Monday, April 14, 2014

2014 Play Log - April 12 to April 18

4/12 - Titanfall Image Finally got back to Titanfall tonight. First, I decided to give the gamepad controls a try and found them easier to deal with. True, it's harder to aim precisely, but it looks like there is a subtle lock-on and I'd rather have easier to navigate button prompts than key designations. After doing the tutorial again, I jumped into a live campaign - and, no big surprise, got killed a lot. Match-making in the game is questionable considering it put me (a level 1, obviously) in a game with up to level 40's! I was getting killed in one-shot with jump-kicks. Not fun. It's pretty easy to figure out who are the bot's and who are the real players - the real players are the ones double-jumping around like monkeys. They recently added a beta for single-player games and I think I'll try those next time. It's an interesting on-foot/mech  FPS game and I don't (totally) regret getting it, but I'm just too inexperienced with the standard "run around like a jackass making quick kills" to get much out of the multi-player environment. At least for now.

4/13 - Monument Valley Image I only had a little time to play tonight, so I decided to play a bit of Monument Valley on my iPad Mini. This was a little $4 puzzle game with an amazing art style - sort of like The Room (in that you manipulate the objects of the puzzle) with a dash of M.C. Escher perspective bending drawings. Games like this make me happy to own an Apple device, something I never thought I'd say.

4/14 -  No gaming tonight because of a total lunar eclipse. These things are rare enough on their own, but living in San Diego, it's particularly rare for them to occur on a night when the sky isn't cloudy. Lacking a telescope or decent binoculars, I decided to try taking pictures of the moon with my Fujifilm digital SLR. Out of 50 or 60 frames I took, two were decent - and I'm REALLY happy with that ratio! Considering I was shooting at the extreme telephoto range (40X) with no tripod, and don't really know much about custom settings on the camera, I had no reasonable chance to get anything more than blurs trying to take pictures of an object 239,000 miles away! So, here are links (or will be when I upload them to Imgur) to my two best images. Blood Moon and Blood Moon with Star. An event like this always makes me wonder how a primitive culture would have reacted. To have something as reliable and unalterable by mortals as the moon appear to be eaten or maybe burnt away with no concept of astronomy must have caused many to think the end of the world was upon them. Personally, I thought the coolest moment was when the moon was totally eclipsed and there was just this grey orb floating in a sea of stars.

4/15 -  I just got this gifted to me by my good friend, Plum (Twitter: @UndeadPlum), and wanted to play it as soon as I could. It's an interesting blend of old school point-and-click adventure games with the sudden (and gruesome) deaths of Limbo. I only got about 20 minutes to play it last night, as I was feeling the afterburn of being up til 1:30am the night before (darn lunar eclipse). Interestingly, I'm enjoying it more than I was Broken Age, proving that a game doesn't have to have a huge budget and an industry luminary behind it to be fun.

4/16 - Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning Image So, Raven, how do you like your new house? (Honestly, it looked like a dump when I first got it, but then I spent some gold on it and it's really great now!) Big enough for you? (Are you kidding?!?! This place is huge! All kinds of crafting tables, a central fireplace, a bar, even a guest room with two extra beds. And I even have a giant stone gnome in my living room. Sounds creepier than it is. He's cute.) Well, I'm glad you got a new place. That other one was quite a distance from where you're exploring these days. (Tell me about it! I'd rather walk than teleport any day - always makes me nauseous - but I'd run out of shoes if I didn't.)

4/17 - Wasn't in the mood to game.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

