Friday, August 30, 2013

Invasion ad nauseum

The Bureau had one thing going for it: the juxtaposition of 50's era paranoia and technology with the outsiders space age weapons and ships. I liked how the initial battles were just extended escape sequences where everyone ran for their lives and most people didn't make it. Only later, after enough alien weaponry had been stolen, did the fights feel more balanced. For the most part they still took place in set pieces that were time period appropriate. There were alien installations here and there, and they were quite boring to look at, but it always circled back around to towns or farms that had either been destroyed or were in the process of being overrun.

Not so for the ending. Instead of making one last stand on the earth our heroes are going to travel to the outsider's home planet, in the process going through more alien buildings that look just like every other video game alien base in every game ever and in the process losing what little it had that was unique. I really hope that there are no playable levels on the alien homeworld because no matter what it looks like it will look like something that has already been done better and all that will be left is a tactical shooter that I have dumbed down to shooter status, and not a very good one at that.

I wonder when the identity crisis for The Bureau began. It is obvious that it went through several versions. I wish they would have stuck with the original idea: a first person game with some shooting, some investigation and a whole lot of psychological horror. Apparently that was too distant from the real X-COM, so more combat and strategy was added and the point of view was changed. It still isn't very good but now it is forgettable. The first version of the game, good or bad, would have been something to talk about. As it is now it is little more than a footnote to the (I am told) superior remake or the original game.

...

Speaking or first person horror I really should get around to pre-ordering the new Amnesia. And buying more pants.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Get your funny out of my horror

Lowering the difficulty did the trick. Well, that and one of my engineers finally learned the laser turret skill. Every encounter starts the same way: my sniper kills the shield guardian if there is one and my engineer drops a laser turret in the middle of the field and then runs away with his tail between his legs. I sit right behind the turret, levitating outsiders out of cover and picking off stragglers. It is defeating the entire tactical side of this tactical shooter but it is the only way I have found to make it enjoyable.

There was a time when lowering the difficulty below 'medium' would have been out of the question. Prototype broke me of that prejudice as the game went from causing baldness to being a damn good time and all it cost me were a few achievements. The Bureau made it a bit more difficult as there are four settings and they have odd names. I think I moved from number three of four down to number two but for all I know I am now playing baby's first shooter. It doesn't matter; the game is playable (for me) and it wasn't before.

For a game with a theme as heavy as the invasion and subjugation of the entire world the mood at XCOM base is rather light. Scientists joke about keeping the prisoner alive and well for his vivisection. Carter chases blob monsters through the base and is then yelled at for walking in on someone who was relieving himself. At the same time people are bleeding black goo from their eyes, turning into zombies, being killed by the tens of thousands and the populace is being kept completely in the dark. Comedy alien invasion has already been done, it was called Destroy All Humans and it was not all that bad (never played the second one, though). The Bureau should have stuck to the horror side of things. It would have been much more interesting than dudes in lab coats floating around in an anti-gravity field.

...

Remember this?

Alpha Jax 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.

I posted that on May 12th. 109 days later the game is still going on. He did eventually figure out that I was trolling him and started doing the same thing. Now both of us are making the smallest possible move every seven days. Winkko, whoever you are, you are still a tremendous douchebag, but you are also a patient douchbag. Now I hate you even more.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Don't make me think

Time for another dirty gamer confession: I have never played any of the X-Com games. Not the originals, not the reboot. My general fear of strategy games was more than enough to keep me away and the stories of its punishing difficulty did not help. This also means that I may be the only person who was actually excited about a first person shooter based in the X-Com universe. Several years later that is not at all what I got. The Bureau is neither a straight tactical game nor a straight shooter so it is almost guaranteed to disappoint everyone, regardless of what they were looking for.

