Tuesday, February 28, 2017

There had to be a way

I have found a way to make Final Fantasy XV enjoyable: I now imagine it as a retelling of the final months of The Beatles.

So the fab four are on a cracking tour, bringing down houses and riding birds as time permits. General boy will be boy good times ensue. Out of nowhere John decides that he desperately wants to meet Yoko so the four jump into a boat piloted by Pete Best and head to a strange new land. Once there Yoko breaks up the band just before being stabbed to death by a drugged out Robert Plant (it could have happened). John gets mopey and depressed, George is blinded in a bizarre gardening accident, John is 'tricked' into kicked Ringo off of a moving train and Paul quickly morphs into the biggest bitch in the world.

Monday, February 27, 2017

The rocket sled to hell

Open spoilers for Final Fantasy XV incoming because fuck this game.


I can best describe playing the first thirty or so hours of Final Fantasy XV as going through the RPG motions. There were copious side quests, some interesting, most not, and I did them all because that is how one plays an RPG when one wants to be appropriately (or better than appropriately) leveled. I knew that getting on the boat to finally meet up with Noctis' betrothed marked the end of the open world part of the game so I did everything I could to clean up the quests list.

Then I attempted Costlemark Tower. Fuck Costlemark Tower.

According to the quest description I should have been powerful enough. Based on that and a spoiler I (inadvertently) saw I ate an expensive meal that prevented all environmental damage and set off. It was a boring looking dungeon, one that felt more like post game content than something normal people are expected to play. I was also hemorrhaging healing items, items that I had been hoarding for the final boss of the game.

This was before I hit the iron giant who was nearly immune to all attacks. He went down, eventually, and I was sent back a floor and went through it again, this time again two iron giants. They went down, too, at the cost of most of my shit, so I decided that I no longer cared and looked up what was next.

Three iron and giants and some other beastie followed by the actual boss. This was a post game dungeon that hand slunk its way into the main game, so fuck it, I left. Then I got on the boat and started the rest of the game.

Things did not improve.

First I spent about half an hour wandering through Altissa before I figured out that I had to jump on a gondola to get to where I needed to go. Then I suffered through a terrible boss battle with leviathan, the first part of which left me feeling ineffectual and confused and the second like I was watching the worst parts of the third Matrix movie minus flying Keanu-Jesus.

And then, and I did warn you about spoilers:

Luna, the oracle to Noct's kingliness, gets Aeris'd right in the back and dies. It was meaningless because the player has been given no reason to care about Luna. There is no evidence of a relationship between Noct and Luna aside from one line messages sent via magic doggy express. It is as if the game's version of true love was based on passing folded paper messages between desks in third grade.

Noct is unconscious for days, Gladio turns into an insufferable dick head and the one boy band member who was at least tolerable, Ignis, is blinded off screen. Noct wakes up and Ignis has scars on his eyes. Doing harm to a supposedly important character off screen is bad enough but his blindness affects the gameplay. Noct drags his blind ass on the next mission, one whose point I either missed or was never explained, and has to walk slowing through whole thing because Ignis is blind and probably shouldn't be tromping through a god damn swamp in the first place.

Breath,

I have completely lost the plot and do not care enough to try to get it back. Noct was just tricked into kicking Prompto off of a moving train and my first thought was good, fuck him. The game will be finished but now it is only spite that drives me. I have a deep desire to be mean to this game.

Here's a start: Final Fantasy XII-2 was better.

Friday, February 24, 2017

I don't think it means what they think it means

Time to play the 'what parts of the plot do I remember from modern Final Fantasy game'? Modern because I am a JRPG fraud that started with Final Fantasy VII. No cheating! This is strictly from memory.

Final Fantasy VII

Spikey haired, comically oversized sword wielding Cloud witnesses the murder of the girl he may or may not like by spikey haired, comically oversized sword wielding Sephiroth. Cloud and his merry band chase Sephiroth for three discs. There is crossdressing, a swim in the life stream, a big fight between the two and Cloud wins. And Aeris stays dead.