2014 Play Log - April 5 to April 11

4/5 & 4/6 - Final Fantasy XIV Online: A Realm Reborn Image Since Square-Enix was running a beta test weekend for Final Fantasy XIV on the PS4, I decided to give it a try for my weekend gaming. Many, many moons ago, I played FFXI with my wife and brother for nearly two years, so there's a lot of history there (that I will cover in a separate blog in the future). I've heard some pretty good things about this newly  engineered version of XIV and wanted to see how it differed from XI. Also, would it be worth $15 a month? (I remember when I first saw a trailer for FFXIV, I didn't know that it was an MMO. When I saw on the closing screen that it was "online", I had tears of joy in my eyes. They had taken a game that had become almost a second home to me for 2 years and made it shine like never before!) Now, I'll admit I only had a chance to play 3 or 4 hours worth and that included the necessary time to load the game and get back into my old Square-Enix account. My goal was to get through the opening tutorials and have at least one or two fights against low level creatures outside the starting town. And I was able to do just that, but a lot has changed from 11 to 14! The graphics for the port town I started in looked like something out of a 3DMark benchmark video test - they just sparkled! The character creation took me nearly 1/2 hour alone and had enough customizing options to make the ones in Skyrim look like you were building a Lego figure. So far, great! When I actually started playing the game, that's when I began to have mixed feelings. Firstly, I had two instances where the writing just seemed anticlimactic - a pirate attack was brushed off and what could have been a visually impressive transition (a lift ride to another level) was just a fade-out/fade-in affair. Ok, not big deals, but still not impressive either. Second, one of the major changes from XI is that quests are handled in XIV much like they are in WoW (ie, marks over NPC's heads, goals on maps, etc.) While it was sometimes incredibly frustrating how XI made you search out quests, it gave the game it's own unique (and hardcore) flavor. Now, it's no different than any other RPG or MMO. Missions will be very quick to get through, I suspect, and there will be little need for consulting website forums or fellow adventurers. And thirdly, when I did finally get outside to kill some "Lost Lambs" (so a restaurant would be able to serve the meat), all the creatures had their level numbers next to their names above their heads - I guess so you know what things to attack and what not too. Also, combat is automated to a degree. You pick a target, engage and then your character will auto-attack while you add in special attacks during the fight. (Honestly, I'm trying to remember exactly how combat worked in FFXI, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't auto-combat.) Add to this that all NPC conversations are non-voiced and, at least on the server I was running on, nobody was talking in chat (but that could have been because no one had a keyboard on their PS4). It's also a little annoying that they basically used the same races, but gave them different names (you still have, more or less, Galka's, Mithra's, Humes, Elvaans, and the Tarutaru). Why not just call them the same thing and have some consistency with FFXI? They still have other races like Moogles and Goblins that look the same. Anyway, is it worth $15 a month? In today's gaming landscape, I'm going to say no. If it were $5 a month or F2P with micro-transactions, yeah, I'd play it, but with the time I have to put into games (which isn't much), it's just not worth it.

4/7 - More of a movie night than a game night, so nothing to report. At least I got some extra sleep.

4/8 -  I'm going to make this a quick one because I didn't play any games. Instead, I got something I really needed, cat therapy. Olivia (that's her name) knew I was out of sorts and did her best to make me feel better. And it worked. One of my favorite TheOatmeal comics (HERE) teaches us not to ignore the real world for the cyber one.

4/9 - Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning Image In the interests of brevity, content, and because nothing particularly exciting happened, I'm leaving Raven out of the notes today. I ventured into a new area that looks like New Mexico (or what pictures of New Mexico look like) and...did more quests, killed more creatures, got more stuff. But that's what this game is for, so I'm not complaining. It was a little disappointing that some of the same creatures I had been fighting in the wooded areas were now in the desert sections too, but there were a few new additions - including some zombie-like sword swingers who must just come up out of the ground. Whenever you start a new area, there's always this fear that some new thing you run up against is going to be way more powerful than you can handle. Makes it harder to relax and enjoy the game. Having just played FFXIV, I was able to compare the two games. Mission-wise there wasn't much difference except in KoA the quest givers talk to you which I like. Combat is also better in Amalur - it can be very satisfying to fight several enemies at once and come out unscathed by blocking, directing attacks, and casting spells. It doesn't always go that way, but damage is easy enough to handle with health potions. I do wish that I gained experience a little faster - I started and finished the night at 16th level.

4/10 - Final Fantasy VII Image Playing FFXIV the other day got me very nostalgic for other FF games and I decided to go VERY retro tonight - as in my original Playstation Greatest Hits copy of Final Fantasy VII. (OK, I did at least play it on the PS3 with upscaling and smoothing.) This game is so old, it uses the Japanese designations for the O and X buttons ("Ok" or "Yes", and "No" or "Cancel" respectively). It also doesn't use the thumbsticks because the original Playstation controller didn't have them. I had played a little of it many years ago, but remembered nothing about it. I had completely forgotten that you start the game as a terrorist! (I'm guessing you are the good kind of terrorist. Just haven't gotten to that part yet.) Even though the game is incredibly dated (the 3-dimensional figures didn't even have mouths), I was instantly caught up in the story and the action. I'm looking forward to playing more...but I think I'm going to switch to the updated version I downloaded off of Steam.

4/11 - Dead Nation: Apocalypse Edition Image My wrist was acting up a little tonight, so I figured that whatever I played it would have to be controller based. I chose Dead Nation AE on the PS4 since it's some nice, light arcade action. I played it a little when it was released, but not seriously. In some ways it reminds me of the old Robotron game (ie, twin-stick shooter) even if you do need to press a button to fire. Definitely an enjoyable game, and one of the PS+'s better freebies.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

2014 Play Log - March 29 to April 4

Well, it was bound to happen - a week came up that crossed months. Sort of odd it took so long. Anyway, that's why the title has changed.

