Kombat, Fusion, Nidhogg, Old Habits, and E3 "Predicitons!"

As you may have guessed from the title, no, this is not my Witcher 3 blog. I'm still playing that game. Slowly but surely. Or, at least, I've started playing it again since the patch for the XP bug was put out. It's a really long game with a lot of stuff in it. I still haven't set foot in Skellige yet. I've done all the main story quests in the other areas leading up to that, and I've done all the side stuff I feel like doing at the moment (at least all the ones involving story characters, I still have a lot of stuff that's probably too high level for me to do too). My point being that I'll be going there the next time I play the game, I mean.

That said, I do have other games to write about! Three of them should be obvious from the title, and the fourth...Well, if you don't follow me closely enough to know what it is already, then I shan't spoil the surprise. I've also got some (mostly) dumb E3 "predictions" that I'll close the blog on, so stay tuned for that.

Trials Fusion.

Welcome to the future.
Welcome to the future.

The Trials franchise is one that I've observed from a distance for quite some time, but had never gotten around to playing any of them. Partly because I wasn't sure if I'd like it or not, but mainly because of how absurdly hard they seemed to be. But when Fusion was on sale for around $5, I couldn't resist any more, so I bought it and gave it a go.

And I'm really happy that I did, because I've had a lot of fun with this game. I haven't "finished" it yet, but I've gotten to the second to last tier of tracks (not counting the add-on stuff, because I haven't bought any of that). I've not yet hit a figurative wall of my not being able to progress yet, though I feel like that may be coming. I can probably finish up the one I'm on, but I suspect the last one will be that absurd level of difficulty that I've long associated with the series.

Honestly, it's a little hard to find meaningful things to write about this game. Like I said, I hadn't played the other ones, so I can't really compare it to them. At this point I think everyone knows what Trials is, so just explaining those basics would be a waste of everyone's time (because this clearly isn't).

It's a fun game. For the most part, it's challenging in ways that I really like. The only parts that have really frustrated me have been optional things. Every regular track has three optional objectives, which range from simple things like doing X number of flips without faulting to things that are truly insane. For example, in one you have to carry a wagon full of soccer balls through the level. In some, you have to light your bike on fire, which then gives it the power of flight, but only so long as you fly it through flaming rings of...fire in the sky, and then land on a specific platform. There's hidden warp zones that lead to really difficult sections of the game. One of which was so hard that I just gave up...after trying it so many times that I had to restart the entire level multiple times (the game makes you restart if you either take too long (30 minutes) or have too many faults (500) (I've encountered both)).

I was stuck here for a while.
I was stuck here for a while.

But as frustrating as some of that side stuff is, usually it's so silly and ridiculous that I don't really fault it, even if in the moment I quit out of that stuff feeling pretty disgruntled. Speaking of, the game has a really weird sense of humor going through it. Some of it is just visual gag stuff, like having your bike crash after a track, and then having that trigger some dumb stuff happening off in the distance. But there's also this thing going on with these two AIs that talk during some of the tracks. One of them is a lady AI that seems to be in love with the person you play as, and the other was pretty cut and dry at first...but in the last few tracks, well, I don't even know. Just weird stuff. In a good way!

But back to the difficulty, I actually think the game has a really good ramp up over the course of the game. It starts out pretty easy, but gets progressively harder. You know, like video games do. I can see how a veteran of the series might find the early stuff a little too simple after having played the other ones, but for a new player, I'm glad it's that way. Now that I'm up to the hard levels, instead of feeling like I'm climbing an insurmountable mountain, I feel like I'm just facing challenges that require a little more thought to get past. Which, again, I really like. I was able to Gold Medal everything up to the hard levels without too much trouble, but now I'm lucky to get Silver, and even just getting through the levels once is a challenge.

If I remember correctly, I think the FMX trick stuff in the game is new. And, I dunno, it's okay. Nothing special, but it's not terrible or anything. There are a handful of levels where you're scored on how many tricks you do, how well you land jumps, etc. They're probably the weakest levels in the game, but they're relatively short, and not very hard, so I'm not complaining. More interesting are the one-off levels with weird challenges, like bailing off a bike after a jump and seeing how far your body can go. Some of those are pretty hard too. That one in particular, I never really figured out how to get Gold on it. Maybe someday...

I'm going to keep playing it. I'd like to be able to at least get through every level once, but I wouldn't be surprised if I'm close to the point where the level of skill needed is simply beyond what I'm capable of. And that's fine, I've gotten more than my $5 worth of the game as is. I'm still not sure that there's enough to the game to warrant the normal $20 price, but hey, that's why I waited a year. So I could get it for $5!

