Monday, October 16, 2017

I likes what I likes

Having recently been lectured over the term 'guilty pleasure' and being told that if I enjoy something that no one else enjoys I should own it the same way that I enjoy not enjoying things that everyone else enjoys I must confess that I had fun with Knack 2 in spite of all of the characters being shit. It mustered up a sensible false ending, heart pumping climax and reasonable sequel tease, all with writing so terrible that Resident Evil 1 felt better about itself after hearing it.

The game was good. Honestly good. Everything around the game was not.

The first Knack never did enough with scale. Knack ranges in size from 2 and half feet to around 30, depending on what is going on, but the game never felt different. There was no feeling of power when he was big or vulnerability when he was small. Knack 2 turns this on its head by having mini-Knack run around a giant robot, feeling very weak and exposed, and later having 10 foot Knack do the same thing on truly gigantic mechanical spider of death and destruction before coming across a platoon of foot soldiers and massacring them with little effort. It has its cake and eats it, too.

I can see you rolling your eyes, thinking that 'Chamberlain is enjoying this ironically' and that 'this is the same guy who said that Breath of the Wild and Horizon: Zero Dawn were just okay.' I am not comparing them based on artistic quality or technical achievement. Knack 2 is no slouch, it looks quite good running at 4K, 30 fps, but Horizon is one of the best looking games I have ever seen and Breath of of the Wild is a remarkable achievement for a game running on a glorified tablet. What I am saying that is Knack 2 made me smile and annoyed me less than weapon degradation or wandering into giant robot dinosaurs that I shouldn't fight yet.

If I were a paid critic my analysis would be a little deeper that 'it made me feel good.' I would talk about how the combat is basically solved once Knack gets the long range grapple move and how playing through the game on Normal left a full one quarter of his skills still locked. I would complain about quick time events monopolizing several key moments (but not the ending) and I would harp on how terrible the voice acting and characters really are. But I am not a paid critic, I am just a guy who plays games, compulsively, that sometimes find it difficult to enjoy them through several decades of accumulated cynicism.

Knack 2 is a solid 7 and I expected a 5. Breath of the Wild and Horizon were 8's but I was promised a 10. There is a big difference.


The jury is still out on Ruiner. Game math shortcut because I am lazy:

Ruiner = Hotline Miami + Akira visuals and sound + a dash of Max Payne bullet time.

That certainly sounds good but there are problems. First, the visuals are flashy but are so busy that they can get in the way of the action. Hotline Miami worked because it was sparse and sharp. You could see what was going on at all times. Ruiner has enemies disappearing into lens flare. Second, Hotline Miami had no bosses because they would not work with it style of quick death/quick restart. The bosses in Ruiner are bullshit hard and not as much fun to deal with as waves of gun toting mooks.

Third, the control is seriously over complicated. It starts out as a twin stick shooter but then adds a dash on L1, one special move on L2 (right now a shield), a melee attack on R1, ranged attack on R2, pick up weapons on X and special moves on the remaining three. This means that to pick up a weapon or throw a grenade you have to stop aiming. Time does slow down when picking up a weapon but your motion slows down just as much. This means that you get to see what is going to kill you at one quarter speed.

The dash is also bizarre. Tapping L1 is a dash that can be chained up to three time. You can also hold L1 and set three waypoints with the left stick and R1, then release L1 and jump through the series. It looks cool but I have yet to find a use for it as there is no time for any actions between set jumps.

I will play it more but the coming soon list is seriously out of hand and this was purchased based on snazzy trailer. If it does not get finished I will not shed many tears.

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