Thursday, November 12, 2015

Dealing with Death

Okay, first off THIS IS NOT ABOUT A REAL DEATH IN MY FAMILY OR AMONG MY FRIENDS! Not that that hasn't happened in the past, but totally NOT what I'm talking about here.

No, I'm writing this prior to killing my character in Fallout 4. Or at least thinking about it.

Let me explain.

I guess you could call it a weakness, but I have a tendency to become very attached to my characters in big, open world games. One might even say, "protective". I know that they're not real, of course, but the longer I go without them coming to an untimely end, the more I think of them as characters in something like a book or movie - mediums where Death would spell the permanent end of their experiences.

Realistically, I know that if I/she gets killed, I can just load up the last save (and I still save A LOT), but I can't help the part of me that says, very quietly, "She died. It's over for her. You can't use her anymore." (I almost always run female characters in these games. More on that another time.) In the course of playing a game, the enemies you shoot (or even some of the NPC's you can kill) don't get to "come back". That lends a finality that pervades the game, even if it doesn't apply to the player.

The downside of this is that it stunts my progression through the game. I find I'm very cautious in new locations, and keep to areas where I have either cleared threats or know where they are. Raven's journey in Kingdoms of Amalur and Victoria's quest to find her father in Fallout 3 have both been held back because of this mild(?) obsession with avoiding Death.

And so far, neither of them have suffered that fate. Not once.

Mind you, this affinity is unique to open world games - I don't get the same sappy feelings about Mario or the Marine in Doom. Your character dying there is simply a way of the game telling you to do it right the next time. Those games (and I lump in linear story games like Uncharted and Dead Space here) give you little or no way to physically and emotionally customize your avatar. In open world games, ones where you can truly do ANYTHING, you have the option to be "good" or "evil", depending on your style of play. Try as I might, I always want to be good and helpful, usually because the NPC's I run into are nice people (if they don't start shooting at me first). Maybe I'm mostly a nice person and that helps to build the bond with the game's character, whose appearance I've created too.

Now I have a new mega-open world game to deal with, Fallout 4, and I think I'm falling into the same "trap". Juliet hasn't met Death in the 10 hours or so I've played so far. I'm also not very far into the game, as in just exploring the outskirts of my home neighborhood, Sanctuary Hills. There have been a couple of close calls in some gunfights, but I've also stayed fairly local and spent time scavenging for materials. (That's a nice way to say "stalling", by the way.)

So, do I purposefully send her out to die? Do I have her go for a radioactive swim in her underwear or try to take on a pack of Raiders and go down swinging? Once I see her crumple to the ground and the camera pans slowly back (assuming it does that), will I get over this phobic fear of my character's Death? But will I feel the same about this Juliet when I load up the last Quicksave, knowing it's not quite the same Juliet that walked out of Vault 111?

** Update, a few days later:  Juliet still lives! And I've found a way to not be too worried about losing her that I can't continue. Basically, it involves pausing and loading a Quicksave before she dies. I had to do this for a mission where she had to turn off some underwater valves and the I couldn't figure out where the surface was (graphics at this point were really hard to see). It's sort of like that game Life is Strange, where you can turn back time in order to do something the right way on the second (or third, or fourth) try. As long as she doesn't get one-shot'ed, it should keep her spirit least for me.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015


I want to tell you about my friend George.

George and I have worked at the same company for nearly three decades and we have both been serious gamers for most of that time. Back in the old days of floppy disc games, we would trade games (or copies of them...oops, hope the NSA didn't catch that one), so that gives you an idea how far back we go. I remember asking him if The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past was a "good" game to get. This was, after all, the pre-Internet days so there wasn't a lot of available information. Nerds have to stick together.

While we stayed in the same corporate entity, we had different task masters and our departments moved from building corner to building corner. If we saw each other in the halls or the dreaded cafeteria (seriously, the food there can kill you!), we'd catch up on our latest game played. PlayStation, N64, PS2, Xbox, GameCube, PS3, 360, Wii, PS4, and, of course, many generations of PC's. We never got around to actually playing together, in the same room or online, even though we mentioned it every so often and agreed it was a great idea.

