Monday, June 30, 2014

Right game, wrong time

Between gatherings over the weekend and the beer imbibed between I played literally nothing over the weekend. When things finally calmed down I was just too tired to bother. Perhaps if there was something that I had a desire to play I would have, but Grid Autosport is just not holding my interest. Racing games in general benefit more, and more quickly, from a generation jump than other types of games. Take an existing franchise and just throw better graphics and a smoother frame rate at it and voila, it is better than everything that came before it. See Forza 5 as an example.

If there was nothing wrong with it Grid Autosport would still have the distinct disadvantage of running on a system that I am trying to break ties with. It looks okay, but that doesn't cut it when 1080p at 60 FPS is sitting on the shelf. If I ignore the prettier alternative the game fairs better but it still has a giant wart on its nose that has nothing to do with the platform it runs on: it's boring.

Forza Horizon worked so well for two reasons: open world racing and a tiny thread of a story that pulled the player along from race to race. Suddenly I wasn't just a car running around a track but an upstart racer taking on the evil, egotistical leaders. Rebel without a cause, all that bullshit. Horizon was not the only game to do this, in fact previous Grid games have done it, but in Autosport it is unconvincing and just falls flat. There is nothing to look forward to but the next race, and when the next race is always exactly the same as the last race I get bored very quickly.

The first several races should all be punchy, short affairs that are easy and quickly over. Autosport is never easy, which I can get over, but right from the start races are overly long and you always race twice on the same track in succession. It gets worse when, after qualifying on the poll and wining the first race, the game drops you to the very back of the field for the second. Maybe this is how racing actually works but it just isn't much fun.

Pickings are a bit thing at the moment and I am not sure if I want to invest in either Transistor or Valiant Hearts so Autosport will get played, begrudgingly. It is summer (in some places, not the midwest) and that means the doldrums are approaching. I need to fill my time with everything that I can.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Mistakes have been made

I didn't feel like playing anything last night so I watched World War Z.

This was a mistake and I would those two hours back please.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Don't make assumptions

A few minutes of research and reading into the Warsaw Uprising reveals that there is a hell of a story there to tell, one that I think could work quite well as a game. There is betrayal, indifference, atrocities, negotiations, broken truces, multiple enemies, it's got everything. The Germans are there, killing over 100,000 civilians, but the Russians are there as well, stonewalling outside efforts to help the Home Army so that Poland will simply be theirs for the taking after the war is done. It's a great, tragic, story, and the game tells almost none of it.

Instead of focusing on the Polish resistance the game stars an *gasp* American who is better at killing Nazis than everyone else in spite of being nothing more than a war correspondent. This is especially surprising because CI Interactive is a Polish developer whose head quarters is in Warsaw. What the hell?

I know why this happened: it is just pandering to the biggest shooter market. They assumed that no one would play the game without a strapping young space marine (without the armor) in the starring role. It's insulting. Tell a good story in a game that is fun to play and people will play it. Release a shit game after years of development hell and no one will notice.

To be fair to CI, this may not be entirely their fault. I do not know how much money Bandai Namco allocated to the game. If it is more than none I am sure they had their part in ruining it. Bad games usually don't make me angry. I play so many of them that they fade quickly into memory. Enemy Front pisses me off because it just scratches the surface of a lesser known story and then decides that the player is either too stupid or too western hemisphere centered to go into any detail.

This is more than a bad game. It's just bad.

...

20 million + on Resogun. Oh yeah.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Old habits

I was all set to continue with my litany of hate for Enemy Front, which it deserves, when out of nowhere it did something so unexpected, so charming, that I had to stop everything else to make sure that what just happened actually happened. It was a blitzkrieg from the blue and I could not help but laugh.

Most of the game takes place in bombed out streets and buildings. This is a staple of World War II shooters - everything is barely standing. I was clearing a building, putting brain dead AI nazis out of the misery, when a few shots went awry and made an oddly musical sound. It sounded like I had just shot a piano. So I stopped, looked around, and found that is exactly what had happened. There was a piano that looked like it had fallen through the ceiling and when I it the sound was perfect. It sounded exactly as I would imagine - a light crack followed by several strings vibrating, out of tune. I emptied a clip into it and laughed out loud.

