nekunando

Your 2015 Gaming Diary

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You know, I still can't find "The First Story" anywhere!

 

So I just played through The Last Story again. It was a spur of the moment thing when the game came up in the Xenoblade thread.

 

One of the two games in the Operation Rainfall petition that America didn't actually really want, The Last Story is an Action RPG for the Wii.

 

To be honest, this game is better than I remember it. I think it might be down to actually understanding the mechanics better this time around.

More on that later.

 

The game follows a bloke called Zael...

 

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His dream is to be a Knight.

 

However, Zael's a mercenary, he's got a bunch of mercenary friends. So, naturally in his journey, he gets caught up in all sorts of ridiculous situations that you'd expect from an RPG.

To be frank, the story is pretty "paint-by-numbers" Nothing's gonna really wow you if you've played a few RPG's.

No, the real quality...ness... are in the supporting characters. Zael and typical RPG heroine, Calista are quite forgettable, but the rest of their friends are genuinely charming and likable.

Special shout-out goes to hilarious drunkard Syrenne. Who develops so much better than the main characters that she really should have been the main character instead.

 

Also, like Xenoblade, this game is full of glorious British voices which definitely helps the enjoyment. Did a bit of research, and found out most of the voice actors are from Soaps. Who knew?

 

Anyway, visuals are good for a Wii game, nothing to write home about, but nothing really stands out either.

 

Gameplay is where things get interesting.

I guess the best way to describe combat is "Kingdom Hearts for people who think Kingdom Hearts is way too confusing"

Actually, it would be easier just to show you a fight.

 

 

That's pretty early on, but it's the general gist of how fighting is done.

The game utilises a cover system that looks like it should belong in a third person shooter.

You can hide from enemies to avoid damage, or take them by surprise when it's safe to.

Zael also has a neat little trick called "Gathering" which focuses all the enemies attention on him, allowing his teammates to cast spells and such.

Of course, using this at the wrong time can leave you overwhelmed, so quick thinking is absolutely neccessary.

He also has a crossbow, allowing him to snipe faraway foes as well, provided you're good at aiming. Because there's no pointer controls, which is absolutely baffling, but doesn't really take away from the experience much.

 

All of this makes for some very exciting battles without things getting too confusing.

 

I also have to give credit to the sidequests. Which are just as well fleshed out as the main story. Each one involves loads of banter between characters that can make for some very funny moments.

One particular one involves a fight against so many easy enemies that the actual characters make a game out of it to see who kills the most.

You actually hear each person shouting out a number whenever they off one.

It's a lovely level of detail that actually made me want to find as many sidequests as I could.

 

Unfortunately, there are flaws. Most notably, the frame rate.

I'm not much of a stickler when it comes to frame rates, but the frame rate does noticeably drop, and more than a few times at that. And I'm talking "Pokemon X/Y in 3D bad"

 

I also have to say that the music, while perfectly serviceable, is quite forgettable, which is odd considering Nobuo Uematsu did the soundtrack. I just kinda expected something a bit better, you know?

 

So yeah, it might not be as amazing as Xenoblade, but The Last Story is a very solid game that deserves your time if you enjoy a nice action RPG.

 

And you probably will, because now that I've played it again. It's bound to show up on WiiU eShop in a month or so...

Because Nintendo like to laugh at me as well as spy on me.

Yes, I'm still bitter about Xenoblade getting released.

 

Lufia: The Legend Returns - GBC

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker - WiiU (Not 100%)

Demon's Crest - SNES (Not 100%)

The World Ends With You - DS

Gunman Clive - 3DS

Gunman Clive 2 - 3DS

Shantae and the Pirate's Curse - 3DS

The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D - 3DS

Dedede's Drum Dash Deluxe - 3DS

Banjo-Tooie - N64

Metroid Zero Mission - GBA (Not 100%)

Child of Light - Wii U (Single Character challenge)

Super Smash Bros - 3DS (Everything, baby!)

