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Author Topic: TZH Game Reviews II: Sins of the Reviewer  (Read 30387 times)
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« Reply #120 on: February 01, 2013, 02:39:02 am »

I've had this game ever since it went on sale to promote the DLC and still haven't played it.  If I can ever get past Dead Island I need to give it a chance.  (But who am I kidding?  By that time Tomb Raider will be out and I've had my preorder on it since the day pre orders for it on steam was a thing.)


Is there any way I can help you beat Dead Island? I'll play with you if you have it on PS3 (and if I finally get a wireless headset I like).
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« Reply #121 on: February 01, 2013, 06:03:20 am »

I have it on PS3 but I'd be restarting from scratch since I junked my character builds on it.  I''ve been playing on PC mostly solo but sporadically with my cousin.  My new Xian build is doing really well, I haven't even gotten inside the hotel yet in Act 1 and I'm already level 23 or 24 and destroying everything in my path. 

Long story short I'm really into my current character on PC but I'd play on PS3 at some point.  Player ID TheFinalOutlaw.  (Ever since the Undertaker ripped me off all variants if TLO get snapped right away by wrestling fans.)
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« Reply #122 on: February 11, 2013, 10:01:54 am »

So this isn't really a review, it's more of a compare/contrast between two games both of which I expect to do full reviews of upon completion.

So... Dark Souls.  Spent a SHIT TON of my time this weekend playing it and I love it.  The sense of reward you get from exploring, finding items and shortcuts is a big part of it, I like games where I can go nuts and explore, even more so with this one because I can feel like I'm cheating by using the master key.  But the exploration is only one piece, the other piece is the game play.  The melee attacking is deceptively simple, block/parry and light attack/heavy attack but the moveset is different for many of the weapons which makes discovering what works for you part of the challenge.  The option to wield any weapon two handed to further change the moveset is also nice.  And speaking of challenge this game has challenge in spades.  It has been a long time since I've played a game where I've gotten the adrenaline shakes while playing, (yes some of the boss battles are that intense).  And yes the game is damn hard but the feeling of accomplishment you get after such an intense battle is worth the sometimes hours of frustration you endured in getting there.  What creates this intense sense of loss/reward?  The game disallows save scumming so you know a fuck up isn't a simple reload away from a second chance.  There's a story going on in there somewhere but it's almost beside the point, I'm always searching for the next big bad to smack down and see what awesome loot I can get from the corpse (for example the existence of the darkroot basin sea monster still irks me, I'll fix that eventually...)

And the game I'm comparing/contrasting to Dark Souls?  Dead Island.  What can these two have in common you may ask?  Biggest is the fact that both have measures in place to prevent save scumming.  Both dock resources upon death (all souls and humanity in Dark Souls, a percentage of your money in Dead Island)  Both games have maintenance of your weapons/equipment as a gameplay mechanic.  The contrast?  I actually find myself rage quitting Dead Island far more often than Dark Souls and oddly enough I think Dark Souls Draconian sounding death punishment is easier to deal with than Dead Islands, “I’ll take some of your money away from you now” punishment.  Why?  Dark Souls has plenty of opportunity to grind for more souls (which serve as both your money and your experience) while in Dead Island money is rarely found in abundance and you tend to lose thousands with each death.   In addition, while money is essential to maintaining your equipment in both games the costs when balanced against your rate of income in Dead Island is prohibitive and as a result the desire to want to explore is squelched.  As weapon quality goes up I’ve seen the cost of fixing a good weapon creeping into the thousands.  So when I die in Dark Souls and fail to retrieve my dropped souls/humanity it’s a sigh of resignation and I start to grind back what I lost.  When I die in Dead Island I rage because I’m afraid I’m not staying ahead of my resource burn curve. 

More to come as I continue to test the limits of my patience with these two games.
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« Reply #123 on: February 15, 2013, 02:45:09 am »

Dead Island was...not that great. At least in my opinion.

Dark Souls, on the other hand...I'm at the point where I've just obtained the Lordvessel, and I've had to take a break. No videogame has ever brought me this much rage and frustration. The thing is, I KNOW I can conquer everything the game throws at me, it just requires a LOT of patience and determination, and sometimes my nerves just can't take it xD Totally with you on the feeling of accomplishment, TLO. Since I don't play online, I had to solo Ornstein and Smough with no help other than Solaire (JOLLY COOPERATION.) After dying more times than I care to remember, I finally figured out a strategy that consisted of dodging, having perfect timing, standing up during the entire battle, and screaming obscenities at my tv. After I took them down, I celebrated by screaming "YEAAAAAAAAAAAAH, SUCK MAH DICK" and crotchchopping so hard that I may have bruised my pelvis xD

TLO, what's your build? I'm rocking a Pyromancer who uses dex-based weapons. Quelaag's Furysword, son.
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« Reply #124 on: February 15, 2013, 05:58:08 am »

Pretty straightforward str/dex build.  I currently rely pretty heavily on speed/evasion and it's working well so far.  The ring that silences all movement noise is hugely helpful, it helps me more often than not to not draw aggro from every enemy in a given area at the same time.   It also makes sneak up from behind back stabs way easier.  I've been working my way through Blighttown the "wrong way" because most of the enemies are facing the way I "should" be going.  As I said, feeling like I'm breaking the game or getting away with something is also hugely rewarding for me.

And I also totally stand up during really high tension battles :p
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« Reply #125 on: April 08, 2013, 08:00:03 am »

 Recently Completed: Retro City Rampage
System: PC

Time Spent: About 10 hours (for the main story and a handful of challenges, still lots of stuff to do like free roam and beating arcade games.)

The Story: You are a crazed thug sent through time to experience more 80’s video game and pop culture references than you can shake a stick at.  Seriously, the whole thing is made entirely of references to other stuff.

