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    Wuppo (PS4)    by   jp       (Feb 17th, 2019 at 23:58:10)

    This is going to sound mean, but this game is now my go to example for games with crap art that are still fun/good to play. I mean the art is REALLY, REALLY, simple. It has a certain aesthetic, but not that much even. Animation is good, so that helps a ton. AND, there's a day/night cycle in which everything changes color. Significantly. I was a minute before I realized what was going on - I played a few dark areas at night and it was...too dark.

    It's a fun little game and I've enjoyed the combination of exploration and platforming. There's no real combat outside of boss fights (there are a lot of these!) and the difficulty spikes rather unevenly here. For my skills, most fights were punishingly difficult UNTIL I discovered a cheezy strategy (for all but one, but that's only 4 or 5 fights). The cheese consisted in finding a safe spot to hide (usually the edges of the level) and then just being patient with the different attacks - waiting for the moment to move in before rapidly retreating.

    It's a weird game, it feels European in its comedic sensibility (which I enjoyed) - there's a character you steals your TV, and when you find him later on he's running a store. You face him, but he's like "whatever, I don't care". If you shoot him, then he gets all apologetic and pays you some money for your TV. Ha! Mostly the game is exploring with some puzzle-solving along the way. It really mixes things up (so far) - with a sneak quietly mission/puzzle (I stole a train card from some old people, but I had to sneak into their room without knocking over the dishes) and a few finagly bits (getting trapped in a gum bubble that needed to get sucked into a vent was...uh, tricky). But overall, fun!

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    Absolute Drift: Zen Edition (PS4)    by   jp       (Feb 17th, 2019 at 23:33:45)

    Thankfully I could get to the end just my racing around the overworld/map.

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    Killzone Shadow Fall (PS4)    by   jp       (Feb 17th, 2019 at 23:32:34)

    Finished it over the course of a few days.

    It was fun, but surprisingly less polished than I'd expect from a game by Guerrilla. I think it might have been a (rushed?) launch title for PS4? That might explain it...or maybe it's FPS games that have raised the bar since (Destiny, CoD, etc.)?

    Either way, it was fun to get back to Killzone...and a universe that is truly messed up at this point. I don't remember this from the last game I played but Helghan was completely destroyed. Apparently, the solution to peace was to split Vekta in half with Helghast living on one half and Vektans on the other. It was obviously never going to work - especially since the "transition" (as depicted in the game) was a complete mess with Helghans basically killing Vektans as they moved out/tried to run away. The whole story doesn't really make a lot of sense - and I think it might be because they didn't want to try something really new (e.g. oh no! we must joing forces to fight some aliens that appeared) and rather tried to make the best of the current situation? (ok, what else can we do in which they're all still fighting each other?)

    You play as an orphan (guess whose dad died when the Helghast moved in?) who fights for Vekta and is a sort of super-covert-op-sneaky-infiltrator agent. So, you wander around killing people. Not a lot of sneakiness to be honest. You have a cool drone that you can send out to shoot and stun enemies which I enjoyed using but I also found myself dying a lot until I just learned to stay back more often and to never, ever, rush in.

    Along the way you meet a Helghan super-infiltrator-etc., but she's got an actual stealth cammo suit (think, Predator). I think the game would have been a lot more fun playing as her, to be honest.

    I guess, in all, it was "fine". There were a few moments that got really frustrating for me - the last fight before the "bad guy". And there were also a few moments of ludonarrative dissonance. There is an evil scientist who is working on a virus to kill all Helghans, then it's all Vektans, and I lost track. I was supposed to protect her, but I really just wanted to shoot her. I could, but she wouldn't die.

    I think the coolest moment was the ending. You get shot dead by your boss (who also saved your life as a kid). Then credits roll.

    After a few names roll past...everything glitches out!

    And there's one more (secret? bonus?) mission! This time you're the girl, in your super stealth suit! You're in Vekta and need to sneak around to switch off some cameras and stuff, pick up a sniper rifle and then get revenge!