Super Mario World - SNES

Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate - 3DS (Credits seen)

Super Mario 64 - N64 (120 stars)

Xenoblade Chronicles 3D - 3DS

Final Fantasy 8 - PS1

Tengami - WiiU

Earthbound Beginnings - NES

Puzzle & Dragons Z - 3DS

Puzzle & Dragons: Super Mario Bros. Edition - 3DS

Sin & Punishment: Successor of the Skies - Wii

Pokemon Blue - GB

Kirby Dream Land 2 - GB

Kirby's Fun Pak - SNES

Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards - N64

Kirby: Nightmare In Dream Land - GBA

Kirby and the Amazing Mirror - GBA

Kirby's Epic Yarn - Wii

Super Smash Bros. - Wii U (100%)

Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time - DS

The Last Story - Wii

 

Edited by Glen-i

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I also have to say that the music, while perfectly serviceable, is quite forgettable, which is odd considering Nobuo Uematsu did the soundtrack. I just kinda expected something a bit better, you know?

 

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Finished Kirby's Star Stacker (3DS) last night. Not the worst Tetris clone i've played but certainly not the best. Unlike a lot of Kirby spinoffs, it just seems that he's been slapped into this one without any real thought. I'm glad I only paid a couple of quid for it when it was on sale.

 

I continued my playthrough of Metal Gear Solid 4 (PS3). Man, dis game. :bowdown: Pure fan service at its best, especially chapter 4. I'm on the final chapter, so I should get it done and dusted tonight.

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I continued my playthrough of Metal Gear Solid 4 (PS3). Man, dis game. :bowdown: Pure fan service at its best, especially chapter 4. I'm on the final chapter, so I should get it done and dusted tonight.

 

I was always interested in the MGS games but never had the patience for the stealth sections so I wasnt aware of just how nuts that series gets. I've been watching Giant Bomb play through 1-4 over the past year and just loved every minute. Gonna watch their latest video tonight of Peace Walker.

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I was always interested in the MGS games but never had the patience for the stealth sections so I wasnt aware of just how nuts that series gets. I've been watching Giant Bomb play through 1-4 over the past year and just loved every minute. Gonna watch their latest video tonight of Peace Walker.

 

To be fair, you can just shoot your way through the games, especially on the easier difficulties. In my recent play through of the games, I have essentially just been running and gunning.

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To be fair, you can just shoot your way through the games, especially on the easier difficulties. In my recent play through of the games, I have essentially just been running and gunning.

 

I always found that 4 onwards thats more true. I still struggled with 1-3.

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I liked The Last Story, but it's definitely overrated. It's just way too easy, the whole lives system completely destroys any semblance of strategy, which is a shame because otherwise there's quite a bit to the combat system - the combination of 3rd person shooter gameplay and RPG mechanics works surprisingly well!

 

Also the world design, out of combat gameplay, story and most of the characters (outside of the ones that Glen-i mentioned - Syrenne is indeed utterly brilliant and easily the most interesting character in the game!) just aren't that interesting. It's a shame really, it feels like they had grander ideas for all of these, but it ends up coming across as a bit bland outside of the fighting overall. There are some interesting sidequests scattered throughout, but not enough to save the out of combat gameplay from feeling just a bit dull overall.

 

Anyway, I finally got round to finishing Kirby and the Rainbow Paintbrush!

 

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Yeah, it's up there in the running for the coverted title of most disgustingly adorable game ever made :D

 

In short, it's utterly brilliant and a worthy successor to Canvas Curse/Power Paintrbrush, but not without its flaws. The Wii U Gamepad's massive screen allows the designers to incorporate HUGE levels that are far more open and expansive than in its DS predecessor and they certainly take advantage of that :)

 

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(see that? You can go up, down, and all around! The canvas is huge and so is the playspace!)

 

Likewise, while it has the same amount of levels as the DS game, the levels themselves are much bigger and longer... which is both a good thing and a bad thing...

 

While it's great fun to plough through the levels, the long length of the levels makes getting 100% a real pain because if you miss a single chest (or heaven forfend, a Secret Diary page at the end of the level), you're doing the whole thing all over again buddy! Really annoying, especially in the levels that feature autoscrolling, which there are a LOT of in this game...

