Boy, it sure has been some time since the last blog I wrote here on GB, hasn't it? It's not that I haven't had anything to write about, it's more that I just never felt like writing. It's one of those things that you have to be in the right mood to do. And after a while I wound up back at college again, so I've been neglecting my blog here.
But that changes today! By which I mean that I'm writing some stuff now, and I'll write again the next time I have something to say, which might be a week from now, might be a month. WHO KNOWS! I don't. But I do know that I played some games since the last time I wrote here.
Retro City Rampage.
Don't know what Retro City Rampage is? Well, GB did a Quick Look of it, if you have the time, or I could just tell you that it's basically Grand Theft Auto, except done up like a NES game. Only not really, because while some of the time the game does a good job of replicating the kinds of weird things you would see in games back then because of self-censoring (like feeling "weird" after drinking too much "milk"), there was a fair amount of humor in there that I don't think would have gotten into a game back then.
And the humor is really the most noteworthy thing about the game, because the game itself replicates the clunky-ness of bad NES games just a little bit too well. It's all intentional, of course, but it doesn't help when the later parts of the game get way harder than they should be to be any fun. The last boss was especially difficult, and took me well over half an hour to beat. It didn't help that it was a last boss that introduced a new thing that wasn't seen anywhere else in the game up to that point (at least not in the main story). I've never been a fan of games that add new mechanics or change them for the last boss fight, and this game does it especially poorly.
But overall I enjoyed Retro City Rampage, despite its flaws. It's fairly lengthy for the price (I got it on sale for $10, but a brief glance at Steam says it's $15, which seems like a harder sell (also, I played the PSN version)). It's all right.
That underwater part wasn't great.
Let me say this upfront: Rest in Peace, THQ.
I bought this late last year when it was on sale on Xbox Live for $10, but didn't get a chance to play it until early this year (or maybe super late last year after I wrote the stuff for The Moosies, I don't remember). So yes, I played the inferior 360 version, I know. I still don't have a computer that can handle modern video games, and unless I get a sudden and unexpected large quantity of cash soon, it'll probably be a while before I do. but that's all beside the point.
I really liked Metro 2033. Again, it has its flaws, even beyond the kinda crummy textures and stuff of the 360 version, but they were pretty easy to look past. What I liked best about the game was the atmosphere. Not the literal atmosphere (though lack of quality air to breath is important to the game), but the tone and style of the game. Most of it takes place in the dank and dark tunnels beneath bombed out Moscow, and the game creates a very foreboding atmosphere that almost makes traversing the tunnels scary.
Maybe I was playing the game wrong, but I feel like it was kinda easy. Now, I tried to stealth my way through the game, as I always try to stealth my way through games that allow for stealthing. But for whatever reason I almost always ended up slipping up and alerting the enemies and having to shoot my way through all of them. And I never had much trouble doing that. I never found myself wanting for ammo, as I had far more than I ever needed at any given time. I was playing on normal too (assuming there was an easy mode, I don't really remember what there was for difficulty options in the game). Who knows!
What I do know is that Metro 2033 is a great game, and I hope that Metro Last Light is even better.
I have not done a great job of selecting images for this blog thus far. Oops! Not changing it now!
This is the one that I wanted to write about the most, but never found the time to do so. Or let me put it this way. Metro 2033 and Retro City Rampage are games that I liked, but Dark Souls is a game that I loved. Had I played this game back in 2011 when it was new, it would have been a serious contender for my game of the year.
Or would it have been? It's hard to say, because from what I've read online about this game, the Dark Souls that I played sounds like a significantly different experience than what most people experienced back in 2011. It seems like in the time since its release From Software patched the game. A lot. Some of those patches were to reduce the effectiveness of certain weapons, or do things like that. But a lot of them were to make the game easier, or at the very least less grind-y. Things like increasing the amount of souls gotten from most enemies, increasing item drop rates (including humanity), and even changing enemy placement in a few spots to make certain areas less difficult.
What this means is that I was able to get through stuff faster than people used to be able to, as I was getting souls and leveling faster. But even at the rate that I was leveling, it still felt just a tad too grind-y for me. So what would I have thought back in 2011? I dunno. I think I would have persevered, because I really loved the combat in this game. I know that a lot of people are put off by the, let's say, deliberate nature of the combat, but I enjoyed that aspect of it. Most melee combat games (I refuse to use the term "character action game," even if it is generally accepted as a thing that people should say around these parts) are extremely fast paced and arcade-y in nature. Playing Dark Souls felt fresh and different compared to those types of games. It was just responsive enough to never feel broken, but just slow paced enough (and hard enough) to be a challenge.
