Tuesday, December 27, 2016

I refuse to apologize

for the pun in yesterday's title. It's the end of a bad year. I will make all of the ban puns that I please.

Worst of the year tomorrow? Perhaps.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Hey, nice stack

I am not sure how to say this so I am just to lay it out there: World of Final Fantasy is not bad. It is insufferably cute - the writing thinks it is funny and it is not. The two main characters are boring and cameos from other Final Fantasy games never stick around for as long as they should. The camera is always locked and hides important items behind level geometry.

But the combat. Oh my. For starters it can be set to either turn based or pseudo real time like the old, classic games (I chose turn based). It is one part Pokemon, catching, training and evolving mirages, and one part insanity in that the monsters are equipped in a stack with the player character either on the bottom or in the middle, depending on their size at the time.

This requires explanation. The player characters can being either normal sized or tiny. If they are tiny they are in the middle of the stack and if they are normal then they are on the bottom. This effectively creates two weapon sets that can be switched between on the map, but not in combat, so it is still possible to get screwed. I also have found very few large mirages so most of my time is spent on the bottom of two monsters hoping that they are housebroken.

It sounds ridiculous, and it is, but it works. New mirages are found at a fairly consistent rate. Enemy weaknesses change so the player is forced to rework the stacks. It makes the old turned based combat interesting again. I was quite surprised.

Now I just need to free up another thirty hours so I can finish the game. Hope I can stomach the unrelenting cuteness.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Spoiler filled podcast!

Not spoiler filled, per say, but containing a few for a recent game that I may or may not have enjoyed.


Chamberlain and Chance - 2016 Hype List recap

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Almost done complaining

This is the last I am going to complain about The Last Guardian. Until we record this week's episode of the podcast.

I finished the game last night. I finished it and realized that at no point was I enjoying myself. There were grand vistas and pretty good music and occasionally very picturesque scenes. The trico was, I will admit, animated very well, usually. But at no point could I take any of this in as I was constantly fighting the camera or fighting the controls or fighting the damn trico. The game did not let me enjoy it.

On a more personally offensive note, it was impossible to play the game in an efficient manner. I enjoy Ubisoft games because they are kind enough to put collectibles on the map. There is a ton to do but I can decide what order to do it in and what I want to skip - I can play it efficiently. In The Last Guardian figuring out the solution of a puzzle is not the final step. If the solution involves the trico, and they usually do, just as much if not more time is spent marshalling the damn thing's half assed AI into whatever it needs to do as was spent thinking about the solution.

I don't care what anyone says, the trico does not listen. Every interaction I had with it was a chore. The only relationship I developed with it was wanting to put my foot in its ass. Consequently all of the emotional beets ring hollow. I did not care about the thing and what happened to it or what sacrifices it made, it was just another obstacle to overcome.

The Last Guardian was butts. Ico really was lightning in a bottle, never to be captured again.

Monday, December 19, 2016

I may have deserved this

It gets cold where I live. Cold and dry. I had forgotten that my furnace came with a humidifier attachment that had to manually enabled. Walking around zapping the pets with static electricity fixed that so on Thursday night I turned it on and set it to an arbitrary '4' when normal is '5'. Pleased with myself I once again stopped thinking about it.

On Friday night the basement had a mustier than usual smell. This should have been my first clue that something was wrong but I ignored it because, well, it's the basement. Television on, set the boy up playing whatever he is playing, all good.

'Dad, there is a blue line on the screen!'

Well shit.

I had not taken into account, when I turned on the humidifier, that the added humidity would condense onto the cold air returns. The water then drained to the lowest cold air return in the house, which was in the basement, directly above the 4K television I had purchased less than six months ago.

By the time the television had been turned on almost everything was dry, the only evidence being a stain on a ceiling tile and water stains across the front of the screen. I was not happy. It is going to be taken care of, eventually, but I did not play anything on Friday or Saturday night. Last night, after wandering the house after dark for what seemed like an eternity, I moved the PS4 Pro to my old TV and played more of The Last Guardian.

It's still a shit game. Now it is a shit game with no HDR, so a dimmer shit game.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Meow or something

I spent two hours last night playing The Last Guardian and trying to figure out why it is so deeply unsatisfying beyond its obvious problems (bad camera, poor control, level design that requires aimless wandering, etc). The nearest I can tell is that this is a game for dog people and I am a cat person.

Come back!

I have a cat. He is the most recent in a long line of cats, each more aloof and potentially violent than than the last. I expect little of my cat and he expects little of me. Our paths cross, I feed him, occasionally pet him. Sometimes he allows this, sometimes he bites me, and we both move on with our day. The only reason he does not kill me is that he is too small to do so. We both know this. I certainly do not attempt to play video games or scale ancient temples with my cat.

There is also a dog in my house. It is not my dog. She exists only as the payoff to a stalemate involving my owning a motorcycle. Being a dog I expect more from her. Sometimes she listens. Other times she is a jerk and does not listen. I do understand that the 'not listening' part is on the owners, of which I am one, but that does not make it any less frustrating.

Trico is a dog. Sometimes it listens, other time is rolls in dirty water instead of standing in front of the wall that the player is desperately pointing at. If Trico behaved as a cat the game wouldn't work - it would eat the boy. Since its behaviour mimics that of a dog when it doesn't listen, which is most of the time, I get frustrated, moreso because it is not my fault that the damn thing isn't doing what I tell it to do.

I did not train Trico. It was trained by programmers who thought it would be amusing to saddle the player with a petulant animal that served as both transportation and as a fucking ladder. It doesn't work most of the time. Worst of all, I know that the devs knew that it didn't work most of the time because the big moments are all scripted. On several occasions the boy has fallen from some high perch and Trico either grabbed him out of the air or threw out a tail for him to grab. These are scripted, slow motion moments. Little more than quick time events.

If the AI was so good why not trust it to save the boy? Because it isn't that good. Trico is a giant ill trained dog that the player is forced to deal with. If it were a cat at least the misery would end more quickly.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Best of 2016 podcast

Damn podcast is making me all positive about things. I will still post my worst of the year, just need to finish The Last Guardian first...


Chamberlain and Chance - Best of the Year 2016

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

This is not what I was waiting for

There is a moment in The Last Guardian when everything that Team Ico is trying to do comes together and the player believes: the child and the Trico have escaped the cave that they both woke up in and they find themselves at the edge of an impossibly high cliff. The trico climbs a nearby pillar and stares into the wind, its feathers being back and forth in concert with the surrounding grass and the boy's clothes. It looks ethereal.

And then you have to play the game again and it goes to shit.

The Last Guardian feels as old as it is, perhaps even older. The child's motions bleed into one another in an uncanny valley-esque manner. He doesn't look like a person when climbing or holding on to his companion's feathers, he looks like a human shaped sack of bones with no muscle or tendon to keep the articulations moving the correct directions. Controlling him is just as awkward as he slips and stumbles over the smallest of obstacles. The trico's movements look much better but the player has precious little control over what he does.

I have seen and heard the trico compared to a cat which is accurate. I don't play games with my cat. My cat can be kind of a dick. Just like the trico. Operating around it as the child is quite difficult as he both obscures the already suspect camera and takes up all the space in tight hallways. The sense of scale is impressive but actually interacting with it is not a good time.

Speaking of not a good time, I would like to smack the person who decided that giving the player no information on where to go next was a good idea. This does not foster exploration, it drives the player to wander in circles. Give the player a clue, a path, and then add interesting deviations to that path. No path can lead to no progress and no progress is never fun.

This game annoys me to no end, so much so that I stopped playing it after two hours last night. The final chapter of TellTale Batman hits tonight so it is off the list again. Going back to it is going to be a chore.

Monday, December 12, 2016

50th podcast!

It is odd that I talk to Chance and Alex more than almost anyone else?


Chamberlain and Chance - In which we change our minds

Crushed by the big boy(s)

Titanfall was dismissed after forty five minutes of play. Having no single player content will do that. Titanfall 2 promised an actual single player campaign that included a titan with personality that they were totally not going to kill in the final act. It did have a campaign, at least around five hours of a campaign, and it did feature a titan with (limited) personality but he totally dies at the end. No Old Yeller moment here, though, it could not manage the gut punch that Call of Duty Infinite Warfare did.

It would be unfair to continue comparing Titanfall 2 to Infinite Warfare as Titanfall 2 loses by almost every measure. Infinite Warfare doesn't have giant robots punching each other but it does have space battle so that ends up being a wash. As a single player experience it was just a better game. This is not to say that Titanfall 2 is bad, it just doesn't have the weight in either its combat or it story.

Everything feels lighter than air when playing Titanfall 2. As the pilot the ability to wall run will kick in when you don't want it to and you can stick to a wall for distances that would make the Prince of Persia jealous. Titans are more nimble than they appear to be, controlling like the pilot but without a jump button. The only part of the game that had a good crunch to it was the sound, at least I assume that it why I had people upstairs yelling at me to turn things down.

