GameLogBlogging the experience of gameplay Fortress in the Sky (DS) - 27 Sep 2021 - by jp Well here's another surprising little title! I've played 5 (6?) missions and I don't think I need to play anymore. So far, at least, the game's entire experience has been revealed in all its options and gameplay. It's fun, and small, and interesting nonetheless. The game is essentially a series of WWII bombing missions where you fly to the target, bomb the target, and then fly back. You don't have to navigate there, rather you play the roles of all the plane's gunners and, at the right moment, the bomber. The B-17 plane carried a lot of bombs and guns, with gunner positions all over the place (front, front/top, tail, belly, left and right) and when you're attacked by fighters you need to quickly move between the different stations to shoot at the planes. You move around by tapping on the plane location you want to go to and then pan around and fire. It's fast and pretty fun. Then, you get to the bomb run, here you need to pan left/right to align with bombing targets as seen from above while also panning down (then up) to lower the plane's altitude as you get closer to whatever it is you're bombing (shipyards, train depot, factories). You tap to release bombs and hope they hit. Oh, I forgot there's also an "avoid flak" part of the game - here you just pan the plane left/right to avoid flak explosions. So, each mission has three distinct gameplay modes (shoot down fighters - FPS view, avoid flak - top down, bomb run - top down). Pretty simple but gets a bit old after a while. There are 25 missions, so maybe things get different? But, I can't really imagine how unless they start to introduce new elements (you're shot down, escape in parachute). I mean, the missions where all pretty similar? (not to downplay, just saying there wasn't that much variety if you're not going to emphasize characters, story, and keep the elements mostly realistic).jpMon, 27 Sep 2021 11:50:09 UTC of Tsushima (PS4) - 27 Sep 2021 - by jp finished this the other day. And by finished I mean "Platinum Trophy". I wasn't really expecting that, but it's the sort of game where every little thing led me to move on to the next little thing until I got to the point where I felt like I might as well keep on going until I was done. More than tired and done, I decided to put it down, I could have kept on playing and doing little things here and there...but I also have a large drawer full of games that I still want to play so it was time. I had finished the campaign/main story some time before and as I "wrapped up" other stories and located collectibles I was impressed by how well the game adapted to the fact that I had already finished the main story. Lots of small minor and subtle changes to the dialogue from NPCs, a few things that were explicit and so on. It really did feel like the game "knew" I was cleaning up. I'd be surprised if was the case had I finished the campaign a lot earlier, but still. It was also in this endgame phase that I really leaned into some of the mechanics that I had never explored that much. I made much more liberal use of the ghost weapons and really enjoyed, say, clearing out a camp quickly rather than my usual (safer?) quiet and stealthy approach that simply takes a lot more time. It was also quite hard for me to (finally?) ignore all the scavenging once I had upgraded all the suits of armor. Of the entire game this was definitely the one aspect that brought down the experience somewhat. And yes, it's partly my fault for going all "scavengy" in the first place, but then the game's design is explicitly encouraging that sort of thing. It's all a huge waste really because it's not like I ever used more than a few of the suits of armor really (the weapons and ammo I did).jpMon, 27 Sep 2021 08:55:55 UTC Wars The Clone Wars: Jedi Alliance (DS) - 08 Sep 2021 - by jp I played the first two missions and...hmmm... part of me was really impressed, but the other half of me was slightly disappointed. Now, this might be a bit unfair - I had no idea what this game was about, how it worked, and so on. So, it was all upside in that sense. And, I found there was a lot to be impressed by in this game even as I was confused at times because it seemed like there was so much. Before you even start you have to choose a pair of Jedi. You'll control one, while the other is an AI-controlled partner. The game is controlled (entirely?) via the stylus and has a really neat fully-voiced tutorial/explanation for each of the important things you need to know about. This includes jumping, moving, combat, secret areas, using the force, etc. And it turns out the game has quite a few different gameplay systems.... (a) Navigation is the 1st, and most obvious. It's entirely stylus driven and, nicely, you don't need to worry about speed - just getting to places. The