Captain Falcon

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Posts posted by Captain Falcon

  1. I'm currently working my way through Borderlands: The Pre Sequel and will hope to write something up when I'm done. I finished the main campaign yesterday and went and started on the DLC. In the mean time here's a much longer than I expected post on Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 - the game I completed prior to starting this one.




    The original Lords of Shadow was an interesting take on the Castlevania series that put a much bigger emphasis on the story and combat mechanics than any of the previous entries in the long running franchise. To do so, they had to split away from the established narrative to invent its own and change the level design to enforce encounters that led into a linear level design that harkened back to the original titles of the 80s and early 90s. Not everyone was a fan but it still resulted in being the most successful title in the series from a commercial standpoint. From the critics’ perspective, that title still belonged to Symphony of the Night – the game that ushered in the “Metroidvania” gameplay they are now synonymous with. Having already dabbled with the concept in the 2.5D Mirror of Fate, Mercury Steam have finally brought the saga to a close with Lords of Shadow 2 – a 3D take on the Metroidvania experience.


    Castlevania City, is the modern day environment in which the freshly woken Dracula gets to explore and recover his strength. Having forgotten most of his moves from the previous game, or rather the prologue sequence, he’s incredibly weak and in no fit state to fight of the impending return of Satan. Meeting with Zobek, he is offered the chance of eternal piece, death, if he regains his powers and destroys Satan for good. The game spins a good yarn but the conclusion is ultimately a little hollow and doesn’t live up the interesting premise it worked so hard to build over the three games.


    What follows is a trip around the city, including various industrial facilities (Satan’s acolytes are biochemists – a clumsy metaphor that is never explored, if it was even intentional), rundown buildings and catacombs that link to the old castle grounds. To counter this, and key to the story, you will also get to delve into Dracula’s Castle – a mysterious place as it existed in the past but now with a will of its own. Despite the open design, the modern day and the past exist as two separate plains of existence and as is customary, parts are cut off without the relevant powers. Running around the environment will see you cross sections previously explored, and view them in new ways, but progress is still essentially linear and the path forward is usually obvious – a good thing given how poor the map is. The exquisite aesthetic design that permeated the original game is once again found here, and can be indulged in further thanks to the controllable camera, but sadly, it is limited to the Castle environment. Outside a couple of small locations, the modern city is surprisingly dull being a hodgepodge of designs without the consistency or identity the games are known for.


    Fortunately, traversal is faster than ever with options to sprint from the off and climbing ability much improved from the last game, but where it does slowdown is in a handful of stealth sections that force you to use bats as distractions or transform in to rats to pass by. The solution is not always obvious and ideas that should work on paper refuse to since the developer clearly wants it resolved in a particular way. It feels like a box ticking exercise to meet a series of obligations and whilst there is scope for such an idea, given the mythos of the character in general, this is not the way to go about it – not when we’re being sold that we are playing as a man who cannot die and that even the devil fears him.


    And fear him he should because by the time the game is done, you will have gained access to the health restoring, and enemy freezing, Void Sword as well as the damage dealing, and fire setting, Chaos Claws. Along with the whip, they all have numerous upgrades that can be brought with experience points. Even by simple use of the moves, it’s possible to upgrade your overall proficiency with the weapon. It’s a nice idea that actively encourages you to use them outside fights which make their use mandatory to progress. It feels a little cheap having to buy some of the skills over again but experience is easy enough to come by that most of the moves will be unlocked by the end. Failing that, additional power ups can be used to unlock all moves on a temporary basis – they can also be used to increase the experience earned as well and even keep your magic meters full to ensure continued use of the additional weapons. The game wants you to try all the combat options it has regardless of your skill level. Enemies tend to fall a little easier than the first LoS game, outside some of the mechs used in the modern day, and whilst hit stun is relatively brief, if exists at all, this is to prevent the heavy reliance on area attacks that would reduce combat to continued pressing of a single button. Overall, the combat is incredibly fluid and it all comes to a peak in the numerous boss battles that like to test all your skills and make you think about what the elemental properties of your weapons actually mean. This can be taken even further with the games challenge mode that pits you in an arena battle with a series of objectives to complete.