Or at least that was how I played the game. I know there are plenty of really fast weapons in the game (I found a bunch of them), but I always found myself going back to the black knight great-sword that I found relatively early in the game. It was slow, but it packed a punch. Especially after upgrading it a bunch.
Speaking of which, I never really did much crafting in the game. I upgraded some stuff from time to time, but I never did anything crazy, or craft any unique items that used those boss souls. No, I didn't just instantly use those souls as soon as I got them, but I did eventually consume them for souls near the end of the game because I figured that at that point I was never going to use them for crafting.
I also played the DLC for Dark Souls, Artorias of the Abyss. And I have to say that while $15 for it seemed steep at first, especially given the fact that I got the whole game for $20, after completing it I feel that it was well worth my $15, if only for the story aspect.
Yes, the story. I know that Dark Souls gets a bad rap for being so obtuse with most of its story, but I actually got really intrigued by the story in the game, and tried to get every last bit of story out of it that I could. I talked to each and every NPC that I found until they ran out of things to say, and then I'd talk to them again the next time I passed through the area (and they often had new things to say). And honestly, the further down the Dark Souls rabbit hole that I fell, the more I came to really like the story that they crafted for the game, and the world itself. There's a lot of history to the land of Lodran, and I'd like to know even more.
But back to the DLC itself. It's pretty long (I didn't time it, unfortunately), and has some really fun bosses in it. I ended up summoning people to help with three of the bosses, though I feel like with the exception of Manus, the Hand of Fate, I could have gotten through on my own. I'm glad I did summon those people though, because the fight against the Black Dragon Kalameet was really fun with two other people to assist. I'm not sure if this was what they were really trying to do or not, but it felt like they were just trying to distract Kalameet so that I could do most of the damage against him. Or maybe I just happened to get most of the hits in, I don't know. But it was a really fun fight, and sort of made me realize while people like playing something like Monster Hunter with other people.
Or it would if the Monster Hunter games weren't garbage games that played poorly, but I digress.
That Manus though, oo boy. If you can beat Manus on your own, then you have my respect. That dude is FAST. Crazy fast.
And then I beat Dark Souls. It took me about 70 hours (including the DLC), and I loved just about all of it. Not the frame rate down in Blight Town, but hey, what are you gonna do when the PS3 version is the only option? Well, I could have played the 360 version, but then I wouldn't have been able to summon people, because screw paying for Xbox Live.
And after beating it of course Demon's Souls had to appear as a downloadable game on PSN. I was very tempted to buy it, but I didn't. Part of it was that I didn't want to get involved in another Souls game so soon, part was that I only had a week left before I had to go back to college, and part is that Demon's Souls doesn't have an open world like Dark Souls does.
No, Dark Souls isn't a truly open world in the sense that something like Skyrim is an open world, but the interconnected nature of the game was one of my favorite parts. Stumbling my way through an area only to wind up in an area that I was in before was always really cool. The people who made this game clearly put a LOT of time into the level design, and the design of the world as a whole, and I can not understate how much I loved the exploratory aspect of the game.
And a big part of that is how little information the game tells you about what you're supposed to do, or where you are supposed to go. Yes, you can find out a lot by talking to the NPCs, but even then it's mostly just vague stuff like, "I heard of a smith in the forest that can forge divine weapons." Just enough to point me in the right direction.
Or maybe in the wrong direction. Because after I rang the first Bell of Awakening, I ended up going into the forest and doing everything there (from the Hydra to even Sif himself) before I even stepped foot into the lower portions of the Undeadburg, let alone the Sewers or Blight Town. That led to me struggling to beat Sif in an stoic battle where I had no Estus left, and beat him with literally seven health, and then I breezed through Blight Town with relative ease. I say relative because Blight Town is still a confusing mess, and I died once from super poison.
So, yeah. Dark Souls. I loved it, and I can't wait for Dark Souls II. I know some people are worried about them dumbing it down, but I think there's still room to make it a little more accessible without ruining the parts of it that I love. It's obviously much to early to know when all we have are a pre-rendered trailer and some statements from people working on a game that'll be out in 2014 at the earliest.
Okay, now this is a nice image, even if it's not game play.
