Dan's Three-Pointer (Episode One?)

Right. Time to stop making excuses, pull my finger out and actually blog about video games for a change. To keep things feeling new and fresh, let's experiment with a new format, shall we? Here's how it should work: 
 

  • One blog
  • Three key points
  • Lots of games
  • Minimal waffle
 
Got that? Ok, good. Then let's begin.
 

I Completed A Couple Of Games Recently...

 FFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUU--
...and since I haven't blogged about them yet, I figure now is as good a time as any to do so. First up is Resident Evil - specifically the GameCube remake. I played through the game as Jill, after some hiccups with Assassin's Creed (more on that later), and ended up running through the bulk of the game on Hallowe'en. Looking back at my time with the title, there initially seemed to be a lot more things I hated about the game than things I actually liked. Endlessly running from one side of the Spencer Mansion to the other, juggling a wealth of puzzle items in a limited inventory, having to find and use Ink Ribbons to save my progress, and encountering those damned Crimson Heads, all seem to suggest a game to be tolerated rather than endured. Resident Evil's high points more than make up for all these annoyances, though, and as a result it ended up being one of the most memorable games I've played this year. For a start, there's the visuals, which remain astounding even by modern standards. The pre-rendered backdrops in particular are jaw-dropping. Combine this with some inspired sound design and you've got a game that oozes atmosphere on every screen. The puzzles may not make a lot of contextual sense, but they're rewarding to solve and even though solutions never seem too far of a stretch to work out. I also loved the way the story was presented, with scant details slowly coming together to form a plot, culminating in an explosive finale. Sure, the plot isn't all that, the voice acting is questionable, and the twist is about as predictable as they come, but it's the way that the story slowly unspools that had me gripped from beginning to end. 
 
The second title I managed to finish recently was Super Meat Boy. I say "finish"... It wasn't the triumphant 100% that some of Giant Bomb's userbase can boast about (major props to all you guys - I don't know if you're super-talented or just plain crazy, but you have my respect). I saw the Light World ending and got the 'The End' Achievement with 38% of the overall game completed. While I may dive back in and try to pick off a few more bandages or A+ some more levels, I feel like I can wash my hands of Meat Boy for now. The immense struggle I put myself through just to get through the last few levels of World Six has put me in a position where I'm happy to call it quits for the time-being. I'm not normally one for this "masocore" sub-genre of platforming, but there's something about Super Meat Boy that makes the constant death less frustrating, and even tolerable. Perhaps it's the game's undeniable charm. Perhaps it's the fact that every level seems to have an immediately obvious solution. Perhaps it's because every time I died, I knew it was because I'd fucked up, and not because the game was conspiring against me. Whatever it was, I really enjoyed my time with Super Meat Boy. Well worth every last Microsoft Point.

I'm Really Enjoying Assassin's Creed...

 The fun of Assassin's Creed lies in crafting Altair's assassinations
...despite a couple of early setbacks. The first of these setbacks was, I'm sad to say, a defective disc. I made it around two and a half hours into the game, to the point where it starts to open up and the Kingdom becomes explorable. While riding my horse through this new map, the game seized up on me. I restarted, to no avail. Cleaned the disc, still locked up. Cleared the cache, no improvement. As a result of this, I put the game on hold and played through Resident Evil, until the opportunity arose to return the disc to my local GAME store and exchange it for a working copy. The second setback came in the form of my approach to the game's first true assassination mission. Noticing that the game's main map plots every single point of interest, I used it as a reference point and made my way around Damascus in a very formulaic fashion. By the time Altair had plunged his hidden blade into his target's neck, I was worried I wasn't going to enjoy the game. Was every mission going to be a case of 'open map -> set waypoint -> climb tower/save citizen/gather information -> repeat'? 
 