    Backing all this up is score by returning composer Oscar Araujo. Those annoyed by the move away from traditional themes and motifs that disappointed fans last time around will find little consolation here but anyone who enjoyed the previous soundtracks will find a lot to like with tracks suitable to their location with a clear distinction between the city and castle themes.


    As Mercury Steam bow out of the series, they will struggle to shake the critics they have already attracted with this effort, but it’s difficult to deny the ambition and scope they were shooting for. This sequel remedies a series of issues the original had but brings some new issues into the fold as they try to appease their detractors. Given the rocky development the game is known to have had, it’s not surprising it has some problems, but it’s also welcome to know that the game is not the train wreck it could have been. Some will curse the developer, believing them to have been the wielder of the stake that resides in the heart of the series yet that is to ignore all the excellent work they did in trying to make the series relevant again with a more modern design.





    This short story based add-on sees you play as Alucard in parts of Dracula’s Castle prior to the main events of the game – to say any more would spoil the story. Alucard uses a single sword for combat but he can give it elemental properties to change how it works and behaviours. All these skills need to be found and levelled up again, but the requirements are more suitable to the brief nature of the expansion. There is a much greater emphasis on puzzle solving with all of the new sub items purely influencing how you interact with the environment itself. They are given to you almost straight away and the game takes no time in putting them to good use. Turning back time and changing your form to cover distances all combine to create fun and involving brain teasers amidst the excellent combat moments. Following the questionable construction and distribution of the DLC on the previous game, it’s good to see Konami and Mercury Steam have learnt their lesson allowing them to end on a high.





    The short version is that I really liked it and feel the game got given a rough ride from many critics -and then the gaming community who hadn't played it jumped on the bandwagon.


    And here's a single example from another wonderful soundtrack...


    Broadcast Yourself

  2. A little added texture, reflections etc. would help... the vehicles do look like a good detailed sketch, but they don't look believable.


    Looking at the front Arwing, it looks to me as if the light source is coming from it's rear left of the image, because of the shadow to the right of the cockpit (from the planet??) But looking at the planet and those brown ships in the background in particular, the light source is coming from the right of the Arwings, probably behind them... maybe I'm wrong on this, but it's how my head reads it. Actually having looked at all those foreground ships the light source is from the left. I think that may be the issue



    Obviously that introduces some nasty flaws of it's own, but the lighting seems more coherent on the ships imo


    Glad I'm not imagining things - something is definitely off.


    And that image, crude as it may be, does look more natural to my eyes.


    You two are prattling on about lighting and such.


    Meanwhile, I'm wondering who's the numpty using the Chicken Walker mode in outer space.


    My money's on Peppy, he's too old to get his head around new-fangled controls!


    If you look closely, you can see Slippy in the cockpit.

  3. Maybe it's me but something seems odd about that boxart. The only thing I think I can pin it down to is that the fur effect and the lighting on the characters is so pronounced that the Arwings on the front look very plain by comparison. It makes it look like two images thrown together that almost works but doesn't instead of one coherent design.

  4. Wow. Those release schedules are very sparse :(


    3DS actually looks particularly bad. It's not had a good year at all.


    It's been a great year for my wallet because I've spent only £23 on Nintendo games all year (Kirby 3DS) and it will continue to remain that way until Star Fox or Xenoblade providing they live up to their potential.


    So it's not all doom and gloom :)

  5. Due to some recent departures in the business, I've been approached to join the Financial Accounting department. Normally these roles are quite sought after and generate a lot of interest, and then a lot of internal bickering when someone does or doesn't get it. But because of my experience with the systems, my old manager who now works in there recommended me to the head of the function and from then onwards, it was just a matter of when - I didn't even have to sit for an interview. Salary details are still being worked out but it should be a minimum jump of 20% if not more. I'm not able to move until my replacement comes in though, and we've done a hand over, which will be the start of the next month but in a few more weeks time, I'll no longer be a manager - thank heavens for that.

