12 January 2016

Xcom 2? More like Se- Oh maybe I won't make that joke

I remember the final moments of XCOM.  I was on a roll, slowly moving forward through the temple ship, entrenching myself positively before bombarding something like a Sectopod with anything and everything I have.

And when I reached that final room, the last thing that went through the Uber Ethereals head was enough plasma to power Australia for fifteen years.  And that's only from a couple of shots from my Sniper.

Anyway, my Volunteer did what any semi-omnipotent Psion would:  He saved the Fuckin Day.  Everyone watched the Temple Ship rise up from it's place, floating up out of the Atmosphere, and loudly implode.

Lets move 20 years ahead.  All that I described above?  It never happened.  Humans didn't win the war.  Hell, they didn't win the battle.  Aliens descended and we were overrun by Technology and Numbers.  Seems the more likely outcome, no?  But hey, at least it's nice to know what could have been.

Now we walk the perfectly paved streets of Alien Megacities, stalking the shadows before ambushing the alien forces policing their new home, before stealing back to their new mobile headquarters, dubbed the moniker "Avenger".

I am super excited for Xcom 2, especially since Ive been playing Fallout 4.  Weird comparison I realise, but the reason is because Fallout feels like a Turn Based game.  Every time I trigger V.A.T.S. adjacent to an enemy, I usually have a 95 percentile to hit, and usually the game rolls the 5% needed to miss.  Immediately I'm reminded of a grinning meme saying "THATS XCOM BABY".

That was when I stumbled across the Lets Play Videos that were recently released, and began to salivate all over again, wishing I could satiate my thirst on the death of various and numerous aliens.  I comtinue to watch long into the morning, yearning to be behind the controls of the demonstration the video reviewers are posting, while debating on trying to accomplish Impossible Ironman on my own console, along with purposely ramping the difficulty by refusing to create the powerhouses known as MECs.

The Videos were incredibly enlightening, showing us a handful of the secrets allowed by the developers and company, focusing on Soldiers, Combat, and some Strategy Layer features.  It is noteworthy the information provided from soldier profiles, informing not only of their Health, Aim and Will, but also Movement, Armour, Dodge and Hack scores.

But what I'm really happy about is how the combat hasn't changed, it has Improved.  Rather than throw the magic of their first reboot out the window and starting afresh, or reusing everything and just chinging a few names and locales, they just tacked on new features that I wish were in XCOM Enemy Unknown/Within.

Weapon Modifications, Grenade Launchers, Computer Hacking...  So many improvements that I cannot wait for.  But have to as I am going to get a console port if and when that happens.

09 December 2015

The more things stay the same


Master Rahool would look good in a Hawaiian Shirt

Some people think Video Games have come a long way over the few decades they've been around, and its irrefutable, games have gotten more imaginative and clever as time has come and gone. Some things, though, simply remain the same and you don't notice it until you look a bit deeper.

Take Battle Hunter. Its an extremely simple game, literally a board game for your console with a handful of plot points to serve as motivators.  It was fun, if a little tedious and dished out a poor serving of ass whooping unless you were particularly levelled and equipped, but fun none the less.  The gameplay was straight forward, bringing player from Battlefield to Hub and back again for no more reason than to find better gear and earn some dosh along the way.

Doesn't that sound familiar to a Space Shooter that was released about a year ago?  Funny that.

So here I am looking at it and wondering what the bloody difference there is between Destiny and some of the games of the '90s and early '00s and I'm finding it difficult to nail it down aside from the obvious things of "It's 3D and HD."

Frankly, Destiny could easily be recreated as an Indie game.  Get some Pixel Art in there and make it a side-scrolling shooter.  Keep all the same aspects to it and let the players go hogwild.  Then just add Flavour to taste and you're good as gold.

You can keep the Tower, just drop it down to a series of Menu options.  Frankly, it'd make the game more personable, making you feel like you actually have some sort of relationship with the NPCs of the Tower.  Because right now, Zavala is the Head of the FBI from Fringe, Cayde and Ikora are Captain and First Mate of the Firefly Serenity, and Banshee was great in Gears of War and Adventure Time.

To be fair, the DLC's have taken steps in that direction.  Cayde is still... well Nathan Fillon, but hey, I like him.  I'll keep him.

Destiny however, is getting pretty stale.  The marketing is, and probably always will be, a flagrant method of extortion, while the game may expand out and up it still comes back to being a repetitive grind for new gear in the end.

