Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Too real

Chance has cataloged our conversation well. I want to make it clear that I am not complaining about The Last of Us. I find it lacking in no areas that matter and just because the game's ending depresses me does not mean that it is not one of the best games I have played this year. It just is not what I would describe as 'fun.' The fact that it is not 'fun' and still absolutely worth playing puts it in some elite company. For example: was Silent Hill 2 'fun'? Hell no, but everyone should play it. The Last of Us isn't 'fun' either. It is covers some heavy, heavy shit. Shit that I don't like thinking about. Shit like 'what would I do in an identical situation' if it were possible?

I would like to think I could go all Spock, repeating 'the goods of the many' as I walked away, having let Ellie die under the knife. That is the right answer. It is the best answer. It is not what Joel did, and it probably isn't what I would do, either. This is what makes it depressing. Not bad, just real.

And just in case The Last of Us needed to be any more amazing, remember that it comes for the same developer that unleashed Way of the Warrior in 1995. Look at this:



You've come a long way, boys. Well done.

...

Side note: Zeno Clash 2 gives you really weird dreams.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Nope

Dropped Dark down to easy which gave the 'hero' a little more health and, oddly, an XP bonus for non-stealth kills. This did not fix the broken stealth mechanic, boring levels and horrible checkpoints. I did manage to complete the first level but the second was, literally, more of the same. So...


Turned if off and played the Mars War Logs demo instead. War Logs is a $15 XBLA RPG that actually does 'low budget Mass Effect' correctly. In all fairness it was just okay. After Dark it was like being in God's very presence. I'm talking burning bush, take off your sandals, tell them I AM sent you, all that shit. I did not buy it, as I assume that it will wear off, but the next time I am bored this is one to come back to.

Dark was sealed into its envelope soon after. It was mailed off this morning, I am hope to never hear from it again.


...

Chance and I are having a rather high level discussion on our reactions to The Last of Us. We are in agreement that it is a game of incredible quality. However, what he sees as a feel good ending I see as incredibly depressing. More later if he does post it first.


Monday, July 29, 2013

Don't look!

I consider myself something of a connoisseur of bad games. It takes quite a bit for me to walk away from a game as I like to see the whole train wreck, not just the beginning. Sometimes a game will pull one redeeming level out of nowhere, one little diamond amidst all of the garbage that makes the time almost worth it. Other times it just gets worse and worse, circling the drain and eventually ending with a little gurgle, see Ride to Hell as an example. Still other times, and this does not happen very often, a game is so egregiously bad that it is just not worth putting up with. It take an established mechanic, one that has been done correctly for years, and fucks it up so royally that even I can barely stand it.

Hello, Dark, I didn't see you standing there. Yes, I was talking about you, now go back to skulking in the shadows, pretending to be much cooler than you are.

If I say 'Mass Effect style RPG about modern day vampires' do you get a little excited? You should because that would be the sequel to Vampire: The Masquerade: Redemption that is never going to happen. If I change that slightly to say 'Mass Effect style stealth based RPG about modern day vampires' does it make you feel ill? Again, it should, because that is exactly what Dark is. There is nothing but stealth and it gets the stealth so wrong that I may actually shut the game off after tonight.

In a good stealth game being seen does not automatically equal failure. Think Thief 3 or the more recent Splinter Cell games. If you are seen the character has the skills to either fight back or run away. Not so in Dark. If you are seen you are going to die. There is no melee combat to fall back on. A few of the learned skills help but effectively if you are seen that's it. And the levels are designed so that there is only one way to do them right. No wiggle room + auto fail = Chamberlain is having no fun at all.

This is actually worse than Ride to Hell. Ride to Hell was an absolute mess but it was always playable. It worked, more or less. Dark doesn't work. It never works and I cannot see it working in the future. One more night, on easy, is all that this is going to get. If my progress is as slow as it was last night then fuck it, I'm done. Zeno Clash 2 finally hit XBLA and I really want to play that instead.

