Games I Played 2012: Episode 16- Fallout New Vegas

So yeah totally realize that this is coming in a little late but it is really a result of all those things that interfere with your free time such as holiday vacation, a new semester at school and wanting to play the new games I have received rather than write about slightly older ones. You know what for once I am not going to reiterate why I wrote this series of blogs if you are interested (doubt it) you can check out one of my previous ones however I’ll just say it comes as a result of game of the year list envy. Enough of all that hogwash and excuses though I want to talk about the last game I played of 2012. A game I sunk more hours into than I expected and a game I’ve been trying to tackle since 2010, Fallout: New Vegas.

Coolest Outfit In Game

My interest in Fallout comes from a friend of mine who has been pretty reliable recommending me gamer related stuff (including Giantbomb so thank him for these massive blogs ha ha, also he is Peter on the site if interested in stalking) however his one misstep was with Bioshock which he swore I would love. For no discernible reason except that I wasn’t into the atmosphere (I know someone is like WHAT the atmosphere is awesome) and the plasmid/gun combo wasn’t doing it for me either. Honestly I can’t pin own exactly why I stopped playing Bioshock and normally I’m a dude who has like a 5 hour grace period for a game to hook me but after only an hour or two I decided I wasn’t interested and called my friend and gave him shit ha ha. Back then I was broke and still traded games in and I was all you better redeem yourself and give me a real suggestion, he mentioned Fallout 3. Another winning suggestion. I had no knowledge of the series but quickly adapted to the huge setting and new mechanics (despite an early setback of being pissed off because on the first “go to the grocery store mission” a big group of Talon mercs were waiting for me and blew me apart ha ha). Soon enough I was scrounging the world for missions and more story to expand my Pip-Boy’s info about the dilapidated place I now found myself in. A year or two after finishing the game I realized there was a trophy update for the game and went back through collecting the trophies for the pure enjoyment of it. This was even better because there were a few sidemissions I had missed which turned out to be some of my favourites. But anyway on to New Vegas.

I picked up New Vegas soon after it came out an amidst all of the hub ub about it being broken. While playing Fallout 3 I couldn’t even remember it crashing that often (I imagine it did but with no serious harm one) so I figured the game would be a bit buggy, maybe a bit annoying but not enough to distract me from playing it. I was wrong. So the first time I played the game about 5 hours and found the game had made me reset 3 times already, I was super frustrated and had not been able to really immerse myself in the new world yet. Hearing about all the potential patches I said fuck it I’ll wait and moved on to something else until then. I believe I waited a year and then gave the game another try. This time I played the game for 13 hours (I know because I still had these saves when I went to play this last time) and the game crashed eight times. These may sound like exaggerations but after the first time I actually counted to make sure I wasn’t crazy. In my 13 hours with the game I wasn’t having a ton of fun yet as I was constantly saving, fearful of losing progress. I want to reiterate that I rarely if ever walk away from games incomplete but I said fuck this shit again and moved on. Until the end of 2012 when I felt like playing an RPG, which I think had something to do with all the fallout (ha ha) following the release of Skyrim from the previous year. People went nuts about that game and I wanted to play a similar style so I looked in my backlog of games and said one last time or never again.

I realize I’m harping on the technical issues with this game a bit much, however, this is one of the only games (the other being Halo for PC, but that was my crap PC not the game itself) which was so buggy it actually effected my interest in playing it. About thirty minutes in I had my first crash (tried to drink while a “complete mission” tag was scrolling across the screen) and I inhaled and ploughed through it. I didn’t count the number of crashes this time, mostly cause I didn’t want to be so distracted by them as to lose my interest in the game again. And with the exception of one spot (going from a campsite across a big valley toward Red Rock) being completely broken, I’m serious tried to find a way around but the game crashed no matter which way I came at it. The game was eventually fine and I could sort of stop worrying about saving every ten minutes. But yeah sorry about that whole tangent but that was my initial experience and as you can see not a very positive one which was a shame because I was predisposed to liking this kind of game.

Oh Yeah Matthew Perry Is in This Game

The main plot of the story was in some ways superior to that of Fallout 3 and from many people I have heard this is the strongest point of reference versus Fallout 3. I agree to a point and I liked the new faction interaction stuff at play in the game. However, I did feel as though the characters were weaker on the whole than in Fallout 3. There was no real charismatic force such as Three Dog, no companion who I liked as much as Fawkes (although Lily was super interesting) and no character as heartfelt and earnest as your dad from 3 (also Liam Neeson people c’mon). However, there were some people and moments which much be brought up as bringing some great highlights to the game. One of the most horrible things was when in my first ending playthrough with the NCR I disconnected Mr. House, his screams of “you should have killed me!” and the horror of what I had done to this guy made me go wow I’m a complete dick for no real reason. The Boomer society was also interesting as well as their overall “goal” of dropping bombs from the sky, and how the Brotherhood of Steel was shown as vulnerable and out of date with society when previously they had been simply the badasses in 3. The stuff about the individual endings of each main story faction were sort of meh, the “final boss” characters of the Generals were not really developed despite the whisperings about Lanius. The conclusions mostly were unsatisfying, and I know it is Fallout so there will not be happiness but they played out exactly as I guessed with the exception of House and Independent. I was like if Legion wins there will be awful brutality but everything will run and be prosperous, if NCR wins the little guy will be rolled over and their bureaucracy won’t be efficient, yup that’s about right. I think I preferred the more simplified ending of 3 where no you do not save the entire world but you do bring light to the territory by purifying the water.

Cutting through all the bullshit about bugs and endings I think my biggest gripe with the game is the forgettable sidequests in New Vegas. In Fallout 3 I can name some of my favourites off the top of my head, the vampire mission, the awesome tree people mission, the giant ant mission to a lesser extent etc. In New Vegas I can’t recall quests of that calibre at all. If you are thinking hey that guy didn’t look, I did I borrowed a guide and tried to find the best sidequests…there weren’t any really. Thinking hard I can maybe say the cannibal hotel but that was sort of anti-climatic and maybe the bomb threat but once again was sort of whatever. I mean the Fallout games have hours and hours of missions to tear through but I was honestly expecting just a few gems in there to think about later and I was disappointed about the lack of them.

I’ve been bitching a lot but getting across my love for 3 and my disappointment in New Vegas must be stated, however, I wouldn’t have played 80 hours of this game if I thought it was crap so I’ll talk about what was cool. This includes looting corpses and finding awesome stuff, I actually loved a lot of the weapons in this game including the anti-material rifle (goodbye alpha deathclaw muhaha) the Q plasma rifle and (although from the OWB dlc) Jeb’s plasma (I forget the exact name). VATS and causing random mayhem is still a blast, running around picking fights with mutated animals, ghouls and fucking Powder Gangers (seriously f those guys) is super enjoyable, looting them for goods for caps still great. This game almost had an excess of stuff so that I had a ton of money by the end of the game but it was still super satisfying.

This Lovable Scamp Is Still Accounted For

One of my favourite parts of Fallout was still in play in New Vegas, that being of discovering vaults. I love going down into these godforsaken places and reading about what awful experiment when wrong (best in New Vegas being the plant vault and the political death vault). I must also say that probably my favourite piece of content I played from New Vegas was dlc. After asking you guys your opinion on the best NV dlc I went with Old World Blues and was delighted. The story, characters, voice acting, loot and comedy were all gold. I even loved the base they gave you and the silly personalities given to the objects in it (toaster and book chute made me lol). It is a FUCKING shame that the rest of the side quests weren’t as great as this content and it makes me sad to think that there are people who will play NV and not this great piece of content, if you are on the fence don’t be get this dlc now.

