Friday, May 31, 2013

Demo Friday: Angry vikings?

After a week's hiatus it's time to make uninformed, snap decisions about games.

Two weeks ago I did play the new XBLA games. UFGT kind of got in the way of writing about them on Friday and after that I really wasn't in the mood. Quick summary: Hunter's Trophy 2: America is stupid. I will grant that there is a market for hunting games. It follows that there be a slightly smaller market for hunting simulations that take things a bit more seriously. Hunter's Trophy 2 didn't let me past the training missions because I inadvertently shot an extra goose. One goose over the limit, no joy.

This is also why I am going to break my own rule and skip Hunter's Trophy 2: Australia. There may be more excitement because there are more animals in Australia that will kill you than anywhere else but I don't want to be chastised for killing one extra kangaroo. Those fuckers are like rats over there. Or deer where I live.

Call of Juarez: Gunslinger was pretty damn good I am going to buy it when Dead Island: Riptide is done. Now that we are caught up, which one of you asked for a fleshed out Angry Birds set in the middle ages in which you need to juggle firing your bastilla and incoming troops and then using it to attack the opponents with spawning troops and then directly controlling your avatar in combat?

Come on, raise your hand...
Raise it nice and high so I can avoid any other games you ask for.

CastleStorm tries to mash together all the popular flash game memes into a cohesive experience. There is the obvious Angry Birds along with tower defense and just a little RTS for good measure. This translates to watching a lot of cool down timers simultaneously and sniping away with arrows to keep from getting bored. It's too much. When pressed with this much information I just shut down. It isn't fun anymore; it's like doing my taxes while balancing the checkbook and cleaning out the cat box at the same time.

Honestly, this combines several genres I already don't like into one mega-genre that I really don't like. It didn't get a fair shot which is, again, the point of the exercise. The demo gets five to ten minutes to either wow me or drive me away. Most fall in the middle and the demo is enough of the game for me. I stopped playing the Call of Juarez demo because it was enjoyable and I plan on buying it. On the other hand, I stopped playing the CastleStorm demo because it pushed all of the the wrong buttons for all at the same time.

It was reflexive.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Yup, still dead

Changes at work, more responsibility and a completely unsuccessful disaster recovery test equals little posting. No one come here to read IT stories, so I will keep it short.

Chamberlain decides to test merging snapshots on a test virtual server.
Merging snapshots fills the entire SAN bringing all the other servers to a grinding halt. This includes Exchange and our main application server.
Chaos ensues.

In the end I lost the test server. The VHD is there but there is no operating system. And I had no backup because it was the test server.

...

Dead Island always was a bit schizophrenic. I played through the first game waiting for guns to be available and when they finally were there was never enough ammo and they did less damage than a flaming shovel or electrified machete. I have made the same mistake with Riptide, having chosen the survivor who specializes in guns, but what makes it worse is how the game teases you with good weapons and then takes them all away at the end of the intro sequence. Now I there are good guns out there, somewhere, I just need to survive the melee until then.

Contrary to popular opinion, I am not a fan of the melee in Dead Island. I find it almost impossible to judge how close I need to be to a zombie for the weapon to hit. This makes fighting the thugs, who can kill in you in about three hits, far more difficult than it should be. If I had a gun, no problem, head shots all day. As it is I either waste my rage attack on them or burn them to death with the flare gun. Or run away. Running away is always an option.

My other big complaint is how the game handles post death spawning. Either it is right where you died, an area that includes all of the zombies who just killed you and who are then going to kill you again, or it is across the map and you have to walk all the way back to the zombies who apparently also have good memories because they are more than willing to kill you again. This causes the game to swing back and forth from 'hey, this is going pretty well,' to 'OH MY GOD THIS IS BULL SHIT' more often than is healthy.

I do like the more serious take on the zombie apocalypse. This is not Dead Rising, the zombies are not there as an annoyance. Taking on more than a few at a time is hard, and they are everywhere. They also respawn in cleaned out areas very quickly, but if they didn't the player would quickly run out of things to do. This is more of the first game, warts and all.

Monday, May 27, 2013

UFGT match by match recap

This is probably not going to be interesting to any other than myself, but I don't feel like going back to do the Demo Friday that I missed and I have not played enough of Dead Island Riptide to have any thoughts about it. I am going to do a game by game account of what I played at UFGT, giving myself a grade after each one.

