Thursday, March 29, 2018

Opinion coming soon

I still don't think I have played enough of Far Cry 5 to have an opinion on it but I also do not know how much of I will need to play to get there. Choices have been made in its development, some of which I agree with, some I do not, but they at least work towards what I believe the plan to be: a streamlined Far Cry experience.

Hunting is no longer required for crafting. You can still hunt, and there are challenges and perks tied to hunting, but the spoils are sold for cash instead of being stitched together into frankenstein's monster like holsters and bags. Kills no longer grant experience as there is no leveling system. Perk points are unlocked by completing challenges or finding magazines in prepper staches. The upgrade tree is mostly gone, allowing the player to cherry pick bonuses to fit their style.

Now that I have an additional weapon slot (pistol - rifle- bow) and chain takedowns I am set for the foreseeable future.

It's Far Cry with many of the wrinkles ironed out. So why don't I love it? For starters, Joseph Seed is no Vash or Pagan Min. He and his David Koresh mannerisms (and sunglasses) are not compelling, or creepy, or anything. He is just there, along with his three siblings, as a target, a direction for the player to wander in.

Second, and keep in mind this is coming from a man of faith, the Christian cult setting is not shocking or disturbing or even that far fetched. I am absolutely sure that prepper cults like Eden's Gate exist in the wilds of fly over country. They just aren't as well armed or well organized. And the US Government would not hesitate to bomb the shit out of them if things ever got out of hand. It's not supposed to real, it's fiction, but I think the familiarity of the setting is more of a detraction from the immersion than a bonus. I have driven through places like Hope County. Most of my state is full of them so there is no mystery. Far Cry 3 and 4 were mysterious and foreign. This is not.

It is still a good open world shooter. Many people, myself included, expected something that Ubisoft never promised. Fry Cry 5 has nothing to say about racism or classism or the unfortunate rise of MAGA voters. It just a game, after all.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Not Far enough yet

No official reaction to Far Cry 5 yet other than yes, this is a Far Cry game.

Side note: I stopped by my GameStop to pre-order God of War and nearly bought Dragonball FighterZ. What is wrong with me? Is this how people who quit smoking feel? I also watched some Tekken 7 Noctis footage while editing the podcast yesterday. I have quit smoking yet continue to hang around smokers and even watch people smoke in my spare time.

There is also a nagging empty feeling. Of course that could be a lifetime of taking the path of least resistance. Or too much fast food. There's no way to tell.


Chamberlain and Chance - A safe place

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Less dancing, more combat please

I must have been in an exceptionally prudish mood when I played the original Bayonetta. Her appearance is certainly troublesome, both in how she moves and how impossible long her legs are. That's part of the point, a point that I did not agree with in the first game and still take issue with, but Bayonetta's own egregiousness has been toned down significantly in the sequel so I have less to be prudish about.

Still, seeing Bayonetta literally pole dance over the credits while the Nintendo logo scrolled over her was a thing that actually happened. Time, they are a changing.

It is not necessary to go into the details of what Bayonetta 2 is any further than to say that it is more than the first game and not always in a good way and not in all of the right places. The combat still has more depth than is required, at least on the Normal difficulty, but the game has so little confidence in the quality of its fisiticuffs that it constatnly ups the ante with bigger set pieces filled with more and more distracting visuals. It is hard to appreciate the combat when you can't see when the fuck you are doing.

And then it tapers off, ending on a whimper of a boss fight that feels the same as about three others. Speaking of bosses: it bothers me that the cool looking shit that can be done against small and medium enemies just doesn't work on more important encounters. They either no sell the hit stun and blast Bayonetta back, mid combo, or they are so big that the end of the combo just missing. I killed several bosses with just guns and dodges, something that I would be embarrassed of if it were not so effective.

All of my complaints can be summed up by calling Bayonetta 2 the series' sophomore slump. Remember Devil May Cry 2? No? Good for you. Bayonetta 2 is not that bed, it's honestly not bad at all, it just isn't as good as the first game.

And the visuals have aged poorly. Living at 4K for the last few months has spoiled me. My eyes have not been so offended by jaggies since the early PS3 era.