I hesitate to use this bland of a description, but the game was OK. It did not shake up the series the way Infinite Warfare managed to do but it did provide people who don't play multiplayer shooters something beyond awkward tea bagging. I would say that it is not worth the $60 price tag but it has already dropped.

Since I have no affection for the series it is not a big loss. Titanfall 2 should have been the first game. Even then coming out within spitting distance of November was a really bad idea.

...

That's two of the big three shooter down. All that remains is Battlefield 1. If reactions to that are to be believed then it has a better shot at matching CoD. Hopefully is shows up before I forget what I liked about it and declare Battlefield 1 the winner be default.


Friday, December 9, 2016

Only so far

I was presented with a bizarre choice at the end of Dishonored 2, one worthy of being discovered on your own if you have not played the game yet. If you have continue on!


My Corvo may have been little more than a murderer with nifty powers but he at least stayed true to one thing: everything he did was in an attempt to save his daughter who the main villain had turned to stone. He said it over and over. It was his reason for discarding societal norms like the sanctity of life and not breaking into random houses and stealing their bath salts.

So when he finally gets back to her, after having killed, electronically lobotomized, killed and forever imprisoned his enemies, the game presents him with a choice: save the daughter or leave her imprisoned in stone and take the thrown.

What the hell?

I compared the first Dishonored to a test of self restraint, one that I failed quite early on. The second is like it, and I never even attempted to achieve its goal, but what kind of asshole leaves his child frozen in time and steals her kingdom? This isn't Game of Thrones!

My Corvo may have been homicidal but he was no dick head.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

A murderer in the past and present

My Corvo is getting careless. He ran out of fucks to give at the end of the last game. This time around a crazy woman stole his powers (albeit briefly) and turned his daughter to stone so from beat one he is having a bad day. I talked yesterday about how the mechanics gave me no real incentive so play sneaky/non-lethal. The story doesn't either. When high chaos Corvo says things like 'anyone who stands in my way gets what he deserves' and 'what can that fortress do against a man with hate in his heart' it fits.

Corvo is no pacifist. It will be interesting to see if he is chastised by his daughter when she realizes that he has killed more people than blood flies in the last week and a half.

His lack of fucks is not even limited to his own time period. Last night I played through a well thought out level that had Corvo bouncing back and forth between the present day and several years in the past. The currently run down mansion was in much better shape a few years ago which made for some interesting time shifting puzzles. Think the light world/dark world problems from Soul Reaver, just with less angst and blocks to rotate.

It was also possible to use this time shifting to avoid enemies. But what did my Corvo do? He killed everyone in the past just to see what would happen. Nothing did and I think that the game missed a real opportunity to give some consequence, some weight, to his actions. Something simple like the name of a shop changing names because you killed the owner or there being more or fewer guards, anything to show that murdering guards in the past should have repercussions for the present.

Unless the game goes by the Quantum Break time theory that anything that happened in the past already happen so going backward in time just means that someone is doing what already was done. Nah, it's not that smart.

Just a few more levels to go.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The song remains the same

Ugh, look at the Coming Soon list. It's just not fair. And what did I do on Friday and Saturday night instead of working on Dishonored 2? I watched as much of Capcom Cup as I could stay awake for, which is to say I missed the end of Friday and had to flog myself to stay awake for the grand finals on Saturday. It was worth it to see an all American grand finals.

You heard that right. For one glorious tournament the standard Asian domination was broken. I would have preferred to have Ricky Ortiz win over Nuckledu, she has been around longer than most, but Nuckledu was on the verge of suicide earlier this year and his sponsor helped him work through it, so that is almost as much of a feel good story.

The top prize was $230,000. Not bad for being good at a video game.

...

I have avoided talking about Dishonored 2 for several days because I am not sure how to react to it. Is the game good? Of course it is, the world building is exceptional, just like the first game, the combat is crisp and brutal, just like the first game, and the stealth is difficult and optional, just like the first game.

...just like the first game.

Dishonored 2 might as well be an up-port of the first game. I am doing the same things in the same dingy environments, just at a higher resolution. The story is the same, at least for me: Corvo versus the world. Playing stealthy in Dishonored didn't work for me, there were too many temptations to take the easy path and Corvo's powers were a better fit for that play style. That is still true, at least for Corvo. Why give me the power to stab a guy in the back of the head and have his body turn to dust if I am not supposed to use it?

The game is good, it's just not new. Iterative, nothing more, but it is still better than most other stealth games because it allows the lazy (like me) to forgo the stealth for a more brutal approach. I will say that the non lethal options for bosses are more interesting this time. For example, two nights ago I finished the clockwork mansion. I killed everything aggressive in it, every person, every clockwork soldier. Only the cook survived.

But I let the boss live because strapping him down and shocking the smarts out of him with an electric chair was more interesting than stabbing him in the back of the head. And more cruel. And my Corvo is a straight up bastard. He has seen his share of shit and is tired of the world so he stabs people and steals their copper wire and whale oil. High chaos indeed.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Slightly uncomfortable

I will talk about Dishonored 2 eventually. Right now where I am playing it, or what I am playing it on, is taking up more head space than the game itself. Multi-platform games running better on the PS4 than the Xbox One is not a new thing but the difference was, in my mind, negligible. Microsoft's consoles had been my primary gaming space since the oXbox so I just kept doing what I was doing, playing games that looked slightly inferior or that had a poorer frame rate.

PS4 was for exclusives and XBox One was for everything else, and I cannot deny that Microsoft introducing achievements before Sony's trophy system was up and running had a lot to do with it. The number itself is not as important as it is a list of everything that I have played all in one place, going back to my first achievement in Kameo. I like lists. This blog is oftentimes just a list. Adding to that list was part of playing the game.

The PS4 Pro has made that slight performance difference much more significant, so much so that, as a 4K television owner, I would be a fool to ignore it. So I did the 'right' thing and moved all of the multiplatform titles in my queue over. Dishonored 2 is the first game and it just doesn't feel right. As a creature of habit, as a person who lives in his routines, it feels wrong.

This is not about platform fanboyism or resolution based dick waving, this is about a grown ass man having a hard time with a simple change. It is splitting my precious list. Worse, I know that this same dilemma will return when the Scoprio comes out. What am I to do if I play Mass Effect Andromda on the PS4 Pro? I need to play all three games, and you know there will be there, on the same save.

Meaningless, meaningless. All of this is meaningless. It was this kind of resistance that brought about the glorious console wars. People clung to their electronics of choice not because what they had was better but because they were used to what they had and didn't want to change. I can appreciate that loyalty, even if it was misguided and blind.

Sega sucked. I was a Nintendo kid. Until the Dreamcast came out.

This is much less dramatic. I am in no way trying to evangelize. Play what you want where you want, I don't give a shit, unless you are a member of the PC master race. There is no excuse for the level of hubris. The last sentence was a joke. Probably.

So I am a stranger in a strange land playing Dishonored 2. High chaos run, here I come. And at the end of the evening, when I switch over to the Xbox One S for the YouTube app even though it works just as well on the PS4 Pro, know that I am no more crazy now then when I was young and refused to even touch a Genesis.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Ugh, so happy

This features the first and last piece of Christmas music played on the podcast.


Chamberlain and Chance - No escape from the cheeriness

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Magical house elves

Forza Horizon 3 wrapped up last night, at least I played as much of it as I felt like playing, which was a little more than I had played the previous Horizon. Last time around I lost interest after the final showcase race - it ticked the 'the game is over' switch in my head and immediately played something else. Horizon 3 almost did that. What saved it was how lackluster the final showcase was: a race against a blimp, of all things. It was boring.

There had to be more. I kept playing until I had found and completed all of the exhibition races, 63 if I remember correctly, and found all of the rusty old cars in barns. Done enough for me. I will remember the game fondly and be tempted by its DLC.

Except...

I must be consistent in my complaints. One of my serial bitches, and one that I hoped would be resolved by this generations hardware, is consistency in the environment. If I do something, anything, that affects the level, what is in it or where bodies are, I want to stay that way when I turn my back. Doom is to the go example. In the original Doom when you killed something the corpse stayed there until the level was complete. Bodies instead of breadcrumbs, That was not the case in Doom 3 or the otherwise exceptional Doom 2016. Enemies evaporate after death.

This bothers me.

Horizon 3 does something similar and even more unforgivable. Not all racing is confined to the track. Be it an off road race or a lack of skill on my part, shit along the the side of the road gets knocked down. I want it to stay knocked down. Nope. All the wonderful carnage has been fixed on the next lap.

This bothers me. The game is so close to perfect. So close that little chinks in the immersion, like a mailbox that I plowed into during the previous lap being fixed by electronic house else, really stand out.