3/29 -  (And that changed too - date and pic of game played.) Before I got too rusty, I decided to get back into inFAMOUS (as I guess it's actually spelled). I'd do a lot better at this game if the Reapers were worse shots. I had to restart a number of times when I got more than a couple of them shooting at me at once. Also, their guns have a longer range than my lightning bolts so I had to eat lead a few times to get within shocking distance. I was able to complete a mission and earn some xp's - making progress. I also started to try to go vertical and climb some buildings - something that you have to force yourself to think about. We get so used to games like GTA and other open world games where a building is just as unscaleable as it is in the real world, that you forget what you can do in the game.

3/30 -  Since I got off to a late start (I blame The Walking Dead season finale), I didn't think I'd get any game time in, but I did play some more of Broken Age. Do I like it better after another hour? Not really. If there's an interesting story here, it's hiding behind (I'm just going to say it) an outdated game design with too little interaction. Before I completely throw in the towel on this one, I'm going to play some of the girl's storyline even though I already know something about it - she's been picked to be sacrificed to some kind of monster and decides to fight back. Maybe if I switch back and forth between the two parts I can stay with it long enough to finish. Looks like it only takes 3 or 4 hours.

3/31 -  And that's a wrap for inFAMOUS. No, I didn't finish it, but after playing some more I feel like I have a good feel for the game. This is one of those "new IP games" (when it came out) that is technically very good, but one where the majority of the design went into creating a new game mechanic - in this case, having "super powers" in an open world, 3rd person action setting. It's an entertaining experience, but there's a lack of diversity to the missions - I found myself in the sewers, jumping around platforms, twice within the first half dozen. The game can also be punishing unless you figure out just the right vantage point to attack from. Attacking an adjacent rooftop from one building can get you killed, but on the one next to it, you can pick off Reapers with ease. Same went for a boss battle in the sewer where I had to jump forward, then back to keep from being knocked off the platform and killed. Anyway, I liked the game overall and can appreciate its originality, but I think I'll save my gametime for something else.

4/1 - Mercenary Kings ImageTitanfall Image I started out the evening installing Titanfall - not a fast process! I bought the PC retail version because I'd heard it was a nearly 50gb install due to the audio files being uncompressed. It's been a very long time since I've installed a PC game from disc (this was on 3 DVD's, by the way) and brought back some old memories - install directories, CD keys, etc. While the game lumbered on, I decided to try my new "free" PS4 PS+ game, Mercenary Kings. (You know what's cool? Being able to kick-off a remote install of a game to your home console from a webpage at work!) It's a cross between Metal Slug gameplay and Don't Starve's crafting system. It's also not an easy game. I tried the first real mission and failed, mostly due to respawning enemies and a countdown timer. However, you get to keep any resources you collect (to build upgrades), so you could look at it as "grinding", I suppose. I'll have to give it another try later. Even though it had gotten a late, I still had to boot up Titanfall and try it out. It starts you in a "simulator" where you learn all the various moves and options in the game (ie, a tutorial). There's a lot to learn and I may run through it again before I dive into a real match. I'm also trying to decide if I should give it a shot on the gamepad. The downside is precise aiming, but there are some aiming aides in place for that, like an autotargeting pistol. The upside is that some of the commands should be mapped to buttons and not keys spread all over the keyboard.