SFxT Match 1: Chamberlain vs some guy running a Ryu and someone else team that doesn't actually play SFxT

I tried to get as many casual matches in on SFxT before my pool as I could because I had never actually played the game sitting next to another person before. What I quickly found, and this was also true for AE, was that a good chunk of my nonsense just doesn't work when I am not playing online. Suddenly people were blocking cross ups, teching throws and properly punishing whiffed attacks. It was a bit of a shock but I thought I had things under control.

Match one was against someone who professed to not playing SFxT very much. I was not very nervous which was probably a mistake. He took me out on game one thanks to sloppy play on my part and won the first round of the second match on some pretty good Ryu play. On the verge of defeat in the first game of my first major I remembered what he said: 'I don't really play this game.' He was playing Street Fighter. I play Street Fighter, too. I change how I did things, turtled up with Blanka, and brought it all the way back for the win. There was a lucky Paul combo here and there, but it was a come back, and I won.

Grade: B-. I should never have fallen that far behind, but I least I won.

SFxT Match 2: Chamberlain vs CJ Truth's Law/Sagat team of choreographed destruction

I guess the guy running the pool liked my comeback.

'Chamberlain, CJ Truth, on the stream.'

Oh shit. I know CJ Truth. That bastard is pretty damn good and less than half my age to boot. We made small talk on the way up to the stage. He could tell that I had never played on the stream before before I confessed it, so I knew he already knew the match was sewn up. The best I could do was make small talk with him and his Mom before walking up the the gallows.

He crushed me. It was embarrassing. I never got any offense going and couldn't block any of his shit. At the end of the second game he busted out some totally broken Law corner tech that I had never seen: Law jumps over you with a cross up attack, which I blocked, but then lands in front so you have to change the way you block. I think I took my hands off of the controller at that point.

When the abuse was over I asked him what the hell happened. He explained it right down to what I should have done to not get hit by it. Pretty classy kid, if I must say.

Grade: F. I have not gone back to watch the recording of this one. And I never will.

SFxT Match 3: Chamberlain vs... it didn't really matter

I was broken at this point and don't remember what characters the next guy picked. There was a flicker of hope in the second game but then I made a bad tag and lost.

Grade: F. Couldn't shake off the previous streamed loss.

...

A few hours later I saddled up to the AE casuals area to get the SFxT out of my hands. My first opponent was a very good Zangief. Usually I am not afraid of the Zangief match, but again, all of my experience is online. It is still a good match for Blanka in person but I played it wrong for the first ten games and lost them all. Finally the guy playing Zangief clued me in:

'Dude, be more patient.'

Translation: play lame.

And lame it out I did. Worked like a charm, I won a few, and then he switched to Balrog and kicked my ass as the price for the lesson. At that point it didn't matter, the decision had been made: minimal shenanigans, play it lame.

The following morning the room opened much later than I hoped and I only for in two game before the pool started. Both were against an Evil Ryu. Match one was close. Match two I played so down back that he didn't know what to do. He came to me for his beating and I was glad to dispense it. After the pool started he was talking to a friend.

'Who was that Blanka you were fucking up against?'

Guy points to me.

'Dude, fucking body him. No offense.'

I took it as a compliment.

AE Match 1: Chamberlain vs Evil Ryu player's friend. At about 00:26:00 here if you care to see it.

As soon as the exchange was over I was told that my first match would be on the stream against the guy who just told his friend to shape up and beat me. He was excited. Oddly enough, so was I. I had a plan, a plan that would work against just about any character. When it ended up being Cammy I was worried because it is another bad match for Blanka. Still, I stuck to plan.

Yes, I lost four rounds straight, but I don't think I looked bad. It was not embarrassing, I was just over matched. At one point one of the announcers says that I am afraid of Cammy. No, I was not afraid, I just wanted him to come to me. It didn't quite work out but it was an exciting final round.

Grade: B. Stuck to the plan.

