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    Marvel Strike Force (iPd)    by   jp       (Oct 25th, 2021 at 22:00:20)

    I installed this because I had heard a lot of people talk about how great a game it is and that they've been playing for years and that sort of thing. And. Uhm. Perhaps I installed the wrong game? I'm not sure. There's definitely more to the game than what I've seen and appreciated, but I haven't seen all that much to be impressed by. If anything it's been the complete opposite, but mostly due to technical problems I can't really explain the reason for (for a game this "mature" in it's service).

    The game has a light tactical element - you have a team of Marvel heroes (and/or villains) who go on missions where they attack enemies "old Final Fantasy"-style: there's a battle line and characters hop over to attack and so on. Where your characters are on the lineup does seem to matter - but I think the tactical side gets lost in that character progression matters much, much more in terms of DPS and survivability. So, "team-ups" (when two friendlies boost each other) and status stuff seems to matter little. I mean, if you're really trying to get ahead - sure, you might be able to clear a mission that's slightly out of reach. But level the characters up will always be better/more effective is my impression.

    I've decided to delete the game not because I'm unimpressed - I was willing to give it a bit more time just to see...but because of technical issues. More often than not the game will load into a screen that is incomplete (missing art assets with placeholder messages) and would fail to load my roster completely (in the screen from which you have to select and upgrade your characters). I tried closing the app, and more. I even upgraded to a new phone partway through! (from an older iphone I thought might have been the problem). And no, the problem still crops up too frequently for me to want to continue. Oh, the game also has "daily rewards" (and monthly) where you get stuff for logging in on successive days. It bugged out 3 days in a row (the options wouldn't appear) and then on the 4th day, they appeared (and I got the bonus for the 2nd day, when by then I should have been on the 5th). So, sigh. Meh. I thought the bugs where from "still downloading content" stuff going on - but that doesn't seem to be the case, and I also have plenty of storage space on this device. So, who knows!

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    Minecraft Dungeons (PS4)    by   jp       (Oct 20th, 2021 at 20:25:22)

    Played this couch co-op over the weekend a few times and I guess my biggest surprise is that the game is a streamlined Diablo rather than a rogue-like. For some reason I thought the game was a rogue-like, but it's not. It's Diablo!
    So, dungeon romp where you kill mobs, pick up loot and upgrade your character. It's simplified - so there are no classes with abilitiesa and everything is connected to your equipment. There are three main slots for weapon, armor and ranged weapon and you can also load up 4(or was it 3?) artifacts which have abilities you can trigger with cooldowns. Additionally the equipment can be upgraded via enchantments - and here's where some randomness comes in - the same equipment might vary on how many enchantments you can imbue it with and what those enchantments are.

    I really appreciated how flexible the game is in letting you try things out. Each time you level up you get an enchantment point and you use these to imbue the enchantments and also level them up (up to three levels AFAIK). The neat thing is that when you trash an item that's been enchanted, you get all the points back. It's not quite an open re-spec (you have to give up the item to get the points back) but it is nicely flexible and doesn't make you feel like you've wasted points of given up progress or have to "grind" a new item just to make it interesting again. Of course there's an additional layer of rarity for the items as well.

    So, I've enjoyed that - and found it was really neat to try to get cool combos off different enchantments and artifacts. For example, I had some artifacts that summon creatures to help you out and I was able to kit out some gear with enchantments that buffed by summoned creatures.

    Something else I liked is that you can toggle your difficulty level from the get-go, you don't need to clear an area on default before being allowed to play it at a harder level. So, we played a bunch of levels on a pretty hard setting and it was just the right challenge, so yay! My sense is that the game is tuned less hard to make it more kid-friendly and accesible (a good thing) but we appreciated being able to max it out. At least in the levels we played it was a good experience. I'm not sure what the difficulty curve is looking forward in terms of the other areas of the game - but perhaps the difficulty might plateau too soon? As in, the harder areas won't get that much harder?

    I'm also curious about the enchantment points and what happens if (when?) we max out on those. So, once we all have enough points to max out each enchantment on all the equipment. We haven't reached that point yet (I think we're at character level 16 or so?) but I get the sense, due to the fact that we haven't played many levels, that we might reach that limit soon. I did see that there's a special area/mode where you must spend enchantment points, so perhaps that's what happens - you keep on accruing points but you use them as currency in the end-game content?

    Lots more to see and explore!

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    Uncharted: The Lost Legacy (PS4)    by   jp       (Oct 18th, 2021 at 17:11:35)

    Finished this over the weekend. It was a great time, lots of fun bombastic action, amazing environments, and puzzles that were complicated enough to engage without being too challenging or time-consuming to solve. Oh, the overall playing time? It hit the sweetspot for me.

    While I haven't played all of the games in the series, I think this is a really interesting entry. Obviously the first thing is that it doesn't feature Nathan Drake - but rather two women (Chloe and Nadine). The 2nd thing is that, I think, that this game was released as a middle-ground game - not small enough to be DLC, but also not "large" enough to be a full-on sequel. So, a sort of spinoff that was (probably?) not priced as premium? I'll have to do some internet sleuthing to find out.

    As a game, it hits pretty much all of the series staples - exotic environments, amazing architecture and level design, combination of puzzle solving and combat, etc. But, this title does a bit more than that - most of the last level is a big fight on a moving train. It really reminded me of - Uncharted 2? Or 3? This one also had a scene on a moving train. It's also got semi-open areas where you drive a jeep. And so on. So, without remember all of the series' highlights it's sort of like this game is a bit of a remix. So, takes some of the cool bits from earlier games, remixes them and throws them together into a new title. It feels very familiar, and I'm not saying this in a bad sense - it was comfortable and familiar, yet fresh enough. Maybe it's unfair? But, that is the feeling I had. I think the only staple "missing" was a "flashback" chapter?

