By ArbitraryWater 6 Comments
Oh hey! It’s been a month since my last blog write-up thingy and a lot of stuff has happened! Namely the part where I’ve been browsing this site on my phone for the last two weeks because my stupid computer finally broke all the way and I am not exactly in the financial straits to buy another overpriced laptop capable of playing modern games. While this means that I have yet to finish Divinity: Original Sin, a game I found to be “super duper good” and am actually borrowing a roommate’s laptop to type this sucker up, I have still been playing video games and am willing to write about them in a blogular fashion. Some of them are even from when I had a computer to play games on! Is one of them Demon’s Souls? Nope! I think the fact that I still haven’t finished that game despite owning a Playstation 3 for more than two months is indicative of how much that game has grabbed me in comparison to Dark Souls II. But enough about games I haven’t finished, what about games I have?
The Wolf Among Us, a modern and relevant video game
Like The Walking Dead, I waited for the last episode of The Wolf Among Us to come out before I bought it on sale, and like The Walking Dead, I cut my way through it in a handful of sittings. It’s okay. Honestly, anyone expecting lightning to strike twice was dreaming, and given the rather muted reception to some of where the second season of TWD is going, maybe we shouldn’t expect every Telltale game to be “Game of the Year” quality (whatever the hell that means. I still think the idea of giving that award to a game comprised entirely of bad QTEs and timed dialogue choices is sort of incredulous, but that’s why XCOM won on my list). That’s fine, because for the most part I enjoyed the adventures of Bigby Wolf, Sheriff of Fabletown, even if some parts of that season don’t exactly hold up all that well. The first episode is superb, and then… it sort of doesn’t follow up on that. At the very least, I didn’t have to deal with the multiple-month wait between episodes like you suckers did. If I had to do that, I would have likely been a lot less forgiving of some of the weird inconsistencies and meandering that those middle episodes have in-between some genuinely fantastic moments. The world and characters in The Wolf Among Us are pretty fantastic, but the actual detective story doesn’t really take advantage of the episodic format so much as it drags along from one half-meaningful twist to another, leading to a conclusion that is satisfying if not entirely full of answers.
If I have a singular issue though, it’s that any sense of choice and consequence is thrown out the window rather early, while the first season of TWD kept the illusion going right up until the end (at which point you realized that, no, your choices don't actually matter). In The Wolf Among us, there’s not even any pretense of real consequence, just slightly different dialogue. Still, I wouldn’t mind another season, the aesthetic and world are interesting enough that I’d be willing to give the world of Fables another shot. Moreso than another season of The Walking Dead, that’s for sure. Zombies? Bleh. If those zombies aren’t made of terrible polygons and I’m not shooting at them from fixed camera angles with limited ammunition, I’m not interested anymore. I played a handful of other games on my computer before it aspload, but other than the brief impression that Warlock II is a lot like the first game but with more planar hopping funtimes and generally more interesting, I don't have a ton to say. Man, I really want to play Divinity.
I play old games that are probably not modern or relevant
Thus, with my computer sitting in a corner, non-functional, I was forced to turn to my high tech, modern and relevant video game console, the Playstation 3… where I played PS1 games. And also recent games. But let’s talk about the old games first. I’ve certainly had experience with Naughty Dog’s old Crash Bandicoot games before, but I don’t think I’ve ever beaten them until now. They hold up quite well, and part of that comes from the simple fact that they aren’t trying to be anything other than platformers, and while getting all 25 crystals in Crash 2 and 3 (I did not play the first game because I vaguely remember it not being as good as the other two) is pretty easy, getting all the gems isn’t, which is probably why I haven’t gotten all the gems. I’m working on it though. If there’s any appreciable difference between Crash 2 and 3, the third one has a handful of unfortunate vehicle-type levels that aren’t as good as the raw platforming stuff. Otherwise, they’re functionally the same. Though, I have to say that Crash Bandicoot is still very much a product of the 90s in the same way that Sonic was and I’m not sure how well that property would work now. I’m aware that other Crash games have been made, but other than vaguely remembering that The Wrath of Cortex was sort of middling I couldn’t tell you a thing about them.