 

... which is another thing that I think is a bit of a downer. Now I don't mind autoscrolling stages, they can be a nice change of pace, but when at least 1/3 of all levels in the game are primarily autoscrolling, it makes replaying them for 100% a massive pain as you just want to rush through it as fast as possible and you can't! It also really cripples the game's speedrun potential, which is a real shame because the game is tremendous fun to speedrun when you can! The controls are utterly sublime and would be a speedrunner's wet dream if only you didn't have to end up waiting for the game to catch up with you so much!

 

But onto the good! The levels are really well paced and well designed, bursting with new ideas and never feel like they outstay their welcome (well, unless you're replaying it for the hidden chests over and over of course). Never did I feel that the lack of copy powers was a problem with the game's design or pacing at all. Surprisingly enough, very little ground from Power Paintbrush/Canvas Curse is retread; with all of the levels featuring concepts and gameplay mechanics/gimmicks that are new to the series. That also extends to the music, which (unlike its predecessor) is almost entirely original and fantastic to boot! (incredibly enough it also features about 40 unlockable newly made remixes from past Kirby games that don't appear anywhere in the game at all outside of the music player!). The controls also have received an overhaul and work even better than in the original - not to spoil anything, but one of the biggest changes is that you can now draw multiple lines at once (and yes, this does get taken advantage of in many ways throughout ;) )

 

Likewise, the boss battles are great (something that was sorely lacking in the DS original) and even the ones that see reuse throughout are remixed in ways that make them significantly different.

 

Also an extra mention for the really fun multiplayer mode. It's nice to have another Wii U game that actually makes good on the promise of asymettric gameplay and it does a really good job of it as both sets of players (the ones on the TV and the Gamepad player) both need to look out for each other. It can get really challenging in the levels where you have no ground at all and you have to try and keep both yourself and the 3 other players alive at the same time with the rainbow paintbrush! There's also some extra elements of gameplay that are added to the levels that are specific to multiplayer too, so definitely check it out if you have buds to play with you!

 

Unfortunately there's very little in the way of side content though. You've got a model viewer, a series of 15 second challenges and that's it (and unfortunately the latter is gated off by some BS requirements to unlock some of them, involving you earning gold medals on every single stage - something that is a pretty big timesink) and that's it. No mini games and nothing like the awesome time trials/limited ink challenges/copy power challenges of the DS game; very little outside of the main game - which I suppose is probably why it was released at a lower price than other Wii U games.

 

So yeah, it plays great - but is lacking in content outside of the main game and the over abundance of auto scrolling levels unfortunately hampers its speed running potential and makes getting 100% a bit of a chore. Overall it's brilliant though and a worthy successor to Power Painbrush/Canvas Curse for sure! :D

 

Also I finally finished Ace Attorney Dual Destinies!

 

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What is there to say? It's the classic Ace Attorney you know and love, but now in THREEEEEEDEEEEEEE!!!!

 

Best way to describe it really is that it's very much a "Best of Ace Attorney" - Without spoiling anything, it basically brings in elements from all of the past games and merges them all into one. I do have to say that it really goes off the rails in the later cases (especially the extra DLC one!) so if you were hoping for it to be more grounded in reality, you're gonna be disappointed because it's just plain ridiculous! In fact, I'd probably say that it's the most ridiculous and unrealistic game in the series; and that's saying something!

 

Great stuff though. Even though I might have wanted something more grounded at times, it's unashamedly Ace Attorney! : peace:

 

 

Mario Golf Advance Tour

Golden Sun

Super Mario World

Layton VS Ace Attorney

Kirby Triple Deluxe

Kirby's Adventure Wii (100/200%)

Super Mario Galaxy 2 (120 stars)

Tengami

The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D

Yoshi's Island DS

DK King of Swing

Gunman Clive 2

Resident Evil Revelations 2 (PC)

Strider (2014 - PC)

Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze

Earthbound Beginnings

Ace Attorney Dual Destinies

Kirby & The Rainbow Curse

 

Edited by Dcubed

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Well, opinions and all that, but not once when I was replaying this did I ever think "Oh, I remember this song, it's pretty cool!"

 

And normally, I wouldn't mind, but when you advertise that Nobuo did your music on the boxart, it better be at least memorable. And it just failed to deliver that for me.