Final Fantasy Tactics

Um. Politics or something? Fuck, this game was hard.

Final Fantasy VIII

Squall and his friends leave college to fight Ultimecia who, they find out later, ran the orphanage where they all met when they were little kids. Somehow they end up in space where Rinoa, the girl that Squall may or may not like, almost dies. The second half of the game may all be a dream as Squall takes a giant icicle to the chest that should have killed him. Either way, there is a big fight and Squall wins.

Final Fantasy IX

Giant headed princess flees her kingdom with Zidane, a scoundrel with a tail, changes her name to Dagger and chops her hair short. They team up with Reinhardt, the comic relief, and Vivi, the coolest black mage ever, and fight fate. Literally. The final boss was fate. They win, Dagger returns to her kingdom and Zidane show up out of nowhere and professes his love: 'Bring back my Dagger to me!'

Final Fantasy X

Yuna falls in love with Tidus, the boy who isn't there. Things get complicated: Yuna is supposed to sacrifice herself for the good of the world, Tidus' father, Jecht, is now an island sized monster, and everyone is obsessed with underwater soccer. There are touching moments, bad voice acting, and Tidus evaporates in Yuna's arms.

Final Fantasy X-2

Yuna is back with Rikku, the most annoying character in the entire Final Fantasy universe, and Payne, my waifu. They go on a dress up tour to get their collectives grooves back and, in the ending that matters, Yuna gets over the imaginary Tidus and moves on with her life. Real talk: I loved this game. Fuck the haters.

Final Fantasy XII

Um, super tall bunny lady? Vagrant Story inspired art? Combat that plays itself? I swear, I finished the game, but I cannot remember anything about it.

Final Fantasy XIII

After a twenty hour tutorial in which Lightning and friends are cursed and try to rescue her sister who has been turned into a crystal there are twenty or so hours of open world adventure that are better than anything the most current game has to offer. I have no idea who the final battle was with. L'Cie, cieth, something like that. Regardless, Lightning is cool and there is a character who has a chocobo chick living in his afro.

Final Fantasy XIII-2

Take away the best part of XIII, Lightning, and what is left? A bizarre time travel laden game starring Lightning's sister that is entirely forgettable. I am ashamed that I remember more of this than I do of XII.

Final Fantasy XIII-3

Okay, I am a Lightning fan, so getting a game all about her as a guardian of all reality was a good time. Hope coming back as either God or a mouthpiece for the almighty I could have done without. The entire game being on a timer was more annoying than anything else. It did not create the sense of urgency that I think it was going for. Honestly, this is the least Final Fantasy game on the list, but still better that XIII-2.

World of Final Fantasy

Pokemon with Final Fantasy mobs, some which you can ride and others that you can wear as hats. Cute, but fun. Imagine Kingdom Hearts without the Disney parts.

and finally

Final Fantasy XV

A black clad boy band is sent on a road trip by the prince's loving father. This is done just to keep the prince out of town and safe when the bad guys show up, wreck the place and kill the king. Much happens to the boy band, none of which is explained, and they are content to cruise around in their bourgeois car, running errands far beneath their royal standing.

...

It's been heading downhill for a bit, hasn't it? I really do feel bad about remembering almost nothing of XII. And there are undoubtedly mistakes there. Give me a break, I'm old.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

A hurtful podcast

First I wound Alex by calling Stranger Things a clumsy patchwork of worn out memes with giant stitching then I make him feel better by saying that Final Fantasy XV is not near as good as it thinks it is. He was weak and sick and I may be a terrible person.


Chamberlain and Chance - We always hurt the ones we love

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

I hate waiting

It is a little annoying that, for as much time is spent in the car in Final Fantasy XV, it is no fun to drive. Drive isn't even the correct word. Under manual control the player points the car in the correct direction and holds down the accelerator. There is a button for stopping and a button for turning the car around. Annoying but forgivable: the game took forever to get out, adding in a reasonable driving experience would add another forever, if not two.