Along with those, I somehow 100%ed the adventure mode of Crash Team Racing and that’s a pretty good Kart Racing game. Maybe not Sonic and Sega All Stars Racing Transformed good, but it’s certainly better than Mario Kart 64. I mean, Kart Racers aren’t exactly a genre that is hard to screw up, but CTR strikes me as a game I would like to trick my friends into playing in order to beat them over and over again because I just spent hours playing through the same 16 tracks and in some cases finding a bunch of shortcuts. That would require me to own more DualShock 3s though, and those things are effin’ EXPENSIVE. Another fun fact that I found when I looked on the wiki? There have been not one, but two other Crash Bandicoot Kart Racers. I’m just… baffled. Apparently those games sold?
Modern and probably relevant games: I play them as well.
Destiny was a game that had a beta and I enjoyed said beta. Unsurprisingly, Bungie is capable of making quality first person shooters, though I’m not sure how much that game’s MMOish structure will hold up to the way I play games (alone, because people are scary and I don’t have any friends with PS3s), but between the solid gunplay, character mobility and even the PVP stuff I can say with confidence that Destiny is at least on my radar, even if I’m not sure I will actually get it day 1 or not. In general, I’m not super stoked about most of the big releases in the coming months (lemme tell y’all about these Kickstarter RPGs I backed two years ago), but I might be willing to make an exception for this one.
Remember that time I wrote about Valkyria Chronicles II and I talked about how much I liked that game in spite of it having an intolerably obnoxious cast, braindead story and a sprinkling of PSP hardware limitations? Well, now I’ve been playing the first game, and as far as I can surmise I’m a little more than halfway through the story. Compared to its sequel, the story of Valkyria Chronicles might be the complete works of Shakespeare, but in real terms that just means the characters are inoffensively bland anime archetypes instead of aggressively terrible anime archetypes. Welkin, for example, is just kind of an easygoing daydreamer fellow who speaks his mind and compares everything to nature because that is quirky or something, which already makes him a trillion times better than idiot goofball Avan. While what I’ve seen isn’t quite as vulnerable to the hilariously dichotomous tonal whiplash that the second game has with its anime high-school funtimes juxtaposed with the part where you’re fighting a war, it’s still not without that problem. Who could forget that part where the requisite beach scene happens right before the mission where you liberate a concentration camp full of that world’s equivalent to The Jews? That’s not jarring at all. Still, the general quality of the writing is a lot better (not exponentially so), which means I’m semi-interested in following the story instead of actively dreading any time a story sequence happens. It’s also worth noting that Valkyria Chronicles 1 has some production values, because it looks so damn pretty both in and out of gameplay. Certainly helps that the voice acting is half-decent even if some of the lines these actors are working with aren’t great.
Ah, but what of the gameplay? It’s still Valkyria Chronicles (turn based strategy with real time action elements), though I can’t help but note a few things that they improved in the second game. Given that the maps are much larger instead of being segmented and sectionalized, scouts are the dominant class most of the time given that they move twice as far as everyone else, which is sorta important when you’re being graded on speed and nothing else in regards to mission rank (this has also led to some absurdly cheesy strategies on my part, not limited to just sorta running past everyone and taking the enemy base within the second turn). Also Engineers are still worthless, I sort of miss the melee-oriented fencer class and I wouldn’t mind a tank that moves further. These minor gripes aside, it’s still a very fine strategy game and one I am more than eager to complete.
And that’s it for me I suppose. I guess I’ll inevitably write another one of these things in like a month though at that point school will be starting and I’ll get back into the habit of not playing a ton of video games (hopefully by then I will have some sort of computerbox to play Wasteland 2 on, otherwise heads may roll). Until next time, remember that if your computer crashes in Safe Mode, that probably means something is seriously wrong with it.