Monday, June 27, 2016

Over Overwatch

I am not actually playing Overwatch. I mean, any more. I did play it for about an hour and a half. Then I got bored. Let me try to explain.

Mechanically, Overwarch is exceptional. I would expect nothing less from Blizzard. They would not enter a genre if they were not fully prepared to dominate it. Even from my scant play time I can confirm that it controls about as well as a shooter can on a controller, looks good, runs smoothly, that the characters animate well and that the levels are (usually) laid out in a logical manner. I could do without most of the characters' repetitive quips but that is a minor annoyance.

So why did I stop playing?

It felt pointless. There was nothing behind the sweet, sugary facade. It was like having a dinner of cotton candy and wondering why you are hungry later. Oh, and that cotton candy may taste like ass if the wrong person made it for you, regardless of how hard you tried to enjoy it or how much you paid for it.

The lack of progression kills the game for me, along with the total reliance on others to have a good time. Yes, I am aware that there are innumerable bits of fluff to unlock, none of which have any impact on the game itself, so I give zero fucks about them. Let me earn something that matters. Weapons, armor, skills, something beyond a spray or another winning quote that I will get tired of immediately.  And yes, I am fully aware that this lack of in game progression applies just as much to fighting games, but the next point does not.

Overwatch absolutely requires team play. Team play on the internet. Let us not forgot that the internet is full of assholes. Assholes who pay no attention to the matches actual objective or who disconnect mid match or who spend the first half of a game spray painting the spawn point. Assholes that might as well not be playing the same game.

I tested the game out with Soldier 76 because I wanted to shoot people. He shoots people. He shoots people quite well and his rockets and healing abilities round out his skills making him, in my eyes, very useful. On several occasions while defending a point I found myself being the only person anywhere near said objective. Everyone else was off fucking around elsewhere on the map. There was also a match in which I accumulated a 21 kill streak, objective kills mind you, and still lost because no one else did anything.

This is fun? No thanks. In a fighting game when I do well I win. When I have a bad game I lose. No one else to blame or take credit.

There is also a the matter of the game having no single player portion and therefore no ending. A significant part of a game for me, almost any game, is finishing that game. There is no end to Overwatch. Just match after match with randoms in a grind for that last outfit that does nothing.

For those keeping score, yes, I am hating on the game for being exactly what it intends to be. It's success makes it nigh-unplayable for me.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

That came out of nowhere

I am not going to spend too much time talking about a three year old game that I only played because it was free, but holy shit I was not prepared for Gone Home. In two hours I got to know four different people, saw triumphs and failures in their lives, and witnessed a young girl coming of age and finding herself. This was all done by exploring an empty house, reading notes, and listening to diary entries.

Not a game in the strictest measure but something that should be experienced, especially if your definition of entertainment is broader than shooting mans.

...

I mean, I enjoy shooting mans, but I at least need to pretend that there is more to me than that.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Caveman reviews

Homefront ended with a whimper by stealing scenarios from other games that it did not do the work to deserve. I am not going to talk about the way the game plays. It is serviceable, good even, just as soon as I wrapped my head around how few hits I could take before dying. Call of Duty this is not.

Spoilers incoming. Like anyone else played this game.

Homefront spends several cutscenes exploring how despicable the leaders of the revolution became after the leader was captured and forced to read statements saying that he was wrong about how bad things were and that everything was perfect under the glorious leader. Standard North Korean propaganda. Without him to hold everything together Jack, the working man stereotype who is not good with words but can fire a gun, and Dana, a sadist looking to kill anyone wearing red, move from rebels to terrorists with surprising speed.

And I mean the terrorists part literally. They start with storing weapons in field hospitals and graduate to murdering the figurehead mayor on camera 'to make a point.' They are not likeable people and the player character's muteness make him complicit. The only character with any redeeming value is the pacifist doctor who tries several times to make a point but never really stands up to the other two.

After the afore mention murder the North Korean occupying forces decide that the Americans are more trouble than they are worth and start the gas the entire city - nerve gas. Rebels have gas masks but civilians are proper fucked. Jack and Dana are surprised (because they aren't very bright) and the game at this point begins to jump through hoops to redeem them.