If it's on sale again, I definitely recommend playing it. There is a demo available (at least on PS4), so you can try it out if you've never played any of these games before. Or you could just trust ole Moosey here and buy it anyway (on sale). Oh, who am I kidding, most of the people that would want to play this game already have.

Oh, I can't believe I almost forgot to mention this! Trials Fusion has what absolutely has to be the best UPlay reward in any game. You can get a selection of the game's soundtrack as a download to your personal computer, and it includes "Welcome to the Future." It doesn't even cost any UPlay points! I think you might still need to own the game to get it, but hey, worth it. I wrote this part of the blog with that song looping in my head the entire time. It's real dumb.

Nidhogg.

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This was another $5 special on PSN. And, honestly, I actually don't have much to say about this game, because there isn't a whole lot to it. Luckily what is in the game is super fun, at least with friends. I haven't tried playing against the AI, because that seems like totally against the point of what this game is. It's just a game of fast nonsense where you kill and get killed repeatedly, run around like a lunatic, and keep going back and forth until one person is finally victorious...and gets eaten by the Nidhogg.

I do like that you can change a few of the variables, like adding in boomerang swords. That's a good one for laughs. I just wish there was more in the game. There's only four levels. I don't know how many levels there should be, but that feels pretty slim to me. But, you know, for $5, I'm not complaining. I've had quite a bit of fun with it, and I'm sure I'll have much more in the future.

Mortal Kombat X.

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For whatever reason, I wasn't actually expecting to get this game this year. I dunno why, but I just figured that I'd end up with it next year, or more likely, with the "game of the year" edition that has all the downloadable kontent in it. Instead what happened was that my dad saw it on sale in a flyer for $42, so I went out and got it. More or less what happened with the last Mortal Kombat, if I remember korrectly (though that was through Amazon).

Anyway, I think MKX is totally rad. In a way that I think is a little surprising. It's one of those games that I was expecting to like (otherwise I wouldn't have paid that much for it!), but I wasn't expecting to like it as much as I did. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the previous Mortal Kombat a lot, and I liked Injustice, but I didn't like Injustice as much as I liked MK. There's a variety of reasons for that (that I won't get into here), but you kan see how that might make me slightly leery of this new one.

What ended up happening instead was that it didn't take long for me to realize that I liked playing this game even more than the last Mortal Kombat. Granted, it's been a while since the last time I played that game, but komments I've seen online about MKX being a faster game definitely ring true to me. Not that faster necessarily equates to better, but in this kase I think it does. My play style in fighting games tends to be somewhere between trying to play it "right," and button mashing. I do my best to remember a kombatant's special moves, and try to learn kombos, but in the heat of battle, I often forget, or mess up. And then I just kinda mash until I kan remember whatever it was that I had been trying to do. I'm not great, and when I play against people that actually know how to play the game "right," I usually get beaten pretty badly. Or even if I do win, it's by a pretty narrow margin and kind of lucked my way into it. Anyway, it being a faster game makes it a little easier for me to pseudo-mash with some of the kharacters, was my point.

But I'm definitely doing my best to try to learn how to play the game properly. I'm going into practice mode, and spending more time looking at the kombo lists. And then I'm actually trying them out, and trying to remember them. And I'm blocking! Lots of blocking! Not always with the best of timing, but I am blocking, rather than just blindly attacking no matter what. Little things like that to try to improve my ability.

Am I succeeding? I dunno, it's probably still too early to tell, but I'm enjoying the kore kombat so much that I absolutely want to get good at this game. Even if there's only one variation of one kharacter that I'm good with, I want to be good at this game, and that's something that I don't think I've really felt with this sort of fighting game before. I mean, I tried a bit of that last year with Smash Bros. for Wii U, but that game is a totally different thing, and I eventually ran out of people to play with locally (my kousins, who I often play games with, kinda bored of it), and the game is so inconsistent online that I petered out on that too.

Speaking of kousins, I brought MKX over to their house the other day to play with them, since they were quite fond of the last Mortal Kombat. Unsurprisingly, they really liked this one too. To the point where they actually went out a bought a kopy for themselves, which really surprised me. They didn't do that with the last one. They also bought Jason, because one of them is a big horror movie fan, so I'll be able to try him out the next time I'm over there (I'm not paying $5 for him, and I know I'm not going to play all of the DLK kharacters enough to justify the Kombat Pass). And I kan all but guarantee they'll get Predator too, so I'll report on that one once it's out and available for playing.

