8/01 - Wow, I actually had some energy to play this evening! Due to a pricing error on PSN, I got a game today called Strike Vector EX for free, so I thought I'd see if I got my money's worth. Overall, not a bad game. You pilot futuristic jet mech-planes and try to shoot down other futuristic jet mech-planes, while flying around giant floating refinery platforms. (The visual scale is impressive!) I played the first three missions and was pleased that they weren't very hard. Also, since there wasn't any gravity mechanic (ie, you could just sort of stop and hover), I didn't spend all the time zooming past my targets. Why this game is rated "M" is beyond me. I guess there must be more violent cut-scenes later in the game and some swearing. I also don't know who would have paid $15 for it (only because it's a game no one has heard of), so it's probably just as well that it was free. The other game I decided to play some of was Mighty No. 9. I was one of the Kickstarter backers, but I kept my contribution very modest (ie, just the game), which turned out to be a good idea. A lot of people bashed this game when it was finally released, mostly by those who were Mega Man fans. For me, I never played any - didn't own a NES and didn't get into them on the SNES or Playstation - so my expectations were pretty low. But, even though MN9 was an okay platformer, I can see where gamers would be disappointed in the finished product. For a project that collected $3.8 million dollars (!), it feels like it cut a lot of corners. Characters have voices, but there's not animation to them, the platforming feels stiff, and it's just not much fun to play. Well, at least I beat the first boss, something I always have trouble with in these side-scrolling games.
8/02 - Tonight was more about proving I could still do something than anything else. I decided to try Twitch streaming a game from my PS2, which I haven't done for a long time. This requires that a number of things work in conjunction with one another. I bought an Elgato Game Capture HD unit sometime ago - it's not the latest model, but it's the only one that allows old pre-HDMI systems to be hooked up for streaming. It also works as a component input upscaler to HDMI, so old consoles don't look like crap on HD TV's. As I have a PS2, Xbox, and Wii, I need to have a component switch (4 in, 1 out). That output goes to the Elgato. From the Elgato, the HDMI goes to a HDMI switch (5 in, 1 out) that hooks up to one of my gaming TV's HDMI ports - this is where I actually play the game.The other output from the Elgato, USB, goes to the computer (which is on the TV's other HDMI port). On the computer, I run OBS Studio (after updating it, of course) and add a video source that feeds from the Elgato input. However, this is where you have to sort of "jiggle the bits" some to get it to work. I usually have to bring up the Elgato software (which you can stream with, but the options are limited) just to check to make sure the Elgato is connecting to the computer. Since the Elgato has HDMI and component inputs, it always picks the wrong one so I have to go in and point it to the right input. Once that's done, I have to make sure OBS is getting a good signal. Last night, it looked at one point like it was a color negative of the original picture. Very weird. A little more restarting of various programs, and I got it all working. This also included getting the aspect ratio correct - these old consoles didn't really know about widescreen. When I went "live", I was happy to see that I was able to run for almost an hour with no dropped frames. I also used the laptop to keep an eye on what the stream looked like. I picked Darkwatch to play since it was the last PS2 game I played when I was doing my PS2 collection play through. Here's a little clip from when I realized that the crossbow in the game was very similar to the one in Rage. (Warning: LOUD!) Click-Me
8/04 - PUBG. Okay, not brain surgery, gaming wise, but it's the new Hearthstone. Pick up and play anytime. And I got my first kills this time! Corner camping may be my best bet for not dying.
8/05 - Played some Atari Flashback Classics Vol. 1 & 2. Some old arcade and Atari 2600 games, Adventure specifically. We shall not speak of this incident again.