AE Match 2: Chamberlain vs the worst Juri player ever

The walk back to the pool area was not the same walk of shame after getting killed my CJ Truth. I was ready for the next match, ready for another good fight. By luck I was handed a cupcake of a Juri player. Every time I knocked him down he mashed ultra out. I could see him wailing away at his pad, praying for it to connect. The randomness of it kept things close until I started walking up and just blocking every time I knocked him down.

He never learned and ate three ultra punished before the matches were done.

Grade: A. This wasn't even close.

AE Match 3: Chamberlain vs the Evil Ryu player from before, only this time he plays his main

After sending the Juri player home I had time to watch some other matches in the pool. The Evil Ryu player was still in, only now he was playing Ryu and looking much better. He lost a tough match to a Dhalsim that I was glad that I didn't have to fight, which sent him to losers, where he ran into me.

I was smart enough to not expect the same results. Evil Ryu is a glass cannon. If you can keep his offense from getting started the round will be over just on defensive counter pokes, which is exactly how I got him in casuals. Ryu, though...

He learned from our first match and changed his approach. I am not exactly sure what he did, but he did something that I failed to adjust to, and I lost. It was not quick or ugly, but there is something that I missed and I still do not know what it was. I think he fixed his spacing so I couldn't anti-air things as easily, but even that is a guess.

Grade: C. The fact that I am not sure what he changed really bothers me.

...

So that's it. 1-2 in two games. I am satisfied with that.

For now.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Back from UFGT

Updates to follow, but the good news is I didn't go 0-2 is two games. I went 1-2.

The bad news is two of my losses were documented on the stream, and one of them was being being completely destroyed by CJ Truth, a kid around half my age.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Strange Malaise

All the rumour mongering about XBox One's potential assassination of the rental market has me pretty bummed out. I like new toys and was very much looking forward to finding a place under my television to nestle both consoles coming out this year. All my plans hinge on being able to rent games and I do not have faith in either Microsoft or Sony to no screw me. To them I am not a customer, I don't buy very many games, so losing me and those like me is not a big deal.

I think they underestimate how many people there are like me, but only time will tell. Both systems will be reserved at the closest place that will take my money. Where it goes from there is up to them.

Speaking of places that will take your money in exchange for a 'guarantee' of something being available to you at launch. I have spoken on more than one occasion of my employment history. I ran an Electronics Boutique, then an EB, then a GameStop, in that order, before deciding it was time to make actual money and leave a job that I both enjoyed and was good at. I bring this up because, since my departure over five years ago, most of the stores I ran have been closed. One because the mall itself died, another because it was in a hideous part of town and I was robbed blind on a daily basis, a third because some idiot signed a long term lease assuming it would be a million dollar store and it didn't even come close.

My favorite store managed to avoid the curse of Chamberlain. Until today. I drove past it on the way to Best Buy and it was closed. All the merchandise was gone. The wire shelves were in piles on the floor. There was a '1-800-Got-Junk' truck outside with a load full of standees. Up until just last year the place had been run by someone who had at some point worked for me so I had misplaced sense of ownership.

It was a good store. It was my store, and now it's gone. They are all gone. The whole industry has changed and I do not think I like how it works now. Nothing will ever compare to watching an entire wall of Diablo II boxes sell out in the space of an hour or dealing with the Xbox and Gamecube launching one day apart with a back room the size of a bathroom or the midnight launch of a WoW expansion that filled my store with hundreds of nerds. I remember taking my PS2 home a few days early because it was paid off and my boss figured, what the hell. There was the tragedy of giving up my launch XB360 to take care of customers and the hilarity of setting a PS3 on my back counter, saying it was the last one, selling it, then getting the next one off of the stack and doing it again.

Retail management sucks, but those were some of the best years of my life.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Screw work

Watching Xbox stream.

They already have all my monies, I just want the date and the price so I now how much plasma to sell.

...

Reaction: underwhelmed and dubious.

What was not mentioned in the reveal, and what Kotaku is reporting, so take it with a grain of salt, is that games are automatically installed on first use at which point the disc is no longer needed but is tied to the Xbox Live account it was installed under. Wait for it...

They said there would be a fee to use the game with another account. If this is true, and I repeat, IF, this fundamentally breaks how I play games and could potentially shift me completely into the Sony camp, up to and including not buying the Xbox One.

The rate at which I consume games of varying quality simply would not be sustainable.

