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Recently completed video games

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Finished a few shorter games recently after coming off TW3.

 

Kentucky Route Zero (up to Act 4, obviously the last part isn't out yet)

Bounced hard off this the first time, but fared better when in the right mood. Slow and contemplative in style, which took some adjusting as I wanted to get to the next part of the story (which I will agree is thought-provoking, but I'd prefer to think on it more as a whole). Case in point - slowly trudging round the museum in Act 2. Please don't waste my time.  

 

I did wonder about the general lack of interactivity (most of the time you're just clicking from one context clue to the next), and the dialog options don't seem to matter at all. I think the choices in Act 4 were a reaction to such criticisms in that you have to decide what parts of the story you get to see. On the whole, I wondered if KRZ might have made a better art-film than a point-and-click adventure.

 

The Bridge

A puzzle game inspired by Escher - hand drawn pencil-art style and impossible 2D geometry (the Penrose Triangle is a feature). Well put together but not that hard, until you get to the "new game+" levels.

 

Lara Croft Go

In a similar vein to Hitman Go. This time they dropped the boardgame aesthetic for a lovely backdrop of ancient ruins. It looks fantastic, and the puzzles are short but sweet. It's good, but try Hitman Go first if you're thinking about this type of game.

 

Beyond Good and Evil

Got this one as part of the Ubi 30 giveaway. I think we all know it's good. The current version has problems with the controls (aiming that disc launcher was infuriating), and some of the camera angles were terrible. Still, that was common in games of the time.

I can see the prototypical open-world game in BG&E - there's an overworld with collectibles and your progress is gated by having to complete side content. Thankfully the distractions are optional (in that you can say "fuck it, not doing this activity, I'll try something else instead" but doing X quests out of Y is necessary)

There was one spot where the game genuinely surprised me:
 

Spoiler

Spoiler: The part after you sneak in to the Alpha HQ and steal their pearls - there's a dramatic chase sequence with parkour and some Matrix-esque camera angles as you run over the rooftops from the bad guys. Up until that point there was no hint the game could actually do that! Must have blown people away back in 2003.

 

My backlog of unplayed games is below 10 for the first time in about 5 years!

 

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I recently finished Battlefield 1. Pretty solid game. The graphics are absolutely wonderful...the level of detail is just great and they really researched the WW1 time spectacularly well. Gameplay was fairly average... nothing I haven't already done in other Battlefield games or even COD or Far Cry. Some levels were better over others, but as I haven't yet done the multiplayer, we'll see how much I play it now. Usually not a fan of multiplayer, but feel like it needs a go.

 

3.8/5

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NieR: Automata It's good. It ended up being a bit smaller than I thought, in part because I anticipated the mysterious elevators I kept finding were going to reveal the rest of the world, but no, it's just DLC hooks. I appreciate that it's a game that is nihilistic and existentialist and works extremely hard to actually earn it rather than undercutting its world accidentally or being nihilistic to be edgy. No, it actually wants to talk about a world where no possible purpose could be left, and what happens next. And it comes up with an answer! And expresses it through gameplay!

 

I did not need the female android whose carapace damage looked suspiciously like she was running around in a nightie and garters. #givea2aponcho

 

Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy it's a good remake... I think. I'm honestly not that impressed, Crash 1 in particular has some quite poor levels, and they're really not levels built for analogue controls, so there's been sections where I haven't been having all that much fun. I don't know if the remake needed to make tweaks to make it feel like the old game should have been, or if the remake changed something (internet scuttlebutt says they did accidentally make certain platforms a lot less forgiving because the old games faked collision). Still, I like how secrets build on top of each other in these games. You complete a level without breaking any boxes, and get a gem that makes a platform in a different level that lets you do a different path, and in that path if you run into a particular enemy then you get taken to a secret level which incidentally shows you the three levels that have alternate entrances you'll need to use to break every box.