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    That Dragon, Cancer (PC)    by   jp       (Feb 17th, 2019 at 23:16:16)

    Played this all the way to the end in one sitting. I have thoughts, feelings, and opinions on the game. But I must first admit that the game was more interesting (as a game) than I imagined. I think the "walking simulator" label - especially when used pejoratively - is grossly unfair for this game. This is an easy game. I don't think anyone will have trouble getting to the end. However, there is a wide variety of interactions and interactive elements throughout. There's some platforming, and some racing, and yes, mostly a lot of (slow) walking.

    I made the mistake of playing after lunch on a day I was a bit tired. So, my experience alternated between feeling really sleepy and feeling really sad. I can't say this has happened to me with any other game, so I guess there's always a first.

    It's a tricky game to talk about because it seems like saying anything bad about it is taken as insulting either the memory of the lost child or insulting his parents' work towards memorializing his life and their struggle over the disease that cost him his life. It gets more complicated because of what I recall happened after the game was released - the dev was incensed that people were playing the game and then asking for a Steam refund because they could finish it in less time than the maximum time played set by Steam. I don't know how that all worked out in the end, but I recalle the furore was...awkward, and strange. I also think it's weird to recruit(?) your other children to participate in the game - I don't know the creator personally or his family, but it's the sort of thing that just seems odd to me. For all I know his kids demanded participation rather than were invited to participate? I guess the next step for me will be to watch the documentary - which was made while the game was being created, which is another thing that feels a bit off to me. Game dev takes time, and having everything set up such that you can go public (release a doc and a game) all while your child is sick seems...again, odd. I wish I knew more and I'll probably learn more from the documentary...but it all seems a bit selfish?

    It's one thing or a stranger to walk into someone's life with a desire to record and memorialize - hey, can we make a movie about the process your going through seems fine. Parents can choose to participate or not. But deciding to do it oneself is different. Maybe it was a way to raise funds for medical bills? I'm not sure. Maybe it was a way to make life livable during those really rough times? I'm not sure. If so, was it necessary to run a kickstarter and all the rest?

    As for the game itself - one of the things I was most surprised by was the dad talking about his wife's faith (and his as well). This was a positive surprise - when it comes to religion and faith, this isn't something that games tackle or even feature all that much. Faith/religion seems to be present only in games that are openly religion-based (e.g. tools for proselytizing or educating) or openly fantastical (e.g. clerics in D&D or gods of war and other things). But faith as the regular part of a character? I can't think of many examples. I think, if anything, this is perhaps one of the game's biggest contributions?

    I need to think some more about...

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    Metroid Prime (Wii)    by   dkirschner       (Feb 17th, 2019 at 18:02:05)

    Metroid Prime is a metroidvania...wait no, it's just a Metroid game. I sunk 4 hours and 42 minutes into it and completed 15%, but it feels like I've played much longer than that. In fact, I'm sure I have. Maybe 4 play sessions averaging 90-120 minutes each. So I'm not sure how it calculates time. Perhaps it doesn't count time in menus or looking at the map, in which case I believe the timer because I looked at the map SO MUCH.

    Why did I look at the map so much? Because for however novel I found Metroid Prime to be (FPS platformer with Wiimote and nunchuck controls!), the backtracking is horrific. Was this normal in 2002? I can't remember. There is no quick travel. If you want to go somewhere, you have to walk there. And since this is a Metroid game, you're unlocking new abilities (weapons, suits, secondary items, etc.) that can get you past previously inaccessible areas, which means you're constantly going back through places you've been.

    Making this more irritating, enemies respawn when you leave a room, even if you just go a couple rooms away. This was fine early on when the enemies were simple and avoidable, but when giant rhino ice bugs charge and shoot snowballs, or missile turrets with uncanny aim pummel you, it's demoralizing. I've already killed these missile turrets 10 times. Why are they back again? Combat isn't particularly fun. Using the Wiimote to aim was a bit floaty. Again, it felt novel for a while, but when most of the combat isn't combat you want to be engaged in (i.e., you've cleared this room 10 times before and just want to get back to a save point because it's time for bed), the small issues are magnified.