It doesn't work. Jack gets shot up and Dana grabs some explosives and blows up both herself and the armored vehicle that shot him (in spite of the player character having a goddamn rocket launcher right the fuck there) in a moment that is supposed to fix the character.  I felt nothing beyond 'good riddance' and moved on to the end of the game.

This is the difference between a mediocre shooter and an excellent one. It is possible to have honest emotional moments in otherwise blatantly violent games if work is done to make characters likeable or at least relatable. Even Call of Duty manages this and Call of Duty is the gaming equivalent of a roller coaster with an incredibly short line. Homefront tries this and fails so hard it is silly. I should feel more than bemusement at the sacrifice of a main character.

To summarize, shooting good. Everything else, bad.


Monday, June 20, 2016

On my unfair expectations - Podcast

We were tired. The energy level is low.

Chamberlain and Chance - Recovery Mode
That was my third try at the intro. But the content is still good, right?!

...

I need to defend my unfair standards of game critiquing.

When a game is good, like really good, it pays to spend more time on the little things that it got wrong, the tiny things that, if fixed, would have moved it from really good to perfect. It has all of the basics, the things that we as people who play games simply expect to be there, covered, so we can collectively up the complexity, depth and perhaps bitchiness of our complaints.

I pick nits because I love. For example, Alien Isolation is a modern classic, but let's start with the basics. Does it feel good to move around in its environments? Do said environments assist in telling the story? When combat does happen, it is responsive? Since it is a stealth based game, does it follow it own rules, does hiding make sense?

All that checked off? Good, it is now at least an average game and we can pick harder. How is the writing, does it sound natural or was it recorded by the janitor in his lonely, lonely closet? I see there is crafting, does it make sense in the world or is it tacked on to fill time? It is an existing property, does it do its source material justice?

All yesses again? This is a damn fine game so bring out the finest toothed comb.

Ends on a quick time event? Fuck this game and the horse it rode in on. Not really, but it made it past all of the rudimentary hurdles and much more difficult obstacles that trip up so many lesser games. Does that mean I should not call it out on its one failing? Does that not mean I should call it out harder?

Games like Homefront: The Revolution get points for making it out of the door in the morning with pants and socks on. The socks don't even need to be matching, at least it is dressed. Games like Alien Isolation are so fucking dapper that when the pocket handkerchief is slightly askew you just have to let them know. Not out of hate, though I know I sound that way, but out of respect for what they have accomplished and desire for a game to manage what so few have, honest perfection.

We are all looking for our next Super Mario Brothers 3. It may never happen but we have to keep looking.

Friday, June 17, 2016

I have a strong tolerance

I cannot believe that I slipped into Cartman without saying 'cheesy poofs' or 'Mom, kitties being a dildo.' Oh well, I will wait for the next South Park game to pull out an impression that I have had on the back burner for almost twenty years. There is only one other and I cannot be sober to do it.

...

The last game I played, Lichdom Battlemage, was a bad port of a bad game, 'achieved' with CryEngine. This is not the first console game using that engine to perform poorly, nor will it be he last. Two days ago I started Homefront: Rebellion, another console title using CryEngine that, you guessed it, has performance issues. It is nowhere as bad as Lichdom but there is a several second pause everything time the game saves data. Exiting a menu, finishing a job, hitting a checkpoint in the middle of a boss fight, it doesn't matter. The game stops, thinks about the torture of its existence, then lets you play again.

This was solved with Halo. The first one. Two fucking generations ago.

The game itself is not as terrible as you have been led to believe. Instead of a linear shooter like the first game Revolution is an open(ish) world shooter. It is has Ubi-game elements, namely tons of inane shit to collect or blow up in each area, but it lets the player know when there is no reason to collect any more of a given item. For example, each area has a 'hearts and minds' meter that the player needs to raise to 100%.

You can laugh at that if you want. I did.