The Good:
+ The chiptune soundtrack is top notch. 
+ The graphics not only look like they are straight from a real NES game, you can customize the scanlines and even color mode (like let’s say you want to make it look like you’re playing on an ancient computer monitor or game boy.)  These first two points might seem minor but they really do help the nostalgia factor a ton.  I could almost believe I was playing it on a NES.
+ Good weapon variety.   There are nice little touches like the lightgun obviously sampled the sound of someone pulling the lightgun trigger (which makes it jarringly out of place with the rest of the chiptune sounds but it’s the “you beat the game god gun” so I’ll let it slide.)
+  Good vehicle variety.  Though with the sprite size it’s often difficult to distinguish between pedal bikes and motor cycles which causes frustration when you jack a pedal bike when trying to outrun the cops.  PROTIP:   Bicycle escapes are a bad plan.
+  A lot of challenges, some of which are fun, some of which are throw your controller across the room hard. 
+  I bet you’re expecting me to say 80’s references are part of the good right?  Let’s explore that more in the bad.
The Bad:
-  As cool as it is to see an 8-bit GTA clone (and the top down view is very old school GTA) the execution is marred by the fact that the sprites of the people are too friggin’ small.  They’re serviceable but they make the extensive customization for your character (tattoos, haircuts, hats, glasses, etc.) almost completely pointless because the detail is lost on the tiny sprites.
- References… yea… The first segment of the game is seriously fun.  I was really enjoying the goofball story (Bill and Ted’s phone booth, Doc Brown’s Delorean, crazed gunplay, whee!) and the gameplay pieces ripped straight from other games but eventually two things happened.  1.  I realized that, sort of like a Wayans brothers movie, the game has nothing original to offer.  2.  As the game went on they relied on worse and worse references.  For example, way back in the misty dawns of time I was the only person I knew who actually slogged through the painfully difficult original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle game.  If I ever enjoyed the game that enjoyment was completely overshadowed by the frustration and anger I eventually felt towards it as I ground onward until I finally beat it and guess what?  I never fucking touched it again.  Early on in the game there was a segment where you had to defuse bombs at a dam in a very obnoxious swimming segment.  As “homage” Retro City Rampage recreated that level but instead of defusing the bombs, you’re placing them.  It was like a traumatic flashback to have to replay that damn level.  I get that they wanted to reference “classic” games but choosing to replicate shitty game mechanics and calling it retro is bullshit.  You don’t go and recreate the worst that the era had to offer and you especially don’t add in another even shittier water level later while cleverly saying “oh no, another water level”  Being self aware that you’re being an annoying prick doesn’t make it better because you’re still being an annoying prick.  Haha, you cleverly pointed out that you’re using a clichéd concept and intentionally bad design but it’s still clichéd and bad.  Also out of nowhere there’s a series of driving levels at the end that are just as bad if not worse than the ones in The Adventures of Bayou Billy (another bitch hard NES game I beat and never touched again.)  If you want a retro game that recreates the 8bit era warts and all that’s fine but bad design should never be a “feature” in my opinion.  Also of worthy of special mention is an arcade game that features Super Meat Boy.  Inexplicably it’s a road racing game and even more inexplicably it’s a faux virtual boy game.  No one played the virtual boy because the red and black graphics are migraine inducing and unsettling.  Guess why I didn’t play the virtual boy “homage?”
Better Than/Worse Than: It’s difficult to quantify this because it’s not really fair to compare this game with its built in analog controller support to real old school Nintendo games and there were no open world games like this on the NES anyway.  And you certainly can’t compare it to GTA 4 or Saint’s Row Three or even the original GTA.     
Overall: C-  It was fun at first but got increasingly annoying, sort of the like the bad NES games that have not aged well at all.  Still there’s a couple bucks worth of fun in there, if you can nab it on sale (five bucks or less) give it a go but don’t even think about paying the full fifteen dollar asking price.
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« Reply #126 on: April 08, 2013, 12:53:48 pm »

Your second point could easily be condensed, and while there were some difficult levels, I didn't think they were nearly as difficult as you made them out to be, they referenced those difficult levels from earlier games, but they certainly didn't replicate the difficult design of them. Those two points alone don't really sound like enough to warrant such a C-, just sayin'.
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« Reply #127 on: April 08, 2013, 01:19:56 pm »

For me a C is an average score.  For example I gave Homefront a C because it was firmly average in it's gameplay and presentation along with some dumb plot devices and a short campaign.  I enjoyed RCR less than Homefront and the smug presentation of bad gameplay on purpose rubbed me the wrong way.  It's not a total loss, it's even worth playing for free/or cheap.

EDIT:  Actually getting past the bitterness over some of the late level assbaggery and doing some more of the free roam stuff I'll bump it up to a C+.  But that doesn't remove or reduce the rant Tongue.
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« Reply #128 on: April 08, 2013, 01:46:31 pm »

Yeah that makes sense. I guess C is what would be average for me too. It's all I got in school. >_>
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« Reply #129 on: April 16, 2013, 10:26:51 am »

 Recently Completed: Tomb Raider (2013 reboot including pre order DLC “Tomb of the lost adventurer”)
System: PC

Time Spent: 20ish (100% completion of single player campaign, no multiplayer)

The Story: You are Lara Croft before she was Lara Croft!  Lara is a crewmember on a ship called the Endurance which is being chartered by a reality TV/pop culture archeologist who’s career is one step away from complete failure.  To add to the drama Lara’s best friend (who’s family is apparently quite wealthy) is tagging along because her family is helping finance the expedition.  The captain of the ship somehow knew Lara’s father before he vanished and everyone has some reason to hate someone else in the group.   Good times.  Then the boat crashes on an island that is more than just a collection of shipwrecks, and oh yea, it’s Lara’s fault the boat went there.  Lara spends a LOT of time early on being totally freaked out and wracked with guilt but eventually becomes the badass heroine that everyone has come to expect.

The Good:
+ The graphics are amazing.  The TressFX hair (PC only) is a little gitchy in how it throws shadows and I had a few instances where inexplicably the hair would vanish entirely for a fraction of a second but it really is the next step forward in hair rendering.  (For those of you who worry about things of that nature.)  Hair aside the rest of the game looks really good and is no slouch in draw distance or detail.  Some of the scenery truly looks so good that I would catch myself just admiring the view instead of playing the game.  The game ran silky smooth on my machine (even in windowed mode) and never once crashed or froze up.  There have been a few recent patches that have supposedly corrected a few of the TressFX issues and improved performance on non AMD vid cards but already having an AMD vid card I didn’t see much difference.
+ Controls are tight and responsive.  Despite playing on a computer I played (as I do with all non FPS games) with a wireless 360 controller and had no issues.  Of special note here is the cover system which is by far the best I’ve ever played with.   No more “context sensitive” button for cover where you mash the button but aren’t lined up close enough so it either does nothing or even worse, locks you onto the wrong piece of cover so you “take cover” completely in the open.  This cover system is “context sensitive” in that if enemies are near and you approach cover you crouch and take cover.  If no enemies are around you don’t crouch.  No button pressing to exit cover either, just move away.  It may not sound like a big deal when it’s printed words but in action it’s so smooth and intuitive it is truly wonderful. 