Auto-driving is fine as there are parking areas scattered around the map that can be fast traveled to for a trivial fee (one they are reached, further proof that Watch Dogs 2 is a better game than anyone expected or admits). Fast traveling, however, brings up loading screens. Lots of loading screens. Loading screens that take far too long to go away.

This is especially an issue when working on side missions. They are relatively far apart and quick to complete, meaning that just as much time is spent looking at loading screens as is spent playing the game.

I may be exaggerating. Slightly. It's no Soldier of Fortune on Dreamcast, a game whose load times allowed to re-read all of Knightfall, but it does break things up.

The Soldier of Fortune crack was not an exaggeration. I played this damn game.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Does anyone else miss X-2?

Three days into Final Fantasy XV and it is obvious that I will not be done with it before Nintendo zero day. The first half being open world-ish is the culprit as it is filled with exactly the kind of repetitive missions with small but tangible benefits that I am a sucker for. I say open world-ish because it does not play like a true Elder Scrolls of Fallout open world RPG. It has training wheels, big ones, that prevent the player from getting too lost or too in over their heads. The opening says that it is a Final Fantasy for fans and newcomers alike. Newcomers, absolutely, but fans?

First the good. Final Fantasy XV nails the fantasy but with modern technology better than any previous game. Somehow it is believable that the protagonists have a sweet ass car (that is no fun to drive, that goodness for fast travel) and three of the four still wield melee weapons. This is a world in which monsters are very, very real, as are the gods and powers that created them. Mundane structures like gas stations are flanked by chocobo ranches and giant formations created by cast off meteors. All the pieces fit together in a world that shouldn't make sense but does anyway.

And those monsters? Their scale and threat are portrayed better here than ever before. I made the mistake of taking on a night hunting mission and was rewarded by an iron giant stomping in out of the gloom. It was scarey - I ran the fuck away. I also just fought a behemoth, a mainstay of the franchise, and it was giant, intimidating, surprisingly mobile, and not even a true boss fight. Final Fantasy XV takes monster designs that have existed for years and makes them interesting again.

And the bad? Starting with the petty - I do not like that all four main characters are dressed all in black. I am old, god damnit, give me some color cues as to who is who that are visible during a fight.

Oh, and make the fighting good.

Combat is far, far too simple. Hold circle to attack, square to block or counter, maybe use magic but don't use magic because magic hurting your allies as well as enemies is stupid. Hope you enjoy your allies one special attack because they can only have one equipped at a time. If this is what SquareEnix thinks 'being friendly to new comers' means then new comers should be insulted. It moves too fast to be strategic but there are too few options to do any real planning and the players input on what is actually going on is stiflingly small.

It's just not good. Final Fantasy XV is not quite one step forwards, two steps back; more like two forward, two back. That makes it a wash, a very pretty wash (with a mediocre frame rate on the PS4 Pro) but a wash none the less.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Entry postponed due to install

I wanted to start Final Fantasy XV last night, even planned ahead by putting the disc in the night before and waiting for the giant ass patch to start downloading before putting the PS4 into sleep mode. When I turned it back on last night I found the patch download frozen and the install was still copying something. When that was done the download started over from the beginning.

Out of frustration I fired up Providence Poker and managed to quadruple my buy in before the download finished (this does not usually happen). Download complete, open up Final Fantasy XV, main menu says that the install was still going and that it would take another hour. This install only started after the game was opened for the first time.

Fuck that noise. I went back to poker and lost a quarter of my previous winnings. Barring any more surprise installs I will start Final Fantasy XV tonight. It is on fixed time frame of 13 days.

At around three hours a night that is only 39 hours. It is not going to happen.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

He had it coming - podcast

I finished Dead Rising 4 right after editing this week's podcast.

They killed Frank! He was a dick head, and desereved what he got, but still, I was not expected them to kill the 'main' character of the franchise. Or will he be saved in the DLC?

...or will the DLC allow you to play as zombie Frank? One of these options is much cooler than the other, neither of which do I actually care about.