 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Easy way out

Joel: You are not my daughter. I am not your father. We are going our separate ways.

Ellie pouts. Joel kills lots of people, then gets over his fight with Ellie and they ride off into the sunset together, leaving Joel's brother behind.

The end of the world makes you emotionally unstable. Who knew?

The Last of Us is good enough of a game that I don't feel bad for picking nits. There is an ongoing theme of shit happens, then you move on. This makes sense, everything is about survival. Then Henry kills himself after having to kill his infected brother and blaming Joel.

'Everything is your fault!' he yells and Joel, then he shoots himself.

What?

No, he should have either sucked it up and moved on like the redneck whose name I cannot remember from Walking Dead or he should have made good on his threat and forced Joel to shoot him out of self defence. This is what a very good game does: it always people to have intelligent conversations about plot and characters because there is nothing else to complain about.

There will be a spoiler filled discussion of the end next week. I have no doubt that I will finish the game and get to work on the next one: Dark, a game that is being reviewed about as well as Ride to Hell.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Slowing turning

The Last of Us is slowly drifting away from what made it different. All of last night was spent running around, killing hunters. The importance of stealth was minimized and even when I took out a bad guy or two there were more coming around the bend. It is still better than 95% of the other games I have played this year but I do wish it would have stuck with the player being weak instead of the usual empowerment via leveling up. Even the little girl, the epitome of disempowerment, spent an entire encounter sniping people from a balcony.

I will say that even though they NPCs try to pull their weight in combat they very rarely end up with the killing blow. Clickers take one point blank shotgun blast to kill, but only if Joel is the one to do it. I watched Bill shoot the same clicker three time and it still did not die. Other logical leaps that are bugging me: why do the infected who can see choose to ignore your flashlight? Why do hunters who I see holding a gun and shooting at me not drop ammo when I kill them? Why, when fighting spore flinging bloaters, does Joel not put on his gas mask to avoid damage?

And why, in spite of these problems, is this game still so god damned good?

The answer is that all of these exceptions are intentionally made in service of the narrative. Why do these things happen? Because the plot requires it, now shut up and go back to enjoying the game. This only works if the game has something to day, and while the 'man is still the worst thing around even during the zombie apocalypse' moral is a bit played out it works here because even Joel is scum. There are no good guys here, only slightly less bad guys, all doing what they need to do to survive.

To turn a phrase, this is not survival horror, it is the horror of surviving.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Awful on all counts

In case anyone missed this:



If only I could speak quickly and had an interesting accent. And I really should have made good on the threat to go a Lets Play of it.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

What not to do and what to do

Hotline Miami worked one more night of magic, making time disappear more quickly than I thought possible. It was almost unnerving: I sat down with about seven levels to go, finished those along with two bonus levels, and once again three hours had gone by. My soda had gone flat because I forgot to drink it. My knees hurt because I had not moved. This gaming distilled down to the most bare essentials. It a high proof experience that should only consumed in small doses and even then with great care.

Not that I know anything about this kind of thing. Anymore.
There is nothing negative to say about Hotline Miami and I am ashamed that I had not played it sooner. It would have been nice if it made a little more sense, and if I had known there were puzzle pieces to collect in every level that unlocked a different ending I might have tried to find them, but the story ambiguities actually added to the experience. Why am I killing people? Am I actually doing this or is it all a dream? Why does wearing a horse mask allow me to murder people by slamming door into them?

None of that is important. All that mattered was pressing X to try one more time. Again and again and again.

...

My first reaction to The Last of Us, once it stopped showing me things and let me do something, was not a very good one. The combat felt sloppy and imprecise and it really wasn't very much fun. After dying over and over to a clicker surrounded by less lethal, more observant zombies I figured it out: you aren't supposed to like the combat. It doesn't matter if it is against a room full of infected or a dozen guys with guns and body armor, combat is not supposed to be fun. Joel is no Nathan Drake: getting shot hurts like hell and knocks him on his ass. Aiming is less of an exact science and more 'I hope this hits' and hand to hand combat is painful for all involved.

