I wrote another blog about games I'm playing and it has only been a fortnight. Oh yeah! This one has a theme cos I'm awesome like that. Bullets, bullets and even more bullets. All the bullets!
If there's ever been one consistent thing in my life, it's that I'm rather good at making poor decisions. There are obvious things you should listen to like minding the gap at a train station, and obvious things you should ignore like choosing your own destructor when asked by an ancient demon. When all the reviews tell me you shouldn't buy a game like NeverDead it feels like an invitation to do so. Sometimes there's a certain amount of fondness to be found in what I know to be an incredibly wonky game. On the flipside I end up in situations where I watch a six minute video of someone telling me to avoid Bullet Witch like it's a kicker of cute puppies. So obviously I do what I do best and buy it anyway.
2013 was a bad year for the planet Earth. It was full of earthquakes, wars and plagues. Not no mention an unfortunate demon uprising. This is all the story the game gives you up front, the only other thing you have to go on is the nonsensical dump of images and words in the trailer for the video game Bullet Witch that plays before the title screen.
You're immediately thrust into a neighbourhood being attacked by demon soldiers that could quite easily have come from old issues of 2000AD or rejected Iron Maiden album covers. They all seem to have scarves made out of the skin of humans wrapped around their necks. I don't really keep up with fashion trends so I have no idea if the skin look was in last year, but these dudes pull it off well. Immediately the frame rate drops out and I'm told by a disembodied voice that demons are doing something or other and you need to deal with it the only way a witch knows how... With a gun. So I shoot at all the monsters with my bullet-staff-gun and they all die with minimal feedback and too many bullets. I'm almost immediately reminded of my inability to make good decisions.
You know when people used to say "That looks like a PS2 game" about games that clearly didn't look like PS2 games? Well, this looks like an HD PS2 game. Whole chunks of it seem completely unfinished. The one main enemy type glitches about, gets stuck on scenery or just stands there waiting to be killed while panicked civilians either run about silently or lay on the ground for you to come and spray blood from your wrists into their faces to revive them. If you do so they'll say something along the lines of "Take this", extend their arm and then run off. I have no clue what they're giving me as there's no experience system, no item drops, nothing.
Occasionally you'll come across flying dudes with giant brains imaginatively called "Walnut Heads" that have psychic powers and can throw bits of the scenery around at you like polystyrene. In fact everything destructible in this game bounces around like dead ants in an EDF game. Unlike the ants, the polystyrene cars can kill you in one hit and set you back ten minutes of mind numbing running at demon-men and holding down the right trigger. Nearly anything that can one-shot you in this game usually comes out of nowhere and will set you back a significant amount of progress.
The second level has you running around the biggest open city with absolutely nothing in it. It's just run and shoot, run and shoot, use a lightning blast on a tank, run and shoot. I know, I know that sounds like a pretty fun time, who couldn't love a game about a gun toting witch called Alicia, something you don't find out until about two thirds of the way into the insanely long second mission. Some irritating anime-soldier guy tries to be friends with you and gives you a couple of disposable grunts to get stuck on the scenery. At one point one of them tells me " All of my friends and family are dead, I have nothing left to live for!" I know how you feel mate.
Unfortunately I made it to the third level. It just seems like you're doing the same old thing through sewers, abandoned train stations and an airport, but this level has a boss, well technically the last level had a boss but you just kinda stand there and hold down the trigger on the weak point. The good soldier dudes running around kept reminding me that it must have a weak point I should be hitting. Thank god for their advice because I'd have never known to shoot the giant pulsating heart on the outside of its body. Annnnyways. The end (I assume the end) of the level has you standing on the top of a plane shooting eyeballs that are trying to blow it up and occasionally blasting a giant eyeball-whale-dragon with lightning. This sequence is frustratingly difficult. You have to shoot the eyeballs off of the plane and hit the whale with lighting that takes three steps to use, while a barrage of exploding eyeballs fly into you, knocking you out of the magic animation or off of the plane. Once you hit the whale with the lightning twice he charges up for a one hit kill move where you have to shoot it in the mouth with the inaccurate peashooter gun. I failed this so many times on two separate sittings that at one point I threw a controller, something I've not done since Pixel Junk Eden came out.
I came back to it refreshed, renewed and determined to beat it on a third sitting. I'd read some guides, I was armed with the knowledge that you only have to hit it three times with the lighting bolt. I hit it once, things are going well. I hit it twice things are still going well. I'm gonna do it! He charges up for his attack! My magic bar hits max! I activate the lighting bolt! She shifts forward two centimetres and falls off the plane.
Fuck Bullet Witch.
I can't be trusted to give out life advice, this is for certain. But if there is one piece that you should take note of it is this: If your best friend is named Judas and dresses like a Final Fantasy villain, you should probably ditch him. Or at the very least shoot him in the face.
10,000 bullets is unsurprisingly a third person shooter for the PS2 made by Taito. It's one of a number of releases for the PS1 and PS2 that only ever made it to Europe outside of Japan. This game despite some odd balancing and a twitchy camera (aggghh unchangeable inverted horizontal camera controls.) is a bunch of fun, taking the bullet time from Max Payne and all sorts of inspiration from Anime and the Matrix.
The story is pretty much this. You're a Gunslinger called Bloody Crow that gets really touchy when people mention the bloody part who works for some kind of crime syndicate in Rome. It turns out Gunslingers have special blood which means they can bend time and bullets to their will, and are pretty good at murdering people. It's a little like Wanted, only Morgan Freeman never turns up to call you a motherfucker.
On top of your awesome shooty skills theres some kind of prophecy or something that says if you're the last Gunslinger left standing you can become all powerful and enter some kind of magical kingdom. They never really go into this and it's a real shame this game never got a sequel as they could have probably made out that you're really some kind of space alien and Sean Connery didn't die after all.
The game has you move around on a map screen, entering places and talking to people which give you optional dialogue, advice or practice shooting people in some bonus stages. There's quite a lot of text dialogue and moving back and forth between places until you hit the area which has a mission in it.
Before the mission you can use points earned at the end of stages to upgrade your character. All the skills have three levels that unlock over the course of the game with some of them being passive buffs like health or being able to jump two or three times in a row, and others are skills. You can take two skills into battle with you and they range from temporary homing shots to invincibility dodges and reflective shields.
All of the stages are really small, but have an insane amount of people to shoot. You spend the majority of your time hitting the generous bullet time button, jumping through the air and hitting the lock on to shoot hundreds upon hundreds of goons in the face. I'd say that you spend about 99% in bullet time. There doesn't really seem to be any reason not to use it all the time, and it can at times feel balletic jumping over dozens of bullet streams in slo-mo while you reload and kill three or four people from upside down before you've even hit the ground. At the end of most stages there's a boss which will also have its own set of magical Gunslinger powers. A bunch of them wouldn't be out of place in a No More Heroes game. They often have patterns and attacks you have to dodge and tend to have an opening where you can get a critical shot on them which is done by keeping the lock on the enemy and not firing until the cursor turns red. I found that jumping about like an idiot in slo-mo and hammering on the fire button worked out for me pretty well most of the time.
After the first chapter we find out Crow lives with his murder-buddy Judas and his girlfriend Keiko. They seem to have some kind of weird living arrangement where Keiko seems to be into you both and talks about how she's not all that fond of what they do for a living, but adores them both anyway. She's pretty accepting that they make a living from killing people because it's what boys do, Keiko compares young boys fighting on the playground and getting scrapes and bruises to shooting people point blank in the head. Unfortunately after fighting the second boss that looks a little like a kind of fancy haired, lightning fast Hideo Kojima we find out that Judas is a sleeper. He explains to Crow what a sleeper is and then keiko turns up so he shoots her dead. There's an odd time jump and you can now choose missions as a young girl named Alice who seems to be a little faster, have less bullets before reloading, but hits a little harder.
As you go through the game there's a few voiced/animated cutscenes where there's a lot of chatter about set-ups, Gunslingers and revenge. You find yourself blasting through shopping centres, train stations and aquariums etc. Alice won't fucking shut up about the penguins at the aquarium. It's maybe the oddest level in the entire game as in amongst all of the fish tanks there are just herds(?) of penguins running about at your feet. You eventually meet up with a couple more playable characters, but I never really found them useful outside of the levels you have to use them on. Boris, a lady that can't jump, but can dash who moves really slow and fires powerful automatic weapons, and Dragon a complete douchebag that can only use martial arts and do Liu Kang kicks which break the camera when you use the lock on and spam it at twenty different enemies in a row. Why there is a character that doesn't fire any bullets in a game named 10,000 Bullets I do not know. I should probably mention there is also a Phoenix Wright looking dude called Mizuguchi the insurance salesman that sets up the contracts for you, but he's unplayable.
I got stumped on a boss near the end that uses a fan to deflect all of your bullets. This was rather odd because in the cutscene before the fight Dragon shouts out "You killed my father!" which like a lot of the storytelling just comes out of nowhere, assuming you should have known it already. I spent forever trying to kill this lady. I couldn't for the life of me figure out how to damage her, every so often I'd knock off some of her health and then she'd just go crazy and kill me. I'm unsure if this is the correct strategy, but choosing Dragon (who is totally useless for all but one level with unarmed enemies.) and spamming that kick killed her in about a minute. I felt like I had wasted an hour switching between all of the characters with guns to no success.
The back end of the game has you fighting bosses and hanging with penguins again, this is where you fight the best boss in the game, not because it's a great fight, but because he's a cowboy with a guitar case that doubles up as both a rocket launcher and a mini gun. His name is Guitar Men... not Man, but Men and he quotes Desperado before the fight. "Lets Pray" indeed. We also get a cutscene where Mizuguchi is killed by Judas. I like that they animated this character for this one part of the game, this is both the only time you see him and hear him speak. He tells you he's bought a nice cottage in Coventry (sure, why not.) and you should leave. Dragon like the huge dick that he is totally talks over his dying words. Why are they letting this dude hang with them anyways, now he's gotten his revenge why can't he leave us in peace?
