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    Middle-earth: Shadow of War (PC)    by   dkirschner       (Dec 7th, 2021 at 21:29:49)

    “Beat” this last night. By that I mean that I completed the main story but neglected to complete the Epilogue (which I gather used to be called Act IV). The Epilogue basically requires you to 100% the game and play the “Shadow Wars,” a series of siege missions that the internet tells me runs several hours long (and used to be much longer before patches) and results in a brief cut scene at the end showing the true ending. I watched the ending on YouTube. Neat connection to the classic trilogy. But I actually like the normal ending!

    So, this is the sequel to a game I really enjoyed a couple years ago. Overall impression of this one: more of the same. In fact, too much more of the same! This took me nearly twice as long as the first game and it had no business being so long. Don’t get me wrong. It’s fun and engaging the whole time, but you can see how WB went for “endless play” here. You can continue hunting captains and leveling up your fortresses as you see fit. Then you can do the same thing online forever.

    I’m not entirely sure what is different about this game than the first one (I could go back and remember, but meh). There are a lot more skill points to spend, but you’ll unlock all the main skills by halfway through your play time. The rest (of the tons and tons of skill points) just unlock tweaks to the main skills. Combat flows as I remember. It’s hectic, orcs everywhere, and you feel like a badass. You have so many moves; it’s a bit overwhelming! And there are endless map icons to resolve.

    The gist of the gameplay is this (there is a story, and it is interesting, but you’re not here for that): You, ultimately, will capture Sauron’s fortress in each zone. Each zone’s fortress is defended by an overlord and several warchiefs. Each zone also has roughly 15 other chiefs. You can hunt these chiefs at your leisure or take on quests to ambush them while they’re attacking one another, going through a trial, or whatever. You want to kill these chiefs, or better yet, dominate them. When you dominate chiefs, you can then command them to do your bidding. Assign them as your bodyguard, force them to fight other chiefs (and gain levels if they win), send them to spy on warchiefs. The latter is particularly useful because your dominated chief spy will betray their warchief when you attack the warchief. Some warchiefs and overlords have like 5 subordinates, and if you task them all with spying, well, the boss is fucked.

    This is all part of how the nemesis system works in this series. Chiefs all have strengths and weaknesses. You can strategically pit one (say, with fire weapons) against another (say, with a mortal weakness to fire). Find a chief you like, with a good set of strengths and few weaknesses, and level him up through commanding him to fight other chiefs, taking him into battle and having him kill chiefs, or spending resources to level him up. At the end of the game, when you’re trying to take out a legendary level 45 overlord (and beyond in the Shadow Wars), you’ll appreciate having strong chiefs on your side.

    Of course, if your chief loses, he’s gone and your enemy levels up and often gains more brutal traits. It’s especially demoralizing when a chief kills you. Your penalty for death is that the orc that killed you becomes stronger (and gloats). If it was already a tough fight, then this may make it borderline impossible. One time when I was in the high-20s, I attacked a captain in the mid-30s. He had some crazy bow-and-arrow tracking shot that I couldn’t dodge. One of his straights was to be super strong, so he basically one-shot me and I couldn’t help it. Well, he leveled up close to 40 and became “legendary” (i.e., even super stronger with bonus traits). I didn’t tackle him until when I was nearly done with the game. I had forgotten about that bow-and-arrow tracking shot! When he hit me with it (-50% health, ouch), I quickly realized the trick was to close in and not let him get a shot off. I had to kill him before any of the other orcs around, avoiding like 10 regular orcs and another couple captains while chipping away at him, not letting him fire. Easier said than done, but I managed it!

    The game entices you with tense risk/reward calculations constantly. Battles become so hectic and high-stakes, with orcs everywhere, knowing that if you die, some orc becomes especially deadly (and you can use even this to your advantage, as higher level orcs drop higher level gear, so you can purposefully make them stronger to get loot or to level up your followers more quickly). By the end of the game, I was in battles with 5 captains simultaneously. 5 powerful orcs running around using special moves, me trying my best to keep an eye on them all, exploit their weaknesses, and not let them level up. Like I said, it’s certainly fun. But ultimately, that’s the game. Killing orcs. You’ll kill thousands of them, and a hundred captains. Eventually, it gets repetitive. At that point, you might choose to avoid the Shadow Wars, like I did. But that’s okay. The nemesis system is worth experimenting with no matter how far you decide to go.

