Thursday, December 14, 2017

Best of 2017 podcast!

To no one's surprise, buying Strafe was a mistake. It's not funny bad or frustrating bad. It's just bad.

I'll tell what's the opposite of bad: The Best of 2017!

Chamberlain and Chance - Best of the year 2017

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Can't stop. Won't stop.

A strange thing happened while playing Destiny 2 last night, a shooter as mechanically sound as any other shooter that has come out this year (yes, that includes Wolfenstein 2): I killed the big bad guy, ostensibly bringing the single player portion of the game to a close, and I was not ready to stop playing. I walked through the new hub area, picked up a few rewards, then jetted back off to Titan to look for more adventures.

The game smartly does not throw the player into the PvP or Strike game modes immediately. New single player activities have popped up, a few adventures and a few quests, and I think that I want to do them. I want to spend a little more time wallowing around in Bungie shooting goodness in spite of it being almost completely void of any cohesive narrative. Yes, there was a bit about the leader of the Cabal trying to earn the light from the Traveler, failing, stealing it and then getting his just deserts, but that had no impact on the moment to moment action.

Killing aliens and slowing increasing my power level has been amusing for just over twenty hours and there is still more to do. I can see the grind coming, searching for hidden caches or replaying old missions just to get to 290 and unlock whatever the hell Leviathan is, and I will not put up with that shit, but that does not mean that I am ready to discard this game as I would any other trollop of an FPS. It's better than that.

Mechanically, graphically, this game is better than Wolfenstein 2. It has no characters I care about, no BJ to root for or Anja to be a bad ass. If Bungie hired some writers they could make a classic shooter out of the Destiny bones. It's not like that haven't done that before.


Earlier this year I promised to purchase Strafe at a discounted price. I then waffled at $11.99. It is now $9.99.

Damnit. I know that the game is going to make me mad. Marvel mad. Perhaps even Bloodborne mad. But a deal is a deal.

Monday, December 11, 2017

The ballad of Tokido, part 2

Capcom Cup was great, storyline wise. I am talking full blown, professional wrestling angles with revenge and comeuppance. The FGC has always stolen liberally from WWE, there is even a major tournament fashioned after a pay per view event, ring and all, but Capcom Cup proved that the best drama cannot be manufactured. It just happens organically when the best in the world at something are thrown into a confined space and told to have at it.

As of Friday there were 31 entrants in the Capcom Cup, some qualified by accumulating points and others by winning majors. The 32nd spot was reserved for the Last Chance Qualifier, a tournament before the tournament whose winner gets into the big show. It is run from beginning to end on Friday, a true marathon of an event. The victor this year was Nemo, an extraordinary  Urien player who took on Infiltration three separate times. The first time Nemo sent Infiltration to losers, beating his Menat like a used drum. Infiltration switched to Juri and reset the bracket but it did not matter. Nemo was on a mission and took his place as the 32nd seed.

The 32nd seed has the 'honor' of being fed to the number one seed. Remember Punk, of second place at Evo, just beat by Tokido fame? He took that second place at Evo and ran with it, winning majors and accumulating more than enough points for the top spot. He over a thousand more points than Tokido, something that I am sure he was quite proud of. The match did not go as Punk would have liked.

Punk was later excused from the tournament by Moke. By the time the top 8 were decided all of the Americans were gone, one of which threw more than a little shade at the announcers for highlighting his 'spotty' Capcom Cup record. (We love you Justin, suck it up). This does not mean that it was an all Japan top 8, as Problem X from the UK and MenaRD from the Dominican Republic, a place most Americans would not be able to find on a large print map, threatened their total dominance.

One problem: Tokido.

Tokido had not been entirely dominant, he had several close calls, including this one:

Full disclosure, I did not know who MenaRD was before Sunday night, much less that the DR had a fighting game scene. He, just like Punk, represented the new wave of Street Fighter players. Tokido has been playing fighting games for longer than MenaRD has been alive. When Tokido send him to losers it appeared to be all over. Even if he made through the loser's bracket and back to grand finals Tokido already had his number. There was no coming back.

