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    Games, game development, 3d modelling and animation. Martial arts. Bit of reading - mainly educational, but the odd sci-fi/fantasy novel if its highly recommended. Play guitar in a couple of semi active bar bands.
  1. What games did you complete? 2018 Edition

    13/02/18 Arkham VR: Very short. I dawdled and messed about and still took less than 90 minutes to reach the end. I'm a fan of tight, short games, but while I enjoyed it, even the £8 I paid felt a touch steep. There's some fun achievements, Easter-eggs and Riddler puzzles for additional play-throughs. Top notch production values. My main gripe is that my utility belt didn't fit. Every time I tried to get one of my gadgets I felt less like batman, and more like a fat hip-hop artist. No matter which one I wanted, unless I looked down, I'd always grab a batarang first - there are batarangs all over the morgue now. After finishing it I found out you can resize and move it a bit, but unfortunately for me, Batman doesn't appear to have scoliosis, so its never quite right. 19/02/18 Transistor: Interesting, inventive battle system that mixes real-time with turn based, and has all your attacks interacting with each other. The visuals are mostly very pretty - just skirting the edge of lurid, but the background never really reads as a place and the enemy designs are unappealing and uninformative. Cool, jazzy, soulful music. Didn't get on with the story, too obscure for me - and I find it hard to believe anyone would want to spend a single second longer than necessary with the late-night dj / beat-poet who never shuts up, but who's rescue is supposedly your character's prime motivation. At roughly 8 hours its too short to let the combat system fully stretch its legs, but feels too long in every other way. I'd like to see the combat explored more in a better game. Maybe check out the soundtrack, but I wouldn't recommend bothering to play Transistor. Previous:
  2. What games did you complete? 2018 Edition

    10/02 Robo Recall: Biggest adrenaline rush in a game. Looks and sounds great, finely tuned gameplay and a funny story. Just not enough of it - want more environments, weapons, enemies and mission types. Lets you blunder through in a couple of hours if you want, but holds some serious challenge if you aim to meet all objectives, not die, or chase stars. Will definitely be dipping back into this for a while. Hope it gets a sequel. 12/02 Wilson's Heart: This is like a specially made case study on how to spoil ideas. Excellent art direction and audio - including some (but not all) strong performances, and a goofy-scary tone make for an unusual, engaging experience. The action bits should be excellent. Punching, blocking, throwing, stabbing, bottling, etc, all work reliably and have a verisimilitude about them. Unfortunately they're all distributed terribly. Techniques are nearly always used for a single encounter that goes on far too long, then is never seen again. Usually they aren't explained in advance so you get to enjoy a bunch of instant deaths until you figure out what you must do this time. Most of the game is a first person point and click adventure. There are a couple of standout puzzles - particularly the few involving interactive paintings and photos. Most would be pretty dull, but the physical performance of the solutions elevates them significantly. The worst of it is the old adventure game chestnut of only being able to do exactly what the developer wants, when they want you to do it. The lack of general interactivity with non-important items is infuriating in VR and by the end I was glad to be done with it. Its like a stew of delicious treats and also some old shoes. Previous:
  3. Life is Strange - Season 1

    The social examples are optional - its entirely up to you if you rewind for the 'best' outcomes, or just let your decisions stand, defining Max's personality as you want it to be. The Mr J appeasement is explained as needing to speed up her exit from the class. Is providing the option to exploit your powers as many of us might. given the chance, really a failing? Slight spoiler:
  4. What games did you complete? 2018 Edition

    Balance is haywire in the first game anyway, and its still plenty of fun, so I suppose loot boxes wouldn't necessarily damage it. Good to know if I ever fancy returning, but for now at least I've had my fill.
  5. What games did you complete? 2018 Edition

    01/02 Shadow of Mordor: No single element really stood out, but the seamless blending of close quarters, ranged combat, and stealth is excellent. Difficulty curve is completely broken. Punishing in the opening hours, but by the Fingers of the Black Hand boss rush, i think I had time to kill one before the rest were all massacred by my soldiers. The Nemesis thing is a great idea, but didn't amount to much for me. Most enemies just weren't distinct enough to be memorable. I died maybe three times after unlocking the brand ability, so when the game dramatically told me to 'face my nemesis!!!' at the end, it took me a minute to remember who he was - not exactly the joker to my batman. Enjoyed my time with it, but probably wont bother with the dlc, and have no interest in the sequel with its loot box nonsense. Previous:
  6. What games did you complete? 2018 Edition

