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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

12th November 2020: The Endeavour Continues

It's taken a staggering amount of time, but finally my epic Eldar army is stripped, re-assembled, and ready for some paint. This has been without doubt one of the most time consuming and frustrating projects I've ever had in wargaming. There was so damn much paint on the large army I bought, that I don't think the previous owner even used a brush. I think they used their fingers.
Still, at least I was able to get all the paint off that army, eventually. The smaller army I bought, though only undercoated, was undercoated in a paint that I have been completely unable to remove. So I have no idea what kind of weird paint it is. It didn't all come off even after several dunks in the stripping pot. I could have spent hours with a small pin or knife and tried to scrape all the small details clear, but I've already spent way too long on this, so I'll make do without.

I just never want to have to strip any models ever again, and I'm so glad it's over.

Now I just need to wait for this stupid pandemic to be over so I can go and look for some new undercoat for the little pointy-ears.

Epic Eldar army ready for paint

Epic Eldar army ready for paint

A little while back, I decided to get all of my Epic miniatures out at the same time to see how much I actually own. It already looks quite eye-opening to me, to see all the painting work I still have left to do. But this picture was taken before I had fully prepped my Eldar, and before my recent efforts to get even more of my old spare models battle ready. The means the image does not contain a further box of Eldar, or the new Ork clan I've just made.
Sheesh.

My entire Epic collection, almost

My entire Epic collection, almost

Speaking of the Ork clan, here they are: Gwapstik's Boyz. They are based on my small 40K collection, so are a traditional Ork mob like the Snakebites, who also have access to Imperial vehicles like the Blood Axes. This is because they sometimes team up with other armies to attack Warboss Gwapstik's nemesis: Warlord Smashgrot, who is the ruler of my entire Epic Ork army. As the name would suggest, Smashgrot likes killing Gretchin, so all my Epic scale Grots hang out with Warboss Gwapstik.

I've also boosted the Orks even further, with some special characters from the old Epic 40,000 box set, as well as some battlewagons and pulsa rokkits for the Bad Moonz.
Counting my spare Chaos models that I didn't use a couple of years back, I realised I could put together another squad of Chaos Marines. I had so many heavy weapons that I've put two on each base, and will use them as Havocs.

But now all that assembling is done, it's time I got back to the painting, picking up from where I left off last time with the Evil Sunz.

Gwapstik arrives on his boar to hunt down his nemesis

Gwapstik arrives on his boar to hunt down his nemesis

Chaos Marine Havocs ready for battle

Chaos Marine Havocs ready for battle

Painting the little red ladz re-commences

Painting the little red ladz re-commences

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