Monday, March 30, 2015

Spoiler free, for your pleasure

Tell Tale has a blank check from me. In spite of The Walking Dead Season 2 not even coming close to the first season it was still excellent. The Wolf Among Us was better than both. This means that Game of Thrones and Tales from the Borderlands were both purchased without hesitation. Due to their episodic nature they are very difficult to talk about without giving everything away and it has recently being noted that I never mark my spoilers.

No spoilers coming!

Tales from the Borderlands had a slow start. It was forced to suffer through an introduction episode because all of the characters were new. Game of Thrones didn't have this problem as many of the characters already existed, assuming that you have either read the books or watched the show.

...I have not done either so I spent most of the episode lost. It was still very interesting, if only because characters who appeared to be quite important died all over the place. I gather that this is common in Game of Thrones.

Since then there have been two Game of Thrones and one Tales episode and they are heading in opposite direction. Episode 2 of Tales was a huge jump, thanks in no small part to the 'return' of Handsome Jack. This is not a spoiler, he is on the box art. It also has a much tighter focus than Game of Thrones, limited to two main characters and their differing points of view. Game of Thrones has at least four, possibly more, and it is not clear how they all interact. This is may be par for the course for the show but it is not exactly compelling when the episodes are months apart.

Tales from the Borderlands also retains the humor of the other Borderlands games. To no ones surprise Game of Thrones is deadly serious, and that does get old. Having the occasional laugh is not a bad thing.

There, no spoilers, little content. I will bring them both up again in a few months when they are complete and everyone else will have played them.


Friday, March 27, 2015

Preemptive fear

I am not a fan of Rage Quit. The screaming is not amusing and he (generally) is not very good at the games he plays. Out of boredom and trepidation I watched his Bloodborne video and it goes about as one would expect. The game is in my house now, in line behind Revelations 2, Episode 3 of Game of Thrones and Dying Light and it is still making me anxious.

I probably wont get to the game for at least two weeks and I am already scared of it. There is no hope of success. My goal is to play it for more than an hour. That will be longer than I played Demons' Souls and therefore a moral victory.

There is another possibility: what if Neverwinter is actually good. I may not get anything done if it is. The pre-order downloaded for the price of $0 so I have nothing to lose other than my time.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Take it easy on the old man

Resident Evil: Revelations 2 divides up its episodes into two parts: one with Claire and Moira and the other with Barry and scary little girl. This is a smart move because it chunks up the game into very bite sized pieces with liberal save points. The way I play, in two to three hour blocks, is not the norm, and the game manages to satisfy both extremes.

On the other hand, the two halves of each episode are not equal. The Claire/Moira areas are much, much more difficult and have me constantly scraping the bottom of the barrel for health and ammunition. Barry has a much easier time, better weapons, and plentiful bullets. This swing from too easy to too hard is annoying to the point that I almost put the game down two nights ago.

I understand that survival horror is all about managing resources. It is how the genre as always worked. To that effect I hoard ammunition like nobodies business, taking out enemies as efficiently as possible. A new monster/boss was introduced to Claire and Moira, one that fires flaming, explosive skulls a large area of effect, and he killed me the first time. No problem, next time I will clear out the smaller enemies around him to make it easier.

No no, says the game, theses smaller and still deadly enemies spawn continuously as long as the boss is alive. A game with finite bullets and finite health decided to an infinite numbers of monsters accompany a boss. The only solution was to rush him, shotgun in hand, and hope for the best. The best took around thirty minutes and was total bull shit.

It seems like I have been complaining about game difficulty more than usual. Lords of the Fallen made me crazy, this boss did the same, Hotline Miami 2 came damn close to embedding a controller in the wall. And still I plan to give Bloodborne the old college try. I am just no very bright.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

I've played this. Did I play this?

Games blending together in the recesses of my memory is nothing new. I have been playing game regularly since my father brought home the Atari 2600, it's no wonder that I can't keep them all straight. I spent a good portion of my time playing Resident Evil: Revelations 2 last night trying to remember which previous Resident Evil had the enemy with the box on his head and the crazy bus chase sequence.