Monday, March 26, 2018

I played Metal Survive for 60 minutes, only 30 of which I was awake



(The follow up meeting to Metal Gear 5)

Konami CEO Hideki Hayawaka - You see?! I told you we could still make money without Kojima. What does he know about game development anyway. We saved money by firing David Hayter and paying that Keifer Sutherland fellow in massage vouchers and pachinko credits. We saved even more by burying Kojima in lawyers. That's game development.

Salary Man #1 - Of course, sir. It was a wonderful plan.

Salary Man #2 - If I may ask, sir, what is your plan for the Metal Gear license?

Hayawaka - Didn't I just say pachinko?

Salary Man #1 - Of course, sir. That is a wonderful plan.

Salary Man #2 - But sir, no one in the west has any idea what pachinko is. By not making another Metal Gear game you are leaving a lot of money on the table.

Hayawaka - Well, where else would you have me leave it? The money keeps the cocaine from staining the teak tabletop.

Salary Man #2 - I meant for the company, sir.

Hayawaka - I see. I suppose keeping the Metal Gear name in front of more people than just pachinko addicts is not a bad idea. Do we still own the engine and art assets from Metal Gear 5.

Salary Man #2 - Yes.

Hayawaka - And the people who worked on it are still employed?

Salary Man #2 - Yes.

Hayawaka - Fire them all.

Salary Man #2 - What?!

Salary Man #1 - Of course, sir. That is a wonderful plan.

Hayawaka - I want no trace of that filthy Kojima on the game. We removed his name from Metal Gear 5 but his stink of quality was still on it. The game was still mostly good. That will not do. In fact, I want you to hire developers who have never actually played a video game before. This is going to be a game by only the strictest definition.

Salary Man #2 - Um, sir, what kind of game should this be?

Hayawaka - What is the least enjoyable genre we could use?

Salary Man #2 - Survival base building?

Hayawaka - Exactly. Just make sure to include overly long, poorly thought out cut scenes. This is a Metal Gear game, after all.

Salary Man #2 - What should we call it?

Hayawaka - Didn't I just say Survive?

Salary Man #1 - Of course, sir. That is a wonderful plan.

Hayawaka - Next issue: you have heard of microtransactions, yes?

Salary Man #2 - I have.

Hayawka - Why micro and not macro?

Salary Man #1 - Of course, sir. That is a wonderful plan.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Momentary amusement

Need for Speed Payback pulled a single, stubborn chuckle from me last night. It was a momentary flash of amusement that certainly does not change my overall opinion of the game but I would be a fool to not admit that, yeah, it was pretty cool.

The 'good' guys are tasked with stealing two gold plated vehicles, partly to check out the technology inside and partly to piss off the owner. The theft goes sideways as the trap that no one saw coming is sprung and both vehicles have a bomb hidden in the undercarriage. They still move forward with the theft and both car end up in the back of an armored semi.

End up is not descriptive enough. The Lamborghini ramped off of a cop car, flew the air as it had wings, landing in just the right spot in the semi's trailer. It was ridiculous. And it got better.

With both cars safely inside (bombs included) the player's point of view shift to the semi. The semi is powerful enough to ram through anything the cop throw at it, so I gleefully ran down barricade after barricade, sending cars flying in a scene that made the end of The Blue's Brothers jealous.

This is what whole game should have been: over the top nonsense. Alas, as soon as that was done it was back to the grind. It is actually making me to more drag races which are the least fun things I have ever done in a racing game. Ever.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Failed flattery

I don't really feel like talking about Need for Speed Payback. It is a soulless attempt at an edgy Forza Horizon. There is a joy to the Horizon games on top of their perfect balance between simulation and arcade style racing that makes them consistently fun to pay. Yes, there is a paper thin story on top of the exploration but that is just there to give the player a general direction in which to drive and getting their is more than half the fun anyway.

Payback lifts all of its gameplay directly from Horizon: speed traps, drift courses, hidden car husks, you name it, it's here. The first difference is the Payback's insistence on forcing its stupid story of revenge and saving 'not Las Vegas' from 'The House' down the player's throat through terrible voices cut scenes and endlessly repetitive barks. I don't fucking care about any of these people and why it is okay for them to commit grand theft auto and crash the pursing cops into oncoming traffic. It certainly looks cool but I have no interest in their personal reasons for driving like idiots.

