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    Enter the Gungeon (PC)    by   dkirschner       (Aug 13th, 2022 at 16:06:44)

    And then Enter the Gungeon. A game about gun puns. It was interesting comparing it to Nuclear Throne. There are several playable characters with different abilities. But Enter the Gungeon has way more stuff than Nuclear Throne. Tons more enemies, bosses, guns, passive abilities, secrets, and everything. For that reason alone, even though I'm retiring it and didn't play it that much, I think I like it better than Nuclear Throne. I *could see* myself spending more time with this to see more content. It also seems a bit easier than Nuclear Throne though. None of the bosses I got to gave me trouble like Lil Hunter. Gameplay is a little less hectic. A little easier to wrap my head around. There's a shop and secrets. I think you can unlock shortcuts to the different gungeon levels, which adds some persistence between runs. It also had more of a story, however silly, so was a little more intriguing for that reason too. But like I said, I didn't play much, just a few hours, and I know I'm not going to beat it, so I'd rather move on. I got the gist!

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    Nuclear Throne (PC)    by   dkirschner       (Aug 13th, 2022 at 16:01:22)

    Retired this. I was alternating playing this and Enter the Gungeon, two bullet hell twin-stick roguelikes. I played Nuclear Throne the most, and it's the simpler of the two. Deceptively simple, of course. Choose a character, each of which has a perk (e.g., my favorite, the robot, can "eat" weapons and gain ammo or life from them). Start with a crappy pistol, kill everything on each level to progress to the next level. Bosses come at specific points. How many did I fight...Bandit...Big Dog...Lil Hunter...There may only be four. I think after Lil Hunter is the Nuclear Throne. But I only killed Lil Hunter once, and didn't get far after that. Lil Hunter will mess you up. The other two bosses are easy and I could reliably kill them. Then if I made it to Lil Hunter, he'd wipe me every time. Start over.

    Enemies drop "rads" (experience), ammo, and health. Whenever you gain a level, you choose one of three random perks to add. These are generally useful things like increase the amount of health and ammo pickups you find, decrease enemy health, your shotgun shells bounce farther, better aim, etc. You start having to strategize depending on what weapons you have and what perks are available to you. You might wind up going for a shotgun build, or a melee build, or trying to get every health perk, or whatever.

    After a while, I found the runs began getting repetitive because there isn't a huge variety of weapons, enemies, or perks. I'd seen most everything and was just looping over and over and over. Die. Restart with boring pistol in the desert for the 100th time. Die. Etc. There's more to it, of course. Secrets, extra characters to unlock, and so on. It's a fun game for sure, but isn't keeping my interest long enough to beat it.

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    Metro Exodus (PC)    by   dkirschner       (Aug 13th, 2022 at 15:51:19)

    Wrapping up a few games and clearing them out of here. Metro Exodus is my favorite in this series. It's quite epic. Whereas the first two games take place in the Moscow metro tunnels, this one moves above ground and out of Moscow. After learning that there are settlements outside Moscow, Artyom convinces others to join him in search of a better life. About 10 of the Order, including Anna (your wife) and the Colonel, head out on a train. The leaving is more dramatic than that (involving a heist of said train), but that's the gist.

    The game takes place as Artyom & co. travel across Russia looking for the Russian government and other survivors. They stop in 5 or so locations for various reasons along the journey. Two of these are open world levels, one is sort of a linear open world level, and at least two more are more linear and resemble more of the old Metro games. New in this one, you can scan the horizon with binoculars and mark places on your map, most of which have goodies to loot like weapon upgrades or collectible journals. I never got tired of exploring.

    You pick up more characters along the way, a woman and her daughter, a teen boy, an engineer, and leave some at your stops. They find love, decide to go on a quest, die, and so on. The characters are really well written. Metro has always stood out for its portrayals of life in the tunnels. In the games, you always feel like you're entering a (barely) functioning society. The train is similarly realistic. Characters fall in love, have arguments, get sick, develop in-jokes, share hobbies and swap stories, etc., etc. There is a ton of incidental dialogue to overhear and participate in. Often, you can sit down, smoke cigarettes, share a drink, hold someone's hand, play a guitar, and more. The NPCs' interactions, especially in large groups, are so impressively done.