George's favorite genre of games was always RPG's. He used to tell me it was the old Infocom games that got him hooked...and I'd tell him how I hated them after my experience with Zork. ("echo" my ass!) My background was as a table-top gamer, a wargamer, so I tended more toward the strategy games at first, then the more action oriented ones later. But George would spend hour after hour, usually late into the night, slaying dragons and saving damsels, from the days of the first D&D computer games, right up to the graphical splendor of Skyrim. I always admired his ability to stay with these marathon adventures. I was more like a hamster on crack - if a game didn't show me blood, bullets, or boobs (okay, those games are rare) in the first 15 minutes, I was looking for something new. (Honestly, car games and flight sims worked for me too.)

Lately, we've been working in the same department again and have had more opportunities to share what we've been playing. No surprise that he's gotten deeply into things like Pillars of Eternity, Dragon Age: Inquisition, and The Witcher 3 this year, while I've been bouncing between short experience like The Order: 1886, Journey (I know, again), and the inevitable comfort food feeling of Doom. What can I say, they named the Short Attention Span Theater after me!

I've tried to get George to try streaming, but even though I helped setup everything on his PC to do it, he never felt that anything he was playing was something people would want to watch. He always thought that people either wanted to watch brand new games or women showing lots of cleavage...or both. I had to admit he was probably right.

Anyway, there was this new game coming out, The Beginner's Guide, made by the same guy who did The Stanley Parable. Nobody really knew much about it since it was announced just a couple of days before it went on sale. So, I decided to buy it for him as a friendly gift and "gently" suggested he use it as an entry into the world of streaming. After all, it was a new game that a lot of gamers would want to see. I couldn't help with the cleavage part, but whatever.

Sure enough, shortly after starting his "First time, blind playthrough" of The Beginner's Guide, George had over two dozen viewers! He plugged in his microphone and was talking to the people as they chatted in the text window. I could tell he was having a really good time! He even turned on his webcam toward the end of the game, something he told me he would never even consider in the unlikely event that I could ever get him to stream! When he signed off after two full playthroughs (it's a short game), he had almost 40 followers. He was a natural - funny, engaging, and, with his Tron baseball cap, already making a trademark image for himself. I have to admit to feeling a little bit jealous that my friend was such an instant success. On the other hand, I had been the one to give him his start. I sort of felt like a talent scout that had discovered a new pop star, standing just off-stage listening to the crowd applaud.

The next morning at work, I stopped at this cubicle and congratulated him on his success. He was a little taken aback by how much he had gotten into the whole streaming thing, watching the archived footage and thinking, "Was that really me?" I told him it was indeed and reminded him of one of the cardinal rules of streaming - pick a schedule and stick to it! He agreed and said that 7 pm would be a good time for him maybe every Friday. "Only once a week? Why not more?", I said. George thought about it and decided that, yeah, he could probably do Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. "Sounds good!", I said. Wouldn't want my star to fade too quickly, right?

So George started streaming, deciding to go back to his favorite RPG's...and that's when things sort of went south. The games he played were "old" by streaming standards, but not popular ones like the MOBA's or CS:GO's. His followers dropped away. When people did watch, they made comments like, "How old is this guy?", "How old is this game?", "Why don't you get a better sword than that piece of crap?". and, of course, "noob!" George wasn't used to this kind of intrusion into his otherwise private gaming world. He stopped using the webcam, then the microphone, and finally quit broadcasting altogether. When I tried to talk to him at work, he either wasn't at his desk, or said he had to go to a meeting. The last time I checked his Steam profile, it showed his last played games as Diner Dash, Pinball FX2, and a few hidden object titles. Pure casual fluff!

I hope that George reads this post and remembers how much fun he had fighting dragons and demons in those great RPG's. He needs to know that he can game without being criticized, that he shouldn't feel guilty about being what he is - an old fashioned video gamer. My biggest fear is that he'll just pickup an iPad and that will be the last I'll see of him. From Pools of Radiance to Angry Birds. The thought just sickens me.

Well, time for me to sign off here. It's nearly 7pm, I need to find my Tron cap, and get OBS up and running. I'm thinking of doing The Walking Dead pinball table tonight. Folks should dig that, right?

