This is where you can read any of my irregular wafflings about computer gaming. The whole point of this blog is to help motivate me to properly finish games, whether they be recent ones or older ones I played when I was younger that I never managed to beat.
28th November 2016 - Brothers & Transistors: A Tale Of Two Games
2016 has been a bit of a slow year for completing games, so recently I sat down to rush through two shorter games from a couple of years back that have quite a good reputation out there on the t'interwebs.
Up first was Transistor, a game by the same people who made Bastion. I could certainly feel a bit of a Bastion-like influence in this, but for the most part it was a very different game, especially the combat.
Battles can be fought in real time, or you can pause and plan out your attacks using something called Turn(). Using Turn() lets all your planned actions activate before the enemy can react, but then puts your skills on a cooldown until Turn() is ready to go again, leaving you very open to attack. I struggled quite a lot to get used to either form of combat, until later in the game when I had unlocked a nice selection of functions which allowed me to use Turn() to plan out some very powerful combos. Though I had struggled with the earlier bosses, by the time of the end boss fight I was so ready that I smacked him around with barely a scratch in return.
The story was a weird one. A lot of the lore was hidden in text files and messages that get unlocked as the game progresses, and as I was blitzing through the game I didn't care for any of that, and am not really sure about many things. The general gist was that some bad guys called the Camerata (who may have actually been good guys?) were trying to use a special sword called the Transistor to help rebuild the city, but lost control of it, and it ended up spreading something called The Process: machine-like things that are now taking over the city and killing everyone they can find.
You play as Red, a famous singer who has been rendered mute, I assume psychologically, after an attack on her life instead claimed that of her lover, whose essence was then sucked into the Transistor. Red now has control of the Transistor, from which her lover still speaks to her, and together they set out to try and destroy the Camerata and The Process.
Yes, as I said, it's a weird one.
I had quite a few issues with the game to be honest. Firstly, I couldn't get it running smoothly. Even forcing vsync on in the nvidia control panel, or trying some weird command line option I found online, couldn't stop this from stuttering around all over the place. Made me feel a bit sick.
Real time combat was pretty much unplayable for me. Red's abilities are not supposed to have a cooldown in this mode, to make it a viable option in addition to the Turn() system. However, all the attacks I tried had massive wind-up times, or a good second or two afterwards where Red wouldn't do anything, and I kept getting hit by return fire.
Very often during Turn(), the game would indicate I could do enough damage to kill an enemy, but when I unpaused and unleashed the planned combo, the enemy would be left with quite a lot of health left. Either I was missing something, or there was some strange shit going on there.
Using the jaunt function was also frustrating. This is like a dash or blink move, but sometimes it would only jump to maximum distance while other times it would let me dash a shorter distance. Sometimes it would let me dash over walls, and sometimes it wouldn't. It was a pain.
I can't really write about this game without talking about its music, especially after Bastion's was so good. Unfortunately, while it suits the game and is perfectly adequate, I just didn't find it as "cool" sounding as Bastion's music. While I would be quite happy to listen to any of Bastion's songs, there are only a couple of the lyrical pieces from this one that I have imported into my library.
Red thinks she's She-Ra
Planning to take out the Jerk
There's always time for pizza
The fight against The Spine was the hardest one
WTF is going on right now?
Spanking the end boss good and proper
Next up was Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons. This was an interesting little platformy-puzzle-thing where you control two brothers at the same time, one with the left stick and one with the right. I was surprisingly ok with this, and could control them both simultaneously for the most part, as long as I kept the left-stick brother on the left side of the screen and right-stick brother to the right. If they ever got mixed up for any reason then my brain would soon get all muddled and I'd have those kids running in completely the wrong directions.
The plot is simple, and follows the brothers as they set out to retrieve a cure for their dying father, after losing their mother before the start of the game. Along the way they meet all kinds of weird and wonderful characters who will either try and help them or hinder them.
It seems to be known mostly for being an emotional narrative-driven game, and I've seen reviewers online gush about the effect it had on them. Call me cold or soulless, but I didn't get that much of a response from playing it at all. I guess the biggest reason for that was the length of the game. As it only lasts about 3-4 hours, there's not really much of a chance to get invested in the characters at all, especially as they don't even speak (or at least, speak in a language we can understand).
