"F" That Game - Battlefield: Bad Company 2

 I’ve put this off for way too long, but I managed to beat the single player campaign of Bad Company 2. I got sidetracked by Final Fantasy XIII. Now with that done, I should really get my ass in gear.

BC2’s story is much more concise than the first game. Which I welcomed heartily. That combined with the characters made this game far more enjoyable from a story standpoint, with the exception of a few issues, some minor and some pretty fricking frustrating.

I enjoyed the use of a prologue stage as a tutorial. Logically, B-Company would be up do snuff, and “retraining” them would be extremely redundant. Plus this serviced quite well in getting me interested in this story. Something mysterious is always a good grabber.

It’s good to see all the members of B-Company back. Just sitting in the jungles talking about Predator. Even the pilot driving our helicopter felt like a lifelong member of B-Company.

So once again, B-Company gets stuck in the middle of something that should be way over their heads, but in their own unorthodox way, they’ll pull through. That’s what I like best about these games, these guys just go in and get it done. I would say no nonsense, but that goes out the window the moment Haggard opens his mouth, yet when the nitty gets gritty even he steps up and brings his A-Game. Or should that be B-Game?

I found myself fumbling around the controller far less this time around, but I do miss the manual heal. I always tend to die easily in Battlefield games. In the first Bad Company, I used the heal to get healed and fall back to regroup on the enemy. Without that mechanic, I had to have about half the response time to decide whether or not I should fall back. Which led to me dieing quite a lot.

Dieing wouldn’t have been so bad if the checkpoints were more forgiving. Sometimes I would lose 20 - 25 minutes of progression because I got picked off. Sure, if I ran through a stage, I might be able to make it, but I always felt compelled to make sure I do a good sweep of the area, which ends up being time consuming. I liked in the previous game that I respawned, but the battle continued. It worked to keep the general flow of the game moving plus it caused me to swear a lot less.

Though, the vehicles did feel a lot tighter this time around. I can’t remember specifically how they felt in the first Bad Company, but I do know that the first time in this game where I got to drive a jeep for a long distance I was driving like a pro. That was probably the longest I ever went without being killed.

I knew I should’ve written this sooner. I’m drawing a blank on all fronts. There was plenty more little things I came across as I played the game, but I just can’t remember them now. Few months into the year and I’m already slacking. At least I managed to write something though. Till next time.


"F" That Game - Heavy Rain

 Not many games compel me enough to make me spend an hour trying to piece together what had happened and then to try and figure out where things are going, but last Tuesday, when I first put a few hours into Heavy Rain, I did just that. It cost me about an hour of my sleep time that night, but was so worth it. I couldn’t wait to jump back in.

That’s where Heavy Rain grabs you by the balls. It’s story telling. Not so much in what is told, but how it’s told. The plot of this game might not be airtight, but Quantic Dreams has made a remarkably compelling game. One that got me frazzled for all the right reasons.

I went with my gut instinct on most every choice that the game presented. However, characters can pressure you to do something. Causing your finger to, literally, slip. Exactly like it might have in real life. “R1” can be a hair trigger sometimes. I spent the rest of that evening feeling remorseful for what I had done. Going so far as wishing I had taken that one last breath and assessed the situation.

There were a few times where choices were hard to read because the text was vibrating fast, and the symbols were small. The “all-white” text helped to keep it from being intrusive, but I had a damnable time telling “square” from “x” from “triangle.”  Though, I only noticed this on non-crucial scenes. It seems Quantic wanted to make sure that when things really mattered it was clearly presented before you.
Finally, a QTE game that is actually fun. I noticed when I played the demo, that I rocked the QTE sequences. I didn’t want my protagonists coming off as Superman, so I picked the hardest difficulty. I’m not sure what easy is like, other than the “slow” stick commands not being there. I assume there’s a bit more time to hit the buttons. I felt comfortable with the difficulty I chose. I missed a few, I hit a bunch and that gave it an organic feeling.

In most of these sequences, everything was at a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants pace. Speeding down a highway.  Chasing after a suspect. Forcing me to put my seat back in the full upright position and inch ever so closely to the edge of my seat. When all was said and done, I was shaking the adrenaline out of my system before carrying onward.