That's the best complaint I can muster. I feel it is legitimate, if a bit nitpicky.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Still looking

Still playing Horizon 3 and will be doing so for the foreseeable future.

I almost had a complaint about the game! Groove music playlists are integrated into the game as a radio channel. It cannot simply shuffle an entire collection, which I do not like, so I had to create a playlist. I had never created a playlist before and was not feeling very creative so I just dumped every Beastie Boys album onto the list, assuming that the ones in my collection were the correct ones, not the edited versions.

The integration works as advertised, including altering how the music sounds when in a festival area, but I kept getting the edited version of To The 5 Boroughs. Hey Fuck You just doesn't work as Hey BEEP You. Surely the game was intercepting my choices and over riding them with the edited versions because it is an E rated game.

Nope, my collection was screwed up. When I moved my list over to Groove Music it assumed I was a prude and added the clean versions of every album. Even the game's problems are not its problems, they're my problems.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Good times

I don't think I can put into words how Forza Horizon 3 makes me feel. It satisfies like no other racing game. On the spectrum of sim versus arcade, Gran Turismo vs main series Forza, it gets about as close as it can to the old Rush games (San Francisco, etc) without descending into full blown silliness. It is just silly enough, just loose enough, that every moment of racing, even when it is just getting from one event to another, is enjoyable.

And it looks damn fine to boot. HDR really does make a difference. For example, driving at night (there is a real time day night cycle) is impressive enough, but the cars' tail lights pop off the screen in a way that must be seen to be believed. Weather effects are equally impressive, spraying the car with individual droplets.

The game makes me happy, even when I am running the same race for the third time because each previous attempt resulted in my taking second place. If I am forced to muster up a complaint is would be that it is not possible to win races just by tweaking the shit out of your car. My second car was a Porsche Carrera 4 that I dumped the best possible parts into. The result was an uncontrollable beast of a machine, one that should easily outclass similar cars. But it didn't, and not just because I spent as much time sideways as I did pointed in the correct direction.

The game filled events with cars fast enough to be competitive. It made me actually drive the monster I had created. If that is the only negative I can find it is going to be an enjoyable, relaxing few days.

...Amnesia Collection just came out for PS4? Well shit, no rest for the wicked.

Monday, November 21, 2016

It never got better

I gave Exist Archive about five hours. In that five hours it presented an interesting premise: the characters may or may not have been killed and may or may not be in some twisted version of the afterlife. It also offered up a reasonable facsimile of Valkyrie Profile style combat, just with boring looking 3D models instead of sprites.

Correction: the game presented all of this in the first thirty minutes. It then did nothing for the next four and a half hours. No overworld to explore, combat areas that all look similar, recycled enemies and enemy formations, and no plot movement. Nothing happened. Identical quests in identical areas.

It is tempting to blame this on the game's handheld roots and its attempt to be bite sized but even as a staunchly anti-handheld person (no TV, no game) it is not that simple. The game being boring has nothing to do with its venue. It's boring because nothing fucking happens. Give me something between battles, a nugget of plot, more than a few lines of dialogue between characters so I can differentiate them beyond their ridiculous outfits. Anything other than going back and running the same dungeon again to make sure that I am not underleveled.

No sale. Exist Archive is bad, regardless of where you play it. And not the kind of bad that I can enjoy, not aggressively bad or arrogantly bad or even bad due to incompetence. It's not a train wreck, it's a boring bus ride to work that it too short to read a book but too long to do nothing. It is infuriatingly familiar but will never approach the game whose memories it tingles.

I do not say this lightly - it was a waste of time.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Mediocre introduction

You can tell a lot about an RPG by how it handles the first level gained by the player character. Is it going to explain everything all at once, thereby guaranteeing that the player will forget it all? Will the player be thrown in with no explanation, cursed to wade through menu after menu trying to find out what each stat means? Will it hit just the right balance and keep the player invested by forcing them to interact with the leveling system from level two on (Final Fantasy X is still one of the best).

Or, as Exist Archive did, will there be no fanfare, no interaction, and the main character gains a few hit points and a pat on the back? I only play for about thirty minutes last night and the entire experience felt archaic. Yes, it is a spiritual follow up to Valkyrie Profile, and for that it gets about a million bonus points, But come on, at least make an effort to engage the player.

More to come on this on. It will be difficult to stay true to it with Forza Horizon 3 sitting on my desk but I will try. For a little while. 

I love this man




Dr. Tyson for president.

I have never voted in any election. I would break that streak for him.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Rolling clouds of smug

That is probably the best thing I have said all year.

On with the podcast!

Chamberlain and Chance - Rolling clouds of smug
ReCore is still bad. I collected to requisite 45 pieces of nonsense to through all five floors of the final area and was rewarded with an incredibly plain looking set of levels, of which I have done two, that are also far and away more difficult than anything that came before them. This is not a problem - the one thing the game had going for it was that Joule controlled quite well. These final areas look like shit but are compelling to actually play.

So, close but no cigar?

...

I finally diagnosed my audio/video issues. Around a year ago I picked up a new 7.1 receiver and speakers and, in a rare moment of forethought, made sure it had 4K passthrough. A 4K television and two 4K consoles later and I have been unable to use the damn thing for what is is for, namely to connect my shit to and run one cord to the television.

What I did not know, and what may not have existed, when I bought the receiver was the new 2.2 standard for HDCP (high bandwidth digital content protection). The new systems and television all require this and the poor receiver is stuck on the old standard of 1.4.

Foiled by high tech security.

Does anyone want to buy a receiver?

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

So, so boring

ReCore is bad, folks. Not hopelessly bad, just it could have been fixed with more money and more time bad. The story, at its core, had the potential to be interesting. The Earth is fucked (not to big a stretch) and humanity flees. The problem is that the only plane they can get to needs to be reworked on a global scale and won't be ready for several hundred years. Most people end up orbiting the planet in cryostorage and a few people are sent to the plant along with hundreds of core robots. The people on the planet wake up every few decades to check on the terraforming. Our hero, Joule (ugh) wakes up to find just about everything is destroyed and has to figure out why.

Not a bad start, right? ReCore is trying to be a Rachet and Clank game. Rachet games, along with everything else to do well, are visually interesting, often times breath taking. ReCore offers up desert and more desert. Boring desert filled will boring ruins and boring enemy robots. There is nothing to look at. I played this after sampling InFamous First Light on the PS4Pro and oh god, the jaggies, they are cutting my eyes!

On top of being boring to look at the game is boring to play. Joule has one weapon that can fire four different colored bullets and that is all she will ever have. There are four robot companions so far that have different abilities but you can only have two with you at any given time. Find a puzzle that require the spider core and you have the dog and the gorilla? Hope you like the desert because you ass is walking back, slow movement and all.

And the fourth act is just as terrible as you may have heard. The squanders the stories potential and then realizes that it is only six hours long. Well, how about requiring an arbitrarily high number of collectible doodads before you can complete the final tower? I knew this was coming and took by time, collecting 19 of the special cores before the final area.

I needed 45.

So boring.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Unexpected feels

Country is still here? Check.

Internet still works? Check.

I can still type the work 'fuck' without getting a knock on the door? I'll let you know if a minute.

...

I let slip on the podcast that Call of Duty Infinite Warfare was the best campaign that the series has had since, oh I don't know, Black Ops. They all blend together and that is part of what makes Infinite Warfare special: it doesn't blend in with every Call of Duty since Modern Warfare. There is more to it than the change in time and venue but being in space certainly helps. Very good space dog fights also help. But Infinite Warfare is not just about shooting thing. It is about people and sacrifice and one man's struggle with what it means to be in command.

Spoilers coming. For a Call of Duty game. Seriously.

 After a very Bond-like cold open that introduces the bad guys as a suspiciously Helghast like group (more on that later) the player takes control of Nick Reyes, a hotshot pilot who has problems with authority. Specifically, he takes umbrage with his captain when the order is given to ram an enemy carrier. This decision costs lives but save many, many more.

Reyes doesn't care. He believes that it is the duty of a captain to end the day with all the men he started with, a complaint he never gets to air because one of the casualties was the captain. You can guess who gets the field promotion. For the first few missions Reyes is not a great captain as he either cannot or will not make calls that put anyone other than himself at risk. He is called out on this by several people, one of whom is an ex-captain herself and tells Reyes that if he cannot may sacrifices then he should step down.

He learns. He develops. He has a character arc. In a Call of Duty game. By the end of the game Reyes orders a pilot on a suicide strike, leaves soldiers behind to defend a point that he knows will die, finally blowing himself and most of his crew up on a mission to defend the Earth. The game gives numbers: of the 750 he had only 4 survived.

Numbers are meaningless. Kratos kills 750 people before breakfast on a slow day. To drive the point home there are eight self written and read obituaries that play over the credits, one of them from a robot, and they are devastating. In about seven hours of game Infinite Warfare made me care about these people.

