By MooseyMcMan 2 Comments
Here I am, once again writing up a blog, and even despite my efforts to do these more often so that I'm not writing novel length blogs, I somehow have a ton of stuff to write about. I should have written this days ago like I planned, but hey, I was actually working on my next novel, so at least I have an excuse this time!
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
I know a lot of people complain about how Ubisoft makes an Assassin's Creed game every year (not counting the smaller spin-off-y titles), but no matter how generic they are, no matter how bad the mission design is, no matter how disappointing the story, I always end up enjoying them. I'm just a junkie for running around and collecting things, and the AC series does running around collecting things better than just about every other franchise I can think of.
But it just so happens that this year's game is also pretty fantastic. This doesn't show here, but I've written and deleted about four or five different sentences because I'm having trouble putting my thoughts into words. Okay, let me put it this way. There are a handful of games that I have, for a very, very long time, hoped and dreamed would exist. One is an open world western game (Red Dead Redemption), one is a good Star Trek game (I'll just say Mass Effect achieved that), one is a good Mad Max game (hopefully that turns out well), and the last is a good pirate game.
This is the pirate game that I've always dreamed of. The fact that, aside from a distinct lack of Tim Curry, this has everything I've ever wanted out of a pirate game, made me pretty gosh darned happy. (Go watch The Muppets Treasure Island if you haven't, then you'll get the through-line on Tim Curry Granted, I haven't watched that since the 90s, but it's probably still good). But you know what it does have? Sea shanties! (Or "chanties" if you're Alex Navarro and don't know how to spell (and don't link me to that online spelling saying "chanties" is also correct, Alex already did). Every time my crew starting up on "What do you do with a drunken sailor," I got a very large grin as I sailed those seas.
But really, the part that surprises me the most about AC IV is that, for the most part, the people that made this game managed to make "tail this dude" missions that aren't horrible. I'm not even sure what it is that makes them better than they were in the previous games. Part of it is the ample amounts of foliage for hiding in (this time with real time physics in next-gen/PC versions of the game, which actually translates into foliage that doesn't look terrible like it has in every last gen game I can think of). I think another factor is that there don't seem to be as many guards on roofs as there were in a lot of previous games, which made tailing guys from the tops of buildings more viable.
Now, let me be clear, not all of these missions are good. There's one near the end of the game that involves an Italian that is TERRIBLE! I think it was the only time in the whole game I actually gave a mission one star in the post mission star rating. And that brings me to the out of Animus stuff, which is AMAAAAAAZING. At this point we all know the set up of working at a game company, but while that does eventually lead into an actual story (however brief it may be), some of my favorite stuff in the entire game is hidden in the out of Animus portions of the game. Specifically, I mean all the hidden "internal documents" and videos about the development of "Devils of the Caribbean" (the name of the pirate game the person you play as is working on), and the other ideas Abstergo Entertainment is looking into, or rejecting. The videos analyzing the protagonists of the previous AC games are great, because every one (aside from the one for Aveline, from Liberation) ends in the character being rejected for a variety of reasons. Though, perhaps the sad part is that I actually agreed with the video on Connor, so...yeah.
I could go on and on about how great the climbing still is, how much I love the sailing, the combat, etc. Instead I'm just going to harp on some of the issues I have with the game. I was under the impression before playing this game that it was a true, open world in the sense that you could go anywhere without any loading screens. That's not the case. Any time you enter or leave one of a handful of larger areas (including the three cities), it has to load. It's not really that big of an issue, just a little disappointing when the rest of the world is so big, and when you can go from sailing to running around on a small island after a single collectible in a matter of seconds. I blame the existence of the last gen versions of the game, and assume (by which I mean hope) that the PS4 and Xbone (I played the PS4 version) are actually capable of doing something like AC IV as a true open world.
Another issue I have is that while so much of the world feels alive, and so many of the main missions are well designed, almost all of the side content feels pretty cut and paste. Having a whaling/sharking (okay, maybe not the right verb) mini-game is cool, but it plays out the same way every time. You see the sea critter, harpoon it, throw some more at it until it breaks the line, then harpoon it again when it attacks you (instead of fleeing), and repeat until it's dead. The only one that game me any challenge was the white whale. And the size of these animals isn't even consistent! When they get pulled up onto the Jackdaw (never mind the mechanics of how they actually put them up onto that ship) they look about three or four times larger than they did in the water during the fight.
And then there's the crafting. On paper, a good addition, and some good usage of that cross-Ubisoft stuff. But while I don't remember having too many logical issues with the crafting in Far Cry 3, I find it a little weird that not only does each of Kenway's gun holsters have to be made from different animals, each requires TWO of the animal in question. Now, if these were rabbit or monkey skins (both of which are in the game), then sure, I could see that. I don't think Kenway needs two humpback whale skins to make a gun holster. He could make an outer covering for the Jackdaw with that much whale skin. Again, not really an issue from a game play perspective (especially when you can buy almost all of the animal skins from shops, if you don't actually want to hunt), but it felt like too much of a stretch, especially for a series that has always prided itself on letting your character only carry a realistic amount of weapons, and making that stuff always visible on the character, and in actual holsters/sheathes. I'm just saying it's an attention to detail/realism in one respect, and hugely unrealistic in another. But that's kind of most video games, so I'll just move on.
But before I do move on, I just want to say that, for the most part, I really enjoyed all the story stuff in the game. Edward Kenway is a great character, and the way he deals with and interacts with the longstanding factions in the AC universe (Templars and Assassins) is way more interesting than anything else in the series. I'm not trying to downplay all the stuff Ezio did (which was great), but that was pretty much just revenge that turned into a quest for doing what's right, whereas this has a little more depth/variety.
Also, Blackbeard is in it.