Tactical shooters are not a new thing and they work as long as the companion AI can be directed without being babysat. The first Army of Two is a very good example. Each sequel strayed further from the original but the game required a modicum of thought and at the same time the AI was smart enough to not get shot while you were figuring out what to do. No so in the The Bureau. I tell a guy to hide behind cover, and he does, but he still manages to get shot over and over while I struggle with what to do next. Perhaps this is an artifact of the strategy titles where being in cover is never really a guarantee of safety but in this game it just isn't any fun. I have to keep track of myself and at the same time give constant directions to the other two guys on my team or they will sit there and get killed.

This will lead to me lowering the difficulty just to get through the game. I like to shoot things. I don't like telling other people to shoot things and then having to shoot the things myself because they have terrible aim. The Bureau would have been better off as a straight shooter. Leave all the trapping of the strategy game behind because there is no good way to implement them in another genre. It's a shame because I like the setting: this is the beginning of the war and no one has any idea what is going on. The fighting is blind and desperate. If I didn't have to shepard pacifistic AI from one chest high wall to the next I would be enjoying myself. Instead I run back and forth between them, raising them from the dead because the can't be bother to duck all the way down. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Excuse my attention span

In my head Dragon's Crown ended last night.

It didn't really end, of course. Finishing the normal difficulty opened up Hard and there suddenly were nine more talismans to obtain and another dragon to slay. All of these took place in the same levels as before, in the same environments as before, against the same bosses as before. They all still look amazing and my elf would only get more powerful but I could not do it. I tried a level or two and had to shut it off as I was not longer interested in playing.

The parts of my brain that would play NES and SNES games over and over until I knew every little thing about them knows that I am cheating myself out of a lot of fun by placing arbitrary limits on how much I will play a game. When I was a child I would play Super Mario Bros to death. As an adolescent I play Super Mario All Stars to death. When in college and I had no money I played the few games I had to death. That god for Symphony of the Night, Final Fantasy 7 and Goldeneye. Those games ate weeks of time and cause more than a few people to fail classes.

Now once I see the magic words 'the end' I am done. I think living and dying by the rental queue has broken me. Right now there are six games that are out that are on the list. Two of them are sitting next to my television right fucking now. On top of that the new Amnesia comes out in a few weeks and on top of that there is new hardware on the horizon making it more and more difficult to put up with the current one. I don't have time to savor what I playing, no matter how good it is, because there is something new that needs to be played.

My problem, not the games. Dragon's Crown is very good. I am not going to comment on how any of the characters look because, A. more eloquent men than I have already done so, B. my elf was fully dressed and C. no one complains about the Venus de Milo being  topless, so why is this such a big deal?

Sunday, August 25, 2013

But look at the bones!

Dragon's Crown wins all the prizes for having a boss fight based completely on this:



Right down to Tim the Enchanter and the holy hand grenade.

Friday, August 23, 2013

In which I spoil Brothers

The further I get from Brothers the more I think it is the most emotionally impactful thing I have played this year, topping even The Last of Us for intensity. The Last of Us made me happy, sad and angry. Brothers damn near made me weep.

Odd things hit my emotional buttons. For the most part I exist on a very even keel, never getting too up or down about things. That doesn't mean I don't have feelings, just that I tend to keep them to myself. The things that should tug at my heartstrings do, take the recent story of the two year old with days to live standing up at his parents wedding and then dying a few days later, but there are other things that make my emotions well up for reasons I do not understand, like the firebird suite from Fantasia 2000. Every time I watch that section I need to make sure that no one else is around for fear of embarrassing myself. Brothers is in the second category: it shouldn't affect me but it does. It is predictable and emotionally manipulative and dammit it does its job well.

All of the complaints about the game parts of Brothers are legitimate. Controlling one brother with each analog stick is not easy. The game is aware of this and never throws anything at the player that is too difficult because in spite of the discomfort, and perhaps because of it, the mechanic was completely necessary. The story would not work if the player was not sold on the brothers acting as a unit, each one making up for the other's weaknesses. Two hands - one controller = two brothers - one task.

If you haven't played Brothers yet this is where you should stop reading.

