Friday, December 28, 2012

Couldn't stay away

I really did want to take a few days to a week off. Then I finished Lego Lord of the Rings last night and there are two things that I need to get off of my chest. Perhaps I reacted poorly to finding out that majority of my extremely limited traffic comes from a Russian porn site. I would explore the site further to figure out how but I am at work and wish to remain gainfully employed.

Plenty of time for that later.

Anyone who sits through all twelve plus hours of the Lord of the Rings extended editions and doesn't get a little misty at the end of The Return of the King needs to give up on fantasy and pick a different genre. I am not talking about Frodo getting on the boat and leaving with the elves along with Bilbo and Gandalf. While moving it was alluded to so many times that I just wanted them to be done with it. The part that always has me checking for witnesses comes before that:



Viggo sells the shit out of that line, then bows along with everyone else who is still alive. The Shire theme swells, the camera pulls back, and I am a goddamn wreck.

What does this have to do with Lego Lord of the Rings? The scene is recreated almost exactly and it has the exact same affect. This is not so much an endorsement of the game as it is on of the subject matter. Even referencing it in a different medium is enough to get me going. The stupid game reminded me that I do in fact have feelings. How dare it.

After that the player is dropped off in the white city and has the whole world to play in. This is when you are expected to backtrack through every single level and pick up all the bits of stuff that were not available before. I was ready to turn it off before I noticed a new trail of Legos that were used to lead you to the next objective. Nothing was on the map, but I followed them anyway. It took me on a walking tour of the over world, past all of the giant set pieces, past all of the entrances to levels, all the way back to Rivendell. It led right up to a painting that served as the entrance to the bonus level.

How nice, I thought, the didn't hide it.

Cue Lego Sauron and Lego Mouth of Sauron rampaging through a zoomed out version of the map destroying everything. It was inverse Katamari Damaci: not collecting items but flattening everything in your path. A fine send off to one of the better Lego license games.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Could be good, could be bad

I don't get very many page views, which is not surprising, but I check out what sites are referring people here once and a while.

The vast majority of my pages views are coming from a Russian porn site.

And with that, I declare a temporary hiatus...

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Enough of the pieces

Lego Lord of the Rings has either crossed the line between game with lots of hidden stuff to find and game with nothing to do but find hidden stuff (see Epic Mickey 2) or it has successfully split the two into separate experiences that live on the same disc. Before I get to over analyzing a goddamn Lego game, I will freely admit that Lego Gollum is wonderful, tossing Lego Gimli is hilarious, the little Lego touches to cut scenes almost always succeed it pulling a laugh out of me and that I would spend Texa$ dollars on a Lego balrog.

Enough fawning, time to apply grown up metrics to a game aimed at the young and young at heart. Lego games have always been packed with things that cannot be accomplished on the first time a level is played. Usually they require an ability than the current characters do not have. Solving them created wonderful non-sequiturs like having the Joker explore the Batcave or Mola-Ram running around with Short Round. Lego Lord of the Rings takes it one step further with quests that are handed our for the previous level. There is nothing difficult about them as they are simple fetch quests but there is no way to obtain the requested item prior to it being requested regardless of how carefully the previous level was played. It's the worst kind of busy work: the kind you don't get paid for.

These quests are all obtained in the levels between levels that have replaced the hub areas from the previous games. Each of these is easily the size of one of the standard levels and equally filled with things that you cannot do when you first arrive. I have even run across help text for items that I did not have yet, one of which caused a search of embarrassing length for a bucket that I would be given an hour later. The interim levels are all connected in a linear fashion and there is no quick travel between them (yet). It's long walk from the Black Gates back to Hobbiton, but if I want to retrieve every last bit of junk there is no way around it.

This is where the game splits: if I wanted to find it, I would have to walk back. There is nothing preventing me from walking forward, ignoring all the extra Lego collectibles, and enjoying the game in my own way. Lego Lord of the Rings made the part of the game that I do not play more difficult but also made it easier to ignore that part. I am content to see the Lego manifestations of  treasured fantasy characters without searching every nook and cranny for enough mithril pieces to forge the super secret hat that sets off Legolas' ears in just the right way. I am having my cake and eating it, too.