Second, and this is personal preference, I don't like how it drives.  I don't think I have ever liked the feel of Need for Speed games. The cars have always felt heavy and slippery. It is a stylistic choice, as drifting without using the breaks is part of how the game works, but it has never clicked for me. Of the five classes of cars I find the one designed for wrecking other vehicles to easiest to drive because rewards breaking before the turn (as one would do in a real car) instead of flying headlong into a corner, throwing the ass end of the car out wide, and then looking cool as stop lights are splintered on the car's impossibly durable quarter panel.

Yes, the crashes look cool, but it just makes me want a proper Burnout sequel. No, the Burnout Paradise remaster doesn't count. I hated that game.

Special mention must be made to the asinine upgrade system. Cars have six slots for upgrade cards and these cards can either by purchased from an upgrade shop or are randomly awarded after winning races. You can also purchase token to redeem at the upgrade shops (with real money) that award slot machine like spins for random cards. This is far worse than anything in Star Wars Battlefront II but did not get any attention because it is not Star Wars.

A week and a day until Far Cry 5. I will make it.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Looking up is good

Chamberlain and Chance - Remember to look up at the stars

Next on Epic Rap Battles

I may or may not have purchased Tesla vs Lovecraft just because the name made me laugh. This has worked in the past as Tembo the Badass Elephant was not bad at all. Tesla vs Lovecraft is by the same developers as Neon Chrome, a game I bought because it runs in native 4K and enjoyed enough to play a few times but not to completion. Both games are twin stick shooters, which is always good, and both have a Rogue Legacy like progression, which is not quite as good.

The difference is in the progress lost. Death in Neon Chrome can steal thirty to sixty minutes of progress and in Tesla vs Lovecraft the loss is measured in seconds. Sure, that sounds good, but it is because the areas in Tesla are much, much smaller. It is an arena based shooter, more akin to Smash TV or Robotron than anything else. Some sections are no more than a few screen wide and get quite crowded as the enemy count rises.

Much of the artwork for Tesla vs Lovecraft centers around Tesla's mech. It sports twin mini-guns and a rocket powered dash that squishes stygian frogmen in a most satisfying manner. Yes, the mech is cool, and you start every area in it, and then it is taken away, exploding into six pieces. Tesla himself starts off very weak with only a pistol and no special abilities. Weapons are scattered around the level and perks are chosen from a random pair that are presented when he levels up. And this is where the Rogue Legacy bit comes in: those levels are lost at the end of each level. All the perks, all the health, all the weapons are taken and you start over.

There are about eight weapons and several dozen perks. It did not take long to pick out the best of each which leads to every level having the same formula for success: assemble the mech as quickly as possible while avoiding the shotgun (it's terrible) and hoping for the right perks.

A run can be ruined by the wrong pickups. This is tolerable because a run is around two minutes, maybe, so if you get screwed just killing yourself to start over is a viable option. I never felt too invested in an attempt at a level to keep from cashing it in and starting over.

This does get repetitive. Fast. I powered through the whole game last night and unlocked the next area which is exactly the same as the first, just with more powerful enemies. The difficulty jump was significant and I tapped out about half way through.

I want to like the game on premise alone but it is not something that I will be able to dump a ton of time into. It's just as well, Far Cry 5 is soon.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Making time

Two games to catch up on before the podcast post.

Wonder Boy The  Dragon's Trap was added just because it was a neat looking platformer that I assumed  I would be able to knock out in around two days. I did not know that it was a remake of a Master System title. My first and last piece of Sega hardware was the Dreamcast so there are several generations of platform specific titles that I have never played.

Consort with the enemy? Never!

My first impression, still not knowing that the game was a remake, was that the character's momentum felt off, like he weighed far more than he appeared. There was also a strange delay to attacks which forced me to anticipate every sword swing. When I was digging through the menus looking for option I discovered that pressing R2 switches the visuals to the classic version.

Staring at the garish pixels of an early 8bit game cleared up the problems. The visuals had been updated but the feel of the game had not, mostly likely intentionally so. I was able to de-age my reflexes by twenty years and could then play the game. Also true to its 8bit roots it doesn't explain anything and hides mission critical items behind invisible doors. I got stuck trying to find the final boss and resorted to GameFaqs because I am old and a great big cheater.

Two days was the correct estimate on completion. Not bad but not worth a purchase, even if you are desperate for more things to play on the Switch.

