ArbitraryWater versus generic fantasy games

Posted by ArbitraryWater (11478 posts) -

OR: I stop playing a game that I stopped enjoying, both to my own shock and that of others.

Well, now I've done it.

Oh hi internet. Short-term unemployment has its benefits, especially when you’re living at home and don’t have to pay for anything. One of these benefits is the ability to spend far too much time on dumb nerd stuff, like the video games, when your parents aren’t getting on your case about where direction you want to go in with one’s life. I’ve also started reading books again (The Emperor’s Soul is a nice, short story that exhibits Brandon Sanderson’s strengths as a writer. The Rithmatist does as well, but it also is dragged down by all of the dumb stuff that is part and parcel with Young Adult novels) and using the money I got from my previous job I’ve made poor life choices in regards to cheap Ebay purchases. I bought a copy of Soul Calibur 2 for the Gamecube, because Link is in it, and also that Bioware-developed Sonic RPG so I could write another blog where I mercilessly make fun of something. I’ve similarly come close to pulling the trigger on $30 copies of Suikoden V, a game that taunts me with its rarity despite the part where I’m intimidated by lengthy JRPGs and still haven’t finished Chrono Cross. Money is a dangerous thing. That I know for sure. But hey, video games that I’ve owned for a while!

Kingdoms of Amalur is an ok fantasy game

Not generic at all!

And not much more. You may recall me giving it an honorable mention in my GOTY blog of last year, but that was only 15 hours in. Now, at around 40 hours and nearing the end of the main questline (to not even talk about the dozens of side-quests that I’ve deliberately ignored and also The House of Sorrows), I think I may have reached my limit. It’s a mechanically solid game with a lot of smart ideas regarding combat and character building but it doesn’t execute on them well enough to last for its entire length, and the other aspects of the game (i.e. the world and the writing in general) don’t pick up the slack well enough to make me want to slog through another dozen or so hours of tediously easy button mashing just so I can claim to have finished a game I think ran out of steam a dozen hours previous. In essence, it would be better if it were 2/3rds as long, had better loot, more nuanced combat and wasn’t as easily exploitable. All things that a sequel could fix, but… well… you know the likelihood of that. Thanks Obama Curt Schilling.

Definitely not a single-player MMO!

But I’ll back up a bit. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is the only game that was ever put out by 38 Studios (developed by the also defunct Big Huge Games) and will probably be the only true legacy of all the insanity that studio went through last year. It is one of two open-world RPGs with heavy emphasis on combat that came out in 2012, but unlike Dragon’s Dogma and its indefinite cross between Dark Souls, Monster Hunter and maybe the Elder Scrolls, the influences of KoA are far more distinct and easily recognizable. The game is basically a single-player MMO with God of War-esque combat and color-coded loot with prefixes like it was Diablo. The world is split into zones, all full of individuals with exclamation marks above their heads indicating that you should go to X and kill X or otherwise be someone’s glorified errand boy, but there are also some elder scrolls-like guild questlines and a main story that you’ll probably forget exists most of the time. On paper, all of this sounds alright. On paper. In actuality, the world is sort of boring and generic and at some point I started to ignore most of the extraneous dialogue that the game offered to me. While there were a few quests here and there that I found to be interesting and well-written, the vast majority of them are pretty forgettable tasks from lazy peasants who can’t bother to do anything themselves. I didn’t necessarily take this as an issue, since story is probably the most ignorable part of this game, and unlike something like say… Valkyria Chronicles II, it was never aggressively bad enough to earn any sort of major reprimand from me.

Something that I appreciated about the otherwise middling Jade Empire was that the “evil” solutions often revolved around telling people to solve their own goddamn problems instead of making you do all their busy work. Amalur could’ve really used some more of that.

For me, a bad story isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker, and initially Reckoning’s gameplay is pretty neat. You have a pretty flexible character development system that allows for easy respec-ing and a combat system that allows for combo-based enemy beating. And, early on, it worked for me. Playing on hard with a Finesse/Magic hybrid character, I was better off dodging attacks and throwing chakrams than directly engaging against enemies capable of taking off chunks of my health and stunning me out of attack animations. But at some point around that 20 hour mark the tables started to turn and I started to steamroll most of what opposed me. This is partially because the game overlevels you with all of the various quests it throws at you, but also because you can start socketing “+2 health regen per second” gems in most of your armor and become virtually unkillable as a result. It also didn’t hurt that I switched my character over to the “Jack of All Trades” hybrid archetype and enjoyed all of the damage-boosting and survivability benefits that came with it. And that was pretty fun, for a while. But around today I… finally just got bored of it. I’ve been using the same weapons for the last 4 or so hours because the loot drops are sort of bad, I have an inordinate amount of gold because there’s rarely anything to spend it on and I can sort of win all of the combat by pressing X a bunch, possibly with my eyes closed. I’ve proven that I will finish games for the sake of finishing them, but you know what? I think I’m good. While excessive grinding is sometimes cathartic for me, I still have Bayonetta and Devil Survivor to finish and I’d much rather spend my time on those then deal with whatever excitement no doubt awaits me at the end of Kingdoms of Amalur. Will I defeat the Tuatha? Will I defy fate? Will I possibly press X a bunch after using that ability that makes it so I ignore hitstun? Who knows? Not I. Not I.