Alright this blog got huge so I’ll move on to the trophy section. Um the trophy section wasn’t great, had the typical do damage with each kind of weapon and other BS like heal with food which was tedious to get. I sort of wish they had more side quest trophies to encourage people to play more of their game but maybe they realized they weren’t strong quests either. Overall not super hard just time consuming getting the different endings etc.

So there it is New Vegas is a game with some major issues but is still a Fallout game an if you loved 3 you should play this game if only to scratch that itch for looting goodness. My biggest gripes are with the poor side missions and the fact that this game was borderline broken for an extended period of time, I would’ve finished this game in 2010 if not for this fact. Thanks for reading if you managed to make it. I’m not sure if I’m going to continue this series into 2013 as people don’t have time to read these gargantuan things. I’m thinking maybe make them shorter or cease this madness. Anyway so far in 2013 I’ve played XCOM and now am going through Playstation All Stars. We’ll see if I feel like talking about em. Once again peace out renegades.

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Games I Played 2012: Episode 15- Valkyria Chronicles

Wow blog fifteen! Getting pretty close to the present at this point. Gotta get these written before the year is done and it is coming up fast!! My November game was the acclaimed Valkyria Chronicles. But just to recap I am writing these blogs in order to be a part of the game of the year fun. Because of my modest student budget I can’t play the standard ten 2012 games in this year (also just as a sanity thing I wouldn’t buy ten games full price, that seems insane) instead I pick up cheaper games that I still wanna talk about. So that is what I’ve been doing with these. Fifteen games so far (I honestly can’t believe I’ve played that many sounds nuts) and I went and picked up Valkyria Chronicles.

A little while ago I think it was around a year and a half ago I made the decision I wanted to play one of the underexposed pre-trophy PS3 exclusives. I got decided to choose between Folklore and Valkyria Chronicles and I chose the former (which I really liked and was the only game that I enjoyed using the sixaxis controls) and Valkyria moved to the back of the line. Then just recently I got into the whole XCOM hype that was going around the site (which I hope someone will get me for Christmas) and lamented the fact that I don’t play enough strategy games and remembered Valkyria. It also helped that at this point the game is dirt cheap and I got it for twenty bones. I knew that XCOM was waaaaay different from Valkyria I just wanted to scratch my itch for strategy.

My main interaction with strategy games have been the Fire Emblem and Advance Wars series. I’m not a diehard fan of either, however, I do pretty much play Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones and Fire Emblem for the GBA (one with Eliwood in it) because I fucking love those games. I believe I’ve heard those two games are a travesty to the big fans of Fire Emblem (if you believe this please “enlighten” me cause those games were awesome in my opinion) and I liked a lot of the ideas and characters in those games. So while I started my adventure with Valkyria by wanting to play XCOM I was really expecting more of a mix of Fire Emblem and Advance Wars. Based on the quick look I saw the actual battle segments (where you maneuver your dude etc.) were really different from those series but I expected the strategy stuff with characters and soldier types and that stuff would be similar and I would love Valkyria. In fact based on popular sentiment from forums and other sources I expected a lot of cool shit from this game. People would praise this game for its story and just as an overall great experience. This is going to be a largely dissenting opinion but I thought the game was sort of meh. My main belief would be that the positive opinions of this game caused me to heighten my expectations and I was disappointed as a result.

Yeah See These Dudes Pretty Much Red Shirts

Alright so to start out people said the story and characters were a highlight of the game. My perhaps biggest issue with this game was the lack of characterization in the side characters. In a similar way to Fire Emblem your characters (except for story characters) can be killed and perma death is a constant threat. In Fire Emblem this made me more connected to my characters and I felt awful when they died and I decided to move on for the greater good. In Fire Emblem the rest of your crew have stories, motivations and specialties. For example in Fire Emblem there was a character name Dorcas who is an axe wielding brute who you face and recruit because he has hired himself out as a mercenary to earn money to help out his sick wife. In one of my first play throughs of this game Dorcas died and he was all “I’m so sorry wife!!!!” and I felt like shit even though he was this small picture and text based dude. In Valkyria Chronicles I was like yeah! Characters like that, with voices and more complex stories. You get to recruit like thirty dudes into your squad made up of certain classes. Whereas in Fire Emblem you can get warriors, or monks or archers or knights and many other classes Valkyria Chronicles presents you with only about five. People are designated as scouts, troopers, lancers, engineers or snipers. Also the don’t significantly improve other than on a stats level and later on one class (the troopers) getting to use a flamethrower. In Fire Emblem you get an evolution of everyone’s class if you reach level ten and use a rare item. But alright I could get over these more limited options. What I could not get over was that the crew outside of the four or five main dudes were goddamn nonexistent. They were just unique looking dudes with about 5 lines of dialogue and motivations that you pretty much had to look up on your own. There was no mention of them in interactions in the story, or any talking between characters. They were useless. Pretty much dudes to just throw at the enemy with the only important thing being their class traits. When I recruited Jann the gay lancer and Coby the old trooper I was like cool what are these guys all about? Turns out nothing, they die and you don’t care because they are robots.

Wow that was a big paragraph. Another thing that I didn’t personally like and is more justifiable in a design sense was the class leveling over individual leveling. When you gain exp in Valkyria you use it to level an entire class rather than making one sniper a beast everyone goes to level 2 at the same time. I understand why some people would like this as you don’t make your entire squad weaker if someone dies. However, this played into my love for the individuals in the Fire Emblem games. If I could have made Coby my beast trooper I would have cared more if he died and there would be more consequence to death. Instead when Jann died I just replaced him with the next lancer in my roster no biggie. This seems to be one of the majorly cool things about XCOM as it is a game where the squad members are not really developed like in Valkyria but they level individually so people go nuts when their maxed out dude gets killed. In that game people end up getting attached to these dudes even though they are not developed but the death in Valkyria had no consequence at all and the people don’t matter.

Oh Wow A Well Developed Villian..Or Just Another Evil Conquerer..Alright

Ok I’ll talk about the gameplay itself which I did enjoy but was generally overshadowed by my disappointments with the rest of the game. I enjoyed flanking dudes and the typical trooper>scout and lancer>tank style that is typical in strategy game (or the one I’m more used to being sword>axes>lances>swords). I was overjoyed when a lancer would hit a dude who was about to kill one of my other dudes. Or enjoyed when I could get my sniper up to a crow’s nest and begin to wipe out the map. All of that stuff was fun. One issue I had which I’m sorry I have to compare to my previous strategy games of Advance Wars and Fire Emblem (I know I shouldn’t compare everything but shit happens) is that there is no accuracy percentage. Occasionally I would take shots that would look ok and go nowhere near so it would have been a nice addition so I could have maneuvered my soldiers more accurately. Taking down tanks were also kind of silly because they had the typical “shoot the glowing blue exterior engine to explode” feature which I thought was rather unnecessary. Lancers should have had to just shoot the damn thing 3 times to destroy it or something and stayed away from that sort of silliness. One other weird thing I liked was the hidden grass stuff which was pretty great and surprised the shit out of me the first time I encountered it. It was a nice touch that you could hide in grass and be camouflaged from the enemy (although it was also silly when you ran up on a person in grass your hit was still low but whatever).

