26 November 2014

Late Night Date Frights

"It's amazing how long the human body
acts without a frontal lobe."
There has been a spike in Scary games lately, one of which is Five Nights At Freddy's.  The premise is simple: you're a security guard at a Chuck-e-cheese clone.  You're to guard the Anamatronic Musical stars that tend to wander about at night.  And the manager warns that if they see a human, they think they're a mechanical skeleton that needs a body and will grab you and force you into a suit, killing you in the process.
Creepy, yeah?
I haven't purchased it, but it has been really fun to watch youtube videos of people freaking the fuck out when one of them will suddenly be staring at the camera (extremely creepily) or a children's song is playing as a pair of eyes glow as they approach you with your impending demise.
I made the mistake of watching a few of them before I went to bed one morning.  I didn't sleep well, needless to say. I woke in a cold sweat, made colder from the ridiculously cold weather of Michigan, and I just didn't even bother sleeping again after that.
The thing is, it's the kind of game you want to play after midnight, with the lights off, nothing but the dim glow of the computer monitor to light your way, giving an opportune time for your partner to put on a mask and scare the life out of you.
I've done that before with Doom.  Sure, that doesn't seem like a terrifying game, but it really seeps into your skin. Especially the bloody imp static growl.  I can never sleep when I hear that before bed.
When I get my PS4 though I want to get Alien Isolation and do that, and spike up my stress when I'm being chased by an Alien.  That just sounds Amazingly fun and terrifying.
I should load up the Aliens film again...

19 November 2014


Post "404" not found.

... This would be funnier if this was conveniently on the fourth of April.  But I just waste my 404th post!  Wooo!

16 November 2014

Class Shooting 2015

So many classes, so many characters
I just saw the video for Overwatch and it got me thinking about Class Shooters and their rise in 2015.  This and Battleborn are both coming next year-ish and are equally PVP Class shooters that run with different characters.  But I find there's little separating them from each other apart from IP and some execution, which I wager will filter out into being equal in the end, short of some brand new game type they have secretly in the works.

Then again, what's the difference between these and Team Fortress 2?  Again, another PVP Class Shooter, each class with as much character as the last.

I'll admit, I'm not a big fan of PVP catered games.  Sure, they're fun for a little while but eventually I just end up having my arse handed to me over and over.  I do prefer a more cooperative environment, coordinating attacks against waves or arrangements of enemies.

In saying that, Evolve looks really fun.  Four players versus either an AI of a monster, or another Player of a Monster.  The Four players hunt down the monster, who starts off exceptionally weak and evolves into something that can possibly pick off a single player, and then evolves again to be able to take on all players at once.

Does PVP draw away from IP though?  Sure, you can have a background of characters and setting, even environments, but do they end up more than just a blurb that 25% of players may actually read?  Or will there be a story for those characters to play through?  Something that really brings them together more than just a mercenary contract coincidentally in the same spot, or mutual drive for survival?

And more importantly, will this change what games will come out next year?

12 November 2014

Nothing Rhymes with Orange (Box)

Needless to say, I have a catalogue of games that I haven't even touched.  Quake 4 was untouched until a few months ago, and so was Doom 3, though I do have to return to that.
But when I woke up morning to drudge through the tedium of Destiny to find a $5 deal on what is considered a religious experience in video games, I had to have it.  What is $5 after all when you're buying five games at once?
I haven't played Half Life in decades.  It's been so long that I can't even remember what platform I actually played it on.  I think it was Playstation, but it could've been an Xbox.  But I do remember that it was fun and challenging.
I don't know much about Half Life 2 except that it was very VERY popular when Scott and Aaron had played it those decades ago, and that it has spawned a cult which involves creating a hidden announcement about Half Life 3 from the most pedantic details, and run through a Rube Goldberg machine of mathematics and pop culture references until it results in the number 3, with possibly more coming to provide dates and times.  Kinda like the coming of the apocalypse.
So I dove into the game and found myself feeling like the game has actually aged really well.  Conversations and animations are all really quite good.  Not blocky, not cheap.  A real production value hampered only by the ability of a household computer.
It's a good day when a game can actually do that to you, whether it's frustrating you by how tiny and agile those fucking headcrabs are and making you waste far too much of your ammunition to warrant killing them, to making you really panic when other characters are giving you the fear of God.  Or better yet, making you want to flip the bird to who you think is the antagonist (At least I think he is, you know, the guy providing the scientific propaganda?).
I'm yet to finish the first game and move onto Episode 1 and 2, because I've either been binge watching Raising Hope and My Name is Earl, or playing through some Borderlands the Pre-Sequel while wishing Destiny had the same effort put into it without the plans of exploitation of their devoted fans, but I'm pushing through chapter by chapter.
I might just load it up now, actually...