So off you go for your dramatic showdown between Crow and Judas. You have this weird sequence where you're on rails holding your guns out while enemies kind of move around you and sentences fade up onto the screen about living and dying or something. I found it odd that Crow wasn't shooting the bad guys in a sequence I assumed to be a cutscene. It turns out you can fire the gun in this bit, something I only accidentally discovered moments before the section ended. I managed to kill the last two dudes. Sucks for them I guess, lets hope they don't have families.
When you get to Judas he's all like "Keiko, whatevs" and you kill him pretty much the same way you kill everyone else. There's a little bit of waiting because he has a lot of moves with invincible frames, but for the most part he's pretty manageable. When you beat him they both jump at each other in slo-mo with their guns out, the screen goes black and you hear a gunshot. We hear Judas say something about Keiko being the only person he truly loved... Make up your mind dude. It turns out that ultimate power is better than true love. We all know this isn't true, because of the incredible Jet Li's The One.
10,000 Bullets is a fun game, it takes about seven or eight hours to finish and there's one thing I never really mentioned about it, and that is its maddening difficulty at times, especially in the early stages. There are a handful of stages before you have access to certain upgrades where you get spammed by so many enemies and rockets that it is absurdly overwhelming. I died so many times early on that it offered me an easy mode which I eventually took because I'm a wuss. Even with this it was still ridiculously hard. Upon dying a few more times it offered me a very easy mode. There was a moment of hesitation, but no one was around to see me so I accepted like a little casual baby gamer. IT WAS STILL SO DAMN HARD! I cannot for the life of me understand why the early parts of the game are so hard. As soon as you max out the health and get a shield that bounces rockets back to the people that fired them the game becomes much, much easier. I did eventually knock it back up to normal, but there's still absolutely no reason why the earliest parts of this game are so difficult.
Overall I enjoyed it. It's not something you'd need to play and its certainly got style. It ain't no Devil May Cry, but it's an enjoyable time. Apparently there's a better ending if you finish it on hard, but I think that would probably be a pretty miserable experience with the difficulty as it is. I have no idea why it never came out in the US, but if you're looking for a simple, arcadey shooter and love slo-mo triple jumps or annoying martial artists this is the game for you.
I've been having fun just playing through old PS2 and Gamecube games recently. It turns out there is so, so, so, so many PS2 games that are both interesting and inexpensive which I have never heard of before. Such a huge selection of varied gametypes. The PS2 really was rad wasn't it? Lots of things in my wishlist, maybe I'll stop eyeing up that copy of Billy Hatcher... I'm totally gonna buy that aren't I?
My intention this year was to write a couple of blogs a month, which unfortunately turned into a blog a month, and that quickly turned into me thinking about doing a blog a month. I really need to finish my Top Ten blog at least three people read, and I have written a lot of stuff that I haven't felt comfortable about posting. I need to get back into a regular pattern with something a little smaller, and what better way to do that than talk about a short game on a small console with the most adorable game discs I have ever seen... my brand new-old Gamecube. I have also filled it out some bits and bobs about other stuff I have messed around with.
I could probably talk for hours about how excited I was discovering the Gamecube had tiny discs. ( I have no idea how I have made it to 2014 and didn't know about this.) It was such a huge moment opening up my first GC box the week of E3 that I'm putting it right at the top of my E3 2014 highlights. Also, the Gamecube has a handle!
So what am I writing about in this blog? If you hadn't guessed from the title (And you probably didn't) I'm going to say some things about the first Capcom Five game to be released on the Gamecube: P.N.03. It does say "Product Number" on the front of the box, but I'm not entirely sure if that's referring to the main character, the suit or something else. After playing it I'm not a hundred percent anyone associated with the game really knew themselves to be honest.
Shinji Mikami has his name attached to a bunch of very good games. I hear there are a couple of people out there that like the Resident Evil franchise, Some of them even like the old ones with the wonky controls. One thing to remember though - For all the gems tied to his name we should never ever forget that he is responsible for that terrible Aladdin game on the SNES. In 2002 Capcom decided to pledge their allegiance to the great evil Cubelord by making five original games exclusive to the Nintendo Gamecube. Only four of them were released, and three of them were eventually ported to other systems. The first of the bunch was the poorly received, Mikami directed sexy-dance-shooter-thing P.N.03 in 2003, which was the only game to stay exclusive to that system.
There's no messing about with this game, no flashy intro, no long cutscenes, just our hero Vanessa Z Schneider teleporting in a ball to the surface of a miserable brown planet like some kind of rhythmic Terminator. There's not really anything resembling a tutorial so you have to figure out how to move yourself. For starters, I'm not a game designer, but if I was the last thing I'd put into my fast paced action shooter would be tank controls, and P.N.03's basic movement is incredibly similar to the way Leon moves in Resident Evil 4. Thankfully most of the environments in the game are thin corridors or wide open spaces so it isn't that much of a problem a lot of the time. It also helps that unlike RE4 you don't have to aim your weapon. It automatically locks onto the closest enemy and does a pretty good job of picking the best targets during combat. This is very handy for a game that doesn't let you move and shoot at the same time (Surprise!)
So you run around hitting the fire button which is conveniently the big round button situated in the middle of the other buttons on the controller. Y'know Nintendo were onto something here. They were like "Hey, this button is the main button for all inputs, lets just make it huge" I like that, it's nice. Either that or they messed up the specifications and that's why the Gamecube's D-Pad is so damn tiny. There's no rapid fire when you start the game so like a lot of older Japanese shooters you need to hammer the button down as fast as possible to kill stuff quickly which can be pretty tiring for extended periods of play.
After running around awkwardly trying to kill fast moving robots on a pretty ugly environment you get a Codec call from an anonymous person called The Client. The Client has absolutely nothing important to say ever. They're so unhelpful that in one of your first interactions with them they're like "Oh, you've got super moves, find out about them in the pause menu." It turns out that these seemingly throwaway supermoves which are a collection of rotating lasers, homing shots and laser ripples are incredibly important to the gameplay and can often be the deciding factor in whether you live or die during some bosses. The only other meaningful dealings with The Client are at the end of the game and this one time they commented on me buying some new sunglasses mid mission.
I can't believe it has taken me this long to get to the most important part of the way the game plays. You run around the levels which are split up into tiny sections by destroying or avoiding all of the enemies and then hitting a door that gives you a very brief results screen with bonus points for not taking any damage. The way to avoid damage is by using the triggers to make Vanessa "dance" from side to side. Vanessa is way into dancing, leave the controller alone for a second and she taps her foot and pumps her arm to the beat of the techno music. Apparently she's here to blow up the robots that killed her parents or something, but at times it feels like she's just into some really dangerous dance fitness. The suit she's wearing makes her shoot lasers from her hand, which is pretty cool, keep hitting that button and she weaves and bobs and gyrates her hips to the sound of various uninteresting robots exploding.
The way she moves and dodges enemy attacks, which can at times be hugely damaging if you mess up your timing can either make you feel like some kind of awesome, fluid future robot killer or have you continuously get clipped by enemy attacks or frantically try to rotate on the spot to get a lock on from the robot firing missiles into you from offscreen. I understand why they hadn't transitioned to moving and shooting in Resident Evil 4, but to have it in a game where you need to be pretty mobile is an odd decision. It could work if there were more refined controls for dealing with enemies that are to the sides of you, and some of it can be countered by using the pretty generous jump, but you can only really flip forwards or backwards as trying to jump to the side or on the spot results in you doing a pretty looking, but ultimately useless spin. Considering how fast some of the bosses move (Some of which have names like Mister Giraffe.) it seems crazy how little mobility you have. The super moves can do some serious damage and I tried to cheese my way through all of these fights as quickly as possible due to them usually having single hit kill moves.
Between levels you can use the points you gained during combat to upgrade and buy new suits which have different supermoves and strengths or play a randomly generated trial mode that consists of five missions with 15 rooms to clear. This was obviously included for you to grind points to buy continues and upgrade etc. The suits in the game are so expensive and the trials give such a small amount of points unless you have mastered the combat flawlessly. You can't replay missions so this is the only way to boost yourself if you get stuck. I found myself getting around 30 000 ish points per trial stage when I wanted to buy a suit costing 600 000. Not only do you have to buy the suit but they all start out with base stats so you find yourself grinding and grinding just to get the new suit you bought up to the stats of the previous suit you owned. It's a bad way to pad out an already slim package.
Of the eleven missions here there is almost no variety. You are usually tasked with getting from point A to Point B with about 90% of the game being white rooms like some kind of Portal test chamber. I remember when the first trailers for Vanquish came out a few people would comment on it having similar aesthetics to this game, but there is very little in common between the two other than being fast moving action shooters that favour style and are directed by Shinji Mikami. On the few occasions that the game does mix things up it never really changes a whole lot about the gameplay. On one level you need to avoid slow moving searchlights, but you can just run right through them, the only penalty being that you get to shoot some stuff for more points to spend on upgrades, and another level where you have to run back through a section of the level you have already played while a timer ticks down.
The story has you returning to the same old levels a couple of times. Mostly because The Client is an idiot and opened the wrong door last time you went through the level, and it makes the game feel rushed. No environment is interesting enough to visit twice and the minimal changes they do make don't add a whole lot to the experience. Around the 8th or 9th mission you come across a clone of yourself in a tube. This is the first time your character speaks out loud, like seriously. You get about two lines of dialogue 3/4 of the way into the game. It just so happens to be everyone's favourite female voice actress Jennifer Hale voicing Vanessa. If there's something I have learnt over the last couple of years, it's that Jennifer Hale seems to be bad at doing accents. Play Fuse and listen to her atrocious English accent and here we get an even worse accent. I assume it's meant to be German, but it sounds sorta French... which slips back to American for a single line. It's obvious story was not the focal point here, but come on, that's just lazy. At the end of the game -Spoilers- we get a couple more lines of dialogue where we find out that The Client is a clone? Or you're a clone? Or the one in the jar was the original or something? Everyone's a clone? ummm DANCE BREAK! Yep, that's the story. There's robots, you killed them, someone's a clone. Are you a robot? Is a clone a product? Are you number three? Is the fancy gun-hand dance suit the P.N.03? If so how come there are tons of other suits to buy in the store? Why is she pawing the screen like a cat? Why am I even bothered by this? I'm pretty hungry, what should I have for dinner?