I guess I’ll talk about the story itself which I was expecting to be more original than it was. A small country in the middle of two big warring territories is invaded and a ragtag group of soldiers bands together to defend their homeland. As the story goes on Valkyria’s are introduced as these near-mythic beings who possess great power and can fuck shit up. Conveniently for the evil empire invading they have recruited a Valkyria who is obsessed with the evil prince. They gather the magic spear and shield of the Valkyria and begin decimating your home, Gallia. The set up is typical but fine and I liked the race stuff they put in with Welkin’s sister and her people being opposed to the Valkyria. I was expecting a lot of good personal story moments between Welkin and the squad and was rather let down. Alicia and Welkin’s relationship to me at least seemed to go from 0 to 60 in no time. One minute they are meeting and exchanging battle plans and then they are married in typical idyllic ending. I didn’t find there to be a significant development of this romance and it was just sort of yeah you know these people are gonna be together, here ya go. The best (and most ambitious) moment in the story is SPOILER!!!!!!!!!! Welkin’s sisters assassination. That was a good heartfelt moment that I was expecting to be prevalent throughout the game…but this was it. Pretty much Welkin’s younger sibling was the only significantly interesting story moment in the game really. Other than that it was the typical small guy fighting back against the evil empire, young chick + young dude=”Welcome to Alicia’s!” (or love more accurately) and you know good>evil. Oh wait one more slightly interesting character was the Valkyria herself who was engaging in her obsession with the prince and her betrayal etc. However she doesn’t get a lot of screen time and is not a major factor as a result.

Trophy section!! Oh wait this game has no trophies…shit. As a trophy hunter the fact that the game was without trophies was disappointing and in a way I’m sort of glad it didn’t have them this time. It allowed me to view the game with no distractions in mind and see it fully.

So yeah here is my opposing of popular sentiment this year (I mean not popular per se but widespread opinion) I just found the game to be really lacking in story, characters and have found in my opinion better gameplay in other strategy games. I’m not entirely sure why people are so vocal about this game, I imagine they will tell me if there are comments to this blog. I think it must have been the fact that there were no other games quite like this on the PS3. And I mean it is a pretty game but there was a lot of positive opinion about this game narrative wise that got me excited and subsequently disappointed.

Alright duders thanks for reading if you’ve made it this far, next up I finally get around to playing Fallout: New Vegas and what I played in December. Exciting!!

See ya.

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Games I Played 2012: Episode 14- Costume Quest

Figure I have a bit of time in between exams (yeah three down one to go!) to talk about some games. Hopefully you guys have some time to read about them mostly because I am just super pumped about Costume Quest! But first I’ll go through my traditional spiel about why I write these blogs. It basically boils down to me wanting to take part in the game of the year craziness even though I don’t play enough current year games to qualify. This is as a result of more modest financial situations (being a fairly poor student) and being reasonable with my purchases (not buying every game brand fucking new). So I play a lot of older games primarily from the previous year as they have a nice price drop and it makes more sense to buy them in that manner. I still enjoy discussing the games I did play though so here is another installment in my series of blogs about my 2012 games. They are presented in the order I played them in not in a particular preferential order (I may do that later). So here is another October game I played. Just for anyone interested the list as it stands right now is Resistance 3, Infamous 2, Rage, Twisted Metal, Mass Effect 3, Bulletstorm, Rayman: Origins, PixelJunk Monsters, Batman: Arkham City, PixelJunk Shooter, Infamous: Festival of Blood, Yakuza 4 and L.A. Noire so far.

C'mon Stop Being So Damn Cute!! Ah Nevermind

But on to the burst of fun that is Costume Quest. I picked this game up as a part of the PSN stores Halloween promotion. As someone who is always looking for a sale I was extremely excited there was a price drop for a game that I was genuinely interested in. I had never played a Double Fine game before but had heard that their games implemented great humour and I was really happy with those moments in Costume Quest. I had watched the quick look on Giantbomb and enjoyed the look of the combat which was fairly old school RPG style. As a sucker for turn based I was looking forward to this aspect of the game. However, the most enticing part of this game was simply the premise of kids on Halloween believing that their costumes were real and that it is reflected in the gameplay. The whole imagination kid thing makes this a great moment of nostalgia for me at least and how kids are always pretending to be superheroes or monsters or what have you. A game based on that sort of idea is not only awesome for stealing ideas from childhood but also creates this incredibly charming cutesy atmosphere of little kids saving Halloween from having no candy. The game sets you up as being either the boy or girl in a Halloween twin situation. Whoever you choose you get a sweet robot costume and look over to see your sibling wearing a lame candy corn costume. Because of your siblings lame choice in costume when the troll like candy obsessed Repugians who are stealing all the candy in the neighbourhood come along they are kidnapped after being mistaken for giant candy. There is the overarching plot, saving your sibling and collecting candy on the way! That’s awesome right? This game could have easily been a typical random encounter system but instead they integrate trick or treating. Just another one of the things that are awesome is that you actually go door to door and either get a Repugian who is ransacking the house for candy and begin a battle or an adult who loads you up on candy which is the games currency (of course it is).

This Amused and Terrified Me

The battles themselves are what you would sort of expect from an RPG with one difference which kept me paying attention to the screen. Each attack you perform has some sort of timing based button press or other distraction which keeps you focused. For example your attack is more effective with certain costumes if you press the button prompt at the right time, so it will go PRESS O now and if you hit it in time your attack will be more effective. I know this isn’t a big deal but it was a nice touch that made CQ more interactive and interesting than the typical attack wait attack wait of regular turn based RPGs. The costumes also each have a special attack that charges up after about three turns and becomes an important aspect of battles. Because this game has no real item inventory (with the typical potions or phoenix downs and what have you) you have to rely on all recovery from these special moves and dress accordingly. For example the unicorn costume (which had sweet rainbow action) is the revive character who brings a dude back to life. In my playthrough I was more defensive (apparently I didn’t need to be a buddy of mine was all offense all the time) and chose the robot (special is a big rocket attack) the knight (who raises defence of a character with a big shield) and either the unicorn (mentioned above) or the ninja (throws smoke bombs and makes a character invisible to the enemy). There are many costumes however and the game encourages you to try them all (the trophies and exploration powers reflect this) which is great and I had a lot of fun simply seeing the “monster fighting” versions of these kiddie costumes (of particular note is the hilarious and frightening version of a French fry costume).

When you are not in battle slaying Repugians and collecting candy you are running around a few hub areas. In these areas there are people to talk to in order to receive sidequests so that you can get more CANDY!!! The exploration of these areas is also encouraged because you can find materials to build new costumes. You first need to receive the blueprint which is normally by doing a sidequest but then you can find tinfoil or yarn and when you get all three required materials you get a sweet new costume. The costumes in the game also have uses when you are exploring. Several of them have abilities that allow you to access hidden areas. For example the robot costume has roller skates and allows you to jump over ramps or the knight can use his shield to block water so that your costume doesn’t get wet etc. These are small things but appreciated as they further differentiate the uses of each costume I also spent like twenty minutes trying to figure out how to get into a certain area before I realized I needed the knight shield.

Badass Transformations, Check!

One of the major complaints I hear about this game is that it is too short and I will agree with that to a point. One of the benefits from buying this in the Halloween sale was it was the bundle with the games dlc. After finishing the game I was like I need one or two more areas to explore. That is how much I enjoyed this game, I was desperate for more. Luckily I had that extra area because of the dlc and it adds a wintery area to explore. Since I played this game in three sittings (and only that many because you know work and school) I can testify to it’s addictiveness as well as its brief running time. However that one extra area went a long way for me and satisfied my need for more. The dlc is not necessary viewing however if you want more costume quest (and if you are like me and loved this game) then get it because it gives you another area, new costumes and more of the shit you loved about CQ.