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Thumbstick Twiddles up to 9/13/15

I'm going to do a bit of quick catch up on my gaming since I haven't been doing much blogging here lately.

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified Image The Bureau: XCOM Declassified (PC) - I've always had a problem with liking games that other folks think are horrid. I liked Batman Begins on the PS2, Duke Nukem Forver on PC, and even Super Battleship back on the SNES - all games that most gamers would consider a waste of time. I don't remember why I started The Bureau, but so far this one seems like it's in the same vein as the three I listed - and I'm enjoying it! The shooting mechanics are satisfying and the art style makes the characters look like they just walked off the covers of 50's pulp novels. I'm not sure if I'll make it all the way through since it does have some flaws even I can't ignore (the AI for your squad is beyond stupid unless I'm just not commanding them correctly and the one alien weapon I picked up so far was worthless). I'm about three hours in at this point. ***Update***: Well, I'm throwing in the towel for this one. There are better shooters out there and the game just reuses the same enemies and alien-tech for each level. Guess everyone was right about this one.

Destiny Image Destiny 2.0 (PS4) - For the one year anniversary of Destiny, Bungie released a huge expansion and a massive overhaul of the base game (an 18gb download!). I don't know if I'm still interested enough in Destiny to buy The Taken King, but I decided I wanted to start a new character and see how it plays now. I was surprised how much better the game felt (shooting, movement, leveling, NPC interactions). It's weird in a way to see how much a game can be overhauled and still be the same game. This kind of refresh only used to happen with sequels. I've got my new Guardian up to level 5. She has purple skin, magenta colored hair, and a white tattoo on her forehead. The girl of my dreams! Oh, and the new Ghost voice is...interesting? I sounds like Nolan North is trying to imitate Peter Dinklage, but with more emotion in his delivery. And I think he's saying more too. ***Update***: I actually now have The Taken King edition thanks to a gratuitous expenditure for a Destiny PS4 bundle. This one rates way up there on the Cool Console scale and Game$top was kind enough to give me $100 trade in for an old PS3. Just couldn't resist.

Lara Croft GO Image Lara Croft Go (iPad) - I hated the Hitman Go game, but I felt I should give this new one a try and I'm glad I did. While I still think tablet gaming is cultivating a new generation of gamers who only know how to swipe and tap, once in a while, like with Monument Valley and this game, it feels like a good platform. It plays more like a Tomb Raider game than Hitman Go felt like an assassin game. I'm making my way through it slowly since I want to find all the hidden treasures.

Final Fantasy XIV Online: A Realm Reborn Image FFXIV (PC) - I used to make notes on our (me, my wife, and our best friend)  FFXI playing back in the day (about 10 years ago!) but haven't put much here, so....We all hit level 45 over the weekend. Not bad when you consider we've only been playing about 4 or 5 months. Progression in this game is way faster than FFXI and there's no experience penalty for death - just a bit more equipment damage. I also think we spend nearly as much time crafting/gathering as fighting, but that's fine with me. It's fun to create even virtual items. We have a couple of serious dungeons to get through before we can progress in the storyline or rank up in our city's army. ***Update***: One ugly dungeon down, one to go!

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes Image Metal Gear Stuff (PS2/PS3/PS4) - With the recent release of MGS V, I finally got around to learning something about the Metal Gear story and playing a few of the games. I bought the "demo"  game, Ground Zeroes, (I'll buy anything, really) over a year ago and finally played it...well, I actually played the "free" copy I got from PlayStation Plus, but that's beside the point. For me, a stealth game usually involves making a highly trained, covert operative look like a bumbling idiot who's sole purpose is stopping bullets with his body. And I spend a lot of time crouching/lying down, hoping that no one will see me. But I still like playing these games. I made it through GZ and even did a side mission. Everything in that "game" takes place on Cuba's Guantanamo Bay prison, so it gets old fast. I would have finished the main story mission sooner, but I spent a long time trying to get into the target building...only to find out I couldn't! The game wasn't designed for you to go into a building, just to move around and under them. Would have been nice to know before I tried every door!