But back to the point I was going to make before I got distracted, as much fun as I had been having with the single player kontent (which I'll get to soon), playing this game with friends is really where the game shines. Especially locally. I did play a few matches with a kouple (other) friends online, and it totally worked. Maybe a smidge laggy, it's kind of hard to tell with these things unless they're really laggy (like Smash Bros often was). But even then, for whatever reason, we didn't use internet voice talking during the matches (I suppose I kould have sent a party invite, but didn't), and that added little bit of konversing before and after (and even during if you're feeling salty) fights adds that extra something that a game kan't do on its own. That thrill of konquering someone right then and there, with them in the room is definitely better. Also, my kousins hadn't played the game before, unlike the friends I played online with, so I wasn't being konstantly wrecked like I was online. Well, I did win a match online, but that was probably mostly a fluke.

I haven't really done much with the faction stuff in the game, so I won't really komment on that, but I do think that being able to send challenges (sorry, kouldn't make a k in front of that work) to other people is a neat feature. You kompete for score in single player Towers, and see who kan get the highest score. I haven't used this a ton, honestly, but I did beat my kousin's score in the Tower he challenged me to, so that was fun.

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Speaking of Towers, I should write about the single player kontent in the game. MKX kontinues the trend of NetherRealm Studios kompletely outclassing all other fighting game studios in terms of the story mode. There's not really anything new or different in this one, mechanically, but it's really well done, well written, well voiced, etc. It does the same thing as their story modes have done for the last few games, where it switches from kharacter to kharacter in each chapter (sorry again), which is a great way to keep the game play fresh, and show the story from different angles. It also makes it a little, I'm not sure what the word is, but predictable? Like, the person you're playing as is going to win, and there's going to be four or five (I never thought to kount in game) fights with that person. Predictable in that sense, I mean. It's probably shorter than the last MK game's story mode (again, it's been a few years), but there's still a lot of story in here. Took me about four and a half hours to get through, but I also had to redo a fair number of the fights because I was still learning to play the game (and wasn't good with several of the kharacters).

It's also maybe a little too konvoluted for its own good in spots, with frequent flashbacks, back stabs, and other stuff going on, but overall it's still a fun mode. I do kinda wish the kut-scenes weren't letterboxed, because that just makes it easier to tell when the game is transitioning from pre-rendered kut-scenes (that at least use what looks like the same models as in game, or not so much higher detail that it makes the regular game look worse) to in game. And the quick time events aren't great, but there's no way to fail them, and there's good khoreography in them, so they're fun to look at, at least.

And then there's the Towers mode. Which, I think is kool in some ways, but also a little disappointing when kompared to the Tower in the last MK. In that game, it was a linear Tower, where every level was a unique challenge. Some were simple, where you just had to fight an enemy or two (which reminds me, there's no tag battles in MKX, not that it's something I miss). Some were goofy minigames, like Test Your Might (speaking of, my kousin and I spent about an hour playing that in ko-op the other day, and I eventually did komplete it (under threat of my other kousin trying to kraft some kontraption to beat it (it didn't work well))). Anyway, it was a kool mode, and it was fun to keep going up it, just seeing what they had koncoted.

Instead of that, MKX has Traditional Towers, and Living Towers. Traditional Towers are things like this game's equivalent of "arcade mode," where you fight ten opponents (all random except the final two) and then get an ending with some still images and voice over from a narrator. You also unlock some bonus kostumes there. And there's other Towers, like a Test Your Might one, and a Test Your Luck one (where there's goofy modifiers and stuff). The Living Towers, on the other hand, change periodically. One changes every one, another every day, and the third every week. And every time they change, they have a different hook. Sometimes Stryker is throwing in grenades from off screen, and sometimes rays of light shine down from the sky, which kan heal you. Sometimes everything moves at super speed, and sometimes the entire screen shifts side to side, like a rocking boat. It's goofy stuff, and they have good reason to kome back for more, but I still miss the Challenge Tower from the last game.

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The Krypt, meanwhile, has seen an upgrade. Now it's almost an adventure game, with an inventory of items used to get past doors, and solve light puzzles (light as in small or minor, not as in reflecting lasers (though I haven't finished it yet because I got lost, so I dunno)). It's kool that they expanded it into a thing like this. I'm not a big fan of not being able to know what you're getting unless you look it up online, especially when the amount of koins you get is kinda low relative to the amount you actually need to get everything. Especially in this micro-transaction world that we live in. That said, there are guides online to find all the good stuff, so it's not really that big of an issue. And I probably will use a guide to find the remainder of the items in the Krypt, because I want to do that, but don't really want to spend hours just wandering around there looking into every korner.