I don't care about the always on Kinect or the stupid name or the bevvy of TV apps that I will never use. If I can't play games the way I want to then the system is pointless to own.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Demo Friday: Right over my head

I was going to knock this out last night but I was distracted by the exhibition matches at East Coast Throwdown. There was a first to fifteen featuring two Hulk - Haggar teams that was just about the craziest thing I have ever seen. Even better was a MvC2 'reunion' of four old masters. MvC2 is hard for me to watch; I never played it the right way and it moves so fast that it all becomes a blur, but it was worth it to hear the announcers regress in age by ten years and squeal like little girls.

Back to business.

Stylish! I think...
Monaco is a game that I am not qualified to have an opinion about. There is something key to the experience that I was missing: other people. It is quite obvious that Monaco was meant to be played with other dudes sitting next to you on the couch or at the very least on their own couches somewhere else but online. Playing it by myself was, to put it in my terms, like playing Street Fighter against the computer. Yes, it's possible, but there is no reason to do it.

I was playing it wrong so I got bored quickly. The single player levels felt like a tutorial for playing with other people. Even taken as such they didn't do a very good job. I was confused most of the time, by both what I needed to do and the way things looked. Did it look cool? Yes, but it was not exactly clear what was what and where I could go and what I could do when I got there. Again, having a group of people working together to suss out the nuances is probably the point. It went right over my head. For this reason I am not going to rip on Monaco, I am going to apologize for not liking it. This is a game that a demo cannot sell.

First person tower defence? Ewwww.
Remember how I reacted to Ratchet and Clank: Full Frontal Assault? This is the same thing, just replace Ratchet with an entire genre I enjoy. Shooters are my weakness. I play good ones, I play bad ones, if you move through a virtual world in a first person manner and shoot things in a game I will give it my time. On the flip side I have never met a tower defense game that I didn't hate. Not even Plants vs Zombies held my interest. Mash them together and what I can't stand takes precedence. Sanctum 2 had me shaking my head and walking away in record time.

Putting aside my disdain for the genre, Sanctum 2 didn't do a very good job explaining itself. At first blush it was just a shooter, one with mushy controls and a look straight out of Phantasy Star Online. I got to the training area and killed wave one of the monsters. So far so good. The game instructed me to follow the glowing arrows, pick up a few resources, and build a gun tower. 


It was at this point that my ineptness for games that require strategic thinking collided with a poor tutorial: I build the wrong kind of tower and the tutorial would not continue. I did not have enough of whatever nonsense I was collecting to build another one and no more would spawn. After several minutes of wandering around a very small level I figured out that I could break what I had built back down and try again. Nice of the game to tell me.

Having satisfied the tutorial's requirements a second wave of identical enemies spawned and I turned the game off. I didn't put up with Ratchet and Clank being turned into a MOBA so I am certainly not going to suffer through a nameless tower defense game shoehorned into an equally nameless shooter.

Friday, May 17, 2013

No energy...

I can't work up the energy for a proper post.

Finally figured out something in the backup software I use that has been bugging me for six months.

Yay me? I need beer and sleep.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

I am not immune to the cranial explosions

It a funny coincidence, I posted the exact same video when I was playing the first Fist of the North Star game that I did yesterday.

I also said a lot of the same things. Yet I am still playing it. There is a sickness here, one that I cannot identify. It is almost as if I may pay penance for all the good games I have played lately with a terrible retail release and downloadable games that I do not understand. That last bit is in reference to Monaco. I will save it for Demo Friday, but as of right now I just don't get it.

Back to Ken's Rage 2...

Who am I kidding, I have nothing more to say about it. There was two and a half hours of ATATATATATAT last night and I think I am only half way done. Kenshiro is a badass but he is a boring badass. His badassness is so wooden that it's boring and his shirt ripping chest expansions do not help. The enemies have all of the character and all of the good lines but they all die at the end of each episode leaving me with nothing but generic rage to hold on to. Generic rage and fast punches.