+ Level design/game flow is well paced.  One of the games I would probably compare Tomb Raider to most closely is Batman: Arkham Asylum.   The progression is more or less linear with a handful of central hub areas with occasional gadget unlocks to aid your exploration feel very Arkham Asylum, even more so when you use Lara’s “adventure sense” or whatever they call it to highlight interactive objects and later collectibles.  I’ve also heard a lot of comparisons to Uncharted but I never got the same vibe from Tomb Raider as I did from Uncharted.  Probably because Nathan Drakes voice actor has so perfectly nailed the “I’m frightened out of my mind but look, it’s still funny as hell so laugh” tone.  Tomb Raiders “gritty” atmosphere sort of robs it of the larger than life everything is a slick action movie setpiece feel that Uncharted has.  Also instead of laughing at Nathan as he dies doing something you just knew was going to end badly I cringe when Lara dies because the death animations are gruesome enough and the camera lingers long enough to be uncomfortably close to snuff film in tone.  This from a guy who gleefully completed the original Manhunt on the Xbox.    But I’m getting off track…  The gadget use is well implemented and the backtracking to get to that area you passed up earlier because you didn’t have the right gadget isn’t too strenuous due to a convenient fast travel mechanic that links many  of the campsites you come across.  And one more word on the gadgets before I leave this topic… the first gadget you get is a torch, as such MOST of the early puzzles (and even  a lot of the later ones) involve setting SOMETHING on fire.  So I often found myself giggling like Beavis and muttering “try setting it on fire” while trying to solve puzzles.  Who knew Lara Croft and Beavis were really a match made in heaven?  Those two pyros…

+  Weapon balance is sort of a hit or miss but it’s not really BAD.  Honestly I used the bow for nearly the entire game, only busting out the assault rifle or shotgun for a handful of rough patches and most of the final assault to save Lara’s friend.  One of the things I did like (and took me a while to figure out) is you can use whatever weapon you want whenever you want because the enemies will drop ammo for whatever weapon they were killed with regardless of what weapon they are carrying.  It might not be the most logical thing ever but it was a decent game mechanic that helps you keep the weapon you favor instead of turning combat into an ammo management exercise.

+ The story and character progression.   I liked how the story unfolded, it was occasionally predictable in the dumb action movie tropes sort of way but I’ve seen far worse and while not every character is fully rounded and realized I at least hated the villains and felt bad when the “good guys” died.  Especially the cranky Scotsman but fuck, he went out well.  The only way his death would have been better is if he had managed to score a shot of some nicely peated single malt just before he bit it.  But I digress.  Lara’s progression from confused and overwhelmed newb to hardened killer was probably a little quicker than it had to be (and you do kill a ridiculous amount of people before the game is over) but significant turning points are scattered throughout.  I can remember causing an explosion and watching a man slowly burn to death while being held in place by a chunk of concrete.  I figured I’d put him out of his misery (well not really, I figured I’d cap the bastard and collect some salvage) and Lara’s ice cold “go to hell” after I shot him in the head caused me to do a full on Keanu “WHOA.”  Even later she screams obscenities and death threats at her enemies and I was like, “damn girl, you go.”  By the end of the game it’s obvious she makes everyone around her uncomfortable and her vaguely disquieting sociopathic/dissociative persona that has been a point of criticism in earlier games (later games?) makes a little more sense.   

+  Voice acting.  Lara’s voice in this game is excellent, she believably portrays all the aspects of Lara that they throw out there and everyone else carries their role well.  I used to routinely mock games for poor voice acting (Jill sandwich anyone?) but this game didn’t have any of those moments.  Those who weren’t talented were competent enough not to fuck it up for everyone else.

+  The puzzles.  To be honest this could either go in the good or the bad.  The first tomb you stumble across is the DLC tomb (assuming you have it) and it is an uber easy introductory tomb (though there is a late game gadget required to fully loot it which is sort of nice, there’s a generous store of ammo and salvage to help you prep for the end game assault.) and difficulty progression for the tombs ramps up at a pretty forgiving curve.  Old school Tomb Raider fans may hate the new tombs for being TOO easy and I can seriously see that argument because the old Tomb Raider games, especially the first one/anniversary were about exploration and puzzle solving above all else.  But even if you consider these puzzles dumbed down they meshed well with the more action orientated game play and it was nice not be stuck in the same room for literally hours while I figured out I was trying to rotate widgets in the wrong order or something.
The Bad:
-  Logix.  The weapon/gadget upgrades system makes ZERO logical sense.  I can see using scrap metal to reinforce the POS pointy stick you start out with that is generously called an axe.  I balked shortly thereafter when I was expected to believe that Lara used bits of rubbish and animal parts to magna port the barrel of her pistol.  It gets more outlandish from there.  For a game that was making many other attempts at realism the upgrade/salvage system is jarringly out of place.  The one good thing I can say for it is that you can “hunt out” an area which keeps you from grinding salvage by hunting in the same area for the entire game.   (Which I would totally end up doing because I’m a mechanic exploiter like that.)  Related to logix but not specific to the upgrades is the plot point where Lara goes to retrieve some tools.  Much drama is put on this scene and I’ll keep it spoiler free but knowing what tools were asked for and seeing what Lara actually came back with I wanted to head desk.  In fact I’m pretty sure I did.

-  Collectables.  This game has collectibles out the wazoo.  Collectibles have become the game lengthener du jour these days, the one good thing I can say about them is that they’re a step above using endless and annoying backtracking to make a game “last longer”.  Each area will have one or more  specific collectibles (mushrooms, totems, flags, Buddha statues, etc. etc.) and you’ll run across GPS caches (little canisters who’s purpose isn’t really explained unless you collect them all) and of course since it’s a Tomb Raider game which is purportedly about archeology, relics.  The relics I kind of liked because they felt the least out of place.   The rest I could have done without.  But I collected them anyway for the salvage/xp rewards.  Story exposition ala System Shock/Bioshock/Doom3 can also be uncovered by finding journals but most of these are so blatantly placed I hesitate to put them in the collectible category.

+ QTEs.  I am not a fan of quick time events.  This game has a LOT of quick time events.  I will say that for the most part they are implemented as well as QTE’s can be.  But some of them really feel like button mashing for the sake of button mashing.  The god of war-esque counters and stuff you can unlock are less onerous than some of the lengthy “you’ll be watching this cutscene again until you get the button mashing right” QTE’s and I have to mention the absolute rage inducing QTE near the end of the game.  The second to last boss battle is a long fight that you HAVE to finish with a  QTE.  If you fail the QTE you go back into the fight again until you wear the boss down enough to prompt the finishing QTE again ad nauseum until you get it right.  I don’t know if it was specific to the PC version, an issue with my particular video card or whatever, but the finishing QTE which required multiple button presses would trail off the edge of the screen so I couldn’t see what all the buttons were or fully see the timing circles.  I tried played windowed instead of full screen, switching resolutions, everything I could think of but the glitch/feature persisted.  I had to resort to googling the winning button combo and fucking around with the timing until I finally got it.  I was such a seething ball of rage by that point that there was no joy in actually finishing the game moments later.  And the “final” boss encounter of the game was wholly QTE’s.  I hate that.  Even though it was one of the most “Tomb Raider” moments in the entire game.
 
Better Than: The Tomb Raider franchise has frankly been marred by more bad games than it has had stand out titles.  The original generation really only had the first two games before the developers ran the games into the ground  by constantly creating levels that didn’t work with the camera the game engine supported.  The next gen was dead on arrival with Angel of Darkness which still stands as a horror story/cautionary tale of bad game design and game breaking glitches.  The current gen reboot with Anniversary edition and Legend were a breath of fresh air and Underworld wasn’t horrible.  This game is different enough that it’s difficult to compare to the rest of the franchise but I would rank this right up there with Anniversary and Legend in terms of quality, playability and fun.