Is there anything else that I want to mention? Hm. I think I've kovered it all, unless I want to start nit-picking game play stuff. I do think that running in the game is a bit awkward. Rather than having a run button (which I know I'm usually against, but it'd be better here), you have to press forward twice, and then hit block. It's not that bad once you get used to it, but when L2 is just mapped to that weird thing that changes which way you're facing (toward or away from the screen), it seems like a wasted opportunity. Then again, that face change thing is probably importantly to some really high level thing, so I dunno. Aside from that, I don't have any gripes about the game play.

Oh yeah, one thing I did want to discuss was the fatalities. They're even more brutal than ever, which I do like, even if my favorite one (Johnny Cage's "Here's Johnny") is a simple, but very inspired one. But the thing that seems weird to me now is that a lot of the fatalities seem kind of out of kharacter for a lot of the kharacters in the game. Like, take Kenshi for example. I've been doing pretty well with him, and I'm thinking he may end up being the one that I "main." So, as a result, I've been playing a lot of him, and I've seen his fatalities a lot. And while I think Kenshi would kill under the right circumstances, I don't really know that he would, well...

I actually like Sonya a lot in the game, this pics just feature her because I needed some so I did a match in a Tower.
I actually like Sonya a lot in the game, this pics just feature her because I needed some so I did a match in a Tower.

I don't think Kenshi would use his psychic powers to rip the back of someone's ribcage out from them like that. Like, I know, this is missing the point, and these fatalities probably aren't actually "kanon" to the kharacters, but it still seems weird to me. And more than anything else, I think it just goes to show that the game actually does a good job of humanizing the people in the game. They don't just seem like goofy kartoons now, they seem like they kould be real people. Real people in a goofy world that is often kartoonish in what's going on, but real people nonetheless. I mean, aside from the ones that are lizard men, monsters, or what have you.

But that's all I have to say on the game. It's super fun, and I'm definitely going to keep playing it. Will I actually get good at it? That remains to be seen. Either way, I know I'm going to enjoy my time with the game, and I wholeheartedly recommend this game to anyone that enjoys fighting games. If all you want is the story, then I'd say wait for a steep price drop, or borrow it from someone. But if you want to put in the time and get good at a great fighting game, this is a great one for you.

And the surprise game...

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Yes, you saw that right. Thanks to not playing Witcher 3 for a week because of that XP bug, and thus having even more spare time than usual, and thanks to some "enabling" from my internet friend Josh (who bought House of Wolves for me), and some actual enabling from friend of Giant Bomb Legobutts (better known as The Gooch) who told me House of Wolves was really good and worth my time, I kind of started playing Destiny again. And also got into run on sentences. Seriously, I apologize for that mess of a sentence, but it's too late now!

I started by creating a new character, because Bungie still hasn't allowed us to change the gender of our characters, and for obvious reasons, I didn't really want to be playing a male character any more. That, and I kinda wanted to go through the early game stuff again, without being horribly over leveled (I had made it to level 29 before I stopped the first time). But, since I didn't want to go through the post-20 slog again, I made another Warlock, so I could transfer all my good gear over once I hit 20. And that part worked, not much interesting to say about that stuff. I was able to get to 20 pretty quickly, since I know how to maximize bounties to get the most XP and power level.

One problem I did run into, that I hadn't thought of was the reputation stuff. Normally, once you hit 20, you've got to start grinding faction rep to get better gear in the Tower. That stuff, however, doesn't carry over from character to character (despite Glimmer being the same across all, which I don't think makes sense). It's not a huge issue, but it meant that I was starting from scratch with that stuff, and it means I still can't just buy gear from them, which seems to still be the only way to get guaranteed good gear (the Vanguard merchants class leader whatever they're called seem to be stocked with high level stuff from the expansions now). And that has left me in the position where I've finished all the stuff in the House of Wolves expansion at least once, and I'm only level 30.

And I'm level 30 not because I found some good new armor. No, I'm level 30 because the first time I completed the Prison of Elders, I got an exotic gun. One I knew I was never going to use, so I just scrapped it, and used the exotic shard to...Actually, I used that shard on my Suros Regime. I used an exotic shard from an exotic chest piece I was never going to use on my exotic glowing gauntlets, and that's how I got to level 30.

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But enough about that, I should write about House of Wolves itself. It's quite good. I mean, it's more Destiny, so if what you're looking for is a drastic departure from that stuff, this isn't going to be for you. But if you want more Destiny, albeit with a few smart changes here and there, then you'll have fun like I did. It's small things like having characters radio in to you mid mission that help make it feel like you're actually doing something, rather than just running around like an idiot shooting everything that moves. I mean, it's still not a ton of story, and the characters that radio in are not super deep, but there's more to them than the ones in the main game.