At that point I vowed to make sure it wouldn't be. From the third memory block onwards, I've been completely ignoring the main map and instead focused on just exploring the cities myself. If an icon pops up on the mini-map in the corner, then I'll head off to investigate. It's making the experience feel a lot more organic, and also a lot more enjoyable to play through - the fun comes from exploring Damascus, Acre and Jerusalem, mingling with the populace, and finding out the information that will contribute to the next assassination on your own. Speaking of organic, and enjoyable, that segues me very nicely into talking about the game's platforming. The fact that I've been less than impressed with this generation of video game consoles is probably one of the world's worst-kept secrets by this point. A large part of that stems from the fact that outside of graphical flair, there have been very few moments in modern games that have made me feel like I'm playing something truly 'next-gen'. This was a feeling I had almost constantly when I made the leap from the PS1 to the PS2, but it's become increasingly rare since I migrated to the 360. Assassin's Creed's platforming mechanics have managed to evoke that rare feeling once again. Leaping from rooftop to rooftop in Jerusalem and scaling church spires in Acre, I get the feeling that there's no way something like this could have ever been accomplished on the previous generation of consoles - at least., not this fluidly. It's a welcome feeling, and one that's helped to redeem Assassin's Creed even further in my once-skeptical eyes. I'm currently well into the fifth memory block, and I anticipate that I'll be finished with the game this time next week.

For Reasons Unknown, I've Started Playing Just Cause 2 Again... 

Turns out blowing stuff up is still as fun as it was six months ago 
...and you know what? That game is still a ton of fun. I picked it back up on a whim on Wednesday and spent half an hour causing Chaos across the military bases and airports of Panau. While doing so I happened to unlock the Achievement for performing 1000 Sabotages, and it's made me determined to hit the 75% completion mark and unlock the respective Achievement. The plan is to pick up the game for about an hour a day, and cause enough Chaos and pick up enough items to bump up my completion percentage by one per cent, and then put it back down. I'm currently at 55%, so at this rate, I'll have unlocked the Achievement in three weeks' time. It's proving really interesting to dip back into Panau and explore some of the more remote parts of the islands that I missed out on when I initially played through the game back in May. Depending on how this experiment goes, I might even push to make Just Cause 2 my second-ever S Rank beside Fallout 3. For now, though, I'm content just blowing shit up and grapple-parachuting from one side of Panau to the other. 
 
---

There we go - three points. It's nice to get most of that off my chest. Admittedly, it's a little longer than I intended, but at least it's a blog. Hopefully it won't be too long before I follow it with another. Thanks very much for reading, guys. I'll see you around.
 
 
Dan 
 
--- 
 
Currently playing - Assassin's Creed (X360)
7 Comments
7 Comments
Posted by dankempster

Right. Time to stop making excuses, pull my finger out and actually blog about video games for a change. To keep things feeling new and fresh, let's experiment with a new format, shall we? Here's how it should work: 
 

  • One blog
  • Three key points
  • Lots of games
  • Minimal waffle
 
Got that? Ok, good. Then let's begin.
 

I Completed A Couple Of Games Recently...

 FFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUU--
...and since I haven't blogged about them yet, I figure now is as good a time as any to do so. First up is Resident Evil - specifically the GameCube remake. I played through the game as Jill, after some hiccups with Assassin's Creed (more on that later), and ended up running through the bulk of the game on Hallowe'en. Looking back at my time with the title, there initially seemed to be a lot more things I hated about the game than things I actually liked. Endlessly running from one side of the Spencer Mansion to the other, juggling a wealth of puzzle items in a limited inventory, having to find and use Ink Ribbons to save my progress, and encountering those damned Crimson Heads, all seem to suggest a game to be tolerated rather than endured. Resident Evil's high points more than make up for all these annoyances, though, and as a result it ended up being one of the most memorable games I've played this year. For a start, there's the visuals, which remain astounding even by modern standards. The pre-rendered backdrops in particular are jaw-dropping. Combine this with some inspired sound design and you've got a game that oozes atmosphere on every screen. The puzzles may not make a lot of contextual sense, but they're rewarding to solve and even though solutions never seem too far of a stretch to work out. I also loved the way the story was presented, with scant details slowly coming together to form a plot, culminating in an explosive finale. Sure, the plot isn't all that, the voice acting is questionable, and the twist is about as predictable as they come, but it's the way that the story slowly unspools that had me gripped from beginning to end. 
 
