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    Stray (PS5)    by   jp       (Jun 13th, 2024 at 00:18:12)

    I'm surprised by how linear the game is in the beginning. I think I only just got to the part where it opens up a bit? It is fun to explore as the cat - but the beginning was just following along (and enjoying how pretty everything looks and wondering -ooh, what happened in this world?).

    I wonder if I'll ever reunite with all the cats I was handing out at the beginning of the game before I fell "into" the "city"?

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    Gungrave VR (PS4)    by   jp       (Jun 13th, 2024 at 00:16:27)

    This is an odd game, but I did have fun! (despite stuff)

    First, the game includes the game and what they call "episode 2" - the first is called "Gungrave VR" and the second is "Gungrave VR U.N". I did not pay attention to the back of the box, and played the "U.N" one first (for no reason other than perhaps it was on the left side of the PS menu bar?...and it's really short (only three missions! not too hard, which is fine, and it looks pretty bad - even for a VR game.

    I was about to move on, when I though, huh..I wonder if the other game was the main game and this one was the "DLC"? (because it was so short!) So, I booted up the main game - and I was forced into doing the tutorial again - it's the exact same tutorial! - and the main menu is also exactly the same! But, when you go into the mission select area, things are different (new missions). AND, the missions in the main game look a lot better! By this I mean there are better character models and textures. It's almost like the DLC was the "prototype art version" with the main game the "final" art. I'm not saying the art was great (though I did like some of the enemy designs), it's just that the difference in quality of the art assets was really noticeable. Wierdly a lot of the geometry in the DLC was destructible, but there was no point/benefit/drawback to destroying stuff...

    As for the game - I can lump both together, mostly...

    It's wonky, the controls have a weird delayed response, aiming is pretty inexact and imprecise..but, the game is still fun enough (and yes, I was grateful for the brevity - the main game only had 5 areas) despite getting repetitive in terms of goals and enemies.

    BUT...and this is where it's a weird game, there are some pretty cool ideas I thought were interesting (and good design choices).

    a. The game has a lot of variety in perspective. Sometimes it's first-person, othertimes it's 3rd person, the DLC even has side-scrolling areas, sometimes you're "locked in place", other times your not. This variety kept things fresh AND also reduced the physical strain of playing in VR - mostly because at times I had to do certain movements with the head, and others had different head movements.

    b. I thought the sidescrolling levels would be dumb and not work - after all you could only fire left/right (but up/down on the left right if that makes sense). Aiming is with the head (where you look you aim) and if you the character was facing right - it was placed on the left side of the screen which meant you were kind oflooking to the right, so I had to remember to look left a lot because enemies would creep up behind the character (and when looking right you could not see what was on the left too well). So, there was lots of looking left/right (like a tennis match!)...and, this was enjoyable! Here, the looking really gave me more to see (rather than just looking to aim)

    c. Some levels I you have to really look up (almost behind as you look up) which I thought was interesting - there's gameplay on the edges of your motion capabilities - which is risky (camera loses sight of headset - this is PSVR!), but interesting as an experience - straining to look up and almost behind felt interesting!

    d. I kept on losing the final boss fight - mostly because one of its attacks was to slam you with a giant hand/arm. The game locks you into place - you can't move or dodge...and I didn't see a way to avoid the damage and kept on dying (after getting hit a few times). So, I looked online for a guide - perhaps there's some secret to the dodge and my timing was off? or there's something else I missed? Could not find a find. But, did watch a video - and the person playing in the video lost a few times but eventually barely made it. So, I tried again - maybe I was just too inefficient with my shooting and I needed to do more damage before getting hit? Well, that didn't work - so I went back to the "lets try new things". When the arms swing down they have reticules/targets on them (several) and I had tried shooting one to no effect. So, I decided to try shooting them all - and, IT WORKED! (it was hard to hit them all because there's no feedback of a hit AND the last target is on the hand which is above/behind you when you start shooting (from the shoulder up the arm, elbow, forearm, hand). I don't know if the order matters - it might be easier to start on the hand and strafe to the shoulder? - BUT, I felt really clever/smart to do something better than in the video!

    To be clear, the game is quite mediocre in terms of quality, polish, gameplay, etc. BUT - it was still fun enough that I enjoyed it (and here the brevity might be a benefit, since I didn't get tired/bored of it).