    What I do love about Metroid Prime is the exploration. You're dropped on this planet, Tallon IV, and you just...go. The areas are all a bit different (e.g., ice place, fire place) and full of environmental puzzles you have to solve to get to new areas. Sometimes that involves just finding a new weapon to open a new door type, or using a new ability you got in a neat way, like using the ball boost to roll up half-pipes. Other times you have to scan symbols or other objects to reveal a clue.

    Scanning was really fun. I mean, objectively, this was probably the least exciting part of the game. You put on a different visor, look around for a red square, scan it, read the text. But I usually love lore entries and monster-pedias and things in RPGs; this scratched that itch. The game's story wasn't especially riveting, and it was given out in small pieces, but the vague sci-fi narrative coupled with the environment did a lot to pull me into the world.

    I decided to quit when I'd made it to a new area in the Phendrana Drifts (courtesy of a helpful hint system that seems to alert you to where you can go next if you are idling) with a big bug boss. I died, but hadn't saved it since forever before. Save points are few and far between, and if you come across a boss having not saved it, you might have in the meantime explored many new areas, found new secrets, and so on...even up to like an hour's play time (oh yeah, there goes another couple hours off the official play timer). There need to be more save points.

    I have the Metroid Prime Trilogy and just tried out 2 and 3. They seem very much the same as 1 with minor UI modifications and more prologue in 3, so I think I will retire all these and get on with the other Wii and Wii U games I bought...


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    1 : jp's Wuppo (PS4)
    2 : jp's Killzone Shadow Fall (PS4)
    3 : jp's That Dragon, Cancer (PC)
    4 : dkirschner's Donkey Kong Country Returns (Wii)
    5 : jp's Tower of Guns (PS4)
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    Life is Strange (PC)    by   Chimes

    No comment, yet.
    most recent entry:   Saturday 21 January, 2017
    It was odd when the game forced me to do something I considered immoral. For example, when Juliet locked Dana in her room for sexting with her boyfriend, the game was telling me to find evidence in Victoria’s room. I assumed the truth would come out regardless, and didn’t understand why Max should go snooping through other people’s stuff to find evidence for something rather trivial (in my opinion). Not only that, but the game had seemed like it was rewarding me for investigating. I received more information, and if I chose correctly in certain situations, it felt good. Morally, I would not think it okay to snoop through everything in Victoria’s room. I would have gone directly to what I believed would hold evidence. However, since it had felt like the game was rewarding exploration, I checked every corner of Victoria’s room, and it felt like a serious invasion of privacy. I can’t entirely blame the game, but like Sicart’s analysis of World of Warcraft, if the game is encouraging unethical behavior, then it should be partly the game’s responsibility for that behavior as well.
    I also felt guilty leaving Warren. He defended Max, yet I left him there with Nathan. Of course, the security officer had shown up soon after, but Max didn’t know that when she jumped in the car. It was almost frustrating. Here was a game that focused so heavily on my choices, yet there were some I was unable to make or forced into, not because of other’s actions, but my player character. I had to learn that Max and I were different people, which means we would make ethical decisions differently. I could do what I could to make the choices I wanted, but I couldn’t control her completely. This is further exampled by some of her thoughts, such as talking poorly of other characters like Victoria, even though I believe you can’t fight hatred with hatred. It almost felt like Max and I were sometimes fighting, and it reminded me of Freud’s Id, Superego, and Ego. Perhaps I wasn’t supposed to be Max, but just an inner part of her, hopefully helping her make the most ethical choice.
    In addition, Chloe’s anger toward Max felt almost unfair, but not because Max didn’t deserve it, but almost that it felt like my own fault. I think despite being different from Max, the player character is supposed to feel at least a little responsible for her. This, for me, included what she had done in the past. I knew I would have contacted Chloe, but since Max didn’t, it felt like she was yelling at me. I found myself being defensive with Max, but after analyzing, realized this was again because I felt blamed for an action I could not control.
    Life is Strange is different in that way. You’re not supposed to feel entirely in control of Max’s choices. You’re more along for the ride, guiding where necessary, yet, when she hurts someone you feel personally responsible. It’s a “Why am I doing this?” as opposed to a “What the hell, Max, you shouldn’t be doing this!” and the inability to separate sometimes is interesting and new.

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