But, to not end this blog on a downer, here’s something that I did like:

Quest for Glory is a surprisingly decent fantasy game

Just remember to type FEED BEAR and you'll be good. Oh wait, I played the VGA version because text parsers are scary.

I finished (the VGA version of) Quest for Glory with some mild cheating involved, which is to say that I sometimes used a guide because old adventure games sure do love them some obscure and retarded puzzle solutions, especially when Sierra is concerned. That being said, as far as Sierra games go, it’s actually pretty straightforward and logical in the way it presents its puzzles (which makes me assume that Roberta Williams had no real hand in this title) and the addition of RPG elements and different classes actually makes the game far more interesting than it otherwise would be. It still trades a lot on deliberately bad puns and a decidedly goofy sense of humor, but I’ll admit that some of the parts of the game got a chuckle out of me for as antiquated as any sort of reference to Monty Python or that Jim Henson puppet dinosaur show could be. The way the classes are laid out seems rather clever, and playing as a Thief, I was pleasantly surprised to find that some of the puzzle solutions involved sneaking past things or stealing junk. Oh sure, I still skimmed a guide because my time is valuable and I don’t feel like drawing a map, but if there was a Sierra adventure game series that holds up the least poorly, QFG may be it. We’ll find out… once I finish the other 4 games in the series, which thankfully is mostly relegated to the DOS era and only the final game in the series looking like it fell out of 1998. I’m going to see how long it takes before I resort to a guide for (the VGA version of) QFG2. I’m guessing like an hour, given the way that the streets are laid out.

But to really not end this blog on a dour note, here's a speedrun of Temple of Elemental Evil done in 4 minutes. You're welcome.

Online
#1 Posted by Video_Game_King (36025 posts) -

Aw man. I was hoping that speedrun would be glitched to hell and back, but it's more a stupidly efficient route (and, therefore, boring to watch). Still, that description is pretty funny. "Our first step on arriving in the village of Hommlet, after shooing a pesky drunk, is to recruit the local "locksmith" Furnok, only to immediately murder him and steal his Ring of Invisibility."

And I might as well mention it here: I remember getting Might and Magic 7 to work in windowed mode some time ago (but mostly as a proof of concept instead of playing it), and I plan to play it kinda soon. I just need to finish Fire Emblem: Awakening (most recently finished that chapter with the Twelve Deadlords), and then I'll be ready for this.

#2 Edited by Mento (2441 posts) -

I've been meaning to get back into QfG after buying that GOG pack a few months ago. Like I've been meaning to do a lot of things. At least I'm finally playing The Longest Journey. Between that and Planescape, I've been checking off games that feel like they've been on my backlog for over a decade.

I got the same impression of Reckoning too. Big time sink. I want to try and avoid games like that until I've caught up with some of the shorter ones. It might just be I prefer shorter games in general these days, though.

I hope you find a decently priced copy of Suikoden V eventually. It's probably my favorite (besides 3, potentially, since I've yet to play it).

Moderator
#3 Edited by Hunter5024 (5544 posts) -

Man Kingdom's of Amalur is such a bummer. I feel like I should like it, but it's just kind of boring. The story and the combat are both really solid attempts, but they didn't go far enough with either one. Congratulations on making it further than me.

#4 Posted by Slag (4016 posts) -

Quest For Glory is baller.

Glad you get it man. :)

re: QFG II, I'd skip the the sierra version and play the fan made VGA remake version if you can.

http://www.agdinteractive.com/games/qfg2/

2 is the only one the doesn't hold up moderately well imo, although I never liked 3 that much.

Online
#5 Posted by ZombiePie (5585 posts) -

if there was a Sierra adventure game series that holds up the least poorly, QFG may be it. We’ll find out… once I finish the other 4 games in the series

Oh man...I cannot wait to see what you think of Quest for Glory III. Prepare to join @sparky_buzzsaw and myself in the "miffed fans of Quest for Glory fans" club. At least things didn't go as poorly for Quest for Glory as they did with Gabriel Knight...

Moderator
#6 Posted by believer258 (11642 posts) -

I remember Jeff Gerstmann saying that the best way to play Amalur is to do the House quests and the main quest and nothing else. When I started playing it, that's what I planned on doing. I got about ten hours in. Some pretty wasted potential there.

