Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Pointless trivia

The Motorhead DLC takes Victor on a brief tour of histories evils. The first is unmistakable World War II, complete with overhead bombers and a nameless 'fuhrer' yelling at Victor from the distance. The second is the old west with a nameless, evil priest as the villain and the third is middle ages based, complete with an evil queen who baths in the blood of her subjects. Final boss music, ahoy:

All three are stock standard 'evil' archetypes but the first, the nameless Nazis and the nameless Fuhrer, lead to an interesting point: Lemmy (of Motorhead) was an avid collector of Nazi memorabilia. He loved it because, in his words, 'I have always liked a good uniform.' The Motorhead expansion was announced in 2014. Lemmy died a few days after his birthday, December 28th, 2015. The expansion actually came out in June 2016.

Was the psuedo Naxi immagery added at Lemmy's behest? Did he even know that his likeness was used in the game? It was not the first time - he showed up in Brutal Legend as a healer, of all things.


It's hard to find things to talk about with this game. It's fun but it isn't very deep. I finished Motorhead last night, realized that the crafting system was even more useless and abstract than I first thought, and am not sure if I am going to go back for the final piece of DLC. There are beatings to be had. My beatings. And I haven't even chosen a team yet.

Monday, September 18, 2017

My hands hurt when it was done

Victor Vran's main champaign wrapped up to days ago in a pleasant enough manner. The voice in Victor's head was the big bad guy. Said bad guy had been making fun of Victor's hat for most of the game so when he got his it was quite satisfying. I mean, Victor's hat is terrible, but you don't just say that to a person who wields a shotgun that never needs to be loaded and a scythe with a six foot blade, ancient vampire or not, it just isn't going to go well.

The age of the game means that all of the DLC is included so I took by powered up Victor into the first add on: Motorhead. Yes, Lemmy makes an appearance. Yes, there is licenced music. No, there is not enough licenced music so a few tunes get recycled ad nauseum. There is also a stiff uptick in difficulty, possibly caused by the game not scaling monsters well to my higher level. This is especially bad during rock memorial events: Victor (who has no idea what is going on) finds a gave to a member of Motorhead and must defend it from waves of enemies. I spent about 45 minutes on one last night and if I hear Jailbait one more fucking time....

The game is still fun but it is not bringing anything new to the table in the DLC so I do not know if I will make it to the end of Motorhead, much less the second offering. There is a new fighting game coming out tomorrow, one that I will purchase entirely out of habit even though simply watching the game terrifies me: Marvel vs Capcom Infinite.

I have not touched Marvel vs Capcom 3 in six goddamn years. And when I did attempt it things did not go well, as documented here. I am not sure why I feel compelled to purchase it, especially when Tekken 7 and Injustice were obtained quite close together and have both fallen out of rotation. If I can make it through a few days without breaking anything I will count it as a win.

Speaking of Tekken...

There is a new arcade near my house that is slowly building up a collection of classic games. Their collection is scattershot, nowhere near the encyclopedia of cabinets offered by Galloping Ghost, but this is a twenty minute drive versus 2 hours and I don't need to go to Chicago. Since the last time I was there they obtained a Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection cabinet that was in pretty good shape. The buttons were touchy but the sticks felt nice. Tekken 5 was the Tekken that I actually practiced. The intervening years meant that I was not going to attempt Steve but Nina and Bryan still worked.

All of the games are set on free play so there is no putting a quarter up to signify that you would like to play. My brother and I ran a few rounds, and he somehow remember most of King's 10 hit string, but I was victorious in a close match. I came back later and watched someone else play long enough for him to notice me and invite me.

His Paul was junk. He knew moves and strings but his spacing was terrible. I just juggled him with Nina and then f,f -2'd him into the ground with Bryan. As soon as he lost the first round he began to complain about his stick.

Ahhhhh, arcades, where your opponent's bitching is the true balm of Gilead.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Of course I don't like Overwatch

A preface to this week's episode.

I said some rather not nice things about the Smash community and for that I feel I should apologize. Picking on the game is one thing, something that I do not apologize for, but disparaging the community as a whole is not acceptable. Are they loud, rude and insular? Yes, but so are people who play Marvel. Chance reported that they are trying to make reasonable changes in their community to become more inviting to female players and that should be applauded. They do not deserve to be thrown under a bus as a whole and for that I do apologize.

The game is still no fun to watch.

Chamberlain and Chance - It's a cult

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The good king of gamey

Diablo 3 is an exceptional game. It is the only game in recent memory that I played through twice, and that wasn't even on purpose. My intention the second time was to just play the expansion but I was unable to due to a quirk with importing a character. The old monk was pushed aside and I played the whole damn thing again with a demon hunter. Good times were had.

Diablo clones are a mixed bag. There are really good ones: Titan Quest (showing my age with that one) and Torchlight 2. There are not so good ones, like the Vikings game that I played earlier this year. Victor Vran is closer to Torchlight 2 than Vikings in that in embraces its gaminess. Victor himself is stoic, deadpan, but the nameless voice in his head breaks the fourth wall for laughs quite often. Other characters are caricatures, exaggerated to the point of amusement without being annoying. It's an impressive balancing act.

