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.