I had just played it but I couldn't remember the name.

...because it was The Evil Within. What does this have to do with RE:Re2? It is proof that The Evil Within did Resident Evil better than all recent Resident Evils, this one included. It managed that Resident Evil hasn't done in well over a decade: be unsettling. Revelations 2 makes a token attempt at a gory, disquieting atmosphere. This is in total opposition to the sill tone of a game featuring a foul mouthed teenager, contact call backs to the original game's terrible writing and the line (I kid you not):

'We are the unflinching mop that sops up the evils of bio-terrorism and chemical warfare.'

That is not a joke, it is a line in the game.

Aside from being less RE than The Evil Within, how is it? I must say that moving from single large game to episodic releases suits it. It forces the game into bite sized sections, split between two pairs of heroes. Nothing feels large or unmanageable which is good because I can only take writing this bad and movement this stiff for so many hours at a shot.

It also manages to be one long escort mission without sucking, something that should not be possible. The player is responsible for two characters, one who can shoot (Barry and Jill) and one who cannot really fight but can see hidden objects (Moira and creepy little girl). The character not being controlled will take defensive actions, not stand there and die, and they have enough health that there is time to switch to Barry or Jill and save the day.

Yes it would be easier to play the co-op, split screen couch co-op is an option, but I don't know anyone else who is actually playing this game and who would willingly control the creepy, helpless little girl whose only attack is to chuck bricks,

Monday, March 23, 2015

My weekend

I finished (as much as I wanted to play of) The Crew. If I were a fan of the Fast and the Furious movies I would have been in heaven. Instead I was amused by the incredibly large map and bemused by the small choice of cars and repetitive side missions. It's not bad and it may be the first game in which the always online nature both made sense and didn't piss me off but it does exist in the same world as Forza Horizon 2, a game that does everything The Crew does, only better.

There is some irony in my looking forward to the stand alone Fast and Furious add on for Horizon 2.

I also finished Hotline Miami 2. It is significantly more difficult than the first game but is it better? Not really. Chance put it best when I whined to him about dying over and over and he called it an expansion pack only for fans of the first game. It is more of the same at a higher proof. Finishing it was an accomplishment. Understanding its end game, which I will not spoil here, is impossible.

...

Finally, I did this, something that left me so drained that I fell asleep on the couch during the top 8 of Final Round.


There is no red in the tattoo. That is my skin hating me for what I have done.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Help my empty space

I couldn't play Hotline Miami 2 again last night. The spirit was willing but the hands were barely functional. There was a climbing competition at my gym over the weekend (no, I did not attend) so all of the routes were new and most of them were really, really difficult. Crimps for days. Even the drive home was difficult so the best I could mange for the rest of the evening was YouTube and The Crew, activities that required roughly equivalent thought and dexterity.

If you'll indulge me, I am going to talk about my new office for a bit. The idea of decorating is completely foreign to me and I faced with two large walls and a set of shelves. This is the best I have come up with so far.


Spartan? Lazy? Take your pick. The pictures are not mine, they came with the office, and they are going to go. Behind my chair is even worse: a single wall with nothing on it. Any art that goes up will need to be purchased as I have no art at home to donate. This is odd predicament, one that I never imagined I would find myself in.

Can I put up gaming stuff? Do I dare? I assume that I should look respectable but no one is ever going to see the space. I'd love to put in a decent stereo but I don't have the money to buy one.

If nothing else my desk is already pleasantly cluttered so it feels like home.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

One day at a time

Hotline Miami 2 just does not stop. It give no fucks. One enemy left in an area? Fuck you, he is now not where he has been on the past hundred attempts, he is right behind you. Out of ammo and the last guy cannot be melee killed? Fuck you, he is going to guard the ammo crate. Invisible areas around the edge of the screen? Why of course that is where shotgun wielding enemies are going to hide.

