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    The Forgotten City (PC)    by   dkirschner       (Jan 18th, 2022 at 10:02:19)

    What an interesting concept. You awake on a riverbank, are led into old Roman ruins, and discover an ancient city with inhabitants through a portal. They live under "The Golden Rule," which I first discovered when doing what I ALWAYS do first in a first-person RPG like Skyrim. (You'll probably do the same thing and if you haven't read about the game, you'll be as intrigued as me!).

    Thus you are plunged into the mystery of what exactly The Golden Rule is, who created it, and how to get out of the loop caused by someone breaking it. The game itself is pretty straightforward. You explore the city and talk to its inhabitants. You pick up and follow "leads" (quests) that unravel the mystery, until you get to one of four endings (you can and should see them all through; the last one is especially rewarding, if a bit tedious to get). The game guides you through the mystery and does a good job making sure you know what to do and where to go.

    The game was originally a Skyrim mod, so it looks and plays familiarly. The facial animations are pretty bad (often funny-bad) and the voice acting can be slow, but I was nevertheless immersed in the city's environment. Some little holes or oversights are apparent. For example, right at the beginning, you meet a character who doesn't want to tell you her name. Fair enough, I said. But when I opened my journal, my character had recorded her name. And it turns out her name is a REALLY big clue as to her identity and a clue to other parts of the story, which I guessed part of really, really early on all because the journal told me her name when I shouldn't have known. That was a bad oversight!

    You'll be listening to a lot of dialogue, all well written and often philosophical and thought-provoking. It's rare that a game makes me really think deeply about some moral or philosophical question, but this one did, namely, how do we know the difference between right and wrong. It doesn't necessarily present arguments between characters in the most believable way, but I can look past that for what it is aiming at. Later in the game, you get a bow, which opens up some light action and platforming parts. I wouldn't say that the game is in any way difficult. It felt like a well-paced exploration.

    I have to compare this to Outer Worlds, which I recently played and didn't like all that much. The main reason I didn't like Outer Worlds is that the loop is forced on you. In The Forgotten City, you control when the loop happens and you usually trigger it on purpose. You start back at the same place, as in Outer Wilds, but it's quicker and easier to get back to what you were doing. In Outer Wilds, the loop doesn't change anything. It just resets you. It doesn't open new avenues for you, except that you have knowledge that you didn't have in the previous loop (but which you had gained anyway even if there were no loop). In The Forgotten City, the loop resets the city's inhabitants, so you can lead them down different conversation paths, intervene in their actions, and so on in order to change things. The interweaving and accumulation of these changes in their knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors is what drives the story forward. I just found this all so interesting to see unfold! It's not a perfect game, but I'd recommend it for a cool story told in a different way (especially if you like Roman/Greek/Egyptian mythology).

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    Star Wars Battlefront: Elite Squadron (DS)    by   jp       (Jan 17th, 2022 at 15:52:34)

    Weird how I just picked this up again and played a bit, but had no memory of having played it (8?) years ago?

    I must have played about an hour and a half last night and it definitely moves along fast, with lots of action, and no real breathing room. The story (so far) is quite predictable (one twin goes bad and the other good) and the different classes - with their different weapons and power ups are more interesting than I expected. As soon as a new class was offered I switched over to use it, assuming that it's weapons/powers would be well suited to the upcoming levels and I was not disappointed in this.

    I'm surprised at how easy the game is? But, I don't recall if there are difficulty levels and what I chose if there are. I must say it's a technically very competent game and I appreciated the lock-on targeting that the game has, and the fact that the camera works automatically (and pretty well) in keeping you focused on what you're targetting. Circle-strafing worked wonderfully.

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    Igor: The Game (DS)    by   jp       (Jan 17th, 2022 at 14:46:09)

    What a strange game.

    I think it's based on an animated movie and at least one of the game's listed creators (license holder?) is a film studio. The game also has a charming art style that, I would guess was developed for the animated film, with weird/interesting characters as well...a zombie rabbit, a brain in a jar, etc.

    The game itself is really strange in this context. You're the titular Igor and you want revenge (and the girl) on your former master, so you create a new creature (Frankenstein's monster) from parts, and enter it into fighting tournaments. You start with freebie parts and you can later craft better parts from items you get from defeating random monsters that appear in different parts of the map.

    Initially there are only like 3 places you can go, with two more serving as places to go to have a random encounter with a monster that'll hopefully net you some raw materials. You use the raw materials in your workshop and you have to buy plans from a shop in order to even make them. By my arithmetic, you'd need 4 wins against a random monster, plus another win elsewhere to have enough money (40 coins) and parts (16, 4 per fight). This seems quite a slog to me, especially since the fights aren't all that easy - and can take quite a bit of time even as they play out..well, mostly the same.