The end of the game also annoyed the hell out of me. For a start, the main villain, who up to that point had already displayed incredible feats of strength and agility, gets absolutely destroyed by two little children in very quick fashion. Just wouldn't happen. And to top it off, the writers of the game came down with a bout of sheer Lord Of The Rings-itus when a weird owl/cat creature shows up out of nowhere to save the day and fly the cure all the way back to the starting location so that the father can get it. I just didn't understand how that creature even knew where the kids were to go and help. Had me groaning with disappointment to be honest.
Narrative issues aside, it was a perfectly fine game to play through, barring a couple of little irritations. Mostly, I hated how the camera kept rotating automatically all the time. I dearly wished it would just stay pointing forward. Also, it wasn't always clear when I had to keep hold of the interact buttons or when I could let go of them. Quite often, a cutscene would start as I interacted with something. Sometimes, this cutscene would play even if I let go of the button, but other times it would cancel the cutscene and I'd have to start it again. A minor quibble, but a quibble nonetheless.
Overall though, definitely worth a playthrough, but like Transistor, it's highly unlikely I'll ever play it again.
Troll dude throws them kids off his front lawn
To me. To you. To me.
The brothers have a goat race
Someone's been playing Trine
I wanna go for a ride on that!
Not one for the arachnophobes
These two games are not the only two I've played since the last update. Though I wasn't expecting to go straight into Witcher 3, that's exactly what I did. Sadly the story failed to grip me and make me keep going back to it, so I haven't got very far yet, and it's been a good few weeks since I last played it. I want to get back to it again soon and hopefully get addicted.
I was incredibly happy to find its controls had none of Witcher 2's problems, and even though it's a newer game, the framerate and performance seem better than its predecessor. Good stuff in that regard.
Roach tries to climb the fence
I find her interesting because she's a client and she sleeps above her covers. Four feet above her covers.
Griffin proving a problem
Oh Geralt you naughty boy
This place seems inviting
Boxing a bear
One slice or two?
Come on then, Wild Hunt scum!
A while back I also started playing the chaotic mental insanity that is Broforce with Scoob. This old-school-looking game fills the screen with bullets and explosions as you try and reach the end of each level, playing as characters that are not-so-subtly based on action heroes from movies and TV.
It's actually quite hard, mostly because it can be hard to tell what's going on with all the fireworks and destruction on screen. We'll get back to this at some point, and hopefully get through it all. But don't hold your breath.
Scoob brings the pain
Dropping off some packages
Let's hope there's some dude with a sword I can shoot
21st September 2016 - Witch Way Should I Turn?
I can't believe it's been nearly 3 years since I finished the first Witcher game. How time shifts as you get older. Anyway, as the third game has already been out for well over a year, it seemed time to finally install Witcher 2 and push on with the series.
I actually installed this and played it for a short time right after playing the first one, but I had a lot of problems getting it to run right at the time, and as I hadn't really enjoyed the first one, I got put off from playing it until recently.
Now all's said and done, I definitely prefer this to the first one. In my opinion, the original game had a lot more wrong with it than right. But this one flips that around for the most part and has been more pleasant to get through. However, I still feel that this series is probably not for me, as there were still many things that pissed me off about it.
Firstly, the mouse delay/input lag problem. Holy shit this was annoying. If I ran the game without vsync, the mouse would behave properly in the game and in the menus, but the game would run very jittery. With vsync on, the game graphics ran smooth, but there was an obscene amount of mouse lag, especially in the menus. This made certain quests, such as the arm wrestling, impossible to do. Eventually I was able to use the Nvidia control panel to set up vsync with triple buffering, which made the graphics run smoothish, and got rid of most of the mouse lag, but not all. Not ideal, but it was the best I could get it.
The other problem concerning controls was how you had to wait for the previous animation to finish before you could give Geralt a new command. The amount of times I went to cast a spell or roll out of the way only for nothing to happen, just because he hadn't quite finished twirling his sword.
Moving around the world could also be a pain. There were times when Geralt wouldn't even jump down a 1 foot drop, or would not be able to run over a tree root. I also did not like the camera changing every time you climbed up to or jumped down from a ledge. It was kind-of sickening.