Same with the slower-yet-nail-biting sequences. You know those scenes in movies where you actually hold your breath, because you think that by breathing you will upset the delicate balance of everything and cause something bad to happen to the hero. This game is chock full of those white knuckled moments. Hell, I had shake out even more adrenaline after one of these scenes. On a side note, your nose makes a decent extra finger if you get finger-tied on the hold-the-buttons-down sequences.

If only the walking around worked as well as everything else in this game. I haven’t played movement controls this clunky since.. well.. ever! I wish this game moved, at the very least, like the first Resident Evil. I’ve had over a decade to get used to those controls. But I give this game a bye, because everything else works so very well, plus you know that you’re never going to have to out manoeuvre anyone. If things get that crazy, you’ll be tapping buttons. I could see potential for Arc controls. You point your reticule at the screen and hold R2 to make the character walk to where your cursor is. Kind of like the mouse controls of Diablo. That would probably make movement about half as clunky.

When you’re in the thick of it, though, you forget all about the walking. Instead you’re faced with life and death choices. Do you risk being tempted by the serpent for one more glimpse of glory? Do you see how far you can push the line? As you gain confidence, you can get pretty ballsy in what you choose. I’m came rolling into the finale with certain air of confidence. Holy shit did the game give me a wake up call. Since the story can go so many ways there isn’t much I can spoil here, other than the shit hit the fan. Any character can die at any moment, including the climax. In fact, to rub salt in the wounds, there is trophy for having that happen to you. The fact that it is possible to get so far only to fall flat on your face is a major testament to what this game represents. After completing this game so soon after Mass Effect 2, I really hope games continue down this path of storytelling, where I’m an active roll, and not a passive viewer.

Heavy Rain can be categorized with cult classic films. The kind usually directed by David Fincher. Hell, this game kinda gave me a “Se7en” vibe. The nice thing about this game though, is that you can experience different things each time you play it. Maybe there’s a different object in the box this time around. Maybe the box doesn’t even show up. That’s why Heavy Rain is going to be experienced over and over again.

Especially in my case, because I came so close… So close…


"F" That Game - Persona 3 FES - The Journey

In the weeks leading up to Final Fantasy XIII, I’ve decided that I’m going to roll back and wrap up some of my lingering games.

I wasn’t going to do a blog for this game. I thought I had only a few hours left to go, but I damn near another 20 hours into the game. So this game is going to get it’s own “F” That Game.

It all started about a year ago. Two of my friends were talking about this site, and a game known as Persona 4. My roommate has been in knowledge of the Megaten games for quite a while, and spoke highly of them. So, almost on a whim, I went and picked up Persona 4. I think it might’ve been cheap at Futureshop or something. Popped it in, and got about as hooked as I did when I played my first Final Fantasy game over 10 years ago.

As I approached the end of my second “completion” my buddy lent me his copy of Persona 3 FES. I rolled into it after I was done with P4. Atlas definitely streamlined some parts for P4. I really, really missed the quick travel button. However, there was a certain level of “icing” that Atlas put into P3 that didn’t return in P4. Little quirks, such as comic style panels to even the way a question mark is drawn above a character’s head had 10 times more pizzazz than P4. It made the conversational bits that much more entertaining and, at the same time, is something that could’ve been left out to shave off a few months of production.

I also think the social link system is better performed in P3. The fact that, with some sort of ease, I could ruin a relationship with a person, and then have to try and reconcile just added a whole extra layer to social linking. Even better, I was able to do way more social linking in this game. The fact that I hardly ever had to choose between hanging out or exploring the dungeon was much more appreciated. Of course, if you could social link this often in P4, maxing out every social link would be a cinch. Saying the wrong thing had harsher repercussions than in P4. Sometimes taking upwards of 4 or 5 visits to link up. Speaking of which, this has kinda been my issue in both games. I don’t really like the fact that I’m answering questions based on what the other people want to hear, instead of what I truly believe. This façade leaves me feeling slimier than any real friend should.