Having dialogue from the movie makes it much more enjoyable. There is nothing better than delivering your heart felt last words with a banana sticking out of your chest.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Sleeping soap box

Sleeping Dogs really had me for the first third of the game. The undercover cop trying to fit in to a murderous triad without actually killing anyone was interesting, though I did wonder how long he would be able to keep it up. As it turns out, not very long at all. Shen goes from 'I'm a cop, I'm not going to kill anyone' to 'I'm a gangster, suck on my bullets' with such ease that the character lost all credibility. Yes, he felt guilty for a while, if his nightmares are proof of anything, but that doesn't keep him from taking up arms with his new brothers and gunning down members of both his and rival triads with all sorts of weapons, up to and including a gleefully over the top segment with a grenade launcher.

As Shen's attitude changed so did mine. At first I was quite careful when driving around town, running down as few pedestrians as possible. After the turn I decided that getting to where I wanted to go quickly was more important than keeping my tires clean and bumper unblemished. The character's mood and motivations actually changed how I was playing the game, and definitely not for the better. Was the game still fun? Of course it was, Sleeping Dogs is an excellent sand box game in an interesting setting. I just wish that more effort had been put into keeping Shen a cop instead of just another gangster with police ties.

I think that the protagonists of sand box games end up as either true villains or at best morally ambiguous  because the developers honestly believe that players, given the freedom, with always default to dick head mode and start testing out new moves on random passers by. For some segment of the population this is undoubtedly true. These are also the same people who think that the solution to gun violence is more guns. Give the player a hero and he or she will play heroically. Imagine an open world Superman game where Superman punching an innocent literally turns them to pulp. Most people would do it once, realize that it just doesn't fit, and never do it on purpose again. These are the people to make games for because they will appreciate the effort, spend the money, and not send their child to school packing heat.

That wandered a bit, didn't it?

I can't take credit for this line of thought, much smarter men than I brought it to my attention.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Worst of the Year 2012

I was so wrapped up in Sleeping Dogs last night that I forgot what day it was, so no Demo Friday this week. It is just as well as there were no new releases, anyway. Instead, it is time to tabulate the worst game of the year.

First, a few disqualifications.

Twisted Metal offended me because it was the exact same game as Twisted Metal Black, which was also the exact same game as Twisted Metal 2, which was as good as the series ever got, in 1996. Times have changed, cars blowing each other up being the extent of game play is not good enough anymore, and Twisted Metal's refusal to advance made it irrelevant. I made it about two levels in and gave up.

Dragon's Dogma will not be considered because it being bad was actually my fault. I played the game in such a way that it became impossible to play it any longer. The game didn't tell me, which is certainly not optimal, instead it just killed me for my ignorance. Tough love, I suppose. Dragon's Dogma has more in common with Dark Souls, a game that I didn't even bother trying to play because I know it's not my thing, than what I hoped it was aping: Skyrim. My expectations were in the wrong so the game gets a free pass.

I am quite tempted to break my 'finish the game' rule for Risen 2. The game does everything wrong: the combat is bad, the writing is bad, the graphics are bad and quests are tracked in an incredibly obtuse way. A pirate themed open ended RPG is something that I really want. This was not it. Honestly, Risen 2 is the worst game I attempted to play this year but it will not get the award because I didn't force myself to see all of its terribleness.

It's a tough call this year. I hope you are ready for


VS


There are no winners here, only bigger losers.

This is a contest between trying and failing and not trying at all. Which is worse, to have a few good ideas that are wasted because you lacked the skill (or money, or time) to see them through to the end or to have no ideas, steal everything from other games and still get it all wrong?

I do enjoy the basic tenant of NeverDead: a character who is immortal but not invincible played for laughs instead of badassery. The game around him is so uneven that it made enjoying rolling through a level as a disembodied head impossible to enjoy, and that's not easy. Aside from this one redeeming feature NeverDead is a collection of bad gaming habits that competent developers know to avoid. Huge sections of the game are escort missions that give Knight's Contract some serious competition. Difficulty spikes are extreme and frustrating, culminating in a final boss that introduces a new mechanic (jumping...) and you have to kill several times.

NeverDead is not without merit; it has a germ of a good idea that is killed by laziness and a reliance on ideas that have already been beaten to death. This makes its eventual failure all the more difficult to endure.

...

Where to begin with Blades of Time?


Oh yeah. Her.