The game went back to shit shortly thereafter. If nothing else it gave me a laugh.

...

There were a few weeks after the launch of the PS4 that I played Resogun every night. Chance and I were trading high scores, a battle that he won handily in the end, and I stopped playing because a good run at the game would take over twenty minutes and could be ruined after fifteen if you died or let the multiplier drop. Resogun Heroes, an expansion that costs all of 4.99, completely fixes that with a new survival mode. You are graced with one life and the game ramps up the difficulty very quickly. Best of all the score multiplier never resets itself. It is all or nothing from the very beginning and a good score run (for me anyway) only takes about six or seven minutes. Sixty Second Shooter also gets this exactly right, and I still like that game, but it does not look or control as well as Resogun.

Nightly score attacks are back. After one night I am ahead but who knows how long that will last.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Many years too late

Question: Is it possible to make an ugly game using Cryengine?

Answer: Why yes, it is, and I am playing it now.

How do you take the engine that the Crysis series is built on and make it look like a first generation Xbox 360 game? This travesty is either an intentional punishment for people who are still playing World War II shooters or the result of rampant substance abuse in its development team. There is very little going on visually yet pop in is rampant. Not texture pop in like earlier versions of the Unreal engine, I am talking draw distance pop in where trees, enemies and entire building suddenly spring into existence.

Someone pitched this game without a game engine attached. There is a kernel of an idea here, a war game centered around a journalist instead of a soldier, but that is lost as soon as the journalist picks up a gun and murdering nazis like everyone else in the game. Still, the game was green lit and all of the money allocated to it was spent licensing the engine. Cryengine must come without instructions because no one figured out how to use it. It is a manual transmission sports car that the developers treated like the beater automatics they drive to work in.

Enemy Front was supposed to have come out at the end of 2012. It would have been bad then. Now, up against new hardware, it should have been mercy killed and never seen the light of day.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Sifting for the good stuff

Bound by Flame became less interesting as I approached the end. Vulcan's (the main character) out of place foul language and bizarre attitude went from amusing to grating to stupid in the course of fifteen hours. Any longer and I would have really ended up hating him instead of just skipping his dialogue. The character of any value, and one of the two bright spots of the game, was Mathras. Mathras looks like other undead but he is closer to a classic lich that anything else. He ports his consciousness over to a new body when the current one wears out and has been around for thousands of years. Instead of becoming jaded with his immortality Mathras finds companions and events of importance and records them. As an eternal historian he holds a distinctly amoral point of view, one that the player can more identify with than the rebellious nonsense spouted by Vulcan.

He has *gasp* personality.

I said that there were two bright spots - in a game like Bound by Flame that is pretty good. The second is this guy (please ignore the huge lettering in the corner, this is the only good image I could find):


There is no reason to go into boring details about the story or even explain who or what this guy is. I don't care, just look at him - he looks awesome and, for me at least, is creepy as hell. The no eyes or nose bit is what pushed him over the edge for me. He doesn't fight well, I was able to cheese him to death with about 150 crossbow bolts, and he isn't animated all that well, but dammit, he looks cool.

Please don't watch all of this, the first 50 seconds will do.


There you go, everything good about Bound by Flame in two paragraphs. It was short, not terrible, but not good either and it had the wrong main character.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Important lessons

Mango - habanero wings + Guinness + going to the climbing gym = incredible heartburn and future intestinal distress. I am not sure why this came as a surprise to me.

Installing Words With Friends on my Windows Phone was a bad idea. People are serious about that shit and get mad when you don't make a move for a few hours. This should also not have come as a surprise.

I don't want to play Bound By Flame anymore but I am too close to the end to quit. What I want to try out is 60 Second Shooter on the XBox One. It is Geometry Wars with a time limit and, from what I hear, just as addicting. If it truly is good then I will need to take back my disparaging remarks about indie games.

$5 is the right price. Even if there was no hope of quality I would spend $5 just out of curiosity. If a game costs right around the same as a trip to Taco Bell it is difficult to turn down.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

And my dreams were better

I fell asleep playing Bound By Flame last night.