After that I finally got around to Oxenfree. It would be a lie to say that I fully understood what was going on. Five impossibly witty teenagers are on an island for an overnight kegger. They explore a cave that, rumor had it, would do strange things if you tuned a radio to the correct frequency. The hero of the story does this and opens up a triangular portal, breaking time and releasing the ghosts of the crew of an experimental submarine that sunk prior to World War II.

There are time loops, body possession, teenage angst, visions of gruesome deaths, and then more teenage angst. There is also a lot of talking. It is near constant and inconsistently voice acted. The main two characters, Alex and her step brother Jonas, are fine but one of the other teenagers sounds like she recorded her lines while recovering from a Valium bender. She's bored and barely there.

It was a fun diversion that created tension more with sound than visuals. Alex will get stuck in a loop while exploring, something that only she is aware of, and the only way to fix it is to find reel to reel tape players and spin the right analog stick at the appropriate speed to play back the recorded music correctly. The music starting slow and low before going to fast is surprisingly creepy. I would have liked more actual scares but that is not the kind of game it is. More Twilight Zone episode with Buffy The Vampire Slayer characters than anything else.

Cleaning up the list feels good, even if some of the games were not. It makes space for all the more current games that I have yet to play.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Just one of many

Did feel that?

The whole world just got dumber.

...

Viewed from afar by alien eyes we, as a species, are a nearly homogenous mass that manages to fight with itself over cosmetic differences. Each individual's contributions can be replaced by a thousand others with no loss in efficiency. We are more akin to worker ants or indistinguishable cells of a larger organism than the unique beings our collective hubris leads us to see in the mirror.

There are outliers, true freaks of nature, that by either physical or mental acuity are our betters. These men and women, who should our leaders, or at the very least our gold standard, are often unrecognized and unappreciated by the teeming masses. They recieve a postumas mention on the evening news and then their genius is gone.

Stephen Hawking transcended the isolation of genius with the best selling, least read book of all time. He appeared on The Simpson, which is awesome, and on The Big Bang Theory, which I will forgive him for. His contributions to science are as important as they are indecipherable. I do not know if, deep in his heart, he loathed the rest of his species. Perhaps the fact that his physical impairment required the services of many kept him grounded and appreciative. Then again, there are many, many more of that many and there was only one of him.

Perhaps it is cosmic justice that the smartest man in the world required an army of idiots by comparison to function. Our species will continue to exist. Most of the cells will remain ignorant of the loss because it has no effect on their ordained location and function. And there will be, or already is, another like him. When there are billions of us it is bound to happen eventually.

Still, the collective IQ of the planet just dropped. We need another intellectual hero before we forget how to fucking breath.

Monday, March 12, 2018

So many Calls to Duty

Talking about the campaign of Call of Duty game feels pointless. WWII was pretty good, not as good as Infinite Warfare (yes, I unironically liked Infinite Warfare) but still a good ride. There was a basic story that followed a kid from Texas through a few real World War II events and many more imagined ones. The D-Day invasion was back and it still did not induce the same level of panic as Medal of Honor: Allied Assault. Perhaps decades of shooter have callused me to that specific event. The Battle of the Bulge was new but I do not know enough about military history to tell if it was in any way accurate.

It did make me revisit the question as to why World War II is such a bottomless well of video game material. The answer is two fold. First, it was the last war or conflict or police action in which the good guy and the bad guy roles were clearly labeled, and not just from a 'merican point of view. History lays out clearly that the Nazi's were terrible. Roles of individual Allied nations are undoubtedly exaggerated in their respective history books but even Germany agrees that yeah, we were pretty shitty then and no, no one is allowed to used that imagery ever again.

This makes it basically ok to kill imaginary Nazis. They are little more than storm troopers with better aim. Up until Wolfenstein II I didn't think anyone would argue that fact. The people who did argue that fact recently made it more obvious that yes, it is still very much okay to shoot fictional Nazis.

Second, the vast majority of WWII veterans have died but not so long ago as that they have been forgotten. This coupled with the few remaining survivors makes WWII almost a legend but just real enough, just present enough in the group American consciousness, that exaggerations of heroics are accepted, almost embraced, as truth. We like hearing about GIs rescuing people from concentration camps because it did indeed happen, it's just that the fish has gotten bigger with each subsequent telling.