    Each level has at least one good, memorable character, from the insane technology-hating preacher to the Admiral (also insane from radiation and/or loneliness) who has tea parties with his dead comrades. Actually a lot of the people you meet have gone nuts. There's even a whole area of people who have gone nuts. They are cannibals. The areas out in the world also have a lot of good lore. You can find diary entries and tapes, and occasionally an NPC who doesn't try to kill you and will talk with you about something or other. The next-to-last level of the game, Taiga, is interesting because the inhabitants were school children when the bombs went off. Their teacher led them, and then the group splintered into two rival factions. A woman from one of them, who rescues you in the beginning of the level, tells you the story of why they split and what happened to the teacher. You also find an audio diary of the teacher's for more insight. Don't think too much about why people in a post-apocalyptic wasteland are recording audio diaries on cassette tapes. They just do, okay?!

    The combat is tight and punchy, the guns and all their upgrades are varied, the survival elements gelled with my preferences (they were enough to think about and make my heart beat fast, but not too much to make me feel I had to be preoccupied with them). Enemies are generally garden variety humans with guns or mutants that run at you. The flying things are back, which I recall being from the library level in one of the previous games. They're easy to kill though. There are a few bosses, though interestingly you can avoid some. And, you can use the same trick in this game as previous ones to conserve ammo if you have an NPC ally handy. NPC allies won't die or run out of ammo, so hide in a corner and let them do the shooting for you!

    The one--ONE!--thing I didn't like about the game is that there are crafting materials everywhere. Too many. I eventually realized I would walk into houses with the camera down looking at the floor for chemicals or metal scraps or whatever. I didn't need to pick up all that crap, but I felt compelled to. You will use it to craft things, but I always had tons extra. It would have been better if there were fewer stashes of materials. Small complaint.

    I guess overall, I would describe this game as a journey. It'll evoke a lot of emotion, from joy to sadness, and I really felt like I was part of a group of people. I am stoked for another Metro game, to see where the devs take it. I read that the author of the book is working with the devs on the story.

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    XCOM 2 (PC)    by   dkirschner       (Jul 23rd, 2022 at 10:19:07)

    There are many things I didn't know when I made my last entry. Funniest is that I thought I was halfway through the game. I was gauging that by my progress killing enemy "rulers," which are like mutated escaped science experiments that appear randomly in battles. Turns out that content is a DLC! I might not have been sweating so much if every mission didn't have the chance to spawn an uber-enemy that took an action after every single action any of my soldiers took. Seriously, those enemies were harder than any other in the game, including the avatars at the end. I am proud to say that I killed each avatar on the last mission before it even had a chance to attack. That's how badass I was at the end of the game. If I'm being honest though, I was only that badass thanks to save scumming throughout most of the campaign. As of my first entry, I hadn't been doing that. A few of my soldiers had permanently died, they were constantly gravely wounded, and I came within 20 game hours of the avatar project being completed. With the fear of having to start the entire campaign over, I started reloading when something bad happened, including a soldier dying, discovering enemies on maps when I wasn't ready, and mis-clicking my moves. I think that if I had played without ever reloading, I would have become frustrated and quit. Or, if I did power through, I think I would have lost my first playthrough and done better on the second one because there is so much to learn. By the end of the game, I was WAY smarter and, like I said, dispatched really the entire final mission with barely a scratch on me.

    Some things I learned that really helped:

    - Cover is everything! Never ever be out of cover. And high cover is twice as good as low cover.
    - Positioning is also everything! Never let enemies flank you, lest your cover be no good. Also, as you face tougher enemies, stop clustering your soldiers together. Spread out and try to flank the enemy.
    - Don't rush, even if it's a timed mission. If you rush, you will certainly run into enemy sight. Only advance early on your turn so that if you do stumble upon enemies, you have soldiers with moves left to control them.
    - Focus on upgrading weapons instead of armor. If you are using cover and positioning to the max, and being smart about movement and abilities, you're not going to get hit all that much. But you will be relatively fragile. Upgrade those weapons to do tons of damage fast!
    - You don't have to prioritize destroying enemy facilities or countering every dark event. It's fine if the avatar project is nearing completion, so long as you can destroy a facility to set them back when you need to. Also, some dark events are fine to ignore. For example, as the above tips suggest, anything that gives enemies poison weapons, spawns an extra enemy, etc., isn't that bad if you don't get hit often. On the other hand, some are high priority. There was one that doubled intel costs when I REALLY needed to make contact with new regions; it gave me a lot of grief for a month.
    - Other things I learned would have really helped in the earlier parts of the game which, if I replayed it, would be much easier. Those involve the fact that engineers are really valuable. I was so slow to build up my base and it cost me a lot of time and sorrow. Know that you need to build your base, that you will need more power and more comms especially. Get engineers early if possible and put them to work.

