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10th January 2021: Adventures In Arkham

I've taken the chance to revisit one of my favourite game franchises after GOG released the Batman: Arkham series. This was pretty damn awesome as it had been a long time since I had played any of them, and I'd never played Arkham Knight at all.

I scooped up Knight, and also added City, as City was the best of the ones I had already played, and it also came with the stuff I had not played like the Harley DLC. I figured I could always fire up the old PS3 if I ever wanted to play Asylum or Origins again. Not that I would ever want to play Origins again, but whatever.

So it was into Arkham City first, to act as a refresher before tackling Knight.

Drop kick to the nards

Drop kick to the nards

Smell my feet

Smell my feet

Figure whippin' good

Figure whippin' good

I will catch you my friend

I will catch you my friend

I can scan all the dead bodies in this water but can't see a massive freaking shark?!?

I can scan all the dead bodies in this water but can't see a massive freaking shark?!?

Still my fave part of the game

Still my fave part of the game

There's no doubt about it. This is still an awesome game, even more than 8 years later. Though I must admit, it took a little longer to get into it than I would have thought. It was also a little harder in some of the fights. I'm chalking that all up to me being older and slower now. Sad but true. Though somewhat interestingly, the stealth missions were pretty much a breeze this time round. I can't explain that, because I've certainly not become more patient in my old age.

I spent my time fairly evenly between pushing through the story and doing all the bonus stuff. When I got to the end of the story, I first decided to fully wipe the map like I did back in 2012, but only worked my way through the western half of the map before deciding to move on. After all, this was only an appetiser before the main course.

I also tackled Harley's Revenge for the first time. In this, you play as Robin for most of it, as Batman has been captured by Harley. For such a small new mission, this thing had some serious sneaking around, and Robin doesn't come with all the tools to take out gun-toting creeps like Batman does. Yet it only took a couple of hours at most to punch my way through it, and unsurprisingly, it's more of the same. Can't whinge at that.

Tiger Knee! Well, she <i>is</i> Catwoman.

Tiger Knee! Well, she is Catwoman.

Tiger Uppercut! Well, he <i>is</i>... erm... Batman.

Tiger Uppercut! Well, he is... erm... Batman.

That's some fancy footwear you got there Catwoman

That's some fancy footwear you got there Catwoman

Alright guys, let's hug this out

Alright guys, let's hug this out

Robin leaps into battle

Robin leaps into battle

Putting Harley on her ass

Putting Harley on her ass

I never played Arkham Knight when it first released, as I didn't have a PS4, and on PC it was a buggy mess and Steam only. I guess I should have thought of the game when I finally bought a PS4 just over a year ago, but it slipped through my large mental gaps. Never mind. It was meant to be, it seems.

Before playing the game I assumed I would still get some performance and bug problems, considering the state of the game at launch, and the fact that my computer is nearly as old as the game, and was not exactly a powerhouse even back then. The performance wasn't too bad, even with the better graphics in this. The majority of the time I was running around as Batman I was able to keep a stable 60, and only a few times did it drop. Hell, even Arkham City did that at times on my machine. However, driving around in the Batmobile did cause a lot more stuttering, and it's pretty much convinced me I need a new computer some time this year. Urgh, Windows 10 at last. Not looking forward to that.

The game definitely still has its bugs though, that's for sure. I faced some doozies, such as when I went down an elevator, and when it got to the bottom I somehow clipped up and through the ceiling, trapping me in the elevator shaft. In another session, every time I entered combat, the enemies would not attack me, and the camera would constantly rubber-band to look in one particular direction as if fixated on something. But it's far improved from the shoddy state it launched in.

The gameplay, as Batman at least, was more of the same, just more refined and with even more options than before. Overall, I liked the combat a bit more than the other games, but found it harder. I just found there to be a little less time to react, and there were more enemy types to deal with. Though I loved, and greatly appreciated, the new fear takedowns, making it much faster to take out groups of gunmen, and making the stealth missions a little more bearable.

