Thursday, November 30, 2017

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Shame

Do I really want to continue playing a game that has me constantly looking over my shoulder, afraid that someone might sneak up behind me and see exactly what level of smut I am tolerating? Nights of Azure was dodgy in the boobs physics department. Tales of Berseria had the worst, most needlessly revealing costume ever in a game not name Dead or Alive. I say had because Alushe's outfit is worse. And she is not very interesting while Velvet was well enough envisioned that I can remember her name six months later.

I played Nights of Azure 2 last night, less than twenty four hours ago, and I had to look up Alushe's name. That is not a good sign. I did fall into the a nice rhythm last night of exploring for as long as I could, taking care of a few side quests, then returning to base to level up and sleep, but that does not necessarily excuse not being able to get the combo ender I want consistently or a terrible camera or cinematic special moves that occur too often and spend too much time at uncomfortable angles.

It is not that the game is too Japan (it totally is), it is that there is not enough game behind it to back up the too Japan-ness. And yet I will play it again tonight because what else am I going to do, play Marvel?

Monday, November 27, 2017

It was a long weekend

Catch up time! It was a long weekend and I played a little bit of a lot of things, but first, in case you come here but do not go to Chance's blog, the podcast!


Chamberlain and Chance - 2017 Hype list recap

Issue #1: Wolfenstein 2 ended very abruptly. I was hoping for a big, bad boss fight, something close to the cyber demon from Doom. Instead I got a big fight against two enemies that I hadn't seen before but it did not feel like the whiz bang finale. It was just another tough fight in a series of tough fights. The end credits caught me totally by surprise.

No spoilers, but this is very much the middle episode. Nothing is resolved, things happen for dubious reasons, and then it 'ends' on an advertisement for the next game. I hope it sold well enough for the third game to be made.

Issue #2: White Night is not a good game. It looks like a polished up PS2 game. Normally this would not be a problem as I play JRPGs and JRPGs not named Final Fantasy stopped evolving graphically about a decade ago. It also plays like a mid to late era PS2 game: fussy, inaccurate controls, archaic puzzles, boring, repetitive environments. I could tolerate of that, but not all of it.

Worst of all there is an insane janitor roaming the halls who beats children to death with a bat if he finds them in the school after hours. Think Clock Tower's scissorman but less menacing, more a sad commentary on what a boring ass job will do to a man's state of mind. I found the solution to a puzzle on the opposite side of the building and had to walk back. Running is no good, he will hear the noise every time. Walking is no good, as it takes so long that his patrol route will always intersect your path. And once he sees you there is pretty much no escape. I hid in a bathroom stall for what seemed like forever, more annoyed than scared, and he just waited for me to stick my head out before bashing it in.

No thanks, moving on.

Issue #3: Raiden V is a good shmup but the very fast scrolling made my head hurt and I could only play it through once. I am old.

Issue #4: Nights of Azure 2 may also be a bad game. The combat is both mashy and unresponsive. The camera is never where it needs to be. At its core it plays just like the first game: short missions into infested areas with servans as support. It adds a second human character to the party that is more powerful than the servans, which is good, but because the game is all about pandering you are expected to develop a relationship with said human characters.

The cheesecake here is intensely cringey. It's more than just egregious breast size and physics. There are double entendres and sideways glances everywhere. For example, the hero of the story (whose name I cannot remember at the moment) is 'killed' at the end of the tutorial, only to be resurrected with the blood of the hero of the last game. This makes the new hero a half fiend and grants her super powers. Several time she and her partner have come across a gap that is too large to cross so the hero scoops up other woman in her arms, hold her tight to he chest, and leaps across.

It's still not done.

Thought bubble from the support character: 'I've never been held this way by a woman before.'

I have no idea what my plans are for this game, other than to make sure no one sees me playing it.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Ok, you win

Anya in Wolfenstein 2 is as much of a bad ass as BJ and she is doing everything while carrying twins and dealing with BJ's mopiness in the first half of the game. Once BJ gets better (still not going to spoil this, but god damn, it was dumb) they end up out on a mission together. They get separated and check in over the radio.




Ok game, I can't stay mad at you.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

There is no hope

Fox News is reporting that the Apollo 17 moon landing may or may not be fake. You decide I read some of the comments and my brain slid right out of my ears.