However, the improvements over the first game were gladly received. When I rocked up to the first town and picked up the contract quests, I was originally horrified when it looked like finding and reading books would be necessary again, just like in the first game. Later on I discovered this was not the case, which was a boon, even though I had already wasted some money.
The combat is definitely better than the previous game, other than the problems mentioned above, that is. It just felt way more action packed, and being able to cast significantly more spells was great.
I also experienced far less bugs, though there were some. The game also hard crashed to desktop on several occasions, which had me saving like a crazy person at every opportunity.
I'd like to say I enjoyed the story, but while it is filled with intrigue, plot twists, and cool characters, I simply had no real idea of what was going on in the world at large. There seemed to be so many countries, kings and advisors all arguing with each other, and backstabbing each other, that I couldn't follow it all. It doesn't help that I've never read any Witcher books, or that it's been so long since I played the first game, as I can't remember anything about it. Hmph. Politics.
I do really like how the games give you several important choices to make that can really change what happens afterwards. I've just read about all the choices you can make in the games and their repurcussions. I can't really remember what I chose during the first game, except I definitely chose Triss over Shani, and I know I did not side with the Order. Whether I remained neutral or sided with the Scoia'tael I can't remember. I'm also pretty sure I saved the werewolf guy, but I can't remember if I killed or cured Adda. Though I remember saving Abigail.
In this one, I killed Aryan (though this was right at the beginning and I didn't really know what I was doing), I helped the troll to stop drinking, I sided with the Scoia'tael over the Blue Stripes, I saved the elf women from the burning building, I did not let the mob kill Stennis, I decided to save Philippa/Saskia rather than Triss, I let Síle die, and I killed Letho at the end.
Many of these choices can really change what happens in the game, particularly depending on who you side with.
It could do with certain tweaks to make it much more playable, and it also needs a much better tutorial, as the one provided was tosh, and not really all that helpful.
I should really crack right on with number 3, but I'm still not sure if I have the motivation for that yet. Which is a shame. If I found these games as good as others seem to, I'd already be diving headlong into it.
Geralt baffles them with his dancing
Villain shows off his yoga skills
I don't want to know what they are doing in this dark outhouse
Battling some wraiths
Arm wrestling is almost impossible with the game's shit controls
That's an interesting name you have
Geralt's squad of ultimate badasses
Burn harpy, burn!
Time heals all things, except these crazy eyes
Geralt interrupts some kinky shenanigans
Don't make Saskia angry...
...you wouldn't like her when she's angry
Sorry Adalbert, you need to die...
...so that Geralt can bang Cynthia
Not the kind of ride Geralt usually enjoys
Dealing with the Kingslayer
Our adventures through Arborea continued for a while, though we've not played for some weeks. While I quite like it for the most part, there are some awkward things about it that stop me from getting really invested. I find the controls a bit awkward, but that's nothing new for this type of game. When the mouse and W,A,S,D keys move you around, I always feel like I need an extra hand for activating skills. This has always been true for all the MMOs I've played, as well as games like Smite.
I'm also struggling to get involved in the world and the lore. You level so fast in this game that you can bypass three quarters of the zones, as by the time you finish one zone you're already too high level for many others. While that's probably a good thing if you plan on levelling alts, as you can go through different zones with them, for us it just makes all that content seem like a waste. Last time we played, we switched our questing tactics so we only did story quests and not all the little zone-specific quests. Hopefully this will keep our levels down longer, and allow us to visit more places, if for shorter amounts of time.
Not long back, they merged a bunch of servers and we lost a lot of items that we hadn't claimed yet, so that pissed us off a bit. We're unsure at the moment whether we'll go back to this.
It's a big bugger
Meeting a zombie-bear-thing
Duke Volperon wants my booty
Took us ages to kill this thing
One game I've managed to stop playing is League Of Legends, which I haven't touched for nearly 2 months. This damn thing had been pissing me off most of the year, but I carried on because Scoob likes it so much. Yet again, barring a few rare incidents, the idiots and AFKers were on our team, getting in my way as I tried to get to 300 wins. That should have been enough to dissuade me, but I think what has helped me quit the most were the changes they made to the pro scene after M.S.I. this year.
Up until then, I had quite enjoyed watching the pro games, and it kept me somewhat interested in playing myself. However, with more than double the games being played in the summer split, I wasn't able to keep up with them all and stopped watching after a couple of weeks. I can't even tell you who won, or who played well, or who is going to worlds. I just don't care any more.