Dude looks scared of getting punched

Dude looks scared of getting punched

Batman kicks the electricity out of this guy

Batman kicks the electricity out of this guy

Investigating a crime scene

Investigating a crime scene

Batman hugs a Man-Bat

Batman hugs a Man-Bat

Making stuff blow up

Making stuff blow up

Some of the stealth missions sucked as usual

Some of the stealth missions sucked as usual

Batman's mostly enjoyable gameplay was balanced out by something though, and if you've played the game you know what it is - simply the worst thing about this entire game, and that is the Batmobile. I would gladly take more bugs and stealth missions if it meant I could play this game without this stupid vehicle. Simply put, I hated it. I hated the way it controlled. I hated its combat sections. I hated how you had to use it for Riddler challenges. And most of all I hated how it felt like I was in the Batmobile for nearly as much time as I was running around as Batman.
I am so very glad I did not think of playing this game on console. On PC, at least I could quickly switch to mouse and keyboard for the Batmobile combat sections, so that I could aim straight, and then switch back to controller for the driving and Batman sections. So much more comfortable that way.

As of yet, I have not reached a full 100% completion like I did for Asylum and City. Don't get me wrong, I've put a lot of work into the side content, but it turns out this game is so freaking huge that it's taking forever. Some of the side content is also a bit of a drag, so I'm still not sure if I'll ever be fully motivated to get that full 100. But for now it's going to stay on my computer, and I'll dip in and out now and again in between playing other games. I think I owe it, and myself, a good try at least.

Speaking of the side content, some of the DLC missions were odd, and threw up some contradictions with the base game. For example, I used the hacking tool early on in the Mad Hatter's DLC mission, but it would not let me use it elsewhere until I unlocked it in the main story. In another instance, I'd already tackled Firefly in his DLC mission several times, but later on in the base game mission where Batman has to save a bunch of firemen, it came as a shock to everyone involved that Firefly was even around at all.

Overall though, barring the Batmobile sections, and a few crappy boss fights against the Arkham Knight, the game is pretty good. I wouldn't put it above City, which remains my favourite, but this still has a lot of good things going for it, like better graphics, slightly better combat, and much better Batman traversal. Well worth the play through I reckon.

Tiresome tank combat

Tiresome tank combat

Look at this guy, just hanging around

Look at this guy, just hanging around

Double team machine

Double team machine

I hated all this racing crap

I hated all this racing crap

Well this went to hell in a handbasket

Well this went to hell in a handbasket

Kicking Joker in the face

Kicking Joker in the face

23rd December 2020: Order Of The Fallen Franchise

A game I saw a bit of when it came out about a year ago was Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. Now I've not really been engaged with Star Wars for the past couple of years, for Last Jedi shaped reasons, but this piqued my interest. Recently I saw its price had dropped enough for me to snatch it up.

Whatever I may think about the gameplay, the experience of playing it was not a smooth one from a technical standpoint. All the way through the game I had weird little graphics bugs, as some of these screenshots can attest. There was also a ton of frame rate stuttering, and even complete pauses in order to load new assets. Later on in the game I even started to get hard crashes, kicking me out of the game altogether. This crash problem was exacerbated by the fact that there is no way to skip cutscenes. I had to watch a very lengthy one just outside the tomb on Dathomir three times, because the damn game crashed twice as I tried to get back to my ship with a bunch of zombie Nightsisters on my tail.
And this was on a PS4 Pro after some patches. I dread to think of the experience base PS4 players had during the game's release window.

The best things about the game were the story and characters, which I quite liked. Though I'm beginning to wonder exactly how many more Jedi will be added to the ever growing list of Order 66 survivors, when the original trilogy made it seem like only Obi-Wan and Yoda made it. In this game alone we learn that Cal and Cere are still alive, and that does not even count Malicos and the two Inquisitors, who all used to be Jedi as well.