 

The soundtrack is not bad, it's perfectly OK. But it's not up to the standard I expected.

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Also I finally finished Ace Attorney Dual Destinies!

 

Im absolutely terrible at finishing Ace Attorney games in a reasonable time. I bought Dual Destinies the day it came out and still havent got too far in it, despite the Ace Attorney games being one of my favourite ever series!

 

It was exactly the same with the other games as well, took me months-years to finish.

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Im absolutely terrible at finishing Ace Attorney games in a reasonable time. I bought Dual Destinies the day it came out and still havent got too far in it, despite the Ace Attorney games being one of my favourite ever series!

 

It was exactly the same with the other games as well, took me months-years to finish.

 

Oh yeah, I'm like that as well. Took me ages to finish it despite really enjoying it.

 

There are some games that I just prefer to play at a slow pace, like Ace Attorney, Fire Emblem and Layton. I just don't enjoy ploughing through them in long sittings :p

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Metal Gear Solid 4 (PS3) is complete! Amazing game. I hadn't played this since it was first released back in 2008, so it was nice when things I didn't remember cropped up.

 

The stories behind each of the B&Bs are truly horrific. Killing a sibling, getting eaten alive by crows, trapped in a torture chamber, forced to kill their family, eating dead bodies. Chilling stuff.

 

There's soooooo many great scenes in this game, probably the best in the series in terms of cutscenes. The battle of the Metal Gears, the final battle when it goes through all the music from the series, Raiden vs Vamp, Meryl and Jonny fighting side by side, the microwave crawl, Ocelot taking control of the SOPs, " I am lightning. The rain transformed", all brilliant viewing.

 

If I had one complaint it would be that the graveyard ending drags on for far too long. I had no issue with who shows up but rather the length of the conversation and his death. It felt like The Return of the King all over again.

 

With that done, I was was going to start Peace Walker straight away but figured I would mop up a few more trophies. I won't get the platinum ( requires like 8 runs of the game ) but there are still a couple of trophies that I wouldn't mind unlocking, before moving on to PW. I'll probably start that on Thursday.

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I took a quick detour to Polarity, the third game from that Indie Bundle. Easily the worst of the bundle so far, this one feels like a prototype.

 

Another cube-based first-person puzzle game with blank walls, here the goal consists of reaching the end to short levels, while finding 3 green gems in each. The cubes are just keys to switches, and whether the cube is red or blue matters.

 

This one has no story to speak of, the lighting throughout the levels is very poor, there's barely any music or sound effects, the physics engine is messed up (if you try to jump from a moving platform, you get launched like a cannon ball), the level design needed some playtesters (I got stuck in tiny parapets so often), and it's really short. Furthermore, I got dizzy really easily when playing this, not sure if it's the in-game lighting, the colour palette, or the hiccuping framerates, but I got all barfy (like Dan Avidan would say).

 

But hey, I could play this windowed, in short bursts, and with other stuff going on in the background. Since I barely paid any money for the game, I can't bring myself to say it sucks :heh: I beat all the single-player levels, but I ain't touching the co-op mode.

 

The Civ 5 match is still ongoing.

 

Played/Beat/Completed:

-Binding of Isaac + Wrath of the Lamb Beaten (Last played: 11th January)

-Hitman Contracts Beaten (2nd February)

-Sonic CD Completed (19th February)

-Puzzle Agent Completed (17th February)

-Teslagrad Completed (8th March)

-Q.U.B.E.: Director's Cut Beaten (14th March)

-The Whispered World Completed (11th April)

-Rogue Legacy Beaten (6th May)

-Kirby's Dream Course Beaten (4th June)

-Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past Completed (7th June)

-Out There Somewhere Completed (26th June)

-Spelunky Beaten (29th June)

-Kuru Kuru Kururin Beaten (19th July)

-BEEP Completed (20th July)

-Klonoa 2: Dream Champ Tournament Completed (8th August)

-Septerra Core: Legacy of the Creator Completed (16th August)

-Polarity Beaten (19th August)

 

Currently Playing:

