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    Risk of Rain 2 (PS4)    by   jp       (Mar 2nd, 2021 at 18:58:46)

    I started playing this with no idea what to expect or what the game was about. Fortunately my son walked in and explained the game's core loop such that I had a general idea of what to do and what I was trying to accomplish in the grand scheme of things. The game isnt' really that clear, so I probably would have bounced off it if I hadn't had that bit of help in the beginning (he also stuck around to tell me which power-ups to pick up and which ones were not that great).

    The game's core loop is essentially:

    1. Kill monsters to get coins and XP
    2. Move around the map searching for chests/drones you open/activate with the cash.
    3. Find and open a teleporter.
    4. Defeat boss that appears.
    5. Activate teleporter to go to next level.
    6. You're back to 1, above.

    AFAIK, the loop repeats until you get to the final level - here you wander down a linear path and then have to fight boss enemies. I've been unable to get past this, though I've fought three bosses at this stage (guy with axe, flying thingies, guy with axe again). I have no idea what comes after this.

    Each "succesful" run is about 70 minutes - before I die at the boss stage. I don't know if this is because I'm taking too long to get there - there's a difficulty bar that continously goes up as you play the game. So, perhaps I should collect fewer power-ups and try to make my way faster to the end? It's hard to tell because the difficulty increases are slightly hard to differentiate - at least for me. However, it does seem that my DPS does not scale up as fast. However, if I'm lucky and get some great combos in my power-ups it might help?

    It's hard for me to tell because some of the runs I've had what I think are great combo-powerups (x5 on boosts to damage to bosses!) or x2 on a rare power-up! But, I haven't had success either so....hmmm..

    So far I've unlocked two characters and all three have different abilities. So, there's a bit of a learning curve there as well. My favorite I think is the "zippy but vulnerable" character...but we'll see. It seems like a lot of the other stuff lies hidden behind multiple attempts at the game (e.g. unlocks when you've died 5 times). So, it might be more grindy than I'd like.

    My current goal is to try to beat the game at least once...and then we'll see.

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    Assassin's Creed 2 (PS3)    by   jp       (Mar 2nd, 2021 at 18:48:52)

    Finished over the weekend, yay!

    So, there is a lot that I didn't quite understand about the game's story - in particular there was a significant gap in the timeline that confused me. But, overall it was interesting and fun even if the contextual controls did get the best of me sometimes - there was a lot of jumping backwards from towers when I meant to jump up and grab and stuff like that.

    Overall, I'm still amazed at how well the game holds up and at how rich/interesting all the different locations are. Yes, there isn't that much variety - but the basic "legos" used for the design of the cities are enough that each city really feels special and unique with neighborhoods that are distinct enough to be recognized.

    Once I finished the game I read some of the story sections from the strategy guide (which I mostly used to see the solutions to some of the puzzles as well as the locations of some things)...wow, the story is a lot more complicated/convoluted than I expected. I'm also surprised by how much it intertwines with Assassin's Creed 1. Now I'm really curious to know how long they kept the game's story going - I don't think you play the same character in the regular world portions of the game, right? Hmm. I don't think I'll play all the games in the series (22 titles as of this moment!) but I do wonder about the main storyline and how that's either wrapped up or keeps on going. I know that Ezio came back for a few more titles - but I wonder about Desmond Miles! Maybe Desmond just appears in the mainline games in the series? I'm also guessing that those are the only ones that push forward the series' main storyline?

    Man, I really wish there was a mega-guide for Assassin's Creed - sort of summarizing the story/plot points of all of the games so far...

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    XG Blast! (DS)    by   jp       (Mar 1st, 2021 at 19:19:24)

    I've made my way to the end of level 2 - or stage 2? - anyways, lots of actual levels/screens - but the next boss fight. The gameplay has stayed relatively the same - there are some different enemies, but it hasn't varied much in any interesting ways. The levels themselves are also not that exciting - mostly it's a big empty shape, sometimes with corners to hide in - and enemies spawn all over the place.

    There are different weapon types and a special attack but, branching levels notwithstanding, the main campaign hasn't been that varied or exciting. I seem mostly impressed (or excited) by the fact that there is a decent twin-stick shooter on the DS!

    Keyword is decent, not great. So, I had fun for a while, but got tired rather quickly.

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    Moving Out (PS4)    by   jp       (Feb 28th, 2021 at 22:48:05)

    We played this a bit more this past weekend. We've decided to play with the option where you items disappear as soon as they hit the truck...and it's SO MUCH BETTER. A lot, a lot better. Mostly it's because getting that last item in the truck feels like a win - rather than there being a let down moment as you realize you have juggle and sort the items on the truck.

    We played a bunch more missions and it was pretty...uhh...fine. We unlocked a new mode which was less fun than the main one: moving in! Here you have to unload the truck and put things in the home. It's fine - but there's less chaos than the regular mode?

    I was starting to get a bit bored - while there are some variation within the levels and it's mostly about making the levels harder/more complicated, the narrative was a bit stale. THere's humor - but it's not THAT funny. Until...we got a strange phone call (very suspicious) to go move some stuff out of a warehouse!