8/06 - Tuesday saw the release of a new game called The Long Dark, and it's been making the rounds on various Twitch streams. It's a slow paced, survival game set after a global environmental apocalypse (sorry, no zombies). Stuck in Northern Canada after a plane crash, your principle concerns are warmth, food, water, and not getting eaten by the local wildlife. I'd considered buying it on either Xbox or PS4, but just didn't feel like dropping the $40 to get it. Well, while I was looking at other games on Steam, I happened to pick another survival horror game to look at (after looking at and deciding against Dark Elf). In their usual helpful fashion (read: interest-based advertising), the page included a link to The Long Dark...which it showed as being in my library! According to my purchase history, I bought it nearly 3 years ago on 12/29/14 for $9.99. I "guess" I got it when it was in Early Access on the cheap during their Christmas 2014 sale but never tried it. So, I figured it was time to jump in. The game is pretty frustrating at first because it tells you some things but not others. It tells you about the importance and uses of fire, but not how to heal yourself. Your character keeps repeating, "I'm going to bleed out if I don't do something quick", but until you stumble across a medkit, you have no idea what to do or what you're looking for. On the good side, it breaks the game down into missions that need to be done to move the "story" along. Once that goal is met (make a fire, melt water, etc), it progresses to the next day and saves the game. I can see myself staying with this one for awhile at least, but if it gets to a point where decisions can paint me into a corner (like using a resource at the wrong time and then getting locked out by the auto-save), I might have to bail.
8/08 - I didn't realize that a new game was coming out today that I was interested in - a digital only release on PS4 (and PC) called Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice. After watching a little gameplay on Twitch, I decided that I should give it a try. (I'm not a big fan of digital download games, but sometimes you don't have any choice.) The developer calls this a "triple-A indie" and I'd have to agree - it's got amazing production values for a $30 game. It's also got a truly cinematic style; there are no context prompts or tutorials. You either have to read the "Controls" help section or listen to the voices in your head which sometimes give you hints. Watching the Twitch stream actually helped me figure out the best way to fight. The game has you playing a mentally unbalanced Celtic warrior who is on a quest to get a Viking god to raise her dead lover (whose skull she is carrying around...and sometimes talks to). So far it's been a combination of puzzle solving and pretty brutal combat. And it's really working for me!
8/09 - No gaming tonight, but a stark realization that I need a bigger external drive on my Xbox One. I've been planning on getting an Xbox One S for the new 4K TV and am looking to trade in one of the old Xbox One's I own. Since I might as well keep the white one (Gamestop gives you $100 regardless of color), I need to switch out my gaming station unit. So, I figured I'd just move games from the internal drive to the external drive - until I saw that the 1TB drive was over 90% full! I don't really want to delete most of the games I have on there because it takes so long to reload them (most games are over 40gb, which also explains the "bloat"). I'll probably get a 2 or 3TB drive, transfer the games I have using a PC and a program I found, then put the "leftover" 1TB drive on my PS4. Just have to wait for one to go on sale.
8/10 - Nothing really played, but did some "game management" on the living room Xbox One. Turns out you can select to download DLC that hasn't gotten automatically loaded. Also checked out the characters I created with Rock Band 4 and found that at some point Harmonix had added items from Mass Effect Andromeda, Fallout 4, and Battleborn. Very cool, but sort of sad because I don't know if they ever told anyone about them. I'm now the rocking Space Cowboy!
8/11 - Another night of "video game maintenance", I guess? I've got a new 4TB external drive up and running on the Xbox One on the gaming station, and moved the last 4 games off the internal drive. Nice to still have 3TB free after all that. I also started Hellblade again, this time on the PS4 Pro and a) it looks better (no surprise) and b) this time I'm playing without subtitles (it makes the "voices" in Senua's head seem more like their in my head when playing with headphones). Plus, I found an option to lower the difficulty to "Easy". What's weird is that by default, it's set to "Auto". What kind of difficulty setting is "Auto"?
8/13 - Things I hate: Getting reward "crates" in games and not knowing how to access them! Yes, For Honor, I'm talking to you!
8/14 - PUBG. I really need to not play this before bed.