Of course, I've had breaks before and always ended up going back, so this is a strong possibility. But for now at least, my time with the game is over. I've ended up on 295 wins to 270 losses, meaning I stretched the margin by just 6 wins, making the journey to 300 my worst performance yet. Sure, I wasn't quite at 300 wins, but I would have had to win the last 5 games without losing to make it the biggest increase. And on our last few performances, that just would not happen. The only great thing I remember happening was my first pentakill in one game where I was Katarina, who was one of the champs I think I got better on during these games.
I shouldn't really do this before 300 wins, but here's some sad pointless stats about the last 184 games:
- My largest win streak was 6, and my largest losing streak was 7.
- My most played champs were Annie (10), Kayle (10) & Nami (9).
- I performed best on Annie (8/2), Leona (6/2) & Karma (5/1).
- I performed worst on Akali (1/5), Anivia (1/4) & Caitlyn (1/4).
Using Kat to do some work for a change
Giving them the belly bounce
Scoob unleashing Brand's powers
Though I may play LoL again at some point, it's doubtful I'll be going back to Marvel Heroes. As expected, Scoob didn't want to carry on, but I tried to continue and finished chapter 2. I quickly got tired by the frequent and huge updates, as with my net speed it meant it often took twenty minutes or so to log in. I don't have that kind of patience. Shame, as despite its flaws it has some good things going on, especially for free.
Taking out The Hood
3rd December 2013 - Scratching A Witch
I just got done with the Witcher after a three day marathon, and I have to say I'm very glad it's over. The game was a drag and a half. I continued to get plagued by all the problems I stated in my last blog entry, with one very big addition: the amount of times the fighting would be interrupted by a cutscene, only to then put me back into the action completely surrounded by enemies and without my sword being ready. Damn you, game!
Story wise the game was pretty cool, but does take a twist that really annoys me in games. You spend the whole game chasing the big bad who is called Javed, but then when he's dead the game springs a new big bad on you out of nowhere. This kind of thing has always cheesed me off since I played Final Fantasy IX with the weird appearance of Necron. Frustrating, but at least it's done.
I think it will take me a while to summon up the interest to play the 2nd game, which I hope will be much better than this tosh. The 3rd one is on the way, and I really want a reason to support the developers for their no DRM policy. But if the 2nd one is as poor as this one I doubt I'll be buying any more in the series, which will be a shame.
Strange shadow glitches
NPC goes invisible in dialog cutscene
I know you're randy all the time Geralt, but don't even think about it
Urgh, bad breath
Berengar shows his useless 'bury my head and arms' skill
Great camera placing yet again
Floating (yes, floating) Cemetaur tries to eavesdrop our conversation
Crap, this is a lot of enemies
What is going on with Javed's right arm?
Stand still you little pipsqueak
Geralt tries to kick a spectre in its nads
This is what you get for giving the world those singing chipmunks
The start and end cinematics are by far the best things about this game
Say the hell what now?!?!
14th October 2013 - Wanna Be Witchin' An' A Ditchin'
So, been trying to play the Witcher at long last, after owning it for over a year. The games in the series have got a good rep out there on t'interwebs as being some of the best RPGs you can play. But unless the 2nd one is much better than this, I will most certainly have to disagree. I'm currently on chapter 4 of 5 chapters, and I'm really struggling to stay with it. The last couple of times I've played I've only managed about 20 minutes each. It's just so frustrating. Here's why:
- Combat is very boring and not very fast paced at all. Just click on an enemy, wait for Geralt to finish his combo and the cursor will flash yellow, then click on the enemy again. Repeat. Frelling snooze fest. You can throw in an occasional bit of magic with the right mouse button, but you have such small reserves of energy you can usually only cast one or two spells a battle. Pointless.
- There is far too much hunting for information and reading of books. Many quests can't be completed unless you've read books about monsters you've got to fight, and many herbs can't be picked until you've read about them first. Wouldn't be so bad if the books weren't rediculously overpriced. I've had to repeat this procedure at the start of each chapter as I encounter new monsters, quests and herbs. Painful.