camera is really interesting - it moves around (panning, zooming, etc.) in what I would describe as a cinematic way. It really makes the low-fi (for today's standard) environments seem more interesting. I was surprised that I didn't resent the lack of camera control though I did not feel that connected to the character (through the movement). (b) Combat - Your characters have both a health and a shield(?) bar that depletes as/when you take damage. Attacking opponents is as easy as tapping on them, but you can tap three locations (high, mid, low) and also execute different combos to stagger/stun enemies. ALSO, when you kill an opponent you can combo over to another one for more bonuses and stuff. For such a simple control scheme I was surprised at how much there was going on in the combat system. I think my favorite part though was that to engage in combat you simply tap on an enemy and, like in the movies (and the show?), your jedi simply leaps over there and starts fighting! The leaping part was the cool thing. Also, blaster reflection happens automatically if you're not fighting, which is a nice touch. You really do feel that these are jedi masters you're controlling rather than bumbling noobs. (c) Quick-time stylus sliding events - The game really plays up that these are jedi. Super athletic, fast, great reflexes, wild acrobatics, etc. So, these aspects are "recreated" via slide-the-stylus in a certain direction quick time events. I did get frustrated with problems related to its recognition of the stylus moves...but overall I think it was a neat system that was implemented well in the context of the game's fiction and so on. (d) Jumping - this one's strange. When you get close to an area you can jump to, an animated circle appears, you tap on it, and your jedi automatically jumps there. I felt it contributed to not feeling all that connected to the character since you're sort of one step removed from the action. Kind of like a point and click adventure game rather than the direct control you see in many other games. However, it's an interesting choice because they're trying to simplify things given that you're using the stylus - so the indirect control mitigates some issues? It does also give the game a slightly slowed pace/feel, and from what I played there's never really the need to urgently move around (except during quick time events) so, it makes sense? (e) Inter-Jedi relation(?) - There's a bar in front of each Jedi when you select them, and I noticed that one of the Jedi's bars grew by one (now two bars) after I completed the first mission. I assume this has to do with the relation between both Jedi? There's some sort of experience/upgrade system and I did find some "secret" things that I have no idea of their purpose...but perhaps that's connected? I imagine you can both improve the jedi's stats and perhaps also their attributes? jpWed, 08 Sep 2021 02:24:47 UTC & Truth (PS4) - 08 Sep 2021 - by jp, so everything I had left to play (all the way to the end of the game) was fun, wild, bombastic, and over the top in a good way. It was pretty neat - mostly like a great lightgun game! However, and this is a really, really big however, I came SO CLOSE to bailing on the game entirely. There's something really wonky about the controls and - despite trying to figure stuff out from the menus, re-calibrating, etc. I got stuck in a situation where I could not let go of an assault rifle. This was convenient in that I was able to keep it from area/level to area/level but it was really inconvenient when I needed to use my free hand for anything. The controls would alternate between holding the pistol or double-holding the assault rifle. I was not able to find a way to have that hand free other than wildly toggling back and forth and hoping it would "glitch" into the correct state. So, I spent 20 minutes crawling along a vent (one-handed) that should have taken 30 seconds. This does not include time spent reading stuff online trying to see if I was missing some "obvious" button I needed to press to put the assault rifle away (and then be able to pick it up again). In the end all I learned is that the move controls were glitchy and people complained about the big weapon holsters. Nothing about the standard control I was using. Later on I ran into another similar problem - fortunately "resolved" much faster, but it was close. Narratively? Interesting stuff, lots of loose ends and its definitely set up for a sequel. I'm not sure they're working on one though. So, you get your revenge - but there's no real info/progress on the "real powers" behind everything.jpWed, 08 Sep 2021 01:13:40 UTC Pony (DS) - 07 Sep 2021 - by jp example of "went in blind" and...uh...I'm not entirely sure where to start. The obvious is that I'm not the intended audience, but still - I was curious to know what this game's gameplay