The FCC is rolling back net neutrality.

North Korea continues to trade school yard insults with the president and is objectively winning.

Syria, fucking Syria, has joined the Paris climate accord, leaving the United States as the only 'civilized' nation that opposes it.

Gun violence is out of control and the solution is more guns. Climate change is approaching the point of no return and the solution is to bolster the rightfully dying coal industry. Willful scientific ignorance is the norm. Nazis are not always bad. Security theatre, be that the removal of shoes when boarding a plane or a big ass wall that someone else is going to pay for, is applauded. Alabama voters are sticking with an accused pedofile because at least he isn't a democrat.

The sun rises. The sun sets. It's a wonder that I ever leave the house.

...

Wolfenstein 2 has decided to pad its length by sending me back through completed areas for collectibles. This game is losing points with me, fast.

Monday, November 20, 2017

At least shooting bad guys is still a good time

Wolfenstein The New Colossus has problems, one of which is not necessarily its own fault, but they have, at the halfway point, added up to a game that is not as good as The New Order. Don't get me wrong, it is a good game and the fact that it riles up fascist apologists tickles me to no end (BJ has been killing Nazis since before a good chunk of you were born, you clueless motherfuckers), but that is not enough.

It took my hands a good hour or two to finally understand that I was not playing last year's Doom. The combat in Doom was designed to keep the player moving forward, to encourage the glory kills as they were the best way of replenishing health and ammo. Playing that way in The New Colossus will get you killed, full stop. Cover is a thing in this game, as is the lean mechanic. BJ is a tough dude (eventually) but running headlong into robotic Nazis dual wielding auto-shotguns will reduce him to a fine paste. Not the necessarily the game's fault but it still tainted the first hour or so.

If taking cover is important than being able to tell from which direction you are being shot from is required information. The New Colossus offers the standard flashes of red at the edges of the screen but there is very little audio feedback when taking hits. Getting shot should be loud, it should elicit a good, bassy thump, and it does not. The visual cues feel slow and BJ is squishy enough that this tiny delay is the difference between life and death. And there is a lot of death. I died more times in the courthouse escape section than I did in all of Doom, mostly because I could not tell when flanking enemies were shooting me until it was too late. Thank goodness for save scumming.

The New Colossus is trying to one up The New Order is both comedy and seriousness. Sometimes it works, when Super Sesh exits the toilet with a flourish, interrupting a tense, tender moment between BJ and Anja, and sometimes is really doesn't. Getting BJ's tragic backstory is not necessary. He is not quite the Doom marine but he's close in that BJ is more of the player's avatar than a character in the game. The New Order injected personality, which is fine, but The New Colossus resorts to child abuse, racism and the murder of pets and it just feels very heavy handed.

And the twist that I am not going to spoil? The twist that is given away much earlier, that everyone will see coming a mile away? It was elicits little more than a groan, and that is quite a feat in a game featuring anti-gravity technology that was hidden away millenia by a super secret Jewish cabal.

It's not a bad game, it's just trying way too hard. Maybe the second half will improve. I should finish the game just in time to fight with Chance about it on Wednesday.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Something new

It has been mentioned on the podcast that I do not understand the allure of PUBG. Multiplayer only pseudo rogue like? That's just about everything I hate mixed together. But the mathematics of its popularity are astounding. It unseated League of Legends as the game with the most concurrent players and it is still in early access. The Xbox One version is floating around as well, also in early access but not free, and while my curiousity is piqued, and I do like to complain about things, there are better ways to spend my precious discretionary funds.

(Like of Wolfenstein II for $30. Fuck yeah.)

Fortnite, a game that I barely knew existed and that is also in beta, released a battle royale mode that is free. Smart move: capitalize on a popular new genre to get people excited and then charge them for in game currency when the game comes out for real. Regardless of their motivation, I can try this one out for free. So I took a break from Forza 7 last night and set one whole hour aside to step into something I had never done before.

I don't think I liked it but at least now I understand what is going on. Fornite Battle Royale is PUBG plus crafting. And you start the game fully clothed with a pick axe instead of a frying pan. 100 players are dumped onto an island where they scramble for weapons and kill one another as the they are forced closer and closer together by an approaching storm. Add to that some very basic base building (which I ignored) and a surprisingly stable online environment, getting into a game took seconds, and I almost had fun.