BD-1 was my favourite character

BD-1 was my favourite character

Twonking an AT-AT with an AT-AT

Twonking an AT-AT with an AT-AT

Dead Stormtrooper maintains vertical stability

Dead Stormtrooper maintains vertical stability

Don't think this thing agrees with me killing it <br /><span class='skye'>(video)</span>

Don't think this thing agrees with me killing it
(video)

BD-1 performs a scan while hovering 12 feet in the air

BD-1 performs a scan while hovering 12 feet in the air

When in battle, sometimes I would feel awesome, and sometimes I would get incredibly irritated. That's because the combat in this felt more tactical, forcing me to be patient and focused, rather than allowing me to just run around swinging my lightsaber like I would have preferred. The reason for this is that there was no attack cancellation, so I couldn't swing my saber, then immediately change my mind to quickly block or dodge an incoming attack from another enemy. This kind of combat may work for some people, and in other games, but I've never really liked it, and it makes no sense when playing as a Jedi who is supposed to have split-second reactions. I mean, if I can see an attack coming, then surely he can, right?

The level design was also what I can only describe as janky. To get around each environment, you (a Jedi, no less), have to jump and climb all over the place and do all kinds of fancy shit to reach further into the level. But when you get there, there are always simple enemies already populating that area. If Cal had to go through all that trouble to get there, then how in the galaxy did a simple Stormtrooper manage to get there? It was dumb.

As what usually happens when I play a game like this with a controller, I got annoyed at the camera rotate speed, and the fact that I couldn't turn the camera and hit any action buttons at the same time. So out came the KX adapter for another try. For the most part, it worked better than it did for Horizon, as I did not need precise aiming in this game like is required for that game. But in the end, the KX's lack of rebinding meant I still couldn't figure out a comfortable control scheme (and plus I wanted to save my mouse-clicking fingers a bit more), so I switched back to the controller to finish up.

I can see why a lot of people liked the game, but for me it was somewhere in the middle. In conclusion, I would consider the game to be simply "alright", and it has done very little to interest me in anything new Star Wars has to offer.
Some of the older things though...
Yes. I might get back to those at some point...

Looks like I just twonked this Nightbrother in the balls

Looks like I just twonked this Nightbrother in the balls

This whole section was a shit show

This whole section was a shit show

Imperial can somehow shoot behind him <br /><span class='skye'>(video)</span>

Imperial can somehow shoot behind him
(video)

Cal runs like he's shit himself <br /><span class='skye'>(video)</span>

Cal runs like he's shit himself
(video)

Pull yourself together, Mr. Lightsaber

Pull yourself together, Mr. Lightsaber

7th December 2020: Papa Nurgle's Innocent Tale

The first game I tried to play for this 'ere blog entry was actually an early 2000s game called Virtua Tennis. I think I played it back then, but I can't remember whether I finished it or not. Even though it is quite old, it installed fine on my machine, and yet I was still unable to play it. First up, the game would not let me configure my controller, and I could not do it in the config file as it was an encrypted file not a plain text one. Sucks. In addition, I couldn't seem to get the game to run in a window, and with no widescreen option available it was constantly stretched to the full screen and looked really weird. Double sucks.

So as much as I'd like to try it again, I instead had to uninstall it and put it on the back burner. There's a slim (very slim) chance I'll recover an old XP machine from the loft one day and try it on that, just in case. But I doubt it, as I've got far too many games to get through as it is. I've recently been through all of my games, and as far as I can tell I've only completed just over 100 games in my whole life, which is not a lot considering the time I've spent playing them over the years.
Even worse is the fact that I have an ever-growing list of just over 200 games that I've either not finished yet, or haven't even played at all. This does not even include the list of games I want to play that don't even need finishing, like sports games, or games I have already finished that I want to play again, like The Witcher 3.

I think next year will have to be a big one for games. My sore fingers will just have to suck it up. Little bitches.

The game I've just finished playing through is an interesting little beast called A Plague Tale: Innocence. This came out a little while back and recieved quite a warm reception, so I thought I'd pick it up. I wasn't in any great rush to play it until I started to download the installer, as the files are fracking huge. Seeing this, I figured I'd better play it so I can get it off my hard drive and get some space back.