Again, this is a Call of Duty game.

(Reyes' obituary was notably absent. They better leave him dead.)

And the shooting? Excellent but different. Movement had weight, shooting took time. It felt like Killzone, of all things, with intimidating, psychotic enemies to match. And the space combat reminded me of Wing Commander, just significantly prettier. Infinite Warfare stole it best parts from other games, and that's okay, the series needed a shakeup.

The multiplayer? Fuck. Did you forget who was talking?

...

I will dissect ReCore tomorrow. It is not good.

*knock*knock*

Fuck, who the fuck is at the door...

Friday, November 11, 2016

Been a bit busy

So here is the podcast:

Chamberlain and Chance - Don't worry

And my hot take on the PS4Pro is that it doesn't blow my mind but it does make mediocre looking Xbox One game like ReCore look like ass.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Give me the pretties

The Deadly Tower of Monsters is very much like the last pretty good Ace Team game: Rock of Ages. If you enjoy the joke, be it rolling a giant boulder down a hill and crushing historically inaccurate but hilarious caricatures or playing through a fourth wall breaking parody of bad DVD commentary for an even worse movie, you will forgive the game's problems. I will admit that Monsters has issues but I cannot argue with the price of free (with my PSN subscription) and it made me chuckle at least a few times.

First, the bitching. Monsters is a mediocre twin stick shooter/platformer. There are many weapons to find but it is obvious which ones are the best and little reason to experiment. Creating monsters that look like they were animated via bad stop motion may or may not have been a brilliant way to cover up not having any money to spend on actual animators. It has zero replay value outside of collecting movie themed flotsam.

So what does it have? The eponymous tower is impossibly tall and is rendered from top to bottom at all times. This creates some surprisingly stunning (and dizzying) views when looking down and makes for a long fall if you happen to step off the edge. No worries, you can teleport back to the spot of your misstep at any time. Ace realized that just by making a tower people would want to jump off of it, so what the hell, let them do it.

Then there is the narration, a DVD commentary track by the director (who sounds suspiciously like Fred Willard) and the recording tech who would rather be anywhere else. The director veers wildly from funny to oh my god stop talking which is just about right for a DVD commentary track. The game actually manages a twist in its fourth act that was clever but made for a less than stellar final boss. Good idea, funny, but poorly executed.

If you have PSN the game is free. You could do much worse. At around 4 hours, it won't take much time away from bigger, 'better' games. Come on, show Ace Team some love. Tell them that this and Rock of Ages 2 is what we want from them, not that dreadful Abyss Odyssey.

...

PS4 Pro launches on Thursday. In anticipation I have changed multiplatform titles that are getting a Pro patch (which is almost all of them) from Xbox One to PS4 on my queue. It feels like I am betraying an old friend. I just bought the XBox One S, and it is a good piece of hardware, but it doesn't actually run games in pseudo 4K. Even the achievement metagame is losing its sway over me. In a year I will regret this when the same migration happens in the opposite direction and I return home to the sweet embrace of the Scorpio.

But for now, my new television craves 4K content. It wants to push all the pixels it can. I might as well let it. The One S is still the for 4K Blu-rays, shitty ugly games and the occasional exclusive.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Nice comments withdrawn

I need to be more cautious about throwing in with a game after only a few hours of play.

Everything I said about Vermintide? I wasn't wrong, but the good things turned into bad things very quickly. The bot AI does do a good job of staying out of your way but it does so by ignoring your, not by taking into account what you are trying to do. Of course this lesson happened at the end of a thirty minute level. And of course there are no checkpoints because this is just a Left for Dead rip off.

So there are rats. You need to kill them. There are little rats, big rats, rats with torches, anachronistic rats with chain guns, rats in full plate armor and, worst of all, pack leaders. Pack leaders wield a long staff with a looped rope on the end and try to catch a you around the neck and drag you away from the rest of the group. Normally this isn't a problem because they don't take much to kill and killing them sets free anyone who they have caught.

If that aren't killed the pack leader will drag you around a corner, prop the stick up in the group as a makeshift gallows and run the fuck away. Still, if another player find you in time you can be cut down. A human player would do this.

Last night I had an AI bot walk past me three times. I am not sure what I did to offend it but it left me there to die on the end of rope. So I got him back by uninstalling the game.

...

Remember Ace Team? They started out with the wonderful and bizarre first person brawler Zeno Clash, then made the best Monty Python game ever, Rock of Ages. Zeno Clash 2 was next, just as bizarre but not as wonderful as the first game and we won't talk about Abyss Odyssey.

After giving up on Vermintide I wandered back over to my PS4 to check out this month's free games. What the hell if The Deadly Tower of Monsters? Top down shooter, kind of funny, looks like an old VHS movie that had been played a few too many times, wait - Ace Team?!

Fine, I'll play it. If nothing else looking it up brought Rock of Ages II to my attention.

How did I miss this?!



Sold.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Better off alone

Attack on Titan literally revealed everything the play can do in the first hour. From there it is just grinding side missions for money and materials, and yes I am aware that this describes most action RPGs. At least once difference, and where Attack on Titan fails first, is variety of enemies and variety of environments.

Boiled down to its simplest elements, Diablo 3 is the same game as Attack on Titan: the player kills things to get stuff to hit harder and kill bigger things. Diablo has more ways to do it, more things to do it to and more places to do said things. There is variety to counteract the repetitive nature of actually playing the game. Attack on Titan has swords and you fly around, which is cool for a while, but all of the first chapter takes place on the same map that looks identical in every direction and there are about three different kinds of enemies: little titans, medium titans and big titans.

There is the occasional abnormal titan but they are just big titans that run funny.

It's so boring. The source material is a handicap as, from what I understand (and keep in mind I made it about two episodes it before giving up) the game is an accurate representation for the anime: lots of talking interrupted by people being eaten. There isn't enough variety to build a game without significantly diverging from the show.

So the game has no reason to exist and is tedious to play. Moving on!

...

I did not know what Warhammer Vermintide was when I added it to the queue. Video looked interesting, giving of Dark Messiah of Might and Magic vibe, but I totally missed the multiplayer part. Which the whole part. Alex broke it to me on this week's podcast:

'Warhammer Left for Dead.'

He was exactly right. Surprisingly enough that game is playable solo as your teammates are not grotesquely stupid. They stay close by, attack and heal with called for, and in general do their best to help you towards you objective. This doesn't make the objective any easier to find due to sprawling maps and no map but at least they don't get in the way.

I am reminded on this comic:


I'm not developing relationships but it is managing to be a good time. Who needs real people, anyway?

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Terrifying boredom

In the spirit of Halloween, and because the Amnesia PS4 ports aren't coming out until November, I dusted off the Outlast 2 demo that I had downloaded and forgotten about. Outlast was half a good horror game and half a bad science fiction game, explaining far too much for any of the scares to last. It never got better than the first jump scare. It's expansion, Whistleblower, did things in the opposite order, so again, half of a good game. I did not expect much from the demo.

Good thing, too, as the demo was underwhelming, a mish mash of horror ideas from better games. The spooky community and mumbling locals were from Resident Evil 4, the extreme darkness from Silent Hill 2 and Amnesia, the jumping between the real world and reliving memories from Condemned (and maybe a dozen other games). All it had that was almost its own was some offensive religious imagery I could have done without and a reliance on gore from the first game.

It was not frightening in the least. The demo for Resident Evil 7 mustered up more goosebumps. I talk big but it is a horror game so I will probably end up playing it. I'll just tune out all the upside down crosses and bloody mangers.

...

Attack on Titan suffered the same fate as The Walking Dead: I got bored quickly and turned them off. The game is going to do the same thing: long sections of 'drama' interrupted by engaging but repetitive combat. I got to be a titan for a bit, which was fun in a Godzilla sort of way, but even that got old when I exhausted my three available moves and still had several dozen other titans to kill.

I do not think I am going to finish this. Maybe one or two more nights.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Less depressing than I thought

I was wrong. Gear of War 4 does not kill Marcus. There is no doubt in my mind that that gut punch is being saved for a later game. Instead the player is treated to an almost heartwarming scene of Marcus, Baird and Cole reuniting after a ten year separation. Marcus becoming a hermit is not explained but it is not difficult to figure out that shortly after Anya, his wife, died he turned his sullen nature up to 11 and consequently drove JD away.

JD referring to Cole as 'Uncle Cole' and Baird as 'that asshole' in spite of Baird bringing two giant mechs with him fills in a few blanks, too.

The boss fight which brought mu progress to a painful stop should have been the end of the game. Nothing after that, including piloting the aforementioned mechs, measured up. It would have been better to either put this boss fight closer to the actual end or just skip the final area and jump right to Kait's mother dying (spoiler, but you knew this was going to happen) and Marcus stating that things weren't over.