Alright let’s talk about the couple of trophies in this game. I liked this simple list because it just encouraged you to see everything there was to see in this game. This game was not hard but the trophy list encourages gamers to perform everything and use every ability which they might not have unless if they particularly liked their set of dudes. The game also had a set of treat cards which were amusing to collect and read their names which were like “Jaw Hurters” or “Banana Beard” and helped add to the Halloween atmosphere of the game. Overall getting all of these trophies were a cakewalk but since they encourage you to see all of this magnificent game I can’t hold that against it. If you’ve read up to this point I’m sure you’ve realized I liked Costume Quest.. A LOT. If I had to say what game I had the most pure fun with this year it would go to this wonderful little game (and I know I’m not crazy because a buddy got it at the same time and couldn’t put it down either). The premise was enough to get me interested but the charm and humour of this game blew me away. Maybe I haven’t played enough Double Fine or smaller games up til now and so I’m particularly impressed but I really think this game was tailored to my play style. It was short and sweet (tooth rottingly so) and I loved the hell out of it. The next time someone asks me what PSN game to get this is going to be my first answer. The game was a little short and a little easy but everything else overshadowed these shortcomings (and wanting more of a game is more of a compliment anyway) and created a great game with amazing knowledge of kids on Halloween and their imaginations. PLAY THIS GAME!!!!!!! Alright that is enough for now hope you enjoyed this. Next up on my list is Valkyria Chronicles which was a game I was interested in for years and finally played this year. See ya soon.

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Games I Played 2012: Episode 13- L.A. Noire

Alright so I’m into the more recent months of my gaming, I’m finally catching up yeah! Not exactly before all the game of the year stuff starts (which is why I wanted to get my stuff out of the way of all that because it will cause my tiny blogs to disappear even more. However I’m into October and my venture into Rockstar. But before all that I’ll recap why I’m blathering on about these games. Financial reasons constrain my game playing ability so that I am unable to typically create a proper top ten game of the year list from the current year. So because I was missing out on that fun I decided to write about the games I did play this year which were an amalgamation of last years game with older and a couple of current year games. This is not a top ten but simply me talking about the games I played in the order I played them. So let’s gets to the game I played itself….L.A. Noire!

I was pretty hesitant to pick up this game for several good reasons. One being that I am not really a fan of film noire and I had never played a Rockstar game that I liked before. I will say that I had only played GTA3 and GTA: VC and I guess that is not a good enough reason to stay away. (I will also say that I KNOW L.A. Noire is not Rockstar developed and that Team Bondi did the development for the inevitable comment that I’m an idiot, however I personally consider it to be in the Rockstar lineup and it was even in their collection so whatever)But when I was playing those PS2 era GTA’s I never got the point of the games. I found the gameplay clunky, the missions boring, the story lackluster and while creating mayhem was fun it was limited and not a reason to keep playing. So since playing those games I have stayed away from Rockstar figuring they were just not up my alley. Red Dead got huge accolades but I’m also not a big western fan and the game mechanics looked really similar to GTA so I wasn’t ready to get that. Then L.A. Noire came along and I loved the idea of gathering evidence, catching lies and putting people behind bars. It also had the bonus for me of having dudes from Mad Men in it which was really cool and I thought the facial stuff was really interesting (if not a little creepy). But I still had my stigma about Rockstar even though I wanted to give them another try to see why people went nuts over them. L.A. Noire seemed like a good jumping off point as it wasn’t fully Rockstar and had a different gameplay angle then their regular stuff…so I bought it.

Domo Arigato Mr. Roboto

I really liked L.A. Noire!! I’ll say that before my criticisms etc. I found the story to be good, the gameplay interesting (if a little repetitive) and the atmosphere to be great even though I’m not a Noir fan. The character of Cole Phelps was to me a little bit of a lifeless dude. He was more of an automaton to me for the first part of the game rather than a quality fleshed out character. When you get more of his backstory later he improves as a character but by then he’s sort of a dick so I never really enjoyed my time being him. I’ll also say the thing that I’ve heard is a common criticism of the game in that the second half isn’t as good. That is absolutely true. The homicide division stuff is the best in the entire game and once you land in vice it takes a nosedive slightly redeeming itself in Arson but not enough to make you wonder what happened. I really liked the different partners you are paired with throughout the game. They seemed like real dudes (instead of your do gooder character) and I loved Rusty because he was so old school and shameless. The uncovering of elaborate plots and meeting ridiculous characters was really fun and it kept me guessing and wanting to see it through until the end. As I said before the homicide division stuff was great even though it is obviously not a string of unrelated murders and clearly one dude. The reveal at the end was decent and the setting of the showdown was great, creepy and atmospheric. The end where you’re all like but! WHAT! Ah crap. Is also genius because it is so much of a downer that it fit with the entire noir setting. Nothing is properly dealt with and it fits. I’m sure some people were like what about justice? And I’m all this is film noir shit there is no justice! After that high you are dumped into vice and the drug running and betrayal and affair is very much summed up in one noise UGH. That is how I felt about Cole and his extramarital bullshit where his career is destroyed (which he was amazing at) over one stupid thing. Once you get to arson things get better but after the head smacking moments in vice you just want to see it through (I also loved the Fringe dude being an evil villain, and the southern gentleman doctor was pretty great). The endgame stuff with the chase through the sewers was decent as well and I enjoyed the connection from Cole’s past and the end. You created a monster!!! Ha ha. But overall the story was good, at moments great but ultimately frustrating which takes away from the experience on the whole.

No you have to turn it before you realize it is a bloody pipe

On the gameplay side of things the collecting of evidence was entertaining and made yu feel like a real detective not just the hero who rushes in but the guy who does his research to make sure he isn’t putting the wrong guy behind bars (which happens anyway). Some of the gamier things include the music that plays until you have collected all evidence and having to turn items to see the writing on them but the music can be turned off if you wish and the handling of the object has its own appeal even if not entirely necessary. The collecting of evidence was one of the gameplay things that I never really got sick of (unlike some of the other stuff) and I would try and piece things together and be completely wrong once the interviews started which brings me to them. The interviews are perhaps the most interesting and the most flawed thing in the game. Utilizing the facial software was great, however even though it is necessary to give the actors exaggerated expressions it eventually is super obvious when someone if telling the truth or not. The only real issue once you know how to play is whether you have the correct evidence to reveal a lie. Connecting the evidence to a lie was in my experience either super obvious or cryptic as hell and the character goes on for five minutes before telling how the question is connected to that piece of evidence. Perhaps I’m just I bad detective but I fet sometimes that those moments were not very clear. Either it was 1+1=2 or super confusing.

I have heard complaints also about the whole run around the city following the serial killer riddles. Some people said they were too vague, however I thought they were fairly obvious if you thought about them and I got them all on the first try. This was another reason why homicide was the best for me, I loved this run around the city chasing the psychos riddles. I felt smart when I figured out the next location and one step closer to catching the maniac. The city itself even though labelled as an open world doesn’t have a lot going on and doesn’t encourage you to explore much as there isn’t a lot to do. It is just a huge map with a couple of side missions in it and collectibles (gold film reels) that would be insane to find them all without a guide (fuck that). They give you this big realistic city to drive around in but with the exception of getting in new cars I ignored most of it and just went to the next side mission or story beat. The shooting itself in L.A. Noire I’ll say was alright. It was nothing special but it was an improvement over my feelings toward the earlier GTA games I played before. However, I am worried about playing a game like Red Dead which will rely more on the shooting and have none of the adventure game stuff like L.A. Noire has. I don’t know if I could stay interested in a game which would be so reliant on that aspect of gameplay when I find games like Uncharted do their shooting better. I dunno I guess it will be decided if I ever pick up Red Dead. Most of the side missions were gun related and that was fine because they were short and no big deal. So overall I was sort of meh on the shooting aspect of the game.

Oh yeah and your captain knows like 500 ways to say burn in hell

Alright I’ll move on to the trophy section of my blog. In L.A. Noire the trophies are not thoroughly difficult as after you beat the game you can replay any mission you want. So overall the “get 5 stars on every case” and “do specific thing in specific case” trophies were a breeze and interesting to see how a “perfect” case went (as it was I got 4 stars on most cases vice was my worst string of cases and for some reason while playing as Jack I got a lot of 5 stars). The fucking annoying parts of the trophy list were the collectibles. The gold film reels were whatever but ridiculous if you wanted to find them without guide help because the city is HUGE and they are needles in a haystack. I recommend a guide immensely! As for the other collectible the cars were annoying because with the exception of special car garages you find the cars are random. They have a higher percentage likelihood of being in certain neighbourhoods but it is no guarantee. This task may have been more fun if the open world had more going on and more to distract you but as it was it was just a pain in the ass. I got my plat and it wasn’t hard difficulty wise it was just annoying.

