By Alaska_Gamer 1 Comments
Sorry for skipping last week. That now makes two, I guess. But hey, I now have two games that I have a lot to talk about instead of just one. And as for what prevented me from posting last week, you’ll see later.
It’s good to go back through some of your backlog once in a while. Especially for me, since I now have a widescreen monitor and want to see how much better the games I already own look now. So I decided to replay Bioshock, and to give a quick summary, I am glad I played it years ago as enjoyed it a whole lot back then. Because replaying it now, especially after finishing System Shock, it doesn’t feel very special anymore.
The idea of Bioshock being a spiritual successor to the System Shock games is only really true from a thematic standpoint. The method of progression and delivering story is similar, with audio logs of deceased people filling in details on the place you are in. And that’s it. When it comes to gameplay, I’d much rather play System Shock.
There are some moments in the game that are really great, but they’re more or less just story delivery mechanisms than actual great moments of gameplay. The opening minutes of the game are very strong, and the big twist that happens late in the game is still genius. I’m glad to have seen that moment without being spoiled at all beforehand, especially when I’ve spoiled myself on other major moments in games (the SHODAN reveal in SS2 is pretty much devoid of surprise now what with people having talked about it for years after that game). And it’s a real shame that the rest of the game goes kind of downhill after that moment passes.
If there’s one thing that System Shock has given me a reason to want out of System Shock is the seamlessness of the UI mixed with the action. Both games didn’t take you to menus that completely took you out of the game. The hacking minigame was in a corner window while the rest of the game world kept going. It feels efficient being able to move forward while still going through a couple of small menus to bring up an audio log or other important item. Never mind the combat in Bioshock, since I kind of don’t mind because of how faster it feels compared to other shooters and beating splicers with a wrench feels way more satisfying than Gordon Freeman and his crowbar. Probably because they twirl around in the air quickly that I find it more amusing than falling over limp. But yes, other than being the only one alive and finding audio logs to fill in the story, I find the UI of System Shock 1, and by extension SS2, to be another part of the core “Shock” experience.
Not to say I still don’t like this game after replaying it. The opening minutes and the plot twist are still great and well done, but my personal favorite level in the game is probably Fort Frolic. I always appreciate when a game has a quiet moment that distances you from the action, because it keeps me engaged in the game without thinking about turning it off and taking a break. Fort Frolic isn’t exactly devoid of action, but it distances you from the main conflict between Atlas and Ryan and puts a whole lot of focus on one of the few living, yet still psychopathic, residents of Rapture. In this case, it’s Sander Cohen. The fact that he does not attempt to murder you after doing everything he wants makes you kind of appreciate him. Which is hard to say, especially for someone who likes to pose corpses and coat them in plaster. I even got to visit his apartment, although that encounter wasn’t pleasant. Should not have messed with that record player.
I’ve already talked about System Shock, and now I’ve given my impressions of Bioshock after experiencing its spiritual predecessor. There are things in the game worth playing it for, but it’s more for a crazy world and setting than anything actually involving gameplay. In that regard, I would suggest finding a copy of either System Shock games. Still, if you want to experience the games in order of “quality getting better after each one you play,” starting with Bioshock is the best way to go. You’ll be less disappointed, I think.
So hey, the Witcher. That’s been around for a while. And during the Steam holiday sale, I got 50% coupon for it, and when Steam sent me a reminder to use it before it expired, I took action and bought the Witcher for 5 bucks. The rest of those coupons I got I didn’t really need.
Anyway, the game. Guess what, I really like it. But you could probably guess that since I wouldn’t want to write about bad games on this blog. In all seriousness, this is a pretty good RPG. The gameplay is decent, with the combat being one of my favorite things, but the world itself is magnificent. Everyone and everything is morally compromised, nothing being clear black and white. Although by my standards, I’d say just about everyone I’ve seen so far is dark, dark grey, borderline black, because man, there are so many scumbags.