It is a radical departure from Uncharted, one that I was not quite ready for. Now that I know what I am not supposed to do I am sure it will be more fun. Still, fuck clickers, one hit kills suck not matter how you justify them.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

A brief interruption

The Now Playing banner lies. The Last of Us did not arrive yesterday as I thought it would so I was forced into the respective Xbox and Playstation marketplaces to find something to do. XBLA is wasteland right now as the everything good is being held back for the Summer of Arcade event. PSN is not much better but there was one exclusive that I missed a few weeks (months?) back that caught my eye. It was time to play Hotline Miami.

Fours hours later I peeled myself off of the couch. Had it really been that much time? What dark magic is woven into the retro style presentation that destroyed my sense of the passing hours? It boils down to three words: on more try. Death comes so quickly and without warning that the next try will often start before I even know the last one has ended. I'm already here, I would say to myself, this time will be different.

And the next time would usually be different. Sometime because I changed my approach and others because every once in awhile the game juggles enemy behavior just to fuck with you. Finally figured out how to take care of the two guys in a room? Good, because this time just as you are about to bust down the door the three guys behind you that you didn't know were there go out for a smoke and kill you on the way. Next time? Back to the way it was. Infuriating and brilliant.

Hotline Miami is hard. It isn't fair. It isn't even consistent with some enemies more aware of your presence than humanly possible and others content to take a knife in the back. But it is certainly a good time and makes me wonder what would happen is Suda 51 every stopped being weird long enough to make that played as well as it made you wonder what the hell was going on.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Can't even turn right. Or correctly.

I did it. I finished Ride to Hell last night. It is indeed one of the worst games of this generation. It's sins are uncountable, but the worst of the lot is that there is the germ of a good idea here. A sandbox game set in an exaggerated 70's biker world seems like a good idea. Think Sleeping Dogs with less martial arts and more mutton chops. I wonder if Ride to Hell started this way and everyone involved got in way over their heads. Instead of throwing out what was already finished they cobbled it together into something resembling a game and released it into the wild because why the hell not.

Just like Aliens: Colonial Marines. *rimshot*

There is one glaring error that I would like to highlight and it is one that up until a few weeks ago I would not have noticed. Motorcycles do not steer like cars (or my spyder, for that matter). A turn is started by looking where you want to go and then pushing forward on that side of the handlebar. To turn left you look left and push on the left grip, briefly turning the wheel to the right. This leans the bike into the corner. There is more to this, braking and clutch control also come into play, but in essence to you steer in the opposite direction you want to go. If you have ridden a bicycle you have done this, you just weren't conscious of it.

Side note: counter steering is not why is passed on a two wheeler for my three wheeled roadster. I got a spyder because operating the clutch and controlling a bike at low speeds were both clearly outside of my ability. And it looks damn cool.

Jake spends quite a bit of time on his bike. It controls terribly, which is not a surprise, but they also animated it wrong. Jake steers the bike like a car, staring straight ahead and turning in the direction he wants to go. Of all the things Ride to Hell got wrong, and there were many, this one irked me the most. It is a game about bikers and they couldn't even get how a motorcycle works right.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The hardest way possible

One small example of how silly Ride to Hell is.

Jake rides up to a 'farm' where one of the bad guys is hiding. The farm is actually a huge drug storage complex because of course it is. It is surrounded by an electrified fence that is so electrified that there are constant lightning bolts pouring off of it. He get's a call from his uncle.

'Where are you?'

'I'm outside the farm but the fence is electrified.'

'What are you going to?'

'I have an idea.'

Riveting dialogue.

Jake then walks across the street and beats the shit out of three truckers whose only crime was having stopped their truck. He then steals the truck and does not run in through the fence like I assumed he would do. Instead Jake takes the truck on a road trip, running police cars off of the road the entire time. Finally he arrives at the local hydroelectric plant, crashes the truck through the main gate, murders everyone inside who are understandably trying to stop this maniac from completing his terrorist attack, and blows the truck up, destroying the dam.