The tarted up Lara Croft with the preposterous accent who ends up with wings at the end of the game because someone spilled coffee on the original design document and had to start making shit up. The woman who stars in a game that used motion blur as a bullet point for the back of the box. The game whose combat is so disconnected and soft that it is difficult to tell when and if you are making contact with the enemies. The combat that stole time manipulation ideas from other, better games and still managed to get it wrong. The other, better games that I have should have been playing instead of Blades of Time.

I usually don't get mad at games for being bad. Playing just about everything is just part of what I do, and with that comes exposure to some heinous things, but I usually have a general idea of what I am getting myself into. I knew that NeverDead was questionable before I started, and I knew that Blades of Time was not going to make Bayonetta nervous in any way, but I was not expecting to to be as aggressively bad as it was. The game knew what worked and intentionally did the opposite. There is no other way to explain it. I do not want to live in a world where a game as bad as Blades of Time can just appear out of the ether. It has to be intentional.

...

Blades of Time 'wins'. NeverDead at least tried. Blades of Time punished me for playing it. The game has no redeeming features. It has no reason to exist, not even as an example of how not to make games. The fact that Gaijin Entertainment continues to exist while THQ is selling off its assets, struggling to remain financially solvent is a god damn crime.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

It's not my fault!

That little complaint about how Sleeping Dogs handles auto-saving? It combined with another bit of user interface oddness and cost me about ten minutes of progress last night. Sure, that might not sound like much, but that ten minutes was two drug busting missions that I finished by the skin of my teeth. It went down as follows:

1. It's too close to bed time to start another story missions, I'll take care of some of the side missions in another area of the city instead

2. Damn, these are hard

3. Enough! I will save and quit. This is where things fall apart. Save/Quit is one menu choice. Choosing that opens a drop down and I missed what was hi-lighted. The save slot screen looks the save for the save and load options, so I loaded my last manual save instead of saving over it. Once I realized what I had done all that was left was my last auto-save, and that was missing the last bit of work I had gotten done.

No, I didn't read the warnings that popped up. I was tired.

Shut up, it's not my fault!



...

The game is still good. Shen just made the leap from good guy who does some bad things to get the job done to grey guy who does bad things because it makes other things more convenient. I just shot my way through a warehouse full of guys and kidnapped a man with no hesitation. The crisis on conscience is coming,  the next missions objective is 'go to bed,' so I am pretty sure that Shen is going to dream about dead triad members. Sounds like the perfect time to knock off all of the races that unlocked when I bought a new crotch rocket.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

They made a Minecraft movie



More precisely, a documentary.

It almost makes me feel bad for never having played it.

Almost.

This is your side of town, this is mine

Sleeping Dogs allows the player to wander around its whole world from the outset. It is even kind enough to give you a motorcycle so you don't need to steal someone else's ride. The city isn't overly large when compared to other sandbox games, but it makes up for the lake of square mileage with density. Every street corner has a unique landmark, modeled with originality and care. This isn't the sharpest looking game but it wrings every little bit it can out of its engine. Once I remembered to drive on the opposite side of the road simple wandering around town, picking fights with opposing gangs and grabbing health pick ups was a pleasure.

Just because you can go everywhere doesn't necessarily mean you should. I found this out the hard way when I rolled up on a bunch of dudes camped out in the sewers. Up to that point I had taken care of all my disputes with my fists. Those bastards skipped that hand to hand nonsense and shot me to death. The fact that I hadn't even seen a tutorial on the shooting controls yet made it clear that I should not have been there yet. This leads to my only complaint about the game so far: how in handles death. Sleeping Dogs punishes you for dying the same way Grand Theft Auto does: you wake up in the hospital fully healed, significantly poorer, and nowhere near where you left off. It's the relocation that bothers me. Some of the sub-missions are in remote places and dying will consume several minutes just driving back to where I left off. Take the money, just don't waste my time.

I have a notoriously short attention span for Grand Theft Auto games. There is no good reason why; I played Saboteur and Just Cause 2 out to completion and they are basically all the same game. Perhaps the difference is not the game but who I have been charged with playing. In those two games, and in Sleeping Dogs, I am the hero. Flawed, perhaps, but I play the good guy. Being the good guy means that I take a little more care to not run down pedestrians and flee from the police instead of starting running gun battles. GTA is so devoid of these purer motivations that I went from doing missions to seeing how many police I could get to chase me at once to getting bored and turning it off. The main character is a scum bag so I acted the part.