is about. Theme notwithstanding - what do you actually do in the game? So, the game is part "pet sim" but mostly it's an "action" game? This sounds really weird. It's not super adrenaline reflexes based action, but you basically have to control a horse (riding) in real time on a track (follow the trail accurately) or in an obstacle course (follow the guides for where to go next, and jump at the right moment). The 3rd mini-game (that I played, perhaps there are more later on?) is basically a pattern matching game where you see a symbol on the top screen and then need to tap on its equivalent in the bottom screen as quickly as possible. This one is dressage - where horses to fancy tricks like walk sideways and such. I don't really know much about horses and riding and all that to be fair. So, the game is basically a "horse riding" sim where you participate in events to earn money, which lets you buy better/faster horses so you can continue participating. There might be more to it than just this - but that's at least as far as I got (played in 3 tournaments, each with 3 events corresponding to the mini-games I described earlier). You can also groom your horse so that it's loyalty increases (more hearts!). I'm not entirely sure how this plays out in the game - I only played with two horses (starter + faster one purchased later) and... I'm not sure how your horse's performance changes? Maybe it doesn't? Speed definitely makes a difference - as I saw from getting a faster horse and then really getting a lead on my opponents (whom you never see - only names on a leaderboard). Other than that you can spend money on accessories for the horse and different colored saddles and tack. As far as I can tell none of these have an impact on gameplay (there's no +1 speed saddle, which makes sense). For a hot minute I thought this might have been a driving game! ("drive a horse" and then upgrade it). But all you really seem to do is buy new horses - which feels a bit sad to me - like I got rid of slow-poke 'cause it's slow! The game is also entirely stylus-driven, which awkwardly includes the jumping that I was never able to get to work right (you're supposed to double tap). That is, until I discovered you could also press the right trigger (R1) and have the horse jump. THEN, it works fine. Sigh. As I was playing I realized that - wow, there might not be another generation of games designed around the use of a stylus (rather than finger) and I thought that was a bit sad. Game devs had to get up to speed on stylus-for-input only for that to be mostly gone by the time the 3DS rolled away...perhaps by that point most people had given up? Obviously the finger replaced the stylus, but the experience is quite different!jpTue, 07 Sep 2021 17:28:39 UTC & Truth (PS4) - 30 Aug 2021 - by jp've just finished the "shoot out in the tower that was going to get demolished" mission trying to save "me mum". The mission right before that was mostly looking at things so it was a nice break...and I had to stop playing because I was getting too sweaty. The controls are still really wonky at times (using controller not move controllers) but, for the most part they do the trick. What I'm starting to get annoyed by is the main character - I really don't like him as he's a bit of a... twat?...a silent protagonist might have been better for me rather than an annoying gangster/soldier type. The story is getting a bit more interesting - especially since it's being presented out of chronological order. I'm being interrogated by a CIA agent - and then play missions he's asked about (so, tell me what happened at X), but NOW we're going to be working together! Something about a rival gangster who seems suddenly too well funded and organized as well as revenge for killing my dad and (as of the last mission), my mum as well!jpMon, 30 Aug 2021 23:06:45 UTC Horizon (DS) - 30 Aug 2021 - by jp've gone into this game completely blind having no real idea what it's about other than WWII. I was a bit worried that it might be a hex 'n chit style wargame that would be interesting on paper but unplayable in practice (the interface being the biggest issue followed by a convoluted and lengthy system of rules). I was not set at ease by the fact that there are 6 separate tutorials - 3 strategic and 3 tactical you need to do before I think it makes any sense to even get started. Maybe. I think I did 4 of them and then decided to do the first mission. I got impatient because, from the tutorials, I was getting the sense that this game might be like Advance Wars (bases to build troops, healing/repairs, turn-based) but with a bit more depth (groups of units together get bonuses depending on which units are in the group). far I haven't had much luck (only played 2 missions) because I haven't run into the unit creating part that I enjoy...the first two missions still feel