And exploding heads.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

ATATATATATATATATATATATATATA

Ah, slumming it. It has been a quite a run of quality games. But who can stand all the goodness? It's time for First of the North Star: Ken's Rage 2: really just an update of the first game with a confusing upgrade system. I honestly thought for the first hour or two it was the same game, as both cover the same events from the same manga/anime and have all of the same characters. A separate achievement list confirms that they are different games and the wikipedia entry notes that it will go into greater depth about some of the characters. The game still is just hundreds of guys running at you in plain looking environments ad nauseum so am going to call it's Ken's Rage 1.25.

Not even going to give it a 1.5 because there is not depth to the characters to explore. Here's Kenshiro:


He is clearly upset that his head is too small for his body. That, seven holes in his chest and a dead girl friend tell you everything you need to know about him. It is still a game about punching people very much like the last game about punching people. There are scrolls to equip that create a Bejewelled -like minigame. If only the scrolls you receive weren't randomly chosen it might be interesting.

It's mashy. It's simple. It's not translated so I get bad Japanese voice acting instead of bad English voice acting. Yes, it is Fist of the North Star, but there are things about the anime that just cannot be translated into a game. Like this:


...

I really should not be playing this at all. Just over a week to UFGT and I am not ready. I don't think I can be ready,

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Excellent, next one please

Tomb Raider went by so fast that I managed to not talk about it at all. I do not mean that it was too short, as it was in fact the perfect length for a game of its type. When I sat down to play I thought of nothing else for the entire session and nothing was played in between. Tomb Raider so monopolized my attention that I forgot to talk about how much I liked it and me not talking is a rare thing indeed.

Let's get all of the praise and adulation out of the way: Tomb Raider is a total reboot and does just about everything right. This Lara is younger, less experienced and best of all anatomically possible. There are scenes that make it past the uncanny valley, perils and injury that look so real that I tried harder to not die just so I didn't have to see what it looked like if I did. I recall one specific section where Lara was navigating a crawl space full of hot pipes. The way she moved was perfect and it made me wince when she inadvertently touched one. This Lara is a more believable character than any of her previous incarnations. The only complaint would be how quickly she moves from being horrified at killing a guy who was about to kill her to full on terminatrix, popping fools in the head with her bow from impossible distances, but that can be explained away with a repeated phrase from the game:

She's a Croft.

This character reboot would be pointless if the game around her wasn't new and improved. Tomb Raider is darker in tone than it has ever been. Characters die, often, in terrible ways. Grim shit goes down, up to and including a visual reference to The Descent, one of many horror movies that I should see but never will because I am a tremendous pansy.

That is exactly what you think it is.
It was not pleasant for anyone involved, player or character, and that was the point.

The island Lara and her friends are trapped on is just as much of a character as she is. It is a fickle beast, swinging between weather extremes and bringing down planes with spontaneous storms to keep anyone from leaving. Just getting from location to location is a challenge, one that Lara is up to, at least eventually. There is just a little Metroid mixed in here: areas are locked off until the next weapon or equipment are obtained. It is never ambiguous, so forward progress is maintained, and it would reward backtracking for items if I ever felt the need to do so. I didn't, though, and for quite a while I couldn't understand why. The closest comparison would be the Assassin's Creed games, in which I am compelled to pick up every hidden widget before grudgingly advancing the story. That never happened in Tomb Raider in spite of the XP rewards actually being useful. I was so caught up in the story that I didn't want to stop. I didn't want the game-y parts of the game to get in the way of what was going to happen next.

What happened next usually involved Lara killing several dozen castaways, an activity that I would describe as 'adequate,' but that could be me having just finished Gears of War: Judgement talking. Encounters almost always played out the same way, with a few guys rushing in backed up with a few other guys with bows and more guys throwing molotov cocktails hiding out in the background. Enemies give you forever to line up headshots so there is little reason to use anything but the bow until the game takes its unfortunate supernatural turn in the final act. I would have preferred a scientific explanation to things and not an ancient Japanese empress whose spirit was trapped in her last body, but that is just personally preference. It's not like the old Tomb Raider games eschewed the fantastic, I just wanted to reboot to be complete. A small complaint and not one that will keep me from playing the next game.

To my friends at Crystal Dynamics: well done. Ignore SquareEnix's whining about your game not meeting impossible sales expectations. What you have done with Tomb Raider is a very good thing. Why don't you take a break from that and get back to a certain other series that was left off with a cliffhanger in fucking 2003.