09 November 2014

Self Blindness

What has been seen cannot be unseen
I was looking at a Kotaku post about the ideal shooter and it struck me as pretty true.  The points of being a shooter were spot on, and the biggest thing I agreed with was the lack of verticality that Valve apparently implored other developers in past interviews.

The thing that stuck with me was the point about Feedback, where shooting something did more than just an arbitrary "You hit" notice.  You had a visual impact, whether it was the shattering of a pane of glass, to the flinch and limp of an enemy on their last legs.  And it got me thinking about another post about Number Games.

I've been playing Half Life 2 and I've gotten back to actually tracking how much ammunition it takes to drop an enemy.  It's something I've done for ages, all the way back to playing Doom.  It made the difference between knowing I have the right weapon and having to back pedal out of dodge.

Some other games I've played don't have to worry about that because of Health Bars and Digits.  You get to know if you've clocked someone in the head and how much that should impede them.  If you get one lucky sniper shot into someone's head and it only takes off 25% of that bar, you already know you're in for a bad time.

So how much of a difference would it make to just drop the bar entirely?

Borderlands The Pre-Sequel is my latest game to have this.  They've always had the digits jump out on a successful hit and it's bothered me a little because it would get in the way of what I was aiming for, especially if I had a bee line for someone's head.

On top of that, it provided the information of what I could use to counter it. Red Bars required Fire.  Blue required Shock.  Yellow required Corrosive.  After that, you could explode them or freeze them.  Sometimes it was pretty obvious what was required to take down whatever behemoth or minion was throwing themselves at you, but occasionally it didn't.  That was what make me think.  If I had to figure out what I had to use, then that'd make the game very different.

Sure, the game provides those visual effects to show that "Hey, they've lost shield" or "this element is super effective against such and such", but it's a bit overshadowed by the cacophony of digits jumping out from the guy like hordes of rats from a sinking ship.  The only thing that doesn't is when the enemy is on about 15% health and is limping their way towards you.

I look back at Xcom: Enemy Unknown.  There's an option that I'm going to use on it's next expansion which removes the Health Bar from enemies, so you have to guess how hard you have to hit something before you move on.  It's a little thing that can change how you play.

Do I want that for other games?  Not necessarily.  But I would like the option.

05 November 2014

I'm a bit late to the show, but I got there

It's so close to the truth.
I heard about Playstation TV a while ago and quickly brushed it off as a Sony Clone of Apple TV.  While I wasn't far from the truth, since it does provide services that Apple TV does, I did not realise that it could also play Playstation Portable and Vita games.  And that's gotten me interested in it.

I've been desiring for a long time to be able to play my PSP games on the TV, believing whole heartedly that the big name consoles should be able to provide that support.  It shouldn't be too difficult to provide an Inbuilt Emulator, right?  Just download it in a patch or something.  That'd do it.

Alas, my beliefs were pushed back by arguments of lacking hardware compatibility to match the system requirements.  Sure the console might be more powerful but it's like mapping the thoughts of a dog to a cats brain, to put it crudely.

So I sighed and dreamt of such a device that would do that.  There was a moment of optimism when I saw a patent for an external device that would do such a thing for the PS3, but that was just them covering their bases.

The last I even heard about any form of backward compatibility was the Playstation Now, where you hire games for an exorbitant amount of money, and you can simply stream the game from their servers onto your TV through your console.  While I can appreciate this, that's just too much money for what I want.

But this Playstation TV, a little device that has the similar area to a deck of cards, will give me what I want out of a console.  The ability to play my Playstation Portable games on the Big Screen.  I may have to re-download a couple of them, such as Tactics Ogre and Final Fantasy Tactics, but it's exactly what I want.  It won't kill my neck playing them from looking down because I'll be staring straight on.  And the feel of an actual controller will be sublime.

Credit where credit is due, though, I won't be able to play certain PSVita games due to the lack of compatibility between the Game and the PS3/PS4 Dualshock Controllers.  But I'll have that completely under consideration when the time comes.

If only though I could play the PSTV through my PS4 when I get it, like the Xbone can do with it's HDMI Input and the Xbox 360.

04 November 2014

Soft Hitting, or Complacency?