  6. I'm probably in the minority, but I thoroughly enjoyed all three Lords of Shadow games. All three looked fantastic for their hardware constraints. My only real issue with the first is that some of the enemies were a bit damage spongy - the DLC boss was just ridiculous. But it's scope and atmosphere was top notch - thanks to the graphics and soundtrack. 2 also has a fantastic soundtrack - a lot of the songs being fuller versions of Mirror of Fate and the combat was improved as well. Whilst there were less whip moves overall, the additional weapons were sensibly balanced against their need for magic so as to not burn through it in a handful of moves. The Metroidvania map was a bit confusing to navigate at times and the stealth bits were ill judged but at least they were mercifully brief. The Revelations DLC was also really well done. The story throughout 1 and Mirror was good but slightly let down by the ending in 2.


    I think under Nintendo's guidance, they could have turned in something pretty good. They have the talent, they just need the refinement.

  7. I've already started doing that. The date I'm talking about isn't going to be with a random girl, but someone in particular (well, hopefully). I've had the confidence to talk to her more often (we've known each other for a while but never really spoke until she helped my babysit my sister's kids) and I've noticed some other changes in my personality due to it - for example, I didn't sit in a corner at my work's Christmas do, I actually enjoyed myself and even danced. I'm not "duping" a girl into a date, I'm asking someone I like out and I think she'll say yes because of how well we seem to be getting on.


    It's not a New Year's resolution, it's something I've already realised needs to change and is something I'm already working on.


    That's great to hear Cube - my comment was more aimed at Serebii than yourself. The use of the word "dupe" was used somewhat in jest but in more to do with actually kidding yourself rather than the other person. Not going on dates is a symptom rather than the cause so reading something like "go on a date" as a resolution doesn't really tell us anything that you are going to do to make that happen - the very thing that should be the resolution.


    But it's clear you are already aware of that and are doing something about. So for you, it's about continuing the good progress and actually putting it to use.

  8. Surely something like getting a date is ultimately out of your hands - shouldn't the goal be to be more confident, self assertive, and outgoing (or embracing other qualities people find desireable that you can address) in a bid to appeal more to people that may then choose to go out with you because you've been able to sell yourself better? Work on those and you gain more than just the ability to dupe a women into going for a meal or drinks with you.


    I read the other day that only 8% of people stick to their new years resolutions because they are either outlandish or just not in their control.


    For the past couple of years, I've took a different approach of the New Year Challenge. Last year, I went the whole year, I didn't consume any alcohol but still did the things that would lead me into situations where I'd normally partake of it. This year, I went without Pizza for 12 months. Both proved healthy for my body and my bank account which gave added motivation. Not sure I'll both this year mind as ultimately they were both born out of a promise to a person I no longer feel accountable to but promises to others are easier to keep than those to yourself.

  9. To be fair, I was actually asking Captain Falcon. Evil just managed to reply before me, do it looked like I was just generally asking people. :)


    Yeah, totally didn't get that was aimed at me, sorry.


    Well, my party was strong enough that I was just churning through the job classes, but I finally finished it today with 72hrs on the clock. I ended with the following classes that were all maxed out long ago. I think each character had 8 or so classes maxed, but I chose these for their stats and skills - all level 99.


    Tiz: Dark Knight

    Agnes: Spiritmaster

    Ringabel: Valkyrie

    Edea: Templar



    Well, that last chapter was actually rather good in the end and was a damn sight more satisfying that what led up to it.




    Reading online, it turns out there was a way for the game to end as soon as suspicions around Airy arise, which means you don't travel to lots of other dimensions, but I don't know how that comes about (perhaps one of the times that Anges and Tiz go off together if you choose Ringabel (it was a player choice right?))- and it's not considered to be the true ending either.


    Speaking of Airy, it always annoys me when a creatures alternative forms bare zero resemblance to their real form. I know it shouldn't matter but I prefer a true form to be like an extension of the fake version - dark and wisted but not unrecognisable. Admittedly that's difficult with something fairy sized but the True form granted by Ouroboros made a lot more sense and was a cool design - the slug with too many arms and wings looked silly. The best part though of all the Airy stuff was the music that played in the last battle with her - I think it was the best track in a game full of fanatistic music.


    Took a little while to realize the camera was picking up my face rather than it just being my reflection when the celestrial realm started to open. It was a nice idea to have the other worlds join in although seeing Friend Bot's world made me think I should have sought out more companions.