 

Edit: I did some research on this later, and it turns out that my instincts were right. The 3 Crash games have slightly different physics. Vicarious Visions implemented something pretty close to Crash 3's physics, except using modern practices for analogue controls (e.g. the character doesn't speed up by 40% when running diagonally), but ported the original levels faithfully - which means that several levels in Crash 1 were not designed for the playable character. For most levels, it doesn't matter very much, as the original game's pretty forgiving in terms of lives and they've also ported Crash 3's assistance mechanics back to Crash 1, so you might die unexpectedly a couple of times but you'll get a free mask or a checkpoint and can cheese through it. But some levels, particularly Native Fortress and the two rope bridge levels, have tightly tuned chains of bouncy platforms that were built for a character that could stop and start on a dime, and the physics of Crash 3 do not let you do this. There's small instances of this all over the place.

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Hey, so this doesn't really fit in here, but I didn't want to create a new thread. Getting into this game right now:

https://store.steampowered.com/app/507270/Lilys_Epic_Quest/

 

And I am almost done, and have a question: Is this an original take on Match 3?

 

I've only played Puzzle Quest and Gems of War seriously so I am curious about whether anyone else has made a combination of Steamworld Dig/Miner Dig Deep with a Match 3 game?

 

The reason I ask is that the gameplay itself is top notch but the shell around it (the GUI primarily) is really shoddy, which suggested to me that it was a clone of a better, more polished experience.

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I finished Batman: Arkham Knight yesterday! Or at least, I finished the main story, which I quite enjoyed despite the obvious twists that were happening. The whole Joker inside your mind business was pretty cool, since most other Batman media can't really ever show the relationship between the two in quite the same way. I intend to go back and do more side-quests to see what this "Knightfall" thing is about, since I imagine it won't have anything to do with the namesake, but I'm a sucker for that storyline anyway so I'm hooked. It took me a while to get through this game since I really wasn't feeling the Batmobile stuff early on, but I got over that and started enjoying the feel of the car eventually.

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Finished God of War. Whew, what a ride. There's still some tough fights waiting for me, but I've travelled the main plot. I don't get this often but I'm actually tempted to start over again on a higher difficulty (played at normal).

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I finished The Last of Us (on PS3) and The Last of Us: Left Behind (on PS4). I had this sitting on my account for years, but I told myself I wasn't allowed to play it until I'd finished the first three Uncharted games; I have now done this, albeit approximately at the same pace as they were originally released. The PS3 version is basically still fine, though it takes a million years to download/install. Some of the textures look a bit muddy today, and Naughty Dog's trompe l'oeil techniques for handling the mid/long distance have never stuck out more - but it still plays quite well. It sure was cool booting up Left Behind and being able to read all those signs on the wall. 60 FPS is nice too but not essential; I feel like these games are tailored for 30.

 

The game is basically very good, even though the first few hours are…really quite bad. I went back to an old Idle Thumbs episode where they discussed this extensively just after the game was released, and I found myself agreeing with absolutely everything they had to say. There's stuff throughout which is really incredible but there's so much padding too. I found the combat very enjoyable but there's probably too much of it - and though I'm looking forward to the sequel, I sure hope they can find some better mechanics than just messing about with ladders. Oh god, the ladders. 

 

I think the best I can say for it is that I can easily imagine myself playing it again at some point. I feel like I missed almost all of the optional convos and Ellie's jokes, and I really want to go back and clear up that stuff. Even playing on Hard, there was never any point which makes me cringe to think of having to do it all again; whereas with the Uncharteds there are too many of those moments in all three games.

 

Some disconnected, spoiler-filled points: 
 

Spoiler

 

Did anyone else think that the way the game outed Bill as gay was…kind of horrible? The sticky magazines and such. I've never really heard anyone talk about this. I think we are supposed to feel like the adolescent sniggering belongs to Ellie, but I really wasn't sure if the game was trying to make me laugh as well. (Robert Atkin Downes though! What a guy.)

 

I've since read that the relationship between Tess and Joel was considerably reshaped compared to what it was intended to be. I think you can really tell. The whole section of the game before and just after you meet Ellie feels kind of superfluous in retrospect. 

 

I was expecting a little more from the ending. I'd previously heard it described as a masterpiece of ambiguity but it was so much more concise than that. It's a dry, cold, stark expression of the horrible strange place Joel and Ellie have found themselves in. She's become a sort of prisoner to his devotion. I like it a lot.