- There is far too much back and forth, running between the same areas over and over again as you strive to complete the quests. Very often, finding a specific NPC to hand in a quest is a pain in itself, as characters move around at different times of the day, or vanish or relocate completely if other quests are currently in progress. Again, this wouldn't be so bad if the game would hint at why you can't find them or where they might be. But no. Just come back and try again later. And again. And again. You get the idea
- The camera is shite, especially in isometric mode, which I like to use when just moving around before switching back to 3rd person for combat. It just doesn't follow the character right, or allow you to click exactly where you want to go if there's any whiff of nearby terrain. Even in 3rd person I have no idea what is behind me, and regularly get attacked from the rear and have no idea it is happening. And if you end up in a combat situation where your back is to a wall then watch out. You ain't seeing shit.
- A really funny thing is when you trigger a cut scene in the middle of combat. Enemies will stand and wait patiently for you to finish your conversation, before resuming when you're done. Comedy.
- The game constantly dictates when you can unsheath your sword, and keeps automatically sheathing it when it's out. This is annoying as hell. I've found running around with a sword out makes Geralt run a lot faster, so that's how I'd like to keep it. Stupid game. Grr.
- This one doesn't happen too often, but there are a few cut scenes where Geralt gets totally bladdered. So when you get control back you have to stumble around very very slowly and go and look for a place to sleep it off. Couldn't it just do that automatically and cut to the next day rather than make you waste a whole bunch of time walking around at a snail's pace? Talk about wasting the player's time.
- The game has got annoying little bugs sprouting from every orifice. Be they graphics bugs like clipping errors, or interactivity issues like clicking on an NPC and having nothing happen at all. I've even had times where I've attacked and killed enemies and they've completely ignored me and let me do it. So bad.
- Certain boss fights and other important cut scenes will only take place at certain times of the day. So if you trigger them the game leaps hours into the future to the time of the event. Big problem here is that if you were currently using any potions or damage enhancers on your sword then these will have run out and will have to be reapplied at the start of the fight while enemies are trying to bash your skull in. Thanks game.
- The sex content in the game is laughable. Not really sure why they added it in. Here's an example of what happens: Geralt is talking to a woman on the street or in a forest or wherever. They're getting on really well and one of them suggests a bit of sweaty naked fun. Screen fades to a blurry cutscene during which we are to assume the deed is taking place. Cut back to the standard game screen where Geralt and the woman are standing in exactly the same places as they were before the little cut scene and no time has passed at all. Exactly when, where and how did they just have sex if they haven't moved? Weird and pointless.
And this is the enhanced version believe it or not. I'd hate to have played the original. Here's a few images of my adventures so far, as well as some of the interesting bugs:
Strange floating skull
Priest's face obscured by random block of concrete
Kill the evil dog
I think I'm a bit pissed
Priest and fat bloke try and take on a professional killer
You have no idea kid
Weird ghostly apparition
Monster waits patiently while I speak to an NPC
Boobs in a computer game. Green boobs no less. Geralt approves.
Check out my Matrix moves
Dude has trouble getting through a door
Big bad wolf completely ignores me as I hack it to bits
These two women keep saying exactly the same thing
Someone else doesn't know how to use doors
Camera does a great job of chopping off this dude's head
Massive scrap breaks out in the sewers
Helping some naked vampire chicks kill a bunch of religious types
Weirdest werewolf ever
Out of the way old woman
Out of the way drunk baffoon
Yet another patient monster
Would much rather watch this again than play any more of the Witcher
So are there any good bits? Of course there are. The game wouldn't be so highly respected if there weren't. I'm just too much of a critical douchebag to have really paid them any attention with so many things wrong with the game. The story and characters are indeed pretty cool, even if the game assumes you know the story of the Witcher books and stories. Which of course I don't.
Most of the voice actors also do decent jobs. One in particular sounded very familiar so I looked him up and found out it was none other than Peter Marinker, who did the voice to Doctor Benn from awesome old kids TV show Star Fleet. That's definitely a plus. While I was reading about Star Fleet I also saw that Mark Rolston (Drake from Aliens) did the voice to John Lee?!?!?! What?!?!?!? That is something I can not believe. At all.
I know Star Fleet has nothing to do with this game. But that's what happens when I have such little good to say about it. Oh, the X-Bomber is still the best space ship ever designed. Period.
I'll try my best to finish the game seeing as I've come so far. But it's all very meh at the minute.