On several occasions last night I said aloud 'I don't think that this can be done.' Then I died for about an hour and did it. Nothing changed, I just overcame the obstacle via either a lucky enemy spawn or brief moments of incredibly alacrity and skill. There might be a story here, I think it has something to do with post traumatic stress disorder and copy cat killers, but I have zero investment in it. I am going to finish the game because the game does not want me to.

Spite is a powerful motivator. I am just not going to go at it two nights in a row. The Crew has survived my initial dismissal and, in spite of errors connected to their server one evening, has been more fun than I expected. It is an always online game but the 'online' nature of it is not forced on the player. This means that it should run without without talking to Ubisoft's servers, which is doesn't, but I have a difficult time faulting it for something that never actually bothers me. At worst it means that I run across other drivers but no one seems to be bothering anyone else is free drive mode. There may be more trolling in the PvP events and that is precisely why I am not going to try them.

It is the best kind of multiplayer, the kind that exists alongside the single player without destroying it.

...

In my new office and there is nothing on the walls. I have never had to decorate one before and I am not sure what to do. I own no art...

Monday, March 16, 2015

The things I put up with

I came perilously close to giving up on Hotline Miami 2 on Saturday night. Two hours only one set of levels will do that. Up to that point I had no chosen characters other than the default so I didn't know how any of them worked. I was content to play this game just like the last one. Knowing this, and because time was spent on the new characters, the game decided to force me to use them. It did not go well.

The first was the dual wielding character shown off it the trailers. He wasn't too bad but I had to be very conservative with his ammo. Then came the guy who could not pick up guns but could literally punch people to death. That took a about an hour. And then were the zebra bastards. You control both of them, sort of. One has a chain saw and the other a gun, only the guy with the gun gets hung up on walls, doors, corpses, and invisible turtles.

It was absolutely brutal and kept me awake about an hour longer than I wanted to be. I was tired and angry and did not know where the game would start me if I quit. It was only then the the unfairness baked into Hotline Miami began to get to me.

You heard me, the game is not fair. Enemies can see and shoot you from off screen. Enemy placement is usually the same until it isn't and a shotgun wielding mook is in a place that has been safe on the previous dozen attempts. Picking up weapons when there is more than one in the area is random. The zebra guys are broken.

But the game is so good none of that really matters. I will put up with its insanity to see the next level, something that other notoriously difficult games have never urged me to do. I think it because I know the game is short. It is going to abuse me and then it will be done.

Once more onto the breach this evening.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Work?

The lame duck period of a job is always difficult. My administrative rights were taken away last week without my knowledge so I have had little to do other than document things and poke around in forums. Even email notifications were changed. If something fails overnight not only will I not be able to fix it I wont know about it until morning.

It is terrifying. And liberating.

One more day, then a weekend, then my new place. It is fraught with risk; even now there is furious lawyer-ing in the distance, something that I hope to have no part of. When that all subsides, should it subside, it is still a tiny company that will make just enough profit to pay two people. This is something that I am doing for me, not to anyone, thought that point seems lost on the people in charge.

It's been a theme of late: doing things that I want to do. The tattoo is part of that (and I do promise to post a picture when it is complete) but on the whole I am trying to worry less and have more fun. For that to happen I need to stop babysitting servers. I wont miss those unfeeling boxes but they damn sure will miss me. My grudging affections were more then anyone else knew to give.

Working for a living sucks unless you are one of the blessed few who have found a way to make money doing something that is personally fulfilling. I just want to work and then go home.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Most of the things I hate

I had a cup of coffee with Evolve last night. It was gross, kind of lukewarm and gritty. There was a tutorial that took me through how both the monster and humans controlled. It was boring, but it was the tutorial, so got over it and started the game proper.

This is a multi-player focused game. I understand that, however previous games in the 'genre', namely Left 4 Dead and its sequel, had an enjoyable single player component. If nothing else, the games functioned as designed when played solo. I do not know if Evolve functioned or not. The game proper was just as if not more boring than the tutorial so I gave up after fifteen minutes, all of which had been spent tracking a monster who I could not see through an environment that I did not care for while listening to party banter that made my brain hurt.