-Civilization V

-Dragon Quest III

On Hold/Hiatus:

 

Dropped:

-Enemy Mind Needs gamepad (25th March)

 

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I'm still chipping away at Xenoblade Chronicles and, as you may have guessed, I'M REALLY FEELING IT :grin:

 

I'm approximately 16 and a half hours into it and the last boss battle I had, with Leone Telethia, felt pretty intense. I felt like an absolute lad taking it down on my first attempt, especially when it seemed quite lengthy and that I was almost down and out at one point before managing to claw it back :hehe:

 

Part of the fear I've held for a while is starting to deplete as I'm starting to believe I may have what it takes to actually play through this :eek: I'm sure a boss battle further down the line will have me pulling my hair out, though :heh:

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Adding flOw to the list of games done. I enjoyed it, probably more than Flower. Again, it's a simple game (if you can call it a game that is)

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I played Entwined today and finished it in a single sitting. I really enjoyed my time with it, especially due to how colourful it was at times. Very trippy.

 

There's a bit of a difficulty spike in the 8th level, but it's not too terrible. The game isn't that long, but I think that's probably a good thing. Perfect length, in my opinion.

 

So many other games to get through, aaah.

 

Games of 2015

 

Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor - Finished and Platinumed

Transistor - Finished

The Walking Dead Season One - Finished and Platinumed

inFAMOUS Second Son - good ending completed

Watchdogs - started in 2014, finally finished main story

The Walking Dead Season Two - Finished

The Order 1886 - Finished

BLOODBORNE - Finished

Never Alone - Finished

Hohokum - Finished

The Witcher 3 - Story (and many other quests!) completed

Journey - Finished

FlOw - Finished

Batman: Arkham Knight - Main story completed. Can't be arsed collecting all of the Riddler trophies

Everybody's Gone To The Rapture - Finished

Entwined - Finished

Edited by Fierce_LiNk

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Two more classic replays to add to the list, both very similar this time...

 

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Wonderful game as always. And in addition to that we also have Metroid Zero Mission...

 

You must have JavaScript enabled on your device to view Miiverse posts that have been embedded in a website. View post in Miiverse

 

Probably gonna also go for a 9% Hard Mode run, but not just yet. Need to properly psyche myself up for that because that really is a complete nightmare to pull off! (undoubtedly the hardest challenge in all of Metroid history!)

 

Oh and I also beat Gunstar Heroes 3D as well, but I'm not gonna really count that one since it's such a short game.

 

So with that...

 

Mario Golf Advance Tour

Golden Sun

Super Mario World

Layton VS Ace Attorney

Kirby Triple Deluxe

Kirby's Adventure Wii (100/200%)

Super Mario Galaxy 2 (120 stars)

Tengami

The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D

Yoshi's Island DS

DK King of Swing

Gunman Clive 2

Resident Evil Revelations 2 (PC)

Strider (2014 - PC)

Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze

Earthbound Beginnings

Ace Attorney Dual Destinies

Kirby & The Rainbow Curse

Castlevania Aria of Sorrow

Metroid Zero Mission

 

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I'm definitely really feeling Xenoblade Chronicles today.. in my right hand :blank:

 

I played a little more over the weekend, and expect to push it above the 20-hour mark this evening, but the constant selecting of moves via the d-pad on the Wii Remote is starting to take its toll on my hand as it feels like it's cramping a little :red:

 

My most recent session was strange, though, in that I played it for over an hour and wasn't making much, if any, progress due to constantly losing a difficult battle against 4 foes during a quest. I eventually beat it but it wasn't pretty :heh:

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Finished up Limbo (PS4) last night for the first time. Never got round to trying it on the 360 when it came out but jumped at the chance to pick it up a couple of months back on sale on the PSN store for a couple of quid.

 

And glad I did as I really enjoyed the game. Love the aesthetics of it all, really does help to create a brooding atmosphere that definitely lives up to the title. Thought the gameplay mechanics were great with some really tricksy but well put together puzzles that really required you to pay attention to timing or the obstacles around you in the environments, particularly in the sections where the rooms rotate. There were a few that were a little more obtuse but perseverance won in the end and I cleared it.