Killing off one of the parents is a very Disney way of setting up child characters with hardship that they need to overcome. Brothers drowns the mother in front of the younger brother without explaining what happened or whose fault it was. Then it takes the next step of putting the father in peril and tasking the two brother with finding a cure, a task that necessitates the quest on which the game is based. Still pretty standard fare and nothing to get the Kleenex box out for.

The journey from mother's grave to the tree of life teaches us everything that we need to know about the brothers, most importantly that the younger brother cannot swim on his own and rides on his sibling's back when water is too deep to wade through. This first happens right at the beginning and then once or twice more and along with other obstacles continually reminds you that these two really need each other. Every task and every encounter requires both of them and in spite of being children and occasionally acting as such they never waver from their goal.

I will say that the brothers will only act as children if the players allows them to. It is quite possible to play this game as an exercise for getting from point A to point B and miss the majority of what it has to show. A child would not do this, a child will stop and play the harp of a stranger or chase ducks or sit on a bench and look with wonder on how far he has come. This is what my brothers did, they stopped a man from killing himself and then helped him bury his dead loved ones. They dropped a white duck in ash so the black ducks would play with him. They also rolled sheep down a draw bridge because it was hilarious. They enjoyed the journey and it helped them forget the heartache that required it.

And then one of them died.

Towards the end the brothers rescue a woman from savages. The older brother is smitten, following her like a puppy. The younger brother knows something is wrong but is dismissed. When this woman turns out to be a giant spider he is proved right. They work together to kill her but in the battle the older brother is mortally wounded. Still, they stay together, pulling one another to the base of the tree of life.

The younger brother figures out that the elixir that was to have saved his father may save his brother as well so he strikes out on his own. For the first time I was only controlling one of the two. Yes, it was suddenly easier, but my left hand suddenly felt like dead weight on the controller so I took it off. The younger brother makes it to the top of the tree, retrieves the elixir and makes it back down just in time to see his brother die.

Actually having the player control burying the older brother was the height of genius. And cruelty.

I was emotionally spent and I had no idea where the game was going to go next. In a moment of deus ex machina that I will gladly forgive the mate of a flying monster that the brothers had saved appears and flies the younger brother back to where the adventure began: the beach where his mother died and where her tombstone sits. He had the elixir and was almost at the end but there was a problem: the swimming section from the beginning of the game was in the way.

Seriously, if you have not played this game, do not read any further.

I wandered back and forth on the shore, unsure of what to do. Every time I tried to push him into the deeper water the brother stopped and shook his head. Then I remembered that I only had one hand on the controller. When the brothers helped one another, what did I do? I pulled the appropriate trigger and they worked together. So I did what worked before: I pulled the left trigger. The camera zoomed in, the controller vibrated a bit and I heard the older brother's voice urging him on. The surviving one swam

and I cried.

There is no underlying personal tragedy here that  the game unknowingly triggered. Yes, I have a family and a brother but they are all still alive and well. Brothers is a game, just like The Last of Us, that acknowledges that sacrifices must be made for good to be done. In the end the surviving brother healed his father but there is no happy ending. Everyone who is dead stays dead and the father collapsed with grief on their tombstones. The end.

Brothers is three hours long but I will remember it long after the forty plus hour epic JRPGs have been forgotten. In the limited pantheon of tear jerking game moments it sits in the proud company of the endings of Eternal Sonata and Metal Gear Solid 3.

And it did it in three hours, with characters who have no names and that you cannot understand.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Alone is better

Just because I play a lot of games does not mean that I know what I am doing. Case in point: I finally figured out last night how to keep more adventurers from dropping into my game of Dragon's Crown. This simultaneously made it much more enjoyable because I could see what was going on and much more difficult because it became apparent that I was playing the elf completely wrong. I was using her melee attacks with the bow as a reserve, distance attack. Her melee attacks, at least at my level, suck, and arrows are plentiful, so the correct thing to do is abuse her double jump and dodge to fire multiple charged arrows while never touching the ground. The elf is no tank, she works much better when no one can touch her.

