A Little, More Often

It's been far too long since I last wrote anything for this blog. Truth be told, it's been far too long since I last wrote anything at all. Work has kept me stupidly busy these last couple of months, but that's really only part of the problem. The biggest obstacle I'm trying to overcome is lack of motivation, a feeling that's caused more than just my writing to suffer this summer. To try and combat these high levels of disinterest, I'm going to commit myself to spending just a small amount of time to write shorter updates on a more regular basis. Hence the title of this blog post - 'A Little, More Often'.

Because it's been quite a while since my last Giant Bomb blog update, I've got quite a few things to talk about. I won't spend too long on any one subject, and my writer's mind is a little rusty, so I apologise if the thoughts below seem a little disjointed or undercooked. All I ask is that you bear with me, and hopefully it'll all come good in the end. The first item on my blogging agenda is:

Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood

Stabbin' dudes in the face and neck is still fun

I spent most of August playing the third instalment in the core Assassin's Creed canon, reaching the end of Ezio's adventure in Rome on the first of this month. I was seriously impressed by the ways in which Brotherhood built upon Assassin's Creed II, most notably in the form of the Assassins Guild content, which ended up dominating most of my time spent with the game. It was almost a given that I'd get drawn into that stuff, considering how much I enjoyed similar mechanics implemented in games like Final Fantasy Tactics Advance and Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. While AC: Brotherhood is a strong enough adventure in its own right, it struggled to live up to my appreciation of its predecessor. I'm convinced this was mainly due to the approach Brotherhood took with its story, replacing the second game's focus on the development of Ezio's character with an isolated 'Assassins-versus-Templars' narrative centred on the Borgia. I appreciated the fleshing-out of Desmond and his companions outside the Animus, but felt like more could have been done to advance the overarching plot running through the whole series. The game certainly ends with a bang (or rather, an 'UH!'), but overall the story stuff in Brotherhood felt underdone and left me feeling a little dissatisfied. Even in spite of those shortcomings, though, the gameplay holds up, with further mechanical refinements ensuring Brotherhood is the best Assassin's Creed game I've played purely from the perspective of its gameplay. I'll no doubt be picking up AC: Revelations later this year (when the release of Assassin's Creed III drives its price through the floor), with a view to witnessing the conclusion to Ezio's tale some time in 2013.

Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4

I already like the Midnight Channel a lot more than Tartarus

Ever since I finished Persona 3 back in February, my sister (who served as a spectator for most my run through) has been pestering me to pick up its sequel. I finally caved a couple of weeks ago, and since then we've been dedicating a little time every evening to finding our feet in Inaba. We're about nine hours in so far, so it's really too early for me to pass a definitive judgement about anything in the game, but so far it's felt like a logical evolution of the mechanics of its predecessor. Being able to control every party member is a huge improvement, removing the element of doubt that came with relying on the AI to make the right choices in P3. What I've seen of the story so far has been interesting enough, although the characters' need to state every single plot point several times is already wearing pretty thin. The cast of playable characters is shaping up to be just as memorable as that of P3, and I can't wait to really get stuck into the Social Link side of things to see how they compare to those of the previous game. Watch this space for further updates on our journeys into the TV.

Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee

Oddworld is still quirky, cool, and fun to explore

I've long been a fan of the Oddworld franchise, and have previously written at length about just how great the original pair of 2D puzzle-platformers are, but up until now I'd never played either of the 3D games released on the original Xbox. That changed this week when I booted up the Steam version of Munch's Oddysee. Now I'm around halfway through, I feel like I can comfortably say that it's very much a game cast from the same mould. Gameplay is still centred on platforming and the solution of puzzles through a mixture of GameSpeak and enemy possession. Probably my favourite thing about the game so far is the 'duo dynamic' that comes as a result of having two different playable characters. It's a lot of fun exploring each level, using both Abe's and Munch's strengths to find the solution to the puzzles standing between them and the exit. Unfortunately, the transition to three dimensions does rob the gameplay of some of its finer aspects - platforming is naturally more difficult - and the nature of the solutions to some of the puzzles can turn what should be fun and rewarding into an exercise in tedium and laboriousness. Thankfully, those moments aren't so frequent that they detract from the overall experience. Personally, it's just nice to be back in Oddworld.

That's Yer Lot

I think that's everything I've got to say on the subject of video games at this point in time. I'll probably try to push one of these out next week as well, when I'll hopefully have seen the end of Munch's Oddysee and moved on to something else. There will also no doubt be some more expanded thoughts on Persona 4. Until next time, thanks very much for reading, and I'll see you around.