There is just a bit of snow on the ground and I am considering using that as a way to skip out on going to the climbing gym tonight. Sleeping Dogs is a powerful motivator.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Missing the market

Epic Mickey 2 was dead for me before I even turned it on. Actually playing the game only made it worse.

The first game did not exist for me in my Nintendo free world, which is a bit of a shame because I was curious as to what Warren Spector was going to do in the confines of the license. This was supposed to be a darker, more mischievous Mickey, as long as you ignore that Square did the exact same thing with him in Kingdom Hearts 2, elevating him to in game demigod status. Epic Mickey 2 is a direct sequel to a game I did not play, a game that is not even available on my platform of choice. A little back story would be helpful, at least by way on character introductions. Who is this rabbit guy, and the singing mad doctor with bad teeth, and why is Goofy part animatronic? No explanation is given, so I am forced to believe the entire games takes place in Mickey's head after a long, long night of the town.

Dismissing new players is bad, but when your target audience often accepts anything that moves and has a high voice as preaching the gospel of Walt I can understand it. This only becomes a problem if, A. you play everything eventually and have the audacity to expect a little bit of narrative in your game (me) or B. you have a child who does not but gets stuck because the game is built specifically for co-op. There are sections that I found frustratingly difficult, both because they were designed poorly and because they require more that a child's worth of dexterity. If I was pulled into to this by one of my kids I would be both bored and frustrated at the same time. Strike two.

All platforming games have 'collect a million of this' as a requirement. The good ones, like Rayman and Mario, treat it as the secondary objective or something to go back to after clearing a level the first time. Epic Mickey 2 treats bull shit collection as the main game and everything else is just extra. There are red tickets to buy things, scrap metal to build things, scraps of material to sew into things, pins to trade for more pins, pictures to take, gremlins to free, ghost and pigs to reunite, spirits to conjure, and probably more but that is all I can remember. The killer: none of these have any affect on how the game is actually played. It is stuff collection for the sake of collecting more stuff.



God bless that man.

I skipped all the stuff and the game was done in about six hours. It came as such a surprise that I had to hit up GameFaqs to see if I was actually done. Yup, all there was left to do was collect more stuff, and who has time for that. Strike three.

...

The intention to purchase Black Knight Sword was real. I would have done it, too, but I decided to plug in Sleeping Dogs 'just to see how it is.' God damn that game is good. It looks like my time is booked for the rest of the year.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Demo Friday: I don't get it

Suda 51 peaked early. Anyone who owned a Gamecube and did not play Killer 7 should be ashamed of themselves. After that he games have gotten more and more sane, thus losing the element that distracted from how poorly they actually played. Wonder what he and Grasshopper Manufacture have been up to lately?



Yeah.

Black Knight Sword is as bizarre. Things start out with the player hanging from a noose, presumably dead, them falling and being possessed by a spirit and becoming the black knight. He is then attacked by heads with legs who bleed profusely when stabbed. It looks like a gothic puppet show, right down to taking place on a stage and the audience gasping when you die. It is certainly stylish, I am just no sure if I like the style. I think it hits a little too close to Outland, an excellent Metroid type game that looked like a cross between Tron and the African jungle.

The demo took me all the way through to end of the first level, cutting off right as the boss showed up. Ordinarily this would be plenty of time to make a decision about the game, but I just don't get Black Knight Sword. As a side scrolling 2D platformer it is rather sparse. No new moves were learned and there isn't much exploration. Yes, it was only the first level, but according to the achievement list there are only five total. My worry is that it will end up like another very unique looking arcade game that I purchased, played for a day, and never went back to: Dishwasher Samurai.

I feel bad, but I don't know what to think about Black Knight Sword. I feel worse because I purchased The Unfinished Swan sight unseen and was rather unimpressed by it That experience has made me more hesitant than usual about jumping on new games.

The other XBLA release this week doesn't make any sense either, but for complete different reasons:

This is educational?
An update of the DS game Brain Games! Who asked for this?

No one? That's what I though.

I will admit that the bit I played through was fun, though that was because it was the first two sections of each of the categories. I would imagine that it ramps up quickly, switching from patting you on the back for solving simple puzzles to mocking you for being an idiot and ogling the female host's completely gratuitous cleavage. I have always wondered why my IQ was, but I am not going to spend 800 points on a game to tell me. Not when there are other games I should spend 800 points on.