No redeeming features. None.

...

In spite of my legitimate complaints about The Crew I keep playing it. The incremental car part upgrade system  has hooked the part of my brain that likes to see numbers get bigger. Its proper place will be to take up time that I am not playing anything else and there are two digital only releases that have my attention. Hand of Fate keeps calling to me and I have so far resisted, hoping that it goes on sale. I do not know how long that resolve will last.

And I should play Hotline Miami 2 just to play something current.


Monday, March 9, 2015

One of these is not like the other

There is a belated discussion to be had on why Forza Horizon 2 works and The Crew doesn't that I am not qualified to lead. They are, at the most bases level, the same game: open world racing titles couched in a disposable story with all the collectible bull shit that is to be expected in the genre. Forza Horizon 2 was, for me, gaming nirvana and The Crew is, to be polite, not.

The easiest answer is that the cars in Forza handle like cars and in The Crew they handle like blocks of iron on ice. Neither are 'realistic' racers but Forza puts a little more effort into making the cars controllable. It also pays more attention to the details. As an example, when I chose my first car (out of a very unimpressive selection) I went with a front wheel drive machine because they are easier to drive and I am not very good.

First cut scene afterward has the front wheel drive car doing a burnout with its rear wheels. Not an auspicious beginning.

The world in The Crew is big, bigger than Horizon by a significant margin, and there are side missions all over the place that award tangible things for completing them. Upgrades in Horizon were an afterthought, handled entirely through a menu. The Crew hands them out as bonuses, making improvement more incremental and something that the player has to work for. To be clear, I think this is a very good idea and I would be all in for it if the side missions weren't a crashing bore.

Drive fast, slalom, squeeze through gates, jump. That's it. In Horizon I was racing trains and hot air balloons for next to no reason other than it kicked ass. The boring side missions fit right in with The Crew's giant, boring world. There is a lot of ground to cover but not much in it.

Someone along the line realized this and included a fast travel option that allows the player to jump anywhere. I plan to abuse this extensively for as long as I decide to put with the game.

Friday, March 6, 2015

A return!

It has been over a week since my last post of substance. In my defense I have been on the road for three of the last five days and my evenings were filled with beer, spicy wings and, on one occasion, very nice sushi, none of which I paid for. It is also my last hurrah at my current place of employee as I am leaving in a week for a new position at a two man start up company. There is definitely risk involved but I will have an office to myself for the first time. I will have walls to put things on that I have no idea how to furnish. If nothing else it will an an adventure.

Speaking of adventures, the tidbit about spending about three hours at a tattoo studio on Sunday was not a joke. It is not complete so I am not going to post any pictures. Once it is done (at the end of the month when both my skin and wallet recover) I will put it out there for the internet to criticize.

It's cool. And right now my God does it itch.

...

Only a fool would complain about the bounty of activities that Far Cry 4 has to offer. Around every corner there is something to collect, find or kill that benefits the player in a tangible way. Until they don't because there are more things to do than there are skills to unlock. This is not a small disparity. Around the three quarter point of story missions there ceased to be any reason to do anything else. I had unlocked all the skills and had more money than I knew what to do with. There weren't even any achievements for finding all the bit of junk.

There was honestly too much content, a problem that Far Cry 3 suffered from, and it is still a ridiculous problem to have. Once I stopped doing the extra stuff I finished off the game in around three hours, reaching a very underwhelming ending, so much so that I must have done something wrong.

When given the option I shot the bad guy. And then the credit rolled. There must be more to it.

...

A YouTube review proves that shooting Pagan Min was a bad idea. Oh well. When does Blood Dragon 2 come out?

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Change is afoot

I have been quite busy as of late.

Two updates: new job starting soon. It's a risky move but one I am pleased with.

I spent a significant amount of time in a tattoo parlor on Sunday.