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    Marvel's Avengers (PS4)    by   jp       (Dec 4th, 2021 at 20:25:33)

    I've played maybe 20% of the campaign. Or, as far as I can tell - the FIRST campaign. I have no idea if everything else that showed up on the menu is available for me to play or if I need to pay (DLC?).

    I've been enjoying the game so far, it's basically a brawler with a lot of progression and RPG systems. There's all kinds of things to unlock, level up and so on. And, also special abilities (combos, special moves, etc.). So far I've (mostly) played with the Hulk and the Ms. Marvel character with the rubber hands/arms. It's been fun, and I've enjoyed the Ms Marvel(?)

    The game's menus are quite overwhelming and I was initially not feeling it...as in, not feeling excited about playing the game. But, I then had an epiphany of sorts - I realized that this game looks like what Destiny 2 must look like to a new player. There's events that seem like strikes (online multiplayer - get loot/rewards) and more. There's a whole map full of them - though I suspect I'm too low level at this point for it to make sense for me to chase these. But we'll see!

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    Runbow (PS4)    by   jp       (Nov 28th, 2021 at 10:32:16)

    Running and Rainbow. The name of the game is a pretty good explanation for what you're supposed to do. We played "co-op" for a few hours in the campaign/adventure. As a team we're all trying to get to the end of the level - first player there "wins" and in the grand scheme of things there's a rectangular grid where each tile is a level and we're trying to trace a path from the start tile (first challenge/level you do) to a "S" tile which has the boss. There are 4 S tiles (all far away from each other) and presumably when you beat the last one you "win" the game. We did three before we started to get tired - the levels were also getting harder overall beyond the 3-tiers already evident (green, yellow, and red).

    As for gameplay, there are different characters but AFAIK they're all the same. No special abilities or anything like that. The main gimmick/twist is that there's a background color "sweep" (in a flat color) that affects things in the level that are that color. When the sweep is green, everything that's green is invisible and doesn't exist. So, platforms to land on but also enemy lasers. So, there's a frantic pace of rushing to the end but careful timing is also important so that you can land on/avoid/etc. whatever level objects are there to either help or hurt you.

    I was mostly annoyed by the fact that you can interfere with the other players - often knocking them out of the level which was annoying, especially in the harder ones were we were struggling to get to the end. On the other hand, there was much laughing at this too.

    The game does come with a bunch of other modes, but I'm not sure we'll be all that interested to try them out? I only bought the game because of the couch co-op and I'm not sure we were all that enthused enough by it to play a bunch more?

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    Carto (PS4)    by   jp       (Nov 27th, 2021 at 18:59:01)

    I played a few hours of this about a year ago, and I picked it up again a few nights ago and finished it.

    The game is adorable in how it looks, and the story, and so on. Very cute, likeable and calming. The main draw for me though was the game's core mechanic (and the puzzles associated with it).

    The game has two modes - in one you're wandering around on a 2D map and can interact with objects and characters. In the other, you're looking at a map that's made up of square tiles (a la Carcassonne) and you can pick up the tiles, change their location and rotate them around. Sometimes (mostly in the beginning of the game) you find little sheets of paper in the world which are actually new tiles for you to place. Later in the game you have to arrange the tiles on the map to "unlock" a new tile that will suddenly appear. There are certain rules for how you can place tiles - mostly about different kinds of terrain lining up (you can't place if they don't line up - e.g. a road up against a forest). Furthermore there are some "interior" and underground locations where the same mechanic is used - inside houses (a hut, a multi-room library, underground tunnels and rooms) and there are some neat interactions between them. For example in the underground rooms you can't move/pick up the tiles, BUT each underground room is associated with an overground tile so you have to move THOSE (overground) ones to get the orientation underground that you need.

    The game has a neat progression system in how the puzzles get slowly more complicated or introduce a "new" type of solution/answer and I enjoyed how they didn't overuse the same puzzles over and over again. Also, the longer I played the "lazier" I got - taking advantage of the tile moving to, for example, relocate the tile I was on to be closer to the tile I wanted the character to go to, but I couldn't be bothered to walk that far (not that far, actually, but still). There's a bunch of secret little things you can do but I enjoyed the following puzzles:

    (a) Noticed a tile with a blue bird in the corner, then another. Turns out there were 4 tiles with birds and when I placed the tiles such the all the bird corners were together a secret puzzle piece popped out.