Combat has a rhythm that is similar for most enemies - swing, swing, swing, wait for it, block.

Swing, Swing, Swing, (wait two beats) Block.

Swing, Swing, Swing, (wait.... for.... ZZZzzzz....)

Oh shit! My health is gone!

There were two big missed opportunities last night. The first was something that the game should have shown instead of just talked about. The player and his merry band flee the tiny swamp town that they were supposed to defend and head to a nearby elven stronghold that is supposed to server as a meeting place for several armies intent on standing against the ice lords and their undead legions. When they arrive the entire city is destroyed, encased in ice, and almost everyone is dead. What survivors there are explain that one of the ice lords showed up in person, froze the nearby river and dropped it on the city, presumably muttering bad puns to himself as walked away.

'Ice to see you' or 'Freeze!'

That is a great image. The river, not the puns. I want to see that happen in a brutal pre-rendered masterpiece not unlike what Blizzard or EA put out with every game they do. Such a masterpiece has a price tag greater than the combined monetary efforts put towards the rest of the game so I understand why it wasn't done. This is not Dragon Age, or even Dragon Age Light, this is Dollar Store Dragon Age.

The second swing and a miss had nothing to do with budget and everything to do with giving the player a choice and then the game doing what it wants regardless of the decision made. I was infiltrating the same city with the very clearly good guy elf and very clearly evil and gravity defying sorcerous. We were supposed to lower the drawbridge to allow what was left of army back into the city. We arrived and there was a multilegged Silent Hill refugee guarding the gate, setting a trap. The sorceress said that we should abandon the army, that they were dead anyway, and kill the guardian instead. This would allow the demon in the protagonists head to absorb more power.

The demon in his head is kind of a dick so I have been siding against him. This was no exception, so I went with the good elf's idea of doing what we were supposed to do in the first place. The sorcerous throws a tantrum, runs away, and I ended up fighting the guardian anyway. Who I sided with made no difference, there was only one resolution written, and it in everyone dies.

Tragic is one thing, and it would be acceptable, but this is just lazy. Add writers to the long list of things that the game could not afford.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Bad romance

Yesterday I tried to convince everyone else that Bound By Flame was not terrible. I assume that I was unsuccessful because today I am trying to convince myself that the game is not terrible. This is why I make a terrible reviewer: my opinions on a game will swing wildly from one extreme to the other and everything gets better after I finish playing it. For example, in my head Ride to Hell wasn't all that bad. I also don't remember the pain of breaking my arm at a 30 degree angle as a child. The two are not unrelated.

I am on the opinion downswing today because of a vicious difficulty spike. Enemies look the same but suddenly have more health, do more damage, and have all of their friends there it back them up. The main character has slightly improved his sword and armor but still lacks the physical stamina to back up his boardroom conceived attitude.

In other words I died, a lot, most of the time to archers who hid behind larger enemies firing their arrows through their comrades. Now I know how the demons felt when I tuned on the NOCLIP cheat in Doom.

There are also options and sub-quests in the game that exist only because they have been used in other games. It steals from the best but doesn't bother to do the work. Example: Bioware has gone to great lengths to build actual romances between the player character and party members. I still feel just a little guilty about letting the Geth kill off all of Tali's people after she loaded up on anti-bacterial everything to spend some quality time with my Shepherd. She was a character that I cared about. Bound By Flame has trophies for seducing all four of the main NPCs. Bonus points for keeping this equal between the genders. Negative points for not giving any of them any personality. I don't care to get to know any of them in any sense, much less biblically.

A game can't just drop a character in and have romance options work without providing back story and a reason for things to get started. Without that it is just getting someone into bed for the achievement points, something that is just as bad in a game as it would be in real life.


Yup, still not happy that I went with that option.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A little of column A...

You aren't going to believe me when I say this, and who can blame you, I play many questionable games, but Bound By Flame is not terrible. It is a refugee from the previous generation created on shoe string budget that obviously skimped on artists, writers and voice actors, but it is very playable and has one of the least bullshit crafting systems I have yet to see in an RPG. If 'budget' weren't a derogative term I would call this a budget action RPG. Instead I will call it a small action RPG from a developer that I have never heard of who managed to pull together a reasonable game.