So that's a blog about P.N.03. It feels unfinished, most notably in the story department. Visually it's pretty bland, but the animation on Vanessa is great. This could have been a kind of Sci-Fi Devil May Cry... Hell, it even makes the exact same noise as those games when you pick up green health orbs. I can't tell if they had to rip a bunch of stuff out due to time and/or money, but the ideas behind dancing and dodging are a unique twist on the standard action game. I'm glad I played it though, I've been curious about it since I saw images of it years ago. Maybe this will prompt me to finally play Killer 7 or replay Viewtiful Joe and its sequel... I should probably just finish that HD version of Resident Evil 4. Nah, That'd require plugging in my 360 again.
Other things I have played.
I have played a bunch of games. Here are some thoughts on them
I played through the entirety of Wolfenstein The New Order. I liked it, it's a nice middle ground between running & gunning and the more modern approach. I felt like there was a little too much stealth in the game. I know you can go in guns blazing for the vast majority of the game, but the commanders de-incentivise you doing so, probably a few too many times. I also felt like there wasn't enough crazy weapons and none of the guns felt like they really packed a punch. Why place a level on the moon if you're only going to be on the surface of the moon for a couple of minutes. It's surprising how similar the space section felt to the space mission at the end of Fuse.(Second mention!) The thing I liked best about the game was the storytelling... I never thought I'd be saying that about a Wolfenstein. I really liked the way Blazkowicz muttered to himself with often unconnected thoughts from the past. The music is great.
Which Drove me to trying out The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena. I love the Riddick franchise, especially the second movie. I was prompted to re-watch the movie after a thread on the forums, I forgot to respond to someone about why I loved Chronicles, but I realized that I could probably write a whole essay on why I love that movie. Anyways. Knowing the Riddick games were made by a bunch of former Starbreeze guys that worked on Wolfenstein I wanted to give this a shot. There's a bunch of similarities. The way the storytelling is handled, the way Riddick mutters to himself, and the way long stealth sections are punctuated by extended gunfights. I wish the shooting was better and Butcher Bay has aged very poorly with some really nasty difficulty spikes that overly punish previously sloppy play. I'd heard Dark Athena was the worst game in the package, but I like it a lot more. I have kinda stopped playing it at the point it turned into an all out shooter with poor shooting.
I have also dabbled in some Basara: Samurai Heroes. It's like Capcom's Dynasty Warriors and it's fucking crazy... like CRAZY. I dunno... you kill hundreds of dudes at a time and get 1000 hit combos. Sometimes you fight a man with lightning chainsaws, or a dude that lives in a giant bamboo shoot or a tiger ("TIGER TIME!") or a robot(????) Y'know, a bunch of historically accurate Stuff. I have only finished it with one character and she has a super move where she throws hundreds of muskets into the air, spins around with tommy guns and then fires a bazooka into the air with a hundred rockets... Japan.
I'm nearing the end of Act 2 in Watch Dogs, my fourth PS4 game and it's most definitely the best game I have bought for the system. There's something about going in with low expectations and being pleasantly surprised. My initial feelings were pretty harsh, but as the story and missions with their semi-open structure progressed I warmed considerably to it. It has some of the best cover shooting in any open world and the explosions go boom incredibly nice. I wasn't going into it for the hacking part so the fact it focuses on shooting doesn't bother me, even Aiden and his vigilante voice (Which he puts on when being a shit Batman.) is ok despite his generic genericness. I hate the way the music is handled in the game. I went into the music app and turned off all of the songs I hated. It loops the same seven songs over and over now.
I also played a couple of Saturn games. Gunbird which is a scrolling shooter with witches, gods, bunny rabbits, robots and protagonists with questionable interests, and Treasure's Silhouette Mirage. I have a lot more to say about that and a couple of other Gamecube and PS1 games I have finished, but I'll leave it for another time.
One last thing.
MORTAL KOMBAT!!!!!! I rewatched Mortal Kombat. I don't remember the last time I saw the movie, but this has to be the third-ish time. I think I saw it on VHS after the cinema release, but that was a long, long time ago. MK is a fun movie, back then I remember being disappointed by it, I think I wanted it to be really dark and bloody, but its goofy tone was lost on me. Years later It feels like it the got the tone spot on. All the characters act like you'd expect them too (Bonkers Raiden aside.) and it's full of characters you know and love punching, kicking and getting fatalitied in appropriate ways. It's worth a watch just for the Johnny Cage Vs Scorpion fight. I haven't giggled so hard in quite some time.
Not the entire fight, but it has the bit that matters.
OK. Thats some writing that I did and posted and stuff. I'm most definitely going to try and be more regular with this, it keeps me focussed.Thankyou for reading and be excellent to each other.
This took a little longer than expected. I'm back to talk about a bunch of games based on/with links to my top ten favourite movies of all time. This has been a pretty good excuse to re-watch, replay and spend some time with a bunch of games I'd never have any reason to play or return to. So far it has strengthened my love of the movies, but left me with some pretty traumatic experiences on the game side of things. I was probably a little unrealistic about putting the second part of this up within one or two weeks, but I got there in the end... almost a month later. Obviously there continues to be a little stretching here and there, but I try to get as close as is realistically possible.
It was probably a huge mistake to start this a week before the release of three of the years biggest games. I don't think I have all that much to say about Metal Gear or Infamous beyond a couple of thoughts on the forums, but I'm seriously considering writing up my lengthy experience with the PC version of Titanfall. I have fallen head over heels in love with a multiplayer shooter, something I thought I'd completely lost interest in.
The good news is that I have continued to do the digital equivalent of stabbing myself repeatedly in the eyes, because I felt the need to play a bunch of games of varying quality and questionable worth in between exhilarating rounds of punching pilots out of mechs and questioning why I'm still watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D at 5.30 in the morning.
I have the best taste in everything.
This week I have a lot of brawleryness. There's a bunch of fists, feet and headbutting. First up I have played the long ignored, but always curious about Warriors game. Have I turned into a wimp? Am I packed? Can I dig it? Next up I have been searching for fortune and glory in a couple of games to go with Raiders of the Lost Ark. The best choice would have been to play the Indiana Jones game on the SNES, a game I remember finding incredibly tough as a child. Due to not wanting to use emulators I have played the weird leftovers of that next(last) gen game they advertised with the euphoria engine that came out for the Wii - Indiana Jones And the Staff of Kings. Also, I have replayed through the six Raiders levels in Lego Indy as a bonus. The last game I have played is a real gem. I got into the mood to play the only Crow video game that exists by listening to old Cure CD's and crying myself to sleep. Unfortunately, the only game in this franchise is tied to the utterly abysmal second movie and not the wonderful Brandon Lee original. Is the game better than the movie or did I start cutting myself to relieve the pain?
Movie: The Warriors (1979) Game: The Warriors (2005 PS2)
I probably spend far too much of my time on the internet watching videos of other people list video games they have bought for their collection. I could probably spend that time playing more games, watching more movies or even starting my own cartoonish gang. Hell, even just learning how to embroider fancy emblems onto jackets would probably be a better use of my time.
The one thing a lot of these videos I watch have in common is that whenever someone says they picked up The Warriors game it is always followed by a passionate recommendation. I love The Warriors, its neon soaked streets, stylistic fights and comic book-70's future stylings always bring a smile to my face. If there was one movie on this list that I'm always in the mood for, this is it. A lot of my hesitation to play this supposedly incredible game was that it was made by Rockstar. Years ago I never even knew they had different teams working on different games, so I just assumed this would be an open world with poor controls ( I never got on with the PS2GTA's) where you got to roam around the streets and punch people in the face.
It turns out that I was right about one thing. The Warriors is a beautiful love letter to the movie, but the controls are at times almost intolerably bad. I almost feel bad about being unkind about this game as its heart and its fists are clearly in the right place. The music, the setting, the gang members, even the activities all seem appropriate. The biggest problem with this semi-open brawler is that whenever the game demands more than stomping on a cops face it falls apart... And this game loves to make you mess about with poorly designed spray painting mini games, idiotic stealth or chase sequences with a miserably placed camera.
I have no shame in the four or five times I used cheats to progress though sections that I can't imagine a single person finding fun. Early on the game puts you in the shoes of youngest member, Rembrandt. You have to win a spray painting mini game against three rival gangs. It requires you to climb up on the scenery and collect paint cans, all while dealing with awkward climbing controls, people jump kicking you from offscreen and seven or eight people all trying to grab the cans that spawn randomly one at a time. Even if you predict correctly and grab a can you still have to run over to your wall and tag it with your Warriors logo. The painting requires you to trace over the shape shown on screen using the left stick. This would be fine if it wasn't so hard to make an error forcing a pause and a violent rumble of the controller. It wouldn't be so bad if one can was useful for a whole shape, but I found myself continuously messing up, creating what barely looks like the letter "W" drawn with my left hand while I was being cattle prodded and threatened at knife point. After close to an hour with no sign of progression I put in a cheat for nine cans of paint at the start of the mission. I'd love to say I obliterated the competition, but I still barely won.