Where I thought P3 fell kinda flat was the main dungeon. Every character in the game spoke of Tartarus -- “tartersauce” to me -- as being something they HAD to do more than WANTED to do. Every goddamn floor of that place made me feel that way. I don’t know if I want to give Atlas kudos for making me, the player, feel the same as the in game character must’ve felt about that place. Thankfully they included a split up and search button. I skipped maybe half the floors, found the bosses, tried them out, saw how bad I got my ass handed to me, then spent the next smattering of days grinding levels. At least, if I was in a somewhat tougher area, gaining levels was pretty quick. As soon as it wasn’t, I was trying the boss again, cause I would most likely be able to beat them.

Shuffle Time helped out with that, cause 9 times out of 10 I would go for the experience gaining card. I really like the Shuffle Time in this game. It had a street curb card swindler vibe to it. “Shuffle” being the key word here. I guess P4’s should’ve been called “Orbiting Card Time.” I was also a fan of the random “double down” so you can have a chance at getting bonus experience and a Persona out of the whole deal.

The battle system is fairly straight forward. It would’ve been a lot nicer to have control of my party, and the “knock down” tactic should’ve been made available sooner. It would also have been handy if the character would choose something other than “wait” when they were unable to perform a knock down move. In most battles, this was alright. It just ended up being a big SP drain for my character. If only there was 1 or 2 more tactics slots... Man, FFXII’s gambits have spoiled me.

Persona 3 was a much darker story than Persona 4. I‘m a huge fan of murder mysteries so I immediately latched on to P4. After 80 hours of P3, I’m not as into it as I was 10 hours into P4. I like the characters, the setting and a lot of the story itself, but, as a package, it doesn’t feel as concise as P4. Maybe its ambiguity was intentional. Combine that with being a translated story and perhaps there is something lost in the translation. I’m saving the remainder of my opinion until I’ve seen the Answer portion of the game. The Journey was definitely an appropriate name for this first part.

All in all, I’m in love with the Shin Megami Tensei games. They’ve opened up a whole new area of JRPGs for me and, since I’m so backlogged with their games, I now have plenty of games to fill in the void between other major releases. If you like Persona 4, chances are you will like Persona 3. Just be prepared to make some concessions, however, cause it truly is a predecessor.

"F" That Game - Mass Effect 2

The game so nice, I beat it twice.

I really loved this game. It grabbed me in a way that Persona 4 grabbed me last year. Compelling characters. Epic storyline. This game had it all. I will try my best to not spoil any of it so you, too, can enjoy the full experience.

Immediately you feel the increase in the action. The last couple hours of the first game were roughly the equivalent of the Death Star trench run in the first Star Wars movie - And the setting kinda makes this feel even more appropriate. Charging and gunning down Geth in your final mad dash. Mass Effect 2 gets the ball rolling and carries it through the rest of the game.

I like the new feel of the gunning mechanics. I actually felt compelled to use the other guns. Picking off some dude and then ducking behind cover to reload added a cinematic feeling to the battles that I don’t usually get in other shooters. This game is a shooter that works well with my pacing.

I wish the hopping over of barricades was cleaned up a little. Always having to take cover and then press the button again to hop over is one of the few times the control system actually felt clunky. It’s the worst when you’re recruiting Archangel and have to jump 4-5 things in rapid succession. However, if you timed things correctly, Shepard looked like he was give a big exaggerated antic before hopping over, which was kinda neat to watch.

The hacking, and messing around with the circuit boards was a lot of fun. I found myself unlocking more things than I did in the first game because of that. But that planet scanning… It was just so slow. What would’ve made it better was if the scanner gave you a reading all the time and then you’d pull the left trigger to fine tune and pinpoint the meatiest part of the mineral deposit. That being said, thanks to the prospect of upgrades, I did more than a fair share of mining. If only I had found out sooner that doing Miranda’s personal mission would get me a slightly faster scanner. Emphasis on the slightly.

The characters in this game make the characters in the first one seem like ordinary citizens living in suburbia. The new crew seems to have more layers, and that might help in extending their stories for the next game. Plus, Grunt has some of the best facial textures I’ve ever seen in anything 3D. Kudos to the design, modeling and texturing team on that one.

The first game turned it up to 11 in the last couple hours. This one turned that dial all the way to 15.  For the first time in 2 games, I actually felt like a commander of a crew, not just the leader of a squad. I liked assigning other characters to other roles based who they were, what they could do and how they seemed as I talked to them on the ship. One would think that this might break away from the pacing, but it felt so organic to the experience.  Maybe doing it for every mission in Mass Effect 3 will be going overboard but, certainly on key missions, it will make for an exhilarating experience.