    Fights are basically a match-3 style puzzle battle. Your monster is fighting another monster and as you match-3 you fill up jars, one for each body part. Then the jar reaches a threshold you can tap it, and trigger an attack using that body part. The more you fill it up, the stronger the attack.

    That match-3 part I'm not sure entirely how it works (in terms of matches leading to how much of the jar fills up). You always get a two-part "pill" and each pill half can be in one of 4 colors (red, blue, yellow, green). However, the matches don't happen when you get three of a kind, but rather when a regular color part of a pill comes into contact with a "energy" pill of the same color. Sometimes half of the pill is an "energy" half. If it doesn't collide with it's same color (energy or regular), then nothing happens, it just sits there on the playfield and could presumably come into play via future combos.

    So, combos are good - but in practice I never saw them result in a huge impact on the filling the jars side of things, so I was a bit disappointed by that. It turns out your monster also has a bunch of stats, so maybe that's playing some role in all of this? (a different monster might fill the jars more effectively from combos?)

    So far I made 3% progress in the game - lost a few battles and was kind of underwhelmed by the prospect of having to play more battles, grind my way to better resources, but play effectively the same game over and over with little variation and...it just felt too slow to keep my interesting. I should take a look at youtube videos just to see if there's anything more to the game? There are at least 12 un-active locations on the map that I presume do something interesting, but who knows?

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    Call of Duty: Black Ops (DS)    by   jp       (Jan 17th, 2022 at 14:11:25)

    I played this a while back for (undisclosed) research purposes, but this is the first time I've sat down with the game to play it for fun/academic interest. I think I briefly played the original Black Ops on PS3 for all of 30 minutes or something like that and I get the impression that this game is supposed to be the DS version of that one - so, the same characters and general storyline. I think.

    The game starts and you're sort of in the middle of an operation in the 60s in Cuba things go south, you were supposed to be there in the first place, and so on. I was surprised that the game has live voice (compression must have gotten quite good, I also wonder what the capacity is on DS carts, I've assumed a few hundred MBs, but I have no basis for that really at the moment) (Just checked, they ranged quite a bit, reaching GB range, so full voice makes a lot more sense now, especially for games late in the handhelds life).

    I've recently played a few FPS games on the DS and this one is neither worse nor better in terms of controls. Things are still a bit awkward, but they work well enough. At least when playing on medium - I'm curious how much fine precision is needed for aiming and whatnot.

    It's interesting to see how this game IS a call of duty game in that it has two things that are hallmarks(?) (tropes?) of the series - they're not interesting now, but they were earlier in the series history:

    (a) First is the use of the AI companion - follows along with you, often giving orderes and pointing out things. The most "famous"(?) are those moments where you sneak up on some unsuspecting guards (two of them) and your AI teammate says something like "you take out the one on the left and I'll take the other one" and then "fire when ready" and two guards go down at roughly the same time (assuming you don't miss). So, I was pleasantly surprised to see this moment come up... it's very CoD.

    (b) The second is a bigger picture feature - rather than a designed moment in the game - and is the zombie mode, where you fight off waves of zombies, spend money buying better weapons and unlocking areas, and hopefully don't die. I played a few rounds of this and my only complaint is that you die too quickly - and often from behind without warning (as far as I could tell).

    I won't be playing more of this - but I did see that there are additional (typical) features - collectables (stars in a level you must shoot to obtain) and also "mini-game" type activities. I just played one where I had to rotate two radio dials in order to tune into the frequency such that I could then hear orders from my boss/commander...

    From the screenshots on the back of the box it looks like there's some additional (fighter jet sorties?) things - but, my hands were getting a bit too cramped to want to finish the campaign.

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    Outer Wilds (PC)    by   dkirschner       (Jan 16th, 2022 at 11:53:48)

    I appreciate what Outer Wilds is doing, but overall did not enjoy the experience. This is a time loop game. I have played/am playing two of these recently (12 Minutes and now The Forgotten City) and therefore have few data points to compare. However, I disliked 12 Minutes considerably, whereas The Forgotten City I find extremely engaging. Outer Wilds is somewhere in between.

    Outer Wilds is, perhaps more than a time loop game, an exploration game. Yes, the sun goes supernova every 22 minutes and forces you back to your home planet, but the fun lies in exploring the unique planets and other bodies in the solar system and unraveling the mystery behind an a group of space travelers long gone. Where did they come from? What were they doing? Where did they go?

    The game is open-ended. You can travel nearly anywhere from the very beginning. It doesn't matter where you go first. You complete the introduction, then hop in your space rocket and fly somewhere, land, and explore. I went first to my planet's moon, and then to the next-closest planet, and outward from there. You will slowly discover strange writing, ruins, and the ever mysterious quantum objects, and begin seeing threads to follow.