Probably more interesting than Handsome Jack... Probably.
Finally finished Borderlands the PreSequel.  And I feel... Unaccomplished.
Spoiler Alert! The following post contains spoilers of Borderlands The PreSequel!
The game starts us right in the middle of things with the invasion of Helios Station.  A Dahl corporation army is taking over all the right spots just so they can control the Eye of Helios, an inbuilt Superweapon, and then use it against Elpis to ultimately destroy the Natural, and Inhabited, Satellite.
Simple Plan, no?  Pretty quickly they get control and you are transported down to the Moons Surface using a Cannon and a Cargo container you're hidng in.  Jack, the subject of our story, remains on the space station to try to do his part in helping the players from on high.
Australian Lesbians and Scavengers (Scavs for Short) ensue, and the Vault Hunters are sent on a handful of tasks to regain control of Helios.
The game seems to drag in the start.  The players end up bounding (literally) across a lava and ice covered surface to reach structures of broken down battleships to reclaim Vehicle Digistructs, AI Intelligences, and a Robotics Factory before returning to Helios and doing your part to push back the incursion and reclaim the eye of Helios, then get to the task of finding the Vault on the Moon as is the original task.
The subject of Jack is a pretty quick (de?)evolution into what he is known as today.  As soon as you reach the games main Hub Town, Concordia, you see that he's a trusting sort of fella, and someone who does not expect to be backstabbed.  Unfortunately for him, getting literally shot in the back flings him into the spiral that is a life of mistrust and calculated anger against almost every single person alive.
The problem I find is that, while the moulding of Jack into Handsome Jack is the main subject of the story, it pulls away from the other characters too much.  And while it does a rather good job of rounding off his attitude pretty well, I still want to know more about these other characters.  Which, sadly, isn't a particularly large cast.
The main problem I have though is a lack of climatic events that change your attitude.  Halfway through Borderlands 2, I had a change of heart.  I felt a little lackadaisicle at first, feeling Handsome Jack was all bark and no bite.  But that quickly changed.  And not once, but twice.
Here, there weren't really any changes of heart.  And I don't know whether it was because I hadn't thought about what was going on, or because they weren't strong enough to actually make me feel something.
It first happened with Skipper, a computer AI that was commandeered for the purpose of creating a Robotic Army from a computer Tech who felt he needed a girlfriend, and could only get one through his floating computer chair.  He was also a boss fight, by the way.
Skipper was happy to have been taken away from him and be put to more use than faking a relationship, so much so that she changed her name to Felicity to symbolise her freedom.  She was so happy and excited to lead her new life.
Come the time where the players are in the factory.  They're walking through, clearing Scavs and Torks to reach the computer system to insert Felicity.  All the while Felicity is coming to the slow realisation that she doesn't want to be plugged into a machine and reduced to simple combat components.  While pleading for her life by providing the alternative of Copying her intelligence and reducing that, Jack took time as the priority and put forth the order, which threw Felicity into Rampancy, accompanied by her new experimental body as a Constructor.  It was a pretty obvious eventaulity that the player would win that fight, and she would become akin to a bloated Dalek, but I don't know why it didn't hit me so hard.
The second climatic twist was the Eye of Helios.  Being a Space Station, you easily think "Oh yeah, it's a giant laser the station powers".  But there are little hints plonked down that it isn't just any Laser.  Apparently the kind of power it's generating is actually something that a giant laser couldn't accomplish.
Turns out it's the Eye of the Destroyer, the Vault Monster at the end of the first Borderlands Game.  That was a cool twist.  The Destroyer in Borderlands 1 turned out to be a pretty lame boss in the first game and felt it was essentially left as a note in history, so it was good to see that it made not one, but two appearances in the game.  A side mission a little earlier on has the players search for a secret laboratory and find a genetic recreation of it, though much smaller and dismissed by Jack as being useless and thusly executed.
Though Jack should've been a bit more careful with that since Moxxi and Co ended up betraying him and destroying the eye.  Sure, he tried to get it back together so he could use it again, but telling a Vault Hunter to use a laser on it after it'd just been soldered back together is just a terrible idea in itself.
The more I think about it, the more I wonder whether it really was complacency in knowing what the future holds, or even sleep deprivation since I did a few stints in the middle of the night, that left me feeling unenthused about the events.  The cries of Felicity as her character was torn down to minimal instinctual programming; the roar of the Destroyer as it was pumped with poison to the point of exploding; the anger of betrayal towards Jack and the utter disbelief that they would turn on him: the Hero, a title he claims at every instance.
I do hope that the DLC's make more use of other characters though.  Sure, Jack was the big focus on the game, but there is more to the game than the focus on one character.  Because there are only a few other new characters that appear, Janey Springs and Nurse Nina, that expand the cast since every other character met through side missions are either recycled from other iterations, or are one shot jokes of Humour.  Like Captain Chef, a pioneer and discoverer of worlds who claims the Moon twice in the name of his King by saluting the Royal flag while you hoist it and fend off locals.
Who I'm really excited for is the Mysterious Guardian, though.  He makes two appearances, once at the beginning of the game when he defends Zarpedon from being attacked, and in a Teaser clip after the Credits when he defends Athena from the firing line and provides words of forboding, which put a little tingle in my pants for the next game, which a small part of me wishes it would be a Shared World MMO, like Destiny, only immensely more Interesting, though I highly doubt it.