It's been a few weeks, has it not? In that span of time I finished winter semester, went home for like a week and came back to start spring, with the intention of hopefully getting my GPA out of the toilet and into the realms of academic success. That being said, I chose a deliberately light load of general classes so that shouldn't be a problem... hopefully. I also played video games, because of course I did. Let's talk about a few, shall we?
Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen
I'm not entirely sure if you've noticed, but my gaming focus has been rather PC-centric as of late. This is probably because my parent's won't let me bring my Xbox down with me to school, because my brother needs something to play Fifa or... Minecraft on. Or something. Despite knowing that I would only be home for a limited time, I still bought Dark Arisen for the hell of it and because I really liked Dragon's Dogma despite its myriad of weird problems. Being that I had less than a week to play it, I can confirm that Dragon's Dogma is still awesome and Magick Archers are a really fun class. I got up to the point right before fighting the dragon, so I clearly played a lot of it (it's not quite as hard when you have an infinite ferrystone and remember where to go). I intend to find someone in my housing complex to let me mooch of their Xbox, but until then I can't say anything about the new content and if it's any good, but what's still there is still good and it still justifies its place on my GOTY list of last year (and gives me an excuse to put it on this year's list as well.
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
I never did write about what I thought of vanilla Far Cry 3, did I? Well, I think it's an excellent, well-made game (much better than Far Cry 2) that goes on for a bit too long, has a bad story that gets worse as it goes along as well as perhaps one of the most unsympathetic and unlikeable protagonists in recent memory. Blood Dragon fixes all of these problems by being intentionally stupid, compact and still having the same gameplay, but retro-futuristic. I won't say that all of the humor works (I'll share the bombcrew's stance that there is a dichotomy between the dumb-but-played-straight humor of the game and the snarkiness of the loading screens and codex entries), but when it does it's pretty hilarious, even for someone who never spent a day of his life in the 1980s. What really seals the deal is the aesthetic, which is both awesome and distinctive and leads to perhaps one of the better last 30 minutes of a game I've played in a while. It's also really stupid. Considering that most DLC is kind of terrible (to use the above example, the DLC that is thrown in as a bonus in Dark Arisen is really bad and really lazy) it's nice to see something that both justifies its price and isn't just a level pack or something equally regrettable. I recommend it, especially since it doesn't wear out its welcome the way real Far Cry 3 does.
Two Worlds II
And now we start reaching more. When it comes down to it, Bethesda is the king of making open RPGs with a variety of character build options and things to do. I'd go as far as to say that no one does it as well as them, for the various mechanical and stability problems that plague The Elder Scrolls and friends. Below that however is a B tier of games that do enough things well enough that they're worth looking at. While I have yet to get back to Amalur for reasons previously mentioned, another good example of this level of game is Two Worlds II, a game I think is shockingly good, at least so far. I'm not going to lie: Most of my favorite RPGs aren't made in Europe, especially once we get into former Soviet Bloc nations. For as many of my favorite strategy games originate from those areas, when I think of European developed RPGs, I think of Divinity II or Gothic; the former of which I played far too much of before deciding that I had played enough and the latter of which gave me no incentive to want to play past the first hour.
With that context in mind, Two Worlds II is actually quite good. Oh, it's still janky and sort of broken in the way that these kinds of games are, and the voice acting is quite bad, but once I got past the opening area of the first few hours I was impressed with the breadth of content available. Where this game shines is in its customizability. The spell system in particular encourages a mix-match philosophy of mixing different cards with different effects to produce markedly different spells. There's also melee combat, which as far as I can tell is "Block until you counterattack, use potions when you're low on health, rinse and repeat. There's also crafting and alchemy, similarly extensive and that's not even getting into the various sidequests and guilds one can join. I'm not going to definitively call it good yet, as I haven't finished it or its expansion yet, but so far this game is easily the best janky open RPG to have been developed in Europe and released a few years ago. Suck it Divinity 2.
Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth
There are some game franchises that I would be entirely ok with being the exact same for the rest of time eternal. Ace Attorney is one of them. And indeed, on a cursory superficial level it seems like they changed things around for the spinoff featuring everyone's favorite Prosecutor and his faithful sidekick. But let's be honest. Not really. Sure, there are no separate court segments in this game and you occasionally use logic to connect things, but the gameplay is still pretty much the same... except instead of being a hapless defense lawyer with spiky hair you're the far more straight-laced Edgeworth who treats all of the crazy, ace attorney-esque, characters around him with the appropriate amount of contempt and confusion. I hadn't played this until now, and I can confirm that it's a really good "one of those games". The cases rely far less on pixel hunting and the absurd logic leaps that categorize some of the latter cases in any given AA game are less present here, though not entirely gone. These small tweaks actually make the game a lot more enjoyable since the evidence that needs to be presented is usually pretty obvious. The cases themselves are well done, though not quite at the same heights as some of the crazier ones in the other games of the series, but I very much enjoyed my time with this one and am now in the mood for some Ace Attorney 5... because Ace Attorney Investigations 2 never came out over here, much to my chagrin. It's like Fire Emblem Shin Monshou no Nazo all over again. Grrrrrr....
Speaking of Fire Emblem (and other things)
I'm playing Path of Radiance right now. It's pretty good. Surprise. Hard mode is also tougher than I remember. That, or the infinite grinding and crazy high-level conflicts that define Awakening have softened me. Not going to write a whole blog on it. I also speedran the Claire B scenario of Resident Evil 2 in one sitting and finally unlocked 4th survivor. Feeling euphoric about my victory I planned on going on to conquering Resident Evil 3 in under 2 hours... only to find that the Resident Evil 5 disk was in the case instead and my copy of Resident Evil 3 was nowhere to be found. I'm sure it's somewhere at home, but I'm still vaguely pissed and somewhat confused as to why the RE5 disk was in there. Also, the Gamecube version of Resident Evil 3 isn't exactly common, Y'know? Hopefully my parents or brother haven't eaten it by now. I'll be going home a few weekends from now, so hopefully I'll find it then.