 

Left Behind is a brilliant and really odd thing. Exactly half of it feels like more of the same sneaking/scrapping from the main game, albeit under harsh survival-focussed conditions. But the other half is this remarkable, almost experimental sequence, where it seems Naughty Dog try everything they can think of except for combat.

 

I think the part where Ellie and Riley are 'playing' the broken arcade game is the best thing they've ever made. What a beautiful idea, for a company known for its graphical prowess to prove that video games can be real and meaningful without any graphics at all.

 

 

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16 hours ago, marginalgloss said:

I'm looking forward to the sequel, I sure hope they can find some better mechanics than just messing about with ladders. Oh god, the ladders. 

 

 

My favorite thing about this game is the Dunkey video where he describes it as 'gaming's first third person strangler slash ladder-er'

 

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I... never actually finished The Last of Us, and I realised, in what is apparently pretty close to the end, that I wasn't having fun. I found myself unable to stealth everything, but then when you got discovered, it was really easy to flail around and die in a way that that I never did with Uncharted.

 

It reminds me that I almost never leave enemies be in stealth games unless there's some way that I can guarantee I can't be caught from behind.

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Speaking of dunkey, his latest is amazing.

 

 

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I recently got Xbox game pass so I can try out State of Decay 2 next week. While I waited I finished..

 

Gears of War 4 - Normal - 6 Hours

I've not played a Gears game in so many years, but its just as I remember. Bullet sponge enemies, going checkpoint to checkpoint, waist high cover to waist high cover, waves of enemies spawn in..Rinse and repeat. You know what you're getting yourself into and thats fine. The story was predictable and thin, the characters were uninteresting and flat, and oh man the writing must've been done by a 14 year at times. It's all throw-away garbage really. I still hate the goofy hold "A" to run.. while crouched? Looks weird and its annoying as you can't freely aim the camera this way. I also had a alot of weird stutters and freezes but only during cut scenes? In game I was pretty much solid 60FPS on ultra.

 

Positives? The game looks really good, and I enjoyed the settings and locations. The game is content packed too.. campaign (while throwaway) runs 6 hours, its co-op split screen, or online. Horde mode is a blast, remains the best thing about the game. You can set up defenses while going through the waves. Versus.. i've never liked and never bother playing but its there. You have a ton of character / weapon skins, challenges, loot crates. Loads to do.

 

I will probably keep playing the Horde mode until my game pass runs out. 

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I finished Life is Strange: Before the Storm.

 

On the whole I was left quite disappointed by this. It's an extended prologue to the first game made by a different developer using a different engine and a different cast, and none of that would especially matter if the overall standard of the experience was kept high. But the whole thing feels sub-par - the video game equivalent of a straight-to-Netflix tie-in that nobody asked for.

 

The quality of the voice acting by the temporary (and, it should be noted, strike-bustin') cast is…patchy, to put it kindly. It is passable at best, and sometimes flat. They managed to get Ashly Burch back to do Chloe for the 'bonus' episode and she makes such a vast difference to that character.

 

The game doesn't look great. Some of the backdrops and character animations look hastily thrown-together, and there's a great deal of stuff that seems over-familiar from the first game. But the original had a lush, heartfelt quality to the art direction that was incredibly endearing. This game has a certain amount of the same attention to detail but for the most part it feels like a pale imitation by comparison.

 

Perhaps I'm being unfair. I think the developers really tried to understand the tone of the first game, but for some reason they weren't fully able to recreate it. I can't deny it has some really nice moments. The little dungeons and dragons session in the first episode! The school play! The cute dog! I kept wondering why they couldn't have just made a game about these nice moments - just small, quality moments of character drama happening in this universe. Where the game trips itself up is when it tries to yoke everything to a hokey, half-baked attempt at grand tragedy.

 

A couple of spoiler-ish things that especially irritated me:

 

Spoiler

They fluff the ending of the main game by including a pointlessly grim post-credits teaser of Rachel Amber's eventual fate, which otherwise isn't referred to at all. And they fluff the ending of the bonus episode by choosing to settle on the moment where Chloe learns of the death of her father - which had already been dwelled on at length, for the first three episodes! - rather than just leaving us with a nice story about Max and Chloe having a nice final day together. Why couldn't they just have a nice day pretending to be pirates without a pointlessly manipulative emotional climax! Arrrghhh.

 

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