Lara got the reboot and game she deserved. How about an ending for Kain?

Sunday, May 12, 2013

On talking shit

I cannot believe how much people like to talk shit and how much I let it get to me. For example, I currently have a guy talking major shit in a game of Alpha Jax. He is going to fuck my girl friend because he is beating me at scrabble. Either he is a Call of Duty bro who has gotten a hold of a scrabble dictionary or he is a hard core nerd who doesn't know how to deal with success and is trying to copy what has been done to him in the past. I am not going to lie, he is crushing me, but I have a plan.

Alpha Jaz allows you to win via 'walk over' if your opponent fails to make a move within seven days. I am going to make the worst possible move the day before that over and over. Two points every six days until the tiles run out.

It could take weeks.

Example two, also from tonight. I am trying to get ready for UFGT. No delusions of grandeur for me, I just want to not go 0-2 in two different game. Since I was already sitting at my computer I decided to play a little AE. Right out of the gate I run into a Guy ranked in the top 100. It was a good match and thanks to some serious Blanka bullshit I squeak out a win. He find me again, whips out his #2 ranked Blanka and fights the mirror.

I hate the Blanka mirror. He takes the first round and at the end of the second he has the life lead but we are both within one hit of dying. I am hiding on the opposite end of the screen waiting for him to do something dumb and he disconnects without warning.

Odd, I thought, all signs pointed to him winning. I sent him a message stating that I wanted to finish the match. Here is the reply:


I am lagging people with my magic lag button that only effects the other person. Maybe if you were watching the match instead of your bandwidth you would have fucking played better.

*sigh*

Friday, May 10, 2013

Demo Friday: Confudizzled

Demo Frizzle!

Roshambo, the game, now with Kinect controls!
Question: does the world really need a cross between Parappa the Rapper and the Def Jam wrestling games? Someone thought so, and that someone thought enough of the idea to float some green past Snoop Lion (still not used to that) to licence his likeness, his songs, and pay him to voice 'act' for the game, then release the game with no fanfare on just about every online marketplace imaginable.

Way of the Dogg's existence is baffling. Music games have died out, their last gasp being Rock Band Blitz. Rhythm games don't come around much anymore, either, and when they do it is usually on a handheld. The game tries to leverage Snoop's presence as much as possible, but is he really a draw anymore? Was he ever? Clearly I am not the target demographic but I am not sure who is.

Here's the strangest part: the game is actually not bad. There was clearly effort put into keeping the core mechanic of pressing the right button at the right time interesting. Even in the first (and only) fight in the demo there were curves thrown that kept me paying attention. Way of the Dogg is less Parappa and more Gitaroo Man, just more thug life instead of fanciful and crazy. There just isn't a venn diagram big enough to get people who enjoyed both and are willing to pay money for the game anywhere close to each other.

Now I want to play Gitaroo Man again.


...

That's the second biggest monkey head I have ever seen.
Crash Course 2 is free. Sort of. It's free for a while, and in that time it is a reasonable diversion/achievement point generator just like the first game was. Your avatar runs from left to right, traverses ridiculous obstacles, collects stars, all while racing the clock and three other ghost opponents. Harmless fun, right?

The first hint at financial shenanigans was how much more difficult Crash Course 2 was than the first game. The platforming itself is more difficult and there are more random things on the course that can completely screw you. This translates to it be much harder to get first place. Why does this matter? Because first place nets you the most coins and coins are one way to unlock the next course. There are of course star scattered around the course to pick up but many of them are on alternate paths that cost, your guessed it, stars to unlock. Each set of courses also cost progressively more stars to unlock so it is a guarantee that you will eventually run out and not be able to unlock the next course.

Don't want to go back to previous courses and grind out more stars? No problem, the other way to unlock courses, and everything else for that matter, is with coins that can be conveniently purchased from the Xbox marketplace. I wouldn't call in insidious, because you can technically unlock everything without paying real money, but you need to be either very skilled or very patient. That is more time and effort than I am going to give to a game trying to sell me Doritos.

I buy enough Doritos as it is. There should be coins to unlock courses in the bottom of the fucking bags.


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Fisticuffs update

I haven't talked about fighting games much lately. Where to begin.

