Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Nostalgia is not what is used to be

Double catch up post!

Resident Evil 2 Remake

I don't remember if I finished Resident Evil the first time around. It was a long, long time ago. I know for a fact that I did not play it through a second time with the other character. Even then, as a young man, I had a distaste for repetition.

If you are looking for a modern take on RE2 that includes more than a few of the unique intentional limitations of the first game then you are in luck. This is RE2 re-imagined. A modern looking game with the old inventory system. Yes, you are running back and forth to item boxes, but the flow of the game, at least the first time around, seems better. I was very rarely out of space, and if I was there was a box not too far away.

This game has less in common with the original than the first remake. REMake on the GameCube is a better game, if you ask me, as it is still the first Resident Evil, right down to the static camera angles, with a few new things added on. Resident Evil 2 Remake is the opposite: it is a new game with a few modern ideas taken away to make it feel old.

Regardless, I finished Leon's campaign in about seven hours and was quite willing to start up Claire's second quest. The second quest is not the same as choosing the character first: it fills in the blanks of the other story and is much less directed. When I played as Leon it was always pretty obvious where I had to go next. Oh look, I just found a new key, what can I open. This prevents wandering, wasting of ammo and bumbling into monsters that you should not fight yet.

The second quest has none of that. When I got to the police station as Claire it was almost all open, I had no idea where to go, I opened a door and was immediately destroyed by a licker and then lost fifteen minutes of progress because the save points were further apart.

No sale, uninstall, it was fun while it lasted.

Ace Combat 7

'Hmm, I have never played an Ace Combat game, let's see how this goes.'

'Arcadey controls, which is fine. Lots of planes. Surprisingly easy to die. Long winded cut scenes that don't seem to have anything to do with what I am actually playing...'

'Aha! Timed fifteen minutes mission with no checkpoints! Fuck you.'

I can see the allure. I think. It is just not fort me.

Monday, May 20, 2019

A mild defense of Anthem

I said some unflattering things about Anthem last week, summed up by the statement 'It is a sad game.' And it is. But it is also not a bad game. It is not the game that most people were expecting not is it the game that EA advertised. I also believe that it is not he game that BioWare wanted to make. There are bits and pieces of very good ideas here: interesting characters and a world with a tremendous and largely unexplored backstory. In a better game, a game not forced into the money shaped hole left behind by Destiny 2, it could have been much better, but that does not mean that what is here is all bad.

It must be said that I played the game incorrectly. Anthem is designed as a squad based shooter and I turned that option off at the first opportunity. It warned me each time I started the game and each time I said 'fuck off, I can amuse myself' to which it replied 'sure thing spanky, but I am not going to make anything easier on you just because human interaction give you a rash.'

We came to an understanding.

The act of playing Anthem, flying around in a javelin and shooting wave after wave of very similar enemies, is fun. It's not Destiny fun. because BioWare is not Bungie, but I played it for around twenty five hours and my eyes did not pop out of my head. The game did not give me cancer. It was fine. Most of the game was fine. The world was detailed and fun to look at, though exploration was a bit cumbersome. Missions were straightforward, if a bit repetitive.  Enemies were fun to kill, though the game's idea of increased difficulty was simply 'MORE MONSTERS,' not different monsters or more interesting attacks.

It was fine. 7/10.

The sadness kicks in when the BioWare bits shine through the 7/10 and it becomes apparent what the game might have been. The characters in the game are capital C characters: well written, well voice acted, but poorly animated and residents of a very detailed but stagnant world. There is a scientist who is split into three people, each new entity reflecting part of himself, that would have been more at home in an RPG than stuck in the same idle animations in his house, never leaving his tiny little world. The whole fort is filled with NPCs that never move, looking more like an exquisite diorama than a functioning fort.

Anthem's world is being constantly torn down and rebuilt by shaper relics, leftovers of a long dead civilization that do as much harm as they do good by tapping into the anthem itself, an unexplained but ever present power that fills the world. Think The Force but less subtle. Instead of churning out moody bad guys it creates giant scorpions or titans the size of buildings.

It could have been good. It could have been more. The real problems don't kick in until well after my time the game has ended. End game content is almost entirely absent leaving players to grind randomly created missions with the end goal of, well, something. I never touched any of that so I don't hate the game but I at least understand why players looking for more than a twenty or so our campaign would be frustrated.

Anthem was fine. Sad, but fine.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Not him again

Far Cry New Dawn feels like a more reasonably sized Far Cry 5. It's not the wild, interesting departure from the norm that Far Cry Primal was, it is just Far Cry 5 plus a few years, a nuclear apocalypse and by the way, never mind that Rage 2 comes out soon.

I would be lying if I said that it wasn't fun. The Far Cry style of open world shooters works better on a smaller scale. This is a smaller map with less to do, less places to clear out, less outposts to take over, literally less of everything. And that's okay. Maybe open neighborhood is a better term than open world.

Games don't need to be 100 fucking hours long. I am looking at you, Assassin's Creed Odyssey. Yes, you were good, but god damn did you need an editor.

That is not to say that New Dawn does not have at least one capital P Problem, at least plot wise. Far Cry 5 featured a terrible downer of an ending. Joseph Seed was right, there is a nuclear attack and to top it off the player character ends up trapped in a bunker with this maniac until the world is not quite so radioactive.

Spoilers coming!

Joseph Seed is still alive in New Dawn and the game seems to be trying to redeem him as a character. he has saved his people, holed up in the north of Hope County in an anti-technology stronghold. He then left his son in charge (and if you played a female rookie in Far Cry 5 this has terrible, terrible implications) and hid out in a shack waiting for the current player character to find him.

And when you do? He literally plucks a forbidden apple off of a tree, makes you eat it, at which point you fight the evil in your own soul. In the form a big ass bear. Subtle, this is not.

I don't think anybody wanted more Joseph Seed, especially after how the last game ended. And now to humanize him? To try to paint him as almost sympathetic? Icky.

It should be over tonight. And then? And then it is time for Anthem. Prepare yourselves.