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    Mass Effect: Andromeda (PS4)    by   jp       (Jun 12th, 2024 at 18:45:17)


    I decided to commit to two things before moving on (which took ~10hrs). First, finish the story - which was more fun and interesting than I expected. The last few missions were similar to the first few - more dramatic, little cut-scenes in between, more action/adventurey... So, all around good. Second, I wanted to get all the planets to 100 viability. Partly this was because there was a trophy attached - but mostly because I enjoyed driving the rover around and I thought it wouldn't take too long (I was wrong about the second part).

    Overall, I really enjoyed it and could have easily enjoyed spending more time on/with the game. I decided not to continue mostly because I have a drawer full of other PS4 games (too many) I also want to play and this is the time of the year during which I can make the most progress whittling down that backlog...

    Looking back, this game is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination - there's plenty of weird wonky stuff, bugs here and there, inconsistencies in the story and characters, etc. BUT, despite all these little things, the core was fun enough for me to engage with and play. So, I really do feel like it's a good game and I'm glad I played it.

    Design-wise I think that what surprised me the most (in a good way) is how much variety and variation there is within an easily understandable goal framework. So, for each planet I knew I had to "activate" 3 towers and then visit a vault. The first planet I did this on was pretty demanding on this - the vault was a whole mission with lots of steps and so-on. It took time! So, I was kind of dreading what would happen with the other planets. Oh no, that's four more vaults at X time each...this will take forever! But, it didn't. Some vaults were pretty short/easy. Some of the tower activations were similarly short/simple. And I really appreciated this! Each planet had it's own flavor/style/innovation/difference within the broader structure. The last planet I did (Kadara?) was the one where things were more political - I had to talk to NPCs, do stuff for them and so on. Other planets were more "complete tasks at certain locations". So, lots of variation and variability within the overall goal structure and - my sense - one that generally favored the player. So, mostly, I felt like "oh, nice - that took less time or effort than I assumed" rather than the opposite.

    Fun things from the ending:

    a. You can continue playing and doing tasks and so on - but the game forces you into a little "celebration task" that is mostly you talking to your crew about "winning" and them leaving the door open to finishing tasks that are still pending. I thought it was a nice way to combine long cut-scenes with the ending AND the fact that you'll probably do more stuff. Many games sort of ignore the fact that you "beat the game" and you keep on playing as if nothing happened.

    b. My in-game inbox filled up with messages from NPCs thanking me for "winning". Nice touch! I read some but not all of the messages and it definitely contributed to making the "win" feel more impactful.

    To be fair, I was mostly ignoring story stuff and kind of zipping around completing tasks - so, not playing the game with a role-player story-first attitude. Despite this, the game's story did start to grow on me! And, I think it's pretty cool how it's really set outside the Mass Effect continuity (happens both during ME2 and 3 and long after 3) with a sense of loss. The game takes place 600 years after ME3 (aprox) because that's how long it takes to get to Andromeda. And, while you can get some communications from when ME3 was happening (oh, the reapers are attacking!) you don't really know what happened. As far as you know - the Milky Way galaxy is "over" (reapers won, life set back). Supposedly you could have a ME: Milky Way? (where people from Andromeda head back to the Milky Way to recolonize it? (assuming ME3 ended poorly, of course).

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    Star Wars: Squadrons (PS4)    by   jp       (Jun 10th, 2024 at 23:43:29)

    I tried to play online with no luck. (as in, I got bored of waiting to match up - but I only waited a few minutes).

    So, I did the tutorial for the online modes, and it was ok - the main mode is a sort of "push objectives" to get to the last objective (destroy the star destroyer if you're rebel) - and things can swing back and forth (5v5 but they also add AI pilots on both sides) since there's a sort of tug-of-war system (morale I think it's called) in which you win points for destroying things (fewer points for AI than other players) and lose points when you get destroyed. I think the enemy gets the points - rather than your side loses points?

    Anyways. I played a few rounds of this - started to level up - and then realized...ugh..this wasn't THAT fun, and I can't unlock the "real" mode (ranked play online) until I hit level 5. And I was barely at 3...

    So I bailed on the entire game.
    This was mostly because I'm looking at my drawer full of games and realizing - I think I got what I wanted from this game and I don't care to learn to fly the other ships and stuff...and I'm also a little bit tired of Star Wars in general?

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    Final Fantasy VII Remake (PS4)    by   dkirschner       (Jun 10th, 2024 at 05:59:53)

    Epic but drawn out nostalgia machine, with the experience hampered further by the context in which I played.