    24/01 Lucky's Tale: Reminds me of the sort of 2nd rate Nintendo/Rare imitators that littered the dreamcast. Occasionally, when it all comes together its grin inducing, but the basic platforming just isn't polished enough. Lucky's move-set is very limited, yet still manages to behave inconsistently enough to cause frustration. Early on its relaxed and charming, but with lots of enemies and optional challenging jumps for collectables. Then at some point it switches to every jump being over a death pit, and with falls more often feeling like the game's fault rather than the player's, it basically sucks. Also Lucky is a fox who dies at the touch of water. It looks lovely in VR and the music is catchy, but there are some shitty camera angles that force you to use stereo depth cues to succeed, which for those of us with little or no depth perception is infuriating. The camera also makes backtracking unpleasant, which tarnishes the otherwise fun red coin hunts. Surprisingly long - definitely a full game, too bad its not a better one. Solid proof of concept though for how much VR can enhance 3rd person games. Would love to play a Mario quality platformer designed for the format.
  7. What games did you complete? 2018 Edition

    22/01 Dreamfall: Chapters - This is a good ending for a good story. Excellent sense of place in the main locations, and lots of rounded, interesting characters with actual arcs and growth and stuff. Having recently played Life is Strange, I expected this to suffer in comparisons, and it does in some ways - especially where they tackle similar themes and some particulars of the gameplay interface, but its a story of a different enough tone and scale to be fine on its own terms. Could write loads about it, but I suppose the important (and super insightful) thing is that if you played and enjoyed the earlier games, then you'll very likely find this more than worthwhile in spite of its shortcomings. If you haven't played the earlier entries and like games built around good stories and characters, seriously consider playing them. Then you'll likely want to play chapters anyway. "Wel-DING! wel-DING! wel-DING!" - Shitbot is Awesomebot.
  8. Oculus Rift (VR Headset)

    Open ended survival stuff isn't usually my thing, but seen Subnautica pop up a few times lately and, after the little underwater bit in toybox, its calling to me as a great vr game. I was hovering over 'add to cart' to avoid a v1.0 price jump, then on a whim, paused to do a quick search in my humble library - and there it is! Came with the freedom bundle. Feels better than finding a £20 note. That was a popular bundle, so I doubt I'm the only winner.
  9. What games did you complete? 2018 Edition

    16/01 Headlander: Pretty good. Unique retro-futuristic setting and aesthetic. The basic mechanics and game-play feel a lot more polished than most of what Doublefine usually puts out - especially for an action game. I'm always drawn to these sort of character swapping / body-snatching / possession set-ups - but as usual it never seems to be used for more than simple lock and key puzzles, and (unnecessary) weapon switching. To be fair though, it places considerable emphasis on your abilities as a flying head - which are a lot of fun, and serve as a novel alternative to jumping around everywhere. Middle section overstays its welcome with too many repetitions of the tasks. My biggest disappointment was the story. It hints at something interesting, but its muddled, it often feels unrelated to your goals, I never really understood the antagonist(s?) motives or what they're upto, and the ending provides little resolution. The game is pretty funny, but the incidental dialog repeats too often. I'd say its worth playing, but if it starts to bore you, there's little reason to persevere.
  10. What games did you complete? 2018 Edition

    Titanfall 2: Really enjoyed this. On foot movement is fast, smooth and does exactly what you want most of the time. Gunplay is satisfying with the weapons thumping hard into enemies. Playing aggressively using cloak and mobility felt like an amped up crysis. Titan sections do a good job mixing up the pace without feeling like a totally separate game. Also thought it looked really nice and colourful. It has cool levels often built around their own gimmick, and at about 7 hours, very little filler. Story was inoffensive and BT is fun. A few minor gripes. It actually could do with either being a bit longer or having fewer ideas, to give some of the systems a chance to develop more - the time travel thing could be its own game. Its rarely necessary to mix platforming and shooting, even though its the most fun on those occasions. There are a few too many similar weapons, and you basically get a new load-out for every titan sequence, never having to master any of them. My biggest dislike was that after the first level, the platforming is often totally artificial, not fitting naturally in the environment, with too much focus on the overpowered wall run. Really liked it though and understand that a lot of those criticisms are down to its multi-player focus. Also didn't cause ANY mental or emotional anguish, so would totally recommend.
  11. What games did you complete? 2018 Edition

