through it pretty much fine - a couple of little sisters were taken down though :'(

 

Although it was cool to be a Big Daddy with a Little Sister running around with you and calling you Mr Bubbles, it actually didn't make any mechanical difference except for reduced damage. So the end of the game went: scavenger hunt, escort mission, boss fight. As everyone says, it really does turn into filler after Ryan dies. Really though, it felt like there were bits of filler throughout. This game totally could have been about half the length. But in general, just so much cool stuff going on and the art design was great all the way through. 

 

Thumbs forum thread

Idle Thumbs editorial

And the subsequent thread

Objective review

Thumbs forum thread

 

Good to see that it wasn't just me who found chunks of Rapture and character backstory to be lacking.

 

Making-of RPS interview with Ken Levine

Making-of Eurogamer article

Making-of interview videos from the deluxe edition DVD:

 

 

So, next would be Portal but I've already played that a ton. Here are a few brief comments I made elsewhere when playing it:

 

There's not much to say that everyone else hasn't experienced already.

It's awesome, and reminds me of Half-Life1 in the environments and the storytelling through them. Got to the sentry bots, which are hilarious and terrifying at the same time.

I'm finding it very easy so far, though, tutorial level easiness, and it feels like I'm almost done.

 

Brilliant game. It deffo got harder, and the fire bit onwards was all just amazing. The only minor gripes I'd have would be re-use of certain assets (the graffiti, basically - that's the one thing that shouldn't get repeated. I know it's a tiny thing, but surely it would have taken them five minutes to do the same texture with slightly different writing?) and the fact that I didn't get the chance to do quite as many cool actiony things with the portals as I would have liked (using them to bounce up a series of towering platforms, or portalling the ground from beneath a sentrybot so it falls into another one were so cool).

 

Thumbs forum Portal thread

Making-of/post-mortem by the devs

 

And a fun quote from Eric Wolpaw:
 

Quote

 

There are lots of message games coming out now. Like they’ve got something really important to get off their chest about the war in Iraq or the player is forced to make some dicey underwater moral choices. Really, just a whole heck of a lot of stuff to think about. With that in mind, at the beginning of the Portal development process, we sat down as a group to decide what philosopher or school of philosophy our game would be based on. That was followed by about fifteen minutes of silence and then someone mentioned that a lot of people like cake.

 

 

 

 

So it's now onto TimeShift! I'd never even heard of this before Laco gifted it to me, so I have zero preconceptions.

 

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Just out of curiosity, which Bioshock ending did you get.  The "good" ending is if you save all the little sisters, Jack takes them to the surface and watches over them as they grow up happily ever after.  The "bad" ending is if you harvested them instead, Jack leads an army of splicers to attack the surface.  Tenenbaum narrates both endings with her tone getting angrier in the bad ending depending on how many sisters you harvested.

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Yes, I mentally applauded that choice!

 

I got the good ending. I decided at the initial Little Sister choice that they hadn't shown sufficient monstrosity for me to be mean so I saved her (they'd egged the Big Daddies on to hurt me but that was it), then she turned all lovely and "thanks mister!" and my moral choice to save the rest was made. I did kill the theatre dude though, as he'd been sending enemies at me.

 

Timeshift is really fun so far! Storywise, it's 'future evil scientist has gone back in time and is taking over the world, you go back to stop him', so it's war-torn alt-1949 with mechs and stuff stomping around. It's very Half-Life 2, down to the megalomaniacal scientist broadcasting creepy messages over tannoy. (Except hilariously, he not only has named everything after himself - KroneKorps, Krone train station, Krone soda probably - but he's also voiced by someone who sounds very much like Maurice LeMarche to the point where it feels like The Brain has finally taken over the world. Hopefully a Rob Paulsen soundalike will show up at some point shouting "NARF".) Feels very derivative but looks very nice. It's also very linear, but it doesn't really matter because your time-suit powers make every encounter feel like a puzzle. You can slow, pause or reverse time, and it's really well balanced so you have to choose your powers and weapons carefully to take out a room of grunts, snipers, turret dudes and tanks. There are also some cool environmental puzzles like pausing time to stop electricity flow or walk on water, or rewinding time to reverse the destruction of a bridge for long enough to get over it.

 

The nice graphics and really solid AI and ragdoll physics make it very satisfying to slow-mo run into a group of enemies, bung a grenade at them and as they slowly pirouette through the air grab the remaining guy's weapon off him and wait for time to spring back before blasting him.