Just because it's the Year of Luigi, that doesn't mean he has to work alone.
Need for Speed Rivals
Still been playing this. It's still fun, but the low player count makes the online stuff kinda pointless. I like playing as a cop more, because I like trying to take down racers, and I don't like being chased by cops.
That's about all that I have to say, for now. Haven't finished it yet, but I bet that this is a game I will poke away at for quite some time before I'm finished with it.
Binary Domain is the very definition of a game that I wanted to play, and would have if I had an infinite amount of time and money, but as it was, I never got around to buying it. I filed it under, "I will totally buy this when I see it for really cheap in a store," which always really means, "I'm probably never going to actually play this game." But thanks to the fine people at Sony, it was free on PlayStation Plus, so I finally got around to playing it.
Binary Domain is pretty great. The part where it's a third person shooter is solid, if nothing super original or new, but still pretty good. There are also a fair number of one off situations where you do things like swim, or ride jet-skis, and for the most part, those are bad. But the story?
It's INCREDIBLE. By the year 2080, the ice caps have melted, and thus all the world's coastal cities have flooded, and demand for robot labor has caused the proliferation of robots around the world. But not "Hollow Children," or robots that look like, and believe they are, human. Those are clearly forbidden by the New Geneva Convention, and the game is about a "Rust Crew" that has been sent into Tokyo to investigate a corporation believed to be making and propagating Hollow Children around the world. That's great enough on its own (I couldn't help but smile any time anyone mentioned the New Geneva Convention), but the way it's presented is great, and the story only gets crazier and more insane from there. I'm not even going to get into it, because if you've managed to not have it spoiled (and I want to say that Vinny did at some point during last year's GOTY stuff, because I definitely knew about the craziest twist, but I can't say for certain off hand), then you should just play this incredible, amazing, fantastic game.
Also, Big Bo and Cain the French robot are two of the best characters. My only regret is that I did not manage to max Cain's trust. The only character I did that for was Big Bo.
And you know what? He's the one that matters.
I tried to get Bo to let me edit in Luigi, but he refused, and I can't say no to Big Bo.
Hey, a rare re-visit of a game here. Eh, never mind the fact that I had mentioned that I started AC IV and NFS in the last blog I wrote. Anyway, after finishing AC IV, I decided to go back to Dragon's Dogma, and since I had made it to level 60, I decided to finally make a real attempt at the Dark Arisen content of the game, which is Bitterblack Isle.
The island is a lot more confined and cramped than the main game, or at least than the over world. There's definitely some larger, more open areas for fighting the bosses, but I've definitely run into several instances where the camera was not able to keep up because there was so much going on in a fairly narrow corridor after three giant hyena monsters randomly appeared whilst I was fighting wolves, skeletons, zombies, etc.
Aside from that, I've been really liking it. The new enemies/bosses are, for the most part, fun to fight. Aside from Death though. I still haven't figured out a way to do any serious damage any time he shows up, and whenever I do anything other than run away, someone winds up dead (by which I mean me or one (or more) of my pawns). Maybe that's the point though, I dunno.
And even though I've leveled a lot since I started Bitterblack Isle (I think I'm in the mid 70s now), it's still pretty hard. I had a moment the other day where I was dreading whatever terrible beast would be around the next corner, and I felt exactly the same way I do when I play Dark Souls, so that was great. But Dragon's Dogma lets you save anywhere (so long as you are not in combat), and you can pause, so it's still less strict in a lot of ways (doesn't make it easier in terms of the combat though).
I still haven't finished it though. I got to (what I assume is) the final boss of the area, but then I died, so I made a tactical withdrawal to grind up some levels. However, I've heard that defeating that boss (assuming I'm correct) really just resets the whole island with newer, harder enemies, and a new boss fight at the end, so, I guess I'm not really near the end. I'm not sure that I would want to go and redo all of that stuff though, even if all of the enemies are different (and I can't say for sure that they are ALL different). Even if what I played, I was getting some environmental design fatigue, and I saw a fair number of rooms/corridors being reused in different parts of the Isle, just with different enemies.
Either way, I'm still really enjoying Dragon's Dogma, and I will continue to work my way through that for the foreseeable future.
Oh, and I played some Trine 2 as well. I'll give that a proper write up later, but I've enjoyed what I played. It was kind of an impulse buy, but I did at least try the demo first. And hey, it looks really nice on PS4, so that's a plus.
In other news, I'm now thinking that I might be able to get Space Cops 5000 ready by the end of the year. Maybe. Once it is, I'll make sure to pester you all to buy it, though I'll have to be careful to make sure it doesn't look like a spam ad, because I hear the mods don't care for those around these parts (never mind that I am aware that straight up advertising in the forums is against the rules). But make sure to follow @SpaceCops5000 on Twitter for the latest updates! Hey, I went through the trouble to create a second Twitter account for that, I'm not going to not link to it.
Oh, and The Moosies! If everything goes according to plans, then The Fifth Annual Moosies Video Game Awards should be a gloriously dumb event in ways it never has been before. Or should I say, Luigi Presents The Fifth Annual Moosies Video Game Awards? I cannot go into any details, but what I have planned is one of the dumbest ideas that I've ever had and then actually went through with. Hopefully it'll also be good, but I can't guarantee that.
I should say that the current plan will mean a technically small Awards thing than last year, which was two separate things, each with many awards. This year it's just one, and there won't be as many awards. I think the trade off will be worth it, but of course I do, it's my idea.
Okay, that's it for this blog. Wait, before I go, I think we all need to take a moment and reflect on a recent loss. This person's impact was felt around the world, and I'm sure he touched all of our lives, in one way or another. He will be missed, and the world will never be the same without him, so rest in peace.