There is a fluidity to the combat that needs to be seen to be believed. In string of attacks I knocked an enemy down with attacks, back dashed, fired an arrow down at his prone corpse, down attacked, slid into him, then knocked him back into the air and repeated the process. It was beautiful and most of it was on purpose. The screen can still get crowded, I am looking at you, pirates fighting over a lamp with a genie in it fight, but going it alone so far has been much more fun.

...

Fair warning, I am going to talk about Brothers in spoiler filled detail tomorrow. There will be gushing. It will be embarrassing to read.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

All night dive

Just as I feared, I didn't play anything but Divekick last night. The shift keys on my keyboard will be lucky to make it to the end of the month. It is just as I remember it: infuriating, not fun, amazing, pure, fun and then infuriating again all in the space of one match. It is the entire current crop of fighting games reduced down to their most absurd set of moves, then spiced back up with characters that are both parodies of existing ones and actual people from the FGC. I can't look at Mr. N and not laugh.


That neck pillow. He's actually not a bad character, either, but I have chosen Kick and my go to guy for now. Simple stuff, no shenanigans. For the silly stuff you have to go to the stream monster, who is terrible, or The Baz, who is the least fun character to play against in the entire goddamn world. I have yet to win a match against him because I have no idea what the hell to do.

As far as who is actually good and not just good 'for now,' I lost many, many games to Jefailey. His chargeable drop kick makes him very difficult to approach from any angle. His head expands with every win, meaning that getting a head shot a few rounds in makes it really easy to finish him off, but getting that first head shot is the problem. I was frauded out three time in a row last night on a stream that I really hope no one was watching.

For $10 it was a steal and a game that I will come back to often. There are a few bugs that need ironing out. Lobbies being limited to two people is pretty lame and the game crashed on me mid-match twice, screwing me out of both a win and by upping my disconnect percentage. But the net code is quite good which is more than I can say for the PC version of KoF that is in beta right now.

What? They fixed that? Damn, now I need more money.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

I don't remember this...

I am going to talk about Dragon's Crown, which is excellent, but first I need to figure out if I am going crazy or not.

...

Sunday night was another night without a new game. Instead of buying something that would be put aside for Dragon's Crown (or Divekick...) I played Rock Band 3 for the first time in quite a while. On top of that I pulled out one of my guitars instead of the drum set. For the first few songs I played terribly. Some rust was understandable, but not this bad. Eventually a pattern emerged: I was missing every note that was was either a hammer on or pull off. The HOPO's were alluding me.

Let me tell you about my bad Rock Band habits. Actually, let's go all the way back to the first Guitar Hero. The timing for HOPO's in the first Guitar Hero was so tight that it was not worth the risk, at least for me, to ever attempt them. I strummed everything because because it was much more forgiving and I really wasn't very good. They fixed this in Guitar Hero 2 and it worked quite well in Rock Band but it was never required so I never got out of the habit. As far as I remember they weren't required in Rock Band 3, either, but once I started performing the HOPO's correctly I stopped failing all the songs.

On the plus side the HOPO window seemed much larger. On the down side it made faking my way through fast sections of solos much more difficult. The point is when the hell did this happen? I don't remember Rock Back 3 doing this? And I swear there were backgrounds that I had never seen before. The game had mutated in my absence, both for the better and for the worse. It has my interest again, so perhaps it is finally time to dig up a keyboard or a pro drum kit.

Never mind, Divekick hits today. No time left.

...

Dragon's Crown, on top of being an excellent brawler, invalidates everything that Time and Eternity was trying to visually do. Time and Eternity attempted to be a controllable anime and ended up feeling like Dragon's Lair on a scratched laser disc. Dragon's Crown has bigger sprites that feature many more frames of animation and it is just as responsive as anything 3D that is generated on the fly. In short, it shouldn't work but it does.

It hold up just fine when I stop making goo goo eyes at it and actually start to play it. I am surprised by its depth: I chose the elf (which may have been a mistake, but the die is cast). She has at least two distinct ability paths, one being the bow and the other daggers. This means that two people playing the same character in the same party may have entirely different abilities.