    Actually, what I realized was really missing - or at least didn't work for me and even fell flat when Sam Drake joins in was the humor. For me, the games have always been action-comedies. Lots of banter and jokes and humorous situations (mixed in with the drama and such). So, very much what Indiana Jones has been. This game didn't really have the humor. Of course, the source of most of that humor - Nathan Drake - wasn't there, so I'm guessing this was a deliberate choice to not have a "Nathan Drake-alike" character come in with quips and wit. But, it does mean that the experience feels not quite like an Uncharted game in that sense. Which is strange. Because of the entire game, if I were to make a list of all the things that make Uncharted what it is, gameplay, mechanics, etc. - humor would definitely have been on the list, but I'm not sure how much I would have said it mattered for the "feel" of the game's experience. I guess it's a lot?

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    Virtual Boy Wario Land (VB)    by   jp       (Oct 14th, 2021 at 19:18:32)

    So I had played a bit many years ago, but mostly to check that my cartridge was working. Never "seriously". Last night I sat down - or more fairly, leaned in - and played this for a good 30 minutes or so. Maybe it was a little bit longer.

    I made it as far as level 4 - the first boss - whom I was unable to defeat, though I did hit him once. I think three hits and I'd beat him.

    I'm playing partly to know the game better - but also due to a project I'm working on, so I want to document some stuff. This is like my field notes:

    The game has various elements that play off movement between foreground/background. These include:

    - Spike balls that swing forward/backwards
    - Hopping points where you jump into the background, play around ona little level that's far away, and then jump back
    - One of the minigames has you jump back and forth repeatedly - it's the one where you're trying to stock up on hearts (100 hearts = 1up)
    - The first boss has two different attacks (that I've seen). The 1st wave of attacks come from the background into the foreground (swings a ball and chain)
    - There's a fish in level 3 that swings into the foreground, where it can hurt you.
    - Also some sort of shark/fish that sits in a hole in the background facing the camera, it comes "out" and you need to avoid it.

    The game also has a lot of parallax - and many layers of fore/background stuff going on .

    - Some level elements like the blocks look rendered in two layers, so the seem to have a bit of volume/depth.

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    Uncharted: The Lost Legacy (PS4)    by   jp       (Oct 12th, 2021 at 16:42:24)

    I played the first 2 chapters and, hmmm. Hmmm is mostly me thinking - wow, this is really interested to play back-to-back with The Last Guardian. On paper, the core gameplay for both games is (so far) the same - you're navigating an environment with a character controlled in the 3rd person. I'm expecting there to be "shooty parts" in this game, and obviously there's no large creature/partner in this game.

    But, the contrast between both games for the navigating a 3D environment is quite striking. I think they're both good - so this is not a case of one being better than the other, it just how the prioritize different game feel. Uncharted feels fast, snappy, responsive - this is necessary especially when you're trying to escape and people are shooting at you! The Last Guardian is slower, more deliberate and also more fragile. Both games are animated really well, so this isn't about the "quality" of the assets. To be fair I prefer Uncharted more - at least so far, I have not experienced camera issues or done actions I didn't mean to do. BUT, in Last Guardian it really feels like you're controlling a little kid who is strong and doing these scary things...

    It's also been a while since I've played an Uncharted game. This is bad because I think I'm supposed to remember who these characters are? Maybe not. Maybe recognition is just for the fans to enjoy? I guess I'm not sure, but it's not like I don't know what's going on in the game or anything like that..it's just the nagging feeling that I might be missing out on stuff due to not remembering the characters. Like, are the women in the game friends of Nathan Drake? Competitors?

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    Random

    Supreme Commander (PC)    by   Hunter.Requiem

    Well done, though AI is a touch glitchy.
    most recent entry:   Saturday 19 January, 2008
    GAMEPLAY
    Well, after realizing I needed to log again, I booted up the not-so-old PC and slammed in Sup-Com again. This time, since I've played a bit since last time, I'm about half way through the second campaign. Playing as a nation of cyborgs, I quickly realize that my stuff is nowhere near as strong as it was when I was playing with the last guys. In the mission I played, I happened to be on a water map. One that required me to use, well, water units. I built a few Destroyers, the basic mid-level assault ship, and sent them off to do some shore bombardment. Five minutes later, and they aren't there. Confused, I look at a point about 10% of the way down the coast. There's my destroyers. They sprouted legs. And they're walking. Slowly. The walking destroyer would eventually be very, very, very annoying. While it made for a great tank and ground assault vehicle, it was a terrible ship, since whenever I asked it to, perhaps, destroy an enemy ship, it would, by virtue of faulty AI, proceed to the nearest land, and slowly walk in the direction I wanted it to go.

    DESIGN

    Supreme Commander is a first in the RTS world in terms of scope. You can zoom all the way out to view the entire map, or you can look up the barrel of your tank's cannon. While the units aren't really anything new, the massive variety makes up for it, letting you carefully plan out your attack. As I mentioned before, the AI is, although impressive, as it allows your units to cross miles of terrain with just a mouse click, still very, very buggy, especially with ships, and with formations. When told to head across a system of way points, units often deviate, and, as shown with my walking destroyers, sometimes to disastrous effects. When told to move in formation, units who are not already in formation will try to move towards each other in order to enter formation...useless, if you happen to have two groups of units. Also, when your guys reach the area they were told to go into formation at, they'll recalculate their formation...even if they're already in one, which creates some terrible traffic jams. Along another line, in game commands and commentary aren't voice acted, which makes for some problems, as I often miss characters telling me important information.

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