    As for the ending, I feel it created more answers than it resolved. I'm a little confused about how time works in this world too. Whenether you travelled to different dimensions, was it supposed to be to the point in time of before you awakened the crystals in your own world or had time continued to flow in these other dimensions and it was just that nothing had happened to change the dying world? I still don[t get how DeRosso and the Sage could have been stopped from fighting by an Agnes 1800 years prior anyway unless the dimensions were staggered in terms of their timelines.


    Who came first Ringabel or Alternis? Either way, Alternis is a Ringabel from another dimension anyway. So in any given world where their is a Alternis and a Ringabel, there must be a world without either so how do their stories work and how was Alternis even crossing boundaries anyway?


    Also, was the Alternis shown stopping an Airy in slug form our Ringabel or that world's own? Regardless, it implies there must be multiple Airys but if that's the case, why did we even need to travel dimensions if there was already an Airy there to do the job.


    Maybe I'm just being thick or maybe they've saving it for the sequel to explain.


    Did anyone go for the optional secret boss? Since I needed a little help to find its location, because there is zero markers on the map to help to tell you and the wall you have to walk though is like any other, I saw a bit about a it and thought I wouldn't waste my time.


    I watched the Special Movie and again, more questions than answers. After the ending, it had me thinking that perhaps Tiz was dead all along but apparently not - though why Airy's sister just didn't kill her from the off is another mystery. Still, given the task was to make me excited for the sequel, then mission accomplishd but they better sort out their priorities when it comes to balancing story and gameplay.





  10. I think that is the general opinion of most who have played it. Shame really as it does have some real high points.


    You should keep going as you are practically at the end now. You've been through the roughest part of the game. You may as well push on and at least get to see the ending.


    That's the plan. My team are about level 88 so most enemies fall over quite easily. In all fairness, the last couple of chapters probably didn't take that long to finish in the grand scheme of things, especially given all the time put in by the end of No. 4, it was just that it was so dull.


    I think this is one area where the story telling suffers as a result of this being in a game format. If this was a film, vast chunks could have been montaged easily with a focus on the important bits instead of having to do it as it has been done.

  11. Seeing this thread get bumped reminded me that I haven't finished it yet either so I played a bit this morning and am now on Chapter 8. When Tales of the Abyss put me off to the point I took a long break, I started from the beginning but there is little chance of me playing through this again from the beginning, so onwards it is, even if I'm struggling the remember where I came from... or not :indeed: I'm definitely struggling to care though - I know that for certain.


    I'm just glad you can turn off battles and adjust the difficulty on the fly - makes getting through certain areas so much easier and less time consuming.


    I don't think I've ever played a game that started so well and then went downhill this badly.

  12. I'm not a big fan of the single player offerings in the Wii U version. At first, I really didn't get Smash Run but now it's where I spend most of my time on the 3Ds version. The classic mode also works a lot better without the forced 8 player matches and pointless board shuffling exercise so I'm totally with Eevil on that one.


    Is the Smash Tour something that you have to get used to or does it suck as much on the second and subsequent times as well in single player?

  13. So the first live demonstration of the game will take place tonight (tomorrow morning) as part of the Capcom Cup which has already begun with exhibition matches of Omega Mode in USFIV and is about to commence the Finals. I believe it's due to take place at the end during the special annoucements section which is 03:15GMT


    Watch it here.

  14. I really need to get my back side in gear and get in some games with you lot but Mon-Fri is pretty much a no go and then it's just actually getting round to playing it on the weekends when I'm still working my way through other games.


    I'm off work this week though so that certainly frees me up to get in on some games.

  15. I never played Skyrim, is there something to do all over the overworld? (apart from baddies to kill)


    Well, enemies aside, there are mines and caves to enter and explore, small villages, odd huts, enemy settlements to take on, empire/stormcloak encampments, random travellers, criminals on the run, etc. That you can harvest the flora and fauna makes a difference too as only certain plants grow in certain areas. Random dragon attacks, initially before you get too powerful at least, are good because whilst the enemy is the same, you have to be totally aware of your surroundings and look for good spots that will enable you to take them down without exposing yourself too much. Water areas have sunken ships that can be delved into and looted. So yeah, it's difficult to go far without something to do but it's all optional.