 

So yeah really enjoyed it and glad that after all this time, it lived up to the hype and acclaim that it got all those years ago.

 

Also finished up Tembo The Badass Elephant (PS4) last night as well.

 

I enjoyed this but that enjoyment diminished towards the end of the game due to some weird/clumsy level design and some cheap ploys that didn't really play out well. By that, I mean some of the level design as well as how some of the moves are mapped as well as a particular game mechanic that for some reason wouldn't work against the final boss yet worked perfectly fine up to that point. These things really took away from the game towards the end, I feel anyway, and I thought the last 2 levels and boss were a real slog just to get through.

 

It's a shame that those things detracted from the overall experience of the game because other than that, I was really enjoying it. The level design at the start was great with some nice little touches that made some of the levels fun to play through (the train levels in particular I thought were some of the better bits and I'm guessing the later levels were in a way referencing another Game Freak title, Pulseman, in the use of electricity). It also looks great and does have that slight feel of old school about it, though doesn't go the whole hog on that one.

 

Was also refreshing to have a slightly different style of character to play as in a platformer. Tembo has a real weight to his movement that makes smashing through things great.

 

Enjoyable but some little changes could have brought that up a little higher for me. Would love to see more of Tembo in the future so fingers crossed on that.

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I've no surpassed 23 hours in Xenoblade Chronicles but the majority of the last 2-3 hours has been spent grinding and doing a few side-quests as I was having difficulty with a particular battle in Alcamoth :hmm:

 

After gaining a couple of levels, and changing up my party, I won the battle and can now move on :smile:

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Taken from the MGSV topic.

 

I finished Peace Walker last night. I thought I had finished it on Saturday but it turns out that wasn't the real ending. I had to grind and bunch of missions and then assemble ZEKE before I could see what really happens at the end.

 

Paz you backstabbing cow! Also, why the hell was she in her underwear while piloting ZEKE? Seemed very weird. Probably Kojima just being Kojima.

:D

 

It's good to see why the whole world is out to get Big Boss and co. While they didn't really attack anyone, they have set themselves up with a huge target on their backs.

 

 

Brilliant game. As I said earlier, it's a shame I didn't get to play this when it first came out, as the online community would have been much more active.

 

The game has 2 of may favourite MGS songs in Heavens Divide and Peace Walker main theme.

 

Broadcast Yourself
Audio

 

Broadcast Yourself
Audio

 

With that done, all that remains is a run through Ground Zeroes and I am officially ready for MGSV. :yay:

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Finished up another game last night, Qube: Director's Cut (PS4).

 

Really enjoyed this one. Obviously gives that Portal-esque feeling with having to complete puzzles to progress through rooms but has enough differences to allow it to stand on its own and not feel like a copy.

 

There's some form of narrative running through the game and to be honest, I really wasn't al that interested in it or drawn in by it. It's not particularly well done and the to-ing and fro-ing between the two main people that speak to you and trying to figure out who's telling the truth I found to be completely unnecessary. So for the most part, I ignored it as it wasn't interesting or funny like in Portal so with respect to that part of the game, anyone playing should ignore it.

 

Gameplay wise, the mechanics at play were well handled and the puzzles themselves were really well done I thought. Slowly ramps up in difficulty and adds in new tricks as you go along to keep things interesting. Some of them are particularly tricky, especially the first hidden one you come across. That one really hurt my head trying to get round that one but managed it in the end. But even when they are at their trickiest, it never gets infuriating and the "eureka" moments always come to clarify things when they look too daunting. Did particularly like the puzzles involving the magnets and such as they really made you think about things, as did the hallway ball puzzles.

 

Definitely worth a go if you haven't already tried it. Rather enjoyable experience.

 

Lost track of what I've completed so far this year now. Need to go back through what I've posted and put it in a list later. As for what I'm moving onto next, decided to head back to Infamous: Second Son last night and seem to be near the end so hopefully that'll be the next game that gets added to the list :grin:

 

Edit: Finally got everything I've completed in a list to keep track of:

 

Thomas Was Alone + Benjamin’s Flight DLC

Never Alone + FoxTales DLC

The Unfinished Swan

Transistor

Rayman Legends

White Night

Toren

Broken Age

Hohokum

Pneuma: Breath of Life

Journey

Sound Shapes

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter

Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture

Limbo

Tembo the Badass Elephant

Qube: Director’s Cut

 

 

Not too bad but definitely need to go back and finished some things, like Valiant Hearts which I'm ashamed of for not finishing yet.