4/2 - Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning Image Hi Raven! Sorry I was late tonight. Didn't know Xbox Live was going to have a 15 minute update. Not even sure what it was for. They just say, "You need to update" blah, blah, blah. Know what I mean? Raven? (Oh! What? Yeah, no problem.) Uh, are you ok? (Sure! Fine. Why?) Well, you're clutching those chakrams pretty tightly. (Really? Just making sure the grips are secure.) And you seem to be hiding behind some crates. (Not hiding. Resting. Yeah, just resting.) You want to tell me what was going on tonight? Just start at the beginning. (Yeah, good idea...Well, after I knocked out a nasty thresh, I went to visit the Fae in the Gardens of Ysa. It was so beautiful! Colorful flowers, tall trees, ornate carvings, buildings that seemed to glow from the inside like they were alive themselves.  I even saw some little creatures in the branches. Sort of like a cross between an owl and a cat. I wished I could have reached one.) Sounds awesome. (I've never seen anything so enchanting! I just wanted to live there for the rest of my life.) But didn't you have some business there? (Yeah, an audience with the High King himself, no less! He read that codex I brought and got all soothsayer on it. They really have issues with my ability to change fate. I guess they can't wrap their heads around what I'm doing to their world, but if I don't change things, they will be doomed anyway.) Did you offer to help the Fae? (Oh, of course. You know, the whole "be a hero" bit.) I'm proud of you. Then? (Then I looked around the Gardens for a bit and took on a couple jobs. Nothing major. Helped a squire figure out how to line up some dignitaries so they'd be happy when they met the High King. I also did a job for the local tavern owner to get him some rare seeds to make a special ale. No fighting though. Not in such a lovely peaceful....) Raven? Anything else? (No...Well, maybe.) Go on. (I was looking at my map and there was this place just down the road from the tavern. It was getting late and I thought maybe I'd just turn in, but I was so close and the name. The D...Den...Den...) The Den of Night? (WHA?!?) Sorry, sorry. Didn't mean to startle you. (No, no, it's ok. Just, uh, sat on a rock there. Yeah, The D-Den of N-N-N-Night, that was it.) Interesting name. (Yeah, I thought it was like a, I don't know, a quiet place to rest or pray, or maybe a dance club?) Uh, dance club? (Hey, they have to have some fun around here, right?) Yeah, I guess so. And you...went inside? (Well, sure. I mean, there wasn't anything to stop me and the Gardens of Ysa are so peaceful and calm and safe. What could possibly be dangerous in a place like this?) But, not so safe? (HELL NO! I take two steps in there and the freaking tunnel is full of monsters! I start to do my warrior thing and they're like, "Meh. That's nothing, bitch!" So I turn around, but I'm all mixed up! Forward is back, back is forward! I'm getting pummeled! My health  is dropping like a rock down a well! My life is flashing before my eyes and all I can think is, "Don't die here! Don't die here! I'm not ready to go back yet!" Then I finally get my bearings, find the way out...and...and I'm back in sweet, serene Ysa. Nothing trying to kill me. Trees, streams, flowers. And here's the good part. There's this Fae standing by the entrance to Don't remember seeing him when I went in. And he says, "This is no place for you, dustling. Our criminals are put deep inside this den and can only fight their way out when they've redeemed themselves." So it's a prison! A maximum security prison guarded by monsters right on the edge of paradise! What the hell were they thinking?! Huh?!?!) Ok, Raven, breathe. Breathe. (Yeah, yeah, I'm fine now. Whew!) Well, everything's all right now. You're out, safe, got your health back. (Right. You bet! Kick-ass warrior again!) That's the spirit! So, ready to jump back into the fray tomorrow? (Uummm....ya know? I think I'll stay here behind these crates just a little bit longer, if you don't mind. I mean, you have Titanfall now you probably want to play. I'll see ya next week! Maybe.)

4/3 - Ugh. Too many late nights and a bad night for my (formerly) favorite gaming drink.My advanced(ish) age has conspired to add Lactose Intolerance to my medical file making me watch how much real milk I have every day. As I enjoyed a full strength Grande Latte in the morning (so good!) I knew it meant I had to avoid this in the evening. (Oh, and to anyone suggesting I try a Latte with Soy Milk, I'd like to say, that a) I've tried it, and b) PFFFFFTTT!) With a nice combination of sugar and caffeine, I got a nice little boost out of a cup of Mocha before gaming. I'm now on the hunt for a lactose-free alternative. So, I turned in a little early and got some extra sleep.

4/4 - One of these nights where it got late in a hurry. I did manage to get Final Fantasy XIV installed on the PS4 (along with trying to get back into my Square Enix account from bygone days). This is going to bring back memories. I think I'll have to write a FFXI specific post before too long - so much history there. My actual gaming consisted of getting into The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds Image I'm only right at the beginning but part of me misses the old SNES version already. A Link to the Past holds a special place in my memories since it was the only Zelda game I ever finished (although I got very close with Ocarina of Time on the N64). I'm getting used to the art style they used for ALBW, but slowly.

Monday, March 24, 2014

March 2014 Play Log - Day 22 to 28

22 & 23 - After several late nights (ie, early mornings) of Battlefield 4, I decided to invest in some serious rest to keep me from getting sick and/or too sleepy to function. And while I haven't been playing any games, I was able to get my new computer setup. Now I'm just trying to figure out how to reload my save games from The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us. Oh, why didn't they use Cloud Saves???