For those of you who haven’t played this yet. I recommend playing the first game. Get comfortable with Shepard, see his story from the beginning. Tough it through controlling the Mako - Maybe you don’t need to go exploring every planet, just use it to get from A-B. Then roll right in to Mass Effect 2. Live with the consequences of your decisions. Then, when you’re done and that Shepard is tucked away waiting for Mass Effect 3, go do an asshole run through. Cause seeing Shepard as a bad-ass douchebag is too fun!


"F" That Game - Mass Effect

 This is over a week late. I dunno if you all know about this, but a little ol' game name Mass Effect 2 came out recently. I kind of got addicted to this game. Well, I wrapped that game last night and can now finally write my blog post for the first Mass Effect game.
It all started roughly a year ago. My roommate came home from his buddy's place boasting that ME was actually really good. I was never truly a big fan of Bioware's RPGs. I was a late adopter of the Xbox, so I missed out KoToR and my first Bioware RPG was Jade Empire. I found the fighting to be decent, but the dialogue trees kind of put me off. I'm an information sponge and after an hour of talking to NPCs, and picking every damn option available, I was burnt out on the game.
Flash forward a few years. My roommate comes home. Returning from the same buddy's place. Talking up Fallout 3. On a complete whim, I go out an buy it. My roommate's word is pretty solid. He hasn't let me down so far, and this just solidifies that. I flippin' LOVED Fallout 3. That game eased myself into the western RPG genre. So when my roommate came home talking about Mass Effect, I did the same thing, I went out and picked it up.
The year after that was a blur. Persona 4 hit me, and hit me hard. 2 full playthroughs of that game, plus a 95% playthrough of Persona 3, and 3-4 months are gone. Mass Effect fell to the backburner as I played through other games that occupied my library.
As hype built up for ME2, I felt more and more compelled to pop this one in. With a little over a week before the second one came out I started the game . So Zwain's -This guy will get his own blog post, cause his story is EPIC- ongoing quest continues as he now finds himself in the universe of Mass Effect.
I kept hearing about how this game pales in comparison to it's sequel, but it never really bothered me. The texture popping was unfortunate. I never had major issues with the frame rate. Maybe because I'm usually a PS3 game player, hyuk hyuk. But I thought, on the whole, that this game looked graphically more impressive than Dragon Age, at least when comparing Xbox version to Xbox version.
Something that happened way back when I started playing Fallout 3. I started liking the idea of picking one thing and living with that choice. Roll with the punches, so to speak. Mass Effect was no different.
One thing that could've been better was that Shepard's ending conversation sentences always felt so forced. Someone would just open up their heart to you, and you pick seamless dialogue choices during the conversation. When there is nothing left to say, Shepard tops it all of with a "I should go" as if the other person said something so awkward that he feels the need to get the hell away from them. All this after seeming like he truly cared 10 seconds earlier. Maybe Shepard is socially inept.
Another thing that could've been better was the Mako's controls. One stick was too sensitive and the other was too delayed. So I was either overcompensating or driving was a series of aim, turn, aim, turn, aim, turn. Which could get me through the bulk of the game. However, when it came to circle strafing Thresher Maws, that's where it fell apart. The left analog stick is direction based on the camera. So if you're wanting to drive in a circle around something you have to slowly compensate for the angle in which you aim your gun. If only I had a nickel for every time I started reversing as a result of this. This control scheme reminded me of how janky it was to control Snake or Raiden when they crawling on the ground. Sometimes back was crawl backwards. Sometimes back was turn right around. Drove me bonkers.
About a quarter of the way into the game, I stopped opening lockers and other things that required that Simon Says game. That was just too tedious. I might've missed out on some cool guns or armour, but I made due with what I had. It seemed as though Shepard only needed his trusty assault rifle.
The characters in this game were awesome. Wrex and Tali were my main choices. I liked Wrex's bitter, sarcastic jock attitude and Tali's youthful spunk. Garrus was really cool as well, his stories about C-Sec were pretty cool. Liara had this awkwardness about her that made he pretty cute. Or was that the fact that her eyes were twice as large as anyone else's?

