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22nd June 2020: Shocking Behaviour

It has taken me far too many months, but I've finally completed Bioshock for the first time. I wish I'd been more into this, but it just didn't grab me in any way, and it felt like I really had to grind my way through it.

The game is primarily a first person shooter, though it's also supposed to have horror elements. I found the horror elements entirely lacking, much like I did for System Shock 2, which this game is apparently the spiritual successor of. Granted, the game world is all kinds of messed up. But there was nothing scary here at all.

The game is set some decades ago, and in it you play as a guy who finds himself in an underwater city that has fallen into a state of absolute depravity and chaos. There, he is drawn into the latter stages of a war between two people and their followers, who both wish for control of the city.

Twonk

Twonk

The hacking minigame was a chore

The hacking minigame was a chore

Stop dodging you little shit

Stop dodging you little shit

Hmm. I'm gonna need a bigger wrench.

Hmm. I'm gonna need a bigger wrench.

My love affair with the flame thrower begins

My love affair with the flame thrower begins

Overall, I found this game very mediocre. I can see why people really like it, or at least, why they really liked it at the time. But for me, I found the story too boring and bland to hold my attention. It was also delivered in one of the most irritating ways, in the form of audio logs. The few NPCs you interact with were pretty crappy characters also, essentially pointless in the long run.

Neither did the gameplay feel particularly great. When I play an FPS, I want to be able to go in all guns blazing, but this game doesn't allow you to do that. For a start, I found ammo to be very scarce, especially early on. It also takes a crap-ton of time to reload when your gun is empty. For whatever reason, I also found there to be a funny feeling to the mouse movement, which I couldn't fully eliminate no matter how I tinkered. All this just added up to the game being an empty FPS experience for me.

It doesn't really fill me with any great motivation to push on and play the other games in this series, which I do have. But if I do, hopefully they will grab me better than this one did.

Never bring a gun to a wrench fight

Never bring a gun to a wrench fight

Say cheese

Say cheese

Bioshock predicts the plot of Last Of Us 2. What? Too soon?

Bioshock predicts the plot of Last Of Us 2. What? Too soon?

Draining the big bad's mojo

Draining the big bad's mojo

I did enjoy burning things

I did enjoy burning things

13th May 2020: Hit The Road Jack, And Don't You Come Back

This 'ere next game is one I first saw a very, very long time ago when I was still in school. My mate Scoob used to babysit for one of his neighbours, and on one occasion he asked me to join him. This was because he wanted to show me this game, which was on his neighbour's PC. I could be wrong, but that may have been the first time I ever saw a PC, as back then I only had a Commodore Amiga. I remembered not being impressed at first, as the computer was running MS-DOS, and I had no real interest in a black screen with white writing.

But then he fired the game up. And I was intrigued. Because this game was Sam & Max Hit The Road.

See, back then I quite liked silly point and click adventures like Monkey Island. In fact, my mate Dave and I even tried making one on some Amiga software called Grac. But that software was garbage and the experiment didn't go very well.

It was, however, a very long time until I would catch sight of this game again. More than twenty years in fact, when I bought it from GOG in 2015. Yes, I've owned it nearly 5 years, and it's a fairly short-ish game, so it would have been good to play before, but I've never really had the motivation to play it as an adult. I just don't like silly point and clicks anymore, mostly due to the stupid moon logic, which of course, this game is chock-full of.

In the game, you control Sam and Max, members of the Freelance Police, as they are sent to rescue a bigfoot from a power-hungry country music star. It sounds bonkers, and it is bonkers. Some of the locations and things you have to do are ridiculous, but that's just the kind of game it is.

The characters and writing are enjoyable and funny, based on an earlier comic I believe, and these helped me get through the game. Because, not gonna lie, I really needed the help. I very quickly got tired of looking at everything, talking to everyone, trying to pick everything up, trying to use everything with everything else, just to see if I could advance any one of the very silly moon logic puzzles. I even got a sore hand from all the mouse clicking.
Nor am I ashamed to admit that I had to use a walkthrough at a few points, because I just couldn't be bothered.

It really is a shame I didn't get to fully play this when I was a lot younger when I may have appreciated it a lot more. But this kind of game is just not for me any more.

Wak that rat!

Wak that rat!