Edited by Ganepark32

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Finished up another game last night, Qube: Director's Cut (PS4).

 

Did you play through the extra levels? Just wondering how they were, as I didn't try those at the time.

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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.

 

 

Revelations

 

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
Audio

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I managed to play a few more short games during the last few weeks, so time to update my list!

 

First up is Bastion.

bastion-cover.jpg

 

Been wanting to try this after liking Transistor. The art style is nice and the music is good. The gameplay was ok, but there was something about the game that just didn't seem to click with me. I think it might have been the constant narrating that kinda put me off. See when someone talks in a game, I like to read the subtitles to know what they are saying, as I sometimes find it hard to concentrate and listen otherwise. But in this game, the narrating happens while you are battling monsters, so I felt there was no time to read the subtitles or properly listen to the story, which bothered me. That, and the guy's voice just sounded annoying. :P

Other than that though, it was a decent game.

 

 

Next one is LIMBO.

LIMBO_banner.jpg

 

I had started a demo of this a while ago on my Steam account, but never bought the game at the time. Good thing I didn't as now I got to play it for free, yay!

 

It's a very dark game, both in art style and content. Really like the graphics for this, very moody. The deaths can be horrible though, and made me feel bad for this boy. Though after a while you stop caring when you die again and again and again. :P

 

The game was good and quite difficult at times, made me have to use a walkthrough for certain puzzles. Just don't have the patience anymore sometimes to figure stuff out, oops.

Definitely worth a try if you like puzzle-platformers (is that the right genre? I don't know!).

 

 

After that I started Everybody's Gone To The Rapture, after @Fierce_LiNk recommended it.

1401aefc879e84c33cf29210d8f50585.jpg

 

Think I finished it in two sittings, so it's not a very long game, but I enjoyed it. It felt quite relaxing to just walk around and look at the pretty views and listen to the birds and stuff. This game won't be for everyone, as it really is just a story where you occasionally tap a button, but if you are prepared for that, then this is really nice.

 

The visuals in this are amazing I think, and the music is really lovely. I enjoyed trying to find all the story/sound bits (though it seems I missed a few important ones). It's nice to see the story unravel itself.

 

 

Needed to find a new game to play, so decided to put on Sound Shapes, knowing nothing about it.

sound_shapes.jpg

 

Ended up very much enjoying this! The music is great, especially the levels done by Beck! I have even been listening to some of those songs on Youtube haha. Especially love this one, very trippy:

 

 

:D

 

 

Today I finished Escape Plan.

Escape-Plan-Review-Feature.jpg

 

Another game I started without knowing much about it, though the title does pretty much explain what it is about. :P

Thought this was quite enjoyable actually. Good puzzles, some humour in the game too. And like LIMBO, they like killing the characters in as many ways as possible.

 

Also, this game has some of the longest credits ever! Seriously took ages to reach the end of the credits. :o

 

 

Now I need to find another game to play through, hmmm.

 

Bayonetta

Hyrule Warriors

Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition

Smash Bros 3DS/Wii U

Valiant Hearts

Dust: An Elysian Tail

Velocity 2X

Rogue Legacy

Cities:Skylines

Bayonetta 2

Never Alone

Fez

Guacamelee

The Unfinished Swan

Super Exploding Zoo

Infamous: Second Son

Infamous: First Light

Hotline Miami

Thomas Was Alone

Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor

Entwined

Journey

Bastion

LIMBO

Everybody's Gone To The Rapture

Sound Shapes

Escape Plan

 

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First up is Bastion.

bastion-cover.jpg

 

Been wanting to try this after liking Transistor. The art style is nice and the music is good. The gameplay was ok, but there was something about the game that just didn't seem to click with me. I think it might have been the constant narrating that kinda put me off. See when someone talks in a game, I like to read the subtitles to know what they are saying, as I sometimes find it hard to concentrate and listen otherwise. But in this game, the narrating happens while you are battling monsters, so I felt there was no time to read the subtitles or properly listen to the story, which bothered me. That, and the guy's voice just sounded annoying. :P

Other than that though, it was a decent game.