The game is set centuries ago in a land ravaged by the plague and infested with rats. You play as young French girl Amicia, with the aim being to protect and aid her younger brother, who is wanted by the Inquisition for some nefarious reasons. In addition to the Inquisition's henchmen, who you have to avoid, trick, or kill, the game constantly pits you up against the hordes of ravenous rats, who will feast on any meat they can find, with your only defences being fire and bright light.

Urgh. Stealth games.

Urgh. Stealth games.

Prepare to feel the power of... erm... pebbles

Prepare to feel the power of... erm... pebbles

Rat rat rat rat rat ratties

Rat rat rat rat rat ratties

Well this looks promising

Well this looks promising

While there are some light action and puzzle elements, the majority of the gameplay in this is pure stealth, and deciding when to act. Now, just to get this out there up front, I'm not a fan of stealth games. At all. This type of gameplay has tarnished otherwise great games for me in the past, such as the Batman: Arkham games, and The Last Of Us, so it will come as no surprise that I did not enjoy this as much as many other people seemed to.

That being said, I still found myself eager to push through the game, even if I did let out many sighs during the more frustrating parts. I think my desire to complete it would have been massively eroded, if not for the idiot enemies who actually made several of the encounters much easier to succeed in.

The story itself ended up being kind of strange, especially from the very realistic and gritty way the game started. The Inquisition's master plan just seemed to be really silly, and the end fight way too far-fetched, that I could no longer take the game seriously come the end. Some of the supporting cast, like Melie and Rodric in particular, ended up being characters that I grew to like. But Amicia's brother Hugo was really annoying, and whoever voiced their mother was so uninterested and lame that she really spoiled that character also.

Even with all the stealth though, I would say the game is worth a play through, especially if you like this kind of game. For me, it could have done with being a bit shorter, as it just started to drag a little by the last couple of chapters.

Rodric stamps out some fool

Rodric stamps out some fool

I don't think rats behave like that

I don't think rats behave like that

Amicia gets her bum nibbled

Amicia gets her bum nibbled

How is this guy not dead?

How is this guy not dead?

26th November 2020: All The Colours Of The Spectrum

I haven't even so much as loaded a computer game these past few months, as I've been waiting and waiting for my fingers to feel a bit better, only to find that they still don't feel any better. So I hit upon the idea of again trying to emulate some games from my childhood that I never finished, as a lot of old games on early computers didn't even need a mouse, and I would not need to click any such buttons.

Rewinding the clock back about as far as I can personally take it, the first computer I ever used was an old ZX Spectrum 48K with rubber keys. It was upon this machine that I played such awesome games as Horace Goes Skiing, Jetpac and Mr. Wimpy. This was the only computer in my family through the 80s until the arrival of my Commodore Amiga 500, which I'm guessing was either in 89 or 90.

Of course, because I was so young, and had absolutely no idea what I was doing, I don't remember completing a single game on that computer. I don't even remember trying to complete any games on it. I thought it was about time I changed that.

Before going into full-on Spectrum completion mode, there was one game I needed to play first. This game is a football game called Match Day. This was easily the game I spent the most time on, and is also the one I have fondest memories of.
I remember being at school one day, and deciding that when I got home I was going to play a full 90 minute game of Match Day. However, I returned home only to discover that the Spectrum and all its games were gone. My mom told me at the time that my cousin had borrowed it, whereas in reality she'd actually sold it to help pay for the Amiga I would be getting that Christmas. I didn't even find out the truth about this until some time afterwards, and though I loved my old A500, I always felt a bit sad that I never got to play a full match on the Spectrum.

So I was quite glad when I managed to get this running after a bit of tinkering with RetroArch, and I got my lads jogging out onto the pitch for the first time in 30 years. However, after I got the little taste that I wanted, and discovered that the game wasn't really anything like I remembered, I lost that tiny bit of desire to play a full game that still existed deep down in my soul.

For my 3 games, I instead stuck to 10 minute matches. In my first game, I managed a 3-3 draw, even though I had no idea what I was doing. After reading some instructions, I thought that I would easily dominate the computer, but my efforts to play the game properly saw me get absolutely destroyed 0-4. For my third and final game I took a hybrid approach, combining my play styles from the first two games, and managed a 3-1 win.
Good enough for me.