Luckily the game gets back to punching people in the face soon after that. The one thing the game does really well is making you feel like you're in charge of a gang. Every so often you have four or five members with you and you can issue commands like "Wreck em all" and "Scatter", but like the gang of tough criminals they are they're pretty good about whacking rival gangs in the head with sticks and bricks without you muttering a word. I was constantly amused by a huge mess of gang members throwing each other around and stomping on faces. It sometimes gets so crazy that it's hard to make out what is actually going on, but It definitely does a good job of feeling like your dudes are all doing their best. The Warriors seem to be having a blast judging by their incredibly colourful commentary.
Occasionally you get to break into shops and steal a certain amount of items or you can optionally mug passers by or steal car radios. The game has this awful habit of giving you sub missions that require spray painting a certain amount of walls in enemy territory... Thanks for the offer video game, but I'm good. The way the game is structured is that you get a time and a date before the mission starts. It will tell you how many days there are before the meeting between the gangs at the beginning of the movie. The biggest part of this game is actually pre-movie and gives you a chance to play as Cleon, the leader that unfortunately gets taken out for falsely killing Cyrus. Cleon is voiced by the same actor as the movie and is easily one of the strongest parts of the game. He's a likable character with a no nonsense attitude and excels at integrating the word "motherfucker" into most of his sentences.
The game has you doing a pretty varied selection of things like protecting shop owners in Coney or avoiding cops during a riot. It possibly tries to do a little too much. There were some sections of the game that required platforming or jumping from rooftop to rooftop while being chased, but the delay on the jump and the weirdly angled camera made these setpiece-like moments turn into frustrating experiences. Even when the game pops up the triangle icon and you hit it there is still a chance for you to fall to your death or go flying off at an angle because The Warriors only have two speeds - Run and Sprint. It seems like the developers didn't even do any special animations for falling off of buildings. If you jump too early you will just drop to your death like a stone in the standing upright position. After every single one of these missions I had my fingers crossed that the next mission would have me beating up people, and more often than not it was. Unfortunately every so often you have to fight a gimmicky boss that requires you to throw shit at them, avoid being stun-locked by getting kicked in the junk or avoiding gunfire. There's a boss that rolls around in his wheelchair that involves inaccurately throwing things off a balcony and ordering your gang to attack or scatter while you attack him from behind. This requires you to run up and down some stairs while contending with a camera that finds it hard keeping up with the speed and slipperiness of your character. You only need to mess it up once and he's off snorting some drugs to regain his health. Oh yeah, did I mention recovering health or reviving downed Warriors requires you to buy or find "Flash"? It's a pretty juvenile, Rockstar-ish thing, but it fits the cartoony and violent, criminal universe the movie sets up.
I ended up getting so, so, so stuck here I used the level skip cheat.
The game eventually gets to a point where it is just recreating the movie. These missions are possibly the least interesting and mostly involve running away from things or hitting people. Quite a lot of the movie is recreated with both actors from the movie that range from sounding spot on, like James Remar's Ajax or sounding far too old like Michael Beck's Swan. There's something a little offputting about hearing a lot of the movie dialogue recreated. It's not that it is bad, because the acting in the movie can best be described as "spirited" although after watching Walter Hill's later movie Streets of Fire (1984) and it having the same kind of line reading I can't help feeling it was an intentional decision. The decision to recreate a lot of that dialogue with both better actors and better line reads just feels wrong, but that's probably just a side effect of seeing the film so often. Not better or worse, just slightly off. One of the biggest complaints about the voice acting would have to be the actor they got to recreate Luther ( The "Warrrrr-i-ors come out to play-ayay" dude from The Rogues.) He is far too whiney and instead of having the same unsettling tone as David Patrick Kelly he just comes off as annoying... like the horrifically bad final boss where you have to dodge his gunfire and then throw a knife into his hand. This boss is such a downer that it makes the end credits with the song In the city feel like relief instead of accomplishment.
There's a ton of things to love about The Warriors, but most of it isn't due to any of the poorly aged gameplay. The music, the title screen with the Ferris Wheel and even the nice little touches like being able to wander around the Warriors home turf and punch bags for stamina upgrades or just strut around with a ghetto blaster/boombox on your shoulder listening to the games incredible licensed music. There's even some back story missions about how various members joined the gang and an arcade machine that lets you play Armies of the Night. A Double Dragon referencing, side scrolling beat em up that unlocks after beating all the flashback levels. I'm definitely glad I played it despite a lot of the praise for it possibly coming from nostalgic memories more than anything else. The Warriors is a hugely flawed love letter that not only faithfully recreates the best of the movie, but greatly expands on it.
Movie: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) Game: Indiana Jones And the Staff of Kings. (2009 Wii)
There's a game coming up in the final part of this series that is so in love with recreating the best parts of the movie that I can't just help feeling that they should have made the movie in video game form. The Warriors, which I talked about above seems to get the balance spot on. Indiana Jones And the Staff of Kings is so intent on giving you the highest level of fanservice possible that I just end up rolling my eyes and sighing, which I'm going to assume was not the developers intended effect.
I find myself almost immediately excited by John Williams musical score. The inclusion of various pieces of music from the trilogy (Yeah, you heard me.) makes me sit up and take notice, something I should already be doing, but I'll get to that later. It's easier to look past the blurry visuals, stilted animation and a strange haze over the top of everything. The fake Harrison Ford they have gotten can at times be pretty authentic, at worst passable and the characters face is well modeled despite the aging hardware and the creepy puppet eyes.
We start our story with Indy standing on a cliff in Sudan, obviously in the middle of an adventure watching tanks go by. He quips about it being the Germans, like he knows they're up to something evil. Indiana Jones just straight up hates the Germans in this game. I'd assume they felt weird about mentioning the Nazis in a game for the Wii, Y'know a baby system for little babies. It just comes off as a little weird, but anyways... You get to move Indy around using the Nunchuck stick immediately noticing a weird stiffness to everything. Indy only really moves at one speed and everything seems to happen about a second after you have pressed the button. I see a hat, which I assume is a collectible (It is.) and run him over to it, stand there for a second and then watch him awkwardly climb up. Maybe more modern games like Uncharted have spoiled me, but when Indiana Jones finds it hard clambering up a wall even original, PS1 era Lara Croft would find easy, I start to make whining noises and question what on earth I am doing with my time.
It's funny going back to old Wii games. I have played very few of them, and most of the ones that I have funnily either use minimal or zero use of the remote. So, when I come across some poor looking vines that need clearing or a gap needs swinging over with my whip by holding a button and shaking the remote forward I'm mildly amused. The same goes for flicking the remote and the Nunchuk together like I'm using a flint to create fire.
Video games are a funny thing. One minute you can be having the best time and then something happens where that positive attitude is near-instantly drained from your body. For the very first time in my life I got to experience excessive waggle. Waggling the Wii remote is possibly one of the top five worst things about video games. Right behind underwater levels and escort missions. We get our first big "oh, this is like that other bit." moment where I have to grab the idol and then run away from things that are going to crush me, this time it's pillars, but it might as well be a giant stone ball. How does our heroic archaeologist do this? By waggling the two controllers as hard as possible. Don't worry! He does grab his hat right at the last second before something crushes it. Obviously this wasn't cause for me to throw down the controllers and give up, but this was probably the beginning of hours of frustration with what could have been a pretty good game.
We get a cutscene where... SURPRISE! There's a rival archaeologist waiting to claim the idol you went through the trouble of collecting. He's an evil German (shhh Nazi.) and you outsmart him by throwing the artifact at him and escape. This is where we are taught how to punch. The screen pauses and fake Harrison Ford drawls some stuff about using your fists to overcome all obstacles. We are treated to a Na...German rushing towards me and being told to waggle forwards, then the screen pauses and I'm told to waggle the other stick, and then it pauses and I'm told how to do a right hook, and it pauses and I have to waggle, waggle to uppercut, waggle to whip, waggle to waggle, waggle to pause, pause waggle pause wagglewagglewaggle... "Oh, one more thing..." *phew* I'm told about doing super moves by grabbing people and hitting a button, you mean I don't have to waggle to do a super takedown move? Nope, just hit a button.
Obviously this first stage is there to teach me how to play a game that would be much better with a standard controller (I should have probably bought the PS2 version.) Unfortunately this halts any momentum the game was going for. The game does have the same snappy pace of the movies elsewhere, but this is possibly one of the poorest tutorials I have ever come across in an action game. It's good that I have a lot of patience because I decided to progress on to the second level in San Francisco after a brief plane sequence where I had to hold the remote upright like a joystick. I end up running around some backstreet fighting evil Chinese dudes, because they have kidnapped a young assistant that's like Short Round, but Not Short Round and is a girl. Every single thing I have to interact with results in me thrusting my fists at the screen, swiping or waggling when a single button press would be a far more natural. I end up in a bar which somehow catches fire, which is like that other bit in that movie where Indy is fighting people in a burning bar and beat them all up. They introduce heavies which just require me to hit two buttons when the enemy does their tell and then waggle like a lunatic a handful of times. In fact all of the fist-y waggle combat is like this and it takes up a huge part of the game.
Then MORE tutorial nonsense. The game tells me I have to do some gun combat, it's a nice change of pace and fits well with the style of the movies. It's like a cover shooter where I can move around a predetermined bit of cover and pop out and aim at the bad guys. The game needs to tell you every single step in the process by pausing and teaching you one thing at a time again. Obviously you aim the cursor at the bad guys and shoot them. I spend maybe ten minutes trying to shoot at the bad guy popping out of cover, dying over and over again. The game tells me if the cursor goes from red to green I can shoot it (Little bit backwards.) Not content with me suffering through the tutorial once, every single time I fail I have to sit through this animation of Indy's hat rolling around on the floor AND go through the painfully slow, simplistic steps on how to shoot people and reload my gun. Quick quiz for you. Q: How does Indiana Jones reload his revolver? A: DUH! Waggle. It turns out I had to shoot the scenery and not the dude despite him turning green when I put the cursor over his face.