06 December 2015

Falling Out from Reality

Damn Straight.
Is it weird that the only connection i have to anything outside of Fallout 4 is my obscure references in my Weapon names?  Like my first weapon in the game was a 10mm Pistol.  Its a good pistol, and I've been using it on and off throughout the game, upgrading it to the best mods...

I named it Mjolnir.  A good solid name.  And from then on, it just got more and more obscure.  I had a Bolt Action Pipe Rifle, a gun that essentially looks like a block of wood with some copper pipes and long bolts sticking out of it.  I called it White Death, to reference the Polish Sniper of WWII.  I gave it a scope though, because Video Games don't care about reflections.

It was at this point that i gave no fucks about what the story was.  I was on Walkabout, going to every length of the map to find whatever there was to look at.  I went south and went past the border of the map, going deep into the glowing sea to see what I could see see see.  I lost many Radaways due to the pure radioactivity there amongst the downs planes and nearly empty military bunkers.

Then once I thought I had reached the end, I moved all the way back up to Sanctuary and started my way East, exploring more and more.  My only rule was to never go onto the island where Diamond City is.  Don't cross that bridge, just keep going on walkabout until everything is found.

Throughout all this I've come across a cavalcade of Legendary Enemies, dropping gear all over the joint, only a handful of which I've been using in regular circulation.  But I've kept them either on myself or in my treasure trove in Sanctuary.

My first legendary weapon was a Pipe Wrench called Big Jim.  Now, everyone can get this leg crippling bastard.  He's not a game breaking weapon by any length, but he does his job the way he should.  By hitting whomever in the head and making their legs fall out from underneath.  Its very straight forward methodology, and very effective to boot.

But I put him to the wayside.  That wasn't my style. I wanted rifles, and to drop every bastard from here to Timbuktu from the pleasure of my couch.  So i was happy when I got my first Legendary drop: a Nocturnal Hunting Rifle.

It was cool, interesting, and along the lines of what I wanted, so I modded the shit out of it and started getting people a little jealous when at one point I showed I was doing double the usual damage when it came to the dead of night.  I was dropping every bastard who thought they were hard enough to sort out a puny fella like me.  Little did they know, they didn't even hear the gunshot before they hit the ground.

Mind, everyone else did.  So began the scramble for headshots and a new hiding hole.

I tried to give it a good name though.  Something badass and thematically appropriate.

Well, you are using it to kill under the guise of darkness.  Why not Grim's Reaper?

Oh yeah, i could sit behind that.  Grim's Reaper coming down and separating you from the mortal coil? Done like Dinner!

I had shared this on Facebook, because that;s a feature I thought I could utilise with all the cool kids playing alongside me.

Is that right?  Would i mean Parallel since they're not in the same game as me?  Or concurrently?

Anyway, someone made a comment about the ability saying it works as a night time solar panel.  It was so true, but something inside me clicked:  a solar panel does what? Lays down in the sun. And what happens when you lay down in the sun? I burn, with the intention of getting a tan. And if you were using the moon yo-u'd BE A MOON TANNER.

And because i do love the Moontanner from the last few times i saw Felafel, it wad the perfect name for my rifle.  Not near as badass as Grim's Reaper, but better i feel.

I got more and more Legendary weapons, usually replacing certain models I had already upgraded and used as alternative Ammo sources, and respectively gave them new names.

Like White Death.  It was a plain bolt action rifle, exceptional in its duty.  So when its replacement dealt additional damage to Super Mutants, it was easy: Green Death.

More weapons came and went.  Grymkin (revolver pipe rifle with additional damage against Robots); Kneecapper (auto pipe rifle with chance to cripple legs); Barking Iron (shotgun with critical: refill action points).  I'm still pretty proud of myself with some of these names.

But the time has come that I have reached my limit.  I've explored every nook and cranny of the wasteland of suburban Boston.  Now it's time to tackle the big city, and to kick ass.  Or die trying, since they may be overequipped compared to me.

16 November 2015

Tower Defence with Friends

Hmm.  Not enough Dakka.
Ive made only a few memorable moments in video games, things that made everyone cheer me on for hours afterwards.  Like one time at The Bunker the boys and I were playing Dawn of War.  It was a map designed for an all out brawl over a Relic Point (I think thats right?) in the centre, with everyones base in each corner.  Scoot and Chase were against Aaron and I for the simple reason that Aaron and I played Orks, and Scoot and Chase played Space Morons and Imperial Gumbys.

Aaron was doing his best to fend off both Scoot and Chase, he was calling out to me, saying he was losing ground and needed more help than the one or two units of sluggas I had started the game with. It all changed when I waded into the fight to the immediate cry of "IS THAT A KILLA KAN?!"