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Got to rush, but still enjoying this. They're just managing to keep it from going stale with new baddies (jetpack baddies! Timesuit baddies who are terrifying!), weapons and some sniping and turret sections etc

 

According to a walkthrough (which I haven't had to use yet), I'm halfway through.

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I'm finally on the end of game baddy, although I did need to check a walkthrough to discover that - I'm on a rooftop a fair distance away from the evil robot spider thing and figured it was just background detail!

 

I say finally, because the game did eventually start to drag a little towards the end. The flamethrower weapon kept things entertaining for a while, and there were some cool piston things to avoid using slow-mo, but the settings started to get a bit dull (especially the switch-maze factory and air hangar levels, getting shouted at by an incredibly naggy rebel commander every three seconds) and almost no new enemies have been introduced. It's a shame they went with WWII with a bit of steampunk thrown in, the game would have been much improved with some more inventive backdrops - perhaps something a bit more NOLFy or even some wildly different time-periods (maybe they were saving those for a sequel).

 

It did seem like they were moving towards an interesting plot twist where the victorious rebel forces turn out to be arseholes and you have to defeat them as well, but it doesn't look like there'll be time for that.

 

I'm tempted to give it a little try on the hard setting once I complete it, see if it takes away the radar or anything like that.

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Okay, shot at the glowy blue things a few times and finished the game. It was great fun, but it's a shame the fun and invention of the mechanics didn't extend to the setting or story. The opening sequence was quite tantalising, with a lot more sci-fi and the mad scientist villain who apparently insisted on big cheesy neon letters spelling his name out across buildings. Apparently the game was delayed and rehauled multiple times through development; it seems from this brief vid like they swapped meatheaded clunkiness for silent po-facedness at one point when it came to story, which was probably an improvement but not by much. (Also some tank-destroying action there that I never saw.)

 

 

More stuff:

 

A 2007 Gamasutra dev interview

A 2008 Gamasutra postmortem

A mention in a 'celebration of 7/10 games' RPS article

Contemporary review which I agree with on pretty much all points

 

One of those article mentions that the setting got changed "from steampunk to a much more mass-market gritty 'destroyed beauty' type of thing". Another reveals that there were three separate sets of voice-acting recorded, one of the discarded ones starring Dennis Quaid and Michael Ironside!

 

Niggles aside, really satisfying and fun game. A shame this didn't do better and get a sequel that really made good on its promise.

 

Okay, onto Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare!

 

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Interesting contrasts in this game so far.

On a micro level, it's not as good-looking as I expected - mainly the textures - but the scale is very impressive, with tons of AI, vehicles and scripted events, and a massive showy 'tram-ride' (i.e. an on-rails level where you can look around a bit to take in the sights but that's it, a la the opening of Half-Life).

Also, there's the silly Tom Clancy-ish SAS section to start, with cockney banter and bombastic orchestral score as you run through a sinking ship (the tilting ship is at this point a common FPS trope), but then the aforementioned tram-ride which is brutal - you're a Middle Eastern president, getting dragged through the streets then tied to a post and shot in the face - and the US marine section, again in the Middle East, which feels very real and suffocating.

 

As for gameplay, it's pretty hard - I had to retry the tutorial about 5 times just to get a recommendation of normal difficulty, there's no quicksave, and I'm constantly getting blown up by grenades or shot without warning - and yet you go through large sections by simply following your squad. I generally feel like someone who joined the army by mistake and is blundering through warzones surviving by sheer fluke.

 

Two levels in, a very immersive experience, but for all the linearity a rather fitful game.

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So basically your experience is that of Spies Like Us.

 

I had a similar experience playing COD:BLOPS2 last year. I thought it would look and play way better than it did, since all I ever heard of Call of Duty was that it was so polished and big budget. Not that it was bad, mind, just not as amazingly mind blown ign.com as I'd been lead to believe.

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One thing to keep in mind with the CoD series is that from CoD 2 on, consistent 60fps performance and low latency on consoles (primarily Xbox 360) has been a major target. They certainly could have beefed things up for the PC versions, but the sacrifices are understandable if you look at it as a 360 game.

 

It would lose a lot if they dropped it to 30fps, and it really wouldn't play right if they'd gone for some kinda Killzone 2-style "you'll get your frames when we're good and ready" renderer.

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