Worse Than: Sadly the Tomb Raiding crown hasn’t belonged to Lara since Uncharted came out and Uncharted 2 is still the king.  But Uncharted 3 had enough flaws (especially Naughty Dogs antics around the DLC and multiplayer) that indicate Drake and Company might only be a bright but brief shooting star.  Lara is a survivor above all else and if the next entry in the series ramps up the quality yet again she’ll have that crown back eventually.  Here’s hoping.

Overall: A:  An excellent game, while it may not appeal as much to old school purists of the franchise it stands tall in the top tier of games released so far this year.
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« Reply #130 on: May 07, 2013, 02:19:15 pm »

Recently Completed: Far Cry 3 (Including all Pre-order/Bonus/Premium DLC)

System: PC

Time Spent: Game stats show 35ish hours for my 100% completion.

The Story: You are a spoiled rich kid captured by pirates and slave traders on a remote tropical island!  Jason Brody, his older and younger brothers and their friends/girlfriends sky dive onto an island and things quickly go about as wrong as possible.  Jason escapes and sets out trying to rescue everyone, and while he’s at it he joins a local tribe, gets a mystical tattoo, grabs a gun and machete (sadly this Jason lacks a hockey mask) and proceeds to tear across the island like an unholy terror.  Will he save his friends?  Will he become a soulless killing machine?  Will he manage to make extinct species even more extinct?  Let’s find out.

The Good:
+ The graphics are very good.   A hall mark of the Far Cry series since the original has been the ludicrous draw distance of the game engine and this continues to offer more of the same as well as even higher detail levels and better shading than FC2, and FC2 already looked fucking gorgeous on my PC.  While I had no graphical or performance problems with this game it IS the first game I’ve played that caused my PCIE slot for my vid card to hit 60 degrees Celsius which triggers my comps first high temp warning.  Granted this was on a hot day (about 80 Fahrenheit), I hadn’t installed the AC in my window yet and I hadn’t cleaned dust out of my comp at my usual weekly schedule.  After getting the dust out and the temperature dropping a bit it hasn’t recurred but the point I’m making is if you max out the settings it will put a strain on your system.  I haven’t played it on the 360 but one of my friends who has told me it looked much better on the PC.

+ Ok, this was the game where I gave up my usual “FPS must be played with mouse and keyboard” rule.  I played FC 2 with mouse and keyboard and the driving almost gave me carpal tunnel, I hated driving with the keyboard.  FC3 added even more complexity to the control to the point where I got about half way through remapping everything then just said “fuck it” and turned on my 360 controller.  The controller worked well but I definitely missed the mouse/keyboard precision on a few of the shooting segments, especially when sniping.  That being said the controls were well laid out, made sense and handled reasonably well.

+ They got rid of the diamond hunting from FC2.  I initially loved the diamond hunting in FC2.  Until all the easy diamond drops had been found and I was spending increasing hours scrounging for more to unlock better weapon upgrades at which point it soured pretty quickly.  I did like the fact that the GPS from FC 2 made a cameo appearance in one of the side quests.  In FC3 weapons are unlocked by climbing radio towers (which also reveal map segments sort of like Assassins Creed where high points do the same thing) or you can buy them.  In addition to the weapons you could unlock by activating radio towers you can also unlock special “signature” weapons by doing various tasks.  Looting the dead is also an option but you won’t get access to snazzy upgrades like higher magazine capacity or silencers unless you “own” the weapon.  Which leads to my next point…

+ Weapon choices are great.  There is more than enough weapon variety to suit any playstyle and weapons can be further tuned with attachments.  Silencers, optics, higher capacity magazines, different barrels, even paint jobs can all be mixed and matched however you prefer.   This allows you to use the same gun for multiple applications.  Me?  I put silencers on everything and run pretty much all out stealth which is how I roll.  Which segues nicely into…

+ Open world game play.  Do whatever you want in whatever order you with whatever play style you want.  The game rewards you to take out outposts with stealth by giving you triple the XP for capturing one undetected but the XP in the game is plentiful enough that you can take them all out with shotguns and LMG’s and still max out your skills with no real issues.

+  Hunting rare and exotic animals.  I never really got into the hunting simulator genre but I don’t think the hunter simulator genre offers me the opportunity to after tigers with rocket launchers and flamethrowers.  Though I don’t know that for certain; if they actually do then I’m missing out on something fantastic.  I can remember taking time out from FC2 to watch the zebra run by and things like that but in FC3 the animal life takes on a much more prominent part of the game.  Herd animals are pretty harmless (buffalo can ram the hell out of you if you piss them off) but you can easily find yourself jogging alongside some harmless herd beasts and finding yourself face to face with a jaguar who’s been hunting them.  Most animals can be skinned and in many cases those skins can be used for some sort of crafting and the crafting is of the things that I didn’t like at first but in my opinion one actually makes the game fairly unique.

+  The crafting.  You start out being able to carry one gun, a very limited amount of ammo and barely any money.  How do you upgrade to being able to carry four guns, a ton of ammo, explosives, cash, medicine, arrows and items?  Kill stuff and stitch their bodies into ever improved gear.  It starts out easy enough, but the ingredients get more difficult to obtain (sharkskin, bears and so on) and nearly all the items require a unique animal to complete.  The unique animal hunts are unlocked by clearing outposts and they aren’t as free form as grabbing an RPG and blowing up a run of the mill bear.  They require a specific weapon be used (often the bow) to take out a one of a kind variant like the undying bear , man-eater shark, albino crocodile and so on.  Good times.  Expect frequent mauling when attempting these.  The crafting also includes making syringes from plants that range from healing your wounds to invulnerability with everything in between.  (Yes even being able to sense animals, become more flame retardant, and breathe underwater.)

+  There is a really good variety of mission types to undertake, we’ve already covered outpost clearing, radio tower activation and hunting, there are also… Supply drop missions where you race from point a to point b, usually on a quad runner that handles like a drunken squirrel, assassination missions where you have to take out the target with a knife (these are fun), challenges where you kill enemies within specific parameters (usually with unlimited ammo and these are also very fun), side missions for locals that can range from mundane to wtf, races, target practice, poker games, it goes on and on.

+  Collectible maps.  I’ve come to accept the fact that almost every game is going to have some kind of crap to collect that gets you cash, XP, or whatever.  I hate games that include a ton of collectibles and have no in game guidance on how to find them.  I refer to this gimmick as “you will buying our hint book.”  Except no one buys hint books anymore.  Now people use the internet.  But it’s still a waste of my time because then I’m tabbing back and forth between the guide I googled and the game screen.  I will however give props to games (like FC3) that give players the ability to buy an in game map listing out the locations or some other in game means of finding them.  FC3 has two real collectibles, letters from Japanese military who were once stationed on the islands and relics related to the different tribal totems.  Loot boxes are also excessively scattered around but there is no XP boost for finding loot boxes nor any achievement tied to finding them all or anything.  I still ended up buying all the loot box maps anyway because I had to spend my money on SOMETHING.  (More on that later.)