Chamberlain and Chance - Respites

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Political post!


That is all.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

New good guy, please

Playing Dead Rising 4 right after Resident Evil VII was a mistake. They aren't in the same genre, one being a spooky first person adventure and the other a Ubi-like collectathon whose moment to moment gameplay is marred, not enhanced, by the presence of zombies, but they both feel like Capcom. Two games in a row is a lot of Capcom to swallow.

And no, the ability to put on a Blanka mask in Dead Rising and shoot electricity does not get any bonus points from me.

Dead Rising 4 is almost the same as Dead Rising 3, just with a change in main character. I do not remember the third game's protagonist but I do know that I did not dislike him. Frank West is back this time around and the game goes out of its way to portray his as an ass hat. Everything he does is selfish. Any good that he does do is just a side effect of something else. He even admits this:

'Are you going to save so and so?'
'Maybe. Probably. But it won't be on purpose.'

That so and so was eventually save but Frank left him tied to a chair. There is cheap shot at the escort missions in the first game in which Frank refuses to give injured survivors a ride even though he is going to drive right past where they are going. He is a dick and I do not like him which is going to make it difficult to spend significant time in his shoes.

And the game? It is exactly the same as 3.

Monday, February 13, 2017

A real reboot

Is Resident Evil VII just Amnesia or Outlast with guns? No. It is not as frightening as Amnesia or as full of cheap jump scares as Outlast, though it shares the same 'explaining things too much' problem that Outlast suffered from. Is it just Resident Evil Again from a new perspective? No. There are significantly fewer enemies in this Resident Evil than any previous one, including the original. Large sections of the game, the best sections in fact, are just exploring an area on the way to a generous multi-stage boss encounter.

So what is it?

Resident Evil VII is an actual reboot. Not a half assed reboot like those 'new' Star Trek movies (no one will ever convince me that they are not terrible), an actual reimagining of an existing franchise that pays respect to its source without being slave to it or trampling on its memories. If it would not have caused incredible confusion it should have just been called Resident Evil.

The game does feel like a good Resident Evil game in that the player is exploring a creepy location, solving silly puzzles via copious back tracking, but it has been so long since a Resident Evil game felt like a Resident Evil game that it is more than forgivable, it is refreshing. It deserves the name but it does not beat the player over the head with sideways references to old titles. For most of the game green herbs and a familiar shotgun puzzle are all there is. There are two nice nods at the end that I will not spoil but they, too, are subtle and tasteful.

So it is a better Resident Evil game that anything the series has offered since 4 but it is not without problems. The shooting, especially in the early game when all you have is a pistol, is more difficult than it needs to be. A more generous auto-aim, at least on the normal difficulty, would fix this. The shotgun fixes this as well but that is several hours of game in. Also, the game is not long, but it feels like it is just slightly longer than it needs to be thanks to a lengthy boat section that does little more than flesh out the plot in ways that are not welcome or needed.

I suppose in that way, an overly explained, convoluted plot, it is just like the old games.

Enemy variety is quite low but they are encountered so rarely that I never got tired of them. The antiquated inventory system is back but generous enough that I only had to run back to my magic item trunk once for a key. There is a bit too much of Alma from F.E.A.R. in the main baddie but if you are going to steal something might as we steal something good.

Resident Evil VII is an interesting example of how there really is nothing new, just creative (or not creative) repackagings of old things. Resident Evil inspired, eventually, Penumbra and Amnesia, which in turn inspired P.T., which was abandoned (#FucKonami) and inspired Resident Evil VII. The cycle of unlife, I suppose. Too bad games like Resident Evil VII don't shamble out of it more often.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Strange and wonderful topics

Yeah, we were a little squirrely when this was recorded. Wide ranging subjects, indeed.


Chamberlain and Chance - Wide ranging subjects

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Call in the hit

It is time to declare Mafia III a true tragedy. Every moment that I was not playing the game, or even shooting my way through some very well done scripted encounters was at worst passable or at best, when watching cut scenes, marvelous. The game pulls off three different, interesting endings. Usually a game with multiple resolutions has one good one and a few joke endings (see the Silent Hill dog endings) or they are all equally bad (insert cheap shot at Mass Effect 3 here). Mafia III? All good.

