Monster Hunter 3: Ultimate (Wii U) - First Impressions

I'm completely new to Monster Hunter, but as my Wii-U was gathering dust in the wake of superior gaming via Steam, I decided to give it a shot straight to the adrenal gland. In theory, MH is exactly my type of game - I like grinding to improve gear, and the idea of collecting materials and improving the town, while maintaining a farm etc.. is very appealing to me. Not sure why, but it is.

Anyway, first impressions are honestly not amazing - BUT I am being critical of even minor niggles, and I actually fully expect to fall in love with this game once I get into it.

It's quite an aimless experience at first - in that you aren't handed a practically on-the-rails path from quest to completion to the next quest. You are loosely given a quest to get some meat, and the game feels quite open from there.

I expected big things from my first battle with a monster - a herbivore no less. After everything I'd read, and the comparisons with Dark Souls, I was expecting a weighty, deliberate and high pressure battle. However the slashes to the body of the monster didn't feel very heavy or impactful - they didn't "connect" very well - there was blood splatter and that's about it. I didn't expect rag-doll reactive hardcore skeletal physics, but I did expect some knock-back and definitely a feeling of methodical, impactful fracas. This was a let down. I've only had a couple of battles thus far, and none of them have been a proper battle I don't think - they barely fight back. I expect this to improve vastly in the coming hours.

The frame rate isn't a solid 60 fps which is a let down - particularly as this is an overhaul of an older game. It's not choppy or unplayable by any means, but it's a gripe nonetheless - however I've come to expect this from console gaming, particularly with the bar being set so high by a 670GTX + Steam.

The on-screen dialog text is quite small, and the size can't be changed - perhaps nobody else is bothered by this, but I don't have any eye sight issues yet this presentation seems lacking to me.

Some hints / notes I think are worth knowing:

  • If you want to loot make sure weapons are put away
  • Corpses despawn quickly
  • Changing zone will despawn corpses
  • Use the d pad to change targets, for example in your house, to see what you can interact with
  • In your house, in the storage box is a selection of each type of weapon - available from game-start
  • Controller can only be changed from main menu, not the in-game menu (e.g. switching from Wii U Gamepad to Pro Controller)
  • If you choose 'dynamic' GUI at the beginning, you cant revert to non-dynamic - however you can apparently drag UI items on the Wii U Pad into the trash can to bring back the on-TV UI (yet to accomplish this! - any help?)

I have a feeling that once I get into the rhythm of the game, I'll be writing a much more upbeat 'second impression'.

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Games from the DOS era

I was about in my early teens when DOS was dying out, but I still had my fair share of experiences, shutting down Windows and going into DOS to play some 'classics' even back then. Below is an amazing collage of the best DOS games. I tally about 20 or so that I played...but as more and more games were able to run reliably in Windows 95, I spent less time actually booting into DOS.

In fact some of these games I experienced when they were at their peak, albeit I played them on the Amiga 500. Lemmings, Beneath a Steel Sky and Syndicate are prime examples of these.

My favourites from the games listed below are Duke Nukem 3D, Quake and Realms of the Haunting (over 2 hours of FMV! - stunning for the time) - at that age, that game actually did haunt my dreams at times...more because I spent so much time playing it, than because it was particularly terrifying.

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Joe Rogan Experience #338 - The One Where Joe Got Drunk

I listen to the Joe Rogan Experience (podcast) every week, as often as they release a new episode. It's thought-provoking, varied and a whole 'lotta fun. Especially on the rare occasions where alcohol really leaves it's mark on the show.

This was one such show, where Joe and Brian gradually become more giddy and ridiculous. Shane is obviously under the influence, but as astute Redditor limited_inc phrased it:

"Shane Smith is the kind of drunk I want to be; Rogan is the kind of drunk I am"

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Heart of the Swarm / Mass Effect 2 - Simi-lore

SPOILERS FOR BOTH GAMES

I had an epiphany; the lore for both games is similar in structure and to some extent, narrative. By no means do I think either game is original in it's use of these plot devices, twists and arcs - but they are both Sci-Fi romps that I'm a big fan of...

What struck me most about HoTS' campaign was the relationship building that took place from mission to mission. There would be a frenzy of gameplay, followed by some well-crafted dialogue where our protagonist and her associates began to forge understandings and even friendships over shared struggles in missions. It felt familiar.

I realised that Mass Effect 2 presented a structurally similar approach to the overall build-up of the game. Here's where I see commonality between the two:

  • A 'risen from ashes' style beginning for Kerrigan and Shepherd.
  • Uncertainty about who our friends and enemies are - with a meandering story arc that sees friends become enemies and vice versa
  • The recruitment style approach to our comrades; some of the friendship is ambiguous at first, but by merit of the morals and expertise of our protagonist, people respect them and ultimately become friends with them
  • In both games, we are fortifying our position to launch an assault on our nemesis: Kerrigan seeks power directly, whereas Shepherd has to improve the Normandy and assemble a powerful team
  • [Weak, subjective comparison alert] The evolution missions in HoTS reminded me of the excursions in the Mako (ME1) - optional means of improving/upgrading
  • In both games, the enemy we are facing is simply a pawn of a greater evil (Amon / Reapers)

It seems like a good formula to follow for a space opera, letting us explore relationships, gradually harness greater power so we can conquer insurmountable odds and making the significance of success so much greater because we aren't just fighting for ourselves...we're fighting for our friends. Or something less cheesy.

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UFC 158: St-Pierre vs Diaz Pre-fight Press Conference

Once again, Nick Diaz delivers with his old-school aggressive attitude which has garnered him the majority of the fan base he currently has. This is the first and probably only time we will see such a flustered GSP, who did well to refrain from losing his temper.

Couldn't be more excited for this fight...the weigh-ins are likely to be a treat as well!

If you haven't seen it, check out the Countdown Show.

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Stop 4:3 Games From Stretching On Your Widescreen Display

In playing SW:KOTOR 2 recently, I found that my display would stretch the game view, rather than honoring the aspect ratio. The games runs @ 1280 x 1024, which looks quite ugly when stretched across a widescreen. To remedy this on an NVidia graphics card, simply go to your settings and Display > Adjust Desktop Size and Position, and set Perform Scaling On: to GPU.

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Misbehaving Mouse in OSX? Hovers / Taskbar / Clicks Not Registering?

This is an odd one, and chances are it’s very rare...

I noticed recently while working on a website, that the dropdown menu wasn't working. It took a click to get ‘focus’ before the drop down would occur – then I noticed it was happening with hovers, and anything else that requires the interface to be aware of the cursor hovering over it.

Naturally I assumed it was my CSS…after some wasted time, I discovered it was because my mouse was plugged in! It appears to be a conflict between the trackpad and the hardware mouse - but not all mice. It doesn't occur with a wireless Microsoft mouse, but does with the Saitek R.A.T 7.

It could be Steve Jobs punishing me from beyond the grave because I’m not using hallowed Apple hardware. I remedied the problem by installing the R.A.T control panel software.

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Forward and Back In Web Browsers Using Mouse Buttons on Mac

If like me, you use the extra buttons on your mouse to move forward and backwards on web pages. This comes ‘out of the box’ on Windows. Sadly it’s not the case on Mac OS.

You can do it with keyboard using CMD + Left or CMD + Right, so you can obviously map these commands to your mouse buttons if you have a supporting mouse.

Logitech mice tend to come with control panel software, which enables mapping.

If you own a Satiek R.A.T (and maybe any other Saitek mouse) you can quickly get the forward and back goodness by installing software available here http://www.saitek.com/uk/down/drivers.php.

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