    I think the big thing with Skyrim is the visual diversity. People think Skyrim must be all snow but there is so many different feeling locales that make exploring an absolute pleasure. The landscape is rarely flat so there are lots of elevation changes but the key thing is that they feel natural - they don't feel like the exist because a game designer shoved them in there which is how Zelda environments have tended to feel. I understand that's because the gameplay comes first but it doesn't always make for good world building. Just wandering the terrain is a delight for someone like me - taking in the sights and sounds is a real experience, if not exactly a gameplay one, but from an atmospheric perspective.



    I thought the footage here looked ok, if a little tame for a reveal. As others have said, the land looks a little barren and plain, and the slow motion dismount felt rather out of place to me - I think I'd prefer it if is was something you set up before you jump off even if that would end up automating it somewhat.


    For the landscape, a bunch of particle work to act as fairies/sprites and over sized pollen or something will make a big difference in creating a sense of a living world. As would an ambient soundtrack to play under the music. It goes a long way to making that big world feel alive.

  16. Has anyone had the game lock up on them at all?


    I was playing home run contest the morning and the TV screen and gamepad went black and it made a loud and long beep and forced me to turn the Wii U off.


    It's really nice getting to play on the big screen after the 3DS version and with a much better controller to boot but I still get lost so easily in those 8 player matches.

  17. So I wasn't sure of this after playing the demo - my take aways were that the 3DS screen feels too cramped for the action, it's too low res as well, the slide pad is not in the same league as an analogue stick and the shoulder buttons are terrible as ever. BUt on the other hand, it's Super Smash Bros. Which means even after all such compromises inposed by the hardware, which have clearly extended to the game design as well, it's still fun.


    So yesterday I was chatting with a mate at work and just went out and grabbed the game on my lunch. And now I've had time to sample more of it's offerings, the above still holds true. It's lots of fun, but I fear it won't get a look in once the main event turns up.


    As a guy who's online play is usually spent in a semi competative spirit, sticking to mostly flat stages and no weapons, the stage designs are novelties and curiosities to be experienced but not indulged in. So that they differ in that regard is also of little consequence in the grand scheme of things. I've played a bit of online today in "For Glory" 1 vs 1 and the half the time, there was no noticable lag. Others had it but it was bareable and a couple of fights were very painful for all the wrong reasons.


    Hopefully, I'll see some of you good folks online soon.

  18. Following on from this post...



    I had an interview for the role today. I was originally asked to sit some online assessments but they changed their mind because I did some earlier on in the year. And then things all went a bit quiet because the manager is swamped being so under staffed.


    There has been strong pressure from high within in the business to demand that people in these roles have certain professional qualifications and lots of relevant experience... of which I have neither - I'm just quite experienced and very good at what I currently do because I put in a load of effort. I'm also not some fly by night cowboy out for a quick buck who will disappear after 6 months like a recent hire.


    My manager said to me at the start of the week "don't drop me in it". I replied with "I'd never do that to you" but a bit unsure what she was on about and asked her the next day. It turns out that there had been some discussions of putting me in the role on a secondment basis so that they get to see how I work and then make an assessment later as to whether to offer me the role on a more permant basis or let me return back to my current dept - that also benefits my current dept as I'm pretty much the linchpin that holds over half of it together and they'd not risk losing that if the other role didn't work out. The dropping her in it part comes from the fact that I'm only on a 1 week notice and as it's all internal, they could tell me to start straight away and there would be no hand over time for whoever my replacement might be. So it's almost like their trying to do their best to give me the chance to come in and show what I can do.


    So I've been trying to prepare for this interview today but everytime I read through the docs I was sent, I was letting the HR speak get to me. I know a lot of it is hyperbole and rubbish as I have to write it for roles in my team but when you know you're really stretching yourself anyway, it's quite intimidating and hard to focus through on what you do well and how best to sell yourself and bring it back to how they have phrased it.


    So I went in and it went a lot better than I was expecting overall. I felt a mess going in but came out a lot more relaxed and positive and even if I don't get it, I feel I represented myself well and showed them what I was about. Plus, they know more about me and next time, I'll be better placed to answer their questions, although I don't think I did too badly overall. I was expecting to be thrown for a complete loop with the technical questions, but I don't feel like I let myself down, so yeah, we'll see what happens.


    He said I should hear something next week about it.