+  Game pacing.  The game is paced very well in the sense that I always felt like I had something to do and lot of it is “bite sized” stuff like running to grab a relic or letter, or do a hunt.  It’s the type of “just one more thing” gameplay that will keep you playing until you realize you haven’t slept all weekend.   This coupled with the mild RPG aspect of unlocking skills as you progress really compels you to keep playing.

+ The addition of the hang glider in Far Cry 2 was awesome.  The wingsuit and parachute and Far Cry 3 are better.

And now a word about the DLC:

The DLC that came with my “deluxe” Steam edition was as follows…

The M-700 “Predator” rifle.  A version of the M-700 that comes with a silencer, does more damage than the regular M-700 and has three unique paint jobs.  It was nice to start with but I retired it in favor of the regular M-700 after I unlocked it because I could put a longer range scope on it. 

The Monkey Business missions.  If you’ve collected all of the Lost Letters you know about Hurk.  This expands on his insanity.  These missions are fun in the “What if you were trapped in a war zone with Zach Galifianakis’ character from the Hangover” sort of way.

Lost expedition or something similar…. you explore some old military installations to experience some really obscure Assassin’s Creed references.

Two more DLC bits can be unlocked with “Uplay” points which are a decent scoped .44 magnum revolver and a bonus mission where you search for ludicrous amounts of loose cash in a bunker overrun with rabid dogs.

The Bad:
-  They got rid of the hand held map from Far Cry 2.  The hand held map made driving MUCH easier in FC2 because you didn’t have to keep alternating between the map screen and the game which causes minor load lag every time you want to make sure you’re not taking the wrong fork in the road.  That probably sounds picky but after a while it pissed me off the point where I stayed on foot almost 90% of the game.

-   Maybe it was my playstyle (primarily stealth) but I almost thought the game was too generous resource wise.  Looting bodies and tripping over loot boxes everywhere I turned meant I was always fully stocked with cash.  I bought the loot box maps just to spend the money, same with weapons upgrades I never used and every weapon paint job.  Even with that I still spent the last 15 % of the game leaving cash in my wake because my wallet was too full to carry more.  I know, I know, first world problem.  But it’s possible if I had been a rocket spewing madman with a more uninhibited ammo consumption rate I may have had less expendable cash.

- The mysticism/hallucinogenic drug motif wore a little thin for me.  I can acknowledge that they tried a stylistically interesting way to convey parts of the story but really, there were a few times where I felt like I had missed something awesome for something that more artsy than awesome.

-  Despite the variety of mission types available a lot them started feeling samey after a while.  Like outpost clearing got old well before I cleared all 34.
 
Better Than: Far Cry 2.  A lot of the things I didn’t like about Far Cry 2 (the diamond hunting, the infini-spawn bad guys, the malaria game mechanic) got fixed this time around.  And the protagonist this time had a personality.  I like a guy who can blow up a gun boat and yell “I sunk your battleship” while blaring the “Ride of the Valkyries.”  Also this game injected a healthy sense of humor that the previous title lacked.

Worse Than: There’s not a lot of shooters I can compare to Far Cry 2 and 3 since they have a pretty unique feel to them and there aren’t a lot that are almost entirely non-linear.  So I’ll leave this paragraph pretty much blank.

Overall: A-:  A must play title if you like first person shooters in any form.  Even more so if you want the chance to dive with sharks, look at some of the best video game renderings ever of many animals including manta rays and sea turtles and then set stuff on fire with a flame thrower.
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« Reply #131 on: May 16, 2013, 07:18:53 am »

 Recently Completed:Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, the Steam “Complete” edition that includes all DLC.

System: PC

Time Spent:Just under 20 hours so far though I’ve done none of the multiplayer yet and still have skills and weapons to unlock so I’ll probably be playing it for a while yet.  This solely covers the original U.S.S. and the DLC Echo Six single player campaigns.  The 20 hours does include replaying a few of the missions and dicking around with different loadouts and characters.

The Story: You are back in Raccoon city with a chance to play as the bad guys!  Ever wonder what it would be like to be on Umbrella’s side?  Ever want to shoot that pretty boy Leon Kennedy right in the middle of his stupid haircut/face?  Here’s your chance.

The Disclaimer:  Before I get into the review I want to give a little bit of my own background with the RE: Series.  Way back in the predawn mists of time I didn’t yet have a Playstation.  I did have a Sega Saturn though (yes they really existed) and someone gave me a copy of the first Resident Evil Saturn port for either my birthday or Christmas when it first came out.  This was back when the original PS One version of RE had green blood or some nonsense and the Saturn version was considered awesome because it had red blood.  Long story short I played the shit out of that game.  (And played it even more when the dual shock director’s cut eventually came out on the PS One.) and by the time RE two came out I had a PS One and a brand new shiny copy of Resident Evil 2.  I loved RE:2, in many way I still consider it to be the best in the series and I literally lost count of how many times I played it.  That first foray into Raccoon city is burned indelibly in my mind.  RE: 3 had me back in Raccoon City again facing Jill’s Nemesis and I also played that game into the ground (culminating in an epic session where I beat the entire game in less than two hours without saving and a friend who sat there watching me do it was like, “did that just happen?”  Yes it did and it was awesome.)  I of course went on to play Code Veronica when it came out on the PS2 but the next games in the series that REALLY sank their hooks into me were again set in Raccoon City, the Outbreak Files.  I played those games (especially the first one) obsessively, collecting as much of the minutia as I could and grinding XP to unlock all the characters and character alternates.  The online multiplayer was a BLAST and I really wish Capcom would re-release the Outbreak games for Xbox live or something so they could be experienced again the way they were meant to.  The point I’m getting at is I’ve been a LONG time Resident Evil fan and as far as fictional locations go, I can’t think of one I’ve spent more time in than Raccoon City.  So I was pretty excited when I heard about RE:ORC.  But then I kept hearing pretty negative reviews and held off buying it until it was recently on sale.  I can say right off it was well worth the almost fourteen bucks I spent.  But did it really deserve the harsh reviews it’s received?  Let’s take a look.

The Good:
+ The graphics are serviceable.  Aspects that could have used improvement are character animations for enemy soldiers (they almost always look stiff and unnatural) and the zombies could have used some more model variety and more varied animations.  Some areas appear too shiny, which I wasn’t sure if that was a side effect of the graphics engine or if they were stylistically trying to make it look like it had just finished raining.  Some light sources cause excessive lens flare which normally is a nitpick but in one area it actually impacted your ability to engage the enemy.  But overall it ran smooth, I didn’t see any real graphical glitches and the main characters were animated well.