Let me make sure I am clear: he drives a stolen truck a half hour away from his target, killing dozens of innocent people, to take out the power to an electric fence that he could have driven said truck through.

I think I love this game but that may be the Stockholm Syndrome talking.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Hell's rabbit hole

It is difficult to get my head around how bad Ride to Hell is. There is not a single thing that it gets right which is actually an accomplishment for a game this late in a console's life cycle. It could have stolen art assets and game play from the hundreds of of other games that use the Unreal engine but no, Ride to Hell struck out on its own. Not surprisingly, everything is terrible.

It is also hilarious.

Most of the reviews I read stated the game did not make it all the way around the 'so bad it's good again' bend. I must disagree, as I laughed at the game the entire time I was playing. It started out when I was being 'taught' the bike controls.

'Press Y to powerslide' it states as I approach a semi. No problem, I do so. It looks like I make it under but then the screen greys out and I am back to the prompt. After two more tries the bike explodes for no reason. I figured out that I actually had to press Y before the prompt to get low enough and that there was no indication that I was actually not making it until I blew up.

Hilarious. Almost as funny as rescuing a hooker from an oversized John and then doing her, fully clothed, for free. Every woman the main character meets ends up sleeping with him. In attempt to keep the game from sliding past an M to an AO everyone keeps all of their clothes on. Remember hot coffee?

(erm, thought about linking to the video but decided against it...)

It's just like that but actually in the game proper. Someone did this on purpose. Ride to Hell did not spring forth fully formed from a programmers drunken nightmares. It was conceived, pitched, green lighted, produced, and then fucking sold on purpose.

This is easily one of the worst games of this generation. I will finish it.


Monday, July 15, 2013

Tired and happy

Ah, desire to watch fighting games sated.

This was a good Evo. They are all good, but this one, this had more memorable moments than the last one. It had old heels making face turns, the current big bad getting his comeuppance, and someone who everyone can love winning it all.

I don't pay Marvel. There was a cursory attempt made to learn vanilla that ended with me whimpering in a corner. I don't know much about Marvel, either, but I enjoy watching it because it brings out the best and worst in people in equal measure. For every grandstanding braggart there is a quiet guy who spends all his time in the lab and will swag out like a motherfucker when the time is right.

Then there is Justin Wong.

He doesn't really fit into either category but he very rarely, if ever, comes across as the same kind of douchebag as F Champ or Chris G. Years ago, when he won everything, he was not what one would call 'popular' but that has turned around as of late. People are ready for the return of the King of Chinatown. More than ready, they are hungry for it. Just as hungry as they are for someone to put an end to the reign of Chris G.

It was fitting that two met in the losers bracket last night. This was not the first time that Chris has been knocked into losers but no one had yet knocked him out of a major since (I believe) last Evo. Justin was up to the task. Picture this:



except instead of chanting Speed Racer the crowd was chanting Justin Wong. Not just in between matches, either, during rounds where Justin looked to be in trouble the chant would begin. The crowd had chosen their champion and he was going to succeed, either by their will or his own.

And he did.



Justin later lost in the grand finals after resetting the bracket. It didn't matter. He is new the new peoples' champ. No offense to Flocker, of course.

...

Street Fighter had a similar dominating player in Infiltration, only I don't think anybody hated him. They were afraid of him. And just like in Marvel Infiltration getting knocked into losers by PR Balrog opened things up for everyone else. The two met again top eight losers and Infiltration proved he was the better man at that moment by whipping out a pocket Hakan as a hard counter to Balrog. Not only is he one of the best Akumas in the world he had the presence of mind and confidence to play Hakan at Evo. It was brilliant.

I know I do not speak only for myself when I say that I am tired of Cammy and Akuma and their vortex based play. Yes, I know that it is not easy, but it is also not very interesting. Xian and he Gen are not newcomers. He has won at least one major and him making it to top eight was not a surprise. As the gods of Japanese Street Fighter fell around him he stood tall, smiled, and crushed Tokido. Murdered the murder face. I can't imagine anyone watching not being happy for him. Seth Killian sounded like he was crying when it was all said and done.