Fuck it, I am buying Black Knight Sword. I am going to guess that it is an acquired and I feel the need to acquire it.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Choose, but choose wisely

I don't know if I am going to go through and hyperlink everything, but up above you will see links to all (I think) of the game I played in 2010 and 2011. There have collated for no good reason, I just like to make lists.

...

Playing as Ada Wong, once the forced stealth section in the first level was over, has been a refreshing change. There is no companion AI to get in the way. I don't know why so many of the doors took two people to open, but the least my partner could do was stay close and help. Ada will have none of that nonsense and opens doors all by her damn self. Her part weaves through all three of the previous campaigns, letting be relive (for bettor or for worse) many of the boss fights that were frustrating the first time around from a different point of view. It is not always clear if what I am doing is actually having any affect on the proceedings, but some of the fights were so hard the first time that I do not miss them.

This last section also featured a puzzle that completely stumped me. I was  looking for clues hidden in the environment, something obscure that appeared to have nothing to do with the problem at hand. What I thought was a typical Resident Evil puzzle was actually a sensible physics based one: knock down the zombie from the ceiling to hold down a switch. The game did something that made sense and I missed it because I was expecting things that didn't make sense.

Ada, or more precisely, two Ada's, will not redeem Resident Evil 6. This is the worst high budget, AAA title I have played in a long time. I stand by my statement that the series needs a reboot or a shot in the head. Nothing else will save it from itself. Resident Evil has so many years of gaming weight dragging in down that even when Capcom tries to switch things up it doesn't work. Make it an action game, but make it an action game all the way. Or make it survival horror again, but for god's sake don't try to mix them. The first Dead Space beat them to it and will not easily be surpassed. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Yes, qi is a word, and it has a plural form

I rarely use my phone for much beyond talking and email. This is both because I have little patience for a screen that small and because it is a Windows phone so the pickings are slim. My phone is not an entertainment device, it is for work. Last week, over breakfast, I was poking around the marketplace and came across something called AlphaJax. It was free and a small download, so what the hell. It took seconds to realize my error: this was Words With Friends, and I was screwed.

I have never touched an Apple device long enough to play the real Words With Friends, but having seen nothing but screenshots its heritage is still obvious: it's online Scrabble made by a company with incredibly good lawyers. I really enjoy Scrabble but have no one to play it with, though this may be because I play dirty. The best scoring word is secondary; I am always looking one move ahead to try not to give my opponent any special tiles. Think of it as turtling; my down back nature has moved beyond Street Fighter, apparently.

AlphaJax works as well as a free game should, though it would be nice to be able to abandon games with people who simply stop taking their turn. I have two games that haven't moved past my first word and I can't get them out of my queue. This would make more angry if I didn't have another game that I am currently winning by a score of 274 to 92.

Checking for updates has become a reflex. It's an itch that doesn't go away and it only gets worse when I check and no one has played.

...

Why yes, I am still trying to avoid talking about Resident Evil 6. If you must  know, my current annoyances are boss fights recycled between characters, mandatory stealth sections with no way of knowing where enemies are and characters that are only awesome when I am not controlling them. There will be more.

Monday, December 10, 2012

A bit embarrassed of that, actually

I have been playing Resident Evil 6 for a week and a half and have found a way to not talk about it after comparing it to left handed self gratification. There have been a few points in the last twenty or so hours where I felt like retracting the insult. It still isn't Resident Evil, but it worked because it suddenly embraced being not-Resident Evil. Shambling zombies disappeared, replaced by gun wielding not-zombies that can grow back most of their head if they are not quickly finished off. The cover system is terrible, but eventually it becomes necessary and I understood why it was shoe horned in. 'This isn't so bad,' I would think. 'It certainly looks amazing, and now and then when I am allowed to play instead of watch the game it doesn't fall off a cliff.'

Then it falls off a cliff with something ridiculous like spawning me in a room with a monster who can kill me in one hit who then killed me, forcing me to repsawn in the same room but closer to the monster. There are out of the blue quick time events that you cannot pass with out dying the first time. There are trick shot boss fights where you have to hit the glowing head on top of a flailing tendril of flesh in a very limited amount of time, only I managed to begin the section with the wrong weapon equipped and the one I did need required a reload. That took about a dozen retries.