    Decided around Christmas to really try to play through games instead of forever looking to the next thing and never enjoying most of what I buy. So, having started it over 6 months ago, I finally dispatched Wolfenstein new order on the 30th, and purposely picked something that looked totally different to start the new year: Life is Strange - Had some idea about the mechanics and basic setup of this from reviews, but nothing about any specifics of the story. Anyway, played 1 episode per night over 5 nights. On finishing 4, I could barely sleep with worry, and on finishing 5, was basically crushed. I've been playing games for most of my life and none (nor any other piece of fiction i can think of) has ever had the impact this did. This is ridiculous to me - its tropey and melodramatic, sometimes the dialog seems clunky and performances overwrought. I engaged with it though, and in the end: It made me ask questions about my own life that have opened up possibilities for real improvement. Is that a recommendation? I dunno', its unlikely to have that much of an effect for most, plus I've barely functioned for a week, let alone wanted to play another game. Nice to get that off my chest. Thinking maybe Titanfall 2 next.
  12. GOG.com

    Just tried grabbing the free Dungeon Keeper and was greeted with a message that I would have to wait due to high demand. Not Sure if its a sly dig at ea or just a coincidence, but made me laugh.
  13. Broken Age - Tim Schafer's New Adventure Game

    I backed the Kickstarter - $15 iirc. In the early days I watched the doccumentaries, but stopped following about a year ago, because didn't want too much of the game spoiled. Played the game over 2 nights - 1 character per session, took about 3-4 hours total. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and found it quite beautiful - not art style especially, or the animation, or the acting, or the story, or the jokes, or the puzzles, or the music, but how all those elemets fit together to make something cohesive. I've since caught up on the doccumentary and read a good bit of the more detailed info on the backer forums, and where the money went seems fairly apparent and entirely acceptable. The people involved saw this as an important piece of work. Schafer basically seemed to run the project as the auteur 'game director' that many (me at least), think bigger budget games could really use more of. Thing is - that's expensive. People couldn't work at full efficiency at various points because they were waiting for Tim to write dialogue or design/redesign various elements. He insisted on having all these thiings as perfect as he could make them while still running the company. Even great work was not good enough where it didn't perfectly fit the overall vision. A good example being when Merrick's big cutscene had to be completely re-animated because Tim felt the animator misread the character. Baegel / Nathan Stapley as lead artist was another factor - an artist and painter, not a game developer. There were unforseen difficulties getting the necessary quantity of art produced. It was a goal that the game should look like he painted all of it, but that was impossible, so a team of artists had to be trained to ape his style. Even then, all that work would require extensive oversight and many iterations. As the project progressed and Bagel came to understand the needs of a game vs the needs of a painting, things were reworked further. It was stated repeatedly in the doccumentary that the budget for voice talent was smaller than any similar game they'd done before. The big name actors worked on the game primarily because they wanted to be involved and worked for as close to free as wouldn't get them kicked out of the union. I've no idea really, but suspect running an office full of talented game developers in San Francisco isn't cheap. Its not the same as one or two guys in a garage. Alos comparing a budget from 15 year old games made by a company with tremendous in-house resources seems of questionable relevance - inflation, wage scales, taxation etc. Anyway, I think it was worth it. The money was spent making a game that matched a particular vision as closely as possible. Its not perfect by any stretch. There are aspects I'm not crazy about, and not everyone's going to like it, but I think its clear that it was a labour of love and I appreciate that. Fantastic value for $15, even before considering the doccumentary and forums stuff. Also, making games is REALLY fucking hard and problems are myriad and unpredictable.
  14. 1. Rocksmith 2. Mario Galaxy 2 3. XCOM 4. Fallout 3 5. Fez 6. Arkham Asylum 7. Mass Effect 8. Red Dead Redemption 9. Virtua Fighter 5 10. Crysis While it was nice remembering lots of the great games I've played, trying to rank them ended up feeling very hollow. After initially struggling to think of 5 ,I now think I could easily make a top 20 or maybe 30 or maybe even more, with entries constantly shuffling around. Still, the list got made, so there it is. Most of these have been well covered in the thread already, but... Rocksmith - Well over 300 hours (315 recorded, but the counter stops working sometimes) and I'm starting to get good at something I struggled with for nearly 20 years - and still enjoying it immensely. As much fun as guitar hero, with the bonus of learning a cool skill. Its a bit of a silly vote since the sequel is imminent and looks to be superior in every way (although calling itself anything but a game, which feels a bit disheartening), but I just had to give it some recognition. Fez - A few mentioned it, but the thing about it that always gets me is the sheer sense of 'otherness' about it. It grants an experience and a feeling that I find totally unique, not just in games, but in any context.
  15. Valve: Infinite Finality

    Now that the catatonia has subsided, it seems intriguing, but probably needs a hands on to really understand. Wonder if it'll be cheap enough to take a chance on over the more established alternatives.

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