    Turns out I had other DLC too. The SPARK robot is DLC (though mine died and I never rebuilt one) and some special weaponry that I built was DLC, which undoubtedly helped me out. So I wasn't playing the vanilla game. I was playing it refined and expanded. I thoroughly enjoyed it--even the stress--because I had to think and plan so much. Success is immensely gratifying. It's set up for an XCOM 3, and I will definitely play, but hopefully will be better at it from the get-go!

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    Yoku's Island Express (PC)    by   dkirschner       (Jul 19th, 2022 at 16:20:24)

    What a charming game. I've never played anything quite like it, as it mixes metroidvania and pinball elements, two things you wouldn't think go together, but do here. The main metroidvania elements are the big, interconnected map that you explore a little more of with every new upgrade/item. One lets you grapple on flowers, another lets you swim underwater, and so on. Moving around the map to backtrack was the only criticism I had of the whole game. Movement can feel a little sluggish, especially over long distances, and using the "beelines" to navigate longer distances was annoying because you can't get on the beeline at any stop you like; you have to go to specific junctions, which likely require you to traverse a lot of the map on foot anyway. And much like Atlanta's MARTA public transit, it usually doesn't take you where you want to go.

    Of note, there is no typical combat (which makes this super relaxing). Battles are clever pinball puzzles. These puzzles are integrated throughout the map and used not only for boss fights, but also for progression, to get upgrades, to find secret areas, and so on. Your character, Yoku, pushes a ball around, so when you're in a pinball puzzle, you have a little control over Yoku, but mainly control the flippers and bounce Yoku around to solve the puzzle. These (and the game in general) were never that difficult, but offered enough satisfying challenge to feel good about progressing.

    The art and music constantly made me smile. It's so light-hearted, colorful, and whimsical. I had no idea I would enjoy the game this much. Just writing about it is making me want to give it another go, or at least go clean up side quests and find more collectibles. There is an air of mystery about some things that I never figured out. For example, there are little onion looking creatures hidden around called Wickerlings. For every 10 you collect, you can "activate" them at these magical staves, which goes to a cut scene showing a stone illuminating around an ominous creature in an egg. If you collect all the Wickerlings...does the egg hatch? Is that bad? You sort of find out near the end of the game because you wind up finding the location in the cut scene, but I wasn't clear on it. There is another ominous cut scene every so often when your Yoku-pinball goes between the flippers, when you would normally lose on a machine (but here, you drop down through some thorns, lose some fruit [money], and land safely by another flipper to keep going). The scene shows a number ticking up and some robed figure watching. Does that do anything? Or is it just telling me how many times I've lost my ball? I will look these answers up later...

    Can we get a sequel?!

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    What is GameLog?

    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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    1 : dkirschner's Metro Exodus (PC)
    2 : dkirschner's The First Tree (PC)
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    4 : dkirschner's Nuclear Throne (PC)
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    Grand Theft Auto - San Andreas (PS2)    by   GDepaul

    No comment, yet.
    most recent entry:   Thursday 15 January, 2009
    My second time playing GTA San Andreas, I still thought there was a lot of violence. The game is very stereotypical in that it shows mostly African Americans shooting. Also, it depicts gangs and drug dealers doing things such as stealing, shooting, and other bad things. There are no morals behind this game.

    Although it shows negative outcomes and things people shouldn't do, it takes you into a world where it's ok to do them. While playing the game, I felt like it took me to a fantasy world. Walking around and wandering aimlessly trying to complete the mission was enjoyable. It made me become a character that I wouldn't want to be in real life.

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