Julius

Your 2020 Gaming Diary

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I did the thing!

 

Finished The Messenger.
Such a special game...ok ok, I'll stop. :p

It is an easy 10/10. In my eyes, it's the perfect game. Tight controls, awesome 2D-action-platforming, banger music, beautiful graphics, hilarious from start to finish and just a joy to play.
An impeccable blend of linear level/room design (especially in the first third of the game) mixed with some of the best Metroidvanian gameplay I've experienced in my 25 years of video gaming.. Bonus points for giving us the option to acquire hints to let us know where to go.
The worlds aren't particularly large which makes for a much more streamlined journey. Way more enjoyable than the likes of Super Metroid (one of the worst games in history...yes, I'm serious :p).
I lack the vocabulary to give the platforming/action/controls the praise it deserves. It's perfect.

Easily the best game I've played this year and one of the best ever. :peace:

Spoiler

 

And now it's time to play the DLC. Hope it's just more of the same :)

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I was hoping to put a lot of time into the Final Fantasy VII Remake after getting it early.

 

Then I got back massively addicted to Magic Arena again... Welp.

 

So yeah, that has delayed things a bit but I am a good chunk of the way through Chapter 4 of the Remake so that's pretty good.

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I finished the DLC for The Messenger this morning.

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It was more of the same, which is exactly what I wanted. Some the hidden mask pieces offered a nice challenge and the last 2 boss fights were amazing. The first one of these really tests how much you've learnt in the game, with a crazy amount of platforming needing to be done in a short space for time. The second fight...

Spoiler

Punch-Out!! :D 

The trophies were a little meh. There were only 2 for the DLC. One for defeating the last boss and another for talking to the completed mask.

I can't give enough praise to this game and the fact that the DLC is free is just icing on top of a very delicious cake. 

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Just finished the DLC, as well.

More of the same. Which is awesome when the base game is perfect :D

28 minutes ago, Hero-of-Time said:

The first one of these really tests how much you've learnt in the game, with a crazy amount of platforming needing to be done in a short space for time.

You'd think I was in trouble during that fight given the video I've posted above. But noooooo. Made it first try. Sometimes I can't get through a door in time, sometimes I wreck difficult parts with no hassle at all. :blank:

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Played Membrane for a while.

Neat idea that falls flat about halfway through the game. As soon as you have to shoot that green ball in order to get it anywhere it's too finicky to set up your solution to the puzzle. It gets very annoying very quickly. The controls are also not precise enough which doesn't help in later puzzles. I think I've gotten through 75% of Membrane when I decided to stop because the enjoyment went away completely ::shrug:
Paid 1€ for it during a sale and I liked it for a while so no biggie. Not going on my list for this year, though.

 

Been playing Monster Hunter World cooperatively (and Iceborne solo) these past few evenings. Playing through the vanilla game with a mate is awesome.
The expansion, however, hasn't been too great, to be honest. Monsters have way too much HP. Battles become tedious after a while. I would assume that with stronger weapons fights last a little less long but to get there you have to...fight monsters. I've read that the Iceborne community has been saying the same since the expansion's release...bit of a bummer.

 

I'm very interested in One Step From Eden. I'll most likely get it this week or the next. For the time being I've decided to get back to Slay the Spire. My goal right now is to beat the true boss with the fourth character. :)

 

One more thing: I've gotten back to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. The release of its Battle Royale mode got me (and some gaming friends) hooked again. :D

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After finishing The Messenger I was still in the mood for a platformer. I had a look on my shelf and Shovel Knight caught my eye. The last time I played this was when it was released for the Wii U and I eventually picked up a physical copy for my PS4 but never got around to playing it...until yesterday.

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Before starting the game I had a quick look at the trophy list. It looked VERY daunting. I decided to have a crack at it anyway and I started by playing through the game and grabbing all the collectables and power ups, but also making sure I had zero deaths throughout my whole play through. This proved to be stupidly challenging. You essentially have to play perfectly for each and every stage of the game. If you die you have to quit out of the game and then start the level from scratch. Some of the stages really took some doing, especially those that had pitfalls to fall into. Once I got a few of the relics in my possession, namely the Phase Locket, things did start to get a little more manageable. I was hoping to get this run finished last night but the latter stages really tested me but it was getting late I was pretty much spent.