Overall if you’ve read this far I’m sure you’ve gotten my sentiments that L.A. Noire is an enjoyable game with numerous flaws. The most obvious being; a useless open world, lackluster gunplay, an inferior second half to the story, a cold fish protagonist and an occasionally vague evidence system. I would still say this game is worth playing though for the interesting NPC’s especially your various partners, an EXCELLENT homicide desk, great adventure style evidence collecting, great film noir atmosphere and the fact that this game is original as well as making you feel proud when you solve a case. If you are interested in any of this stuff try it out. L.A. Noire may be my doorway into Rockstar games because I liked it so much. Thank you for reading, you have been promoted…to the demolition desk…watch out…for giant bombs!! (I wish ha ha) later duders. Oh and next up in my series in the most chraming little game I played all year...Costume Quest!

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Games I Played 2012: Episode 12- Yakuza 4

Here goes everything and by that I mean discussion about the game that I played the most this year without a doubt (although New Vegas may get close we’ll see) Yakuza 4! 92 hours of my life went into playing and platinuming this crazy game. But as per usual I will mention my motivation behind creating these meandering blogs. The main reason is being unable to partake in traditional game of the year lists and discussion because as a student with a budget I cannot justify spending sixty dollars on current year games. As such I am more frugal with my money and buy one or two current year games that are important to me (ie: Mass Effect 3) and the rest of the games I play are previous year games that have dropped in price. I just wanted to be able to share my thoughts and feelings towards the games I played this year with the bombers on this site. So on to YAAAAKKUUZZA!!!

I’ll start out with my usual how I got to playing this game! For some unknown reason Japanese games interest me, and I enjoy playing them to see the typically quirky Japanese shit in them, a la Katamari Damacy which I played the demo like 100 times (and to my shame have not bought the PS3 one). So anyway while talking to one of my more gamery friends (Peter on the site if any of you duders know him, also the guy who showed me Giantbomb so you have him to thank if you want me to stop writing) we talked about games we wanted to play but had never gotten our hands on. Eventually we swapped games, I gave him Oblivion (which I just couldn’t get into because of playing Fallout 3 and Dragon Age: Origins, felt I got my Bethesda and fantasy out of those) and he gave me Yakuza 3. I played the shit out of that game and loved that it was pretty much just a cultural guide to japan. All of the weird games and areas and characters made me really love that game. It had typical Japanese game issues like archaic menus and the overly used NOOOO or KAZUMAAAA!!! But still a great experience with memorable characters, story and I loved the heat moves and switching between Okinawa and Kamurocho.

Everybody Say Hello to Saejima. He likes...Guns.

Hopping into Yakuza 4 I was super excited to get more of the craziness that was Yakuza 3. While I liked many of the improvements made in this game I felt it wasn’t different enough and wasn’t as crazy as the third game. I really liked the addition of the three new playable characters, Akiyama, Tanimura and Saejima. That each character had their own play style was also pretty cool I would say Tanimura’s parry moves were the best gameplay wise out of all four characters but I still enjoyed Akiyama’s kicks, Saejima’s strength and charge moves and Kiryu being the badass that he always is (Sidenote, why in the FUCK isn’t Kiryu in Playstation All Stars!!?? He better be dlc because Japanese love along should put him there and then there is the fact that he is perfect for the set up. Really want to see his heat move supers.)

The stories of these four dudes comes together in a decent way with some of them shining more than others. For example the lazy loan shark with a heart of gold, Akiyama is really the standout here with Tanimura being the most forgettable (probably why he won’t be in Yakuza 5 if I’m right about that). Each character also gets separate sidequest options and minigames associated with them. While I thought the Akiyama hostess maker game was super weird and funny it quickly became tiresome and annoying (don’t worry though unless you are a completionist you barely have to play it). Most of the side missions are fairly standard and boring but there are always a few hilarious ones like the set of them in Yakuza 3 where Kiryu would run into a huge muscular tranny and have to run away. In this game I felt that there were less entertaining ones and more basic fetch quests although one in particular left me going what the fuck?? Oh yakuza I love you (it was the Saejima kappa one SOO fucking weird and funny).

I've got a soft spot for lazy suave people, sue me

The weapons are still whatever with the guns being powerful, rare and awkward as shit. I enjoyed that each character had special weapon heat moves particular only to them, for example Saejima would have a sweet and powerful heat move if he had brass knuckles on. I guess I should explain heat moves for people who don’t know. Heat is a meter that each character has that builds up when dishing out damage or receiving it. You can use your upgrades to purchase different heat moves and you can trigger them in certain scenarios. For example if I have full heat and an enemy is on the ground I can stomp them with heat. Or if I’m Saejima I can pick up a guy on the ground by the leg and spin him around knocking him into a group of other guys with my heat move. It is pretty much the only reason why Yakuza’s fighting system isn’t a complete boring wreck. Some of these moves are awesome and can be found by capturing Revelations with your phone (or by chopping a figurine as Saejima, lmao play this game!). Which are particular amazing moments where you catch the people of Kamurocho doing insane things that teach you a new move. I don’t want to spoil these cause they are hilarious but lets just say I got revelations through seeing, fighting couples, an upskirt and a panty raid. What other game can boast a thing like that?

OK this is getting long so I should talk a bit about the story. I found Yakuza 4 to be lacking the number of crazy story cutscenes that Yakuza 3 had so many of. These games are both incredibly memorable for these moments and in this game there was only one time where I was like oh shit (Saejima’s hitman moment). While I did enjoy the variety of characters to use in this game and their own personal motivations I really did miss running around Okinawa. I hear that Yakuza 5 will have like 4 locations and 4 characters so it will be closely watched by me (also new engine thank god because dudes didn’t look great, HUGE FUCKING HANDS). Yeah so even though you get the day/night cycle of Kamurocho after playing a significant amount of 3 I was a bit bored of this city and wanted more variety. Also this game I found had less soap opera moments (still many because it’s Japanese) the last one had evil twins and shit. So I played the shit out of both games but was a little disappointed overall.

You want weird minigames? Yakuza's got em

Finally the trophy section. I did not platinum Yakuza 3 because their Minigame Master trophy required you to beat EVERY minigame in the game. It may not sound like a challenge but it was and so I gave up on it. When I saw that Yakuza 4 did not have that type of stupid trophy I went all in determined to conquer this game. Warning for those who are not crazy completionists do not play to platinum this game as it will infuriate you and lessen your enjoyment. I still love this game even though I hated some of the shit it put me through. For example completing Hostess Maker 100% was a pain in the god damn ass, a major time dump and sorta disappointing rewards. Most of the trophies are minigame or stats or difficulty related and I found that this games extra hard was more difficult than 3’s (I didn’t have that sweet golden gun this time) it was still manageable. Pachinko trophy FUUUUCK YOU! Pachinko is like this ridiculous Japanese slot game that it pretty much impossible to understand and took me forever to get enough understanding to get this trophy. It is stupid!!! Anyway enough of that. The ultimate skill challenges were also a fun distraction, which were difficult without being super frustrating. Over all completing this game 100% is not for the faint of heart and not recommended by me.

So to anyone who has read this far (maybe one guy hurra!) and has not played this game yet PLAY IT. At least give it a chance so that it can show you something nuts and charming which is how I would probably sum up this series. This game was a major time drain for me and took up like a month and a half of my summer. It was on the whole well spent. Play this game for the craziness but stay for the sheer amount of shit to do and see. Peek into the underground world of Kamurocho and be amazed and what it there. I’ll say it again try this game!! Or better yet start on 3. Alright duders I’m out for today hope you enjoyed and I hope to see some comments on this one. Yakuza 5 bring it on!