 

I think this is the first time i've ever heard anyone say this. :D Everyone who I spoke to about the game said that the narration was one of the best things about it. A guy I work with even went as far as to say that the game simply wouldn't work that well without it.

 

Would you say Transistor is the better of the two? I loved Bastion but have yet to start Transistor, despite it being sat on my PS4 since it was released on PS+.

 

I finished Conker's Bad Fur Day (Xbox One) yesterday. It's still funny as hell. Gotta love the British sense of humour.

 

The clean up that Rare have done for the collection is fantastic. I played through the N64 version last year and, despite enjoying it, it was a blurry mess at times. I do wish they had tweaked the controls a bit, though. The aiming is still as janky as it was on the N64 and the horizontal camera doesn't have the option to make it inverted, which really took some getting used to. Other than these small issues, this is a fantastic port of the game.

 

I didn't care for some of the achievements that they put into the game. They could have spread them out in the single player but instead opted to make most of them for the multiplayer modes. Seemed a bit of a waste.

 

Next up was Digger T Rock (Xbox One). I honestly had no idea this was made by Rare until the Rare Replay was announced at E3. I played the hell out of the game when I was a kid and decided that this should be my first NES game that I play on this collection.

 

It was pretty fun. There were certain stages that I remember from my childhood but the latter ones didn't ring any bells. I guess I didn't finish the game all those years ago. Not surprising as it is quite difficult. Luckily you have the ability to save anywhere, which came in very handy.

 

After the main game was finished I went and completed the snapshots as well. These are little challenges made up from various levels of the game. It's kinda like the NES Remix games on the Wii U.

 

Finally I played through Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes (PS4) in preparation for MGSV. Having gone through Peace Walker, the events in this game make a lot more sense and everything fits nicely. It took a while to get used to the control scheme, especially after playing through the other games, but I was silently killing my way to Paz and Chico in no time. :)

 

With MGS 1-4, PW and GZ done, i'm officially ready for the final chapter of this epic saga! :yay:

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Did you play through the extra levels? Just wondering how they were, as I didn't try those at the time.

 

Are those in the non-story mode? If so, haven't had a chance to play those myself. Got a bit caught up in making sure I found all of the hidden puzzle rooms in the main game. Probably take a dip into those at some point so I'll let you know how they are when I do :)

 

I add another game to my completed games list for the year: Infamous: Second Son.

 

Put in 2 two hour sittings and wrapped it all up nicely. Was only 5 or so missions to do but maybe 3 districts that needed clearing but took care of the latter in the first sitting and wrapped up the former later last night.

 

I remember I wasn't too keen on the game at the start when I played it last year but I must say that even though it took me quite a while to finally sit down and finish it, I really enjoyed it in the end.

 

Really got into the swing of the movement and loved combining the different powers to essentially fly across Seattle with ease and take out the DUP. Still not too fussed about the Smoke power, I think that's my least favourite in the game, but really found my groove once I unlocked the Neon power. Loved that one and being able to zip over the place lightning quick. Did like the 3rd power they threw in near the end but felt like they could have expanded on that a bit more and same with the bone they threw you at the end with the 4th and final power.

 

But yeah, in the end I really enjoyed it. Plays extremely well and I think it still looks great even if there are some little noticeable blemishes when compared to more recently released games. Really looking forward to playing through First Light some point in the future for more of that awesome neon power fun time :grin:

 

Thomas Was Alone + Benjamin’s Flight DLC

Never Alone + FoxTales DLC

The Unfinished Swan

Transistor

Rayman Legends

White Night

Toren

Broken Age

Hohokum

Pneuma: Breath of Life

Journey

Sound Shapes

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter

Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture

Limbo

Tembo the Badass Elephant

Qube: Director’s Cut

Infamous: Second Son

 

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