First, the bad. As stated, the game does not look good. On the PS4 it is always too bright, the frame rate chugs for no reason, facial animations are nonexistent, character models defy gravity, enemies all look the same, etc, etc. Characters are voiced by the janitor and CEO's kids and were written by board truckers trying to out swear one another. The protagonist's boss is scottish for no reason, the demon in his head speaks as is he spends his evening perusing a thesaurus, and there is a knight who speaks only in the third person. The bad is really, really bad.

Next, the not quite as bad. Combat is deceptively simple. Main attack, area attack, guard break and block is all there is, but you can switch between warrior and rangers stances at will. Ranger stance is more nimble, does less damage in combat but opens up backstabs. There are also a few spells, courtesy of demon possession, but I have yet to put any points into making the magic attacks more than glorified cantrips. It's gets complicated the first time an enemy hits you and you realize that they do a fuck ton of damage and will gladly interrupt your attacks with their own. I died in a tutorial battle that was so difficult that I thought I was supposed to lose.

Nope, this was just the game's way of saying how few fucks it gives about killing the player.

Defense is a must, counter attacks are required, and fleeing to a better position to keep from getting surrounded happens all the time. It other words, it's hard, but it manageable.

There is some honest good here as well. Side quests are on the map, clevered marked by a '2nd' for secondary objectives. Crafting can be done anywhere, is intuitive, and offers both visual and ability additions to weapons and armor. Best of all, the bottom of rung crafting items can be conjured out of thin air with gold. It doesn't make sense but it make crafting, something that always avoid, not quite as tedious as it could.

Does the good outweigh the bad? I don't know yet. It depends on how long I can stand the bad writing and still looking characters.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Disgusting allusions

It took a long, long time for Ubisoft to sneak an Assassin's Creed reference into Watch_Dogs. There are probably a ton more that I missed (read that as I just checked and yes, there are several other easter eggs) but I am referring the the criminal convoy mission that specifically mentions Abstergo and one of the employees from Black Flag. It was subtle, not in the main story, added depth to the world instead of just pointing at another game and screaming 'BUY THIS ONE, TOO!'

Assassin's Creed and Watch_Dogs exist in the same universe, that much is certain. Will the vigilante come up against the templars in the next game? Ask that again in twelve  months when Watch_Dogs 2: Watch Harder comes out.

We are more than two weeks distant from the game's initial release and that is enough time to absolve me of spoiler considerations. If you care all that much about Watch_Dog's story, and you shouldn't, be warned.

...

Watch_Dogs climaxes about two missions too early and its refractory period is just too long to build any more excitement before the end (ew!) leaving me, well, unsatisfied. Pearce rescues his sister and kicks her and the almost mute kid out of town for their own good. She is rather ungrateful, so good riddance, I didn't need her complaining about how I got things done anyway. This allows Pearce to just kill all the bad guys without worrying about the consequences. And kill all the bad guys he does, culminating with murdering a mob boss by hacking his pace maker.

That would have be a good ending. Nope, there is one more bad guy to deal with, and he now has the same access to ctOS as you do. Queue chase scene through downtown Chicago with the whole city blowing up around you and a dozen cops on your tail. This is a fitting end, or it would have been if it didn't culminate with me hiding in a corner wasting all my blackout power, waiting for the cops to go away. When they finally did the game limped along to a goddamn quick time event for the last encounter.

After hours and hours of driving around the city at high speeds, sometimes avoiding pedestrians, shooting mans in slow motion, the end is reduced to press B not to die.

The shortcomings in the first Assassin's Creed were understandable because it was, more or less, new territory. Each one got better. Watch_Dogs is just GTA with better handling cars. I have been told that GTA was excellent. Watch_Dogs was merely good, but with the full might of Ubisoft behind it, what excuse does it have? There will be more, and they will be better, but it would have been nice to not have to wade through the infancy of another franchise when there are plenty of good examples to have cribbed from.