I say that choosing the elf may have been a mistake because at my low level she just doesn't do that much damage. It will change as I dump all of my points into the charge bow shot but for now I am glad that AI party members drop in even when I don't have them explicitly added. It gets a little crowded for my little elf and she disappears behind the damn fighter quite often. Having a double jump that will clear half of the screen makes up for it.

I am quite pleased so far. Now let's see if it can keep me from playing Divekick all night.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Danger: boredom ahead

Weekends between games are dangerous times for me. Dragon's Crown is on the way, as is Tales of Xillia (more PS3 exclusives in a row than I have played, well, ever) but that left Friday night and last night open. What started as me trying to pre-order the new Amnesia game somehow ended with me buying Halo: Spartan Assault. It was cheap, it was Halo and it looked like a twin stick shooter. I was curious to see if the Halo 'experience' could be duplicated in a top down format. The answer is, surprisingly, almost.

What always stuck out most for me in Halo games was how enemies acted and reacted to what the player did. Grunts run away, elites yelled at you when you knocked their shield out, those damn needler wielding things snuck around and laughed as they filled you with explosive purple stuff. All of this is present, just in a smaller form and with slightly less variety. Not bad for a game that was intended for a tablet.

The weapons, on the other hand, did not turn out as well. In the proper Halo games almost all of the weapons are useful. Not so in Spartan Assault: the pistol's bullets moved so slowly that it was impossible to hit anything. The shogun's limited range made it useless and most of the covenant weapons just didn't work. I kept going back to the standard assault rifle. It was boring but it got the job done.

For six bucks it was not a bad little Halo game. I probably would have been more impressed if I played it on a Surface instead of my crotchety old PC.

...

Last night, still without a game to play, I watched Oblivion. I think my tastes in movies must be broken because I liked it and no one else did. Just like everyone else I figured out that the aliens were manipulating the main character and that the scavengers were actually people. The trailer gave all that away. When Tom Cruise ventured out into the irradiated zones and found another one of himself doing the same thing I was floored. Then when the other Tom Cruise made it back to his wife after the first one killed himself along with Morgan Freeman to take out the aliens I was touched.

It was no Blade Runner but I still had fun with it. Maybe I have an easier time ignoring Tom Cruise being Tom Cruise than most other people.

...

Now what the hell am I going to play tonight?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Want to but can't

I want to talk about Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons so bad. I played it through last night, in one sitting, and was an emotional wreck at the end. The game nearly brought me to tears and I can't talk about it yet because spoiling the game for someone who has not played it would be an absolute crime. I cannot stress this enough: spend the money, play the game. Once you start do not stop. Breaking the game into pieces will significantly diminish its emotional impact.

Do it. Do it. So I can gush about it in a week and not spoil it for anyone.

...

<<

>>

Ok, I can't not talk about it. Part of what made Brothers such a shock was that it followed up Time and Eternity, one of most shallow, saccharine games I have played in a long, long time. Unlike Brothers I have no problem spoiling its ending because no one will play the game other than me and Chance and he is too enamoured with Dragon's Crown to notice.

I never expected both Toki and Towa to make it all the way to the end. That special kind of smut is saved for a second play through. I was right and oddly enough I chose Toki over Towa but only because Towa told me to. She seemed surprised but helped me kill Mobius once and for all anyway. Like I said, Time and Eternity was a decent diversion. Something to play because there was nothing else going on. I will not recommend it to anyone outside of the body pillow waifu crowd and they will complain about the lack of depth and how the shower scene never really pays off.

Not that I know anyone in the body pillow waifu crowd...

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Approaching completion

I am almost embarrassed of that post title.

Time and Eternity has pulled out the standard RPG trope of main bad guy you have never heard of jumps out of a box for a few final fights. It doesn't really bother me here because the game is light hearted that there weren't any existing characters who would have fit the bill of the 'big bad.' What they came up with was the mobius loop that Toki/Towa and the hero were stuck in personified as a spunky, oddly dressed girl who wanted to steal their memories and use the power from that to lounge around on the beach and watch baseball all day.