8/15 - Not much to tell. Got a late start as we watched Alien: Covenant tonight. Tried playing Adr1ft, but I guess it doesn't like Bluetooth audio. OBS feels the same way. Did a quick run through of the Cat Quest demo. Cute, but not my thing.
8/16 - Bought a Switch. Why? I'm not sure yet, but since I had nearly $200 in GameStop trade-in credit, I wanted to buy something new instead of just using it to get an Xbox One S...which I really don't need. I'll probably buy a One S cheap at some point for the 4K-ness of it all. Lots of deals on those. As for the evening, finally got around to entering in my beta codes for Star Wars: B2 and CoD:WWII, which I got for doing the pre-orders. The Star Wars one was easy, but CoD required logging into the Activision site. At least I got the codes in while I could still read the GameStop receipts - they fade quickly.
8/17 - Dug out my old copy of Destiny for the Xbox One. It's been a long time since I booted it up and Bungie has put in a couple new cutscenes (or voice overs, at least). Nice, but they seem to be geared toward players who have already finished the core part (or more) of the game. Oh, well. Still feels good to put on the Guardian suit again. Also tried out Slime Rancher which I have ONLY because it was free with Xbox Gold. Not sure if it's too Playschool for me.
8/18 - Adr1ft. Finally got it working with a non-Bluetooth headset and even decided to try streaming it. Not a bad game, but very slow - aside from floating around, you need to read log entries (or I'm assuming you need to). I don't mind reading stuff, but most of what I saw didn't look like it was going to help. Also, a) why can't I hold a spare oxygen canister in my left hand, and b) why is my space suit made of porcelain? Every time I bumped into anything, the visor kept cracking.
8/19 - Steep stinks. Well, it doesn't actually smell, but it's going to be traded into GameStop soon. Just boring, to me anyway. Endless mountains aren't fun. Switched over to >Observer_. This one is going to take some patience. Rutger Hauer - making his video game debut from what IMDB would indicate - does the voice of the main character, but either he's going for overly gruff or he's just gotten really old. This one is made by the same group that did Layers of Fear, which felt like you were always on the move, going room to room. This one involves more searching in a single location, using two different types of sensors and analysis tools. A little tedious? Well, it's still early. Looks like about 6 hours, so at least it's not real long. On another note, PS4's don't play well with external hard drives. First, you have to plug them in the front which looks messy, and second, if you put the system in "rest" mode, it disconnects the external drive so you have to repair when you reconnect it. Xbox handles externals much better. Oh, well.
8/20 - >Observer_. This must be the year for really strange games. First, there was Here They Lie back in April, and now I've got this one in August. I really should have captured some in-game footage, but frankly I wouldn't know what or how much to show. Observer is made by the same studio that did Layers of Fear and, in keeping with their style, there doesn't seem to be any chance of "death". There also isn't any form of combat, but there is some light puzzle solving. The rest is just pure mind bending, jump scare weirdness! Games like this must hard to program because most game engines are designed to simulate the real world. When you are trying to break the rules of reality, and especially when you want to do jump cuts like a movie, that requires a whole new set of parameters. The one thing that will keep me going on this one is that Rutger Hauer is the main character. Old sounding or not, he's still one of my favorite actors. Oh, and I pre-ordered an Xbox One X Scorpio Edition from Amazon...and from Best Buy. Obviously, I'll only end up getting one, but from where? Or will I bail on both?
8/21 - >Observer_. A very frustrating night. When I got on my PC, I found out that I was 20 minutes late to get a SNES Classic pre-order from Best Buy. This was bad enough, but then I wasted more time seeing if they would release additional units - the page kept changing from "Coming Soon" to "Pre-order", but they never had anymore. I want to get as many SNES Classic systems as I can - and I have no intention of selling ANY of them! Ok, "as many as I can" isn't quite right; I just want one for Sarah, one for me, a spare for Sarah, and a few for my friends if they can't find one. This console-of-sorts is epic in it's selection of games and their importance in video gaming history, at least in my opinion. When I finally got around to playing >Observer_, I got caught up in doing this annoying 2D puzzle mini-game, With Fire and Swords: Spiders. I don't know what it has to do with the game (if anything), but I'm already stuck on level 4.