The game ended quickly when there were a couple of Rage Quits, so while I may be very proud of my achievement, I didnt get to revelle in it by razing their base to the ground to the chant of ORKS ORKS ORKS!

The other big one I remember is Gears of War 3's Horde 2.0.  The boys and I again, fighting the fight of the century (REALLY), and we reached either wave 30 or 40, i cant remember.  What I can remember was the Lambent Berserker and the Ensuing Carnage.  We had all this gear set up, Scotty had gotten himself a Silverback and was mowing everything down with glee, Grubs were slogging through laser fences, and anyone who wasn't shooting straight into the spread eagled bastards was mounted up on turrets, pummelling everyone else.

Through poor situational awareness, or just picking the wrong guy to fight, everyone died and I was left alone.  Just me... And the big, glowy, tentacled, practically invulnerable, rock monster.

I ran and ran and dodgerolled and cried like a little bitch over the microphone as i took poorly timed, yet specifically planned, potshots at the She-Hulk as the frustration grew and grew on her until through either pure exhaustion, or an invisible health bar that was whittled down to nothing, she fell like a sack of bricks and victory was mine.  I put one foot on that gigantic glowing corpse and waited for the bulbs to flash, commemorating me into history.

Those were the glory days.  Then came Gears of War Judgement, a Spinoff following one of Gear's biggest douchebags, Baird, and the king of the ball game, the locomotive with the most-ive (come on, Meds), Cole Train.

It was a good story, and the gameplay changed a bit and turned it into a much more manic game than what it originally was.  Then there's the multiplayer.  They changed from the base defence style, to a class based survival called Overrun.

I played it a couple of times, running around like a chook with my head cut off, and didn't like it.  I felt it missed that feeling of being an enormous pillar against a torrential storm that I loved in Gears 3.  I'm not one to be against class based characters, but I don't want to rely on a Soldier dropping all the ammunition next to me while I'm scrambling away from some giant centipede nipping around my feet.

So looking ahead, I wonder what Gears 4 will accomplish when it comes to their Coop Survival mode.  Will they go back to the Horde 2.0?  Or will they bring back Overrun with some new Chemistry?  Because I'm really hoping to be able to save the day again.

30 September 2015

The Wolf, the Hunter, and the Soldier

It's true!  Red Bull gives you wings!  And Cyberpowers!
I've heard nothing but good things about Wolfenstein: The New Order since it came out.  From great advertising to reviews with little criticisms on it.  But eventually the hype died out and that's usually the time I get my hands on such gems, because like every joke about Australia, I am a few years behind on "the times".

It was one of my Numerous Birthday presents and I was excited to crack it open, but I did what was sensible and said I would play all the other games that are on my Xbox 360 first so that I may one day put that away and focus on my PS4.

So I played a bunch of Terraria, half heartedly since I want to get it on Playstation now, and unwrapped the Nazi killing Bastard from his airtight plastic cage and entered him into the vague, featureless Brick that is apparently called a Playstation 4.

After the initial hazing normally involved with putting a game into your console these days I was finally thrown into the frying pan, or at least a big plane with a Pom and a bunch of other soldiers headed towards a new enemy: General Deathshead.

He's a creepy bastard.  My first encounter with Herr General had me staring at him through wire glass as he closed the walls in on me and my comrades.  I stared into his unflinching, smiling, scarred face as he watched everyone else panic, not even bothering to help them try and get out of this predicament.

I played on, shooting and slashing up Nazi's between avoiding Panzerhunds and pissing off Cyborgs.  It was a good time.  And the more I went on the more I got into the setting, reading news articles about the fall of Britain, the surrender of the United States, and the treatment of citizens and their 'impurities'.

Then, as I was exploring around the secret headquarters of the Resistance, I found a mattress tucked away in a high corner with a little interactive option saying "Nightmare!"

Lo and Behold, I was transported back to Wolfenstein 3D.  I was still Blazkowicz, pistol detailed as ever, but everything else was exactly as it was back in 1992.  It was fun and it made me think how much the game has changed since when ID software first made it.

And every time I think of ID Software, I think about two other games.  Doom and Quake, their two other flagship games.  I have Doom and Wolfenstein 3D on my Xbox 360 and spent so many hours collecting achievements and completing them as a whole.  Especially Doom since as soon as you finished the game you got the Doomguy outfit for your Xbox Avatar which I have accessorised and kept ever since.

