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matt0

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  1. matt0

    Split Second

    I played through this when it was given away with games with gold a few years back. I enjoyed it but I found the time trial events borderline impossible. Either there was some knack to drifting or cornering that I never got despite finishing the game or the times had literally zero margin for error. I even looked up examples of people beating the toughest ones on youtube and the only videos I could find involved exploiting glitches at the starting line. If I remember right I had gold for every event except the time trails which for the last three or four seasons I just had bronze. The lack of time trial ghosts didn't help either. It struck me as really weird and it took the shine off the game for me. It's a real shame there was never a sequel though as the racing was really good. Also my then 3 year old son loved crashing the cars. He even got to the point where he could consistently line himself up on a straight, get a bit of speed up, and then veer in the opposite direction to a corner and would always shout "KANK!" at the moment of impact.
  2. Emulation of old DOS stuff is good but not perfect and Win 95/98 era games are a crapshoot on Windows 10. Old PC hardware gets you that bit closer to the original experience.
  3. It looks fantastic. At a glance it reminds me of Exile, or more recently Capsized (I say recently, I think Capsized was 10 years ago at this point...). Bit frustrating there's no PC or Xbox version yet.
  4. XCOM: Enemy Unknown (PC): Finished on normal, no Ironman mode (thankfully, because otherwise I would have lost on the final mission thanks to an auto-fail state I didn't even know about...). The 2012 reboot that didn't just revive the franchise but turned it in to an AAA contender and revived an entire tactics sub genre at the same time. It's crazy to think that prior to this the name XCOM was bolted to a lack luster third person shooter which had most of it's interesting ideas excised before launch. Playing it through again 8 years on (I never finished it the first time) and all the problems of the original release are still apparent. The weirdly inconsistent levels of polish. The disconnect between the dice rolls behind the scenes and the physical presentation of the game world (shots frequently going through walls being the obvious issue). The illusion of choice at the start of the game when in reality anything you do that isn't building satellites will either set you back or doom you from the start. All the day one bugs that remain unfixed to this day. But none of the technical issues matter that much. The game nails the experience of playing Julian Gollops 1994 original. The sense of being hopelessly outgunned at the start. The creeping dread of watching countries teeter on the edge of succumbing to the aliens. The tension at the start of each mission, the calculated gambling with the lives of your soldiers, the heart-stopping moments when you come under fire or are out manoeuvred. And it squeezes all this in to a pacey, streamlined experience, where each simplified system or cut feature serves a barrelling sense of momentum pushing you from mission to planning to mission to planning, never keeping you away from either half for too long. I wouldn't say this was better than the original, because there's a lot of storytelling that can come to life in the granularity and quirks of the original which remains a far wider game in terms of possibility and scope. But 2012 XCOM does manage the grand feat of being more compulsive thanks to that tight gameplay loop and shorter missions. Easily one of the best games I've played in recent years and I'm glad I finally got round to going back to it. Indivisible (Xbox One): It has the production values of a lavish modern HD 2D game but it has the soul (and ultimately the design flaws) of a quirky PS1+2 era action RPG. The animation and character art is beautiful. The story is well told with some clever not-quite-a-twist inversions, the voice acting is knowingly cheesy and carries itself through sheer enthusiasm. It's an amazing game to look at... But the combat is perfunctory at best. You can string together moves and experiment with how all the characters on your team interact and play with the damages scaling systems to your hearts content, but most enemies don't put up a fight and on the run to the final boss you can obliterate most of them without them ever getting more than a single attack out. It does look fantastic and juggling enemies is fun, and some neat moments in boss fights where you switch between platforming and RPG combat, but it's ultimately hollow. The platforming is the best side of the game - there's some clever traversal puzzles and occasionally challenging moments - but there's also no sense of pacing or escalation. Aside from the run to the final boss which has some enjoyably fiendish moments, once you're out of the starting area the platforming difficulty plateaus. And there's way too much redundancy in the move set. You end up with two different mid air dashes with slightly different properties, that you activate with two different buttons, but also one of the buttons does a bunch of other context sensitive moves, including a downward plummet attack which can come out at the most inopportune moments. There are two different slides on two different buttons but one of which is completely redundant after you get the second one... The Metroidvania structure is badly handled too, forcing you down long, looping pathways and chains of rooms on your first run through an area but then never really giving you the shortcuts you'd expect when you return, tooled up. This completely flat lines the pacing at times whenever you want to return somewhere, try something out or tease at the edges to see if you can sequence break or find secrets. It's an immaculately presented mess, I did have some fun with it, but I also fell asleep playing it a couple of times as well... 2020 so far:
  5. I just got a new PC with an NVME SSD and while it's a noticeable difference over my old machine with just a SATA SSD, it's not the order of magnitude you might expect because a chunk of the "loading" times on most PC games come from dynamically decompressing the data is loading in, which is dependent on CPU speed. The interesting* thing about both the Series X is it has a dedicated hardware solution for the decompression while the PS5 just has an insanely fast drive. Maybe the two different approaches won't be that different in practice. or maybe we'll see big differences on multiformat titles and system exclusives that work in very different ways. Personally, I've no idea what counts as "good" graphics anymore. I can't see a meaningful difference between AAA games made today or 5 years ago and I don't know if I'll see or care about a difference between next gen stuff and what we have now. What I want out of the new consoles is the kind of crispness and solidity that we had with the Megadrive and the SNES which I think both systems could potentially deliver on. ... *your mileage may vary
  6. For comparison: 6,400 developers will suffer chronic health conditions as a result of crunching to leverage the power of the Series X versus only 3,400 for PS 5. If that's a little abstract to grasp then consider Dynasty Warriors 10 will have 15,670 on screen enemies on Series X while the PS5 will manage only a paltry 13,450. It's not all bad news for Playstation fans though. EDF 6 will run at an average of 14 FPS on Microsoft's new machine but Sony's next gen system will manage a silky smooth 16 FPS. That's 2 extra frames per second!
  7. matt0