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Games I Played 2012: Episode 11- Infamous Festival of Blood

Ok so I’m finally done a majority of my term papers (still two left but fuck it) and so I wanted to go back to talking about GAMES. It’ll be a relief to get back into the thick of it before these forums are crowded with everyone’s personal (and proper) game of the year lists. I’ll get down to my customary reasoning about why I’m writing these lengthy blogs (cause I wanna). The real motive behind the whole thing is the fact that I along with many other bombers I’m sure cannot afford or want to spend money on ten brand new games in order to make a proper game of the year list. So in reality I buy games on the cheap (for the most part) in order to maintain my carefree lifestyle (yeah right). However I still wanted to be able to talk about the games I played this year and discuss them with you bombrades. So I made this catalogue of the games I played this year and my opinions on them. Some of them have been better received then others but to recap this list is not in order of score or anything but just in the order I have played them this year. So far I have blogged about Resistance 3, Infamous 2, Rage, Twisted Metal, Mass Effect 3, Bulletstorm, Rayman: Origins, PixelJunk Monsters, Batman: Arkham City and PixelJunk Shooter. Looking at that mix of games I just have to say it has been a weird combination of gaming for me this year. Sorry if I’ve bored you to tears with this recap when you came to hear about a specific game. We’re into July of this year and Infamous: Festival of Blood.

Hey There Pretty Lady

So in my earlier blogs I mentioned that before 2012 I was very wary of PSN games in general. Not so much because of the whole credit card scandal, but because I wasn’t so sure about the value I would get out of the games from there as well as the terrible sales that didn’t really encourage me to buy anything. After I (finally) found a good sale on PSN during the PixelJunk sale (DO MORE OF THESE SALES!!) I decided to try out the whole short game thing. I had mixed feelings about Monsters and Shooter but they did open the floodgates so to speak about me wanting to see the catalogue of PSN games. It also helped Infamous: Festival of Blood’s case that it was a) on sale and b) a game from a series I enjoyed the crap out of and c) really well reviewed. So it was a no brainer even after I had somewhat recently played Infamous 2.

Dude I love the idea of Halloween chapters in games. It is such an interesting and fun Treehouse of Horror type of thing that it makes me miss Halloween specials of Home Improvement and Roseanne growing up (if you just went WTF feel free to leave lmao). Plus there was the whole this has the best traversal mechanic in Infamous so far which made me really excited because Sucker Punch has made me feel the traversal in their games to be top notch. So when I jumped in and it started with Zeke and his tall tale in order to get some lady attention I grew a big smile on my face and knew enjoyment was to come. Festival of Blood takes place over a night in which vampires appear, bite Cole and he must take down their leader before the sun comes up. Typical premise for a vamp story but I didn’t care, in Infamous I expect a decent enough reason to be given as to why I am electrocuting dudes and this was fine enough for me. One of the issues I had was just that I know it has no real connection to Infamous 2 but it would have been nice just to give people who did play that game to completion their full menagerie of powers or a perk or something. Also I found the length of the game to be good and I wasn’t expecting a super long game anyway. The history behind Bloody Mary and her defeat was done in typical Infamous fashion comic book style which is a choice I still love and the Zeke narration was also entertaining (I am much more Zeke friendly these days, I no longer loathe the dude like I did in the first game).

The Best Game Created Just to Get Some Tail??

I’ll talk about the vampire powers now because the electricity ones that you remain with are the typical stuff from the other infamous games. I enjoyed biting people to fill up my vamp meter and felt like a dick every time I did it but it was amusing to go around being a menace in true “evil” infamous style. I also liked the finishing stake move to completely remove the vamps from the map. I cannot say enough about the bat swarm move which lets you burst into a cloud of bats and fly across the map until your meter is depleted. I fucking LOVED this move. It made the awesome ice burst jump move from 2 look like shit. Flying around the city was fast and fun. And when you combine it with the fact that you can you this move to burst into bats fly into a vamp doing an automatic stake takedown it becomes my favourite move in probably all of the Infamous games. This move was representative of this entire game, silly but a shit ton of fun. My only issue is that there weren’t enough of the new vampire moves to satisfy my interest. I wanted some other cool shit like mind control or something like that.

Makeover Makeover Makeover!

Alright on to the trophies section. The trophies overall were incredibly simple to get but that is sort of expected in a short fun game like this. I think my favourite one was staking the firstborn vampires. This is where you go into vampire vision mode (I guess this counts as another power but is only useful for this trophy really) and find the people with no heat signature because they are giant bat vampires in disguise as humans. I also thought it was hilarious when I was running around biting people and I would bite one of these dudes by mistake and they would subsequently attempt to murder me. The other trophies are standard but collecting the Mary teachings were cool if only to learn more of her backstory. My feelings towards the UGC missions are the same not my thing but cool that they are there.

Overall Infamous: Festival of Blood was a blast to play and is recommendable even without a discount (although if you are low on funds it has been one of the most discounted PSN games I have ever seen so you’ll find it on sale eventually). I had a lot of fun playing it and it has become my model for great PSN games good gameplay, retail level of polish and just fun to play. Alright guys I may write another one of these today if I’m feeling it, but let it be known that the next game I played was Yakuza 4. The only game that took up more than a month of my time and was my Everest as well as my required one JRPG (I guess this can be argued but it is J for SURE) a year. Til next time duders hope you enjoyed.

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Games I Played 2012: Episode 10- PixelJunk Shooter

I’m bbbbbaaaack! Finally have some time to blog about games (well not really should be doing more assignments stupid effing end of term crap!!) but I’ll continue anyway despite that. Let’s catch up the people who are not aware of my series of blogs and why I’m writing them (feel free to skip to the game stuff). So really my reasoning for writing these out of date blogs was a desire to have my own proper games of the year list. Because I am a broke ass uni student (well more reasonable with money let’s say) I don’t buy a full roster of current year games. Instead I buy last years games (or even earlier) because they are more affordable and still on my want to play list. So these blogs are presented simply in the order that I played these games in with no particular rating system (maybe I’ll do that later) just so I can talk about/vent about the games I played to people who probably played them before me and maybe want to hear my personal experience (yeah right). Anyways on to PixelJunk Shooter!!

Hurra! PSN Games I enjoy!

So if you guys don’t mind me saying for my wacky “how did I come upon this game segment” of my blog please refer to the more detailed explanation in my PixelJunk Monsters blog (or not). Anyway before buying PixelJunk Monsters, Eden and Shooter during perhaps one of the only sweet PSN sale I’ve ever seen (wait maybe the flower developer sale was also decent) I played Monsters and was thouroughly disappointed. I didn’t hate the game I just was expecting more and thought hey maybe this small PSN game will unlock a want in me to buy more PSN games (prior to this purchase all I had gotten was DLC and BG&E HD). This didn’t happen and I was honestly a little hesitant to jump into Shooter after being bored with Monsters. I knew that most people considered Shooter to be their favourite PixelJunk game so I jumped in hoping the majority was right.

What I will say is that I found myself to enjoy the game without loving it and dismissed my idea of not playing another PixelJunk game. I’ll start my talk by saying I am not really a music guy. When it comes to music in games I’ll be like hey that’s catchy or hey Fallout’s playlist really reflects the atmosphere. I don’t really get hung up on it or listen to the soundtrack but I couldn’t help but really enjoy Shooters music. I think it was all done by one group (or dude) but it had this really interesting vibe to it that matched up to the weird sidescrolling shooting I was doing versus weird alien like bat dudes.