"I STUBBED MY TOE ON THE COFFEE TABLE!"
With all the fun I've had with Classic Doom I cant wait for New Doom (TM) coming from Bethesda who, conveniently, had a hand in Wolfenstein: The New Order, something Im reminded of every time I load the game.  And every video I've watched of New Doom (TM) has been a fantastic and entertaining bloodbath of gunfire, action kills, and frantic running about.  Frankly only one step up from Classic Doom, because they didn't have action kills that involve pushing in Imp eyes until the skull explodes.

But Doom isn't my favourite.  And neither is Wolfenstein.  My favourite is Quake II, and I can't really tell you why.  It could be that I feel like a God running around dodging everything and exploring these long, dirty, rusted, grimy corridors shooting down strange Alien Cyborgs on their home planet.  I worked alone, finding comrades driven to madness from experimentation and torture; discovering strange works of art in grandiose cathedral fortresses; destroying strange machinations determined to do one thing: Kill You.

So I am going to really enjoy Wolfenstein: The New Order because not only is it a fun game, it is a deep game.  You find news articles about how the tide remained in the Nazi's favour and they continued the tidal wave across the world, and then fifteen years on they were settled everywhere with an Iron Grip.

And in knowing that I look forward to the possibility of a New Quake whether it continues the war against the Strogg, throwing you straight back into the midst of it, or just creating a whole new story with you forming an entire new front against this horrific enemy.

Inappropriate Kanye is Inappropriate

23 September 2015

Blood sin is too explicit for Disney I'm guessing?

When I was doing the Backward Compatibility post the other week I kept thinking back to a game that I come back to occasionally: Vagrant Story.

It's one of the coolest games I've ever played.  The themes, the art, the style, the gameplay... it was all fantastic, and difficult, and complicated.  For the longest time, I couldn't get through it.  Only person I knew who did was my friend Ben, who subsequently played the game until it broke.

Now it's going to be difficult to get back into that because PS4 shenanigans, but the need will find a way.  I can only imagine that I would get a taste of it somehow, like in the biggest crossover game I enjoy: Kingdom Hearts.

The third iteration is coming.  When, I don't know.  I've been waiting patiently for it and though a general date has been released, I'm ignoring it and sticking with the "It'll happen when it happens".

But the main premise of Kingdom Hearts is that it's a crossover of Disney and Final Fantasy characters and themes.  You've got Donald and Goofy fighting alongside Sora, the main character, then Cloud and Sephiroth across the bar waiting for their arena challenges to come on.

Vagrant Story has a loose connection to Final Fantasy XII and Final Fantasy Tactics, buried in amongst the lore with some vague mentions of Lea Monde and Riskbreakers.  So while it's only vague, it would be amazing to see Ashley Riot, the protagonist, the Rood Inverse tattoo'd/scarred into his back and running around with his Fandango, chain attacking enemies while casting dark, evil spells, and generally being the badass I remember him being as I reclaimed the city of Lea Monde.

02 September 2015

Still Talking Aesthetics

Please wait; Shader loading
The more I play games, the more I find superfluous features.  Take my latest obsession, Destiny.  There are more Aesthetics than there really needs to be in a Halo MMO that focuses on grinding out your equipment, and the developers saw that.
They looked at it all and said "why dont we actually do something about this junk and give it purpose?"  Or, more likely, the players said that and Bungie said "Oh, yeah, alright."
Ghosts will be getting a bunch of ShelÅ‚s that will provide subtle bonuses, for example.  Thats pretty huge on its own, especially if youre getting a bit more dosh as you pound your way through the cut and past characters you repeatedly mow down day after day.
Same witth Class Marks, usually only having the purpose of looking pretty, or showing your faction allegiance as you gain reputation with them.
But what will never change is shaders.  They will always be as simple as they sound, only changing by being removed as an Inventory Item and placed in a Kiosk for you to select at your choice.  What would be cool though is having a random option.  I mean that every time your character loads into a game, they are wearing a different shader.  One stroll through Venus will have you working for the Future War Cult, and then when you reach Mars you'll be Dead Orbit's personal mascot.
But why stop there?  That's not the only thing you have that serves little purpose no matter how different it is.  You also have your Ships and Sparrows!  So why not throw them in the random mix?!
I don't know if they'll be removed as an inventory Item like the Shaders, but damnit I don't see why they shouldn't be.  One doesn't find any difference in Ships, and sparrows have little differences in them in any case, so shove them all in the Kiosk, I say!  Let the shit sort itself out, and let me transmat onto any vehicle that the vendor decides!
Just like the Matrix it's all digital anyway, right?
Additional: I found that there is a new function called Emotes in Destiny.  Tack that on the list of random things when triggered.