The second title I managed to finish recently was Super Meat Boy. I say "finish"... It wasn't the triumphant 100% that some of Giant Bomb's userbase can boast about (major props to all you guys - I don't know if you're super-talented or just plain crazy, but you have my respect). I saw the Light World ending and got the 'The End' Achievement with 38% of the overall game completed. While I may dive back in and try to pick off a few more bandages or A+ some more levels, I feel like I can wash my hands of Meat Boy for now. The immense struggle I put myself through just to get through the last few levels of World Six has put me in a position where I'm happy to call it quits for the time-being. I'm not normally one for this "masocore" sub-genre of platforming, but there's something about Super Meat Boy that makes the constant death less frustrating, and even tolerable. Perhaps it's the game's undeniable charm. Perhaps it's the fact that every level seems to have an immediately obvious solution. Perhaps it's because every time I died, I knew it was because I'd fucked up, and not because the game was conspiring against me. Whatever it was, I really enjoyed my time with Super Meat Boy. Well worth every last Microsoft Point.

I'm Really Enjoying Assassin's Creed...

 The fun of Assassin's Creed lies in crafting Altair's assassinations
...despite a couple of early setbacks. The first of these setbacks was, I'm sad to say, a defective disc. I made it around two and a half hours into the game, to the point where it starts to open up and the Kingdom becomes explorable. While riding my horse through this new map, the game seized up on me. I restarted, to no avail. Cleaned the disc, still locked up. Cleared the cache, no improvement. As a result of this, I put the game on hold and played through Resident Evil, until the opportunity arose to return the disc to my local GAME store and exchange it for a working copy. The second setback came in the form of my approach to the game's first true assassination mission. Noticing that the game's main map plots every single point of interest, I used it as a reference point and made my way around Damascus in a very formulaic fashion. By the time Altair had plunged his hidden blade into his target's neck, I was worried I wasn't going to enjoy the game. Was every mission going to be a case of 'open map -> set waypoint -> climb tower/save citizen/gather information -> repeat'? 
 
At that point I vowed to make sure it wouldn't be. From the third memory block onwards, I've been completely ignoring the main map and instead focused on just exploring the cities myself. If an icon pops up on the mini-map in the corner, then I'll head off to investigate. It's making the experience feel a lot more organic, and also a lot more enjoyable to play through - the fun comes from exploring Damascus, Acre and Jerusalem, mingling with the populace, and finding out the information that will contribute to the next assassination on your own. Speaking of organic, and enjoyable, that segues me very nicely into talking about the game's platforming. The fact that I've been less than impressed with this generation of video game consoles is probably one of the world's worst-kept secrets by this point. A large part of that stems from the fact that outside of graphical flair, there have been very few moments in modern games that have made me feel like I'm playing something truly 'next-gen'. This was a feeling I had almost constantly when I made the leap from the PS1 to the PS2, but it's become increasingly rare since I migrated to the 360. Assassin's Creed's platforming mechanics have managed to evoke that rare feeling once again. Leaping from rooftop to rooftop in Jerusalem and scaling church spires in Acre, I get the feeling that there's no way something like this could have ever been accomplished on the previous generation of consoles - at least., not this fluidly. It's a welcome feeling, and one that's helped to redeem Assassin's Creed even further in my once-skeptical eyes. I'm currently well into the fifth memory block, and I anticipate that I'll be finished with the game this time next week.

For Reasons Unknown, I've Started Playing Just Cause 2 Again... 

Turns out blowing stuff up is still as fun as it was six months ago 
...and you know what? That game is still a ton of fun. I picked it back up on a whim on Wednesday and spent half an hour causing Chaos across the military bases and airports of Panau. While doing so I happened to unlock the Achievement for performing 1000 Sabotages, and it's made me determined to hit the 75% completion mark and unlock the respective Achievement. The plan is to pick up the game for about an hour a day, and cause enough Chaos and pick up enough items to bump up my completion percentage by one per cent, and then put it back down. I'm currently at 55%, so at this rate, I'll have unlocked the Achievement in three weeks' time. It's proving really interesting to dip back into Panau and explore some of the more remote parts of the islands that I missed out on when I initially played through the game back in May. Depending on how this experiment goes, I might even push to make Just Cause 2 my second-ever S Rank beside Fallout 3. For now, though, I'm content just blowing shit up and grapple-parachuting from one side of Panau to the other. 
 