Resident Evil 6 is trying to have its brains and eat them, too. It wants to be a sprawling, epic action game, of which there are many, but still retain the Resident Evil quirks. They two don't mix and the game suffers for the attempt. It also tries to pull in threads from so many different games that I have no idea who or what is going on. I feel like I need to go through the wiki articles of all the previous games just to figure out who is on whose side. Is Ada Wong evil or not? Who the hell is Sherry Birkin? How did Wesker manage to have a kid, did he grow the child in a test tube?

Resident Evil either needs a total reboot, wiping the slate clean, or it needs to be left alone until the middle of next generation. Capcom will do neither.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Demo Friday: Get Out!

I wasn't kidding when I said that I didn't know what MOBA stood for. I had to look it up, Multiplayer Online Battle Arena, but I have no idea what it means. Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew that LoL was a MOBA, but that does not mean that I know what LoL is, either. This is a huge hole in my gaming knowledge; League of Legends has streams that pull in numbers that dwarf fighting game tournaments and I have never watched a single game. Upon first hearing someone try to explain them they were lumped in with of two genres that I don't even attempt to play, regardless of quality: real time strategy. In the distant past some effort was put into trying to learn StarCraft and WarCraft 2. It did not go well at all and I have since avoided any and all titles that include moving units, building things, zerg rushes and technology trees. Of late that has come to include even turn based strategy games. Judging from my experience with King's Bounty, it was the right decision.

Screen shots of this game all look exactly the same.

Guardians of Middle Earth is a console attempt at a PC-centric game type. I was rather nervous about what kind of acrobatics my fingers would have to perform to make things happen, but thanks to the tutorial it seemed fairly easy. You only directly control a single hero who has a standard attack and several special attacks with varying cool down times. So far, so good. Soldiers automatically spawn from your base and automatically move down lanes towards your opponent. Hold on, lanes?

No explanation. The tutorial moves on.

As your hero gains levels you can upgrade your own defense towers and soldiers. There are also shrines you can occupy to gain temporary bonuses. You don't build any of these things, they are just there on the map, ripe for the taking. On top of those there are neutral monsters scattered around that can be killed for experience. From my point of view it looked like an action RPG with a bit of tower defense sprinkled on top. No problem! Off to the training skirmish.

There was my Gandalf, in all his wizardly glory. There were the soldiers who I did not control but had to protect and assist. Why can't I control them, or at the least specify which tower they should attack? Hold on, there are other named characters here, better than soldiers but I still can't control them. All my poor Gandalf can do is pick a group to tag along with and, surprise, get killed. This happened about three times before I turned it off. Obviously there is something that I am missing, some bit of strategy or customization that was not explained in the previous tutorials. The game felt intentionally obtuse, designed to keep newbs on the outside for as long as possible. It worked, I will not be trying again.

Fighting games, especially Street Fighter, are equally difficult to start on from scratch without outside, preferably human, assistance. You could play for months and not know what a link is and why it is important. Guardians of Middle Earth feels exactly the same. There are genre terms, like lane, that are simply not explained because the player should already know them. And if you don't then gtfo. The tutorial was okay right up to the point that is stopped explaining what the buttons do. I can figure that much out on my own, tell how the game works. Give me a leg to stand on so I am not stomped by the computer in the mission that is supposed to teach me what to do.

How to play is not button config, it is fucking how to play.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Who are all these people and why aren't they undead?

Tomorrow's Demo Friday should be interesting. I don't even know what MOBA stands for.

...

It took around seven hours, but Resident Evil 6 finally did something that was recognizable as 'Resident Evil' beyond herbs and an arbitrary inventory limit. The final boss dies about eight times, each more permanent than the last, to finally come back as a giant zombie eating fly. It stopped be amusing after two or three, but I will admit that his middle form, a giant T-Rex made out of bone with an eyeball in his mouth, was one of the more ridiculous things I have ever seen. The game just kept trying to top itself, in the process moving from 'oh, this is kinda to cool' right past 'damn' to 'are you kidding?'

It is clear that Capcom meant for Resident Evil 6 to be epic is both scope and length. Leon saw the president turned into a zombie, two towns destroyed, the national security adivisor morph into to previously mentioned giant fly, all while chasing after Ada Wong, who may or may not be human, and bumping into Wesker's son and other stars of previous games. Resident Evil's back story makes Mortal Kombat's look simple and sensible; I have no idea who most of these characters are, so putting them all in the same place at the same time did not have the effect they were looking for.

Honestly, they just got in the way and took up what little screen real estate was left because of how close the camera was to Leon's ass all the time.