#7 Posted by Hailinel (23910 posts) -

Aw man. I was hoping that speedrun would be glitched to hell and back, but it's more a stupidly efficient route (and, therefore, boring to watch). Still, that description is pretty funny. "Our first step on arriving in the village of Hommlet, after shooing a pesky drunk, is to recruit the local "locksmith" Furnok, only to immediately murder him and steal his Ring of Invisibility."

And I might as well mention it here: I remember getting Might and Magic 7 to work in windowed mode some time ago (but mostly as a proof of concept instead of playing it), and I plan to play it kinda soon. I just need to finish Fire Emblem: Awakening (most recently finished that chapter with the Twelve Deadlords), and then I'll be ready for this.

I don't know what you're talking about. It's far more entertaining to watch someone master a game without resorting to glitching through walls.

Also, I'm surprised that you haven't beaten Awakening yet!

#8 Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw (6088 posts) -

@zombiepie: i liked a lot of the ideas of QfG3, but I agree it started a bit of a bad trend for the series. I will hold firm in regards to my love of the fourth game, shitty combat, bugs, and all.

Moderator
#9 Posted by Video_Game_King (36025 posts) -

@hailinel:

Come on. It's a lot more fun to see just how much you can utterly destroy a game, especially when we're talking about a game that's already quite broken.

To be fair, I am playing the game on Hard because I thought the game was mocking me with Normal. Turns out that was an asshole trap the game laid for me and I'm now too far in to give it all up. (Plus having a Lon'Qu who's essentially in his 50s makes things considerably easier.)

#10 Posted by ArbitraryWater (11478 posts) -

@zombiepie: Is the third one the bad one? I had always heard it was the fifth one, though I guess I wouldn't really trust the GOG forums to offer any valid opinions on the quality of various games.

@slag:

Oh, don't worry, I'm already using the AGD remake of QFG II.

@hunter5024: It's an earnest first effort, one that will never be followed up on. I guess maybe if you didn't overlevel your character and didn't cheese the various game systems it might retain an appreciable level of difficulty... but I don't think the combat is deep enough to last that long anyways. I feel the need to compare it to Dragon's Dogma a lot, but while I feel like that game is flawed in some pretty obvious ways, at least its high points are absurdly high.

@mento:

In some sense my blogging was meant as a way of tackling a backlog, though I feel like I would've played most of the games I've written about regardless. I think it'd be a fun exercise to make a list of the games I wouldn't have completed were I not committed to this silly exercise. Planescape is a fantastic interactive novel with bad combat, so you should get on that at some point. Just put most of your points into wisdom.

@video_game_king:

Yeah, I was actually surprised at the speedrun's rather straightforward nature, given how broken the unmodded version of the game is and how insane most runs are for games running on the Infinity Engine. Still an impressive feat, even if the guy mentions that he doesn't like the game in the run notes, to which I say "Fie on thee".

@believer258:

That would probably be the optimal way to play the game, yes. I feel like that reflects a lot of people, and I don't think I've ran into anyone who is really into it.

@hailinel

I'll second that. While speedruns that are all glitch are funny for how broken they are (see: Ocarina of Time any%) I'm far more impressed when there's a bit more skill involved beyond memorizing how to break the game.

@sparky_buzzsaw:

Am I setting myself up here? IS THIS A TRAP?

Online
#11 Posted by Mento (2441 posts) -

Oh no, I beat Planescape a few weeks back. Absolutely lived up to its reputation.

Had to look up which one the third QfG was. The jungle one. I can barely recall that game, but I remember liking the silly vampires one (IV?) a lot.

Moderator
#12 Posted by Slag (4016 posts) -

@sparky_buzzsaw:

Yeah I'm with ya, IV while definitely imperfect was fun anyway. I think my problems with Three mainly had to do with the setting. I'm not sure why that should matter but the world in 3 just didn't connect with me.

Although I admit I'm one of those crazy people that liked V a lot though (which seems to be an unpopular opinion these days), so what's my opinion really worth?

Online
#13 Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw (6088 posts) -

@slag: i agree with the issue on 3's setting. It felt lazy aesthetically, but those games have always worn their inspiration on their sleeves, so I'm not entirely sure why it bugs me either.

Moderator
#14 Edited by Tennmuerti (8005 posts) -

Totally on the same page with you on Amalur. And the boring-ishness sets in even faster if you played on normal with a powerful build. Honestly you are not missing a thing by not finishing the game, the ending is much like the rest of it kind of generic, boring and cliched with no oopmh. Not to mention the last 1/3rd of that game is a downhill slide into more repetitive slogging through pushover enemies.

About the only thing I will praise Amalur for is that it did in a way manage to introduce active GoW style game play into an RPG. At least at the core (while final implementation is lacking). This can be seen in the DLC arena that has probably the highest difficulty of any part of the game (if you weren't so OP) that really allows one to let go with combos of different weapons the combat kind of becomes a fun and fluid thing to watch and perform. It's too bad that the rpg loot and leveling aspect of it is so half baked.