---

There we go - three points. It's nice to get most of that off my chest. Admittedly, it's a little longer than I intended, but at least it's a blog. Hopefully it won't be too long before I follow it with another. Thanks very much for reading, guys. I'll see you around.
 
 
Dan 
 
--- 
 
Currently playing - Assassin's Creed (X360)
Posted by Red12b

assassins creed 1 was the game I bought my playstation for, and I enjoyed every minute of it,  
I love that era in history, I love the platforming, I love the story, I even really enjoy the combat, Because of how it corresponds to the animus, What I wish happened though would be for you to start the game fresh, whilst in the animus and then 30 mins into it be ejected into the "real world" without the tutorial apart from like pop-ups explaining what each button does, without the voices of the abstergo staff, then the reveal would be amazing, I like the no hud world of the "real world"  
and I did exactly what you did, explore the area myself, then climb the towers if needed,  
The only thing I want is the ability to skip cutscenes, because it makes re-playability a real bitch when some cut-scenes go on for 5-10 mins... 
 
Just cause is good but severe overload got to me and I put the thing down, it was awesome at first but it was really repetitive under the guise of having so many options, you are basically doing the same thing over and over, sure it looks absolutely fantastic, but dude...gets boring after awhile. 
 
Good luck on your S-Rank!  
 
What did you think of some of the music I last sent ya? 

Posted by dankempster
@Red12b:  I really like Assassin's Creed's setting, too. I'll admit I know next to nothing about that period in history, but the game encouraged me to dig around and find some stuff out. The backdrop of the Crusades seem to offer a wealth of untapped potential for all forms of entertainment - novels, films, and games alike. Taking this into account alongside Assassin's Creed II's Renaissance Italy setting and Red Dead Redemption putting itself right at the end of the Old West, it's nice to see developers tapping into these more obscure periods in history and bringing us more original experiences. I'd much rather dive into one of those games than yet another modern military shooter. Maybe a future blog topic? 
 
Couldn't agree with you more on Just Cause 2, as well. The main reason I put that game down back in May was because I felt burned out on it. It is an awesome game to come back to, pick up for an hour or so and just go crazy, though. Thanks for the good luck wishes, too. Based on the Achievement that requires me to fly close to ground for 30 seconds, I'll need it. 
 
Sorry for not getting back to you sooner about the music, by the way. I really enjoyed most of the Shihad stuff you linked me to. Beautiful Machine is a great song, and I really liked Wait and See and Bullitproof, too. The Checks and Autozamm sound like pretty awesome bands, too. To tell the truth I liked most of it - the only song I remember not particularly digging was the Ladyhawke one, but I suspect that's my bias against female vocalists creeping in - I'll give it another chance and see how I feel then. Thanks again for all the recommendations, sorry it took me so long to get around to checking them out.
Posted by Red12b
@dankempster:  
The city of Acre is my favourite in the game Damascus being a close second,  
 
Go pick up the directors cut of http://www.screened.com/kingdom-of-heaven/16-192675/ But only the Directors cut, the Theatrical version is highly inferior with at least 45 mins cut with 2 main plot points stripped,  
 
Did you like Gin? I really love her singing voice, Husky, also, 
  
Hollie Smith, absolutely fantastic singer/songwriter, she is...something else man.   
 
  
Posted by Hamz

Assassin's Creed is a solid title and the only complaint I've ever really had about it is the combat. Otherwise I really enjoyed the game and it's odd to see how much the franchise improved with AC2 and how much it looks to be improved in AC: Brotherhood. 
 
Glad to see people still enjoying the original in this day and age!

Posted by Red12b
@Hamz: It was only released what, 4 years ago?  
I wouldn't call that old, it still plays well,  
I still crank out the master system once in a while, good old kick of nostalgia! 
Posted by RagingLion

I really like Assassin's Creed.  The combat gets pretty challenging near the end so I hope you're learning you're stuff properly on the way through.  I quite like the ending as well (before the very end) - felt like it created a suitably epic atmosphere.