a little like tutorials (though I did lose one) so we'll see? The back of the box says there are 20 missions so...perhaps the latter ones get really long and involved? Oh - the game is a WWII pacific fleet game with subs, and destroyers and all that stuff. I think it's neat that you can (should?!) create different fleets with different ship types and so on...but strangely the battles are in real-time! I'm not sure how to play these well other than paying attention and triggering a special attack when it comes online, but other than that I just watch things play out? So, there's a rock-paper-scissors style relationship between certain ships. I've also just noticed the game has a manual - perhaps I'll read it to refresh stuff from the tutorial...there are lots of different ship types and I'm not sure I'll be able to keep them all straight..jpMon, 30 Aug 2021 23:02:15 UTC III: Reaper of Souls (PC) - 26 Aug 2021 - by dkirschner's been over a week since I finished this. It was a grind. I played Diablo III, what, a decade ago? My then-new computer came with a free key for it, so it was a rare "day one" experience. If you recall, with Diablo III, the day one experience wasn't fantastic. Two things stand clear in memory from back then: (1) the auction house was horrible because it incentivized pure grinding for gold and (2) elite monsters were pains in the ass often because they had ridiculously large health pools. But also, I played some with a friend back then and enjoyed co-op. A lot has changed! I picked up Reaper of Souls a while back and was waiting for the Rise of the Necromancer expansion to go on sale before playing it. I got tired of waiting and bought it just to play as a necromancer, which was one of my favorite classes in Diablo II. Who doesn't want to raise an army of undead? Was it worth it though? Overall, the necromancer character was really cool: dark, moody, sarcastic. The level of fun varied depending on how far along the skill tree I was and the difficulty level. As a class, the major advantage is that you are largely shielded from attacks since you can have about a dozen minions running around at any one time. The only really dangerous enemies are the ones that relentlessly attack you (e.g., bosses or elites with lasers). I started from level 1, act 1. When I logged on and saw my level 60 barbarian, I did have a moment of "well, maybe I should just play the new content and save time..." I'm glad I didn't because, even though the game was a grind, I enjoyed having the full experience, beginning to end. The game is basically how I remember, minus the auction house, and plus a lot of optional lore. I think the lore was probably there before, but either was expanded, or I just don't remember. Also, plus CRAZY DIFFICULTY LEVELS! I started on "normal." This makes sense. Normal is the base game, no bonuses, no extra challenge. The game was simple, so I bumped it up to Hard (+75% xp and gold, nice!). It was still easy, and somewhere around here I completed act 1 and got a socketed helmet from the boss that increased the power of any gem slotted in it by like 83%. Rubies increase experience when put in helmets. From my previous playthrough, I had some powerful rubies, so I put one in that increased XP by 30% or something. With the socket bonus, that was roughly 55%. With the difficulty bonus, that was roughly 130%. Nice. The game was still easy, and it seemed like I was starting to be over-leveled. So I changed the difficulty again to the highest available, "Torment 1," which granted +300% XP and gold. Plus 55% from the helmet = 355%. Nice. I cannot convey how absurd the game became! I was leveling up SO FAST. I think I was over level 60 by the end of act 3. Note that the level cap is 70 and there are 5 acts. So yeah, the enemies were way harder, but I was ridiculously over-leveled such that, for a long time, I was untouchable. Eventually though, the difficulty ramped up (I was basically getting one-shot), and I lowered it back down to something more reasonable sometime in act 4 before fighting Diablo. I finished the game at level 70 with like 30 paragon levels (levels achieved after 70). All said, I loved the weird difficulty. It is so specific that you can find the perfect challenge for your level, play style, gear, or whatever. I just looked and there are 10 "Torment" levels. I don't know how one unlocks them, but wow. I saw people linking weapons with insane stats in the general chat, and I guess they are playing on these highest difficulties. As the difficulty went up and down, my fun did as well. Too hard? Get one-shot and take forever to kill elites. Not fun. Too easy? Steamroll through, pretty fun. Just right? Great balance of threats and rewards. As a necromancer, my favorite skill was corpse explosion. The more you kill, the more corpses you can explode. So for me, that was incentive