The most impressive thing to me while playing the actual game (maybe I’m easily impressed) was the different liquids and gases that interacted to make interesting puzzle solutions to move ahead. For example you wait for gas to fill up a room then throw lava into it to make the gas explode destroying the blocks in your way. I liked the several different options when it came to these elements and I enjoyed playing around with them.

This was all like bssshkoom!! Cool

The shooting itself in Shooter (that sounds weird) was honestly pretty whatever to me. The basic gun that you have at the start is just fine in the way that the Asteroids gun is fine but personally I wish there had been more options for the gun to make the shooting a little more enjoyable. I should mention that you also have rockets that do a half assed lock on to enemies but they take quite a bit of time and have accuracy for shit so I just basic blasted through the game.

As a mixture of a short game plus me returning to writing after a while this is going to be a short one. So I’ll talk about the trophies. I found myself surprisingly challenged by this small games trophy list if only because I found their diamond to be fairly well hidden. It will not take an experienced trophy hunter long to get their 100% in this game but I still found the challenge of collecting the treasure to be quite good.

To sum it all up Shooter was a game that I enjoyed more for its periphery than the actual gameplay tasks that were set before me. Playing around with the elemental stuff was cool but shooting dudes wasn’t so much. And if your game is called PixelJunk Shooter it probably should be. However, because of the quirky cool things in this game it convinced me to give PSN games a better chance of ending up in my play list. Thank you dudebros(and gals) for reading, hopefully in my next outing I can muster more writing enthusiasm, because my next game is Infamous: Festival of Blood!! Muhahaha. Peace out renegades.

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Red Dead Redemption: Should I Buy it When I'm No Fan of Rockstar?

So recently (mostly due to the bombcast when they spent a little time gushing over how they loved Red Dead) I have been thinking about whether or not I should pick up this game. I'll be honest here and say I have not played the majority of the Rockstar catalogue, however, back in the good old PS2 era I played a decent portion of GTA 3 and GTA: Vice City. To me the story in games is very important and when I was playing these two games I found myself doing the typical GTA things (of blowing shit up, challenging the cops) and quickly getting bored and leaving the game. I did play a fair amount of the story missions and found them to be wanting. I just didn't find myself caring at all for (Claude?) in GTA 3 or Vercetti in Vice City. And beside the actual story missions I found the rest of the game not terribly interesting either, the shooting was poor as well as the driving and I really couldn't stand the look of people in these GTA games they just looked robotic and comical. So that's the end of my bitchy tirade feel free to put me in my place and say NO WAY GTA is the best!!!!! And my dislike for the GTA games put me off from all other GTA games and for some reason the rest of the Rockstar open world games.

However, I have been interested in the rest of Rockstar's catalogue and it is one of those weird situations where I want to like their games. So I asked my buddy if to get my foot in the door I should play L.A. Noire (I know it is not Rockstar developed and Team Bondi did it, but it has a similar style to other Rockstar games from what I hear) and he said I should. I bought and played L.A. Noire knowing that it was different from the typical Rockstar formula and on the whole I enjoyed it. So now I come to the meat of the matter and ask given my feelings should I get Red Dead? I was considering grabbing the GOTY edition because who doesn't like horror themed DLC? Also this might not be a this year thing as I have a significant backlog as well as the holiday coming up where friends and family might get me other games (c'mon XCOM). But I just watched the quick look and the game seems really varied, I think I like the setting WAY more than a GTA game the shooting seems improved etc. So I guess all I'm asking is to be talked into/ out of buying it. (And I bet i know which one you bastards will say, you hate my wallet lol) Alright that is enough blathering for now, later and thanks.

Oh and one more thing I play only on the PS3 so I can't play Bully in case that was your guys other suggestion.

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Games I Played 2012: Episode 9- Batman Arkham City

Bunna nunna nunna nunna BATTMAAAN! So duders took a day off because of fun stuff like work and shit but I’m back now and ready to about another “big” game from last year: Batman!! But first I will go into my regular spiel about why I am writing these numerous and lengthy blogs. The reason behind the madness is the fact that as a result of my own necessary budgeting (student) I cannot play the customary ten current year games to make a proper game of the year list. Instead I pick up slightly older games that have been reduced in price to make them easy on my wallet to purchase. So far for those of you new to these blogs this is number 9, feel free to browse any of the others which range from FPS’s like Bulletstorm and Resistance 3 or 2012 games (which are the only 2 I have bought this year) like Mass Effect 3 and Twisted Metal. Enough advertising myself then. Let’s get to the meat and potatoes and talk about Batman: Arkham City.

Hey Guys, You Know Batman Right?

I first ran into this series because of my first year university roommate who had brought his 360 to our dorm to match my PS3. I remember it being winter or fall and he got all excited about Arkham Asylum. This led him to inviting me to Best Buy with him so we could pick up the game. He immediately popped the game in and I actually enjoyed watching him play the opening and first hour or two of the game. But then he had to either go home for the weekend or work and I was left in the dorm alone. He had told me to go ahead and play his 360 whenever I wanted and honestly I wanted to see more of this game. Quickly over this weekend I made my way through the majority of the game. When my roomie returned he was shocked and even though he never said anything I could tell he was jealous that I had nearly beaten his game before him. While I went to school and stuff over the week he stayed home and played through the game finishing it before me which I thought was amusing. Afterword I beat the game myself and loved every minute of it. Then when Christmas rolled around I knew I would ask for it on PS3 even though I had beaten it on 360. I think that just shows how excited I was for Arkham City. Asylum still stands as the only game I have beaten on 2 consoles and the only game I have beaten on a 360.

For some reason though I didn’t rush out and pick up City when it was first released. I’m not really sure what stopped me because it would have been a perfect candidate for one of my “current year” purchases. I think it was just that I wasn’t ready for more Batman yet or I wasn’t in crazy videogame mode OR more likely I was crazy absorbed in another game at the time (I could check and see what it was but it’s not really important). Anyway I eventually picked the game up on the cheap and played it. I’ll be honest and say that I wasn’t astounded like I was with Asylum probably because City was more of the same (still great) but not as much of a shocker. Once again I will preface all criticism by saying that I really enjoyed this game and my time with it was a different feel (for me not the mechanics) than Asylum but it was still a positive journey.

Some of the stuff I liked about this game included the new larger world. I really liked this massive city that you are left in. At first I was incredibly overwhelmed when they let me loose on the city. It was massive and I wasn’t sure what to do first. Should I start collecting, or do side missions, or AR training or the story? This is not a bad thing in the slightest but I sort of needed a minute to get my shit together before diving in. Once you know your way around the city is a breeze (especially with the awesome new grappling hook upgrade) but at first it was a bit daunting. This big city with a select number of buildings was to me at least a big improvement over Asylum where the grounds weren’t very interesting and the buildings were where the good stuff was. This is somewhat true of City as well because the buildings are where you face off against bosses etc. but the city seemed more lively than the grounds of Asylum and way more expansive.

I’ll shortly touch on the great fighting mechanics which were streamlined from the first game. The integration of the gadgets are the most obvious improvement on the battle system allowing you to quickly batclaw someone or plant explosives and set them off in a few quick button presses. The typical counter combo system is still great and responsive as well as satisfying allowing you to feel like a superhero.

Please Just Stop the Innuendos! Wait I got some more um whip, milk, cream, pussycat...Oh fine if you're going to pout.