The level from that point mostly alternates between slight platforming, wrist destroying waggle combat, some really light puzzles, usually involving waggling or whipping at something and brief shooting sequences. I honestly thought at one point I wasn't going to be able to progress beyond the second level. There is a sequence where you have to fight a boss that can't be shot in the face, but you have to shoot at both his friends and things in the environment to drop on him to make him move. When you corner him you have to shoot out some fireworks that explode resulting in him being horrifically electrocuted. This is all fine and takes about five minutes, but after going through all of that you have to use your whip to help Not-Short Round-Short Round over the deadly electricity. At first I thought showing me the controller icon on screen meant I had to hold it steady, but nope. Poor Indy falls flat on his face into the electric water. I sit through the hat rolling animation and it puts me right back at the start of the gunfight. I get to end of this section over and over and over and over with the waggle motion popping up on screen for about two seconds. I continuously failed this so many times I ended up looking up how to do it online. It turns out I'm not the only one that had problems with it. The problem with these motion controlled quick time events is that it doesn't give you enough time to react, and even if you do pull off the correct motion there is nothing to signify that you have done it right. Your controls have to be perfect to pull off this stuff, but Staff of Kings does a consistently poor job of giving you any feedback. If you need to know how to punch or shoot something it will happily explain it to you all week long. This game is packed with QTE's suddenly out of nowhere without any real warning. It ruins what could have been a well paced action sequence, turning it into boring trial and error that may or may not work.
The rest of the game has me going from one country to another alternating between waggle-punching and shooting at people that slowly pop out of cover and hesitate for a couple of seconds before attempting to kill you. Sometimes it throws something that's on rails at you, and every time I failed one of these sections it was because I needed to know what was coming up beforehand, like the billion QTE's previously mentioned. The game does try to get a little more puzzley in places, and despite their simplicity they fit well and work far better than combat. The game goes pretty crazy in one level with the rolling balls though. Not content with the statues at the beginning they have two puzzle rooms with giant balls trying to crush you as well as couple of passage ways you have to run away from them. Maybe this is Lucasarts taking their referencing to the extreme or maybe the start of Raiders is like any other day to Indiana Jones.
I'm going to imagine his diary looks something like this.
Monday - Avoid students hopelessly in love with me.
Tuesday - Avoid ball trying to crush me.
Wednesday - Avoid ball trying to crush me.
Thursday - Avoid ball trying to crush me.
Friday - Beat up some Nazis Germans.
Actually, I take that back. The whole end sequence where all the mystical nonsense happens (Which is a big part of Indy obviously.) Involving The staff of Moses (Instead of the Ark of the Covenant.) is you driving around in a motorbike and sidecar. But that's a different movie, and like any sequence in this game involving moving vehicles it is a pretty bad time. I guess this is one of those strange things where Indiana Jones should have an incredible game, it has the perfect combination of Ingredients, maybe they need someone like Rocksteady to distill all of those elements into the perfect game like they did with Batman, or maybe the crown has already been stolen by the accomplished imitators. There are parts of this game to like, but nearly all of them are poorly implemented. There is one thing to like about the game though... Not a single utterance of the name "JONESEYYYY!"
I don't even know what movie this is from.
Bonus! Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures (2008 360)
I haven't gone back to this game since the year it came out. It, like many of the earlier Lego games is oddly faithful to the movie. It hits most of the iconic moments from the original trilogy like the time Marion Ravenwood had a fist fight with Belloq and that swordsman in the marketplace exploded into bits when Indy shot him.
It's a little strange going back to the earlier games. The newer games are so packed with content, not to mention that they now talk. This game which already has an insane amount of collectibles and fun little secrets seems almost bare bones and is really lacking the visual shine the games have had since Pirates of the Caribbean.
The game is split into six parts. They hit most of the big sequences in the film during the six levels, often giving you a character that wasn't present in the movie. During the truck chase Sallah fell off one of the trucks and started running on foot which was quite amusing, but I had forgotten how awkward a lot of the combat and endlessly spawning enemies these earlier games had. Lego Nazis... I hate those guys.
You know how these Lego games are by now. They obviously appeal to kids an adults alike and this is fun, but definitely not as refined as later games, and most definitely better than the oddly structured Lego Indy 2. There's a bunch of weirdness like watching Indy ride a bicycle around Lego Nazis, Belloq doing C3PO impersonations or Marcus Brody looking like he's zoned out on drugs. And there's some fun touches like Indy's cool looking fight moves or the little animation of him shaking when he gets near a snake. Strangely the one thing that doesn't make any sense is when it tells you that ladies are more nimble and therefore can jump higher. Also, there isn't any fucking waggle!
Movie: The Crow (1994) Game: The Crow: City of Angels (1997 Saturn)
Welcome back to the world of Survival Horror. Good luck... You will need it.
The Crow: City of Angels has zero redeeming qualities. You know that game you once played and thought it was really bad so you went and called it the worst video game in the world ever on an internet forum? Well, unless you were talking about this undead nightmare you have made a huge mistake. This is quite possibly THE worst game ever made.
If I had to describe what kind of a game it was from the opening level I'd say it's a 3D, Streets of Rage-esque brawler where you beat up a bunch of thugs that come at you. Once everyone is dead, a marker (In the shape of a crow.) pops up and you move on to the next area. What's so bad about that? I hear you ask. The Crow has these fully 3D areas with pre-rendered backgrounds, kinda like the first Resident Evil which makes moving around the environment a real pain as the game occasionally thinks it needs to shift to another camera angle. The biggest difference here is that it's not always the same angle. It even occasionally thinks you need a new angle every couple of steps, complete with a three second delay between the transitions. So every so often in the middle of a fight you have to find yourself on the screen and hope you're not taking damage. I'm being too generous here. When I said you have to find yourself I'm assuming that you are actually on the screen at the time. This game has a horrible habit of making you fight enemies when you're not even on the screen, making it more about luck than skill.
What I REALLY meant to say there is that quite often neither you nor your enemies will be in the camera angle the game deems most appropriate for you, which as you can imagine makes it a lot harder to roundhouse gimp masked dudes in the face. I watched the credits in the options menu and saw there were about five or six game designers that worked on The Crow. I am almost in awe at the amount of incompetence shown in every single part of this game. That was harsh. Who am I, someone that's never shipped a game before to judge? Oh, did I mention this game has tank controls?
So, you waddle around the environment with the grace of a wounded penguin, beating up bad guys by lining yourself up with them. Do you know how hard it is to line yourself up with some thug in a bar when you have to rotate around to try and punch or kick them? Punching and kicking is awkwardly done using the L and R buttons, and any found weapon is used by hitting the B button. Every single area just spawns in enemies from off screen that also rotate on the spot and waddle over to you. So you get a room full of four enemies all rotating and waddling to get the perfect angle on you while you rotate trying to get the perfect angle on a couple of them and then everyone starts swinging and kicking blindly. About 90% of my time playing this game was watching two people blindly throw attack moves that glitch through each other failing to connect. Every so often a tiny part of the enemies health bar will go down, but there is absolutely no feedback to how it happened. As mentioned earlier the only way you even know you're hurting an enemy a lot of the time is by watching the bar randomly deplete as you hear a bunch of Yah's and Ha's happening offscreen.
I bought the Japanese version of this game as western versions of it seem to have become quite expensive over the years on both the Saturn and the Playstation. My favourite thing about this version is that Acclaim did absolutely nothing beyond writing the manual in Japanese. The title screen, all of the dialogue in the cutscenes and in-game voices are all in English. Not that there is all that much of a story. You and your son are dead and you're going to avenge him by killing the dudes that killed you. Which is kind of how that whole Crow thing goes. There's an opening cutscene with five or six people surrounding you on a pier with a gun to your head and every single one of them is just saying their lines out at random over the top of each other. "Hush little baby please dont kill me yeah kill him!" I have to say I was far too distracted by the early polygonal bondage-lady with covers on her nipples to make out all of the dialogue. Every couple of levels they give you a little bit more of the story or a flashback to the pier from a certain characters perspective, but I'm explaining this like this is important or even handled well.
The game goes on for about three hours. Some of it has this oppressive tone which fits the source material, but that is countered by a room full of dudes all saying "Hey, clown face" before they start exchanging almost-blows with you. Having three men with shotguns all going "awww yeahhhh!" made me laugh every single time. One minute you're trying to high kick a monk lady in the face and the next you're avoiding rockets fired by Bob The Builder. Getting spammed from offscreen by enemies with rockets, shotguns, pistols and SMG's is ridiculous. Quite often you enter an area and are immediately stun locked by four or five enemies shooting at you from off screen. It makes moving across the screen at a snails pace suicidal. Oh yeah, this game is impossible. I am one hundred percent certain that not a single person has ever seen every single part of this game without using an Action Replay. You get one life and there are a couple of levels with hazards that can one shot you without any warning or reason. Even when cheating with infinite health I got a game over by touching a swinging chandelier... which I was meant to be swinging on. I'd love to tell you I persevered through this game without cheating, but It truly seems impossible. Even when you manage to get guns you use up all of the bullets just trying to find the correct angle and have to end up throwing them away. Did you know that throwing guns at people makes them explode? Quite often the enemies would end up killing themselves by firing a rocket point blank into me or shooting their friends trying to attack me.
Possibly the poorest £10 I have ever spent on video games. There's so many things that are bad about this game. I haven't even mentioned about the enemies with medieval swords? or that during the bosses (One of which fires rockets out of an electric guitar.) you seem to have a nut-punch and a jump kick you can't use at any other point in the game. Why or how did I do a backwards somersault from time to time? And why do I fight monsters on a platform ripped straight out of Mortal Kombat near the end of the game? Not to mention the game over screen where what looks like E.T The extra-terrestrial tells me "We'll never be together."