    This is, as the title suggests, a remake of FFVII, and I think that unless you've been playing the OG recently, you will experience it as a very different beast. FFVII is being split into three full-length games, and this is the first third, which takes Cloud et al. until their escape from Midgar. Most of the main story beats are the same as the OG, but Remake expands everywhere it can--both fleshes out and pads. I generally appreciated the more in-depth look at existing characters close to or in the party (e.g., Biggs, Jessie, and Wedge; they were great!), but disliked plenty of the additional content because it often didn't add anything compelling. That is, the story would have been the same if we didn't have to learn so much about Don Corneo and his pimps, or watch Hojo scheming, or spend a few hours in the sewers. The Don Corneo part was straight up cringe (minus an amazing dance scene). We are treated to Cloud dressing up as a woman, which I remember being much funnier when I was 14. In 2024, we get a one-liner on gender expression, identity, and fluidity from a dancer, which was nice, except that the game then represents stereotypical exaggerated femininity of gay-coded male (and/or trans?) characters (like the squat champion bodybuilder), and Corneo is trying to fuck Cloud until it is revealed with a change of clothes that he's really a man, and Corneo is disappointed (if we're practicing what we preach about gender fluidity and whatnot, perhaps Corneo would be into the representation of femininity, no matter male or female; there is no nuance or exploration there, negating the one interesting thing the game said about gender). We know Don Corneo's a lech. We know Hojo is deranged. Making players run around doing quests for Corneo's pimps doesn't add anything; making players spend forever in Hojo's endless labs doesn't add anything; making players operate slow-moving robot arms to solve simple puzzles in a greatly expanded sewers section doesn't add anything; etc.

    The side quest parts, though optional, are neat for expanding on the lives of citizens in Midgar, but are dull in terms of gameplay (usually, go find these things or go kill these monsters). I did like the proximity-based conversations between NPCs. Instead of clicking on them to talk, you listen in on their conversations when you approach them, and they're often talking about whatever has just happened and its effect on them and their lives. Despite the long and sometimes padded parts, the game was highly engaging. The presentation of FFVII Remake is amazing in every way. It's visually stunning, especially the many, many cut scenes; the music is evocative; it's really well-written; the combat is fast and fun. I definitely did not take advantage of min-maxing weapons and materia, or re-slotting materia to suit the situation, or controlling all the characters in my party. I would have liked to have been more motivated to master the combat.

    It's interesting how they took the first chunk of the OG and made it 40 hours. That means they had to put all the materia, summons, weapons, leveling up etc. of a full 40-hour RPG into what used to be like 5 hours of game time. But knowing that this is only the first third of the full game, I felt like I didn't want to spend time maximizing materia, doing side quests, fighting coliseum battles, and so on. Like, it felt like a waste of time to do more than I needed to given that I could pick up the next game tomorrow. This is part of what I mean when I say that the context in which I played hampered the experience. If there is a (more highly rated) sequel, I am not motivated to spend time beyond the main story on this one. I would rather spend my time on the next one (although the next one will have the same problem, because by the time I play it, the third and final game will probably be available). What would be awesome is if the three games were released in a package and you could play them as one...kind of like...FFVII. I know that you start back at level 1 with no materia and whatnot in the next game; they're all self-contained. That also makes me worried that it'll feel like playing the same thing three times (different story, of course, but if the gameplay is the same, it'll get repetitive).

    The other two contextual things that affected my experience were: (1) playing on a time crunch. I played on a PS Plus subscription, which ends in 5 days, and I still have 3 games I want to play in that time. I was rushing to beat Remake, so the longer sequences were getting frustrating. I thought I would finish the game on Saturday afternoon because I had entered the "there's no turning back now; are you sure you want to continue" part. I didn't finish it until SUNDAY afternoon, like 8 gameplay hours later, because the end is so dang long! There are actually three "there's no turning back now" points. Three! And boss fight after boss fight after boss fight at the end. I mean, totally epic, but I felt the time crunch. (2) The other thing is that the room I was playing in has no air conditioning, and it's summer in Georgia. This weekend, it was about 90 degrees. Two fans blew on me, increasingly hot air as the morning turned to afternoon, and I was physically uncomfortable. (After beating the game, I moved my PS4 and beanbag into another room with AC.).

    SO, despite my playing in less than ideal conditions, and the game feeling longer than it needed to be, it was undeniably epic. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed it, and look forward to playing (and hopefully getting more out of) the second one.

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    The Last Remnant (360)    by   Furious Jorge

    No comment, yet.
    most recent entry:   Monday 4 April, 2011
    ... O.o# I just foolishly wrote a paper for 40 mins on Last remnant in the browser window and hit enter... I'll rewrite it later in Word... Im just going to go crawl up into a ball for awhile.

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