Wait, that wasn't a girl?


Ok, so Mobius the guy in a thong goes back through the game to each of the chapters boss fights before attaining her final from and saying that he would take you on any time. At this point the game lets you walk away to do other things. No warning that the game is about to end, no plot cliff that you unknowingly stumble over, it just lets you walk away and take care of a whole bunch of side quests that have opened up. I actually prefer this to a new game plus or post game wander around section as everything you do still has a goal: to get powerful enough to fight the last guy.

I went through the last of the quests, got all new equipment and leveled up a few times and am relatively confident that I will be able to take out the boss on the first try, having only managed to die once in the whole game, and that was because I wasn't paying attention. Assuming it ends tonight Time and Eternity was a nice diversion of an RPG that makes me want to play something heavier, something with bombast, something like Tales of Xillia which I really hope ships soon.

At around thirty hours Time and Eternity was an appetizer. A sweet looking snack that I only ate when no one else was around.

A hostess cupcake?

...

The Bridget reference is actually a timely one, with a new Guilty Gear coming out sometime next year. Yet another fighting game that I will purchase, play for a week, and then desert,

He is not exagerrating



I want in on this. I want to review Time and Eternity while suffering from habanero based hallucinations. This is exactly what the internet is for.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Back again

I have returned to the pleasant confines of my musty basement having learned that a preseason football game, even at Lambeau Field, is not worth attending. Yes, it is a cheap way to see some football live and in person but the football on display is of limited quality. The crowd grew so bored that they started a wave. This usually does not happen in Green Bay as the average attendee is so large that standing and sitting repeatedly is not high on their list of things to do when it is not to go to the bar or the bathroom.

All I have played in the last two days is the demo of Brothers, the first game in this year's summer of arcade. Expectations were high as Starbreeze has never really disappointed me so I forced myself past the initial frustration of controlling one brother with each analogue stick. Then I had to have them work as a team to get past a boy eating dog. And then I placed a sheep on a drawbridge, raised it, and laughed my ass off as it rolled down head of heals, bleating the whole way.

Sheep abuse may have sold me on the game. It will be played as soon as I am done with a game filled with panty shots and bestiality innuendos. What has my life become.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Break time

On vacation this week so posting will be light, if at all.

Still plugging away at Time and Eternity. It has become remarkably self aware, plot wise: Toki/Towa and the hero are both the victim and cause of their own murders. The cycle is as follows: one and or both of them almost die at the wedding, they go back in time and inadvertently cause attempted murder that they went back in time to escape. Now that they have figured it out the focus is on breaking the cycle instead of stopping the attack.

Actual plot movement. Amazing! The game is slowly growing on me like a rash that I can hide under a long sleeve shirt.

...

Simple pleasure: PS4 and Xbox One games hit the coming soon list on GameFly so I moved about twenty cross platform games over along with the launch exclusives. Getting excited again and I have at least three months to wait.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

How The Last of Us should have ended


Yes. Yes. Ellie knows Joel lied, feigns acceptance, then tortures him to death in the night because that is exactly what he taught her to do.

...at least I think that's Ellie. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Slightly less embarrassed

The part of my brain the derives pleasure from watching number go up have won out over the self conscious, more easily embarrassed part that is squeamish about mini skirts. Time and Eternity is an RPG, after all: you gain levels, you choose new abilities, you equip better items, you complete side quests to gain experience to gain levels and choose new abilities, etc. It's all very streamlined, though, as if the game is trying to speed me past the parts I enjoy and back to the navel gazing, which I do not.

For example, side quests are almost completely text and location base. The world map displays which areas have new side quests available. Going into the area being up another map with an icon to click on that actually starts the quest. No wandering around the city trying to remember who you talked to eight hours ago, just an icon. Sometimes the quests leads to another icon, other times there is actually something to fetch from a different area. It always moves quickly but not having to walk from location to location means that the player never gets a sense of location. This isn't a town, it is a series of button that take me from place to place.