The Crow: City of Angels is the worst game I have ever played, without any doubt. Even Sonic 06 can't compete with this, at least it had some nice music and not this Trent Reznor wannabe sludge that plays from level to level. Just look at the terrifying splodge of bits and pieces that is the undead protagonists face. Its as messed up as the weird mishmash of ideas taken from one genre and forcibly squeezed into a brawler. I really shouldn't be surprised about how much inspiration this rotting corpse of a game seemingly took from the original Survival Horror... You sure as hell won't survive, but there's plenty of horror here.
I Warned you...
That's part two finished and put into a museum where it belongs. I'm still flip-flopping over a couple of games for my number ten. I should have fully thought this through. I'm not going to put a time on the next part this time around because I might end up far too busy with the next lot of games... And by that I mean I will probably be playing Titanfall followed by a little more Titanfall. Why isn't there a Titanfall movie? Hollywood should make a Titanfall movie.
This is a big week for sparkly new video games on magical new systems. I have Titanfall being all roboty on my PC and there's some military superheroes and grungey Troy Baker-ish douchebags coming later in the week, so how do I spend my time preparing for the nextest of next gen games? I spend it playing the video game equivalents of my top ten favourite movies. This came to me during one of my insomnia fueled nights watching T25 and Nutribullet infomercials. "Hey, why don't I play all of the video games based on those movies wot I like." It was actually a pretty good idea come to think of it and far more doable than I'd have ever imagined possible. Obviously I'm going to have to stretch here and there and there's only one film I'm struggling to find a definite game to play. In the event that I don't come up with something before the third (Possibly fourth.) part I have a handful of backups in my not-quite-top-ten-but-close list.
The first three movies in my list are Hard Boiled which naturally resulted in the official sequel to that movie and dumb shootathon Stranglehold. A game that I already own and haven't really played much of since its release in 2007. Jurassic Park which had plenty of games to choose from like the SNES and Mega Drive movie tie-in's which I had already played a ton of when I was younger, but don't have the means to do so now without an emulator. This is something I feel a little bit awkward about doing, so instead I have played the far more crazy dinosaur fighting game Warpath: Jurassic Park. And finally the only animated movie on my list which also happens to be jerky anime for jerks... Ghost in the Shell. So obviously I've set a certain kind of tone here. I like robots, dinosaurs and shooty guns which are all pretty well represented in video games. This also gives me an excuse to re-watch and maybe reevaluate my top ten list of movies along with a bunch of games I'd never considered playing, had avoided or even knew existed.
Movie: Hard Boiled (1992) / Game: Stranglehold (2007 Xbox 360)
Stranglehold is a weird thing. It's a sequel to a much older Hong Kong action movie that plays like a game (Max Payne) that was trying to emulate John Woo's (Director) style. Which gets even weirder when you consider John Moore's wretched Max Payne movie is trying to emulate the action from the game based on the other action movies with the sequel game that plays like the other game. Got that???
Stranglehold is the continuing adventures of Inspector 'Tequila' Yuen from the movie Hard Boiled. Tequila, as he is only referred to in the game is a no nonsense cop that has no time for authority and knows when shit has to get done, it has to get done with dual pistols and a hundred dead bad guys. As unorthodox as this approach to police work is it gets the job done. It also helps that Tequila is invulnerable to bullets and has infinite ammo.
We start the story with a cop being murdered, shot right through the badge which is probably the ultimate insult to a cop. We then get the usual cop movie office arguing where the higher ups are all like "There's nothing we can do about this." But our hero voiced and modeled by the actor Chow Yun Fat isn't having any of it and sets out to mess up a large portion of Hong Kong. The weirdest part about the voice acting in the game is that some actors are not native English speakers (Like Chow Yun Fat.) and some of them just have an American accent. I find this Jarring at times. I would have liked an option to change all the dialogue into Cantonese, but Chow Yun Fat does a pretty decent job.
The game immediately drops you into a market place where someone has conveniently placed a clue for our hero and a couple of pistols. As soon as the game begins enemies keep popping out of doorways in the environment and start shooting at you. You can use the right stick to do the standard aiming and pull the right trigger a couple of times, but if you pull the left trigger something magical happens. Tequila jumps through the air, the screen turn sepia and everything slows down which is convenient for lining up your aiming reticule with the center of people's faces. Thankfully Stranglehold has some of the most generous aim assist I have ever seen in a game and you can pop a succession of bad guys heads before you have even hit the ground.
For as shallow as this game is there is something satisfying about constantly flopping into the scenery and dual pistoling twenty bad guys. Tequila's movement is designed around interacting with the environment, so if you hit a table you'l slide over it or land on a trolley and it will continue to roll as you shoot people. You can even steer its movement resulting in some strangely comical moments of silently rolling on your belly into an empty corridor. The environment plays a big part in the enjoyment with a large portion of the scenery completely destructible. The first level has you shotgunning melons in slo-mo along side bad guys heads and shooting down neon signs that crush enemies with a satisfying blood splash. After returning to this game after quite a while I have to say that I was having a bunch of fun, giggling to myself about the amount of absurdity happening on screen. The game is seven missions long with each chapter coming in at about an hour which is possibly a little longer than it should be, but at least they try to mix it up on occasion, like when the game pretends to be Desperado and gives you a couple of guitar cases full of guns and ammo, an on rails helicopter sequence, protecting a jazz band from stray bullets and a laser maze you need to navigate without triggering bombs.
Stranglehold has you destroying most of Hong Kong in the first few missions. Not content with destroying all of the drug labs at the docks our supercop decides he needs a change of scenery so he travels all the way to Chicago with the sole intention of shooting up a dinosaur exhibit just to piss Patrick off only to to return to H.K in the back end of the game because he had forgotten to mess up the slums and some triad dudes house. The game throws in a few bosses like a couple of helicopters, a fat man with dual shotguns and a supposedly intense face off with a dirty cop you thought was your friend. This boss fight is completely bonkers because he can do all of the same moves as you so you see him jumping through the air in slo-mo in real time and sliding on his chest with dual pistols. Unfortunately for him I can slow down time on top of his slo-mo time where I killed him by using my barrage mode in which the game grants me infinite SMG bullets for a few seconds. He had no chance while I lazily aimed at his face and pulled the trigger. Serves him right for having a nap at my feet.
You have a little meter at the bottom of the screen that lets you use screen clearing attacks called 'Tequila bombs' where Tequila spins around as doves fly about in proper John Woo fashion and you get a slow mo shot of everyone in the room dying. There's a couple of other uses like a heal and the barrage mentioned above, but there is also a precision aim mode where you follow a camera of the bullet flying into the aimed-at part of the body. There's some fun shots of people holding their necks as blood splurts out or dudes holding their crotches. It's juvenile, but I have a pretty childish sense of humour so I'm ok with it.
Stranglehold is a fun time if you don't think about it too much. It gets the spirit of the movie spot on. I watched Hard Boiled the other night and it is still full of some of the best action scenes John Woo has ever produced. As incredible as Face/Off is he was never able to recreate the mayhem from the movies he made at home. There's some fun references in here like a text message where an earlier Woo movie - Bullet in the Head is referenced, and the meter-filling paper cranes that Tony Leungs's character Alan makes that are for every person he kills amusingly enables even more death. It's full of flashbacks, dead girlfriends and some shockingly bad faces and hands. There's even a section where Triads in trenchcoats drive boats through doorways trying to kill you. Probably even sillier than the movie... John Woo even sells you unlocks at his bar. How cool is that!?I will probably never understand why Tequila lights cigarettes only to discard them seconds later, and it's weird when your daughter throws a bad guy over a balcony only to shriek in horror when she realises he fell to a bloody mess below, but that's not what this game is about. It's about endless enemy doorways and jumping on trolleys. Oh, and Chow Yun fat does a James Bond-y Turn, pose and shoot the screen thing at the end... Perfect.
Movie: Jurassic Park (1993) / Game: Warpath: Jurassic Park (1999 PS1)
I'm going to assume that when John Hammond said he would make the park run better by not relying so much on technology the second time around he didn't mean that he was going to turn it into some sort of illegal dino-fighting bloodsport arena.
It's a good idea though. Kids love dinosaurs, adults love dinosaurs, dinosaurs love to eat other dinosaurs, it's a win for everyone.
When you start up Warpath: Jurassic Park it seems promising. The atmospheric music evokes the movie and various menus have snarling Raptors in grass or T.Rexes hiding behind trees like the worst Cretaceous assassin ever. There's some nice animation on these dinosaurs and they look pretty good for an original Playstation game. Warpath is possibly one of the stranger Jurassic Park games. 3D fighters like Tekken were big on the PS1 and Primal Rage was the only other real attempt at trying to make a dinosaur fighting game previously. Warpath is pretty much the Raptor Vs T.Rex fanfic I wrote as a child. I'm sure if this game came out when I was a child I would have thought it was the best thing ever... I had already defended Primal Rage on the SNES far more passionately than anyone ever should. Even I should have known better back then. (Although to be fair dinosaurs and stop motion are two of the best things ever.)
There's the usual collection of modes - Arcade, Survival, Team etc, so I set out to complete the game with all of the available dinosaurs. Initially there is only eight dinosaurs to choose from, with another six to unlock. Luckily the favourites are there with their names shortened giving them all a nickname. It's funny to see the Vs screen with things Trike Vs Anky. As you beat the game there are a couple of unlocks along with the extra dinosaurs like a weird dino-history mode where a man tells me no expense has been spared and gives me sounds, a list of other dino's that lived at the same time and some height information. Funnily all of the dinosaurs contained within the game all fit into the Cretaceous period, a complaint I remember hearing when the first movie came out. It's a nice inclusion and it doesn't really need to be in here. It gives the game some educational value, but lets be honest what you're here for is dinosaurs murdering other dinosaurs and Warpath has all of your dino-murdering needs covered.