There are many different ways to raise this percentage, so many that it is quite possible to get to 100% without emptying a map. Only the first five or ten of each activity count towards the percentage and the game tells you this. It saves obsessive compulsive people from themselves by saying 'Yes, you found 10 radios. There are more but you don't need to get them. You can if you want to, but there is no in game benefit, not even an achievement.'

All games should do this. It saves so much time.

Action is intense because the player character is incredibly fragile and there is no health regen. You can carry a limited number of health packs that bring you back to full but once they are gone you either retreat to find more or press on and risk death. Hiding in cover waiting to heal bullet holes has been so ingrained by other modern shooters that I am still doing it, three days into a game in which this behavior does nothing more than give the enemy time to flank you.

Or it would if the game's enemies had any sense. The infamous AI of the first Far Cry does not apparently come bundled with CryEngine.

Not a great game but not a dumpster fire, Revolution at least does not offend in the same way Lichdom did. This has been your back handed compliment of the day.

Forgot to post this

But you should still listen to it. It's sssssspectacular.


Chamberlain and Chance - The E3 Spectacular!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

See YouTube for the real ending

The not a demo demo of Resident Evil 7 was, to be polite, underwhelming. It did not help that the one big jump scare was spoiled in the trailer shown at Sony's press conference. To quote Alex from yesterday's podcast, this is Capcom attempting to pick up all the money that PT's demise left sitting on the table. There is one problem: they didn't have Kojima at the helm and it shows.

Beginning Hour put you in the shoes of a cameraman for a reality show that focuses on scary, abandoned houses. 'Get out of the house' is your only piece of instruction. You fumble around a very PT looking environment filled with very Resident Evil style pickups. There is a finger in an end table (that I never figure out what was for), a drawer that I never found the key to and a bolt cutter. Obviously the bolt cutter is to open the cabinet with the big ass chain on it.

Inside was a VHS tape. Welcome to the late 80's?

Of course you watch the tape and it is what you recorded prior to being knocked out. No more spoilers for you, but this is the only bit of the game that is even close to unnerving, featuring a blatant shout out to The Blair Witch Project. It still worked, though I was a little embarrassed after the fact.

Short story shorter, you find a key to the back door and just as you about to escape a refugee from The Devil's Reject shows up and kills you. And then you are supposed to play the demo again, and I found another room with a little more info but then was killed by the same dude.

That was enough. There was something creepily compelling about the PT loop and its subtle descent into madness. Beginning Hour never got there. It never got close. It excites me for a Resident Evil game for the first time in years but it is not the AAA horror that I was hoping for,

More like AAA spoopy.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Outsiders perspective

I have paid more attention to this year's E3 press conferences that I have in a long, long time. After all, I need to keep up with the man who declares this week a personal holiday. I am not prepared to dissect each one, that is what the podcast is for, but I will gladly give me reactions to the big two: Microsoft and Sony.

Please keep in mind that I am by no means unbiased.

If Microsoft's conference had a theme it would be 'OK, you win.' Not as a concession to Sony but as a tiny apology to the loyal. They tried to force a digital only console. That didn't work. They tried to force kinect. That really didn't work. They tried to say that the difference in power between their box and the PS4 was negligible and that people wouldn't really notice. It is no and the really did.

'Ok. We get it. We screwed up. Here, have  tiny version of our current console and a surprisingly low key announcement of the monster that will be out next year. And here are a bunch of games.'

That being said, there were no surprises. Gears 4 looked sufficiently Gears-y. Forza Horizon 3 was not a surprise but was welcome none the less. Raam had already been leaked for Killer Instinct. There was way, way too much Minecraft and. Recore was shown briefly, but again, we knew that was coming. It was a good show but lacked any of the 'moments' that Sony has had.

...and will continue to have.

Sony put together a classy ass presentation. Live orchestra, lots of trailers of big games with little to no talking in between. New IP, albeit in a well worn genre, and of course Hideo Kojima's naked man finds a fetus on a black beach simulator. They had almost everything.

Almost. There was no mention of their new hardware even though everyone knows that it is coming. Nothing short of a AAA title got any screen time and there was no mention of their dying (dead) hand held. It was classy but it was not subtle, certainly humble. The show was Sony taking a precarious step back towards the Sony that announced the PS3 for $600 and told gamers to save up for it.