Friday, June 13, 2014

They try to catch me

There is a rhythm to most open world games. Player enters new area and can see nothing. Player unlocks map and side missions by doing something, sitting on top of viewpoints or hacking terminals or spray painting bill boards and prank calling the cops. Player then empties out new area before advancing with story missions, missions that eventually lead to a newer area and the cycle begins again. When it works, like it does in the later Assassin's Creed games and the InFamous games, it saves a little bit of exploration for the end game. InFamous: Second Son had the brilliant idea of hiding a collectible in the final missions. I couldn't get it before starting the missions and it drove me crazy but it kept me playing.

Watch_Dogs has shown its hand before river card has been dealt. I have now been everywhere and done all of the things that I care to do and am only half way through the campaign. Unless I magically unlock Milwaukee or Gary the game is out of real estate. It's still fun but the open world aspect is gone. I am now driving from mission to mission with no distractions in between. Spending this much consecutive time in the story is going to expose the game's weaker side. The vigilante is much more acceptable when he isn't talking. Listening to him whinge about killing gangsters is going to make me nauseous.

My hope is that when Ubisoft returns to this series, and you would be foolish to think that they will not, that it follows the Assassin's Creed path. Specifically, I am looking for pirates in a few years. Not software pirates, real pirates, cruising down the streets of an urban wasteland, pillaging, drinking, and just having a good time. Gather up the crew, stack them in a hooptie, and roll.



It was a stretch to get there but I am glad I found a way to post that.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The greatest generation?

I look forward to the day when there are no more last generation games on the list. The total lack of backwards compatibility has made this hardware transition very awkward. Many developers either don't want to turn their backs on the massive installment base of the old consoles or they simply can't afford to. Digital games seems to be immune, judging from the tidal wave of indie throwbacks coming for both systems, but physical releases? Both gens or no dice is still default. At least some of the games, Titanfall and Forza Horizon 2, had the sense to develop for the new systems and leave the down port to a third party. Best of both worlds, I suppose.

The stragglers:

Enemy Front - This is actually at home right now in line behind Watch_Dogs and Bound By Flame. Generic WWII shooter but at one point some of the people behind Black were involved. The game was supposed to come out two years ago. I am expecting a mess.

Grid Autosport - The past Grid games have all been good up until I had to do drifting races. I won't finish it, but it should still be fun.

Tales of Xillia 2 - Tales games have replaced Final Fantasy as my JRPGs of choice. I will play anything with that name on it.

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! - I don't understand why this game exists. Perhaps it is just a way to generate income for the next game. A Borderlands game could be a system seller - they are that good. It will happen eventually, I just don't want to wait for it.

Last Guardian - pfft ha ha ha HA haha ha... heh... hmmmm.... *softly weeps*

Demonicon: The Dark Eye - I have no idea what this game is. It sounds terrible. I must play it.

Tales of Zesteria - Again, a tales game.

Realistically my 360 will exist until Street Fighter 5 comes out, not to mention it warehouses around ten gig of Rock Band songs that on occasion I simply need to play. The PS3 will go when from Bandai Namco tells me it can go away, which also will not be happening any time soon.

Longest generation ever.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Words to live by

It feels disingenuous to have a blog that is ostensibly about 'gaming' and not be talking about E3. There is very little outside of the Phantom Dust announcement, which we all knew was coming, that excites me. I am in full post new console let down. I don't want to see announcements for games that make my significant investment worthwhile, I want then in my grubby little hands right now. No more cross platform nonsense, I want cutting edge, graphically intense experiences that were not possible before. No more retro indies, no more slightly upgraded re-releases, no more collectors editions of games that are ten years old and that everyone has already played.

Give me the good stuff.


2015!? Fuck you, something this year.


Better, and I have the consoles to play both of those...


God damnit, Nintendo. No, I won't buy a Wii U. Not for that. Not for Bayonetta 2. Not even for Xenoblade Chronicles.

Well, maybe for Xenoblade Chronicles, but don't tell anyone.