Look at these awesome graphics!

Look at these awesome graphics!

Computer scores once more

Computer scores once more

There's an equalizer

There's an equalizer

Trying to do something skilful. I think.

Trying to do something skilful. I think.

On the attack

On the attack

The first Speccy game I was going to try and complete had to be the Trap Door, which is based on a kids TV show that I used to love when I was little. In this puzzle game, you play as Berk as he runs around the castle preparing food for his master, The Thing Upstairs.

I remember not having much luck with this as a kid, and its not hard to see why. Though the mission objectives aren't too hard to figure out after a bit of exploring and experimentation, the exact method of success for each dish is far more troublesome to find. There are a few objects that need to be pushed into just the right spot for them to work right, and monsters that must be lured into exactly the right spot, and so on. With the controls being so clunky and unresponsive (this is a Spectrum game after all), these things can be a pain to pull off.

Thankfully, it was only a short game, and the availability of save states made finishing this far easier than it would have been.
My main disappointment is that there's no Rogg, who was clearly the best character in the TV show.

Come here you cheeky little worm

Come here you cheeky little worm

How do you like your eggs in the morning?

How do you like your eggs in the morning?

This git. Seriously.

This git. Seriously.

Just harvesting some plant-grown eyeballs. No biggie.

Just harvesting some plant-grown eyeballs. No biggie.

I didn't play this game much back in the 80s, as it was mostly other family members that took on its challenges. But whoever played, I don't think any of us got very far. We were more interested in jumping on the enemies and receiving the "PARALYSED AN ANT !" message than we were in actually trying to rescue anybody.
Yes, this is the very old game Ant Attack.

Those poor people had been stuck in this very blocky city for more than 30 years, so after a bit of tinkering to map the keyboard controls to my controller with antimicro, I got stuck into doing my duty at long last.

Though using the controller and using save states made this a lot easier than it used to be, it was still infuriating. The game itself is very sluggish, so sometimes when I pressed a button nothing happened. And sometimes when I pressed the button to turn, my character turned twice, sending him running back into the jaws of the ants that were in pursuit. Poop. As you can imagine, it also made the more platform-y elements quite awkward.
The camera was also a pain, as it would regularly move so the character was no longer on screen. It was easy enough to reset, but it was still weird. Though I guess it is quite an achievement that such an old game even has a camera like this, that can be rotated the way it can.

I'm glad I've completed another unfinished game that I played years ago, but I'm even more glad I'll never have to play it again. Though in a way it was cool to go through quite an important game in the industry's history.

Ok, how do we get out of this?

Ok, how do we get out of this?

Oi! Now is not the time for a nap.

Oi! Now is not the time for a nap.

Dropping grenades on ant heads

Dropping grenades on ant heads

This is a very psychedelic victory screen

This is a very psychedelic victory screen

This game, called Nightshade, is one of the very few Speccy games that I have managed to retain some clear(ish) recollections of. You play as a dude who has to go running around a city to rid it of four demonic entities that stalk its streets and buildings. In order to kill them, you first have to find the enemy-specific weapons to take them out, which are also laying around the city in random locations. And in order to get to the weapons, you have to dodge a swathe of annoying creepies and critters who constantly spawn directly in your path.

Me, my bro and my next door neighbour used to try our hand at this game fairly regularly in the late 80s, but always found it very difficult, and only occasionally managed to kill one of the main enemies. After playing through it recently, I can fully understand why we found it hard. I had to heavily employ the save state feature of the emulator to get through this one, as it was almost impossible to avoid the monsters that appear directly in front of you and hit you before you have a chance to react. Even though you can get hit 15 times before it's game over, there's no way I would have managed to get through it with the sluggish controls of a spectrum game. To be fair, the controls were more responsive in this than the other Speccy games I've played recently, but that's not saying much.

Not feeling too well

Not feeling too well

Run away!

Run away!

It's the Grim Ruper!

It's the Grim Ruper!