But they had God of War gameplay, a release date for The Last Guardian, a demo for Resident Evil 7 that I cannot find on PSN, and way, way too much VR.

Sony does win again but it was not the thumping they delivered last year. And that is good. I like my console arms races tight, my streams running smooth, and my press conferences free of dancing giraffes.

What the fuck, Ubisoft. What the fuck.

Monday, June 13, 2016

A bad mix of genres

I gave Battleborn the old college try. No really. I played the story mode (in single player) until I got to a mission that seemed impossible to do on my own. Then I tried to join a co-op story mode game.

And I waited.

It didn't work.

So I attempted to join a multiplayer game. That didn't work either. Eventually, after several minutes of waiting and getting progressively more annoyed, I was able to get into a game. I knew what the game was, a MOBA played from first person, but it did not register until yesterday how boring that really is.

If I am going to try and shoot people then I want it to be fast. What's that, a new Quake was announced? Only PC? Well, fuck you then.

Battleborn gets a hard pass after about five hours of play. No thanks.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Thursday, June 9, 2016

The return of that guy

I will finish Lichdom Battlemage.

My resolve wavered last night after an hour of work on an optional section. It was hard. Cheapshot deaths from across the map hard. Yet I kept at it. Death after death, nonstop repetitive failure, and I did not stop.

Why? Why am I doing this in a terrible game when I have denounced the exact same mechanics in other games that have the bonus of actually being good and hard as opposed to be terrible an hard? As much as you would like to think, the answer is not undiagnosed schizophrenia. My meds all come from a bottle, thank you very much.

The answer is simple and childish. It is the same reason that I had a first generation Prius and currently own a three wheeled motor cycle. It is why I had a TurboGrafx 16 and a 3DO. It is why I stick to low tier, borderline unplayable characters in fighting games and why I have a Windows phone.

I like having things that no one else does. Not expensive things or complicated things or rare things, just things that the crowd turns their collective noses up at. My Prius was a goddamn space ship, as far as people were concerned. Then everyone got one and I sold it and bought a crossover. My Spyder is my new spaceship but there are more and more of them floating around. Perhaps a Slingshot is next.

The same is true for games. Finding out that only 10 people had unlocked a specific achievement in Lichdom Battlemage was like Christmas for me and likewise doomed me to see it through to the end. How many other people played Darkest of Days, Damnation, or any other terrible game from the last gen all the way out to their depressing credits?

Am I proud of this? A bit. It is also a bit troubling but I am certainly not going to stop. It also means that, honestly, I am that guy. You know, that guy. That one guy who did not play any of the Souls games and put next to zero time into Salt and Sanctuary in spite of the generosity of a friend.

You know. That guy.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Unhealthy obsessions

pation.

...

TrueAchievments is a wonderful, evil service. It automatically sweeps up your achievements on a daily basis and then weights them based on how many people played the game and unlocked said achievement. The more people who play the game and don't unlock one, the more it is worth. This means that every time a game I have played in the past hits Games With Gold my total goes up without me doing anything.

It also provides and unfortunate incentive to complete terrible games. Games like Lichdom Battlemage. Last night I beat (what I really hope is) the second to last boss, an achievement worth 90 points. After the rareness multiplier or fucking 5.49 it turns into a single achievement worth 495 points. Of all the people who have played the game, which is only 277, 10 have unlocked it.

10. And I am one of them. I may have a serious problem.

For the record, no one has unlocked 100% of the achievements for Lichdom Battlemage. No, I am not going to try.

...

I cannot find a physical copy of Guilty Gear Xrd Revelator and it is really upsetting me.

Monday, June 6, 2016

It hurts

Lichdom Battlemage honestly hurts my hands to play. The constant jockeying of the right trigger combined with the fear of dying and losing progress in a game I already do not like creates an unhealthy death drip on the poor controller. I am squeezing that bastard for all I am worth and my right index finger is paying the price.

...or I may have hurt my hand on a series of two finger pockets at the gym on Friday, but that isn't as funny, so I will blame the bad game.