Finally there is Kaidan. My man. My bro. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I always sensed some sexual tension between Shepard and Kaidan. I think this scene is designed with the female Shepard in mind. Every time, Shepard slowly walked into scene in his skin tight shirt, Kaidan was always wiping sweat off his brow in his skin tight shirt, and the way they’d look at each other. I found it kind of amusing. These two dudes are part of the same squad. Have been together for quite some time. Who knows if there was a little bromance brewing.
I can't help but feel that the Wrex spoilers might've swayed one my decisions in the game, but I did like the dude enough that I could've easily made that my choice anyhow. That was the only decision where that happened. Sometimes I made choices, and thought I saw where they were going, only to be forced with a much grander choice. Choices that sometimes had me pondering in excess of 30 seconds. This felt great. Like I was taking a pivotal role in my story. Always thinking of the greater good for everyone. Sacrifice a few to save many.
So Zwain Shepard lives to fight another day. With the cheesiest closing shot ever. I think it would've been better to end on that shot where he's walking passed the camera with a smug grin on his face, all like.. "Awww yeah!"
This game marks a beginning. A grand epic beginning that I have no idea how it's going to pan out, and that frightens and intrigues me. Let's see how far the vastness of space really goes.


"F" That Game - Assassin's Creed II

So as January draws to a close, I complete my third game of the year. I've also come up with a name for this blog that I'm doing now. "F" That Game. The "F" stands for "finish". It's also a play on this blog I used to do with my roommate called Efing Media. If we ever resume it, I'll be migrating this back over to there.
I freakin loved this game. Every last damn bit of it. If only I had played this before Chistmas. It would've drastically altered my top 10 games. Now I'm just taking a break until Bonfire of the Vanities, and then I'll pop back in to give the DLC it's last hurrah. 
I enjoyed this game so much more than Uncharted 2. I find the general overarcing storyline of this series to be more epic. Uncharted is a good ol'time romp through the jungle, but Assassin's Creed is painting a much, much bigger picture. It sucks having to wait a couple of years to see how this all pans out. It's like being addicted to a really good book or comic series.  Unable to wait for the next one, but forcing myself to do so because the payoff with be oh-so-sweet. 
I never played the first game, but I got all the setup I needed with that kickass intro, and a damn fine late title card to boot. Now I'm fully sucked into the world of Desmond Miles and Abstergo and shanking people in the face.
Shanking people.... in the face.
Those poor guards, taking up jobs just to feed their family. It wasn't until I got a cape that allowed me to remain incognito did I realize I was potentially just killing regular, working people. I mean, yes, it was me or them, but that doesn't change the slight moral dilemma I faced as I left Florence for greener pastures, flooded greener pastures.
The game was, by no means, perfect. It had some cons, but it was the pros which elevated this to status in which I now hold this game. If I cared about points, It earned a 7/5, but then gets knocked back a couple of points for all the times I was a fraction off the angle of my jump and Ezio went into a completely opposite direction.
The presentation of the secondary stuff was also perfect. So far, only this game and Arkham Asylum have handled the collect-athons in such a way that I feel compelled to seek out every nook and cranny, all the while saying nuts to the main story.  It was fun just mopping up all the treasure chests before sinking my teeth into the next area.
The story, itself, was awesome, captivating and brilliantly executed. Something worthy of any other fiction I've ever read or watched. The ending made my jaw hit the floor. It worked out even better because I managed to find all the glyph's before finishing the game. So my mind was already exploring certain territory, and when it all came together, that was where the game went from being great... to being flippin AWESOME.
So now the stage is set. The final act is on its way. Who will we get to plunge out wrist blades into next?