+ I never have gotten the hang of playing third person shooters with a mouse/keyboard so once again I used my 360 controller.  Controls took a little to get used to but they worked.  Aim seems sort of “floaty” sometimes but a lot of engagements are fast paced at minimal range so it rarely feels like an issue.  I will say I liked the variety of moves available.  Which I’ll touch on in the next section.

+ Weapon variety is good.  It’s probably become fairly apparent from my reviews but I like games that give me a broad choice of weapons.  This game quite literally has it all.  Assault rifles, the classic tommy gun, sniper rifles, SMGs, pistols, suppressed variants of almost all the above, shotguns and LMGs.  You can also get your hands on rocket launchers and grenade launchers throughout various missions.  The flow of combat once you get used to the controls is smooth.  RE:OCR uses a cover system very much like the one in the new Tomb Raider where there is no “locking on”, you just move to cover or away from it.  Aim/fire is pretty standard, the innovations I liked were the “quick draw” and the close quarters combat or “CQC” mechanics.  Normally to switch from your primary to your second weapon or back you tap the weapon swap button.  “Quick draw” allows you to hold the weapon swap button and you instantly draw your sidearm.  Where this differs from normal sidearm use is instead of aiming and pulling the trigger you merely point towards the enemy (in an almost 360 arc around you) and you auto fire at available targets.  It’s hard to describe but it 1, looks cool and 2, can be a fast way to clear a path.  This maneuver is especially handy when you run your primary weapon dry because it is substantially faster than reloading.  I liked the CQC because it offers more variety than simply “mash b to stab with your knife.”   In addition to mashing b you can perform “brutal kills” where you grapple with an enemy then finish them off or grab enemies (including zombies) and use them as shields.  You can also shoulder ram to get past enemies blocking your path or dive for cover.  

+ Gadgets and skills are somewhat related so I’ll cover them both together.  There are three basic gadget types.  First aid sprays, anti virus sprays and grenades (stun, incendiary, fragmentation and flares.)  What class you choose effects how many of each you can carry.  For instance I usually use the recon class which can only carry 1 first aid spray (which heals most damage and can also heal nearby partners) and 1 anti virus spray (which cures infection and has a similar area effect.)  Medics can buff their skills to boost their aid spray capacity and even start with a spray by default.  The six classes are Recon (can turn invisible and mimic enemies among other things) Surveillance (have perks for finding items and enemies) Medic (pretty self explanatory) Field Scientist (carries more anti-virus sprays and has abilities to control zombies and such) Assault class specializes in combat skills boosting accuracy and damage and there is a Demolitions class that can defuse bombs faster, disarm the laser trip mines you’ll encounter and I believe they can carry more grenades though I’m not sure, haven’t used them yet.  In single player you don’t really get the benefit of having multiple classes since the AI is dumb as a post but I can see how good teamwork can greatly improve the chances of survival.  

+ Level design is adequate.  Nothing really fancy, if you’ve spent a lot of time in Raccoon City before you’ll recognize some of the areas which is cool but if you haven’t it’s just a lot of urban hell and some high tech labs infested with bad things.

+  Cameos by “big name” characters.  While I was disappointed none of the characters from the Outbreak games made any kind of appearance you do encounter Jill Valentine, Leon Kennedy, Carlos Olivera, Claire Refield, Sherry Birkin and her dear old dad, and some of the lesser well known but still appreciated characters like HUNK.   Of course the Nemesis rears his ugly stapled head a few times as well.  And you’ll get an even greater appreciation for his ridiculous durability.

+  Mission variety.  While there aren’t enough missions in my opinion they did at least give you a pretty wide variety of things to do during them.  One mission centered on reprogramming the Nemesis tyrant, another is about knocking out the power to Raccoon City.  I enjoyed almost all the missions though I was a little disappointed that a lot of the Spec Ops DLC missions retread most of the same areas as the original game missions.  Though I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised but at least the objectives were different and how/when you traversed areas was also different.

The Bad:
-  Both campaigns are short.  Only seven levels a piece and each level is between thirty to forty-five minutes, I did go over an hour a couple times when I was really scouring for items.  I think a lot of this games replay value is supposed to be in the multi player modes I haven’t touched yet.

-   Enemy variety was sparse.  You have zombies a plenty but even there the zombies are surprisingly non varied, as in a small mob (less then ten zombies) you’re likely to see two or three of each model.  Also the zombies move WAY faster than the standard Raccoon City era zombies did back in the day.  There is another even faster and tougher “Crimson Head” zombie variant which is basically a palette swapped zombie.  Hunters are encountered on occasion, lickers rarely, dogs even more rarely.  You fight a surprising amount of humans (either us special forces or umbrella soldiers depending on what side you’re on) and tyrant variants pop up now and again.  Oh, and head crabs.  Those appear in this game also.  You’ll also encounter some tougher palette swapped versions of hunters and soldiers on rare occasion.  

- The game is officially considered non-canon.  Really the only reason this was done was because while being given the chance to play the bad guys you can execute Leon, Claire and capture Sherry Birkin for Umbrella.  Obviously this would significantly alter the Resident Evil Timeline.  But calling it non canon kind of bugs me because it ultimately makes you feel like what you’re doing has no real impact in the RE world.  Though I will say when choosing not to execute Leon and Claire and vowing to go gut Umbrella from the inside out made me REALLY want to play THAT as a sequel to this game.  So put me down for “fingers crossed for bad ass sequel.”

-  I think I mentioned earlier that the companion AI is dumb as a brick most of the time.  For instance the medic class will hold first aid sprays when I’m on the edge of death and other times is very generous with their healing.  I can’t figure out what triggers their behaviors.  And occasionally the demo class will just spam grenades even when no enemies are around.  That one I thought was kind of cool though, it reminded me of playing on Xbox live with retarded 12 year olds but without the trashtalking and racism.
 
A bit of discussion on the nature of Resident Evil games:  I’ve heard the criticism in regards to ORC that it “isn’t really a Resident Evil game, it’s just a shooter with an RE paint job.”  I’m not really sure how that criticism holds water though.  For me the hallmarks of a Resident Evil game are as follows:  Fixed camera, t (or g) virus zombies, obscure puzzles with cranks and whatnot.  Resident Evil 4 broke away from almost all of those and last time I checked most people consider it a Resident Evil game.  So maybe the secret is add Leon Kennedy?  Well ORC has Leon so it must be a Resident Evil game.

Better Than: This is tough, ORC certainly doesn’t displace any of the classic RE games or 4.  I haven’t played 5 or 6 (well I played a demo for five and that was plenty for me.) So I guess it’s better than 5?

Worse Than: Resident Evil Outbreak.  Outbreak melded the “classic” Resident Evil with multiplayer in a way that still hasn’t been equaled and even the “offline” Outbreak was better because you had some level of control over your AI companions through the rudimentary order system.