E3 lost its luster from me when I transitioned from being a collector to a player who keeps nothing. I could not financially sustain all of the game that I wanted to buy so now I buy none of them and play all of them. This puts me, at best, a few weeks behind the curve. How can I get too excited about what is coming out in six months when I haven't finished Watch_Dogs yet, haven't started the most recent episode of Wolf Among Us and should be practicing Decapre and not forgetting how to play Killer Instinct?

It's impossible to keep up so I try not to look. Play what's in front of me, update the list, enjoy what I have regardless of quality. Words to live by.

Oh, and mash DP when in block stun. More words to live by.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Confessions

I had no idea that E3 started today. After the console announcement excitement of last year very little anyone could say will have any effect on me. Nothing short of the next offline Elder Scrolls title will see me flee my desk at lunch to pre-order the special edition. Come to think of it, there really isn't much that I am looking forward...

..to...

What was that? Phantom Dust is real?



Well fuck me running.

...

As with all new relationships the shine has come off of my love for Decapre. Playing and losing with her in ranked for several hours will do that. I finally did what I tried so hard to avoid: reverted to my main just to gain meaningless points. Decapre is fun but I am not convinced that she is going to be any good, at least not the way that I am trying to play her. I play my charge character very defensively - you come to me, I will anti-air or out poke you and then I will come in while you are trying to figure out how to get to me. Decapre can't pull this off because, at her core, she is still Cammy.

Cammy doesn't do defense. She deals in ambiguous mixups and unblockables. Decapre does the same without the advantage of command combo enders. I have not given up her, but she will certainly not work in certain match ups. Hugo comes to mind, getting close to him equal death.

...

I am still playing Watch_Dogs and for some reason enjoying it. This is not a defensible position as, like Decapre, I am not convinced that the game is any good. Parts of it, like racing through streets through the rain, are excellent. I keep coming back looking for those moments and finding them just often enough to sustain me.

Time is the enemy

Or at least the absence of it.

I am going to spend what little time I have today reading Chance's E3 coverage and lamenting the end of Cosmos.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Swoon

As I expected to happen I spent the entire evening getting to know Ultra Street Fighter 4. Training room time with Blanka proved that crouching medium kick does indeed link into itself for better hit confirms into ball but that I still can't for the life of me link it to Ultra 1. I spent no time with him online because I did not expect to suddenly find a new character.

Chamberlain, in practice mode, frustrated because he still cannot do cr. mp XX ultra 1: God damnit. Blanka sucks. Who is this Decapre person? Cammy palette swap, bleh, but wait, a charge character?

-- Time passes --

Chamberlain, who is now in love: easy BnB FADC combos that do 400+ damage? Where has this woman been all my life?!



Decapre's character design is terrible. I don't like how she looks, I don't like how she sounds - she isn't different enough from Cammy, design wise, in my opinion. How she plays, after all of three hours of play time, is civilization. Charge character, plus for me, with easy, long hit confirms, another plus for me, that does grown ass man damage, something that I have never had in a character before. I was not joking about 400+ damage BnBs. Behold, and this is no secret, anyone who spends any time with Decapre will figure this out:

Jump in HP - cr. MP - cr. MP X FP uppercut - FADC forward air throw = 407. The MPs feel like a two frame link but they may be even easier than that.

She also has a target combo into jump cancel air throw for just under 200.

She also has a quick overhead that does 100 stun (that doesn't combo into anything...)

She also can hit confirm a jab into a crouching jab crouching short X uppercut (FADC air throw is she has meter) not to mention her teleport shenanigans and air cannon drill that I don't know how to use yet. The only she doesn't have that Blanka did was really good buttons. Blanka's crouching medium and crouching fierces are really good anti-airs. His standing roundhouse also works as an anti-aire and his sweep has a much longer range and comes out faster than most people think. He has buttons for days. Decapre doesn't and if she doesn't have charge I am not sure how to anti-air yet.

The point of this gushing is that I, along with a lot of other people for the other new characters, am excited about Street Fighter again. It is time for me to have an actual pocket character instead of a bull shit Guile and bull shit Dhalsim that I whip out when all hope is lost. Decapre will not be top tier (she's no Cammy, but even Cammy was nerfed) but she is fun to play.