My first few matches did not go well. I was shot in the back while exploring a house. The next time I lost a heads up battle when my shotgun required reloading after two (misplaced) shots and the other guys pistol did not. Then I found a rifle, learned to check corners and listen, and lived a little longer, even killed a few people. The tension is the draw, not knowing what is going to happen, what you are going to find, and if the door you are about to open will lead to health or a gut full of buckshot.

During my last match I heard someone sniping from a few hills away. It took a bit but I snuck up on him, killed him and helped myself to the shower of loot that poured from his corpse. That sniper rifle? It was purple. Purple. I assume that means it was super rare. Nice, now to do something with it. As the player count dwindles apprehension grows. Everyone has better weapons. Some people have built themselves bunkers to hide in. I saw one person build such a bunker and them hide a trap in it before leaving, that dirty fucker.

I made it to the final 20 players before dying, having never fired the precious purple sniper rifle. After backing out to the menu in a huff I took stock of the situation. What had I gained? Nothing. What had I lost? Also nothing. There was no progression or regression, just passed time. Being inoffensive is not good enough so I uninstalled it and went back to Forza 7 to grind credits for pretend cars. At least with that game I will have something new to show for it at the end of the day.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Ugh, the irony

Hot new Xbox One X sitting under the television and what does Gamefly send me? Mediocre looking PS4 exclusives, one of which might be 40+ hours long.

...

I really do need to play Wolfenstein before the end of the year to see if it can shoot its way into my very small games of the year list. It is good that I waited, as it runs significantly better on the X than the PS4Pro. Take that.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

We didn't need the details

Dishonored 1 and 2 do not explain who or what the outsider is. He just shows up and offers the player a devil's bargain: power at a price. He is more prevalent is the second game as more characters than just Corvo have his mark, but still, there is no back story, no history. Death of the Outsider fills in the gaps but I do not think that the outsider character is any better for it or even deserved the effort.

The outsider's purpose in Dishonored was simple: give Corvo cool powers and then tempt him to use them for evil. He is literally the devil. And that worked. The devil's back story is pretty well know (rebelled against God, recruited angels and went to war, got his ass kicked and was tossed out of heaven) so the outsider didn't get any, and that was fine. He was, at best, evil-ish.

Now? Eh, I suppose I should put up a spoiler warning.


The outsider has a tragic back story. *yawn*

A long, long time ago, when he was human, he was kidnapped and murdered by a cult investigating the void. The blade they used to kill him turned him into the outsider, essentially the god of the void, and in the process he lost his name (which was important for some reason). For thousands of years he has reached out from the void, offering power to those he deemed required it, and then dragging them to the void when they die.

So not evil. Not even that bad. It was people who were the problem as they used the powers he gave them for evil. The outsider is a benevolent arms dealer, if there is such a thing. This made the character even less interesting than he was in the first place. Instead of a cliched stand in for Satan he was a cliched tragic nemesis who wasn't actually bad, just misunderstood.

Given the option I save him (by returning his name, again, I do not understand the significance) or kill I chose to save him. There was no boss fight, no final confrontation. Billie meets Doud, her mentor who died in the third chapter, and convinces him that the outsider deserves forgiveness (even though he never really did anything wrong) because he once forgave her for betraying him. It was boring.

...

Of the five levels only the third, the bank heist, felt like a good, open, Dishonored level. There were three or four different ways into the bank, valid stealth and combat approaches once inside, safes to open, clockwork soldiers to avoid, everything good about the best parts of the first two games. I drugged the entire building by dropping chemicals in the ventilation system and tried to be stealthy until I had to wake up one person to open a door. He had to die because I couldn't figure out what else to do. There was also the option to pay through the game a second time with powers from Dishonored 2. Tempting, but not worth it. Much like dealing with the outsider in the first place.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Vanilla

Dishonored: Death of the Outsider is missing something. Strike that, it's missing a lot of things. From my point of view, it is missing Corvo and his sweet mask as I played him and only him in the first two games. I am open to change as long as I get something back in return. Death of the Outsider has only one playable character, Billie Lurk, and while she has a great name and a pretty good look she is just not much fun to use.