24 & 25 - Decided to jump back into Ghostbusters since I'm probably close to the end of this one. However, I'm running into some game obstacles that aren't very well explained. I'm not sure if they didn't playtest the end of the game as much or if some stuff just seemed obvious to the people designing the game, but I had to look up two things on FAQ's so far (how to open the front gates, for example). Now I'm trapped in a battle with these flying stone angels and if I can't get past them tonight, it may be a premature Game Over for Ghostbusters.

26 - "We came! We saw! We kicked its ass!" (Ok, substitute "I" for "we" and that about sums it up.) Yup, I finished Ghostbusters last night! The part that I had so much trouble with last night (the flying stone angels) wasn't a problem even though I beat it using a technique that the person writing the FAQ I read thought was the harder way to go. The rest of the game wasn't bad at all, even the final bosses. Just to be on the safe side, I bought all the upgrades before going into battle - which left me with about $80,000+ left over. Not sure what you were supposed to do with all that money, but it was nice to get achievements just for buying upgrades! Overall, I really enjoyed Ghostbusters. The mechanic for capturing ghosts was not only unique but felt very true to the original movie. Also, they did an excellent job of bring the actor's characters to life in the game. The whole game held together very well - there wasn't any level that felt overly long or unnecessary. I'd like to think that Harold Ramis was happy with how it all came together.

So, my Harold Ramis Memorial Ghostbusters Playthough is done. Since I finished relatively early, I decided to pop over and see how Raven was doing in Kingdoms of Amalur. (Zzzzzz...) Raven. Raven ,wake up, time to go adventuring! (Zzz...huh?...Who are...Oh, it's you.) Miss me? (Like troll spit in my boots. What do you want?) Well, I have some time before bed and I thought we could go out for awhile. (Oh, really? You leave me in this stinking little four-hut town for a month, then figure you can just waltz in here and drag my ass around for what, an hour?) Well, I do have work in the morning. (And didn't you have "work" the next day when you stayed up til 1am playing Battlefield 4? You've never stayed up that late with me!) I haven't? Anyway, that was just so I could finish the campaign before I had to return it. (Humph. Fine. Let me get dressed. Turn around.) So, I thought we could  drop off some of your extra items, get your equipment fixed, then look at your quests. You know, get a feel for your world again. (Yeah, that would be nice. This place is so dull. Everyone is either standing or sitting somewhere during the day, or lying on a cot at night. Nothing ever changes, nothing ever...AAHH!! WHAT THE HELL?? Why did I just shoot my fire arrow into the bookcase?) Oops, that was me. Sorry. That button was for the PKE meter in my other game. Used it a lot. (Marvelous. Well, take a few minutes and get used to what does what again, ok? I don't want to end up a corpse - again - because you don't remember my primary attack button. Oh, oh, oh...and watch it with the Sneak button! That crouch stretches muscles I forgot I had.) Alright, got it. Ready? (Yeah, let's do this. Be good to get out of here for a change.) You know, I was thinking that we should setup something more regular. How does Wednesday night work for you? (You mean like a "date night"?) I guess you could call it that. (Well, I'll have to check my busy social calendar, but I think I can fit you in between my afternoon nap and my evening jog around the basement.) Cool. I'll bring flowers. (You better.)

27 - Tonight I was able to get through the second episode of season two of The Walking Dead. When this came out, I was still "stuck" using my laptop and I didn't want to play it on a small screen. I also wanted to make sure that my saves would carry over. When I started playing on Grimm, my new computer, I copied over the files, but at first it looked like it didn't read the save correctly. The feeling that I would have to play that first episode over again was more than I could take. It's not that it was that bad or uncomfortable, but it's like having to re-watch the first part of something again because you can't fast forward over it. Fortunately, I was able to select a different save file and it had all my old progress. So, I did the second episode in one sitting. It's not so much like playing a normal game as it is directing the course (to a minor degree) of a graphic novel you're reading. You know that you're going to end up in the same ending as everyone else, it's just how you get there and how you make Clementine respond that makes it feel unique. When there are new story points and they relate back to things you've done, it gives the whole experience a feeling of a continuing narrative. I have to say that of the people who got killed, none of them were ones I really cared about. (That's not a spoiler - people die in every Walking Dead comic/game/TV show!)