Learning about the Metal Gear timeline, I decided to try the game that starts it off: Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. (No wonder people find this series confusing!) I have both Snake Eater and Subsistence (an upgraded version of Snake Eater), and I played both, finding that the camera controls in Subsistence were much better. Then I tried the HD version and it (no surprise) looked way better than the PS2 version (except for the flashback video during the opening, for some odd reason). The PS3 graphics made seeing things in the jungle much easier, but I have to admit that I don't think I can handle the degree of controller options they piled into the game. Kojima made considerable use of the analog nature of the DualShock 3 face buttons, so that you have to be mindful of how far you press the buttons and how fast. It's a hardcore game, and even on Very Easy, I don't think I can do much with it.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

How P.T. Taught Me To Face Fear

Having recently decided to upgrade my PS4 from its initial 500gb hard drive (which really comes out to about 350gb after system "stuff"), I was presented with one issue - P.T., the awesomely creepy demo/game-fragment/trailer is no longer available for download from the PlayStation store. While I could (just barely) deal with not having it on my new super spacious 2 terabyte drive (translation: 1.77Tb), the biggest problem for me was having to live with the fact that...I've never finished it. I had watched a YouTube video of the final scene just to satisfy my curiosity, but it's not the same as doing it yourself.

Now, P.T. is a short experience. I've seen it rated around 90 minutes, so time wasn't an issue. And, I'd basically done everything in the game except the final stage, which Kojima thought players would take months to figure out. (It was more like days. Never underestimate nerds.) It's a tricky process that I had to eventually look up in an FAQ. It breaks down as:

    1. Go through the door and enter the hallway.
    2. Wait for the digital clock to turn to "0:00" (ie, midnight).
    3. Listen as a bell tolls 12 times.
    4. Walk forward 10 paces. (Yes, you can hear the footsteps in this first-person game. Cool!)
    5. Listen to a baby laugh.
    6. Follow the haunting noises to either the phone, the bathroom, or the radio.
    7. Listen to another baby laugh.
    8. DON'T MOVE! Wait for another laugh.
    9. The controller will vibrate. Then the phone rings. You focus on the phone, hear a voice, and get to watch a trailer (or sorts) for Silent Hills, the game we will never see.

I was fine with steps 1 through 5. Six however, was a problem. Well, two problems. First, even with headphones, I didn't feel like the "haunting" sounds were coming from any particular place. Second, and for me the bigger problem was that you aren't alone in that hallway. There's a ghost. A VERY scary ghost! Like The Ring's Sumara all grown-up now and she's filling the whole hallway kind of terrifying!

And if you see her, she's almost always going to "catch" you, "kill" you and send you back to the beginning of the stage.

Then, once your heart rate goes back to normal, you can start back at #1.

I 'd read that if you only moved around while the haunting noises were off and stayed clear of the front area, you wouldn't run into her. But this was getting me no closer to end of the stage. I was being stopped by my own fear.

I tried lots of things. I tried being in different locations when the "haunting" sounds came on. I tried walking backwards 10 steps after the first baby laugh. I tried looking in the mirror when the sounds came on (and one time got a scare when I saw the ghost vibrating right behind me!) I even started trying to trigger the second laugh by talking into the microphone, something the FAQ suggested worked for some people. It makes you feel pretty silly talking to a game, but I was getting desperate. I looked all around that little L-shaped hallway and the bathroom, over and over again, but always freezing and looking at a wall when the sounds started.

Nothing. Nothing worked. I could not get that second laugh.

Then I remembered who I was, or was supposed to be in this game. I knew from the articles and YouTube videos that the protagonist of Silent Hills was going to be played by Norman Reedus aka Daryl Dixon of The Walking Dead fame. WWDD? What would Daryl do?

Then, I knew what I had to do.

Door. Clock. 12 bells. 10 steps. Laugh. Turn. "Okay, bitch. Let's do this!" And when that ghost appeared, I RAN RIGHT THROUGH HER!

And I heard a baby laugh.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Official Chessasaur 2015 Playlog #8 - So Long Unremembered (Updated 7/2/15)

I never wanted to be away from this blog for so long. I know I don't exactly have a hoard of readers, but I like to keep track of my gaming so I have something to look back on when the year is over. However, LIFE has a way of getting in the way. Well, I made it back for now. Let's see how much I can make out of a cup  of coffee and an hour.