Billie has very few skills when compared to either playable character from Dishonored 2 and the ones that she does have don't level up or change as the game progresses. She doesn't have a fast movement option; it has been replaced by the ability to drop a recall point and jump back to it as long as line of site is maintained. That line of sight bit severely limits its usefulness as a way to retreat. Billie can also enter the void itself and wander around the level (for a limited amount of time) as a spirit and place said recall points. Again, line of site needs to be maintained to actually use it.

Finally she can assume the identity of a living, at worst unconscious, NPC and walk around undetected wearing a fresh, new face. For a very limited time. And if the body is discovered her cover is blown. That's it. No way to chain kills together or make corpses disappear via swarms of rats. All of the mundane weapons are still there, a gun and grenades and razor mines, but that is not why anyone actually plays a Dishonored game. I came for the supernatural movement/killing nonsense and it just is not here. Playing as Billie feels like doing a no powers run as Corvo. And I never even attempted one of those.

Because I abhor frustration.

Perhaps due to the limited skills or less creatively designed levels (or just because) Death of the Outsider is much more difficult. Billie can never just walk around the streets as her face is on wanted posters everywhere and it is difficult to miss a woman with a red terminator eye and boney arm. Not being terribly good at stealth games I end up walking through the level, stacking up corpses, then going back and attempting the side missions. These are much more difficult as well, including one that requires the player to not touch anyone in the level. You can't even knock them out. Full stealth, no violence.

Fuck that. The game isn't terribly long, I am right at the end of the third of five levels, so I will see it to its conclusion. The best the game has mustered so far was a reference to Prey. Scary tar monsters showing up next would be an improvement.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Oddly reflective

I am calm. I am collected. I am prepared to give my reactions to Forza 7.

*breaths*

But first I am going to talk about the Xbox One X. There are quite a few pieces of electronics sitting in my cold and musty basement, several of which were purchased in anticipation of its release. My 4K television did see some use from the Xbox One S (for 4K movies) and the PS4 Pro (for Horizon Zero Dawn) but it has never really been put through its paces. The same can be said for my receiver, an item chosen specifically because it supports Dolby Atmos sound.

The Xbox One X uses all of it. All at once. In the Insects demo. Don't get me wrong, the demo looks and sounds fantastic, but it isn't a game. Forza 7 is the game that I have to play right now and it only leverages some of what the hardware can do. It's a racing game, of course it looks fantastic. The Dubai track in particular has it all: detailed city scapes with sun filtering between building and clouds in a eerily realistic manner. Rocky valleys that look good enough to touch. Sand blowing across the road. It is the best looking, cleanest, sharpest racing game I have ever seen.

But it's a racing game. I was quite impressed on the first lap, even more so on the second as I had time to look around. Last night I did a 23 lap endurance race, in one sitting, and all the shiny polygons in the world are not going to make that interesting. Forza 7 is a good game but it is not Forza Horizon 3, one of my contenders for game of the year. It also has problems with its in game economy thanks to loot boxes but I will let the professional curmudgeons handle that talking point.

The Xbox One X sitting below my television makes me happy. The continued reports by Digital Foundry that multi-platform titles run better on the X than the Pro make me feel vindicated, that coming back home to my controller of preference was the right move. My gigantic coming soon list feels like less of a burden and more of an opportunity. What I'm missing, and what I am not going to get, is a new first party, exclusive, kick ass piece of software. Yes, Gears of War 4 looks amazing, but I have already played that. Microsoft needs to hurry up and buy a developer better than Rare and set them loose on a killer app.

Microsoft has the hardware buy Sony still has God of War and Days Gone and The Last of Us 2 (and JRPGs and that samurai game and a dozen other things that I am forgetting). At the very least I will be able to play the best possible version of Red Dead Redemption 2 and that is worth looking forward to.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Podcast a day early

Forza 7 was not playable at the time of recording. I will speak of it when I find my jaw. It is currently on the floor somewhere.


Chamberlain and Chance - Delayed happiness

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Xbox One X obtained

4K update to Forza 7 not obtained in advance.

Perhaps I will get to play it tomorrow.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Mission partially accomplished

I was right on the money with my guess on how long it would take to finish Uncharted: The Lost Legacy. It was blissfully short, something that I needed after 40+ hours of Ys VIII. It also picked up significantly after the open world section, though every plot point and every encounter had been done at least once before in the series. The game even ended on a 'race to the front of a moving train' segment ripped right out of the Among Thieves.