And I don't think I blame him.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

EVO 2103

No time to post.

Must consume multiple streams simultaneously.

And root against Chris G.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

What you see is what you get

No time killing mental exercises today. Time to post something of substance about Remember me!

Let's see...

Nilin is one of the better designed strong female heroines this side of Wet, another game that almost no one played? She is imperfect, mentally broken, easily manipulated, but still tries to do the right thing based on very little information. At the second to last chapter I am still waiting for the twist in which she is betrayed by the guide she has never met. Perhaps there isn't one, perhaps the twist was the she is the daughter of the two main bad guys. Either way I have stopped paying attention to the plot, and the puzzles for that matter. I am here for the sights, sounds, and kicking people in the face.

Combo customization is one small step away from being excellent. It's one fault is that is it too confining. There are only four templates that have button presses already laid out. All the player can do is assign attacks to the buttons in the prescribed order. This creates a natural power curve to combos: as more moves are unlocked the combos get longer, but it does not allow for much customization. It's just fill in the blanks until numbers go up. If there was no template, if I could just build combos however I pleased, if I could pick apart the system and create a truly broken string of attacks, I would much happier.

Then again, that deep of a system would be a better fit for a longer game with more attacks to unlock. A longer game with a branching upgrade system would work, but that is not what Remember Me is. A game built to be seen cannot support that deep of a system. In other words, shallow but shiny combat befits the shallow but shiney game.

...

Damnit, now I want someone to make a sequel to Wet and there is no way that is going to happen.

You couldn't handle more of me, anyway.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The way, way back

Mental exercise time: I am going to look through my achievements list from the beginning and try to remember a few things about each game. This will last until I get tired of it or I go home from work.

Kameo - lots of creatures on screen at the same time; crushes said enemies with a horse
Quake 4 - being cut to pieces in first person (stroggification!)
Condemned - scary black goo, first person bum fights
Perfect Dark Zero - bad up close textures, large unnavigable levels, didn't finish because it was so bad
Dead or Alive 4 - netcode not good enough for online play, it's DoA so mash counter
Hexic HD - don't remember much about this one, generic puzzle, came free with system but could not redownload it (still can't)
PGR 3 - the first racing game I have ever truly loved, used the same Koenigsegg car for most of thee game and actually raced using the cockpit view, introduced us all to Geometry Wars
Gun - Xbox up-port, otherwise generic open world western, I think the last guy was wore armor and chucked dynamite at you but that could be a different game
King Kong - never saw the movie, game played for an easy 1000 points
Full Auto - Burnout crossed with Road Rash? I remember destructible tracks and something about driving through a mall
Blazing Angels - another one I played because nothing else was out yet, boring WWII shooter played on arcade difficulty level
Far Cry Instincts Predator - not a remake of the first Far Cry, I think, just another story? More trigens, which was annoying
Tomb Raider: Legend - I have no idea which Tomb Raider this was, not a remake of the original, but I don't remember a single thing about it
Top Spin 2 - I remember hoping that this was going to be as fun as the Dreamcast tennis game whose name I cannot remember. It wasn't
Gauntlet - damnit, I have nothing to play, what's coming out on XBLA?
Zuma - ditto
Robotron: 2084 - god damn, I must have been bored

...

This is much less interesting than I thought it would be. Old games are old and most of them don't age very well.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

I cannot wait.

A quote from the EGM review of Ride to Hell: Retribution.

"Ride to Hell: Retribution is a spectacular monument to failure. If failure were Paris, Ride to Hell would be the Arc de Triomphe. If failure were Washington, D.C., Ride to Hell would be the Washington Monument or the Lincoln Memorial or that Vietnam wall thing or whatever. You get the picture."

I

cannot

wait.

Another from Game Informer.