That's all I have to complain about. I would change the order of the 5% of the game and eliminate the giant robot combat. Apart from that, this is game is exactly what I wanted.

Time for rampant spoiler filled speculation!

The locust had attached Kait's mother to their biological network, a network that turned cocooned humans into juvenile swarm, a process just as icky as it sounds. Why was a live human required for this? Well...

At the end of Gears of War 3 the locust queen made her appearance - as a very human looking woman in sweet ass armor. Little is made of this and even less explained, then they all died. Kait's mother was the only person not cocooned by the swarm. As she died from being cut from the network she handed Kait a small symbol that had belonged to her grandmother.

Kait never met her grandmother. I am calling this now: Kait's grandmother was the locust queen. She is going to turn evil in a game or two and Marcus is going to die defending JD from her. Armchair videogame story writer powers, go!

Friday, October 28, 2016

Most proper

I may have made a mistake.

At the outset of Gears of War 4 there are four difficulty choices. I do not recall the names but the descriptions were you are new to action games, you are new to Gears of War, the way it was meant to played and fuck off and die. I chose the way it was meant to be played and have been paying for that choice since.

Difficulty spikes are not new to this series. I distinctly remember the mind numbing frustration of theron guards wielding bow casters. There had been a few in the first half of the game, namely the intrusions of horde mode into the game proper. Not a bad thing, it just required a shift in tactics. Last night, though....

Big boss. Brumak. Well, swarmak because it is the swarm now instead of the locust. He is invulnerable at outset of the fight and has weak points that are uncovered by destroying one of four generators spread through the room. In one of my finest moments (of out smarting myself) I destroyed all four of the generators in quick succession. I'll just expose all of weak points at once, right?

What I didn't know is that the destruction of each generator triggered a wave of enemies, each worse than the last. By destroying all four generators I triggered all four waves so now I have juvies, grunts and two goddamn full blooded locust carrying miniguns all coming at the same time. Guess when the autosave hit?

Ladies and gentlemen, I am proper fucked.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Never trust Nintendo

Not time to post today. Gear of War 4 is really, really good. If they kill Marcus I will not be pleased.

...they are totally going to kill Marcus.

Anyway, podcast time!


Chamberlain and Chance - Not so fast, Nintendo

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

God out of nothing

I began to get suspicious of Deus Ex Mankind Divided when, after several days worth of playing, there had been no boss fights. There had been several discussions with NPCs that could almost be considered boss battles but nothing to really force me to use my chosen augs to their fullest potential. My hacking Jensen had morphed into a hacking - stealth Jensen as I had grown tired of working for the stealth and instead wanted to stroll about casually whilst invisible. It didn't that martial law had been declared and being seen just about anywhere meant that the cops were shooting at me.

Not a single points was spent in an combat abilities save for one or two in the health category. I never needed any of those abilities as even when combot broke out taking cover and nailing headshots with the same gun that I had received in the tutorial mission was more than enough to get the job done.

It seemed that, in an effort to prevent people from tech treeing themselves into a corner the devs just made the game easier instead of forcing the player to be creative and smart with their choices. Doors and computers important to the plot always had the lowest hacking rating. Heating ducts were always right there when I couldn't think of what else to do.

When a boss finally came I was ready. I had been hoarding armor piercing bullets for the entire game. He was flanked by two flying drones and a robot and packed a fairly good punch himself. An EMP grenade took out the robot and, while I could have hacked the flying drones from a distance that was just a temporary fix and it required the same line of site and amount of time that shooting them did. So my hacking stealth Jensen morphed into combat Jensen with none of the combat skills and no worse for the wear for it.

I didn't even bother turning invisible to avoid the boss. I just ducked behind a chest high wall and shot him as he approached. He died and the game ended. Yawn. This would have been an acceptable expansion pack. As a full priced game it feels oddly truncated, like the ending only became the ending after either time or money ran out. It's a shame because, aside from the terrible facial animations, the game looks good and during the few moments it decided to be challenging it was enjoyable.

Oh well, it's almost November and there are plenty of other game to play. Like the king of chest high walls, Gears of War 4. Crank old Marcus Fenix is the best Marcus Fenix. As proof, an actual line, delivered while killer robots are being dropped into his greenhouse:

'Aw, they're going to fuck up my tomatos!'


Friday, October 21, 2016

New(ish) news from Nintendo

New console announcement! The Nintendo Switch.


No! That's not, well, I suppose it makes sense and I see where you could come up with that, but...

On a pedantic, I may be an asshole note (have you listened to the podcast?) Nintendo Switch is a terrible name, just not terrible in the same way Wii-U was. The average parental non-gaming consumer was confused about what the Wii-U was and what it actually did. They will at least understand that the Switch is something new. It's still a stupid name.

Seriously, remember when consoles had good names? Dreamcast. Game Cube. Xbox. At least Sony has the courage to stick with what works, though the jump from PS4 to PS4Pro is going to cause problems for technically handicapped grandparents who want to appear hip without buying nothing but gift cards. 

As a person who follows and plays video games, I had already seen the leaked photos and speculation on what the NX was going to be. I did not at all expect just about everything to be true. It is a console that connects to a television but can also work on its own as a slightly oversized handheld with little baby detachable controllers that will inevitably disappear into the cracks of couches and the back seats of cars.

But is it really new? No. Nintendo has done this before, just in the opposite direction. For years and years Nintendo had two platforms running at the same time: console and handheld. There were great games on both but to play them all you had to own both pieces of hardware. Until you didn't anymore and they released the Super Gameboy for the SNES and later the Gameboy Player for the Game Cube. These were brilliant accessories, especially for people (like me) who had no interest in playing games anywhere other than the couch.

The DS ended this trend, in my opinion intentionally. It offered an experience that could not be duplicated by shoving the same game into is grown up sibling. I do not mean to say that the DS was not a good system, it was, but ugh handhelds is something I will never get past, regardless of the quality of titles it causes me to miss.

Present day Nintendo has one reasonably healthy console with the 3DS (and 2DS) and one console that everyone has forgotten about, including them, the Wii-U. It is a good move to try to bring these two sides together but will the resulting frankenstein's hardware make the loyal to either side happy? Handheld players crave battery life and, well, portability. We will know nothing about battery life for quite some time and the Switch looked a little on the chunky side to me when compared to the Vita or 3DS. Console players want technical parity with Sony and Microsoft, and with both of the grown up companies upping their game (one more than the other) this is just not going to happen.

And don't bring up the graphics aren't important argument. If graphics weren't important Skyrim would not have featured so prominently in the reveal trailer. I call bull shot, anyway, or bull battery, one of the two. Playing Skyrim for half an hour on a full charge does no sound like a good time.

At the very least I understand where Nintendo is coming from and I agree that it is an idea with merit. I do not think that they will be able to pull it off while maintaining a reasonable price point, and since they have already said that the Switch will not break the bank in the same manner everyone expects the Scorpio to do I expect slightly better than Wii-U graphics that I can take with me on an endless quest to find another plug or hot usb port for my 'portable' system.

Which means that I will spend another generation not playing Zelda or Metroid. It's okay, Nintendo, I have gotten used to not having you in my life.  Know, however, that my constant desire to see you abandon your hardware shenanigans and just make games for the real consoles gets darker with each Mario game that I do not get to play. I don't necessarily want to see the Switch fail

but it would amuse me if it did. 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Not as deep as it pretends to be

Deus Ex Human Revolution was the last big game that I played on PC. It came free with a new video card so I played it on the small screen. I remember it being, at best, OK. It was far enough after the release that I knew what builds to avoid to not be tripped up by bosses who care nothing for your verbal or hacking skills because all that want to do is shoot you in the face.

That Adam Jansen was a boring soldier and the game was boring because of that.

This time around I have fallen into a hacking build for the same reason that all of my Elder Scrolls characters are thieves: I hate not being able to open doors. It has worked so far because said virtual keys have help me avoid larger confrontations. That and liberal save scumming, anyway. Without the silent legs and invisibility the stealth is much more honest. I have to watch where guards can see and where they are walking. Only once have I thrown in the towel and just started shooting people. Religious zealots awaiting the singularity, if you must know. They did not put up much of a fight.

The game feels oddly small. Hub areas are detailed but take no time to get through and most buildings cannot be entered. Those that can are limited to a room or two, the largest so far was a strip club (because of course it was) and even that was about two floors and a balcony.

It is also in no way subtle about drawing a parallel between aug/natural relations and modern race relations, right down to the all encompassing Fox New blaring from every channel, saying that creating a separate but equal place for augs to go is what they want and what is best for everyone. It's a little cringey in a 'this is not as far removed from the way things really are' sort of way. Jensen keeps getting stopped by the cops and asked for his papers.

He hasn't killed any of them yet. I kind of wish he would.