    We did three of those fishy missions and sure enough - we were helping people steal stuff! It was amusing when we were told to just jiggle the door because they'd lost the key. Anyways, we then did a more fun mission - rescuing stuff from a moving train! This reminded me of the more dynamic levels in Overcooked (or Overcooked 2? Or both?) were things move around. Anyways, that level was pretty neat.

    And then we arrived at a sort of scientific lab/station, learned that it's pack rats who are behind the whole "moving" operation, and then blasted off into space. At this point I'm ready for the game to "be done" but there are at least five more levels to work our way through.

    Just for my notes here are some of the complications added to different levels:

    (a) Ghosts that kill you - you can slap them.
    (b) Buttons you need to stand on or leave an object on top. This opens doors, raises gates, that sort of thing.
    (c) Switches that flip-flop between open/closed doors and that sort of thing.
    (d) Fire! Some levels have jets you need to alternate between using switches.
    (e) Rising "water" (guava, "the floor is guava" is one level in the game)
    (f) Moving walkways - they rotate between positions and that sort of thing.
    (g) Buttons that activate something in the level (fans that blow stuff)

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    Into the Breach (PC)    by   dkirschner       (Feb 21st, 2021 at 12:20:16)

    Well this was surprisingly short! I beat this rogue-lite on my second try. I thought it would give me like 15 hours, but it was about 4. I will chalk this up to the thousands of hours I've spent playing strategy RPGs like Final Fantasy Tactics and everything Atlus published in their PS2 SRPG heyday.

    In Into the Breach, you guide a squad of three mechs on missions to destroy the Vek, nasty alien bugs who are trying to kill all humans. You begin with a basic squad, one melee unit, one ranged cannon (just like a rook in chess), and one missile launcher. If you've played these kinds of games before, this is all familiar. They attack in different ways, you can level up their health and give them special abilities, yada yada yada.

    What sets Into the Breach apart is the focus on moving allies and enemies with attacks. You won't win by simply trying to do damage. All attacks move enemies in some way or another, and that is key to winning. The movement focus makes the game feel a lot like chess. You can push back, pull forward (with purchasable weapons), redirect enemies' attacks by moving them, make them attack one another, shove them into things, and use environmental effects to your advantage. For example, on one level (all of which are environmentally themed), the floor turns to lava and rocks rain down from the sky (thanks volcano!) every turn.

    Into the Breach gives you all the information you need to plan your moves. All enemy attacks are shown, all environmental damage is shown, you know where enemies will spawn each turn...enemies plan their attacks, and then it's your turn to respond. They don't attack until you take your turn. You can sit there and figure out the most ideal way to handle all the stuff that's going on to minimize damage to your mechs, and to the power grid (you're always defending buildings--if the power grid goes down, it's game over), and to maximize damage to the Vek. In that sense, the game is incredibly fair. The one time I died (one, ha), it was definitely my fault.

    There's some other stuff going on here too--some resource management, some risk-reward choices, leveling up pilots (which is important not least of all because you get to choose who you carry to your next game when you die), and so on. In the end, this is just a super tight tactics game. It wins for simplicity on the surface, but with a lot of depth down below. It's highly replayable, as when you complete achievements you unlock more "squads" with different types of mechs. This would be my motivation to continue playing, to follow this progression path, so I'll keep the game installed just in case. In the meantime, what's next?

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    1 : jp's Risk of Rain 2 (PS4)
    2 : dkirschner's Undertale (PC)
    3 : dkirschner's Into the Breach (PC)
    4 : jp's XG Blast! (DS)
    5 : dkirschner's 80 Days (PC)
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    Zoids Assault (360)    by   JBlack11

    No comment, yet.
    most recent entry:   Monday 10 December, 2012
    The game that I have chosen to write about is called Zoids: Assault and is a title for the XBOX 360 system. It is a turn based, RPG style based off of the popular animated tv show called Zoids. The story that kicks off the action is actually pretty engaging, but presented through a series of still anime artwork and text screens. There's a voiceover that carries on for entirely too long and by the time you're actually on the battlefield you'll likely have forgotten everything about the story line anyway. The most dedicated strategists are more concerned with battle tactics than with looks, and Zoids Assault does at least offer the basics. You command the same squad of five Zoids for the entirety, maneuvering about the battle grid one turn at a time, gunning down enemy bots while accomplishing mission objectives. These objectives are the usual suspects: take out radar dishes within a dozen turns, eliminate all enemy forces, and so on. Yet with only 14 missions and few reasons to return once you've finished, Zoids gives players only a brief time of enjoyment before having to repeat missions.
    As for gameplay the game's calling card is its support mechanic. Assuming you have Zoids in attack range, a single turn can prompt support fire from up to three additional units. You can also volley return fire when on the defensive in much the same way, so unit placement is the single greatest factor in every battle. The other major factor of gameplay in the game is outfitting your Zoids is also a strategic factor, of course, since each weapon determines how far the unit can move during a turn, how much damage the attack does, and so on. You also earn points to spend on equipping various special moves, and grab data discs that you enhance weapons and armor, or simply paint your bots different colors.
    Overall Zoids is a decent strategy RPG, if you’re looking for a game to challenge your mind this may or may not be the game for you.

    [read this GameLog]

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