(I had been working on a blog post that was to be posted before this, but I haven't finished it. It was/is inspired by the announcement in April of a new Star Wars movie and game coming out toward the end of 2015. I spent a fair amount of time playing (or trying to play) old Star Wars games. At some point I'll finish that entry...hopefully before the movie comes out.)

Fallout 3 ImageFallout: New Vegas Image Fallout 3/Fallout New Vegas (PC/360) - Speaking of announcements, Fallout 4 is now a thing this year too. Or at least it's planned to be - I'm betting on a delay into 2016. Anyway, the renewed interest got me going on Fallout 3 again, but I started to run into some crashing issues on the PC version. Turns out that Fallout 3 isn't really happy with Windows 7. So, I figured it was time to at least dip my toe into the sort-of-sequel, Fallout New Vegas. (Note: I did this with a serious amount of trepidation. My foray into the wastelands with Victoria, my Vault dweller, consumed my imagination, and the journal I wrote for her is something that still has not seen the light of day.) I tried FNV on both PC (via Steam) and the Xbox 360 - it gave me some initial issues on PC, but I think it plays better with mouse and keyboard. I like that the world isn't as bleak (okay, it's not paradise) and that the game is a step or two above Fallout 3's design. I can see getting into the game some more, even though I don't feel the same kind of connection to my character. But, I'm still just starting out.

-NekoAtsume- Image NekoAtsume (iPad) - A quick note here on a little iPad game. All in Japanese, and you just feed cats and buy them toys. Oh, and you can take their pictures. Dumb fun!!

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Image The Witcher 3 (PS4)- I think that the Best Buy Gamer Club Unlocked thing may have been a mistake. Not that it isn't worth it - it's a great deal. It's just that I have bought games that I would have waited on before so now I have this massive open world game that I have played about 3 hours of. However, even a little slice of awesome is grand. It controls much better than Witcher 2 and comes with enough background info in a little booklet to fill you in to what is happening in the world. A very pretty, well designed, well supported action RPG that I really hope I get a chance to dive into and just get lost in. Think GTA with swords! And the developer has set the new standard for what a game should come with - more than what some "collector's editions" include.

Final Fantasy XIV Online: A Realm Reborn Image FFXIV (PC) - Well, this is why I probably didn't play more of Witcher 3. The Neverwinter Knights have taken on the successor to FFXI. At first, a new MMO seemed so pricey, but it works out to about .50 a day - cheap fun when you think of it that way. We've been playing for almost 2 months now and it's just like old times, just with better graphics and music. Everything in this game is either faster or easier to do than FFXI, which is a welcome relief. The only downside is that nearly all the story content requires reading paragraph after paragraph of text. It's easy to skip, but then you do sort of feel like you are just doing the mechanical parts of the game.

LEGO Jurassic World Image Lego Jurassic World (PS4) - As a huge dino-nerd, I had to see the new Jurassic Park movie (which was really good, by the way), and, of course, I had to get the game the day it released (thank you Best Buy again). As of this writing, I've played through the first 3 movies and I plan to finish it soon. The game is good, in general, but I still can't help feeling that they ruined something when they started using the voices of the movie characters. I miss the days of pantomiming Lego figures. Also, I remember the original Star Wars Lego game being a bit more challenging. They've made the Lego games more of what they were before originally - kid's games. Still, I really enjoy the dinos and seeing what they do to "recreate" the movies is fun. I'll probably sell this copy back and rebuy it around Black Friday when it will likely be $20.
**Update**: All done and returned to Gamestop for credit. I guess I should clarify that "all done" means I finished the movie missions - not that I spent gods-knows how many hours trying to get all the collectibles. That's never been something I've wanted to put my time into. The designers obviously put the most work into Jurassic World and even added new dialog from (I think) the original actors. This made it a better experience and playing it after getting the various mechanics down in the first three "movies" also helped. You also get to play as the dinos more - running as a raptor or a compy has a very satisfying feel to it. And I have to say I felt like I was a kid at Sea World when I got to run around the Jurassic World park area, but there was still the feeling that I was playing a game that didn't really take any skill to beat. It also broke a couple of times; once when I fell through the world in a gyroscope car and once when I got a jeep stuck on a rock. It will be interesting to see if they put out a patch or DLC for this one. It will be on my Xmas shopping list since by then it should be cheap.