Combat likewise attempts to skirt the barrier between ARPG and just action. There are no skills to earn, special attacks are tied to weapon type, but there are passive buffs to assign and super moves to choose. There are around five weapon types, two of which you can have equipped at a time. It is worth it to keep one of each type handy as there are secondary objectives in each area that will sometimes require you to kill a certain number of beasts with a certain weapon. Again, interesting without being obtrusive.

I won't call it mindless but it does not require any of the planning that goes into a good Diablo 3 build. Victor Vran is almost jump in and play, do a level or two, then fast travel back to the hub (for free) and move on with your day. Not bad for a budget game that came out two years ago on PC.

Monday, September 11, 2017

I am weak

On Saturday I buckled to tremendous peer pressure and purchased Overwatch.

I have not put time into an online shooter since one of the PC Unreal Tournaments. Which one had vehicles and the assault maps? That one. I was never 'good' but I was not embarrassing and very little, if any, team communication was required. You assaulted a point or you defended a point, all while shooting everyone that was not the same color as you.

(insert joke about 'merica here if you like)

It worked for me because there was limited choice. There were no characters, no special skills. So it is understandable that when I first tried Overwatch last year I picked Soldier and called it a day. Easy character, reasonable DPS, self heal, everything that a fundamentally lazy man who doesn't like to talk to people needs to have a good time.

Once I pick a character in a game it is incredibly difficult to get me to change. I have played Blanka in Street Fighter since SFII and his absence is Street Fighter 5 is the source of most of my disinterest. When I do play I use Necalli, not because I like him, but because I started with him in the beta. This is true for just about every fighting game I touch (Kitana, Green Arrow, Thunder, May and Nina all say hello). Honestly SFIIHDR is the only exception as I have a reasonable Dhalsim and a scrubby Sagat. Playing a different character feels foreign, uncomfortable, and is a great way to raise my gorge at a game and send me off in a different direction.

This does not work for Overwatch because team dynamics are actually important. Since I purchased the game (again, due to relentless and wearying pressure from someone) I have played all but a few games with Soldier. To no one's surprise he is great in the new (to me) deathmatch mode. I was coming in second or third, completely cold and rusty, thanks not to my incredible shooter skills but to the fact that having self heal and reasonable DPS works out great when your entire task is shooting people.

On normal Overwatch maps, where support is important, I cannot bank on the team needing a Soldier. When it works it is joyous. I had one game, I forget which map (because I do not know the names) where I sat on the point, backed up by a Mercy and an Orisa, and racked up a ten kill streak before some dirty Tracer snuck in behind and shot me in the back. The three of us won the match. Later I played a payload match where I was lost the entire time and completely ineffectual because I didn't wait for the team and had no back up. It was not a good time.

I am treating this as an experiment. Can I enjoy a game that forces me to interact with others? As I grow older, and god damn am I getting old, my hermit like ways have been getting worse. Aside from the podcast I talk to very few people outside of my immediate family. I interact with strangers as little as possible and conduct most of my business through very politely worded emails. This is probably not healthy but there is so much momentum behind the behavior that, like playing Blanka, I do not know if it can be changed.

There is some skin in the game now, as I actually own the game and have purchased a cheap ass headset, so the sunk cost fallacy may work in my favor. Then again I just started Victor Vran, a pretty good Diablo-esque experience with a protagonist voiced by Doug Cockle, the same gentleman who brought Geralt of Rivia to life. It's fun that I can have alone, which is much easier.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Dirty enough, I suppose

There is a specific kind of panic that only a rally racing game can produce. You are hurtling down a narrow road, a sheer cliff on one side and jagged rocks on the other, just at the edge of losing control, completely focused on the road ahead and the instructions from your co-driver.

Right 6 over crest.

You turn. No problem.

Left 2, don't cut.

You break, turn left, accelerate out of the corner.

Crest, 100.

Finally, a straightaway. And then you miss the next bit of instruction. For whatever reason, your concentration slipped, your cat attacked you or you took a drink, you missed it. Since you are going up a rise you cannot see what is coming. Braking now is a possibility but that costs precious time. You waffle for an incredible two or three seconds, a growing pit in your stomach, before doing nothing and flying over the rise.

Into a hairpin turn and, of course, a very unforgiving tree.

This is Dirt 4, a slimmed down version of the previous games. Most of the style and flash is gone but the racing is still good, the experience customizable to what the player is looking for. I have it set on medium which turns off most of the driving assists but I have the AI set to easy because, well, because I am lazy. This tweaking makes the game fun and almost makes the lack of a rewind function forgivable.

The bit of missed dialogue above was not actually your fault. Your co-driver took the time to say that the engine sounds bad instead of warning you of the god damn turn and killer oaks over the hill. This has happened to me several times and is not near as amusing as it sounds. I would like to rewind a few seconds and try again, but no, you need to replay the entire stage. This will get old.

It seems that, in the shadow of both the main stream Forza series and the superior Horizon spin offs, that other racing games and been tightening their belts. Dirt was at one time an prime example of how rally racing could be gussied up to be exciting. Even the loading screens bristled with style. Now? Now it's just a racing game, more accessible (read that as easy if you must) than most, but just a racing game. It cannot hope to keep up with Turn 10, so why bother?

This makes in a hors d'oeuvres, a distraction, something to just play for a bit while I wait for the Xbox One X to come out and run Forza 7 the way it is meant to be run. Not every game needs to be epic. Dirt 4 is a reasonable time, for now, though I have found that I really do not like using the dualshock controller when playing a racing game.