The fighting is pretty wonky featuring some terrible hit detection with your connecting attacks often resulting in you taking more damage than your opponent. There's like four different classes and all of the dinosaurs have their own trick, and by trick I mean that one spammable move that lets you win 90% of the time. The best thing about the fights is the crazily out of place announcer. To begin with I was mildly amused at the Mortal Kombat-esque shouts of Flawless when you bounce that Spinosaurus off of an electric fence over and over, but the more I played it the crazier some of the dialogue was. I ended up with about two pages of notes with announcer dialogue and I'd love to put all of it here, but I'm not entirely sure this game deserves that amount of writing.Some of the best are when you lose or continue with gems like "Your insurance is paid up right?" and "Clear the spectators, he's coming back!" Now, I'm not one to pick the big dumb holes in video game logic, but not only are they letting the public watch these violent fights to the death, they're exposing them to explosions, volcanoes that are about to go off and by the announcers own admission they haven't even put the containment fence on. I sure do hope that Pachycephalosaurus has paid his insurance though.
It is a nice bit of fanservice though. Every dinosaur has its own intro animation and some of the arenas are fun like the boat from Lost World where the T.Rex continually recreates that bit in the movie where he jumped onto a yellow explosive barrel. and there's the car stuck in the tree when the Carcharodontosaurus bends through some seemingly elastic trees. That's a pretty common thing that happens in this game. When the Triceratops breaks out of its cage it bends and distorts like something out of a Looney Toons cartoon. There's a good ten to twelve backgrounds and they're all pretty fun with a lot of environmental hazards and dudes, dogs and Compsognathus's for you to tail whip or munch on. This one time I ate a goat mid combo. It was pretty great.As I mentioned before the trick to winning is finding the one move that works best, most of the attacks are bites, tail whips, headbutts and horn charges. Some of the animation of the moves is cool. The way you bite into one dinosaurs neck and hurl it into the ground where you proceed to pounce on it and snack on its belly is fun to do despite the amount of glitching through each others body parts. The one other move the dinosaurs do that seems 100% accurate is that a bunch of them can do kung fu kicks. This is best displayed by the Velociraptor. Did I say Velociraptor... I meant MEGARAPTOR! This thing is fucking huge. Everyone knows the movie was full of lies despite claiming to be a documentary, and the Velociraptor was about the size of a dog, but this Raptor is MEGA! And it's like the Jet Li of the dinosaur world. It has swipey kicks and flying kicks and is generally the coolest being in all of Jurassic Park. Warpath has some weird shit going on with its dinosaurs. it tries to stay sort of grounded by having the dinosaurs do dinosaurey things, there's no silly hats or alternate costumes here, but some of the win animations are crazy like Pachy does a somersault upon victory and a couple of them seem to start breakdancing or crotch thrusting. These are some well trained dinosaurs, but I guess some of them had to die for the paying public. I'd like to think Hammond stuck to his word and this kind of entertainment is affordable to all.
Warpath isn't a good fighting game, but it has its heart in the right place. It's always funny to see Michael Giacchino (Star Trek, Incredibles, Lost etc) listed as the musician on a game like this, even If I knew he was responsible for a bunch of video game soundtracks in the past like the original Call of Duty and Medal of Honor: Allied Assault. The instruction manual lists the 'Voice Talent' as the lead tester on the game which probably explains a lot of its weirdness, but it has its charm (" Get this thing out of here before it starts to stink!") I'm glad I played it though... I could have played countless other Jurassic Park games, but this seemed like the weirdest, not quite as weird as I was expecting, but silly enough to be entertained for a handful of hours. The reward for finishing the game with all of the dinosaurs is a live action video featuring a triceratops playing frisbee advertising an amusement ride in Florida. Was all that time worth it? I dunno. What I do know is that the Tricera-hop is a majestic thing.
I am a certified dinosaur expert* and after careful consideration I've decided not to endorse this game.
Movie: Ghost in the Shell (1995) / Game: Ghost in the Shell (1997 PS1)
Ghost in the Shell is quite possibly the most late 90's game I have ever played. It's the kind of game they'd be playing in the movie Hackers if they weren't already playing that fake version of Wipeout in their fancy hacker club. This game has the anime, the robots, the cyperpunk and most importantly music with a thumping techno beat.
Ghost in the Shell has some impressive animation upfront, animated by Production I.G who were responsible for both the movies and the TV series. They have provided some flashy shots of spider tanks shooting up rooms, quick cuts of naked robot ladies and Kusanagi gasping in an overtly sexual manner while all wrapped up in wires. There were probably a bunch of 14 year old boys replaying that intro over and over because there's nothing like hot anime cyber-ladies and machine guns right? There's about ten minutes of really nice animation overall with about five of it tied to the story and another five tied to various win or lose conditions in the training mode. I'd have probably not seen a lot of those throwaway sequences if there wasn't a 100% complete save file cheat.
The game is a third person shooter where you control a little red walking tank that can talk called a Fuchikoma. (I know that the TV series had something similar called a Tachikoma which was blue, but this is essentially the same.) The game starts you off with a very basic mission where it throws you into a small city area and asks you to get four codes by blowing up mechs. You have machine guns on the square button and a limited number of screen clearing grenades on circle which can be replenished by collecting the ones scattered around the city. You can blow up the mechs by shooting at them or by holding down the fire button to lock on with up to six missiles Panzer Dragoon style. Ghost in the Shell's only real standout trick is that the Fuchikoma can stick to walls and ceilings and has a fancy sliding strafe move by hitting L1/R1. You have to learn to exploit this very early on as some enemies can't shoot up and are often completely oblivious to you pummeling them with rockets if you're just out of reach of them. It's good to know that if Judgment Day ever happens and Skynet ever becomes self aware all we have to do it take potshots at the Hunter Killers from long range. The human spirit will prevail by shooting those robots from really, really far away.
Being super cautious is the only real way to play this game. The really arcadey movement, which feels very good compared to a lot of early 3D PS1 games seems to be at odds with the highly accurate and deadly enemy fire. To lock on you have to get really, really close so you find yourself inching forward getting a few lock-ons, firing and then backing off, which is made even more deadly by the constantly respawning enemies if you travel too far back. Sliding from side to side sometimes works, but the homing missiles have a nasty habit of doing their intended job and flying directly into you. How dare they!
They mix up the game a little by giving you objectives like "Destroy all the bombs in the area!" within a time limit, and there are a couple of auto-scrolling levels, both on the water and a road where you have full movement and an insane amount of enemies to contend with. These sections are completely maddening in their difficulty as the health pickups fly by too fast requiring you to memorize the layout by dying over and over and over. There's even another mission where you have to fight off another cyborg that keeps on disappearing using the Thermoptic Camouflage seen in the movie. Ghost in the Shell is made all the more difficult by there not being any checkpoints. A lot of the missions had me making my way to the boss with a little challenge and then having the boss destroy me in about a minute. Most of the bosses are giant walking tanks with kill lasers, rockets and stompy shockwave moves. There's a couple of standouts like a couple of flying mech suits and a generator core where you need to destroy all of its fuel rod things. For the most part you will fight the bosses by holding down the slide buttons and strafing all over the walls and ceilings continuously holding down the rocket lock-on hoping to score a couple of hits. If you were the pilot in the Fuchikoma there would probably be a certain amount of motion sickness and the last place you want to be puking up is in a confined robot tank. If I was that tank I'd be pissed, although these tanks are pretty cheery. There's one cutscene where one of them is clapping its hands and being overexcited in Major Kusanagi's office. The talking tanks should stay in the garage, think of all that oily mess they'd make on the carpets, not to mention their little stubby gun arms. All it takes is for one of them to have a bad day and start shooting up computers. Offices are no place for walking, talking robot tanks.
There's two main types of level over the course of the twelve missions. There's the open city areas and then there's enclosed areas set in sewers, warehouses and super sci-fi complexes. The tight corridors where you don't have to worry about backing or sliding into respawning enemies actually work out a lot better because you get to use more surfaces for being tactical. These sections seem to be a lot more plentiful with grenades and health also making for a little less challenge which helps. The game is short, but took me quite a while to get to the last mission which I could not complete. I don't have the patience to make my way through the tower, it can be crushing to spend twenty minutes creeping through the level only to be killed by a collection of rockets from an enemy slightly off screen. Maybe one day, although I've seen the ending and I can tell you it's not worth seeing.
I'm really glad I played this game actually. This was one of the more expensive purchases for this dumb idea coming in at £17 which for a complete copy of the UK version was a very good deal. I've been curious about this game for a long time. It has an artstyle somewhere between the movie and the original manga, and the English voice cast sound like the same ones from the VHS I had years ago which is cool if you're into that stuff. (Dunno about the TV show, only seen about six episodes and they were in Japanese.) It's a fun game with possibly a little too much of a challenge in places, but the well animated videos and the good controls really help. It can look a little drab and grey in places, but it does have some nice, green wire-frame mission briefs that are very similar to the stuff in the movie that plays out with Kenji Kawai's haunting music before the final battle against the tank.So this turned out a lot longer than I was expecting. The fourteen year old me could have spent the last hour watching that opening video over and over on YouTube.
So, part two will maybe be next week. I have only played two other games on my list and it all depends on how much time the new games will take up. I was a little hesitant to have this be more than a couple of parts, but I know how people are with words and things... Reading is booooring! So I'm going to split it up and make it more manageable. Feel free to say something about your favourite movie/game combo or tell me how much my movies suck, which they don't because y'know it's my list... the best list ever! Until next time where there will most likely be a little fortune, glory and bad motion controls.
I'm not going to pretend I'm the biggest Castlevania fan in the world, but I've played enough of them in the past and spend a large enough amount of time whipping my bedroom walls looking for various pieces of meat to say that I really, really like Castlevania. Sure, I'm one of those dedicated few (Crazy people?) that kept on screaming at the internet that if you can make it past the first half of Lords of Shadow it really, really, really is an amazing game, but I'm also a big fan of Super Castlevania IV, Symphony of the Night and the DS games, two of which I played back to back for the first time last year.