Super Amazing Wagon Adventure.
This game is dumb. Astoundingly dumb. And I love it.
Let me tell you a story about three travelers, going west. At one point they decided to swim a river that was too deep to ford, and too long to jump. While doing this they braved many a piranha, jellyfish, and narwhal, only to do battle against a giant squid. But the travelers were successful, and as their reward they received a treasure chest. With trepidation they opened it, and what did they find inside?
Why, a trained falcon of course.
This game is amazing. I played way too much of it, but I never beat it. And I'm sure that I'll play even more of it, because MAN. This game is FANTASTIC. And it's only a dollar. Go buy it. NOW.
You can also go into space.
I know this is a flash game, but it's still pretty cool. I also haven't beaten this one, but I enjoyed my time with it. And the music is rad. I've had the main title theme on loop as I've written this blog (by which I mean I have the game open in a different tab, and left it at the main title screen). If you haven't played it, it's worth a look. It is a little buggy though, and the keyboard only controls aren't the best possible controls for this type of game. But they're serviceable.
Yes, I have actually played a 2013 release this year (well, Westerado is a 2013 game too, but whatever). And I won't write too much about The Cave, because this blog is much longer than I originally intended, but I do want to say a little bit about it.
I really enjoyed The Cave. I think part of why I enjoyed it as much as I did was that I played it co-op with two of my friends, and we played the entire game in one sitting. Playing it in co-op does two things to improve the game. The first is that with three brains, it rapidly increases the rate at which puzzles get solved. And the second is that there's way less backtracking when you have different people controlling the different characters, and you can relax and watch other people play during a lot of it.
Again, I liked it. We went Hillbilly (me), Scientist, and Twins. There's some good variety with these guys. I thought a lot of the puzzles were well designed, and I thought the game was pretty funny in spots.
But as much as I liked it, I think I had my fill, which is why I'm glad my friend bought it and we played it on his PC. If you have a couple friends to play with, and a few hours to kill, then I'd say The Cave is totally worth your time.
Also, we somehow lost the post card halfway through the game. That made me sad.
So that's it for games that I've played this year. There's been some that I would have played if I had the money to play every game. Namely Devil May Cry and Dead Space 3. But with so many other melee combat action games this year, I opted not to play DmC (yet), and I'm waiting on a sale for Dead Space 3. I love the Dead Space games, but I feel like I ought to wait a bit on DS3.
Metal Gear Rising: REVENGEANCE is out next week, and I'm super pumped for it. So far as I know the only review from an outlet I've heard of for it (as of this writing) is a 39/40 from Famitsu, which is encouraging, but it's also from Famitsu, so who knows. It'll definitely be smarter to wait for reviews that are, A. From people I have heard of, and B. Written in english so that I can read them.
Aside from that? There's plenty of other games this year (probably) that I'm looking forward to, most notably whatever Ground Zeroes and Phantom Pain end up being, but even more notably...
Mario & Luigi: Dream Team!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I am INSANELY excited for this game. The only problem is that I don't have a 3DS. I'm going to have to buy a 3DS. I need some money.
I just hope that it winds up being another Superstar Saga or Bowser's Inside Story, and not another Partners in Time. Partners in Time wasn't a bad game, it was just really disappointing after Superstar Saga.
Not much of interest has been happening in my life outside of games. I'm still working on my second book, which is a sequel to the first. You can still totally buy that first one on Amazon as an ebook, but I won't link to it because I fear what the mods will do to me for advertising here in a forum. Yeah, this is a blog post, but nobody reads these things if I don't attach it to a forum.
And I am especially fearful for what ZombiePie will do. He laughed at us earlier this week as he mercilessly cut down all our hopes and dreams. I understand that the mods have rules to enforce, but dammit ZombiePie! Can't you let us have any fun?
I'll be graduating after this semester in college. Or dropping out if I fail a course, because I'm not going to another semester just for one class. But I doubt that I'll fail anything. This stuff isn't that hard.
As this is, apparently, the Year of Luigi, I've decided to make a change to my blogs. This is also partly because of a recent Northies related development from Giant Bomb dot com.
There will be no more unrelated pictures of Nolan North in my blogs.
If the GB Crew have retired the Northies from their end of year awards (which I disapprove of, for the record), then I feel like I've let the Nolan North picture gag go on long enough. Thus, unrelated pictures of Luigi shall be the thing I end all my blogs with! Enjoy!