Overall: B:  While this game is certainly not perfect it really was nice to be back in Raccoon City again.   And the game has intense nail biting moments, like luring the Nemesis between steel smelters while my entire team lay dead and I couldn’t even move because the zombies were packed in that tight around me. And I triumphed bitches, because I’ve been fighting zombies in Raccoon City for that long.  Hopefully for even longer if they release a sequel…
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« Reply #132 on: May 22, 2013, 10:44:38 pm »

Recently(-ish) Completed: Dungeons of Dredmor + All DLC at the time (Realm of the Diggle Gods, Conquest of the Wizardlands, You Need to Name the Expansion Pack) + A crapton of Mods

System: Steam

Time Spent: Nearly half my total Steam time for all my games; 144 hours.

The Story: Dredmor is on the rise and someone needs to stop him before the world is screwed. You, are that someone.

Wins on Permadeath:
Dwarfish Moderation
Radiant Wizard (Mod)
Ley Walker
Wild Magic (Mod)
Magic Training
Mana Pool Mastery (Mod)
Mathemancy
Alchemy

Elvish Easy
Crossbow Specialization
Perception
Burglary
Alchemy
Wand Crafting
Tinkering
Rogue Scientist

The Good:
+ First off, the mods. The vanilla game and expansion packs are awesome and all that but the mods really help expand the game. From skillsets that cater to warriors, wizards, sneak thieves, hybrids, tanks, packwhores and what have you to dungeon expansions, more rooms, items, the ability to breakdown obsolete weapons into ingots and a few others. Hell, on my first win I used three mods and two of them were mods that cater to the wizard class and that I always use when I go wizard. Always.
Seriously, every single time. Radiant Wizard and Wild Magic (Found in the Complete Essentials Mod pack) are two of the most amazing skill sets in Dredmor period.

+ The skill sets in the vanilla game and expansion packs are nothing to slouch over. Ranging from the classic weapon specialization to Pyromancy, Necroeconomics and other magic-oriented skills to Communism, Tourist, Bankster and Clockwork Knight. And crafting skills, which are more than just making booze and other crap. You get variety to make more than pure rogue, warrior or wizard builds, even more than hybrids and GISH (Something, magic fueling melee). And some pretty rad synergy, for obvious combos and the unlikely ones.

+ Need to give a shoutout to my boy Burglary! Second level of Infinite Lockpicks changed my life for Dredmor. Use it for every character.

+ The ability to choose your difficulty (Seriously affects XP gains), if you want RotDG's 15 floors or the vanilla game's 10 and Permadeath. The extra 5 levels do make a bit o' difference.

+/- Monster Zoos on nearly every single floor past the first. I anticipated the slaughter that was to come when I opened a door only for it to take more than 6 seconds to load and the music that plays before it says Monster Zoo. People might not like the constant threat of one every floor but I absolutely relished the chance to unleash bloody hell and slaughter a room full of monsters.

+ Wizard Keys, with some random letters scrawled on the walls in rainbow, you can get a mini dungeon if you type them in the console through the portal. A wrong set of a non-existent code nets you Diggle Hell, excellent late-game content for the ball-shattering difficulty that is Vlad Diggula. A nice little bit it is. And Wizard Keys also act as a mini storage shed once you enter it. Store all your craftables and sweet loot without clogging up your inventory!

+ Some good enemy variety, in particular the Diggles. Palette swaps are apparent but they're always around.

+ Humorous writing and it's pretty funny, let alone all the shout outs.

+ The graphics are pretty charming but the real seller is the eyebrows on the main.

+/- RotDG levels mostly have Solar Axes, packed with pimped out damage and sometimes 7 different damage types. It's good for Axe users, godly for dual-wielding axe users and sometimes those who don't specialize in any weapon but needs more variety. Sometimes mages are better off using orbs or shields instead of a weapon.

+ Drink booze to fuel magic. Grog, Pan-Am Gargle Blaster (You know the one), some wines and absinthe with a few others.

+ Gotta mention the crafting here for the sake of encrusting. Crusting up your gear grants it various buffs, over-encrusting leads to some side effects, varying in degrees of screwing you over. It's a nice touch to prevent something from getting overpowered.

+/- You can find recipes as you go but you're subject to the RNG and usefulness depends on what crafting skill(s) you take.

+/- Crafting and RNG again; subject to whatever crap you find and you might never have enough ingredients to crustify that sweet hat.

+/- Brax (Shopkeeper), his stock varies wildly and usefulness varies wildly in turn.

+ Nice music and there are a few tracks I just adore.

+ The game's got legs: Sheer variety in skill sets, randomness, difficulty, Steam Achievements (Love 'em for this one) and the mods are truly something else.

+ Low system requirements, and I mean low. If your computer has a graphics card and a monitor, there's a good chance you can play it.

+ Cheap too, and I mean crazy cheap. You should buy it immediately, or when it's on sale for a few bones.

The Bad:
- Dredmor himself, balls tough and nothing like what you fought in the 9 floors past. Monster Zoos? Peanuts to him. His power is unbelievable and can easily kick the everloving crap out of you, god forbid that you get into melee with him.

- Portals in the normal dungeon, most likely from the Conquest of the Wizardlands expansion pack. Not to be mistaken for the one accessed by the Wizard Keys. Some are glitchy and even found some inescapable that killed my game.

- For me, game takes a minute to load and three minutes to load up a save file 5+ floors in. Then again, I'm under the minimum requirements of 1 GB of RAM.

- Steam Cloud. Screws up your saves, sometimes your high scores and corrupts the shit out of your characters. Disable it when you install the game.

Overall: A: I LOVED this game. Absolutely adored it. It's an amazing roguelike and perfect for casual and hardcore gamers. The mod community improve an already great product and the game itself is real solid. It's cheap and easily worth the few bucks it goes for on Steam.
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« Reply #133 on: June 06, 2013, 12:22:04 pm »

Recently Completed:Call of Juarez: Gunslinger

System: PC

Time Spent:Just over 20 hours which includes replaying the main campaign three times (once per difficulty)

The Story: You are a gunslinger!  That’s pretty much it though I’ll go more into it later because the storytelling itself is one of the better parts of the game.

The Good:
+ I’ll break the graphics into two sections.  Cut Scenes and Game Play.  The Cut scenes use a comic book like set of static images that are zoomed in on or panned over while the character dialog or voiceovers go on.  It’s very minimalistic but because it was distributed as an arcade type download game I understand the choice to implement them this way and it works.  The in game graphics are decent, there’s a slightly stylistic type of design and color going on that reminded me in some ways of Borderlands, especially when characters are introduced.  Character animations are solid but enemy designs are kind of samey so get used to seeing the batches of hombres throughout the game.