Was the point of the game 'the same, but shorter, and this time with female leads'? If so then I will say that it succeeded. It certainly did not add anything to the mythos. Sam shows up and is still not very likeable. Chloe and Nadine become fast friends in spite of Nadine punching Chloe right in the jaw upon Sam's arrival on the scene. There is just a little bad blood there. And everyone has a happy ending over pizza.

The Lost Legacy has precisely zero emotionally resonating moments. Say what you will about A Thief's End, it had at least two moments where Nathan and Elena stopped being videogame characters and became people living inside of you television. I am speaking of Elena kicking Nathan's ass as Crash Bandicoot and the exceptional ending. Chloe and Nadine never make it that far. Their banter is a little too contrived, a little too convenient, and their friendship at the end not exactly believable. Chloe is a thief and Nadine is an (ex) para-military mercenary. They say that they have both turned over a new leaf but there is no reason to believe them.

On a positive note, I was waiting for and dreading the moment that Sam would betray the two leading women and get his ass summarily kicked. That never happened. He complained, he smarted off, but he never forgot that Chloe and Nadine did not have to come looking for him and that he would have died several time if the ladies were not significantly tougher and smarter than he was.

...

Observer is boring. Rutger Hauer sounds drunk, or at least very tired, and disinterested. The game itself is part boring investigation with little direction and part boring trip through the cyber punk dreams of the dying. It is not frightening, at least not yet, and it quite literally put me to sleep, though the time change and my advanced age may be partly to blame.

Layers of Fear was not great but it had its moments. Good, spooky, hair on the back of your neck perks up moments. I do not see Observer getting that far and it only has one more day to try.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Just off the mark

There is something just slightly off about Uncharted Lost Legacy but I can't decide if it is a problem with the game or a problem with me. Aiming feels a little floaty, a little inaccurate, but the combat has never been the high point of the Uncharted games. Fighting enemies was just a means to the end of a dramatic, over the top set piece. There has only been one of such set pieces so far, a chase across rooftops that I swear I have done before, and it looked great but was not all that exciting.

The second level is an open world(ish) section right out of A Thief's End, just not as big. There are three ruins to explore, but they are quite small, and the area itself can be driven across in a jeep in just a few minutes. This may be the problem: Uncharted games were big games. Big encounters, big characters, over the top nonsense right out of the best parts of pulpy action movies. Lost Legacy, so far at least, does not have this.

It is a more personal adventure, which Naughty Dog can do, but these are characters that I do not know as well or care as much about as Nathan. The banter between Chloe and Nadine is well written and interesting, always entertaining, but I do not feel like I am part of the story. The closest to engagement I have come was Chloe assuring Nadine that she was no longer involved with the Drake's. Nadine appreciated this seeing as how the Drake's killed her entire band of mercenaries in the last game.

Both Chloe and Nadine have issues with their fathers, Chloe because he was never around and Nadine because she has ruined the company he left her, and I can see the payoff for both coming a mile away. I just don't like either of them as much as I liked Nathan, and I didn't like Nathan until the end of the second Uncharted. His smugness always bothered me.

I hope that there is another silly over the top moment before the game is done, the kind I expect from the series. I also hope that, unlike a Thief's End, that there is a little bit of the supernatural thrown in before the credits role. Chloe and Nadine are looking for the lost tusk of Ganesha. It would be sweet if he himself showed up and started kicking ass with all four of his arms.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Stranger things? What's that?

I 'worked' from home yesterday and still managed to not post anything. Instead I finished Ys VIII. While it never quite overstayed its welcome it certainly ran out of coherent things to say in the last hour or so. The idea that the tree of beginnings is both the creator and destroyer of life, that it occasionally releases extinction level events on the dominant species to keep things changing, is interesting. That this all occurred because the goddess of earth was asleep, tha everything that has ever happened was her dream and that by waking her up the heros in fact destroyed the world, was a little dumb. Ok, a lot dumb.

The game was still good. Minus points for being on the ugly side due to it handheld roots. Further minus points for a boring female protagonist. Velvet from Tales of Berseria may have dressed poorly but she was interesting.  Dana dresses just as poorly but might as well be made out of cardboard.

...


Chamberlain and Chance - Holding hands