Injustice was a bust. I liked the game itself but the online play was just not good enough as I hate being able to do something in the practice room and not having it work anywhere else. After several days of floundering I settled on Green Arrow as my guy. He can do a full combo after super for pretty good damage and it is easy. I mean I play charge characters almost exclusively and it was easy for me. Online? There's no hope. It's two different games, one you play with someone in person which is good and one you play online which is not good. Thank goodness GameFly shipped it early so I could make this decision at the cost of $0.

After what may have been months I played from AE on the PC a few days ago. Ranked was, to be polite, interesting. The gap in player skill between the PC and the 360 is astounding. People just stupid, unsafe things all the time. All I had to do was block and punish. After ranked I played a good hour of player matches against person who I could not figure out. It's not that I couldn't beat him, had I played nothing but Blanka or Honda I would never have lost, but his skill set made no sense. The only character he played was Evil Ryu and he had absolutely sick combos that he never dropped. Every time I got hit I it cost me at least 1/4 health, if not more. But he had a very difficult time getting that hit and his defense needed a lot of work. How does someone end up like that? He had better execution than I did and had obviously put more time in the practice room than I ever would but I could footsie him to death with Blanka and threw fireballs at unsafe distances all the time.

Practice room warrior? Probably. I would like to play him again but I do not know if he will come back.

My SFxT team has remained static since the patch: Blanka backed up by Paul. Blanka is not good in SFxT but with appropriate gems his shenanigans generate a great deal of meter, meter for Paul to burn on supers. There is no synergy beyond this but it works for me and I never run into anyone running the same thing.

Until last night.

Same exact team: Blanka backed up by Paul. And this guy kicked my ass. Hop nonsense all day and Paul hit confirms that I did not know existed. It was demoralizing and hilarious at the same time.

UFGT is in about two weeks. I need to get my shit together so I don't go 0-2 in two games.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

No Dom in sight, still good

I believe that I have compared favorite genres or series to comfort food before. Everyone has a game or two that just puts them in a good mood. Maybe it's an old game and the nostalgia itself is enough, maybe it is a newer property that just hits all of the right buttons. For me, and I am not embarrassed to say this, it is Gears of War. Please note that this only includes the single player side as I have not played any of the multiplayer since the first game. Because I am scared. And without skill.

Gears is the perfect action game for me. The stop and pop pacing is never out of control fast but never boring, weapons pack a punch regardless of their size, enemies behave intelligently and, because I am a whore, the games look really damn good. I was rather excited to finally get to play the last Gears game we are going to get this generation, and I was mostly satisfied.

No, this is not Gears of War 3, but what is. Judgement does not have the same scope, the same desperate feeling, and Baird is not a good replacement for Fenix. The game is also too short. People Can Fly have put their own spin on the Gears motif, creating a very episodic game with little to no downtime between fights. Perhaps I was supposed to play through a level once then go back and do it again with the optional 'declassified' requirements, but who has time for that. The optional requirements almost always made the level more interesting so I took them on from the start. Ranging from weapon and ammo restrictions to strict time limits, they kept the more mundane set pieces exciting. I just wish there were about twice as many levels to be excited about.

The other place Judgement stumbles when compared to its predecessors is enemy AI. Over and over I had locust wander right past me because they were focused on one of my teammates. I had waves end with one enemy left, hiding in plain site, waiting for the next wave to begin. Worst of all I had my teammates ignore me instead of defending me. They were pretty good at finding their way back when I needed to be resurrected, but guard me from the dozen locust all shooting at my exposed back while I try to pry open a door? No dice, suck it up, tough guy.

These are small complaints that did not keep me from enjoying myself for the whole game and I was sad to see it end as quickly as it did. Gears of War, more than any other Microsoft exclusive, solidified my need for both major consoles. It is the Xbox's Uncharted and I hope it comes back, better than ever, for the new hardware.

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Madness

At first, this would appear to be excellent news:



But then, PC and WiiU only.

What?

WHAT?

Why would you do that? Why would anyone take a mature rated games and handcuff it by only releasing it on the WiiU? Remember Mad World? Yeah, no one else does, either, because no one bought the fucking thing. Most Wii users were simply not interested in playing a game not starring a mustachioed Italian plumber. What chance does a sequel to Eternal Darkness have on a system that the big third party publishers are already abandoning?