+ The story and story telling?  It’s a basic revenge story and the “twist” at the end I saw coming well before the halfway point of the game but that’s not really why I liked the story.  I like when games are innovative and this one made great efforts to be different.  The game you’re playing is the story of his past being told by an old Gunslinger in a bar so as you play you hear him not only providing voiceover narration but also the conversation he’s having with the other people in the bar.  These comments and questions can actually lead to the level changing while you play it as the narrator (Silas Greaves) remembers additional details or corrects wrong assumptions about what’s going on.  Sometimes the game slows down or stops entirely during these instances which can sometimes be a little annoying  but the overall effect is incredibly dynamic.  For instance after an ambush where you seem trapped and doomed he’ll describe noticing a way out he hadn’t noticed before and… suddenly a way out appears.  I have to give them major credit for trying something very different, this imaginative presentation elevates what could easily have been a very bland shooter into something that it is much more entertaining.  There is a good mixture of humor and drama and while I want to keep this spoiler free I will say both endings are reasonably satisfying.   (I preferred one more than the other though.)

+ I’ve said more than once in my reviews that I like weapon variety, so I’m on the fence whether this belongs in the good or bad category.  Overall I suppose it edges over just enough into the positive though.  So to cut to the chase… the weapon choice is limited.  There’s three pistol types, (four if you include the sawed off shotgun), a full sized shotgun and two rifles, and additionally you can unlock improved variants of most of these weapons with the skill unlock system (more on that later) plus you can chuck dynamite.  As far as weapon choices go it’s not super diverse but that being said they really did make the most of the limited choices.  The pistols run the range from the slow rate of fire but powerful Ranger style to the ultra fast but light damage Quickshooter with a more middle of the road option splitting the difference.  Whether or not you choose to dual wield also helps you balance out your pistol choice.  (Sadly you cannot wield two different pistol styles at once.)  And the ability to go from dual to single wielding on the fly is also nice.  The choices are adequate for finding a style that suits you but once you find that sweet spot you’re not very likely to change it up.  The opportunity to use mounted gatling guns once in a while is a plus and there are also some interactive/environmental type attacks you can occasionally use.

+ The RPG style skill system.  This was another innovation that really helped the game step above the very bare bones basic shooter it could have been.  There are three general skill sets (long range, close combat and whichever had the dual wielding perk) with 12 skills to unlock in each one.  These perks do things like increase your ammo capacity, speed up your reload speed and unlock the better variants of the various guns.  Scattered through these are also the perks that will improve your bullet time ability which is where you start becoming god like in power.  The bullet time start out pretty basic, you have a couple seconds where everything else moves in slow motion, then you start adding perks to it like, the gauge fills faster, lasts longer, boosts to your XP multiplier, instantly reloads your gun for you and so on.  Eventually you can wipe out insanely large amounts of people and feel like an untouchable badass.  Oh, you also have the ability to dodge killing shots (once for every thirty seconds or so) and that is also insanely useful. 

+ They brought back the dueling mechanic from the previous Bound in Blood which I greatly enjoyed.  The boss battles that either lead up to or take the place of the duels are challenging and with one exception not stupid frustrating.  They also tossed in a couple duels against multiple opponents which was a nice change up to the formula.   

 The Bad:
-  The game is super short.  This isn’t terrible, it’s a size where plowing through it a few times in a weekend isn’t a horrendous task and it’s not priced like a full sized game so I won’t say you aren’t getting your money’s worth.  And unlike some games I’ve played that I could beat in six or seven hours it felt like it ended when it was supposed to instead of feeling like they forget to finish it.  So despite the fact I put this in the negative column it could have been much worse.

-   Related to the game length there are some alternate game modes to pad out the game a bit.  One is arcade mode which is basically like a score attack challenge.  I found it sort of tedious, it’s just trying to keep your combo multiplier as high as possible.  The other game padder was duel mode where you have a limited amount of lives to defeat fifteen different fast draw scenarios.  Taken out of the context of the game, especially when trying to get the achievement for winning all fifteen duels “honorably” (letting them draw first then outdrawing them), sucked the fun out of it for me.  But I concede that mileage may vary for these.

-   Possible tiny spoiler… Late in the game there is a battle in a foggy ghost town.  The ambience is spectacular.  So is the frustration when you’re fighting mostly see-through enemies that blend in to the fog. 

Better Than: Call of Juarez: the Cartel, though that wasn’t difficult, that game was uber bad.

Worse Than:Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood.  The only reason I really ranked BiB over Gunslinger is because it had a much longer campaign and there was significant replay value due to being able to play many levels as either brother which may not be entirely fair to Gunslinger.

Overall: B+:  This is a well made and an enjoyable old west themed shooter and I recommend it for fans of either old west themed games or shooter fans.  It certainly gave me hope for the future of the CoJ franchise that was badly shaken by the Cartel.
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« Reply #134 on: June 21, 2013, 03:39:01 am »

Recently Completed: The Last Of Us

System: PS3

Time Spent: About 14 hours

The Story:

The world is set in a post pandemic future. A spore based disease has swept the world, the spore invades your body and begins growing mushroom-like organisms that take over your body and drive you insane. You assume the role of Joel, a smuggler, and you're tasked with taking a young girl named Ellie to a faction known as the Fireflies.

The Good:

+The game looks stunning, the city ruins being reclaimed by nature are amazing to look at, and every chapter brings a gorgeous new area to explore

+Very well written. The story is fairly engaging, and the characters are dynamic and enjoyable.

+I personally couldn't get into the multiplayer, but what I did play of it seemed fairly well done, and unique from most other games out there, I've been hearing lots of positive things about it from those that do play it.

+Like any Naughty Dog game, this one has plenty of secrets hidden in its nooks and crannies, encouraging you to explore each level.

+I like the save system. Lets say you're trying to sneak by some enemies and you mess up, so you decide to go to last check point, the thing is a lot of games might set you back a fair way, but in The Last Of Us, every "Encounter" you engage in gives you a checkpoint just before the encounter.

The Bad:

-Repetitive. The encounters with enemies aren't particularly interesting. You're either sneaking past zombies, or shooting through them. When you're not in an encounter you're going to be walking from the set piece you just finished to the next, and during that walking you might get to do exciting stuff, like carry a plank of wood to cross! Or carry Ellie across a wood plank over some water!

-Encounters with enemies weren't particularly exciting. You only really face three enemies throughout the game, each of which are pretty stock standard and predictable. Runners and Bandits behave much the same way, except one has a gun. Clickers are absurdly easy to sneak past.

-Dumb AI.

-The game encourages early on to play it sneaky to conserve ammo and resources, but there were a few instances where I was forced into combat, or had no choice but to go from sneak to guns blazing because the dumb AI of the enemies prevented me from being able to sneak past (i.e. crowding a path I need to go through, not moving, etc.). If a game gives me the freedom to play the way I want, it shouldn't take that away from me.

-Immersion breaking stuff... The clickers are supposed to see with sound, but considering I can creep past right in front of them it kinda kills some of the immersion. And then the other characters break into full jogs and runs making noise all over the place doesn't alert the enemy...

Overall: B. While I don't think it's perfect like many reviews say, I'd still say its a pretty solid experience throughout, despite its flaws. Most of the flaws are fairly self contained experiences, but the repetitiveness did deter me from wanting to replay the game.
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