My first major gripe with the game was I guess the boss selection. The first game had some memorable bosses/levels (my faves being Croc and Ivy) and I was disappointed with the City lineup/setup. I never really felt the same tension/scare moment in City like I did with Asylum. In Asylum the first time Croc bust out of the water and killed me I jumped out of my seat in surprise and horror. Then in City they have an almost identical moment where you have to watch out for a shark. I thought that was sort of repetitive and shitty. I felt that Penguin and Two Face were underused and not much of a battle. I mean I know Penguin can’t really face Batman hand to hand but could of thought of something better than oh go fight my heavy then take me out in one move. The Scarecrow moments which were a major highlight of Asylum are gone in City and have nothing really good to replace them. You could argue that the Mad Hatter thing was their substitute but my god was that dumb and seemingly thrown in just to show another villain. The only area where City had a cool boss battle was with Mr. Freeze (who I couldn’t really take seriously because it sounded like he was pinching his nose then talking). I really liked the whole can’t take him one on one, and can’t pull the same shit on him twice. This was an intelligent villain not some muscle bound moron (ie; Grundy and Bane). Even the necessary stealth (which I’m not always a fan of) was fun in this fight. So City gets a huge kudos for the Mr. Freeze battle. And I’m aware that some of the Asylum bosses were dumb, especially end game Joker but I felt they were more hits than misses. Plus that game was all new whereas in City you get poorly recycled stuff like the Croc/Shark and Scarecrow/Mad Hatter moments (the Croc and Shark one being the most anger inducing in me cause Croc moment was one of my highlights). I also thought the Ra’s Al Ghul shit was cool too (nearly forgot) but thought he went out like a punk, plus I nearly forget him in this crowded lineup. ONE MORE THING!! Oh shit forgot about Catwoman. I couldn’t stand her in this game. I get it she is a sexually imbued character. But did I really have to listen to every sentence come out as some sort of innuendo? Something to do with cats and meowing and banging like come on lady leave it alone. Drove me nuts. Sorry rant over.

This time I'm not taking you down over the phone

I also thought the game itself would have benefitted from some form of co-op. I mean no games don’t NEED these modes but it would have been easy to be like yeah I wanna play as Robin (who was in the game for like ten seconds) and go traipsing around Arkham City as a dynamic duo. The other areas of the game that need to be spoken about are the Riddler stuff and the challenges. The Riddler stuff which included the actual hostage rooms and the actual takedown of the Riddler himself were great and well done, not to mention satisfying. The collectables and stuff themselves were way too numerous when it came to Riddler trophies and not enough riddles themselves. I enjoy collecting shit especially when there is a payoff (like taking out a smug bastard) but this was so time consuming that I got bored tracking all this shit down which shows in my opinion that they need to augment this stuff in some way. The challenges themselves are not really my thing but you get a ton more shit to do in this game which must be good for the challenge hardcore.

Alright trophies. I’ll briefly say that I did not plat Asylum and did not plan on platting City. This mostly arises from the fact that while I do enjoy collecting all the shit in the game I do not like combat challenges or battle royales. So I’ll try them out but getting all the medals or whatever would just frustrate me and leave me with a bad taste in my mouth which I didn’t want when I enjoyed so much of the rest of the game. All in all the trophies are not super difficult just more of a show of patience and dedication to the challenges than anything else.

So that’s it guys while I really liked this game (mostly because it was more of Asylum) I didn’t like a lot of the boss repetition and didn’t really think the game changed enough to be as important as Asylum was to me. Once again thanks for reading the next game in this train is PixelJunk Shooter so tune in for the next installment. Til then ta ta.

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Games I Played 2012: Episode 8- PixelJunk Monsters

Ok here we go again. I’m going to probably keep this one short(er) than some of the others due to the fact that I have to go to work (ugh) and that this game was more of a distraction to me than a game that I invested significant time in. Unfortunately I will once again go into the reason behind these blogs. This mainly has to do with the fact that I cannot typically make a proper game of the year list as I don’t have the money to buy ten new games in a given year (well I may have the money but don’t want to casually spend it when I have other concerns). So instead I pick up slightly older games more within my budget. I am going to talk about them because you bombers are such a good outlet for videogame related nonsense (who would have thought?). Anyway lets jump into PixelJunk Monsters!

I Really Wanted to Like You!

Here goes my customary “how I found myself playing this game” explanation. So in the past other than Beyond Good & Evil HD (which I HAD to have) and some ME2 dlc (only bought Arrival the rest came on PS3 copy hell yeah!) I have never really used PSN. It was not even so much the fear that my credit card number would be stolen (which I guess is a valid reason) but rather that I couldn’t justify playing these short (in my mind fairly expensive compared to disc games which have been reduced in price and are normally longer) games instead of a retail game. So I guess I have the PixelJunk games to thank for breaking through my rock hard skull and opening me up to downloadable games. PSN had one of their (in my opinion) few and far between decent sales. In this case all the PixelJunk games were like half off (why don’t they do group discounts more often? Also why don’t they have developer DLC sales? Been waiting for cheap Dragon Age DLC forever! Anyway..) and I could justify my purchase. It also helped that my friend (the Twisted Metal one) had played Eden and really liked it so I tipped him off and we both took part in this sale. I picked up Shooter, Eden and Monsters, while he grabbed Shooter, Monsters and Racers. I still have not yet played Eden (to my discredit) but I played Monsters right away thinking it would be the one that appealed to me the most out of the three…it wasn’t ha ha.

Why you keep trying to hurt village!? STOP! Ah whatever destroy it

I’ll preface everything I say after with PixelJunk Monsters is not a bad game. I honestly do not think that this game was made for people like me. I am in no way much of a casual gamer where I can play something like Angry Birds for hours on end. I typically need more of a story and substance to keep me going. I am definitely not directly comparing Monsters with Angry Birds I am just saying that games where you are defending your tower or doing passive moves are not really up my alley (in this way I am saying with Monsters you plant your weapons and then just wait, whereas in Shooter you are moving around attacking etc.) I know some people will disagree but Monsters was a little boring for me too much waiting leveling up your towers while occasionally collecting coins/pins(I think). Plus I didn’t really care if a dude hits my base I was just like whatever. I realize I am probably asking too much from this simple tower defence game but I’m just trying to justify my personal feelings of boredom with it. Even the upgraded towers while giving some decent powers felt like more of the same to me. I did enjoy the art style in the game, the sort of cutesy, colourful design of the whole thing. However, this did not prove a good enough distraction while I was standing (dancing) on my towers waiting for them to level up.

Short is what I’m aiming for with this one and short it SHALL BE!! On to the trophies for this one. I can’t believe I’m going to say this (as an idiot completionist) but I sort of doubt I will be returning to Monsters…probably not forever, but at least in the foreseeable future. Mostly because if you didn’t have fun why play it (I mean other than OCD right? RIGHT?) although it is hard for me to say that as I believe in playing the shit out of my games so I can get most bang for my buck. However, the trophies that this game has I didn’t really enjoy attempting to get as they require patience and skill I am not prepared to invest in getting. One trophy for completing a level using only arrows and cannons I played like a hundred times and only got close like twice. I refuse to resort to videos to figure out how to get the trophies for such a simple(ish) game and as such will probably not get my standard 50% for games I am not obsessed with. There it is bombers on the record. I feel relieved ha ha. But seriously for the tower defence hardcore you will probably love the challenge of getting these interesting trophies as for me? Not so much.

If you read this and are like umm why did he say that PixelJunk started him on buying PSN games when he disliked Monsters, then you are not only intelligent but perceptive as well lol. The truth is that after Monsters I needed a break from small games and moved onto BATMAN!!! The next PixelJunk game I played is what made me enjoy the short easygoingness of downloadable games. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here and will have to wait until after Arkham City to discuss Shooter.

In the parlance of the cryptkeeper (dunno I’m feeling like weirdo) til next time kiddies ( never really thought about what a creepy statement that was until now). Oh and as an endnote thanks to all you duders who read my Rayman blog (was wondering which game would get the most notice. Good to see Giantbomb loves Rayman) and to ZombiePie who included me in the community spotlight, what an honour :D. BAAAAATMAAAAAN NEXT!!

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