Sending the ghost back to hell

Sending the ghost back to hell

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

There was recently a great deal of gameplay on Twitch of Terraria, as it received its final big update in the form of 1.4. This got me intrigued, and I re-installed it for a laugh. I started out just mining and building and exploring, but I soon realised several days had passed where this thing had absorbed all of my free time, without me really getting anywhere.

To play this game all the way through again would take days and days, and as there are many other games I need to play that I've never played before, I freed myself of its grip and uninstalled it. Good job too, as I had quite a sore hand from all the clicking.

Shame. If I had more time, and didn't have a list of well over 100 games I need to play first, I think I'd have liked to go through it again. I guess I can always come back to it.

In about 20 years...

Chopping some wood for my base

Chopping some wood for my base

Defending against all the slimes

Defending against all the slimes

Problem is, this is not the only really long game I want to play again. I've recently read the Witcher books, watched the Netflix show, and have been watching people play Witcher 3 online. And I really want to play it again myself...

Must...

Resist...

13th May 2020: Final Fantasy Flashback

Playing an old style Final Fantasy game is something I was trying to motivate myself to do all last year. Not only did I feel like I should play the original VII again, but I also never finished my last play through of number VIII, nor have I played number IX again since I bought it a few years ago. However, my issue was that I felt like I should play them. Not that I necessarily wanted to play them. And that held me back.

But after playing Final Fantasy VII Remake, I just couldn't stop myself from firing up the original game, just to play through the opening Midgar section as a comparison. I guess I should have played it before playing the remake, but I never found the time or determination back then.

The other thing I decided to do was to try out a few mods, to spruce up the graphics a bit. Besides, that made sense, as to get my old cd version of the game working on more modern Windows, I was going to have to install some extra stuff anyway. So, after a bit of tinkering to get the game running, I re-entered the original Midgar for the first time in 19 years. Thinking about it, that's roughly half my life ago.

Holy shit.

Gotta admit, it felt pretty bizarre playing this again after all this time. I had these weird conflicting feelings, as if I'd played it very recently, but also not played it for a lifetime. It all felt so familiar, but at the same time there were really simple things that I could not remember, like "which way was it to Aerith's house again?".

The texture mod definitely cleans things up a bit

The texture mod definitely cleans things up a bit

Cloud's got his priorities in order

Cloud's got his priorities in order

Tifa kicks Reno in the shin

Tifa kicks Reno in the shin

Nanaki clatters Hojo

Nanaki clatters Hojo

Time has not made this bit any more fun

Time has not made this bit any more fun

Well goodbye classic Midgar. Maybe forever...

Well goodbye classic Midgar. Maybe forever...

Some of the more interesting moments I had while playing this part of the old game again were the ones that had direct comparisons with the new game. I liked seeing just how they'd taken those old moments and updated them.
I also caught some things that I must have seen years ago but had forgotten all about, such as a single line from Jessie in the Avalanche basement, where she worries about whether she made the bomb correctly. That one line, and the subsequent idea that perhaps Shinra is toying with our main characters, was something I never picked up on all those years ago. I guess that's because neither that truth, nor Jessie's fear of whether she made a mistake, are mentioned again in the old game. In contrast, in the remake, they really fleshed out that part.
I wonder how many other little lines and hints I missed or have forgotten about in all these years since?

Very probably, I will never know the answer to that question, as while I didn't mind jumping into this again, I still feel no great pull to continue it. Unless something changes as I continue to grow ever older, it's likely I'll not play it ever again, to be honest. So much time has passed, and my taste in games has changed so much, that I can't commit to a full playthrough.

But if it never happens, I'll always have my very fond memories.

Here's just a few images that compare old and new:

Iconic in 1997...

Iconic in 1997...

...and still iconic in 2020

...and still iconic in 2020

We've certainly come a long way...

We've certainly come a long way...

...in the last 23 years

...in the last 23 years

Remember when they did the thing?

Remember when they did the thing?

...because they're still doing it

...because they're still doing it

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.

Yes I grabbed a screenshot of it. So what?

Yes I grabbed a screenshot of it. So what?

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

Yay, they did the thing

Yay, they did the thing

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.

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