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Absence of Heated Water

March 16th, 2016 1 comment

I apologize.  I was in Palm Springs, CA for business and was unable to spend any time on my Steam backlog.  I didn’t have time to do much of anything, honestly.  However, I have played a few more games and I’m ready to talk about them.

Game #10: King Arthur’s Gold

I wanted this game forever.  It finally went on Steam sale, so I bought it.  From the videos I watched about the game, I hoped it would be a spiritual successor to King Arthur’s World.  The graphics are a spot-on rendition of the old SNES game, but I have to report that this game is NOT related to King Arthur’s World in any other way.

noKAW

The controls are super janky with a point-to-aim and WASD keyboard movement while also hitting tons of random other buttons to time everything just right.  The preview videos showed what looked like an open-world game where you could wander around with your troops and have them do different things like collecting rocks or building walls while you adventure ever onward.  This is not the game I experienced.  It took about 45 minutes to get through the tutorial and into the real game.  The tutorial was fine and I bumbled through it fairly well, but some of the controls, as I said, were not conducive to the playstyle I’m used to.  Once I opened up the real game and understood what happened, I fell into a deep malaise.  The game is online play with other people.  As some of you may have noticed, I’m not a huge fan of this (which is why the result of The Division’s Dark Zone PvP is so amusing: nobody wants to be a bad guy when playing online with others).  So, I attempted a single-player mission where I quickly discovered you are in charge of only one single character.  You can’t switch, and once you’re dead, the level is over and you failed.  The single-player missions are all timed, and you must accomplish one of several tasks.  The tasks ranged from ‘Get to the finish’ and ‘Kill everyone’, to ‘Destroy an object’ and ‘Capture the Flag’.  None of these are my game.  I wanted to build a castle while commanding hordes of characters to do my bidding.  In the hour I played, I never found this option, and the world is a sadder place.

 

Game # 11: Adventure Time: Finn & Jake Investigations

I love Adventure Time, but I have yet to play an Adventure Time game that I enjoyed.  This is still the case, but at least I didn’t absolutely hate this game.  The graphics are 3D, and the controls are a little iffy.  The tutorial system is atrocious, so try and stay away from that.  During the tutorial, they never actually say what buttons do what, so the combat was completely alien the first time (even after listening to the tutorial).  The game is a little long-winded at times, and the going back-and-forth aspect is a little dated.  The game hearkened back to the old King’s Quest point-and-click adventure games, which was pretty cool.  It sounded like they licensed the real voice actors and music for the game, which added a squee factor.  However, after one hour, I really had no idea what the point was, what my quest was, or how to actually combat anyone.  I received treasure, I guess, for defeating warriors in combat, but I don’t know where that treasure went.  The first ‘mystery’ I solved was done purely by accident as the game wouldn’t let me progress the normal way.  I actually found the end before anything else and then had to go back and gather the necessary ingredients to activate it.  If you are looking for a game to waste your time, this is the winner.  You will not get anything else out of it.

 

In other news, my video game company was signed on by Sony as a partner, so I will have to get my rear in gear to produce the newest indie game on PS4: NeverEnding Barbarians.

We’ve got to go back!

March 2nd, 2016 1 comment

Ok, so I slowed my Steam roll a little this week.  That’s because of all the Alphas and Betas I’ve been playing.  I never thought it would come to this, but I am testing too many games.  Paragon was the most recent, and due to NDA signatures, I cannot talk about it.  Suffice to say it is a third-person MOBA which gets you closer to the action.  I also played The Division, Dreadnought, PvZGW2, and a host of others on both PC and PS4.

With all that going on, I didn’t want to keep barreling forward with my Steam backlog, as several people have said my ‘reviews’ were a little lackluster.  This is true, because I’m trying to play through a game a night.  I’m not really set up for that, and my family hates the idea.  To satisfy myself, I went back and played some games.  This is mainly because I finally threw off the yoke of Destiny.  The latest Iron Banner was a travesty and I happily stopped playing after reaching level 5.  It has just become too difficult to find good people to play with and the RNG aspect is grating on me.  So, I freed up some hours to just sit back and enjoy some games.

Game #A: The Witcher 3

I liked it.  I didn’t feel pressured to blow through as much as I could and I just wandered around looking for Gwent opponents.  I modified my deck a bit and just dominated my competition.  I think the funniest part is when you place a weak soldier on the battle mat and then instantly Decoy them out next turn.  I have had several opponents just quit at this point, where I play a slightly tougher card and win.  It’s silly and fun.  The graphics of The Witcher are great, and the controls are pretty good.  I’m still not very adept at the fighting aspects, but everything else about the game will have me coming back.  The voice acting is wonderful, the character development is top notch, and the roleplaying element is fully fleshed out.  The conversation choices are both entertaining and accurate.  I very much enjoy being Geralt, the jerk.