28 - Took a look at a couple of survival games tonight - NEO Scavenger and Project Zomboid. NEO was just too old school for my current tastes - maybe it would be better on a tablet. Zomboid was a little too bare bones for a survival/zombie game that I'd like to sink a lot of time into. True, it was only a demo, but it didn't make me want to buy the full version. I decided to finish up by starting Broken Age, a game that it seemed everyone was talking about just a month or so ago. I'm not sure how much I'm going to stick with it though. It's an old fashioned point-and-click adventure with a graphics engine more fitting today's computers. Yeah, it's "charming", but I've gotten so used to games that let me control a character that only being able to click on fairly static screens feels so limiting. Even The Walking Dead gives me opportunities to "explore" my environment WASD-style. Also, the environments don't feel like they have enough content to interact with - something I miss from the old days.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

March 2014 Play Log - Day 15 to 21

15 - With all the hype (or at least all the talk on the podcasts) about InFamous Second Son coming out on Friday, I thought I should really give the original InFamous a try. This is one of those major titles that I never tried or even knew much about beyond "you're a guy with super-powers". What I played of it (basically the first few missions) was very interesting. You can't really call it a "3rd person shooter" because you're doing more than just firing a gun. Your character, Cole, is more like a wizard firing magic missiles or something. Add to that the ability to jump, suck energy from power sources to heal, and climb along ledges, and you get a unique experience that I wish I had tried sooner. It's telling, I think, that I'd rather play more of InFamous on the PS3, than do anymore on Thief on the newer PS4. There's still so much to enjoy from the "last generation".

16 - This was more of an experimentation night than a gaming night. Since I've had a PS4 and a Vita, I've been curious to see how Remote Play works. Back in the day, I tried connecting my PSP up to the PS3 and while it "worked" it wasn't anything I'd want to really use - mostly because the PSP screen is, to me anyway, very dark and hard to see. I've heard some of my podcasters talk about using their Vita's to play games from their PS4 over the Internet while on trips, and I was frankly skeptical that it would even work well in my own house. It only took a couple of minutes to link the PS4 and Vita and as soon as I did, the Vita mirrored what was on the PS4's TV output exactly. And since the Vita's screen is so much better than the PSP's, it looked great. As a test, I booted up Resogun. I wasn't too sure a) how well a fast game like this would handle wireless connectivity, and b) how well I'd be able to see things like the little human figures. The results of both surprised me - it was fantastic! Before long, it didn't even register with me that I was playing on the handheld system. Admittedly, the mini-thumbsticks kept snapping me back to the realization that I was the Vita, but they weren't bad at all. I do need to do some research on figuring out where the L2/R2 buttons are mapped to on the rear touch panel, but I was able to play pretty well anyway. I also need to try it out at a Starbucks and see how that works. Pretty fancy stuff! It's just sad that with the Vita struggling so hard against the 3DS and mobile markets, and knowing that most gamers probably have never and will never try this feature.

17 - After a trip to the Gamestop Public Library of Games, I returned Thief and decided to roll-over my credit to borrow Battlefield 4 for the PS4.

(It's all part of my plan to play as many New Generation games as I can without having to spend $60 apiece.) I go way back with Battlefield to the original 1942 incarnation that was designed almost exclusively for multi-player - something that hadn't been tried in a market of Medal of Honor and Call of Duty stories. I played a little back then, but only against the in-game 'bots. I got tired of it quickly since there wasn't a story to keep my interest. These days (since Battlefield 3?) there is a campaign included that tends to get more flak than a bomber squadron over a major city. I actually feel sorry for the programmers who work on these since the stories are always derided for being so awful. But are they really that bad? I'm "renting" BF4 for that campaign without any real plan to play online. I played the first "chapter" and it basically felt like being in an action movie - not a bad thing really. I got it for the big explosions and even bigger things falling all around me. It's a wild ride that I'm hoping I'll be able to finish before I have to return it. It's not the easiest thing to control (ie, aim) with a gamepad, but I'm doing pretty good.