Mankind Divided is still what I would call and great game. The character and facial animations are laughable and the cover based shooting, when it happens, just makes me wish I was playing Gear of War 4 instead of this. The game is trying to be important. It desperately wants to be. But I guarantee that Mankind Divided, just like Human Revolution, will not be reinstalled just because someone mentions the name.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The wait begins

Aside from the obvious good news that Red Dead Redemption 2 is a real thing that will never, ever achieve its projected fall 2017 release date there is this tidbit:



Amnesia: The Dark Decent is my favorite modern horror game. It even holds its own against the giants: Silent Hill 2 and Fatal Frame 2. A machine for pigs, not so much, but it will be nice to play that at a normal frame rate.

I am pleased. They can have my money.

....

Yesterday was a crankiness educing day. We did this anyway. Hope you enjoy it.


Chamberlain and Chance - The wait begins

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Nothing can stop us!

Chamberlain and Chance - Nothing can stop us

It's been bottled up for a while

Caution! This is going to be a very, very bitchy post.

In spite of its issues I was enjoying The Technomancer. It had the same kind of charm as watching MST3K riff on ancient Gamera movies. I knew it was bad but it was still appointment playing. Combat had settled down to a more manageable morass and I was all set to sick forty plus hours into a generic version of other excellent games.

Last night, after cleaning up all of the side missions, I attempted to advance the story. My parties rover had finally been repaired and I was instructed to talk to the pilot. There was a big star on my radar, I walked there, talked to her and nothing happened. There was no option in the dialogue tree about the rover.

Broken quests are not a new thing, they happen all the time, especially when your game has 'scrolls' in the title. I had seen them before and usually leaving and coming back, forcing the area to reload, gets things moving again. So I left, quick travelled away to a different corner of Mars. And then I came back, and it was still broken.

I quit the same and started it up again. I uninstalled the game, deleting my save and loading it from the cloud backup. Nothing worked and I did not have any backup saves from before the quest broke. Frustrated, I entered 'technomancer broken quest' into the google machine and the first five fucking entries were about the same exact quest that I was stuck on.

From the PC version. From four months ago.

Uninstalled, sent back, pissed off.

...

In the midst of this debacle I played another hour of Thumper and have decided that I have been misled. Someone out there vouched for the quality of the game but that someone did not venture past the second level and therefore was not exposed to the games real problems.

Rhythm games need to have good mechanics, look interesting and have good music, not necessarily in that order. Mechanically Thumper is fine. It operates on the same 'push button in time with things flying down a track at you' as every other rhythm game, ever. There is nothing special here, nothing like the brilliant Gitaroo Man or Elite Beat Agents, but it works.

Visually the game is an absolute drag. Yes, it runs smoothly, but that is because there is nothing going on. And when the game does turn on the fireworks it obscures what it really important. There is a boss at the end of each level, which is a good idea, but after four levels I have yet to see a new boss.

All is not lost, there are many very good rhythm games that are not much to look at. Rock Band had never been better than serviceable and the Guitar Heroes were outright offensive after the first three. Audiosurf has a very similar look to Thumper, similar mechanics as well, but these are all saved by the good music.

The music in Thumper is little more than white noise with a beat to it. Worse still, starting with level five (as far as I have made it due to a vicious difficulty spike) what the player has to do has less and less to do with the beat. If it is playing with off bears of syncopation I have yet to discern it, meaning that game is less and less about reacting and more about memorization.

Again, this is not necessarily a bad thing. No one site read the end of Green Grass and High Tides or Free Bird, they memorized the movements. The same is true for Thumper, starting with the fourth level. This is where the final nail in the coffin hits: the levels are way, way too long and the individual sections repeat.

I do not like it and wish I would have spent that money on Rez instead.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Budget constraints

The limitations of not being EA or CD Projeckt are beginning to be more apparent in The Technomancer. Aside from mediocre graphics, bad voice acting and repetitive quests, I mean. There is a somewhat hidden karma system. Doing basically good things nets you good karma and shoving a needle into unconscious enemies, draining their essence and killing them is bad karma. Supposedly companions may or may not like this, though I have not been jamming needles into brains as there are much more efficient ways to earn money, like running errands for crime bosses.

In better games the side missions you took part in had some sort of effect on the members or your party. This led to either shaping up or finding a party that was complicit with your evil dealings. They don't seem to notice much in The Technomancer. I have a gigantic and surprisingly well spoken mutant and a very angry pilot (who I may or may not have kidnapped at one point) and neither of them said a word while I was extorting money from merchants. I didn't get any bad karma points, either, so there was no reason not to go full on criminal lackey.

No repercussions. No consequences. No budget to take into account all the awful things that a player may get into. It's a small, big game, if that makes any sense.

...

I need to vent about an audio/visual problem.

Having recently purchased a mediocre 4K television and two more speakers I set to the task of rewiring all of my shit for pseudo 7.1 sound. Previously I had the consoles going directly to the television via HDMI for video and to my receiver via digital audio cable for sound. It worked, sounded good, but it was a lot of wires.

HDMI is just as good if not better for sound. In an effort to consolidate cables, and because the television will control the receiver, I moved the consoles to go directly into the receiver via HDMI and then connected the receiver to the television via another HDMI. No dice, the 4K pass through was either not there or not good enough. The Xbox One S complained that it was connected to a less than optimal set.

So I swapped it, connected the consoles directly to the television and then went back from the television to the receiver via HDMI. This works, save one problem: a very slight delay to the audio. We are talking around a tenth to two tenths of a second. Just a few frames but god damn once I noticed it I can see and hear nothing else.

I went back to using the digital audio cable, thus defeating the entire purpose and settled on being pissed off. It dawned on me that I have no idea if the cable I was using to go from the television to the receiver was a newer or older HDMI cable. There is a difference in speed and the older ones cannot handle 4K signals.

Sigh. Back to the store again.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Poor man's blogging

The designation 'poor man's' is not always a bad thing, right? Poor man's lobster is still pretty good. Poor man's beer will still get you drunk, you just won't enjoy the process nearly as much. The Technomancer is either poor man's The Witcher (on Mars!) or poor man's Mass Effect (on Mars!). Either way, the new Mass Effect is still off in the hazy distance and there is no new Witcher planned at the moment. Take what you can get, right?

Spiders, the developer, has a history of middling offerings, one of which was the thoroughly mediocre Bound by Flame, a game that I only remembered playing because I looked up said developer on Wikipedia. The Technomancer has the exact same problems: big ideas but not enough experience and technological prowess to make them stick. Some very good visuals, the parts of Mars I have seen so far are right out of the dingier sections of Total Recall, and other terrible ones, characters models from the previous generation and facial movements from the pits of hell.

And then there's the combat. The stinky, stinky combat. A man I respect called Witcher 3's combat 'whiffy and unsatisfying' and I resisted the urge to call him names. The Technomancer has bad combat, regardless of which of the three stances you try to use. There is little to impact, visually or otherwise, when an attack lands and enemies will ignore block stun to apply cheap shots. Guns are ridiculously overpowered, at least when enemies have them, so death can come quickly and without notice.

But you can save scum and I have been save scumming like a motherfucker. Before every fight, before going around a corner, before every conversation I click that safety checkbox and feel no remorse for it. When a game's combat feels as random as this one there is no shame in using every advantage available.

Still, somewhere about the game has me hooked. I can tell what the story wants me to do, to shift from buttoned up soldier guy to being sympathetic to 'the resistance' and I am intentionally choosing the opposite. This may be like by KotoR 2 run: all dark side points, all the way.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Bad, bad things

An apology.

For the first time since Chance and I started doing our podcast we have missed a week. It is not for lack of trying. We were ready to go and Cast, the site that we use, simply did not allow anyone to connect to the same session. I have run into issues with Cast before and they replied quickly and professionally. This time is not going as well. I emailed them last night and have received nothing more than an automatic response.

My reach is incredibly small but my wrath is mighty. Cast, do not fuck with me. I pay to use your site. It may not be much but it is money exchanged for services, services that you failed to deliver. A response would be nice, even if all it says is that a human has seen my problem.

...

Where were we, oh yes, shitty games.

Ghostbusters put me to sleep last night - full on unconscious on the couch with the controller in my hands, drooling slightly from one corner of the mouth. That last game to do that was Final Fantasy 13 during the twenty hour tutorial. It is not a good sign.

The problem, well one of the problems, is that nothing in the game changes. You move from room to room, shoot many of the same ghosts until you run into a more powerful ghost that needs to be trapped. There is a button mashing mini-game (seriously, what the fuck) and the cycle starts again. The first few levels took about thirty minutes to complete. The level I fell asleep in the midst of last night took fifty, though I am not really sure how long I was out.

I am not fighting annoyance or anger with this game, or even the games poor quality. I am fighting fatigue.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Again?

Does anyone else remember Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime? No? Good for you, it shows that you are much more discerning with your limited number of leisure hours on this good earth. I played it, it was terrible, and I never finished it because the game was so rooted in co-op play that lonely players were saddled with three suicidal AI companions.