I would not say that I come from a military family but the facts say different. Both of my grandfathers served in World War II, one as a mechanic on an aircraft carrier in the South Pacific and the other never said a damn thing about what he had done other than to dismiss his purple heart as being awarded for having a jeep back into him on base. There is just enough there that a good story, or a good shooter, has an Animus like effect on me in spite of being completely fictional. This works because WWII was a good war, at least for us, making it okay to relive and honor the events.

Side note: my father enlisted to avoid being drafted during the Vietnam war. They put him on a target range and he intentionally missed the target. They tried to teach him Vietnamese and he could not make the correct sounds with his midwestern mouth. So they sent him to Goose Bay, Labrador to tend bar. True story.

So yes, the story of a Texan kid and the conflict between his commanding officer who respects and loves his men (literally Tom Hanks from Saving Private Ryan) and his by the books second who is more than willing to feed soldiers into a meat grinder if that means obeying orders was effective. When the Texan kid decides to stay with his unit in spite of being injured enough to go home just to save his friend (who happens to be Jewish) from the Nazis it's not sappy, it's awesome.

I guess we aren't tired of WWII yet, after all.


Friday, March 9, 2018

Switched and baited

I was all set to play Call of Duty WWII last night. The disc had arrived, I put it on the 'to be played' area of me entertainment cabinet and then forgot about it. Later that evening, hyped to shoot Nazis, I opened the envelope and was greeted by Dissidia: Final Fantasy NT, a game that I forgot was on the way and had little interest in actually playing.

Speaking now as a video game addict, what else was I going to do, so I installed it.

Seeing characters from just about all Final Fantasies, up to and including Ramza from Final Fantasy Tactics, I did experience a tinge of pleasant reminisenance. After scrolling through the list I chose Lightning and went through the tutorial. What I found was not a normal fighting game but a three on three cluterfuck somwhere in the vein of Virtual On but even more indecipherable.

There is a button for dashing, more accurately chasing, that makes the whole game look like a Dragonball rerun. Characters' hit points are built up by one set of attacks and spent on another which is honestly an interesting risk/reward mechanic in that killing one enemy leaves you wide open to attacks from the next. If the pace and visuals weren't so frenetic it might have warranted investigation.

Story mode makes an effort to explain why all of these characters are in the same place at the same time, I assume. I could not play more more than a few cutscenes into it as unlocking them required bullshit tokens (my name for them) and the only way to earn these bullshit tokens is to fight online, which was not happening, or against AI.

On top of the bullshit tokens this earned gil for purchasing cosmetics and loot boxes filled with other other nonsense. If I enjoyed the actual fighting, which I did not, I might have kept going. I played just long enough for this little gem:




Oh great gods of gaming and GameFly, can I please shoot bad guys tonight?

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Fool me twice

I want to believe that I am actually really good at Telltale games, that the choices I make are always the correct ones and that I actually made a difference in the story. On the other hand, I know that the choices are at best superficial and that everything funnels towards key plot points, much like how time itself is explain to work in Assassin's Creed Origins.

All that being said, I may have really fucked up in Guardians of the Galaxy.

At the end of Episode four Nebula has sided with the Kree, Gamora blames Quill for Nebula leaving and has left, Mantis can no longer handle the group's constant fighting and has left, Groot has left to watch over Mantis and Drax is fucking dead. The only character left aside from Quill is Rocket, which I do not understand, as I have not been exactly nice to him.

It's a mess. I want to believe that it is my mess but I know how Telltale works. Maybe Gamora stays instead of Rocket. That's about the only variation I can see. But damn it, I have fallen for their tricks again and I am dying to play the last episode.

Running through them in quick succession works better for me than the week, sometimes month long breaks between episodes. I remember what is going on and am much more invested. Each character, aside from Groot, has gotten a mid-episode exploration of their past thanks to Mantis' knack for inserting Quill into their thoughts. Gamora was just more Gamora versus Nebula nonsense but Rocket's origin story explains much of his rampant douchebaggery and Drax, well...

Drax is almost a well rounded character. After Thanos' death he doesn't know what to do with himself. His quest for vengeance is over and he is lost. Drax searching for a new mission becomes a theme, and he does not find one, until Quill sees the final moments Drax spent with his daughter in which he literally pushes her off of a cliff as part of a test. She lives, he hugs her and sends her off for training. There is a choice to let her go or hug her for just a little longer. Jesus, Telltale, have you been taking lessons from Pixar?