to keep the difficulty down enough such that I could explode corpses constantly. I mean, I really loved exploding corpses. Other necromancer skills were not as cool, and the class really stagnated. At some point, you've got all your skills, and you just unlock little tweaks to them. Those tweaks are usually like "who cares?" So for most of the game, I used the same abilities with pretty much the same tweaks. This made it feel grindy too, not just because you're literally grinding through monsters, but because it's very much like repeating the same skill combinations over and over and over ad nauseum. I persevered and killed all the things. The world is safe once again...for now. dkirschnerThu, 26 Aug 2021 09:29:32 UTC Rex: Agent of Providence (DS) - 14 Aug 2021 - by jp wonder how weird/strange it is to come into contact/knowledge of an IP (in this case "Generator Rex") via a videogame rather than it's main media (TV show, I think). Part of me gets the sense that Generator Rex is a "knock off" in the sense that Ben10 was really popular so someone said "hey, we need something like that". In Ben10 (which I think I also know from the game and possibly commercials) the character turns into "monsters" and does whatever his heroic thing is. In this game Rex can turn parts of his limbs into "machines" - for examples his arms into clobbering things. His feet into robot boots and the like. The game is basically a brawler where you can tap the touch screen to switch between different weapons and then clobber enemies. There's also a bit of a progression because you earn orange points (they have a name, I just don't remember it) to upgrade. You can upgrade each of the weapons three times as well as your health bar and a super power bar. I rarely use the super power - but it's depleted when you activate some special weapons (Omega weapons?) of which there are three but you spend most of the game with them unavailable. The game is ALMOST good. It's so close! The difficulty curve isn't that smooth - most of the regular combat is not too hard but some of the bosses see a significant spike. And there are lots of bosses. I'm 8/10 of the way through the game at this point and starting to get a bit frustrated because of the difficulty curve, but mostly because the brawling controls don't quite flow. It's easy to get stuck in a position where enemies basically juggle you to death which is annoying. I've gotten better at dealing with it, but still. Perhaps I should make more use of the Omega weapons? Also, there's a bit of a delay/lack of recognition when you use the touch screen to swap weapons which makes it annoying in that you might want to switch weapons (due to enemy type) but the time it takes for the switch to happen (because it didn't register the screen tap, or I frantically tapped twice and it selects/unselects/selects) and by then the monster is on me... Sigh. There is plenty of variety in the locations which is neat and there is also some variety in gameplay - from freefall (and dodge debris in the air), to shoot stuff at the top of the screen, touchscreen puzzles (connect lines to energy ball does a certain path). I mean, it's a "fine" game - just a bit short of being really fun and engaging for me. Obviously I'm not engaged with the story, characters, lore, etc. I have no idea what role the game plays in the show and there are obvious references to enemies and allies that are well-known. But overall, I'm pretty meh.jpSat, 14 Aug 2021 18:51:34 UTC of the Penguins (DS) - 13 Aug 2021 - by jp other two mini-games I played were a underwater swim around (2D sideview) to eat fish (Chapter 3) while avoiding obstacles (and you have to come up for air) and a slightly more interesting game where you have to navigate a maze to get to a certain location. The general idea is that you can only move in straight lines. In the first variation you are move in straight lines (you launch yourself) to the next spot and then need to decide in which direction to go next - usually you have two choices (or return from whence you came). Some locations will automatically move you along (cannonballing you around). In the 2nd variation you always move and you need to turn in the direction desired at "intersections", sometimes you have to wait for the right moment to move (timing). At first I was annoyed that there was no general sense (e.g. minimap) of where the goal was - but then I realized that's the fun of navigating a maze! The game bills itself as educational but the educational content is pretty tacked on - you get these informational tidbits at the beginning of each chapter and I guess the overall story is educational - but the game (at least the chapters I played) don't integrate any of the educational stuff into the gameplay.... But this really the only videogame based off a documentary movie?jpFri, 13 Aug 2021 13:35:40 UTC