I cannot explain it better without comparing it to other role playing games. Time and Eternity is a game while Ni No Kuni was an adventure. Ni No Kuni went through great pains to make every location different and alive while Time and Eternity the locations themselves are just vehicles for the characters to crack thinly veiled jokes about bathing together. It's definitely different, and not necessarily bad, but I do not think it will have the same staying power. RPGs tend to stick with me for a long time. I still think about Xenogears and played that years ago. Time and Eternity will be quickly forgotten, a distraction between other, better games.

Navel gazing is really the perfect description.

That better be all you are looking at, you pervert!



Sunday, August 4, 2013

Longer pants, please

The twist in Zeno Clash 2 never actually made it to fruition. At the mid-point Ghat is literally standing on the shores of another world. He and Rimat have every intention of moving on but the golem prevents them. He swears that if they go any further he will kill himself which will in turn kill Ghat, Rimat and everyone they know. Ghat relents and my hope was that they would find there way back there. I wanted to see the savage let loose in the civilized land that decided to imprison him. The game never makes it back to that point. By time it was done both of the guardian golems were dead, leaving the borders unprotected. This means they are going to go back, right?

Nope, the game ends without even setting back loose in the 'open' world. Zeno Clash 2, much like the first, is too short. Not in length, mind you, but in content. I wanted an epilogue. I wanted to see Ghat wander through a city so technologically advanced that it might as well be magic and have him punch someone in the face for crossing his path because it is the only way he knows how to solve anything. Instead I get credits and an unfulfilled feeling that can only be remedied by Zeno Clash 3.

So well done, I suppose. One of these days Ace Team has to bring some resolution. My desire for an ending can only be milked for cash for so long.

...

I cannot remember the last time I was embarrassed by something that I was playing. It happened briefly while practicing combos in Mortal Kombat with Kitana because have have seen what she was wearing and it is happening again with Time & Eternity. The game is cheesecake through and through and makes me feel more than a little skeevy while playing. Without going into a very deep conversation that I am ill equipped to have about the role of women in games I can still say that the way Toki is dressed and the pictures you can unlock of her make me more than a little uncomfortable.

There will be a more in depth conversation about how the game works as an RPG in the future and how it resembles Dragon's Lair more than anything else. Here's the worst of it: after a good two hours of shaking my head something clicked and I started to enjoy myself. It is a streamlined, linear RPG with very unconventional combat and it is a pity that its presentation is such that I will deny up and down that I have ever played the game.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

So weird

The first Zeno Clash was a delightfully bizarre game that put Ace Team on my short list of developers whose games I will always play. Rock of Ages proved that my confidence was well placed. Zeno Clash 2 finally made it out on consoles last week and I must say that I am a tiny bit disappointed. It is still completely insane and the first person melee combat is still serviceable but I have even less of an idea what the hell is going on because I played the first game four years ago. It really needed a 'last time in Zenozoik' intro to bring everyone up to speed on the first game. Weird is fine, weird and disconnected is not.

It took a while, but I did finally remember who fathermother was, what his crimes were, and who the golem was. Ghat still punches people to solve all his problems which keeps the game moving forward. At least it does when it is clear where you are supposed to go. The first game was linear, a guided tour an impossible land filled with impossible creatures. This time around there is a hub area or two that link everything together with quick travel points to keep things from getting too tedious. I don't think that Zeno Clash needed the open world treatment. Ace Team tried for bigger and better. What they got was bigger and slower.

Um. He? She?


Plot wise I just found out that all of Zenozoik is a prison and its residents are being kept there until they manage to become civilized. Read that as not punching people in the face to solve every argument. It's a good twist, one that I hope is given time to develop. Ghat's reaction was we have come to expect: he beat up the guardian golem, then found out that killing the golem would equal his own death and the death of his whole family. So now he has to run errands to keep the golem alive.

Like I said, it's a good twist, and I want there to be some resolution. Not bad for a game about punching people in the face.