A New Year in Gaming 2 - God of War Collection: Part 1

Why, again, do I like this game?
It makes me swear, excessively. I almost tore my Dualshock 3 controller in half. No game makes me even half as frustrated as this one.
Yet this is the third time I've played through it. (Well, 2 and half times before) And once again, I find myself wondering that very same question. The platforming is atrocious and not fun most times.(I'm looking at you saw blades in Pandora's Temple.) Why is it that enemies can break my combo at anytime, yet there is no way to stop a minotaur smashing its hammer into my face? It all drives me bonkers.
But then there are the moments where I smash the cyclop's face into the ground. Rip a dude in half. Drive a huge log through the chest of the big Minotaur... and it all seems so worth it. I guess I've been a sucker for Greek mythology for years. I watched the old Hercules cartoon. I watched the adventures of Kevin Sorbocules. So maybe I'm biased to the subject matter. Also, the badass moments are SO badass that maybe in the end, it all pays off. 
Whichever the case, this is the second game I've finished in 2010, and for this new year I've decided to blog about every game I do finish. Largely to keep a record of what I do finish up, and also to have something new to try creatively. So here's to hoping that I can actually keep something like this going on for 1 year. This will also get a new name shortly. "A New Year in Gaming" isn't gonna cut it come September. Gonna try some new things while I flesh out a blog format for this thing. It'll be fun.
"Hell Yeah" Moment: Showing up to the Minotaur boss battle with only an inch of life and smacking him senseless.
Puzzling Achievement: Getting the trophy for climbing the Pillar of Hades without taking damage. Apparently, this really means "climb up the damn thing" cause the only way you'll make it to the top is by not taking any damage. 
Closing comments: I almost started up again. I got 75% of the trophies. I might be able to platinum this one. To tell the truth, I'm still considering it as I type this. I'll keep you informed.
Till next time...


A new year in gaming - Battlefield: Bad Company

2010 is now upon us. Sounds like a great time to play some 2008 games.
I just wrapped up the single player campaign for Battlefield: Bad Company. I enjoyed this game. The story was kinda loose in a few of places, but the character banter between Redford, Sweetwater and Haggard was awesome. I even found myself speaking out loud to them every now and then.  
Let me start by saying that this game has the best tree-falling physics of any game I've ever played. From the first moment when B-Company asked me to try out the grenade launcher to blow off the front of a house(Which subsequently was lobbed over the roof and hit the tree behind the house with perfect comedic precision), I was shooting down as many trees as I could, just to watch them fall.
I will never get used to driving controls being mapped the L1 and L2 buttons. I just feels so backasswards and I got finger-tied every time I hopped into a vehicle. 
I thought it was cool that I was responsible for my own health. This made some of my "charging through the front lines" choices feel all the more epic, especially that final mad dash across the bridge to get the anti-aircraft turret(Is is even possible to make it this thing, it got blown to bits pretty fast). The only flaw is the toggling/cycling between the items and weapons felt really clunky. In the 3D program I use at work, if I click on a hotkey it toggles control objects on or off. If I hold the button down, the control object becomes visible and then when I let go it immediately goes back to the other command I was using. I think the healing should've been handled this way. There was so many times where I forgot to bring out my weapon again, cause I thought it was going to come back out automatically after letting go of L2.
Another issue I came across was the check points. I'm pretty gung-ho about my approach.  As such, I usually play a warrior or someone built to cut through enemies like a lawnmower. Needless to say, my vehicles rarely got me all the wait to my checkpoints. I would wonder around the map on foot, attempting to cut corners and triggering checkout points in the most inconvenient of places. One such occurence had me respawning underneath a bridge I was to cross. This resulted in me having to take about 5 minutes just to get back to where the fight is every time I died. I, once again, refer you to my gung-ho style approach to give you an idea of how often that was.
But, I muscled through the game, which is a big deal to myself because I don't consider myself an FPS fan. This is probably the first one I've completed from beginning to end. I think is served it's purpose as a good starting point. I saw just how sloppy of an FPS player I am. I was getting a bit more strategic towards the end. I was even making the decisions to put the mission objective ahead of shooting every person in the towns and villages. It first started as me running to the red smoke just to narrowly avoid dieing, but then it became a realization that, if these circumstances were real, sticking around for clean up was just pointless and suicidal.
I wonder if I've opened a pandora's box of some kind. I've now realized that I don't hate FPS's. I might not play the mulitplayer all that much(Even when playing Halo 2 with co-workers, I was nothing more than sniper fodder) but if the single player experiences keep up this level excitement that piques my interest, I might have just expanded my entire gaming catalogue. I'm gonna have to quit reading or something to make up time for them all.