Microsoft - Xbox One 1TB Halo: The Master Chief Collection Bundle - Black - Larger Front Xbox One Console - I chalk this one up a really impressive E3 conference and an equally good sale. Did I "need" it? No, but that's not the point. I do want to play the new Tomb Raider and there are other exclusives coming out that I would like to play. It's not as huge a box as I thought it was, but I do wonder about the controller. It seems less solid than the 360 one. The D-pad is gone, or rather it is just 4 buttons now, and the batteries go into the unit instead of hanging on the outside. The menus  of the itnerface are challenging to navigate, but I'm sure I'll get used to them. I put it in the living room because that's where I'll need it for racing games and Rock Band 4. At least they added a headphone jack to the controller ala PS4. All I needed to add was a footstool so I didn't have to sit all the way back on the couch.

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Official Chessasaur 2015 Playlog #7 - Playstation Plus and Cats

Aaru's Awakening Image Aaru's Awakening (PS4) - Someday, when I decide to no longer pay a yearly fee to Sony for Playstation Plus and am unable to play all the "free" games I've gotten, this will be one of the ones I won't miss. Mind you, it's not a bad game at all. It's a very well made 2D side-scroller with simple mechanics, excellent art style, and innovated design. However, like soooo many games I'm playing this generation, it's too damn hard! I got stuck on basically the sixth "world" (let's call it 2-3, in Mario levels) because I wasn't fast enough to jump, jet (like double jump), shoot a teleport orb, and then keep myself out of lava while watching for the right moment to jump to the orb. A single platform, that's all I would have needed to make it through this level.

*** Insert Rant Here*** : What is it with games these days? Developers seem to relish punishing players and the gaming media fuels the fire by praising their efforts. Or is it an intrinsic machismo of gamers that they need a harder and harder challenge to show off "bigger thumbs" to their rivals? Whatever it is, I'm getting tired of running into games that look intriguing but require a level of skill (or long-term commitment) that I don't have. Please, give me a game that doesn't make me feel like a klutz with a controller!

MonsterBag Image Monster Bag (PS Vita) - A cute, if somewhat IRRITATING game where you play a little monster (shaped like a bag, I suppose) who is trying to get back to his owner, a little girl. You do this by jumping between people standing in a line, throwing them things they need, but you have to make sure they don't see you move. (Apparently they can't feel you land on them.) It's a unique concept, but I got stuck on the third level when they put in a person with really tiny eyes. Rage quit time.

**Update #1**: I went back to this one and got a little further. It's not as hard as I thought at first, but it still is pretty challenging. I do love the cartoon like quality of the graphics!

**Update #2**: As much as I thought I'd be able to move on from this one, I kept coming back...and I'm so glad I did! It's now another game I finished in 2015 and one that I will look back on with fond memories. The story just got stranger and stranger (as in "...and then the Apocalypse happened!" kind of strange) and by the time I got to the end, I was in tears. I guess I'm just a sucker for a story about a girl and her trusty backpack/monster trying to keep her safe. In some ways, the game reminded me of Limbo, but with a much bigger and better emotional payoff. (I'll always maintain that Limbo did everything great right up until the end.)  I also enjoyed that the developer, IguanaBee in Chile, didn't hold back on the cartoon violence, and the difficulty never got too bad. I did have to look up a couple puzzle solutions, but only to speed up the process. Interestingly, I started playing this one because it was a Beyond podcast "book club" selection, and when they talked about it, they were most put off by the death animations taking too long. While I saw a lot of those, I never felt it was something that would make me stop playing.