Feeling a bit sick

Feeling a bit sick

Max likes bouncing

Max likes bouncing

The villains are introduced

The villains are introduced

Bungee jumping from Mount Rushmore nostrils

Bungee jumping from Mount Rushmore nostrils

26th April 2020: Living In A Fantasy World

It's been many, many years since I last bought a brand new game. In fact, the Batman games, Arkham City and Arkham Origins, were the last ones I grabbed which were even slightly new, at 4 and 3 months old respectively. I usually don't find games, especially console games, worth the massive price tag. I've also got such a massive backlog of old unplayed games that I'm never really in a rush to play new ones.

That general rule however, did not apply to this one. I had to grab this as soon as I could. For it is a modern remake of very probably my favourite game of all time: Final Fantasy VII.

Fans had wanted a remake of this 1997 game for years, and it took until 2015 for Square to finally crumble to pressure and announce they were making it. And so, nearly five years later, the wait is over and the game is out.
So, in my pointless opinion, was it all worth it?

The original is such an important game for so many people, including me, and I would imagine, the developers themselves. And it very much shows. There is no doubt that they poured their hearts and souls into making this thing.

It is because of the story, world and characters that I've always thought so fondly of the old game, and they are even better than ever here (well, except for the end, which I won't go into here). While the remake only recreates the first few hours of the original game, the part set in the city of Midgar, it does so in a massively expanded way, taking the play time from maybe 5-6 hours up to around 40-50. Most of this extra time is spent on fairly awesome, and sometimes very sweet, character moments, made all the better by decent writing and very good voice acting. The actors for Cloud, Tifa and Aerith in particular really suit their characters and do a phenomenal job.

I'm pretty sure I would struggle playing the original game these days due to its mechanics, so I was interested to try the new and updated take on combat within this version of the game's world. The way combat is performed in this game makes it an interesting beast indeed. On the surface, it's a fairly standard 3rd person hack 'n' slash with dodge and parry mechanics, but it also adds in the ATB gauge from the classic Final Fantasy games which you need to use in order to perform abilities and skills like magic and other fancy attacks. It's like you're playing two games in one. You can also take personal control of any of the members of your party, not just Cloud (Final Fantasy XIII this ain't!), and when there are a lot of enemies involved in the battle, things can get very hectic and tense as you try and keep track of it all.

The music is also very good, and a lot of the old tracks are here in new and updated versions. However, there are collectible songs in the game that you can play on jukeboxes scattered throughout the city, but for some reason these versions of the songs are all really weird, and I just never bothered taking the time to look for them all.

...and still iconic in 2020

...and still iconic in 2020

Hmm, this looks familiar

Hmm, this looks familiar

Ifrit wailing on some fools

Ifrit wailing on some fools

Tifa kicks the airbuster in the face

Tifa kicks the airbuster in the face

Chocobos ride to battle against the Hell House

Chocobos ride to battle against the Hell House

Things somehow get weirder than the original ever did. Seriously. You don't know the half of it.

Things somehow get weirder than the original ever did. Seriously. You don't know the half of it.

While there is a great deal of good about this game, it is certainly far from perfect. Some of the things I didn't like were fairly mild annoyances, like there were times when the controls during particular segments were a bit janky, or times when control of the camera was completely taken away from me for no reason at all, and I had to either wait or slowly walk to a certain spot to get control of it back.

But more importantly, especially for further playthroughs, my biggest problem was with all the slow filler that has been shoved into the game in order to make it last longer. Sure, a lot of this was the game giving the characters time to get to know each other better, which wasn't really there in the original. But if I ever play the game again, will I really want to spend 15 minutes picking flowers, or hunting for a little girl's cat? There were just segments where absolutely nothing seemed to happen, for ages. Even in fairly tense and hectic story moments, when the characters were in a rush to get somewhere, they would constantly stop to talk to each other and say things like "Our friends are in trouble! We really need to hurry up!", and then proceed to stand there for another 10 seconds staring into the distance before starting to move again.
All the time I was just bouncing up and down in my chair desperately wanting them to get on with it. I'd got bad guys to beat up after all.

I really do think a lot of fat could have been trimmed, for a shorter game at a slightly lower price. It would certainly have made the game feel a lot tighter and more enjoyable, especially for replays.