Dan

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Currently playing - Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee (PC)

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6 Comments
Posted by dankempster

It's been far too long since I last wrote anything for this blog. Truth be told, it's been far too long since I last wrote anything at all. Work has kept me stupidly busy these last couple of months, but that's really only part of the problem. The biggest obstacle I'm trying to overcome is lack of motivation, a feeling that's caused more than just my writing to suffer this summer. To try and combat these high levels of disinterest, I'm going to commit myself to spending just a small amount of time to write shorter updates on a more regular basis. Hence the title of this blog post - 'A Little, More Often'.

Because it's been quite a while since my last Giant Bomb blog update, I've got quite a few things to talk about. I won't spend too long on any one subject, and my writer's mind is a little rusty, so I apologise if the thoughts below seem a little disjointed or undercooked. All I ask is that you bear with me, and hopefully it'll all come good in the end. The first item on my blogging agenda is:

Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood

Stabbin' dudes in the face and neck is still fun

I spent most of August playing the third instalment in the core Assassin's Creed canon, reaching the end of Ezio's adventure in Rome on the first of this month. I was seriously impressed by the ways in which Brotherhood built upon Assassin's Creed II, most notably in the form of the Assassins Guild content, which ended up dominating most of my time spent with the game. It was almost a given that I'd get drawn into that stuff, considering how much I enjoyed similar mechanics implemented in games like Final Fantasy Tactics Advance and Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. While AC: Brotherhood is a strong enough adventure in its own right, it struggled to live up to my appreciation of its predecessor. I'm convinced this was mainly due to the approach Brotherhood took with its story, replacing the second game's focus on the development of Ezio's character with an isolated 'Assassins-versus-Templars' narrative centred on the Borgia. I appreciated the fleshing-out of Desmond and his companions outside the Animus, but felt like more could have been done to advance the overarching plot running through the whole series. The game certainly ends with a bang (or rather, an 'UH!'), but overall the story stuff in Brotherhood felt underdone and left me feeling a little dissatisfied. Even in spite of those shortcomings, though, the gameplay holds up, with further mechanical refinements ensuring Brotherhood is the best Assassin's Creed game I've played purely from the perspective of its gameplay. I'll no doubt be picking up AC: Revelations later this year (when the release of Assassin's Creed III drives its price through the floor), with a view to witnessing the conclusion to Ezio's tale some time in 2013.

Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4

I already like the Midnight Channel a lot more than Tartarus

Ever since I finished Persona 3 back in February, my sister (who served as a spectator for most my run through) has been pestering me to pick up its sequel. I finally caved a couple of weeks ago, and since then we've been dedicating a little time every evening to finding our feet in Inaba. We're about nine hours in so far, so it's really too early for me to pass a definitive judgement about anything in the game, but so far it's felt like a logical evolution of the mechanics of its predecessor. Being able to control every party member is a huge improvement, removing the element of doubt that came with relying on the AI to make the right choices in P3. What I've seen of the story so far has been interesting enough, although the characters' need to state every single plot point several times is already wearing pretty thin. The cast of playable characters is shaping up to be just as memorable as that of P3, and I can't wait to really get stuck into the Social Link side of things to see how they compare to those of the previous game. Watch this space for further updates on our journeys into the TV.

Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee

Oddworld is still quirky, cool, and fun to explore

I've long been a fan of the Oddworld franchise, and have previously written at length about just how great the original pair of 2D puzzle-platformers are, but up until now I'd never played either of the 3D games released on the original Xbox. That changed this week when I booted up the Steam version of Munch's Oddysee. Now I'm around halfway through, I feel like I can comfortably say that it's very much a game cast from the same mould. Gameplay is still centred on platforming and the solution of puzzles through a mixture of GameSpeak and enemy possession. Probably my favourite thing about the game so far is the 'duo dynamic' that comes as a result of having two different playable characters. It's a lot of fun exploring each level, using both Abe's and Munch's strengths to find the solution to the puzzles standing between them and the exit. Unfortunately, the transition to three dimensions does rob the gameplay of some of its finer aspects - platforming is naturally more difficult - and the nature of the solutions to some of the puzzles can turn what should be fun and rewarding into an exercise in tedium and laboriousness. Thankfully, those moments aren't so frequent that they detract from the overall experience. Personally, it's just nice to be back in Oddworld.

That's Yer Lot

I think that's everything I've got to say on the subject of video games at this point in time. I'll probably try to push one of these out next week as well, when I'll hopefully have seen the end of Munch's Oddysee and moved on to something else. There will also no doubt be some more expanded thoughts on Persona 4. Until next time, thanks very much for reading, and I'll see you around.

Dan

---

Currently playing - Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee (PC)

Posted by Mento

Glad to see you're updating again. There's definitely something to be said for the "smaller blogs, more often" system, chief of which is the convenience. And a reduced chance of burning out, of which I feel I'm always on the precipice.