That game was really, really bad. It made top three is my worst of the year (in 2011, wow that was a long time ago). The newish Ghostbuster game loosely based on the new movie couldn't possible be as bad, could it? Oh, it is, in exactly the same way. It appears that they took Sanctum of Slime, slapped in into the Unreal 4 engine and called it a day.

Sure, a few annoying quips were recorded to be repeated ad nauseam during gameplay. If I hear 'lights out ghoul friend' one more fucking time.... Apart from a sideways reference or two to the movie it is the same game.

And I am playing it.

I really, really hope it isn't very long.

...

No pictures of yesterday's addition. It is not finished and partially finished tattoos look terrible.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Priorities

I should confess that the reason that I did not purchase Forza Horizon 3 is not that I do not have the money, more that the discretionary dollars that could have gone towards it are going somewhere else. On me. I have an appointment with my artist on Sunday. No tattoos since January and I am itching for something new.

But that enthusiasm did nothing to help pass the evening two nights ago. Sword Coast Legends lived up to is below average to bad reviews. Things move much to fast to not stop the battle every round and plan out attacks. In and of itself this is not a bad thing. Way, way back in the day I played through most of Baldurs Gate 2 and all of Neverwinter Nights and its sequel that way. The difference is that the user interface in Sword Coast Legends in as affront to all that is good and holy. Painful to look at is not a strong enough of a condemnation.

It was not so much that I was killed by a radon encounter with a few wolves, it was that I did not know why it happened. The game was not good looking nor involving enough for me to investigate. Apparently I have been crankier than normal for the last few games. Cranky and desperate.

I trolled through the new releases looking for something inexpensive to play, something that I passed on because I was busy, finally coming up with Song of the Deep, the Metroid-like developed by Insomniac and published by Gamestop, of all places. It's, well, it's not bad. It's no Ori and the Blind Forrest or Guacamelee, in fact in feels like an established developer stretching out into unfamiliar territory. The quality is there but there are occasional mistakes that give away the game's experimental nature.

Having the entire game take place underwater takes away a few of the standard road blocks in a Metroid game. Gaps are never too big when you are floating. Early obstacles are now swift moving currents and it is not always obvious if you can or cannot get past them, leading to time wasted on attempting to navigate tunnels that wold be best saved for later.

Power ups are spread too far out. Ori and Guacamelee had a well timed drip feed of new abilities. Too much time passes between them in Song of the Deep. Power ups can be purchased instead of found which makes me wonder if I could grind enemies instead of exploring.

These are small complaints. The game feels just a bit off but by no means bad. Plus, it's a Metroid-like. How often do those come around.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Forbidden subjects

Just because we won't talk about one thing doesn't mean we have nothing to talk about:


Chamberlain and Chance - Forbidden subjects

Searching

I apologize for not making good on my promise of a chronological recording of my reactions to No Man's Sky. Had I done so it would have gone something like this:

(Beer 1)

Hmm. This is kinda boring. I should at least try warping once.

(Beer 2)

CHAncE. Can I pulleese stop playing thish? Hey listen this cool song. ZZZzzzZzZzz..

Or something close to that anyway.

No Man's Sky was boring. It was shopping for groceries in an unfamiliar store: you know what you want but you don't know where it is and are therefore annoyed to your very bones. Every planet boiled down to scavenging for the materials required to warp to the next one. It did not matter that I was supposedly the first person to see the planets (which I was not, after the first two every planet already had someone else's name on it) because there was nothing to do there.

As I said about Jotun, exploration is not always its own reward. Yes, I can wander the hills or caves of a hostile planet whose every inhabitant tries to kill me (this is a thing that happened) but what fun is it when the whole purpose is just to collect one hundred of the same mineral so I can warp to the next planet and do the whole thing again?

A game with billions of procedurally generated planets had shown me all it had to offer in just under two hours. I did return to it for a second night to make sure that sober Chamberlain had the same opinion as not sober Chamberlain and he did, he just didn't send emails filled with poor grammar and misspelled words begging to be allowed to quit. He just turned it off.

...

I have managed to sink tiny amounts of time into several games since then, looking for something, good or bad, that I don't mind playing. After Carmageddon was Assetto Corsa, a racing game so on the sim side of things that I couldn't make it past the first race. I am sure there is a market for this kind of game but it is not me. I will never drive a real car that fast on that curvey of a road.

Next was Earthlock, the free RPG from September's Games with Gold. I didn't hear much about it and now I know why: it sucks. No voice acting, plain environments, simply yet overly difficult combat that assumes you are going to grind for levels from the start, it was a catalogue of RPG tropes that better games left behind years ago. My endurance for terrible games must be waning as I shut this one off after two days as well.

What is wrong with me.

Now, the real dilemma: Forza Horizon 3 comes out today, a game that I know I will enjoy, but I do not exactly have the cash for it, the discretionary having been drained by a PS4Pro pre-order and 50 feet of speaker cable (when I really needed 60, a story for another day).

I am left with Sword Coast Legends, a game I bought months ago and then forgot about. It is not great but what else am I going to do with my time,

read?

Friday, September 23, 2016

Bigger is not always better

Jotun gets all sorts of points for trying. They tried, and sometimes succeeded, to impart a sense of scale rarely seen outside of Shadow of the Colossus. They tried, and came close, to bringing Vanillaware quality animation to said gigantic bosses. What they didn't do was package these things into a game that was all that enjoyable.

For starters, the gigantic worlds are mostly empty. There are interesting little animations in the background, such as a giant squirrel stopping to look at you as you ascend the world tree or blizzards that erode your life if you do not find cover, but there is not much else to do in them. Only one level has enemies to fight - dwarves that come at you in comically huge mobs - the rest are little more than boring exploration. Not that exploration itself is not its own reward, it would just be nice for there to be something to find.

I should not complain too much about the near total lack of combat apart from bosses. The main character's moveset is so limited it would not be very exciting anyway. Even the god powers unlocked by finding shrines do little to spice things up.

And then you get to a jotun and you forgive how boring the level was before it. At least the first time. Take this guy, for example:


Looks pretty good, right? He is very well animated as well, at least for the three different things that he does. Once he has jumped and swung his sword you have seen all there is to see.

Jotun suffers under its own desire for gigantic scale. They succeeded in making the bosses big but failed to give them much to do. The levels themselves are equally oversized but there is little for the player to do. I am happy to give points for trying. Those points are not worth as much as the ones I take away for poor execution.

...

I tried to play Carmageddon again and turned it off after ten minutes. It was a waste of time. I tried ti play the new Shadow Lords content in Killer Instinct but it would not let me play as the one character I knew so I got bored. I tried to play as Urien in Street Fighter V but I do not think he is for me.

That means that is is finally time to give No Man's Sky a shot. I will chronicle this attempt tonight as I did my one night's dalliance with Bloodborne. They will be alcohol involved so I make no promises regarding spelling, punctuation or grammar. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

New shiny things!

A very good breakdown of what to expect out of your PS4 Pro even if your couch is not blessed with the presence of a 4K television.



I'm excited, moreso then I was for my Xbox One S.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Coming down

As stated both here and in the podcast, Odin Sphere was an excellent game. It took me longer to complete than I expected and I was okay with it. Backgrounds and bosses were reused often, some appearing for every character, and I was okay with it. I was even okay with each chapter starting me out at level one again. The cold hard facts show that I should not have enjoyed this game. But the cold hard facts are not animated by Vanillaware, nor do they allow me to cultivate sheep from seeds, slay said sheep and then cook up spicy pork chops that recover health and level up my maximum hit points.

It is only natural that the next game after an excellent one is going to be a bit of a let down, the next game being Jotun, a digital title purchased due to its cool name and it being discounted if preordered. Sometimes this uncovers gems like Tembo the Badass Elephant, a game every bit as excellent as its name, and other time you get Jotun, a title so dedicated to its hook that everything else suffers from neglect.

The hook of Jotun, and why I really bought the game, is the the player is very, very small and that the bosses, or jotun, are very, very big. In this the game does not disappoint. The hero almost disappears in their presence, and yes, you can roll through their legs to avoid attacks. The problem is that the levels themselves are giant, not very well laid out, and your small hero has small legs and therefore takes small steps. And the game does not let you pan the camera out to get a better view.

Navigating the giant levels is not fun. Combat is, so far, limited to dodge, dodge, attack, over and over. The jotun, as good as they look, offer little variety to their attacks. It's not bad, it's just not at all exciting, and for a game that has you fighting enemies one hundred times your size to not be exciting, well, I was ready to try something else.

So last night I played chapter two of the Batman Telltale series. It was amazing in all sorts of ways that I cannot talk about and it was bad it all the same ways that Telltale games always are, namely a terrible framerate and, even worse, parts of the scene just disappearing. But none of that mattered. From the first moment, in which Bruce questions Alfred about his past, to the last when I was faced with the unanswerable question:

Save Harvey or Selina

I was hooked.