I have three more sections to go. If the length of the first is any indication I will not get to play the Dragonborn expansion for Skyrim until the end of next week. Such sacrifices.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

On second thought

I don't remember if I told my story about seeing The Dark Knight Rises, but my reactions to the second viewing, this time in the confines of my basement, require it. It was not opening day, I do remember that, but it was the opening weekend. I bought a single ticket without bothering to look where it was. It should not have surprised me that I ended up in the front row on the far right. In wake of the shooting in Aurora a few days prior there being an exit door right there did not do much for my concentration. Still, this was almost the exact same way I saw The Dark Knight, so I did not complain.

Nolan's Batman is not the same as previous incarnations. He is both more noble and weaker, and with the notable exception of Batman: The Animated Series, my favorite. Seeing him get a happy ending made me happy. There was a feeling of contentment and closure with both his escape and the Robin tease. Only after the movie was done did I stop to think about the villains and how they ended up. As a fair weather Batman fan not seeing the Talia reveal coming was an embarrassment. It also bothered me because it was unnecessary. Tonight, knowing who she was and what was coming, she ruined every scene she was in.

Talia is a problem not because her presence serves no purpose, which it doesn't, but that it cheapens the real mastermind: Bane. Nolan's Bane, just like his Batman, is not the same as previous versions. He is not a mindless killer, not some brute held on a chain. Bane is Batman without the stubbornness that keeps Bruce from taking that one last step off the edge. Bane should have been the boy that the escaped instead of Talia's protector. It would have completed the character.

He also should have had a more noble end than being shot by a tights wearing floozy from off screen.

Without Talia the fight between Bane and Batman could have come to its own conclusion, with Batman having the choice to kill Bane and deciding not to, deciding not to follow Band over the edge (yes, I know that fight was with Azreal, not Batman, in Knightfall, cut me some slack). Instead he is stabbed in the back, literally, Bane is punked and Talia dies in a truck crash.

The Dark Knight Rises is certainly good, but it is not as good as The Dark Knight, and not just because Joker isn't in it. Bane could have been just as good. He would have, too, if he didn't have the rug pulled out from under him by an evil deus ex machina with boobs and a knife.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Tissues not included

Yahtzee has a term for set piece heavy, linear action titles: spunk gargle wee wee. It is a very not subtle way for calling such games masturbatory; after all the smoke, mirrors and fantasies fade away all you have left is what is in your hand. Perhaps a controller, perhaps something else. I don't disagree, but I also do not see this as a "bad thing". Call of Battlefield: War Fighter 2 games are the digital equivalent of roller coasters: lots of screaming, perhaps some vomiting, and you end up just where you left off. They don't pretend to be anything more in their single player campaigns, the player knows exactly what he or she is getting, so if you don't like it stop bitching.

Thus ends my defense of modern shooters. There are certainly problems with them, ranging from regenerating health to trying much too hard to be 'realistic' to the point where the fun begins to disappear, but as a whole they can be counted on for a few days distraction. When the spunk gargle wee wee starts to spread to other genres there is a problem. Resident Evil invented the survival horror genre. The series came and went from relevance, peaking with Code Veronica. Capcom then successfully resurrected the series with Resident Evil 4 and RE:make, two of the best third part titles on the GameCube. This resurgence was also a high point, with 5 being 'pretty good for a game long escort mission' and 6 forgetting that it is a Resident Evil game.

Resident Evil 6 starts, I repeat, starts, with a quick time event. Literally press X not to die. If this were a linear action game and I was pressing X to get on the roller coaster I would not mind. But this is not spunk gargle wee wee, it is Resident Evil. I expect cheap jump scares accompanied by silly puzzles with items that I need to combine in nonsensical ways. Nope, this Resident Evil is, so far, an action game. It is an action game hampered with ridiculous controls more in tune with what Resident Evil is supposed to be. If you want to throw a grenade you have to manually select the grenade with the d-pad, aim, then throw. This barely works against one zombie. Pulling it off while being dog piled by a dozen is a great way to blow off you own legs. The herbs from all the previous games are back but they must be manually mixed and then loaded into the magical herb dispensing Tic-Tac box, which again can't be done reliably during combat.

To be crude, playing Resident Evil 6 is like masturbating with with your off hand.

...that may be the worst thing I have ever written. I like it.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

I haven't done this for a while.


Watch him crack in the middle of the second round. It makes me happy.