I honestly do want to finish the game just to say that I made it through one of the worst games of the generation so far. Playing not because I enjoy the game but to check a box on a list that no one cares about is silly even for me but that doesn't mean that it isn't going to happen.

More important that any of the above sickness is the Chamberlain and Chance E3 hype podcast! Listen as we make impossible wishes for games that will not happen. The character's name that I could not remember was Shodan and the game I want to see the most that will not appear (and that I didn't mention) is Beyond Good and Evil 2.

Share our antici


Chamberlain and Chance - We only want the best things

Friday, June 3, 2016

It just gets worse from here

Lichdom Battlemage is a master class in terribleness. There is much more wrong with it than the well documented performance issues. Not that I am going to let a frame rate up under 15 per second, often lower, slide, but there are much more interesting and tragic things to talk about. Even if the game ran at an acceptable, playable frame rate it would still not be very good.

I am here for you, so that you do not need to endure these headaches. I mean that literally.

First, the issue unique to my platform of choice: the game is way too dark and there is no way to adjust it. Environments are dark but you can at least see where you are going. Enemies, on the other hand, all look like shadows wielding etheriel crossbows or swords. Some of of them have more glowy bits than others but they are indistinguishable beyond that.

There also only three types, as far as I can tell. Guys who run at you, guys who fly, and guys fire things at you from a distance. Those guys are the worst, especially when they fire arrows that freeze you while the guys who run at you are, well, running at you.

The player has magic, lots of it if the menus are to be believed, but I have found maybe one or two combinations that actually work in combat. The first time I locked several guys to the ground and immolated them with fire from the heavens I felt as good as I good watching a slideshow of my efforts. By hundredth time the novelty had worn off.

Hundredth is not an exaggeration: levels are much, much longer than they need to be and they look the same all the way through. Remember Turok on the N64? Like that, only slightly better looking. Slightly.

Most damning of all is an inventory/upgrade system that the game itself deems so terrible that it never explains how to use it, opting instead to dump the player into an auto-upgrade screen. Not that it matter that much because attacks for each element look the same after being upgraded, they just do a little more damage. Maybe.

Oh, and the story is told through grainy flashbacks and is stupid. This may be one of the worst games of this generation. I will not be beaten by it.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Podcast - we promise it won't hurt you

Much.


Chamberlain and Chance - Combo broken

A short recap

I don't know if I am up to giving a blow by agonizing blow recap of my Combo Breaker performance. The only game  I wasn't thoroughly embarrassed in was Ultra Street Fighter 4 and I still went 0-2. At least I forced my second match to play his main after stomping his simple minded boxer. At one point in time that was a counter pick but in the game dying moments the only real counter picks are matches that the other person is not familiar with.

Which he did, lucky for him, when he pulled out Rolento. Still took it to the last hit of the last round of the last match. Playing Ultra made me happy, something that I cannot say for SFV ever and rarely happens in KI. It brought me great joy to whiff an lp roll into a throw and have my opponent slump into his chair out of frustration and embarrassment. That little bit of nonsense on top of crossover hop throws have existed since 2009.

Shenanigans never go out of style.


I was out classed in KI, though I would like to make excuses that I had uphill battles against a Glacius and a Sadira with Thunder. Thunder needs to get close and it's tough to do that against characters with long range attacks or double jumps. But that is just an excuse - the truth of it is that I am still playing the game the same way I did in Season 1 and everyone (but me) has learned to break auto doubles on reaction. Without any manuals in my arsenal when I did manage to get close I just got my ass broken and tossed across the screen.

And SFV? We aren't going to talk about that one at all. I lost those matches before I even sat down. 

But I made it to loser's semis in the mystery game tournament which is further than I had ever gotten in anything before. I was one errant missile launcher shot from going further. That's just how it is when playing really old, really bad games: it is equal parts luck, quick learning and having played enough other games to have a basic understanding of just about anything.

So I am indeed too old for most of that shit. And being too old for most of that shit was actually a boon in the mystery tournament. I mean, who else can you think of that remembers Bad Mister Frosty's moves from Clayfighter?