...Oh, and I played a little of Carmageddon. It was absolute shit and I may not go back to it, not when Forza Horizon 3 is just around the corner. There is no space for terrible racing games when the king's arrival is imminent.

Much to talk about, but first, here is us talking

Chamberlain and Chance - There is only Overwatch

Monday, September 19, 2016

It's about time

It is done! It took longer than I expected, being interrupted by a vacation certainly did not help, but I have finished Odin Sphere. I even got the worst possible ending, was not satisfied, and did the final level a second time (with online help) to get the correct one.

What is wrong with me.

I am not going to spoil the ending as the story in Odin Sphere, how the fates of five people intertwine as the apocalypse approaches, really is one of the highlights of the game. It would be unkind for me to share how it goes. However I will say that Oswald gets a happy ending that I do not believe he deserves.

There is a bit of analysis to finish regarding what each character loses and what they do about it. To recap, Gwendolyn lost her honor and chose love, Cornelius lost his humanity and chose courage, Mercedes lost her mother and chose to lead her people and Oswald lost his balls and did nothing about it. This leaves Velvet.

Velvet lost her innocence. She and her brother Ingway are the only two human survivors of the Valentine kingdom, the rest having been turned to pookas when the cauldron exploded. Her grandfather strangled her mother after discovering that Velvet and Ingway's father was Odin. Later he returns from the dead to finish his plans. So yeah, she has a lot going on and she doesn't always deal with it well.

The first time that her grandfather (well, his rotting corpse) appears to her she is visibly shaken. In a game full of excellent animation, the subtle way she shudders, loses confidence, and eventually bows out of fear, trumps everything. She didn't need to say anything - the way she looked and moved explained how she felt. This was her challenge, to defeat the man who had stolen her innocence.

Odin Sphere was a good game this time around. Much better than the last time I played it and I chalk that up to the combat being much more interesting and there being no slow down for any of the bosses. Amazing what just under a decade of technical advancement can do.

Friday, September 16, 2016

You might need those

I entertained taking a break from Odin Sphere to play Jotun, a game that I preordered and desperately do not want to forget, but I could not force myself to share time out to a second game, especially when just about every time I turn on my PS4 I have people bugging me to play KoF with them.

Because I am wholesale free at that game and will probably remain so.

So I moved directly to Oswald's story. He is a tortured soul full of angst and ennui, but he is also a milquetoast coward. He can do nothing without someone ordering him around. First it was his adoptive father, the same guy who sold his soul to the queen of the underworld. His father confesses on his deathbed that Oswald meant nothing and Oswald dies of depression.

Or the queen's demonic thugs drag him to hell without dying, whichever explanation you prefer. While in hell he fights his way to the queen herself and, when he finds that his uber weapon does not work on her, does what she tells him to do: fight Odin. Oswald defeats Odin, handily, but instead of killing him he does what Odin tells him to do, and continues to do so once they are out of the underworld.

Odin tells him to kill a dragon and promises his daughter as a reward. Oswald is just looking for someone else to take charge of his life. Maybe order him to sweep the floor and take out the garbage instead of slay demons, but the effect is the same.

I don't like him. He's not heroic. He's barely tragic. He is spineless and immensely powerful, two things that don't often go together. In keeping with the theme of started by the previous character it is clear that Oswald long ago lost

his balls.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Just a little further

I finally finished the fairy chapter and my opinion of how it played has not changed. It was the weakest of the three sections, easily, though the two side scrolling shooter sections were a pleasant surprise. There was no weight or power to her attacks and I felt like I was running away all of the time. I mean, she was a fairy, but her mother at least looked like she could handle herself. Mercedes was waifish to an almost silly degree.

While her gameplay was weak Mercedes' piece of the story had they same weight to it as the valkyrie and the pooka. Each so far has been about loss and what the protagonist does about it. Gwendolyn lost her position as a valkyrie, banished by her father for what she believed to be a noble act. She eventually accepted this, even finding love with the man she was promised to. Cornelius lost his humanity, cursed to live as a anthropomorphic bunny. He at first fought to regain his form, then to protect Velvet.

Mercedes lost her mother, who was killed by Odin, then nearly lost her kingdom when betrayed by her cousin. It takes quite a while for her to come around, but when she does there is a Braveheart worthy speech made to her soldiers on the eve of a final battle with Odin's army.

Now if only the four hours dedicated to her weren't such a chore.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Proof!

Or just a lazy post. Podcast will be up late tonight.




Friday, September 9, 2016

Well, that's that

I don't feel 40.

Granted, I don't know what 40 is supposed to feel like. Right now I hurt from showing off just a bit on a high ropes course. Someone else did the black diamond route, how could I not? Apart from that bit of explainable pain, nothing feels different. I still enjoy the same things that I always have. I behave in the same age obscuring way. I am currently excited for both the PS4Pro and Microsoft's answer just like I have been excited for all of my old consoles, going back to the 2600 that I had in the middle of the great crash.

But there are signs. Little, niggling, annoying signs that my ass, and the rest of me, are getting old.

For one, I purchased a nose and ear hair trimmer at Target a few weeks ago. It is surprisingly difficult to use. No one of a reasonable age grows hair in their ears, right?

I enjoy beer more now than I ever have before but I can drink much less of it at a sitting, which is to say, one if I am driving anywhere. I enjoy videogames just as much now as I ever have, can afford to get what I want when I want, yet I fall asleep on my loveseat long before I have had my fill of whatever I am playing.

It's still me in here, just a little stronger than I used to be, a little more easily fatigued, with a little more ink and a little less patience for stupid shit. And there is so, so much stupid shit.

Were politics always this stupid? Were console debates always this inane? Were fighting games always this hard and everyone else so much better than I am? Either things are getting worse or I am becoming more conscious of how bad everything already was. Both options are depressing. If there was a bar in this tiny hotel I would have a second beer.

And fall asleep.

But I am not depressed or annoyed or happy or sad on my birthday. I am safely on vacation, away from all but one who knows what day it is, and can pretend to still just be me. Today it was me hopping between suspended logs and tomorrow it will be me on a cliff, ignoring my limbs' pleas to knock that shit off already. On Sunday it will be me back in my basement, eaking out an hour of Odin Sphere before the weekend's activities finally do me in.

Yes, it's my birthday today. I am 40. But hush, it's a secret to everybody.


Thursday, September 8, 2016

Oh lord, help me.

Middle of nowhere West Virginia in a hotel next to a long dead strip mall with shitty shitty WiFi and no cell signal.

There is no bar in the hotel to help sooth the pain.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Thin pickings

It's going to be a thin week here. Not including tonight, I only managed three nights of playing anything, one of which was split between Odin Sphere and KoF 14. Now that KoF works online, and it more than just works, it's exceptional, I am less willing to write it off. Movement is still a major obstacle, I understand the motion of the hop but cannot get my hands to do it, but the flow of the game is starting to make more sense.

Street Fighter 5, unlike 4, is all about pressure. If you aren't attacking you are losing and if you attack at the wrong time you are also losing, just faster. KoF is as well but there is at least one other way to play: ranged. My current team is Kukri - King - Andy, all of whom have firewall attacks. Using ranged attacks to wear down the opponent, to get them to commit to a bad jump in or roll from the wrong distance, works. Managing the field of play instead of the opponent has more effect than in Street Fighter.

I am not saying that it is the most efficient way or the most effective but at least it is an option. The next step is to maximize the openings that a good ranged game provides and that means getting my sweet ass combos out of the practice room and into the real world. It also means sucking less from the player two side but that has been a problem for my entire life and is why I picked up charge characters so many years ago.

What was that? Urien is a charge character and will be out sometime this month? Just when I think I got out Street Fighter 5 pulls me back in.

...

I am now further into Odin Sphere than I got the first time I played it. An estimate of 20 hours was given to me when I asked about the completion time. That is not even close to what this is going to take me is I see it through to the end. The final act of the second character sees me at around 14 hours and there are four more to go.

The game has not worn out its welcome yet. There have been repeated environments and bosses but they have been different enough to keep me invested. The final area of the second book is completely new and had a new boss, a blob that split in two after each health bar was depleted. On the PS4 it looked amazing and played as smooth as one would expect but I could see this encounter bringing the Vita to its knees.

What will break me is one of the characters not being fun to use. A significant amount of time is spent with each and they always start from level one. Each is in essence their own game, a game that I have played before, so if one of them is lame putting up with him or her will be extra difficult. So far the spear wielding valkyrie and sword wielding pooka have been amusing and unique. I do not know who is next but I predict the the fairie with a crossbow will be the one that will test my resolve.

She doesn't even look cool.

...

On vacation for the next few days. I may post, I may not. If I survive, there may be pictures.