Catlateral Damage Image Catlateral Damage - I not only backed this game on Kickstarter, I chipped in enough money to get a picture of Olivia, one of my kitties, into the game. It's a very simple 3D game where you play a kitty doing naughty things - knocking stuff off shelves and tables, biting plants, and generally making a mess of houses, museums and grocery stores. Items are low-res but the environments are fairly large and it runs smoothly. And, of course, there are the pictures of all the kitties (and a doggy or two) that people (like me) paid to have in the game. When you find a picture and knock it down, it gets added to the game's gallery that you can view from the menu. Needless to say, I'll be playing until I find Livy's pic.

Yesterday's Worlds #7 - Constantine

Constantine Image Constantine (Bits Studios\THQ\2005) - Once in awhile, the passage of time can be a good thing. In my case, it helped both the Constantine movie and the game....but in the case of the latter, only so much.

When I first saw the movie many years ago, I didn't know anything about the comic so I was more than a little lost. Since then, I've watched (and enjoyed!) the NBC TV-series which has helped me better understand Constantine's personality and the world around him. When I watched the flick the other night, I was amazed how much I enjoyed it, and also slightly horrified at how badly Keanu Reeves portrayed the character. It took another, more talented actor to show me what Constantine was really like. Reeves (or rather his direction) was so stunted that I didn't get a feeling for what Constantine was like.

Similarly, I had tried a demo of Constantine, the PS2 game, back when I used to get Official Playstation Magazine demo discs (those were good times). I remember being somewhat bewildered by the gameplay and actually thought it was intrinsically broken. What I think it was, after playing the full game some, was that my PS2 gaming skills at that time were so rudimentary that I was just overwhelmed. Well, that and they did sort of drop you into a fight in "Hell L.A." without much introduction.

Interestingly, the game starts out with a nearly shot-for-shot recreation of the opening of the movie (with an even passable KR sound alike). Then, unfortunately, the game shifts gears to its own story, one that seems like it might be going in the same thematic direction as the movie but with different characters and settings. It made me yearn for Batman Begins - say what you want about that "stealth-lite" game, but it kept to the original movie storyline and that was a plus. I was able to get through a few of the missions, but got bogged down in an endless trek around an underground basement (with, of course, sewers) and have decided to skip the rest of the game. I have nothing against older games, but I need to feel that there's a reason to play them instead of newer, more sophisticated titles.

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Official Chessasaur 2015 Playlog #6 - At the end of Dead Space 3

Last night I finally got to the end of Isaac's story - or at least as much of it as currently exists.

A couple of years back, I played the first Dead Space game, and in atypical style (for me), I finished it. It was a great survival-horror/sci-fi adventure that was brought down a little by clunky movement, awkward zero-G action, and a story that had the lead character, Isaac Clark, basically bossed around the whole game doing everyone else's jobs. But it was still entertaining.

Earlier this year, I got the bug to go back and play the sequels. (At some point, I thought that playing all of a particular series of games would make for a good gaming goal this year.) Dead Space 2 fixed many of the movement and control issues of the first - objects were particularly difficult to position in #1. But, overall, I never really connected with the story. Isaac is "haunted" by the memory of his girlfriend who died on the Ishimura, and other than a final battle with her (sort of) she's not a threat at any time. Meanwhile, most of the exploration and combat takes place on a space station with generic hallways and room design. What I did like was the inclusion of more personality for Isaac and the addition of a new character, Ellie. She rescues Isaac at the end of Dead Space 2 and their relationship is a major part of Dead Space 3.

Dead Space 3 is a full-on, summer blockbuster, thrill ride! The design team at Visceral put a huge amount of effort into the game to make it as exciting as possible. You could tell that they wanted to surprise you with something new to do or overcome at every turn. Other than the combat sometimes, it never got repetitive. Add to that the ongoing situation between Isaac and Ellie (they threw in a love triangle as well), and it was a game I had to finish.

The DLC...well.... Ok, I had to play Awakened since it was basically an epilogue to the game, but at least I got it cheap. I sort of wish that it didn't exist though, because it's the last thing I'll remember most about playing Dead Space 3. It did little or nothing to extend the story other than to say that everything that Isaac did in the main game was worthless (ie, he didn't stop the Marker signal) and that the Earth, in the end, gets screwed anyway. Add in that a third of the gameplay takes place in reused sections of Dead Space 3, and you get a poor ending to a great series.