Later Drax decides to jettison himself from the ship to slow down a giant space worm. Think Empire Strikes Back crossed with Inner Space. Quill says no and Drax, with extraordinary earnestness, asks Quill to do this last thing for him so he can die as a warrior and rejoin his family.

I do not know if choosing to ignore Drax's request would have kept him alive but I do not regret giving him his hero's death and I am going to be pissed off when he shows up again in the final episode for reasons.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Strike 2

It was something of a wasted weekend, gaming wise. I already said my piece about Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and the illicit drugs that were missing from my rental copy. It was arrogantly terrible. 'I am going to reuse character and plot points from a dozen other JRPGs , marry them to combat that makes early World of Warcraft look exciting, and you are going to love it because it is on the Switch and it will take a truly ridiculous amount of time to get through it.'

Well, no, if I was willing to discard an entire genre that I used to enjoy because I am, quite literally, getting too old for this shit, then I am going to abuse this newly found freedom and not play a JRPG that is bloated and boring.

So I fucked off and played through Trials of the Blood Dragon. It was free, fun, and took up about an afternoon. Then I tried Elex.

Ewwwww.

If Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is arrogantly terrible then Elex is incompetently terrible, which is odd, as Piranha Bytes has been making (bad) games since 2001. Elex drops the player into the middle of a poorly explained story, into the shoes of a protagonist who literally has no emotions, with little explanation other than 'walk to this town and see what's up.'

Little to no direction at the beginning of a sprawling open world RPG is not a bad thing as long as there is some hook, something interesting to do in that first area. In Elex that first area is both difficult to navigate and devoid of interesting content. Side quests are boring and, just like Xenoblade Chronicles 2, there is no clue given as to if you are of a high enough level to even attempt them. I found myself walking for several minutes towards a flashing spot on the minimap (which was a literal blank circle, no topographic info, nothing) only to find my target surrounded by enemies that I had no chance in killing.

Combat animations are stilted, movement animations are nonexistent, flying with the jetpack, which I am convinced is given to the player early on because the level designers couldn't be assed to design levels, is near impossible. There was no joy to be found, even ironically, in Elex, and this is coming from the guy who was disappointed that he could not finished The Technomancer due to a game breaking bug.

So fuck it, I turned it off. If I am too old for the stress induced by Street Fighter then my time is far too precious for more than a few hours of bad RPGs. On Friday I was worried about how much time finishing the next two games was going to take. Today I am digging through games that I purchased and never got around to playing.

Why hello Telltale, it's been a while, are you still using the same shitty engine?

...yes.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Never trust review aggregates

Goodness, am I in a foul mood. Why, you ask? Metacritic lied. Go figure.

Contrary to the nonsense above I submit that Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is a shitty, shitty game.

Every single character is lifted wholesale from other games, either in personality, look or both. Rex is the spirited youth who is more powerful that he knows and has a family history that allows him to bond with Pyra, a living weapon who wears almost nothing and has a personality about as deep as her shorts are long There is a generic cat girl, there are cute round fuzzy thing that speak in broken English and for some reason everyone has an embarrassing Scottish accent.

The general setting, that all life exists on top of gigantic titans who wander through a sea of clouds, below which is an uncharted ocean, sounds neat but in practice was done in Skies of Arcadia and Gravity Rush, only better. There is a giant tree of life it the middle, because of course there is, and some government conspiracy to keep people away from it.

The map is confusing and way points on the compass often point in the wrong direction. Side quests have no indication of what level the player should be, not that it matters that much as monsters significantly below the player's level still kill in only a few hits,

And the combat? This is the worst combat in a JRPG I have ever seen. It's not action based, like a Tales game or even fucking Final Fantasy 15, but it also isn't turn based. Fighting an enemy entails walking up to it, letting the auto attack start, then waiting for attack meters to fill so special attacks can be used. That's it.

Combat is literally waiting for bars to fill. Yes, there are tiered special attacks that lead to quick time events, but getting to those just means more waiting. No part of it is enjoyable, or novel, or in the least bit interesting.

Apparently my rental copy did not come with the complimentary crack that was packed in the retail version. Fuck this game, I have better things to do than watch bars fill as a Scottish cat girl cracks wise about the living weapon's hot pants.