For some reason I assumed that Lords of Shadow had done really poorly, when they announced the sequel I was overjoyed at the thought of seeing how the incredible twist ending of the first game would play out. Lords of Shadow 2 was quite possibly one of the top three games I was excited to play this year, and when I started seeing a few of the early review scores with a complaint here and a complaint there about the stealth sequences in the game a few little alarms went off in my head. I find myself often disagreeing with reviewers these days, and I'm far more forgiving of a games faults than most. I can usually see the best parts of even the worst games. I want to point out up front that this isn't some kind of Devil May Cry 2-esque ruiner of lives, but it is one more terrified family-lunch away from exploding into a big, bloody awful mess.
We start the journey strong. Count Begbie is just chilling with a nice cup of neck claret when some irritating intruders bust into his nicely decorated throne room and start trying to kill him. Dracula, The Prince of Darkness or not this is pretty rude. And while I think it's a little severe a punishment for trespassing, I feel like good old Drac has every right to drain these men of their blood. If that wasn't enough of an intrusion these men have brought a giant wooden robot to mess up Dracula's house. Dracula, as confused as I am about what is happening has a strange lapse in sanity and starts questioning himself about what it is to be a man. He doesn't search deep inside all that long for an answer, it's obvious... We are a miserable pile of secrets. I ignore that my eye just twitched and proceeded to watch Dracula blood-sick all over the giant's jewel, forcing a man in some shiny gold god armour (Not to be confused with the fantastic Jackie Chan movie Armour of God.) to start swinging his flamey swords around. The cheek! Not only is a large portion of Dracula's home rubble, now he has to deal with this aggressive, winged man trying to kill him in what is probably the remnants of a stylish banquet hall.
Dracula beats the intruder and as some kind of last attempt to drive him from his home starts chanting some Latin, but Dracula like an overly theatrical, Scottish Jerry Dandrige is all like "You've got to have faith." and starts a monologue about how he is vengeance, he is the night, he is the wind beneath your wings and most importantly that he is Batman. Dracula, like any sane person is all like "If I can't have this house, nobody can" so wipes out an entire army with some kind of bat-based nuclear bomb. Enter Alucard... DUN DUN DUUUN!
It would be easy to get sucked in with an opening as strong as that. Sure, it's a bunch of quick time events, tutorials and cutscenes, and thankfully there is an option to turn off all of the QTE's, but it is incredibly fun. The game immediately thrusts you into a pretty long story recap throwing you forwards into the future that was first seen in the epilogue to the first game. It's hard not having that interview with David Cox talking about wanting Mercury Steam to be the next Naughty Dog stuck in the back of my mind. You can see they have taken inspiration from the in-game world interaction from the mountain village in Uncharted 2, with you shuffling round a small section of the city streets with a homeless lady and a drug dealer only saying their scripted lines when you get within a certain radius of them. I'm a patient person a lot of the time, but I despise the slow, forced walk. I dunno if that's a concept page on the site, but it should be. It isn't enough to make me automatically sharpen my fangs and run to the internet, but it does make those alarms start ringing again.
Then that scene happens. I say that like you're bothered, but the second this game started getting bad reviews nobody seemed to care about its oh-so controversial family murder sequence. I will agree that it is at odds with the rest of the game which strives to make you feel like Dracula glassing a whole pubs worth of the English in the face with a big cheery smile. And it's maybe one of three or four moments in the game where Dracula is made out to be pure evil. For the most part he is filled with sadness and regret at the loss of his family and humanity. Honestly, It plays out exactly as you would imagine a hungry vampire trapped in a room with walking Capri Sun pouches should do. It wasn't a particularly fun sequence, but it's absolutely no different than many scenes from various films and TV, there were episodes of Angel (Another evil murderer you're supposed to root for when he heroically kills demons.) that dealt with similar themes/ideas far more graphically, and I never saw a single complaint about that.
It's hard not to love how committed Patrick Stewart sounds to the role of Zobek. This game isn't consistently good across the board from a voice acting perspective, but Stewart, Robert Carlyle and even Rob Stark along with a handful of other characters get the perfect tone for what I think Castlevania in the year 2014 should sound like. That overly theatrical reading of the lines really helps with some of the better story moments. I'm even willing to forgive how stupid it sounds when Stewart is all like "I've opened a portal for you." I'm not entirely sure why it sounds so off considering he has had to say far more absurd things in both Star Trek and X-Men in the past.
Zobek has a nice shiny suit and wants you to go kill some stuff. This is the set up for a large portion of the game. It wouldn't be so bad if the very first mission didn't want you to use the new stealth mechanics introduced in this game. Is it hard? No. Is it boring, oh god are these sections boring. I really can't see any reason for their inclusion. There is one type of enemy that Dracula is unable to defeat. Gabriel Belmont wasn't even an all powerful vampire lord before he whipped Satan back to hell. By the end of the game you have beaten the largest of Satan's minions, giant beasts with razor sharp claws, rocket launcher wielding mechs, even the deepest darkness within Count Duckula himself, but a single Golgoth guard is too much to handle. You're always reminded that Dracula isn't at full strength in these moments, but that time I juggled two shotgun toting demons in the air doing spins and dashes makes me think someone's telling a little porky pie.
The problem with the brief, but unsatisfying stealth moments is that there is only a singular way to complete them. It's just a case of trying all available options until you stumble across the correct one. That said, most of them are really straightforward and require you to turn into rats or bats. I'm a big fan of the rats in this game, it's a shame it isn't an ability you can use at any time. Although I assume that would have probably broken parts of the game elsewhere. I love the way being a rat has its own jaunty theme. If there was ever a bit of music that made you want to rummage about in other peoples bins, this is it. While I'm talking about the music, Lords of Shadow had the one of the best scores of any game in 2010 and Oscar Araujo continues his high standard of work in this game. There isn't as many memorable pieces, and this seems to have a couple of themes carried over from Mirror of Fate, but this is some damn fine orchestral music. Appropriately grand during action sequences and beautifully tender during the more thoughtful story moments. Although I would like the game far more if the entirety of it had Vampire Killer playing in the background.
There is Last of Us spoilers in the next section.
It's quite hard to talk about this game without sounding like I have a handful of really petty complaints, but the game wants to take away any fun you're having at every turn. Every so often I'd get into a succession of boss battles and arena fights that show off the games biggest strength... its combat. Only to have that fun halted immediately by making me throw daggers at targets with an erratic aiming system or hiding from a lady by dripping blood on the floor, only to whip her to death minutes later when the game deemed it appropriate for me to do so. The first game was full of interesting, throwaway ideas that kept the game fresh from start to finish, these seem designed to make you want to hate the game and ruin any kind of pacing it had built up previously. The biggest offender is the leaf maze guarded by the demon Agreus. (Pan's brother) He's a little upset that you killed his brother and towers over you ready to mess you up, but instead decides that he'd rather you try to hide from him in a maze with dead leaves on the ground. It seems like someone wanted to know what was happening elsewhere in the world of hot new video games and discovered that there's a stealth boss fight between Ellie and David in The Last of Us. Instead of there being a lot of broken plates and glass on the ground there will be dead leaves and if he hears you he's going to immediately find you and stab you to death. This point in the game is where many will just give up. It's frustrating when you're unsure about the best method to beat it, The one hint the game does give you makes the section harder (Although some people swear by using the distraction bells.) They never suggest you should dash and mist over the leaves, the way there are hand holds all over the scenery make that seem like the best way to beat it. After an hour and a half of messing with the bells and shimmying around the environment as the evil Russian skele-goat-man keeps on telling me he smells my fear. I started dashing and using my mist ability out of frustration and ended up finishing it within five minutes.
A minute later Dracula's fear is no longer a problem and you just whip Agreus to death.
It was hard to even have fun after this. I definitely did have some fun during a couple of boss fights, and getting jewels for upgrades was a nice distraction only hindered by the absolute mess of a map screen. Some sections of the map don't allow you to fast travel to certain places and none of the city or castle has a coherent layout. Sometimes mission markers tell you to go one way, but don't explain that you have to travel through time, run through a part of the castle and then jump back to the present to continue your journey. There was more than one occasion where I found myself faced with an arrow pointing one way only for me to enter another area and then have the arrow facing back towards the way I came. Not to mention the barrage of machine gun wielding enemies scattered all over the place in a melee focused game. It's ok when you're fighting one or two of them in an enclosed space, but when there's five of them and the camera is confused by the minuscule space you're in and they're all doing unblockable attacks it is the opposite of fun. Regarding the unblockable attacks, there were moments where I was facing three or more enemies and they were spamming those moves for thirty seconds at a time with no opening. It was a minor annoyance, but there were points where them spamming like that bordered on the ridiculous.
Castlevania Lords of Shadow 2 is possibly one of the most disappointing games of the last few years. It has a lot of the same problems as Darksiders 2. Bigger in scope, but lacking the things that made the original special. There's a Train sequence that's (probably) full of quick time events. I can't help but think about that David Cox interview again. I get the feeling that someone had a checklist of things that Uncharted 2 excelled at which resulted in them trying to shoehorn a train sequence into the game without the excitement or the flair.It has its moments, the combat can at times be excellent and there's a late game twist M. Night Shyamalan would be proud of... it's so good that it doesn't deserve to be in a game of this quality. I'm sure this game will have its passionate supporters, but this time I'm not willing to hop aboard the crazy train. I spent more than enough time on the rubbish stealth train. For every moment that there's a fun boss throwing incredibly dramatic, antagonistic words at me as I whip it in the skull, there's a Jason Isaacs interpretation of Satan which comes across as if he was given a piece of paper in the studio instructing "Do the most video gamey Satan voice possible for a video game ever!" I want to love this game so much, so, so much, but it keeps coming back to that miserable leaf maze.