    I said that the planets are very creative and unique. For example, the two closest to the sun are the Hourglass Twins. The Ash Twin and the Ember Twin are next to one another, connected by a constant stream of sand Ash Twin sheds onto Ember Twin. Over the 22-minute loop, Ember Twin's caverns fill up, closing or opening some areas, and Ash Twin's surface becomes visible as sand flows away. It was a cool moment when I realized that the planets actually change over the course of the loop, and that I could actually investigate Ash Twin, which I had previously assumed was always covered in sand. If you pay attention, you will see that a lot in the solar system changes over the course of the loop. Another planet has a giant black hole in the center, and as you explore the ruins beneath, you're constantly in danger of getting sucked into it. That is theoretically neat and all, but boy is it annoying when you accidentally fall and get sent through the black hole to the edge of the solar system, where you must wait for a space station to come near (the "white hole"), which will let you warp back to the planet once its orbit aligns with the station. It wastes at least 5 minutes every time.

    And that is the main issue I have with Outer Wilds. I understand that the 22-minute supernova is explained through the story. I appreciate that. But everything is intriguing enough without you being forced back to your home planet every 22 minutes! The time loop feels punishing and like it arbitrarily extends the game's length. The worst part was when I learned how the Hourglass Twins work, then solved a ton of puzzles on Ash Twin, and was ALMOST DONE, like literally running toward the end that would give me a final piece of knowledge, and the sun went supernova and back to the start I went. I had to go back to Ash Twin, wait for the sand to flow out again, and re-do all the puzzles. That kind of thing happens constantly. You're in the middle of doing something, the sun goes supernova, and you have to go back to the beginning, fly yourself back to where you were, get out of your rocket, walk back to wherever it was on the planet, if you even remember how to get there, then pick back up where you left off. I played about 6 hours and I bet at least a quarter of that time was re-treading my steps.

    How to solve this problem? Well, as stated, I understand the supernova is part of the story. So perhaps some fast travel? Better controls to make flying and jetpacking around more precise? Something to make movement more fun? Artificially extended supernova time so you can always finish if you're in the middle of something. I mean, is anyone sitting there with a 22-minute timer? (Probably...). I wouldn't know if the supernova happened at 20 or 25 or 30 minutes. I'm busy exploring, reading, thinking. I know also that the two time loop games I've recently played reset the loop when you die or when you choose some action. Having that control over when to reset taken away was frustrating. As I said, I am playing The Forgotten City now (probably getting close to done), and I enjoy it so much more for a lot of reasons that I'll reflect on when I'm done. But I know that time loop games are hot right now, I expect I'll play more of them, and I'm excited to see how else this mechanic is implemented.

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    GameLog hopes to be a site where gamers such as yourself keep track of the games that they are currently playing. A GameLog is basically a record of a game you started playing. If it's open, you still consider yourself to be playing the game. If it's closed, you finished playing the game. (it doesn't matter if you got bored, frustrated,etc.) You can also attach short comments to each of your games or even maintain a diary (with more detailed entries) for that game. Call it a weblog of game playing activity if you will.

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    2 : jp's Igor: The Game (DS)
    3 : jp's Call of Duty: Black Ops (DS)
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    Random

    Assassin's Creed (360)    by   cweilee

    No comment, yet.
    most recent entry:   Thursday 6 March, 2008
    GAMEPLAY
    The gameplay remain the same throughout the game. It actually gets quite repetitive, and boring after a while. The only thing that needs to be done is the gather information, view points, and kill the target. That is pretty much the whole game.

    The story is what keeps the game going and cover the fact that the game is repetitive. The gameworld is as beautiful as ever. Each city has its own special feeling, and can be distinguished from other cities. Each cities has flags that needs to be gathered. I, personally, think that this gathering mission is not as fun as everyone says. The fact that some of the achievement can only be gained to gain the score is annoying.

    DESIGN
    The gameworld is what shines in Assassin's creed. The gameworld is important to the game because the game tries to give the player the most realistic way of showing the world and how an assassin work. The only way to do that is force the player to explore a whole new city and the have them gather information about there target within the city. At the same time, the player knows the city a lot better than normal. By exploring the gameworld, the player is experiencing a whole new experience.

    Social Stealth is the new way of playing a stealth game. The player gets to blend in with the crows and the guards wouldn't notice them. The battle system is, however, lacking of complexity. One button does everything from attacking to countering. Most of the time, countering is the best way to kill the enemy and I mostly used that move to win fights against the enemy. I like the combat system, but I just wished that it could be a little more complex.

    [read this GameLog]

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