Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Well, that clearly didn't happen

I make no excuses nor do I make any apologies. I have no time for either.

What I do have time for is Bloodstained as it is a very good game and highlights how what I want from a game as changes over the years. I am, in internet terms, an old man. I have been playing games since there were consoles, have been present for every console war and have since transcended them, at least financially. Yes, I took two generations off from Nintendo's nonsense, but in retrospect, can you blame me?

I remember purchasing Symphony of the Night. I remember driving to Best Buy and picking it out, taking it back to my dorm room, and my roommate (who did not play games) making fun of it. 'It looks old,' he said. I think timeless is a better way to describe it. Good sprite work never dies.

It took me forever to get through the game, but that was okay, because it was all I had to play at the time. I did not have a constant list of games to get through. Finishing a game was not a necessary part of the experience. It was just a joy to wander around the castle, maybe find a new room, stumble into the bad ending, then retrace my steps and holy shit I am only half way done, the whole fucking castle just flipped over.

Times have changed. There are more games to play, more games that need playing, and moving from one game to the next is just how I do things. I am beholden to the backlog. When I say that Bloodstained is excellent 90% of the time and infuriating the remaining 10% it is not just about the game, it is about how my definition of a good time has changed.

Make no mistake, Bloodstained is SotN 2, if SonN 2 had come out in 2000. Mechanically, at least. Visually, the game looks modern. It does not suffer from Kickstarter or Indy jank. But the way the game actually works is a complete throwback, and one that I am not always on bored with.

Symphony of the Night had a draconian death penalty and sparse save points long before From Software cocked up the works by making 'is balls hard' a good thing instead of an optional thing. Bloodstained does the same, if not more so. Dying before a save room costs you all of the progress along with any crystals dropped by enemies. Crystals with a low drop rate. Crystals that may not show up again.

Yes, this has happened to me. Several times. I was not pleasant to be around.

But when progress is being made, when rooms are being explored levels are being gained, the game is fun. It is fun 90% of the time. And then instead of dying it just doesn't tell you want to do next, or gives cryptic clues that show up once and are not accessible again. It stays true itself and plays like a late 90's game and I just don't have the patience for that anymore.

So I looked up what to do. Sue me. I also played Devil Make Cry 5 on easy, because I can and no one can stop me. I want to enjoy the game so I will take the necessary shortcuts, shortcuts that much easier now than they were in 1997.

Bloodstained is a beautiful anachronism. Iga hasn't changed, but I have. We will meet in the middle.

And no, this does not mean I am going to give From Software a second chance. Sekiro is currently installed and I may uninstall it without playing it just out of spite.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Monday, June 10, 2019

Short, hot takes

I have missed too much to catch up on so here are some super hot take:

Sundered: too hard!

Danger Zone 2: too old!

Dangerous Driving: too passe!

Battlechasers Nightwar: just right!

But wait, there's more.

The Xbox Press conference: B+. Fine job, ladies and gents, now let me upgrade my membership.

Bethesda: what he hell was that? C-.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Nostalgia is not what is used to be

Double catch up post!

Resident Evil 2 Remake

I don't remember if I finished Resident Evil the first time around. It was a long, long time ago. I know for a fact that I did not play it through a second time with the other character. Even then, as a young man, I had a distaste for repetition.

If you are looking for a modern take on RE2 that includes more than a few of the unique intentional limitations of the first game then you are in luck. This is RE2 re-imagined. A modern looking game with the old inventory system. Yes, you are running back and forth to item boxes, but the flow of the game, at least the first time around, seems better. I was very rarely out of space, and if I was there was a box not too far away.

This game has less in common with the original than the first remake. REMake on the GameCube is a better game, if you ask me, as it is still the first Resident Evil, right down to the static camera angles, with a few new things added on. Resident Evil 2 Remake is the opposite: it is a new game with a few modern ideas taken away to make it feel old.

Regardless, I finished Leon's campaign in about seven hours and was quite willing to start up Claire's second quest. The second quest is not the same as choosing the character first: it fills in the blanks of the other story and is much less directed. When I played as Leon it was always pretty obvious where I had to go next. Oh look, I just found a new key, what can I open. This prevents wandering, wasting of ammo and bumbling into monsters that you should not fight yet.

The second quest has none of that. When I got to the police station as Claire it was almost all open, I had no idea where to go, I opened a door and was immediately destroyed by a licker and then lost fifteen minutes of progress because the save points were further apart.

No sale, uninstall, it was fun while it lasted.

Ace Combat 7

'Hmm, I have never played an Ace Combat game, let's see how this goes.'

'Arcadey controls, which is fine. Lots of planes. Surprisingly easy to die. Long winded cut scenes that don't seem to have anything to do with what I am actually playing...'

'Aha! Timed fifteen minutes mission with no checkpoints! Fuck you.'

I can see the allure. I think. It is just not fort me.

Monday, May 20, 2019

A mild defense of Anthem

I said some unflattering things about Anthem last week, summed up by the statement 'It is a sad game.' And it is. But it is also not a bad game. It is not the game that most people were expecting not is it the game that EA advertised. I also believe that it is not he game that BioWare wanted to make. There are bits and pieces of very good ideas here: interesting characters and a world with a tremendous and largely unexplored backstory. In a better game, a game not forced into the money shaped hole left behind by Destiny 2, it could have been much better, but that does not mean that what is here is all bad.

It must be said that I played the game incorrectly. Anthem is designed as a squad based shooter and I turned that option off at the first opportunity. It warned me each time I started the game and each time I said 'fuck off, I can amuse myself' to which it replied 'sure thing spanky, but I am not going to make anything easier on you just because human interaction give you a rash.'

We came to an understanding.

The act of playing Anthem, flying around in a javelin and shooting wave after wave of very similar enemies, is fun. It's not Destiny fun. because BioWare is not Bungie, but I played it for around twenty five hours and my eyes did not pop out of my head. The game did not give me cancer. It was fine. Most of the game was fine. The world was detailed and fun to look at, though exploration was a bit cumbersome. Missions were straightforward, if a bit repetitive.  Enemies were fun to kill, though the game's idea of increased difficulty was simply 'MORE MONSTERS,' not different monsters or more interesting attacks.

It was fine. 7/10.

The sadness kicks in when the BioWare bits shine through the 7/10 and it becomes apparent what the game might have been. The characters in the game are capital C characters: well written, well voice acted, but poorly animated and residents of a very detailed but stagnant world. There is a scientist who is split into three people, each new entity reflecting part of himself, that would have been more at home in an RPG than stuck in the same idle animations in his house, never leaving his tiny little world. The whole fort is filled with NPCs that never move, looking more like an exquisite diorama than a functioning fort.

Anthem's world is being constantly torn down and rebuilt by shaper relics, leftovers of a long dead civilization that do as much harm as they do good by tapping into the anthem itself, an unexplained but ever present power that fills the world. Think The Force but less subtle. Instead of churning out moody bad guys it creates giant scorpions or titans the size of buildings.

It could have been good. It could have been more. The real problems don't kick in until well after my time the game has ended. End game content is almost entirely absent leaving players to grind randomly created missions with the end goal of, well, something. I never touched any of that so I don't hate the game but I at least understand why players looking for more than a twenty or so our campaign would be frustrated.

Anthem was fine. Sad, but fine.