But before I get into that, I wanna bring up some things about the gameplay. I’ve been playing this game with the OTS camera setting instead of the high or low isometric view. Since I’ve had experience playing KOTOR on PC, which felt awkward the first time, playing the Witcher how I am now feels oddly natural. The action is real time, but the RPG mechanics prevail, as you click on enemies to send Geralt into his attack animation. The thing that I like in particular about the combat is how there are options to not make the thing feel boring. You have certain weapons equipped on you at all times, and those weapons (specifically the steel and silver swords) are useful in various situations, and on top of that those two weapons have three combat stances. And then as you’re attacking, you can click again with the right timing to string together a combo of powerful attack. All that, plus some other moves you can pull off.
I’m playing on the easy difficulty, as is the usual for me, so most encounters don’t provide me much trouble, but I like the idea of preparing certain weapons and stances for the right situation, versus just getting more powerful equipment to the point that you steamroll everything. Which I still find myself doing, since it’s on the easy difficulty, but hey, I see how useful these combat mechanics end up being. Most other stuff outside of the combat isn’t quite as interesting. Many of the Witcher jobs (from what I’ve seen in the first chapter) are simple “kill the monster” gigs, but given the Witcher’s job as a monster hunter, I’m able to excuse those quests being there. And then there’s the alchemy, which I have not done anything with past that part in the prologue where the game teaches you a bit about the alchemy system. Also, easy difficulty doesn’t require you to make use of the system, so I’m not really going to see how well it plays out unless I do a new play through on a higher difficulty setting.
Anyway, let’s switch over to the thing that I find most amazing and infuriating (in a good way) about the game, and that is the world. The Outskirts of Vizima in Chapter 1 does an outstanding job of establishing the prejudices and straight up dickishness of the inhabitants of the world. The finale of that chapter in particular got to me personally for an odd reason, but that’s what makes it so good is that with Geralt as my avatar, so to speak, I am able to live out the fantasy of annihilating stubborn, short sighted morons who, after killing the beast and doing them a service, still try to kill me. Ungrateful pricks. But that chapter was really enjoyable. I kind of got to know some of the people that I helped out, and became fairly accustomed to the layout of the outskirts. There was a mystery going on that I was involved in solving, which ended in tragedy for the peasants.
And then I get thrown in jail upon approaching Vizima with the necessary papers to enter. Horrible people.
So right now I’m in the middle of chapter 2, still doing quests and running into scumbugs. I’m having fun with this game so far, so there’s no reason for me to not keep going. Well, unless I have a bunch of other games that steal my attention away, but you get the idea.
And the Rest
Enough time had passed that I figured it was time to start replaying Katawa Shoujo. On my first playthrough I (inadvertently) went through Rin’s storyline, which I found mostly enjoyable, with some parts in the middle being frustrating. Now I’ve been going after Lilly. And once I’m done with Lilly’s storyline, then I’ll see Emi’s, Hanako’s, and lastly Shizune’s. Given how much time I spent away from Katawa Shoujo after finishing it the first time, I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m talking about it again several months later.
Things Other Than Games
Man, where do I start? These last couple of weeks has been pretty rough. Well, the reason I did not have a blog last week is because I had a project I was working on for Physics. As it turned out, I kept thinking the due date was the Monday the 5, not Friday the 2. Once I heard that on Monday of that week I had to drop everything else I had afterschool (basically, a whole lot of free time) and double down on finishing it. It was frustrating with things not working as I wanted and running out of supplies. Once the thing was turned in I didn’t want to think about it anymore. I haven’t even checked what grade I got on it because I’m still incensed thinking about it.
So no time to play games last week meant no writing about them. Anyway, with that horrible week done, finals took place soon after. And after I finished those, my parents left to go on vacation for two weeks, leaving the house all to myself. Well, my sister is still here, but she’s always out doing stuff, and she’ll be going to a friend’s wedding in Arizona in a few days, so then I will absolutely be the only one in the house. That means no distractions whatsoever. And while I bet most parents would worry that their kids would do irresponsible shit while they were gone, there’s no difference in what I do when my parents are or aren’t here. They’ve got nothing to worry about with me.
Well, that’s it. Thanks for reading, and all that stuff.
Oh yeah, that's right. Next week is the 17th of March, so expect something a little different in the next entry. There will still be games, though.