It was MenaRD who finally ended Nemo's run. From not being in the tournament to third place was no small feat, but the best was yet to come. MenaRD had to reset the bracket. Against Tokido. Cue the Rocky music.

Drama, motherfuckers. That is how you do it. Tokido gets his comeuppance. Not revenge, as it was not Punk who did him in, but there was something almost Shakespearean in his defeat by a much younger man. The torch was not passed at Capcom Cup. It was taken by force.


And then Blanka was announced for Season 3 and I am happier than I have been in a long, long time.

Friday, December 8, 2017

The good before the terrible

First things first: the Xbox One X update has arrived for Destiny 2 and it brings all the pretties. It looked pretty good before the patch. Now? Now it looks better than Doom or Wolfenstein 2. Bethesda has some work to do.

Upon starting Destiny 2, knowing what kind of nonsense I was getting into, I resolved to play until it either forced me to play well with others or just stopped being fun. Neither has happened yet and I am pleasantly surprised. There are random co-op events that pop up in the world and you can either join in and get a share of the loot or just walk past, wishing the other guardians good luck. I have taken both paths and, while I am loath to admit it, the pick up co-op worked. All the fun of shooting bad guys together with none of the baggage. No looking for groups, no milling around afterward splitting up the drops, the event ends and everyone walks away.

Sci fi FPS one night stands.

It does get annoying when a community event pops up in front of my quest location but they resolve quickly enough that it hasn't been too much of a problem. Sometime just being in the vicinity when it resolves gets you a (small) share of the rewards.

The action has more than made up for the threadbare plot. I may not really care about the the guardians or the invading army intent on 'stealing the light' before blowing up the sun but moving through the environments and killing their inhabitants is a good time. Loot drops are regular enough that I do not get tired of my weapons. New skills unlock more slowly but I have not used anything from my first subclass anyway so that hasn't bothered me.

Destiny 2 is a good shooter that I know is going to turn on a dime when the solo portion of the game is complete. It is going to go from 'this is fun' to 'fuck this noise and the grindy horse it rode in on' so fast that the servers will wonder why there is dust cloud where why level 20 titan used to be. At least Activision threw me a few scraps to enjoy before locking the rest behind game play walls that I do not have the patience or social skills to surpass.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

No, I am not hearing voices

Way, way back in the mid aughts, when I was foolishly maintaining a gaming PC on a shoestring budget and intentionally not play World of Warcraft because I cannot mentally enjoy anything that everyone else does, I picked up Guild Wars on a whim and was pleasantly surprised. It looked quite good on my meager rig, had a very low level cap, choosing to focus more on equipment and skills than grinding levels, and most importantly it functioned as a single player game. Quests that were a bit too much for one person or that required a specific skill, like a tank or a healer, were still possible for the lonely man: NPCs could be hired in most towns and they did an admirable job of filling out a party of one to a party of one plus a few nobodies.

Most quest areas were instances, pocket universes for the player and his real or artificial friends. Cities were the massive part of this psuedo MMORPG; terrible, laggy places that I avoided at all costs. It was an MMO that let me play the way I wanted to. Play I did until I got bored of it, stuck my toe into the four on four PvP arena, got killed and logged off forever. Oh, and it was free after the initial purchase with paid expansions every few months.

Take Guild Wars out of the first paragraph. I just described Destiny and Destiny 2, didn't I?

To be fair, Destiny, and to a greater extent Destiny 2, have that sweet sauce of Bungie's first person shooting. Something in the movement, the momentum, the weapons and general chaos of battle is instantly recognizable. Everything else in the game was done by NCSoft 12 years ago, up to and including by gripe of the day: not being able to pause the game.

I have no one in my party and I am in an instanced zone. Let me pause the game and grab a handful of chips, you godless motherfuckers! No, every attempted grab of generic jalapeno goodness is fraught with danger. Heaven forbid I try to get a drink of beer and get shanked from behind by the flood the hive.

Destiny 2 is a front for Alcoholics Anonymous and Weight Watchers! Bring me my tinfoil hat and deep fried cheese curds!

Update: to prove I am being consistent, a hot take from three years ago.