"With the exception of some Kinect and Wii games that flat-out don’t work, this is the worst video game I've played this console generation. Thankfully, it’s terrible in such a way as to make it absolutely hilarious to play. As I played, curious co-workers stopped by to gawk at its unbelievable ineptness. Ride To Hell: Retribution is awful, broken, offensive, ugly, poorly written, and a never-ending source of unintentional humor."

Seriously, I am getting goosebumps. If ever I was to pony up the cash for streaming hardware and do a lets play, this is the game that I would do.

As long as you don't dig too deep

Remember Me makes many promises that fall apart upon careful inspection. Sometimes it feels like I am being led through a beautiful movie set but no one has told me where the props end and the matte painting begins: eventually I run out of real things and smash into a painted wall. Fully customizable combos are full of intimidation and promise until the tutorial ends and the game only gives you enough attacks to fill one and a half combos. There are no options, there is the illusion of options and one best answer.

There is nothing wrong with a game specifically designed as one to be looked at, perhaps 'felt' more than played. Remember El Shaddai? Shame on you if you didn't play it, you have missed a truly bizarre experience. Remember Me is the same kind of game as El Shaddai, just more dystopian than biblical. This is Blade Runner without all the rain and with much better lighting. I am not sure I buy the whole memories as currency bit because how could the poor afford to have gotten addicted in the first place. Then I remember that the game is for looking at, not thinking about.

In case I am not being clear, I like Remember Me, but only on a superficial level. With EVO coming up this weekend who know how much I will actually get to play.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Disconnected from the past

I don't want to talk about Fuse anymore. It blows my mind that the same people who did this

Ratchet, there is no Santa Claus. And God is dead.
did this:

Chest high walls! Grey everywhere! What's not to love?
It's not bad, it's worse. Fuse was boring. Ratchet and Clank was never boring, it was colorful and whimsical and an absolute blast to play. Insomniac knows how to make a shooter, I actually liked the Resistance games. What they don't know how to do is fight back against EA when EA is footing the bill for a game and decides that it needs to look just like everything else.

Ratchet and Clank: Full Frontal Assault can be forgiven because my own inadequacies were the problem. I am sure it was, at worst, an average MOBA. It just wasn't what I wanted. Fuse, though? Nobody wants this. Now I will pretend that it didn't happen and eagerly wait for a new Ratchet and Clank on the the PS4.

...

Right after my whiny doldrums post on Friday I remembered that there was a new Walking Dead episode out. Not really a full episode, mind you, just a few hours to set up Season 2. A few hours with all new characters that I don't care about. There was no mention of anyone from Season 1, not even a hint as to what happened to Clementine after she shot Lee in the face.

400 Days is a teaser designed to get the player ready for Season 2 and set up who is going to be there via choices the player made. The same illusion of choice is present, and it still worked, but without any emotional investment the difficult decisions were not quite as difficult. It will all tie back into previous events somehow, and I am too invested to not play through Season 2 when it comes out, but I am not excited.

I'm worried.

Friday, July 5, 2013

The doldrums

Most people, and by that I mean people who don't play video games every day, consider the dead of winter to be the doldrums. It's grey, it's cold, you don't really want to do anything. In my part of the country this lasts from October to April but that is my fault for living next to the fourth largest freshwater lake in the world that makes everything near it colder. Anyway, my doldrums are not during the winter but the summer when nothing comes out and I scrape the bottom of the barrel for entertainment. This year is made much worse by my desire for new hardware and the current generations slow death march to 'not backward compatible' land.

I don't like it when the waiting to shipped section of my queue gets so small. It leads to gaps in which I have nothing new to play that should be filled with Street Fighter and, given my history, those should be kept few and far between. Fuse is being played right now because it is better than playing nothing, but not by much. Remember Me just shipped but judging from most reactions that will be at most a three day diversion. Looking at the coming soon list doesn't help; the only thing in the next several months that I am truly excited about is Diablo 3 and I really should put that off for the PS4 (or Xbone).