The new combat also frustrated me at times. This was partly due to the camera, and how awkward it is to look around during a fight when using a controller compared to a mouse, especially when backed up against a wall.
But mostly it was the combat mechanics themselves. Or more specifically, it was how easy it was for the enemies to interrupt your characters as they prepared their next attack, which happened so many times in some of the more intense fights. I thought I was going to start raging at some points, I really did. My old and tired brain just couldn't keep up with it all.
I also found it quite unfair how, unlike the original, the enemies do not have to abide by the same rules that the player characters do. What I mean by this is, in the old one, all of the characters had to wait for their ATB bar to fill before they could act, and spend MP to do it. Whereas in this one, your characters have to wait and spend MP, but the enemies can just continue to throw out special attack after special attack with no ATB or MP cost at all. Sucks, especially when the ATB bars fill so slowly if you are on the defensive, which some fights dictate.

Also included in this game, which does the combat no favours, is something I hated in FF XIII and continue to hate here. This is the dreaded stagger mechanic. Fucking hell that thing is a ball ache and a half. At least here it's not as bad as it was in XIII, as this game does not include that game's paradigm shifting. Because let's face it, those two things together was a combo akin to someone making you eat a shit sandwich, then forcing you to wash it down with a drink of piss.

How awesome can a cast of characters be?

How awesome can a cast of characters be?

Cloud duels with Abzu

Cloud duels with Abzu

Not the way most people try to pick up Tifa

Not the way most people try to pick up Tifa

Barrett letting rip

Barrett letting rip

Nanaki just hanging around

Nanaki just hanging around

...because they're still doing it

...because they're still doing it

So then, was it all worth it after all? Does it stand up to the legacy of the original?

To be honest, I'm very torn. In chunks, I was madly in love with the game, but at other times I was a little frustrated by what the game was forcing me to do. Then, in terms of story, there was a great deal here to appreciate, but by the end, I was quite concerned, maybe even disappointed.

Yet definitely fascinated.

I don't think I'm in any great rush to play it again, even though there are still plenty of other things for me to try and do in the game. Part of that is because I've done my share of rushing this week, madly trying to get through the game so I can watch an online discussion about it tonight.
But a big chunk of it is because I don't think there's much of a replay factor here, due to most of the new stuff being slower, story and character based content. I may in the future drop it to easy to go through it again, or use the unlocked chapter select to go back through certain chapters again. I certainly won't be pushing on to the hard mode. That sounds like hell on toast.

Overall, I'm really glad the game exists, and I'm glad I played it. But I wish I'd waited a while, and not been in such a rush to finish it myself as to not hear or read anyone else's opinions on it beforehand. It wasn't really worth the worry and energy.

27th December 2019: Bring Out Your Dead... Pool

Hot on the heels of a Marvel 3rd person action game comes another Marvel 3rd person action game. This time it was the Deadpool PS3 game's time to take the spotlight, but could I get the same kind of enjoyment out it that I did from the Spider-Man PS4 game?
Well, no. Not really.

I picked this up on my recent ebay console game shopping spree, and in the process contradicted my original assumption that The Last Of Us would be the final PS3 game I'd ever buy. Part of me wishes I'd left the whole game well alone, as I found there were more things wrong with it than right. But even with its flaws, it was not bad enough to stop me playing through it, so I guess that's something, right?

The main problem here was the gameplay itself, which kind of sucks for what is essentially a 3rd person brawler. The characters, the Marvel universe, the humour and the bat-shit crazy fourth wall breaking things that go on were all enjoyable. But when the fighting itself proves to be the annoying part, then the game has a problem.

True, some of these issues I think were down to the console itself. The frame rate, which at its highest and most stable was only 30fps, kept tanking at many points, especially when lots of enemies were on screen. This made the already sluggish combat seem even more so. It didn't help that the only melee weapons in the game which seemed to do any decent damage were the hammers, which were the slowest weapons to swing and made the fighting seem even more dull and boring.

There was also an issue with the counter attack mechanic. This is because both counter and dodge were bound to the same button, so many times I'd be attempting to dodge away but Deadpool would instead counter attack a villain that was about to attack him. Well fair enough, you might think, but when this refusal to dodge out of the way leaves the character open to an attack from another villain nearby then it starts to get annoying. And it's even worse than that as the counter attack animation is in slow motion, making the combat seem even slower and less responsive.
It annoyed me. Let's put it that way.

