Friday, February 06, 2015

First Impressions #1 - Apotheon & Dead Space 3

Introducing a new segment on the Chessasaur blognet, "First Impressions" where I put down some quick thoughts about games that I've just started.

Apotheon Image Apotheon (PC) - I was looking forward to this one since I first heard about it last year. It's like playing a game that was painted onto a Grecian urn. In a word, the art in this game is incredible! As 2-D side-scrolling action games go, it's good, but there are some annoying control quirks - like holding up a shield toward an enemy, trying to back away, and flipping around, which exposes your back! Some of the combat devolves into almost Super Smash Bros kind of aerial flights and weapon selection can get a little cumbersome. There's a fair amount of voice work in the game and to be honest, I wish there wasn't. It would have been more impressive, I think, if it had been more like the old Lego games. Hearing American or English voices coming out of people and gods from ancient Greece just seems wrong.

Dead Space 3 Image Dead Space 3 (PS3) - Having just finished #2 and wanting to see what happened with Ellie and Isaac, I jumped right into Dead Space 3. I started on the PC (ie, Origin) and was doing fine until it instructed me to "crouch" with the X key. Crouch? There's no crouching in Dead Space games!! So, I abandoned that until I could work out a good alternative for the Fangpad. The next night, I decided to play the PS3 version (I have the disc and free PS+ downloadable versions), figuring that the controller layout might be easier to deal with.

And here I'm going to put in a new Pet Peeve - game makers have got to STOP putting multiple operations on individual controller keys! This is something I'm feeling is unique to console games since I haven't encountered it on a PC game (yet?). One example in this game is the R3 button (which is hardly even a "button" at all!) - press it once and Isaac crouches; press and hold and it's the directional beacon signal! So, if you go to figure out your heading and you don't hold the R-stick down long enough, you crouch and start moving at about half speed!

Anyway, part of me wanted to try to play it this way since I sometimes feel I don't get enough "gamepad" exercise, but while the Dead Space series looks like a 3rd person action game, it's really a cleverly disguised first-person shooter. This means that aiming is crucial in staying alive and not wasting a ton of ammo. For me, I've always had issues aiming weapons using thumbsticks, with the exception of Halo - for some reason, they just got it right. So, I'm going to have to go back to playing it on the PC, and I also want to compare some of the weapons. It seemed like the low end guns didn't have as much "punch" in the PS3 version as they did on the PC. I was playing on the same difficulty level (yes, Casual), but either I was missing A LOT or the bullets weren't doing as much damage.

What I will say is that I'm super impressed with the game so far and am really looking forward to playing more! As I'd hoped, Ellie and Isaac stayed together after the events on Titan station and now she's gone missing which gives him something to fight for. With all he's been through, she's probably all he has left. (The text log that's on the bed gives a little nod to the line in DS2 where Ellie says he owes her an eye!) Ironically, the lunar city Isaac is in looks like Neuromancer's Sprawl - something that the space station never did even if that's what it had been called. The amount of action sequences in just the first hour are better and more impressive than almost anything in Dead Space 2. I don't know why this entry got such low review scores (with GameInformer being a notable exception), and I hope it doesn't slow down, but so I'm far thrilled!

Thursday, February 05, 2015

The Official Chessasaur 2015 Playlog #2 - Dead Spacing

Dead Space 2 Image Dead Space 2 (PC / 15-17 hours / Status: Completed) - Well, my first game finished in 2015 was actually started late in 2014, but I did take a little break in the middle. Other than being, in my opinion, about four hours longer than it should have been, this was a compelling shooter (as in I was compelled to keep playing until it was over). I liked the improvements to the movement, object manipulation, and zero-g navigation, but there was too much "filler". Lots of corridors to walk down, rooms to check out, and elevators to take, but none of them were very interesting. The original Dead Space did a much better job of being creepy and giving you a sense of purpose in your actions. I will say that DS2 was better as far as what it did with the limited number of characters. Isaac Clarke actually gets to express himself (ie, talk) and the "relationship" he builds with one of the space station's survivor's, Ellie, was a welcome addition to the storyline. However, the whole "haunted by the dead girlfriend" thing just didn't work for me. Maybe it was because I was already fighting for my life from the necromorphs and all she did was scream at me. I think that if her visions had been more menacing, I would have been more affected when she showed up. Toward the end I thought she was going to be an ally, but that was short lived.

Since I was broadcasting/recording, here are a few clips from the game:

(Note: These could be considered SPOILERS if you haven't played the game.)

This might have been the scariest moment in the game! More of this would definitely have helped.

There were many unpleasant ways to die. This was just one.

There's no shame in running away from explosions!

And this is how it all finished up...and why I want to play Dead Space 3 now!

I want to close out with a couple of items. First, one of my favorite websites, Joystiq, went away on February 3. Of all the game sites I've followed, this was my favorite for the last 10 years. I'm already missing them like crazy. :(

Second, I found that Twitch is good for more than just broadcasting gameplay. It can also be a medium to discover really talented people. When I first saw him, he was playing to 18,000 viewers on Twitch's front page! For your listening enjoyment, I give you the incredible, Kyle Landry.