Thankfully there are other distractions. This came home with me on Tuesday:


It is as fun and easy to ride as it looks. My only concern started today: I took a ride out to lunch and it refused to downshift, leaving me stuck at a light in third hoping the car behind me didn't run me over. A quick google search reveals that it was a know issue with older models. I really hope that I just wasn't off the of the throttle all the way and the RPMs were too high. The last thing I want to do now is give up my brand new toy.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Where did all this boring stuff come from?

Having issues renewing infinatebacklog.com with Blogger. I updated my credit card information months ago but apparently it was either for the wrong account or they just didn't notice. More to follow.

...

Buying Magic 2014 really was a mistake: I cannot maintain any interest in it. Perhaps I long for the old days of Magic before power creep when the best two casting cost creature was the black knight. Now there are one casting cost creatures that do even more. It just feels like bigger and badder for the sake of spectacle and it doesn't add much in terms of strategy. I keep thinking back to Scrolls, which is not a better game yet but it does at least feel new, and therefore I want to play that instead. Magic 2014 is not a bust, there is nothing wrong with it, I have finally grown tired of the (digital) paper crack.

...

Fuse is soulless. This is not something I would expect from an Insomniac game. It smells of publisher interference: what was once colorful is now grey, angry and very much like Call of Duty. The good guys are generic, the bad guys are generic, the environments are generic, even the weapons are generic. Therefore I will give it a very generic reaction:

meh.

It's not bad, it's not good, it just is, and I wish something else would ship so I could have something to look forward to.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Dark who?

Ok, much to catch up on. Most of the soreness from this weekend's riding lessons has passed. My trip to the DMV was successful and I am going shopping tonight for new wheels. Now, on to much more important things.

The narrative in Metro: Last Light fell apart complete in the third act (sound familiar?) I recall the same thing happening in the first game. Apparently surviving in subway tunnels after nuclear war while fighting Nazis, Communists and monsters is not fertile enough ground. Last Light takes a metaphysical turn, becomes incomprehensible for several hours, and then just barely reigns it in for the whiz bang finale. It also explains nothings and kills Artyom, something that I did not think games that just might have sequels were allowed to do.

When the silliness finally ended and the game got back to shooting people all was forgiven. The last ditch defense from the Reds is more intense and desperate than anything I have played in quite a while. While no secret is made that it is a hopeless battle the player is allowed to have small successes and feel like a badass before everyone dies. First a subway train crashes through a wall and enemy soldiers pour through. No problem, there is an ammo crate sitting right next to some cover. After the first wave a tank on rails shows up and Artyom is tasked with destroying it. Again, the game presents a new problem but also makes the solution available: a high powered sniper rifle is leaning up against the wall and the targets on the tank are glowing red from heat.

The process is repeated one more time with a minigun and several dozen armored enemies the game makes it abundantly clear that you are not going to win. First there is a new enemy type, a giant armored dude with a flame thrower, surround me another new enemy type, guy with body sized shields. They form phalanx around the flame thrower that I could only break by using all of my grenades. Then more enemies flow through the tunnel, only the ammo supply is gun. Just as I was about to run out of everything a second train plows through the tunnel and everything goes black.

It was that most finely tuned encounter I have played through in a long time. If the rest of the game played this way then Last Light would be a classic. Questionable battles like big momma, who I got lucky fighting but ruined the game for others, sour the whole game. Plus I cannot forgive the story going to shit by becoming far too complicated for its own good and still not explaining who or what the dark ones are. It's a good shooter but it still isn't the spiritual console successor the the first S.T.A.L.K.E.R. that I long for.

...

I purchased Magic 2014 last night and immediately regretted it. The campaign for 2013 was never finished and I should be spending my free CCG time on Scrolls. The one good aspect is that it will keep me from starting Fuse for at least a day or two.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Excuses

Didn't play anything this weekend.

But I did pass my rider's safety course test. Barely. Just barely.

I am now qualified to ride a motorcycle in a parking lot while supervised.