One of them is truly depressing, but that comes with the territory. I ended up with the most positive of the three because I am a good gangster/mass murderer who was only in it for the revenge and not to take over a significant portion of the county.

If the game weren't so boring and repetitive when the player is dropped into the open world it would be an easy recommendation. I said yesterday that each ward looks distinct, and they do, but what you are doing in each one is exactly the same. Everything leading up to the boss of each area is identical. Trim all of that out and the game goes from a highly padded 40+ hours to a svelte 15ish.

Fix the shooting and, well, it ends up being a below average Max Payne game (insert cheap shot at Max Payne 3 here).

Mafia III could have been good, almost great. It could have been a contender, Instead it is the ideal lets play: watch the good parts while someone else does the dirty work. Tune into this week's podcast and I will spoil the shit out of the three endings.

...

Resident Evil VII is the remake of Resident Evil 3 that no one knew they wanted. It is not just Outlast or Amnesia with weapons, it is Resident Evil, through and through, from a different perspective. I have only put about an hour and a half in, but so far it is wonderful. Not scary, just creepy, and a welcome reboot to the series.

Monday, February 6, 2017

I am trying to be nice

I have been quite hard on Mafia III, and it deserves all of the abuse I have thrown its way, but I do need to acknowledge at least a few things that it does well.

Well, one thing really. The city is not that large and a good third of it is taken up by a rather plain looking bayou. After throwing a corpse to an alligator there was little else there to do. The other city areas, though, are visually distinct in a way that not even Watch Dogs 2 managed. Watch Dogs 2 looked better, of course, but that high fidelity was uniform. Everything looked awesome and shiny. Even the low income housing areas of Oakland were a little too clean and sharp to be believable.

The Hollow in Mafia III looks and feels like a economically depressed area. The houses are close together, no one's siding is in good shape, the cars are old and rusty. The French Ward looks like the French Quarter in New Orleans, right down to the alleys just off the main drag that smell of urine and poor decisions. And the wealthy areas? They certainly looked the part, but more importantly, I did not feel welcome there.

Lincoln is, without a doubt, a bad motherfucker, but that does not keep the entitled rich folk in the nicer areas from asking him why is was there and calling the police just because, and this was before I started tromping through back yards, stealing cars. Police arrive quickly in the wealthy areas of town, and in large numbers. In the Hollow? They might show up.

Even the dispatcher sounds different: 'Possible stolen car in the hollow. If anyone has time, you may want to check it out' versus 'Report of armed and dangerous colored man, all units respond.'

Being the worst collection of things the world has to offer, a middle class middle aged white guy, I have never experienced real discrimination based on how I look. I am not so naive to think that a video game can convey that feeling, but every time some white trash yokel calls me 'boy' I what to gut that motherfucker, and that is after only 40 hours of playing a game. I cannot imagine dealing with that every day for an entire life.

The mission in which Lincoln gets to kill klan members the Southern Union was wonderful. If we ever get tired of killing Nazis I know where to look next for a disposable bad guy.

So there, something nice about Mafia III. Back to how bad the game itself is tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

I hate them so

I was dutifully collecting all the bits of junk in the downtown area of Mafia III last night, intentionally avoiding any thoughtful examination on what I was doing with my limited time on this good Earth, when I came across two collectibles, one of which was a junction box that revealed more collectibles, that were not where the little dots on the map said they should be. No, they were underground and there was no apparent access anywhere close.

Why. Why would the game do this. The collectibles already offer no in game bonus and most, specifically the classic Playboy's, serve only to show how our general view of what is and what is not obscene has changed. There is no reason, aside from schadenfreude, to make them at all difficult to find.

So there you have it: Hanger 13 and 2K Czech, full of assholes.

...Yes, I am still mad that there is no fast travel.