8/22 - >Observer_. Okay, no more SNES Classic pre-order hunting. Back into the game. A really weird game!
8/23 - >Observer_. This game is really pushing my buttons...but not in a good way. This developer is known for letting you interact with lots of stuff for no particular reason or purpose. That gets tedious after awhile. I did finally find out that you can die - at one point I had to hide from a "creature" in a maze of office cubicles or get killed. I'm also not sure if there are side-quests or if everything is related somehow. I am (well, my character) is stuck in this run down apartment building that is under lockdown. The main goal seems to be finding out if my son is dead or not, and if so, who killed him. But, at one point, I found a woman in a machine that was apparently trying to transfer her consciousness to the body of a brain damaged child, and a) I don't know if it has anything to do with the overall story, and b) I don't think I "finished" the segment - I really couldn't tell! Add to that getting stuck in dark hallways trying to target certain parts of the room (like doorknobs) and getting turned around easily, and I really wonder if I want to finish this one.
8/24 - >Observer_. When I played Layers of Fear (which got a nod in this game), I wasn't really mentally invested in the story. However, the ending was extremely satisfying and made my overall view of the game much better. I REALLY hope that I get that "lift" before the end of >Observer_.
8/26 - >Observer_. The weird journey continues. Going to have a whole gallery of crazy pics after this one.
8/27 - >Observer_. Had to stay up til 1am, but I finally finished it. Honestly, if it weren't for Rutger Hauer being in it, I'd probably have bailed before the end. (THIS YouTube video is a nice BTS piece where Rutger mentions Observer is his first video game after two previous projects fell through.) The tagline for this game was, "What would you do if your fears were hacked?", but I never really felt as though anything like that ever happened. The game has been getting good reviews, but if you think I'm leaning toward "overrated", you'd be right. There's no combat, minimal puzzle solving, and a few evade/sneak sections with "game over" results for failing, but the reset is just walking around multiple bizarre environments. Sort of a grand tour of outlandish computer graphics. The ending took way too long to get to and there was more trudging through sewer tunnels than there should have been. By the end, I felt I "understood" the story and I made a final choice that I felt kept with the main character's convictions, but it didn't have any particular emotional impact. There was a lot of extra material in the game (notes on computers mostly) that would have taken a long to read and I doubt if would have added much. The stuff I did read wasn't of much use. There were also these cards you could collect with what I'm assuming were the design staff with PhotoShopped implants on their faces. Cute, but I only found 17 of 69! And I looked around a lot. I think Layers of Fear was a much better game because it had more focus - a crazed artist looking for macabre items for his grand masterpiece. This was more like a wandering old man, jacking into other people's minds, not to use their fears against them, but just to see what they knew. Here is my screenshot album from the game: CLICK ME.
8/29 - Hellblade. Sort of a wasted evening since I couldn't seem to figure out where to go next or how to get there. Some Viking magic stuff going on that I don't understand yet.
8/30 - Just some light weight gaming - Everybody's Golf. This is the PS4 version of the next game in the Hot Shots Golf series and plays about the same - it just looks flashier. I played 9 holes and came in 16...out of 16 players. Going to take some getting used to.
8/31 - I tried starting Last Day of June, the next game from Murasaki Baby's creator, but the vibe I was getting was that this was going to be a VERY depressing (though ultimately uplifting) experience which I didn't feel ready for. So, I just played more Everybody's Golf. Seems it has enhancements for PS4 Pro. Have to try that.
Backlog and Front Loading - I sometimes wonder if I'll ever get to a point where I can stop buying new games and work on the ones I have. At least I can sometimes talk myself out of certain games by just reminding myself that I have, for example, nearly ALL of GTA V to play! That covers a lot of ground by itself.