    (b) At one point you're asked to solve a super easy version of the towers of hanoi puzzle, then a slightly more complicated one and finally a REALLY long one (that's probably impossible with the space provided). The 1st two were on three mats in the same room, but the last one had a huge tower and mats in three rooms. The "answer" was to swap the rooms such that the starting room (originally on the left) was now on the right. It worked!

    (c) One of the challenges required putting a fish-shaped lake together from a bunch of "lake parts" - and then, following a kids drawing on a sheet of paper, re-arrange the lake parts into four specific fish shapes and fishing that type of fish from the lake with that shape. I thought this one was neat - but I had trouble getting all the shapes right even after I had figured out what I had to do.

    There were some more annoying puzzles as well - one where I left a mostly empty tile in the center when I actually had to leave an empty space (no tile) in the center. Sigh. Also one where I had to rotate pieces around so they lined up with lines on ice that the character (Carto) would slide on - all trying to get to an object used to decorate a snowman. This one I solved more through trial and error than actual puzzle solving. Again, sigh.

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    Vader Immortal: Episode III (PS4)    by   jp       (Nov 23rd, 2021 at 18:48:02)

    Final episode!

    Still nice and short and sweet. I'm guessing some people complained about it being too short, but I really enjoyed the length - perfect for one session with the dojo to spend more time if you wanted.

    Again some new gameplay - now adding a scene with "do this motion in the air" - it was actually a cool moment as I used the sword-lightsaber to "wake up" a robot army that was going to help with things.

    This episode added shooting! (as a more commonly occurring thing) Mostly it was from force-grabbing blasters and then I would blast away at stormtroopers. Also grenades, but I didn't use those much. You also use the force in a battle against a commander in a TIE fighter - deflect his shots, damage the fighter, then use the force to finish up with the damage. Yes, it all takes a lot of suspension of disbelief (why don't I use the force on other things? etc.), but overall super fun. Oh, you can also start throwing your lightsaber - but perhaps this was introduced in Episode II?

    In all a light, fun and thoughtful experience. You're invariably the "good guy" (even if you're a pirate/scavenger) so it was weird when I learned that I could also do the "channel lightning" (dark side power!) though the whole choking people/creatures with the force also seems a bit suspect (from the "I'm a good guy"). It still works in that, well - Vader is worse, but I was a bit confused by how I was doing "dark side" stuff all the time... and, we hear Padme's voice!

    The dojo was tougher than episode II, but now you could get the lightning attack (which was super fun to use!) and also double wield! (two lightsabers, one in each hand). The double wield was neat for a while, but I think the force+lightsaber combo was the best for me.

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    Random

    Just Shut Up and Drive (Arcade)    by   sandee

    No comment, yet.
    most recent entry:   Saturday 17 November, 2012
    “Just Shut Up and Drive” was the game I chose to play for GameLog twelve simply because of the title of the game. In my opinion, the title was catchy. The purpose of the game was to overtake your opponents while racing and finishing your race before the time runs out and earning extra points for overtaking your opponents closely or at a far distance. The instructions, on the other hand, and mechanics were easy to follow and understand. The left and right arrows were used to steer, the up and down arrows were used to accelerate and brake, and the “p” key was used to pause the game. Basically, the first level had to be completed before the other levels could be unlocked and played. This, I found to be interesting as it would “force” you to play all the levels because you would be curious to see how the other levels would be. The scenery where the racing took place was very beautiful. It was colorful and was made up of tress, landmarks, and buildings. The road, however, was very narrow to race on. This I found to be challenging because I ended up being out of the road at times and this slowed my game play down. The sound heard throughout the game play was unexciting and also, was a pain in the butt to listen to. It had the same sound to it and it really got annoying at some point. I had to mute the sound on so many occasions to enjoy the game. But, overall, I would highly recommend this game to anyone of any age. It was fun, interesting, stress reliever, and exciting. I would encourage everyone to hop in their cars and start racing. Playing this game is worth the try and worth the game.

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