Ubisoft gave them the finger and EA has told them to fuck off. Crytek said that they could have gotten Crysis 3 running but didn't want to play anyone to do it because they would not have made their money back. This steaming pile of regurgitated first party titles is where the sequel to Eternal Darkness is going.

No. Just no. The game needs to be played but I refuse to buy a WiiU to do it. I would sooner spend three times as much building a new PC. At least that I would get more use out of.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Now where is my tin foil hat?

Blood Dragon arrived at a strange place in its final minutes. Our hero has recovered a weapon on ultimate power that suspiciously resembles the glaive from Krull. Not only does it gib people for the price of just a little health but it gives him control over one the eponymous blood dragons, one with mounted guns and muted personality. Rex rides it through an end game turret level as the dragon narrates. At first it is just spouting Rocky quotes and internet memes:


Which is funny, see, because he has lasers. Except he says 'firing.'

Then it takes a surprisingly meta turn with 'This is fun and sad' followed by 'I am happy,' as if trying to convince himself that he is.

Next, 'Genocide is fun' in a sadder tone.

I am going to read too much into this because that is what I do. Here is an animal bearing at least some level of consciousness chained to a homicidal maniac, forced to watch as dozens of people are slaughtered. His master seems to be enjoying himself and he tries to as well. So he lumbers on, unstoppable, enjoying and lamenting his lot in life at the same time only to be discarded when the job is done.

Sad? A little. Conspiracy theory time: the blood dragon is a AAA title, bloated and powerful, driven on by the unreasonable demands of the master: the player. All the player sees is the spectacle, the carnage, and always demands more. The AAA title does its best to comply, urged on by both the player who pulls it forward and the publishers who whips it from behind. It knows that what it is doing is probably not right but it is all that it knows how to do. And when the task, the game, is done, when the genocide is completed, the game is discarded and the player moves on to the next thing.

Still feel good about your little romp on the back of an innocent killing machine?

Friday, May 3, 2013

Not Demo Friday, because I bought it already

No Demo Friday this week. Only one game came out (on XBLA, anyway) and I bought it sight unseen. If my computer was better than terrible I would have also purchased Zeno Clash 2 but that will have to wait for its more friendly console release, and I cannot wait.


It's the new Daft Punk album!
I am not quite ready to throw myself into the lap of Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon and roll around like everyone else who puts out words on the internet. Hear me out: I have absolutely no problem with a stand alone re-skin of an excellent game. Far Cry 3 was a great open world shooter that I could have played more of so more of the same is welcome. Only, this isn't more of the same. This is Far Cry 3: Expendables edition.

Stop walking away!

I liked Expendables. It was great, stupid fun, and now I have a game with the same tongue in cheek delivery. It loves what it references and lampoons it mercilessly at the same time. It's still Far Cry (sort of, more on that later) but with day glow explosions and drab sky boxes and gratuitous swearing. What's not to love?

For starters, the overall palette when combined with bright explosions is very disorienting. This may very well have been intentional, but god damn did it give me a headache. Peering through the haze, searching for alarm boxes to disarm was more difficult than it was in Far Cry 3. This results in reinforcements arriving quickly and in significant amount. Again, this fits with the 80's, balls to the wall idiom but it is not how I want to play. It feels like I am playing the game poorly even when I am doing exactly what I am supposed to do.

The weapons lack any sort of audio punch and the bow is still a waste of time. Yes, the mini-gun is great but what I really want is a rocket launcher or mortar or something that does real damage to deal the blood dragons themselves is a more fitting manner than 'running the hell away.'  Looting corpses plays the same heart ripping animation over and over, getting old very quickly. The crafting mini-game is gone, meaning there is no reason to wander the post-apocalyptic wilderness looking for that green tiger to finish off your swanky new ammo handbag.

It is missing a great deal of what made Far Cry 3 the game it was. Love letter to 80's era entertainment or not, this kind of hollowness cannot be looked past. I understand the excitement but it just doesn't work for me. Remove the nostalgia and it is just a shooter that makes me want to get a hold of Far Cry 3 and play the read downloadable content.