    Xbox Game Pass

    Ace Combat 7! ...although I'll have to buy Lego Worlds now it's leaving as my 5 year old loves it. ...it is a double edged sword, this... Game Pass.
  8. Trumpets aside, and ignoring all the expanded lore and story stuff which I'm not sure how I feel about, I think the combat looks amazing. Having the grappling hook and being able to zip around is inspired. If the executions were lifted from Ninja Gaiden, the grappling hook is straight out of Devil May Cry.
  9. You don't get to be Chief Inspector by letting trumpets on demons slide. Next thing you know they'll be putting Sarah Connor in Gears of War.
  10. "Lets put some trumpets on a Revenants back!" Or, you know, don't do that. You fucking idiots.
  11. Finished three games over February: Innocence: A Plague Tale (Xbox One) I'm going to name a sub-genre, the "stressful walking simulator". Games that are basically walking simulators but have some perfunctory mechanics to push back against you to sell the conflict and the hardships that the main characters go through. Innocence has some light stealth and resource management mechanics but it ultimately wants you to win so you can usually find everything you need and is generous about giving you items that give you a second chance if you get caught. There's a couple of elaborately constructed "puzzles that aren't really puzzles" where you pull switches or push blocks and everything slides in to place and you admire how intricate and clever it all is without actually really having to do anything. It's a good looking game for what I assume was a low budget with some incredible volumetric fog and lighting effects and the environments at their best are as good as anything I've seen. I was relieved that for a game where the lead characters are children, they don't spend most of the game alone or in completely hopeless situations - it's definitely not a light story, but it's not Hellblade style misery - there's a supporting cast and flashes of optimism. Also has comedy French accents. It's maybe a few hours too long but it ends well with a satisfying finale. Decent. Outer Worlds (Xbox One): If you've played the original Mass Effect trilogy, and you've played any modern Bethesda open world RPG then you've seen everything this game has to offer already, just done better. Challenge free combat even on hard. Status effects that have no meaningful impact on anything. Nonsensical Bioshock style hoovering up items - ("what's in this toilet cubicle? Why it's money and ammo!"). I found a handful of moments genuinely funny, but the constant comedy is exhausting, because the vast majority of the writing isn't funny enough to justify it. It's occsionally very pretty when you're not wandering around dull, identikit interiors. It's robust, you can fuck with storylines and it won't fall over and die. As a constructed thing it's very easy to admire. But it's ultimately a dull retread of aging ideas realised to better effect in earlier games. Steel Empire (Megadrive): Good, honest 16 bit shmup. Decent soundtrack, loads of set pieces, great steampunk aesthetic. Feels very euro-shmup despite being a Japanese game because you have massive hit boxes on your ships and an energy bar. It's very rough around the edges, gets choppy when the screen is busy, but it's packed full of details, special effects and parallax trickery. ... 2020 so far:
  12. The Halo 4 Promethean Knight's are my second favourite enemy in the franchise behind the Elites. They're terrifying when they rush you down, good at evading mid to long range attacks, have proper shield dynamics and have that cool resurrection interaction with the watchers that forces you to make on the fly decisions about committing to finishing them off over hiding to regen your shield. They get labelled as bullet sponge enemies but they're far closer to the Elites in terms of how much punishment they can take. The more powerful Brute types are much more spongier. I like the Knights in Halo 5 too as a kind of faster, more aggressive Hunter tier enemy, but the Promethean Soldiers they made as a mid tier replacement are rubbish. They're basically COD grunts and the main reason the first third or so of Halo 5 is so dull. If they'd kept the Knights from 4 and made the new Knights in to a new enemy type (Promethean Lords?) then 5 would've been a much better game. The little dog things make good popcorn enemies and I like the gooey splat when you headshot them.
  13. I've posted this one on here before in a BBC Micro thread but figured it's worth posting twice. It starts slow so if you're skeptical skip to around 1:20. The game made it on to other computers under the brain shreddingly bad title of "Captain Fizz Meets the Blastertrons" published by Psyclapse / Psygnosis but the music is either changed (Spectrum) or butchered (ST... which is a real shame as the chunky FM sound on the ST should've been a perfect match).
  14. I didn't get on with the map in Ori. The zoomed out, painted world view was pretty but functionally useless and the zoomed in map was all jagged lines with no right angles. It made it unnecessarily hard to read at a glance. Hollow Knight's map is all straight lines and manages to illustrate important locations without getting in the way. The game gets aggressively non-linear after a point, which I was really in to but I can see how it would put people off.
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