My people!

Getting work done in Watch_Dos just got much, much more difficult. It's not the game's fault. I am actually enjoying it more as the story slowly begins to get moving. The protagonist is being revealed to be even less of a nice guy than we have been led to believe but I really think that he will be redeemed before the final act. And driving at breakneck speeds through 'Chicago' has yet to get old. Turn a corner while be chased by half a dozen cops, pop up a roadblock, giggle as the stack up in a scene right out of The Blues Brothers.


This will most likely not get old.

I am not done with Watch_Dogs but Ultra Street Fighter 4 came out today and it demands attention. My character wasn't nerfed, I am interested in one of the new ones (Decapre because she is a charge character) and there is a renewed enthusiasm about that the game that is contagious. People are coming out of the woodwork, people who haven't played the game in a long time.

People who, in an odd twist, also play my character. Early reports are that ranked is currently a hive of scrubby Blankas. HP ball knocking down at any range brings all the boys to the yard. Blanka is best at frustrating people who don't know the matchup. As a service to the community, and because I want all the scrubby Blankas to go away, I will tell you everything that you need to know to beat 75% of them.

Block. Just block.

Blanka has no good high-low mixups. He is going to, in order of most to least common, ball at you from full screen (punishable on block), jump at you (block or know your anti-airs), hop in or over yo in attempt to throw (jab out of hop or tech throw) or LP ball into throw or jab XX electricity (tech throw or block). The last option is the only one that may have gotten better: close MK is now airborne which means it will blow up crouch techs. The LP ball is the only option that has two possible endings.

If you block long enough Blanka will do something unsafe. Punish that. Repeat.

And what do you do if the Blanka just sits there on the opposite side of the screen, punishes your poorly spaced fireballs with a slide, anti-airs your jump ins and uses EX-rainbow ball to escape your corner pressure? You are playing a mediocre Blanka (perhaps even me) but the answer is the same. Turtle him right back. Get a life lead and sit there.

And know you know why I may put actual work into learning Decapre.

...

Why the hell didn't this post yesterday?

Monday, June 2, 2014

Falling over and over

Over the weekend Chance and I had a short but completely unironic conversation about how Wolfenstein ended. Let that sink in for a second - we spoke seriously about the plot of a Wolfenstein game. It is a wonder that there is plot at all, and marvelous that it was good enough to be open to different interpretations. The game isn't quite old enough for me to spoil yet, but I will say that I like my heroes tragic and dead when their destiny has been fulfilled. I was not disappointed.

Wolfenstein avoided one of the first person shooter's oldest foes, jumping accurately, for most of the game by either not using it all or making it easy enough that I couldn't screw it up. Then I had to jump into a helicopter. The first time I landed and then skidded out the opposite side because the other door was open. The next ten times I either hit my head on the top of the opening and fell or came up short.

Did I mention that for some bizarre reason the loading time between deaths was three or four time longer than anywhere else? Every time I fell I was treated to about ninety seconds of waiting before dying again. Eventually I made the jump, finished the turret section, only to have to jump out of the helicopter. I lined up my jump, took my time, backed up to get a running start...

...and fell out of the open door behind me. I died more times to that jump than I did to anything else in the game. It went from funny to infuriating and back to funny in the space of ten minutes. Neither that nor the gratuitous sex scenes I complained about last week manage to sour the game. They were just two little nits to pick in what otherwise is easily the best shooter to come out on either of the new consoles.

...

Watch_Dogs is just GTA with magic technology. I hate GTA, yet I am still playing Watch_Dogs. The reason is simple: unlike GTA the cars handle well enough to actually do the precision driving the game is asking for. There are 'fixer' missions that are nothing more than driving from point A to point B and they are enjoyable because the cars are fun to drive. Amazing what a little attention to detail can do.

Speaking of details, Chicago in Watch_Dogs honestly looks like Chicago. I was just there about a month ago and it is almost eerie. Landmarks are all too close together and just slightly off (to avoid paying licensing fees) but pulling up to Millenium Park and seeing the giant shiny bean, now called the infinity sculpture, was just weird.