Variks is especially interesting, at least by Destiny standards. He's a Fallen, and a merchant in the new social area (the name of which I forget, but it's in The Reef). Anyway, having a Fallen to talk to goes a long way to make the Fallen seem like more than just things to shoot at. Makes them feel like they actually have a culture, even if their society has, well, Fallen over the years. He's also just kinda cool, and has a bit of a sense of humor, which is helpful.

There isn't a ton of new content in House of Wolves, but what's there is good. As I said, the story stuff is fun, and involves retreading some old areas in the game in ways that I think are cool. Cool enough to overcome the, "Wait, they're just reusing areas instead of putting the work into new areas (there's some new stuff too). And HoW is much better about putting you into the world close to where the mission starts, rather than making to trek across the same over world areas you've been through dozens, if not hundreds of times. And there's things like new bounties to go and kill specific HoW targets in the over world areas, that stuff's cool too.

And Prison of Elders is interesting. It's not quite a Horde Mode, given how it moves from area to area after each three waves, but it's still fun. And, probably most importantly, it removes the need to travel from area to area, (aside from walking a few feet to a room and waiting a few seconds for a door to open), so there's less filler time. I've only gone through it twice, and I do have a key thingy for the big chest at the end, so I really should go through it again. I don't really know how to get more of those keys though, but I'm sure it's some laborious process that involves grinding something.

Don't get me wrong though, I like House of Wolves. It has issues, most of which were in the base game, but it's a fun piece of content. It's just hard for me to focus on it now that I'm back to Witcher 3, and have this urge to play and practice a lot of MKX. It kinda puts Destiny in this spot where I'll play it during podcasts, because it's a good podcast game (at least now that I've been through all the missions at least once, I'd feel bad not listening to in game dialog when people went through the trouble to record it). But I doubt I'll be playing it as obsessively as I did last year. At least I hope I don't. Because while I want to get my worth out of it, since a friend was kind enough to buy it for me (thank you again, Josh! <3), but I have other games to play too!

Anyway, House of Wolves is good fun. I got an exotic weapon pretty easily, so that was cool. Even if I dismantled it after a few minutes.

This is that exotic gun I got. Didn't care for it.
This is that exotic gun I got. Didn't care for it.

Anything else?

Before I do the E3 predictions, I want to include my usual wrap up. Not much else going on that's worth mentioning. I'll keep plugging away at The Witcher 3, and write something up about that eventually. I'll have a lot to say on it, that much I know for sure. And I'll do a PS+ Catch Up at some point before the month ends. Doubt I'll do a post E3 blog, given that I'm not going to be there (obviously), and I doubt there will be a ton of things for me to comment on. You know? Anyway, here's my predictions for E3. They're not all entirely serious, but you'll have to judge which ones are and aren't. They're also in totally random order.

  • Sony announces "The God of War," a reboot of the series set in Norse land.

  • Microsoft announces "Gears 4 War," and there is a collective disgusted sigh at that name. You'll get beta access by buying Gears of War 1 HD on Xbox One.

  • RockStar makes a rare E3 appearance to announce Red Dead Redemption HD, but right as everyone is disgruntled at that instead of a real announcement, they also announce the sequel, Red Dead Revengeance. Probably at the Sony conference.

  • Trailer and title for the new Hitman game. This time Agent 47 has hair.

  • Nintendo announces F-Zero Universe.

  • Yakuza 5 release date for the West is given, along with news that there's a PS4 version now.

  • Capcom announces that Deep Down is the last new game they are releasing, and will focus entirely on re-releases from now on. Also announces Resident Evil 4 on PS4 and Xbox One, and a re-release of the Mega Man thing they announced the other day.

  • Another MGSV trailer that shows some really dumb stuff, and probably shows too much story stuff.

  • Sony spends way too much time on boring stuff that isn't games. Also doesn't have any new games for this fall.

  • Halo 5 is still a thing.

  • Nintendo announces more Amiibos, but still no reason to ever use them.

  • Bill Trinen pretends to be fired again. Is actually fired.

  • Release date for No Man's Sky, still no substantial game play footage.

  • Crackdown on Xbox One actually turns out to be a re-release of the first Crackdown.

  • Konami refuses to give up its booth space, despite only showing one game.

  • Platinum wants to make a new game, but no one will give them any money.

  • Dark Souls III.

  • Fallout 4 release date given for this November. It gets delayed in September.

  • Watch_Dogs_2.0 announced. Still no actual dogs.

  • Sleeping Dogs: Wei of the Warrior announced.

Eh, I've run out of stupid jokes. Anyway, hope E3 is good! Thanks for reading this far, and have a lovely day!

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