18 - Well, yeah...I guess I'm beginning to see why some people have issues with the campaign mode in this game. The second mission in the story mode has "us" (my team) being briefed that we need to extract some "VIP's" from a hotel in Singapore before war breaks out with China. I'm instructed - explicitly - to "fly under the radar" with this one and "fire my weapons as a last resort". OK, I figure, cool. I can do a little stealth when I need to. Can even be fun. Probably do some sneaky take-downs, weapons will be silenced, just in case. Uh, no. As soon as we get into the elevator to go up to the "VIP's" room, Pac starts handing out weapons - big, loud weapons. When the elevator stops on the wrong floor, a bunch of Chinese spec-ops see us and start shooting! "I think we're at war with China," one of my squad mates exclaims. Crap. So much for stealth. What follows is a very violent fight in a skybar just under the room that our "VIP" is in, complete with lots of grenades. The good part here is I learned about using Burst mode on automatic weapons. Great for not running out of bullets too soon. I'd also like to thank the game designers for putting those really nice ammo crates all over the battlefield. Totally unrealistic, but very useful. The bad part is that the game insists on you clearing certain obstacles, usually kill a certain number of soldiers, before you can move on. We were in a firefight while Pac was trying to open a door...and I'm standing there with enough C4 to blow half the building up! But, of course, he couldn't open it until we dispatched every enemy from all four waves. (Contrast this with InFamous where I had a "goal" to unlock a series of gates by charging up the control panels. I opened the last one without having to take out the machine gun pit next to it since I could shoot over the container I was hanging from. A much more flexible design.) Then when we get to the room with the "VIP's", we ask "What's so special about them?" "They're very important people," we are told by our intelligence contact. Oh, boy. Anyway, I did enjoy playing "pin the C4 on the tank" before we could board our escape boat - except for the multiple times the tank either ran me over or shot me. So we all sail out of Singapore and an EMP bomb goes off, turning off all the lights in the city and frying all the electronics. Then Irish, one of my other squad mates, starts yelling at the other boats to follow us out to the US Navy ships. OK, a) how did they understand his English, and b) just how far can a bunch of sanpans sail before they run out of gas? And wouldn't the EMP pulse have fried the electronic systems of the boats (ie, alternator, spark plugs, etc). Well, at least everything in this game looks fantastic - a new level of cinematic immersion! (For me, anyway.)

19 - More BF4. I have to admit, this game looks amazing. And, at least what I played of it last night, nobody did or said anything really stupid. Except, why do I always have to be the doorman? I was opening doors all over the place. What, everyone's arms broken? Also, I didn't expect to be "driving" as much as I have been - cars, boats, tanks - but they do handle pretty well. The sea battle we got into after getting off the burning/sinking Titan aircraft carrier (That was impressive!) took way too long. It wouldn't let us get back to the Valkyrie until we destroyed all the enemy boats. What was really weird was hitting "invisible walls" in the middle of the ocean during the battle. Not quite a completely open world.

20 - Sheesh! I thought I'd never get to the airfield. I really thought I was stuck, getting killed over and over in that damn APC. I've got to be getting to the end of this story mode. According to the website that lists game lengths, it should only take 5 1/2 hours. I guess that doesn't include dying a lot and getting "lost" on where to go next. Well, now I'm in some Chinese Guantanamo hell-hole, armed with a prison-style shiv and taking orders of some radiation scarred Russian. I'll admit, I didn't see it coming.

21 - Ok, BF4 fatigue has set in. I'm going to have to put this one aside for awhile and do something else. I got out of the prison fairly easily, but the battles are just getting too similar. This really is the height of a mindless FPS. I think there's one (or two) more big battles and they are just a slog of trying to shoot as many enemy soldiers at as far a distance as possible...until it decides to drop another wave on me and my squad. I'll probably pick this one up again sometime in the near future on another "7 day rental", since I know there isn't much more I need to do on this story mission. I did notice that the main menu of the game lists Multiplayer above Campaign mode. That's got to tell ya something.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

March 2014 Play Log - Day 8 to 14

8, 9, 10, 11 - Ummmmm, yeah. About that gaming every night thing? It's been sort of a rough patch lately. As a main household member (one of the Founding Father's, you might say), there have been issues cropping up that have required my attention and made gaming a luxury I haven't had time for. It's time's like this that I am reminded of my favorite scene from one of my favorite movies, While You Were Sleeping. By "favorite scene", I mean a moment where you realize that the writer had been in your shoes before because there's no other way he could have known exactly how you've felt:

(About 3/4 of the way through the movie, Jack is sitting down at the breakfast table with his father, Ox, who has been reading the obituaries looking for new "clients" to purchase from. He's an estate furniture buyer.)

Jack:   Been a hell of a week, hasn't it?

Ox:     Life is a pain in the ass. l´ll tell ya. You know? You work hard, try to provide for the family, and then, for one minute, everything´s good. Everyone´s well. Everyone´s happy. And in that one minute, you have peace.

Jack:   Pop, this isn't that minute.

Well, this hasn't been my minute either.

12 - Yeah! Game was played! And that game was

(Yes, I think it's time to start adding some more art to these posts.)
This is a "Gamestop Rental" that I'll be returning Monday or Tuesday of next week. I've heard so much about the game from podcasts that I just wanted to see it for myself. I got to play the prologue this evening and while I'm impressed by the overall sneaking, jumping and climbing aspect of it, I have to question the whole "grab every shiny object you see" part of it. I mean, what is this, a kleptomaniac simulator? I imagine myself roaming around, climbing ropes, jumping through windows, carefully inching across beams...with a big sack of cups, rings, and perfume bottles rattling around on my back! I dig the whole Super Thief thing, but please don't make me grab every glinting bauble in sight - I should be saving my talents for a big score.