Another frustrating thing about the combat, which to be fair was a problem I also had with Spider-Man, was that the game seemed to think it knew where you wanted the camera to point. As soon as a fight would break out, the camera would start rotating all around like it was under the control of some tiny director living inside the console, trying to get the right angle for his next action movie. Well, it's not exactly easy to keep control of the camera when the thumb needed to operate the right stick is trying to press the action buttons.

The X-Men Legends PS2 games were also included in my shopping spree, after Scoob informed me he no longer owns them. When I borrowed them from him back in the day, I finished the first one but never went all the way through the second. My original plan was to continue the Marvel console love and plough into that sequel, but that can definitely wait for now. When I look back at the games I've finished this year, all but one have been games I've played with a controller. And the other one was a simple point-and-click. I think I just want to get away from that input device for a while. It's really starting to grate on me.

Well you never know unless you try

Well you never know unless you try

Purile humour incoming

Purile humour incoming

Making a clone Sinister dance

Making a clone Sinister dance

Tacos!

Tacos!

Rogue has a little too much Deadpool in her

Rogue has a little too much Deadpool in her

Literally dancing with Death

Literally dancing with Death

23rd December 2019: Stebloke-Man, Stebloke-Man, Does Whatever A Stebloke Can

So just got done swinging, punching and zipping my way through my first ever PS4 game, in the shape of Spider-Man. I was pretty sure I was going to get at least some enjoyment from this game, considering how much inspiration it takes from the Batman Arkham series, and how much I liked the first two of those games.

For the most part, this turned out to be true, though my early tactics spoiled the game for me a little bit and I found my attention waining towards the end. See, my initial intention was to 100% the game, and do every little thing all over the map. So every time I saw something new on the map I would go and do it before moving on with the story. This quickly became old, and I got fed up with hunting for bags, or doing research challenges and the like.
So I then changed tactics and decided to only do things on the map if they were on the way to my next story mission. This was ok for a time, but at one point in the story, just like in Arkham Origins, a load of people populate the map with guns and sniper rifles, all waiting to shoot your ass out of the sky as you swing by. This pissed me off back then, and pissed me off this time.
So in the end, I ignored the many, many things on the map that I hadn't done yet, and just straight lined the campaign, and I've got to say, this was the way to go. I just wish I'd done that from the start.

Flash kicking the Kingpin

Flash kicking the Kingpin

Yep, that dude's dead

Yep, that dude's dead

The game is not without its physics bugs

The game is not without its physics bugs

Shut yo mouth!

Shut yo mouth!

The Ste'n'Ste suit was the one I wore the most

The Ste'n'Ste suit was the one I wore the most

Spidey's still not figured out how to stuff someone into a trunk

Spidey's still not figured out how to stuff someone into a trunk

As mentioned before, the combat is definitely influenced by the Arkham games, but with some big differences that took me a little while to get used to. For starters, I kept pressing triangle to counter like in the Batman games, whereas in this one you have to press circle to dodge instead. My muscle memory, even these years later, just kept kicking in. Took me a while to shake that behaviour for some reason.
Also, the timing of the dodges was key. At first, I would try and dodge as soon as I got the warning, but I quickly found out that dodging too early just gives the attacker time to change the direction of their attack and they end up smacking you anyway. To get the best out of the combat in this game, dodging at the last second is required. Once I got used to it, and opened up a few more skills, I really quite enjoyed dropping into a big group of goons and beating the snot out of them.

Some things that annoyed me about the Arkham games also popped up here, like stealth missions, silly little puzzles, and missions where Spidey has been poisoned and you have to trudge through hallucinations. Thankfully, these elements were greatly reduced in this game, and took a lot less time to get through.

The story was pretty good, but there was nothing ground-breaking here, especially if you know anything about Spider-Man and his rogues' gallery. There was just one thing that happened at the end that I was a little surprised by.

Overall, well worth the play through, though I wish I'd not spent so much time swinging around the city trying to do all the pointless little stuff before just getting on with it.

Spidey falls through the world to his death

Spidey falls through the world to his death

The puzzles were very hit and miss

The puzzles were very hit and miss

Two cops diligently guard two very unconscious criminals

Two cops diligently guard two very unconscious criminals

No foreshadowing here or anything

No foreshadowing here or anything

Hallucination missions. Sigh.

Hallucination missions. Sigh.

Finishing off Mr. Negative

Finishing off Mr. Negative

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