 

Game #B: Just Cause 3

So, I had played Just Cause a few times and never attached myself to it.  I recently picked up the newest version and found that while it installed the massive files (12GB!?), I got to run around a tiny little island populated by goats and explosive canisters.  You have unlimited ammo and grenades (and I don’t think you can die, but I didn’t push it) for running around and just getting used to the controls.  There were a few vehicles you could drive around, but the real star was the tether gun.  I know that this is a standard in Just Cause, although I don’t know why.  It allows you to rock climb, rappel, and attach various objects to the wall or each other.  I attached a tether to an explosive canister and to another canister.  Then I attached two more intertwined with the previous two.  I shot one canister until it arced into the sky and exploded in fire.  The additional canisters flew around and exploded in spectacular fashion.  It really puts into perspective the bizarre videos you may have seen on the internet using the Just Cause tethers.  I think my favorite was the connection of a tether to a windmill and then a cow.  The windmill just started swinging the cow around and around and around.  Hilarious.

 

In other news, I still play Critter Crunch most days.  It’s still challenging and cute.  I still won’t buy The Division, but the commercials and trailers have me passively forgetting what I didn’t like about the game.  The bottom line is that I hate playing with other people most of the time!

Categories: Columns Tags: , , , , , ,

Steamed Vegetables

February 23rd, 2016 Comments off

Continuing on with the Steam playthrough, I played two horrible games this round.

Game #8: Postal

When Postal came out, it was heavily criticized for being basically a ‘murder’ game.  This is entirely accurate.

The Steam version I played didn’t work properly during any of my time, and it’s a little difficult to play a keyboard game when you’re used to mouse-clickers.  Also, I couldn’t actually find the keyboard controls anywhere within the game menus, so I had to improvise.  Having said that, I started a new game and found myself outside a house in the woods.  I had a machine gun with unlimited ammo and a bunch of police were shooting and throwing grenades at me.  There were also innocent bystanders running around, but the graphics are so dated I couldn’t really understand who to shoot and who not to shoot.  This might have been a design purpose, but I don’t know.  The ticker at the top of the game screen shows how many people are left alive (population), and once I subdued all of them, nothing happened.  I was just left to run around the one level with nowhere to go.  This was frustrating, so I quit for a little while.  I came back and tried again with the same results.  I honestly don’t know how to progress to the next level, or even if there are any more levels.  So, I have to say that Postal wasn’t very good.

Game #9: Monaco-

The second game I played wasn’t very good because it’s online.  The game is a top-down collection game that throws information in front of you in helpful popups that disappear almost immediately, especially if you are playing with people who already know what to do and where to go.

I played through a few levels, I guess?  Other players just kept hopping in and out, and I wasn’t really enjoying my time with the game.  From what I gathered while I played, the game is about four criminals who must escape from prison and pull a big heist.  The gameplay didn’t really feel like this was the actual point of the game and the scoring system didn’t support this as the point of the game either.  I collected coins, avoided prison guards, picked a few locks, and then escaped.  On the next level, I grabbed a shotgun, but couldn’t figure out how to shoot or aim it.  The third level I played encompassed the entirety of my play experience: I followed some guy who got all the coins and opened all the doors before I could do anything while a third player followed me.  After that, I was basically done with the game.  The artwork was a little old-school, and I normally like bitmap artwork, but the confusion and always online didn’t help me feel better or bring me back to play again.

Other information:

Did you hear Activision Blizzard BOUGHT King, the developers of Candy Crush Saga?  That would be crazy, but the price was $5.9 billion.  If your eyes didn’t pop out of your skull at that point, you might already be dead.  I never received my chocolate ghost in Destiny, so I’m basically done with the game right now.  My normal routine was to play on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday for a few hours with some an hour or so on Monday or Tuesday.  Now I am down to just Friday for an hour as I am just so disappointed that I won’t get a 320 ghost.  Time for more games, right!?  On the Division, I have to point out that I loved the pistol ammo was unlimited.  With the skill I selected, my character pulled out a bullet shield and a pistol, and I ran through many encounters with just my pistol, firing endless bullets.  I’m sure my accuracy is terrible.  The Division at least got that right, along with the wonderful graphics.

I also played a ton more of Critter Crunch, as I love rainbow vomit:

The Division Beta

February 22nd, 2016 Comments off

I was never going to play the Division until a friend of mine said it was a Destiny killer.  I am here to say it is NOT a Destiny killer.  In fact, I spent more time during the beta of the Division playing Destiny.  The controls are fine.  I’m not great with third-person shooting games (as mentioned before), and the Division didn’t change that.  The Division is a cover-based game where you push X to hide behind stuff.  You can open car doors for cover and move between cover types.  You can push O to jump over cover and hold X to dive into the next cover.  You can hold X and run to the next cover.  This portion of the game was fantastic.  You could see the path your character would take to get to the next cover.  My problem with this system was that I was in cover a few times and just getting murdered.  It makes sense that enemies above you can shoot down into cover and get you.  That makes perfect sense, right?  However, if you can’t pop out of cover and see them, then it is a little unfair.  We’re not talking game-breaker here, I’m just pointing out that I was killed a few times because some sniper could shoot me, but I couldn’t shoot him.  Also, there were a few times some guy on the stairs in front of me could shoot down into my cover and a few times when he couldn’t.  That just seems a little inconsistent.  The rest of the game was really nicely done.  The graphics are truly amazing.  I played on the PS4, and I was very impressed.  The weather and time passing was fantastic.  It snowed on me a few times, and the snow falling was a great effect.  The bullet damage was spot-on.  I saw individual shots through glass, metal, brick, wood, and tile.  The game is set in New York City, and the map is supposed to be true-to-life.  I wasn’t sure of this, but I did walk around a ton.  The map feature was one of my favorites, as the graphics pop up through the street below you in 3D and surround you.  As a mapper by trade, this was really awesome to see.  The inventory system was a little iffy, and when I went to sell my stuff to a vendor, I had to select each individual item, sell it, then go back into the sell tab, choose the next item, sell it, then go back into the sell tab, ad nauseam.  When you start running out of backpack space, this selling problem can be bigger than you think.  I liked the coloration of items because it was familiar to me (white=common, green=uncommon, blue=rare, pink=epic, gold=legendary).  I only saw a few blue items and never a pink or gold.   You get the normal item stuff: guns, gloves, armor, kneepads, facemasks; but then you also get pure display items like hats, coats, and shoes that add nothing to your armor.  You can get modifications to guns like scopes, laser pointers, grips, and silencers, but I didn’t find they added much.  If I had a silencer and shot one guy, every single enemy knew where I was and started firing on my position.  That was kinda lame.  There are set pieces where you go in (like a Strike in Destiny, or a raid in World of Warcraft) and have to battle the same types of enemies across the same level.  You can increase the difficulty on these missions to get better items, but increasing the difficulty is punishing.  For player versus player (PvP), there is an area called the Dark Zone.  You can shoot other players in here, which marks you as a rogue agent, and then steal their ‘dark’ items.  The dark items have to be extracted by helicopter and ‘cleaned’ as they have traces of some sort of debilitating virus.  In the beta, you aren’t really told what the virus is or what it does.  There are also enemies in the Dark Zone who have basically 100% more health and cause 100% more damage.  When killed in the game (whether Dark Zone or not), you can select your respawn point and your previous death spot is marked on the map.  This is useful if you are in a Dark Zone and need to pick up your junk.  A few times, I was in the Dark Zone and saw a player die and I just went up and robbed their corpse.  This also happened to my dead corpse a few times.  People are just jerks.  All in all, I didn’t really enjoy the Division, and this highlights a sticking point of allowing potential customers to play your game in beta.  I will not be purchasing this game.

In other news, I couldn’t play the Dreadnought alpha this weekend because my computer didn’t reach the insane specs to play.  Sadly, my i7 computer doesn’t have the DirectX 11 video card with 2GB dedicated memory since it’s a laptop and I can’t just throw a new video card in there.  Also, I don’t have a video card that supports DirectX 11 with 2GB dedicated memory anyway.  I was really excited about playing the game, but I guess I will have to wait for lesser specs.  That’s my bad, Grey Box.  However, if you’re looking for a gaming job and live in Texas, this is the link to jobs.

Too Many Things

February 5th, 2016 2 comments

OK.  This is my own fault.  I want to start updating this site every Tuesday and Thursday.  I want to emulate people like Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik.  The problem is time, brother.  I don’t have it.  I taught a Python Programming course last week (normally at the University of Denver, but this time it was at the City of Wheat Ridge Police Department).  The next day, I helped host a conference at the Commons on Champa, which is a neat startup campus.  Prior to that, I had to watch Groundhog Day on the holiday of the same name.  Also, it snowed in Colorado.  So, I could have done this, but I didn’t.  I took one day off to buy the Uncharted collection on PS4, and I got stuck at the same place I always do.  The dreaded Chapter 5 water chamber fight.  I don’t know why, but this part is 98% luck.  For some reason, I finally beat it.  I actually shot a video on my PS4.  If you don’t know about this feature, you can share a video one of two ways:  The first is double-clicking the Share button to start shooting video.  You double-click to stop.  The second is clicking the Share button once to open up the Share menu and pushing the Square button, which saves the last 15 minutes of playtime (or less if you did this process within the last 15 minutes).  I normally use the second method to record something amazing I just did.  The Uncharted video of me succeeding at the horrible Chapter 5 fight was 15 minutes of me dying over and over again, with a final 2 minute success run.  Tie that in with me ALWAYS playing Destiny EVERY NIGHT for no real reason, and I’m still doing a bunch of extra stuff, I just haven’t posted here.

 

I’m sorry.  I am going to begin cutting things out of my life that I don’t care for much.  A good friend of mine (who I only recently met) suggested I get my mind space wrapped around the possibilities of shelving ideas.  For example, I have a woodworking shop.  Just because I’m not using the tools in there doesn’t mean it will be dead forever when I decide to not use them.  My problem is that I hold these ideas and skills and projects so close to my heart that I can’t bear to let them go.  It is time to realize that I’m not letting things go.  I’m just putting them on a shelf to save for later.  Look to this site for two postings every week where I talk about games I’m playing (hopefully not just Destiny posts, but I can’t seem to leave that universe).  I mean, I competed in an original NES competition a few weeks ago, and the Game Jam happened, and I saw the new Star Wars.  So many things!

 

Love,

Ben

Categories: Editorials Tags: , , , , ,