13 - Another hour plus into Thief and I think I know why it didn't do better in the ratings. It's not a "bad" game, but it's starting to feel repetitive already. Also, the main character has the complexion of a vampire, the city is seven shades of depressing, and the control scheme is awkward (button presses have to be either quick or long - they don't register if it's in between). It's also very annoying that you seem to only be able to go outside in the middle of a storm, which leads me to wonder: if I'm in shadow, can I be seen during a lightning strike? I'll probably kick it around a couple more times before I take it back to Gamestop, but I don't think I'll be returning to it. Just too much else out there I want to play that I might enjoy more. Oh, and I found out why I had to steal minor stuff. There is a "merchant" that you buy supplies from and that pays your way. However, I easily filled up my inventory before I ran out of money.

14 - Well, finished up the week on a non-game night. These things happen, I guess. Spent most of the evening watching "The Last Days on Mars" which had a promising start and then devolved into a zombies-on-Mars story. Good special effects for a current low-budget sci-fi flick, but it wasn't enough to save the shallow plot. I give it 1 1/2 stars out of 5.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

March 2014 Play Log - Day 1 to 7

1 - Hmmm, well week's have started out like this before and gotten better - no gaming due to lack of sleep and desire for more sleep. Sometimes I think I like to go to bed early on nights when I know I don't have to get up early the next morning. Makes no sense, but I gotta go with what my body tells me.

2 - Plugging away at Ghostbusters. I found a couple sites that compile statistics of how long it takes to finish certain games. Very helpful stuff. Looks like I'm about 1/2 way through a 10-ish hour game. For me, that's doable, so I'm going to see it through to the end.

3 - Well, the week isn't getting much better. Was just too tired to do anything but watch a little Netflix on the 3DS (which I still think is pretty cool). I did have one unpleasant realization today, though. Episode 2 of season 2 of The Walking Dead is coming out tomorrow - and my save games for it and season 1 are on my old, defunct computer! Mind you, I still have the files since I copied the whole C drive over to one of the data drives and the saves are under the Users directory. But I don't think I want to play it on the laptop anyway and I would need to take out the drive to put in a SATA dock. Part of me didn't even register that I couldn't play it yet, forgetting that I'm between computers.

4 - A hiccup with Sony's download service sort of derailed my plans for the evening. I was going to try out the new (and thanks to Playstation+, free) Dead Nation game, but after waiting for a slow 2gb download, I got the annoying error stating that I didn't have a license for the game! Teaches me for trying to play a game released on PSN Tuesday. So I could play something, I jumped into some more Resogun. I'm enjoying it more than I originally did, mostly because I'm beginning to understand what to do - there's very little explanation of what any of the controls do. It's pretty as hell, but I don't know if it's anything more than a diversion for me. Too much like the old style arcade games. Good for some time killing and showing off impressive graphics, but not much else.

5 - Only got in about an hour of Ghostbusters, but I think I'm getting near the end. I'm still pretty impressed with the mechanics of the game, especially the Slime Gun. I don't know why covering a room with green slime is so much fun, but it is! I also found the Ghostbusters DVD artifact. That was a cool touch.

6 - For a number of reasons, this has not been a good week. All I felt like doing was watching the first 1/2 hour or so of Ghostbusters on Netflix on my 3DS. Small as the screen is, it still is a great movie to watch! It's nice to see that they kept the aspect ratio of widescreen - you miss a lot in that film if you watch the "full screen" version (yuck!). It was also fun to see some of the references that get used in the game since I forgot what some of them were (ie, the 12th floor of Sedgewick Hotel). It's been a loooong time since I saw it last.

7 - Turns out this was more movie night than game night with the arrival of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Not bad for a "middle" movie. I liked it better than the first one,  but the ending practically screamed "To be continued". As for game related items, my new computer, Grimm, arrived and is waiting to be unboxed and used for much Steam gaming (I realized early on that trying to play PC games on Aragorn just isn't for me - a 32" screen can really spoil you!). I also am going to have to change two games on my 24 Games for 2014 list. Both Spec Ops: The Line and XCom: Enemy Unknown need to be removed because I remembered that I played demos of both of them and these were all supposed to be games that I've never played before in any fashion. So, I'll probably replace them with Halo 2 and Batman: Arkham Asylum.