As for the games - AC:B was a lot of fun, though it's punishing if you're the completionist type. Some of those full synchronization stipulations can be really harsh, especially when you consider that if you mess up you have to start the entire mission over. Oddly enough, though I mostly detested Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, the fact you could reload the nearest checkpoint to reset a failed trial was greatly appreciated. If only said trials weren't stuff like "beat this boss in this ridiculous time limit/without getting hit".

With P4 it just strikes me as super odd to read a thing on this site about someone going into it fresh. I mean, obviously not everyone has the time to watch Jeff and Vinny play the thing for 100 hours, but it struck me as a hard thing to ignore while it was going on. How much non-ER content was even being produced while that was happening? Anyway, I have a weird kind of respect for people like and yourself who have left it well enough alone until you've played it through yourselves first.

Moderator
Posted by dankempster

@Mento: To be honest, to this day I'm not sure how I managed to avoid the frenzy that dominated the site for the duration of the Persona 4 Endurance Run. As a first-year university student preoccupied with studying for my course, winning the affections of a young lady, and drinking too much (not necessarily in that order), I didn't have much time for Giant Bomb in the year of 2009. I deliberately avoided the videos themselves because I had a feeling I'd want to play P4 at some point in the future, and didn't want any of the plot points to be spoiled for me. I've never been much of a forum-goer, either, so I guess that's how I ended up avoiding most of the discussion about the game that was going on at the time.

Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw

@Mento: You know, I've only watched an hour or so of the Endurance Run myself. And maybe a total of two hours of the other two as well. Hmmm. I guess I ought to change that at some point, but I really want to go into them fresh, with the exception of Chrono Trigger, which I'd played shortly before their ER.

@dankempster: Sorry it took me so long to get around to reading this blog. Seriously, Borderlands 2 has become an obsession. I've been jumping on to read people'sblogs all week, but I didn't dare tear myself away from that game for too long. Because of... uhhh... something dire and important. Glad to see you're blogging again! I need to start back up too, even if it's just a short, weekly thing again (that's what she said... no? OK, I'll shut up).

I like your thoughts on Brotherhood, because I suspect they're what I'd think had I played the games in the proper order. I've taken enough time off from the series to start to get excited for the third (or eleventy billionth, as it were). Oddworld was one of the first games I owned on the Xbox, and while I loved the world and its quirky art direction, I never found myself enthralled with the game. Like you say, there's a degree of tedium, and unfortunately, that drove me to never finish the game. I'd like to say I'll get around to finishing it someday, but I'd be lying. With my stack of shame actually becoming manageable and the hopes of being able to revisit some of my favorites from this generation looking quite feasible, I don't think I'll be returning to Oddworld.

And as for Persona 4, I think it's pretty damned awesome you're playing it in bits and pieces with your sister. I genuinely wish I could play games like that with my brother - I know we could easily get through Forza 4's stupidly staggering "get all gold" achievement if we worked together, but unfortunately, being 100 miles apart doesn't do much for our gaming sessions. Mind you, a childhood filled with my rage-aholic behavior probably doesn't entice him to play games with me at all. Haha!

Moderator
Posted by dankempster

@Sparky_Buzzsaw: No worries Sparky, I completely understand. Borderlands 2 looks incredible, and I'll definitely be picking it up and losing myself in it at some point in the not-too-distant future. Probably when my Pile of Shame doesn't look quite so daunting and I don't feel too bad about adding anything to it.

I remain a couple of years behind the curve with Assassin's Creed, and I don't see that changing. Most likely I'll buy Revelations this winter and play it next year, then pick up Assassin's Creed III in 2014. At least I know I'll still have great games to play when everyone else moves onto the next generation. As for Oddworld, I get that it's not for everyone, and Munch's Oddysee makes the cardinal mistake of trying to transplant tried-and-tested 2D game mechanics into a 3D game world. Out of interest, did you ever play the original 2D Oddworld games? If not, I recommend checking them out. They're on Steam for a couple of quid a-piece, and I believe both have free demos you can download. In terms of characters and world-building, there really aren't any other games out there that come close to what the Oddworld franchise does.

Regarding Persona 4, it's nice to have gaming become a social thing for me once again. My 360 isn't wired up to Xbox LIVE, and I seldom have friends over these days, so most of my gaming is done on my own. When I was with my ex-girlfriend, she filled the role of interested spectator more often than not, and it's something I've missed this year. My youngest sister Zoe seems really into Persona 4 at the moment (we're about thirteen hours in and just started exploring the Bathhouse), and it's nice to have something to do and talk about with her.

Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw

I haven't tried the 2D Oddworld games, but I will definitely check them out. I haven't tried Stranger's Wrath either, come to think of it.

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