#15 Posted by TruthTellah (8537 posts) -

I think all open RPGs like Amalur should just come with two additional dialogue options that are always present when you start talking to someone with a quest:

"Sure, whatever. Just give me the details and I'll go do it."

and

"Hey, buddy. Go f*ck yourself."

#16 Posted by TowerSixteen (542 posts) -

I came out of Amalur REALLY not liking it. The very first build I chose-pure mage- was both relatively obnoxious and very overpowered. To wit, it game me 2 or 3 fuck-you kill everything area effects, and also a bunch of buffs that took up too much room on the screen. The camera was already parked way way too far up my characters ass.

Also, I don't usually mind some repetition in quests, but the fact that there was only like 15 enemies and 5 task types in that game took that way too far. The fact that they couldn't even bother to make different enemies for different regions meant that during quests I was always looking at the exact..same...things. To be fair, I dropped out due to boredom right before heading to the second continent, so maybe that place had a whole second set of enemies for all of it as well. I'll never know.

#17 Edited by Tennmuerti (8005 posts) -

To be fair, I dropped out due to boredom right before heading to the second continent, so maybe that place had a whole second set of enemies for all of it as well. I'll never know.

Nope.

#18 Posted by Yummylee (21270 posts) -

Oh, Amalur. I spent my share of complaining about that game for a short while when it was released. It's basically a 20 hour game stretched into 100 hours, only the 20 hours aren't even all that good to begin with.

I would routinely head back in there because I wanted to complete it, as I had already invested far too much time into it as is. That and I kept hoping that it would eventually click, but as you mentioned it only gets worse the deeper in you go. The loot drops become meaningless, the combat devolves into a lifeless slog, and the story (from my experience) never picked up enough for me to at least care to see the end of the main questline.

Kingdoms of Amalur is the poster boy of mediocrity.

#19 Edited by SpaceInsomniac (3558 posts) -

I think all open RPGs like Amalur should just come with two additional dialogue options that are always present when you start talking to someone with a quest:

"Sure, whatever. Just give me the details and I'll go do it."

and

"Hey, buddy. Go f*ck yourself."

You missed one: "Hey, rather than running your stupid errands for five quests before you give me the information that will help me track down my father, wife, brother, family, attempted killer, person who can help me save the word, etc., how about instead I devote all my time to ruining your life until you give me the information, and I don't let you blackmail me into being your personal fucking slave?"

Fallout 3 especially pissed me off with this, as did Red Dead Redemption.

#20 Edited by TruthTellah (8537 posts) -

@spaceinsomniac: I could see a game allowing you that option once you've gotten "evil" enough. Just a "Threaten them to give you the crank to the windmill instead of tracking down some damn soup for his grandmother."

#21 Posted by TruthTellah (8537 posts) -

@spaceinsomniac: Though, the way things are going, I'd almost expect something more like "Fetch the mystical soup to get the crank, or just pay $0.99 to have him give you the crank immediately."

#22 Posted by punkxblaze (2957 posts) -

As far as I remember, the Sonic RPG is actually pretty solid aside from the battle system being a little finicky with the timing of pressing on the touch screen. But I mean, mechanically and story-wise it was otherwise surprisingly not terrible. I haven't played it in years, though, so don't quote me on that. (Someone will quote me on this.)

I still haven't played Amalur because I haven't heard anything redeeming enough to make me devote time to it, so I have nothing to say on that front.

#23 Posted by TruthTellah (8537 posts) -

As far as I remember, the Sonic RPG is actually pretty solid aside from the battle system being a little finicky with the timing of pressing on the touch screen. But I mean, mechanically and story-wise it was otherwise surprisingly not terrible. I haven't played it in years, though, so don't quote me on that. (Someone will quote me on this.)

I still haven't played Amalur because I haven't heard anything redeeming enough to make me devote time to it, so I have nothing to say on that front.

I will forever quote you on this, punk. The next time you say "I like this..." or "I dislike that..." I will bring up the fact that you liked the Sonic RPG.

#24 Posted by punkxblaze (2957 posts) -

@punkxblaze said:

As far as I remember, the Sonic RPG is actually pretty solid aside from the battle system being a little finicky with the timing of pressing on the touch screen. But I mean, mechanically and story-wise it was otherwise surprisingly not terrible. I haven't played it in years, though, so don't quote me on that. (Someone will quote me on this.)

I still haven't played Amalur because I haven't heard anything redeeming enough to make me devote time to it, so I have nothing to say on that front.

I will forever quote you on this, punk. The next time you say "I like this..." or "I dislike that..." I will bring up the fact that you liked the Sonic RPG.

I'd expect no less from you, of all people. You are a tellah of truths.

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