I cracked on with the game again this morning and brushed aside the stages that were giving me trouble last night. I gave a huge sigh of relief once I finished the game without dying. At least I didn't have to do that again...or so I thought. Turns out I completely cocked up because I really should have paired this run with one that had me breaking all of the checkpoints. I couldn't use the checkpoints anyway so I may as well have been smashing them. This meant I had to go through the main stages again without dying. Thankfully, my time spent with learning the stages in my previous run payed off and it didn't take too long to grab this trophy.

Next, I needed to decided whether to try and beat the game in 1 hour 30 minutes, without using any relics or without spending any money. I decided to try and get all 3 in a single run. Ballsy move but I figured I could pull it off. Not spending any money and not buying any relics seem to go hand in hand and it made sense to do both of those together. This run would really test me. You can't do it in New Game + mode which meant that you have to start a fresh file and start from the beginning without any power ups. In my previous runs I had relied heavily on the Phase Locket and the Kratos armour but now I had nothing but a shovel. You can't even buy any health upgrades and 3 of them can only obtained by beating the bosses. Needless to say, this was tough but I did somehow manage to pull it off and I had over a minute to spare!

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I did enjoy this run though. I had to play a lot differently to what I had previously done. I couldn't be as careless as I had been and when fighting the bosses I had to make sure every hit counted and always be ready to be on the defensive. 

My final run through the game required me to play through it in New Game+ mode. You get to carry everything over but the game is a lot harder. Enemies hit harder, there are only 2 checkpoints in each stage ( not that I have been able to use them anyway :p ) and all healing items have been replaced with bombs. There were one or two tricky areas but nothing too taxing. However, the boss gauntlet at the end of the game stumped me for a while. You don't always get healing items after each battle and a couple of the knights were really doing me over. It was then that I remembered that I had two healing potions with me. I bought these during my very first run of the game and completely forgot I had the things! :laughing: Once I realised that I had these I made short work of the fight. I went on to butcher the last boss and the credits rolled again.

Earlier I mentioned the Kratos armour. This is exclusive to the PlayStation versions of the game and the fight you have to do in order to unlock it is fantastic. Kratos appears in a stage and the God of War theme plays in all of it's 8-bit glory. The fight is very God of War, in that Kratos uses the Chaos Blades, smashes pillars across the battle ground and heals himself by absorbing green orbs. It's such a great bit of fan service. The armour itself is probably the best one in the game. Shovel Knight can pull off a triple hit combo with his shovel, turning it into a Chaos Blade lookalike. He can also collect red orbs to pull off a special move, blue orbs to replenish magic and any food that is found in the game are now turned into green orbs. Brilliant. :D 

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This was one of those cases where my love of trophies really pushed me to achieve something more than simply finishing the game. I honestly didn't think i'd be able to beat the game without dying or do it under the time it asked but I learnt the layout of the levels, where enemies were spawning, which relics to use where and generally just got better at the game in order to achieve the tasks at hand. It also allowed me to appreciate the game on another level. Don't get me wrong, I already liked Shovel Knight back when I played it on the Wii U but this experience was a completely different and better one than I had before. I'm happy I pushed myself and it's defiantly one of my proudest platinums. For Shovelry!!

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On Chapter 6 of the Final Fantasy VII Remake now and I'm just going to leave this here:

 

Spoiler

 

Also been playing Magic Arena but I'm really bored of general grinding right now. One of the things I love about Trading Card Games is the amount of variety that you can get when creating decks. But while I have created all manner of different deck types from casual to competitive, every game I've played even in the standard play queue is against Mono-Red Aggro, Mono White Lifegain, Simic Flash, Thassa Agent of Trechary steal and Mono-Black Devotion. It's getting a bit stale right now so I'm glad there's a new set coming out in Ikoria that will actually give some variety to the decks you see,... or people will just tech cards into those existing decks...

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Since Quantum Break I've dipped in and out of a few games, mainly Rocket League which I'm playing on my Xbox instead of Switch due to having more TV time and mates who play on it too (having said that, the few times I've used my Switch and the Rocket ID way to link up with them has been seamless, just a shame I can't have the same profile over both consoles but beggars can't be choosers) 

Another mate bought me a copy of Anthem for us to play together and I've made a tentative start into that and enjoyed what I've played so far, however I've been hankering to dive back into the murky depths of Sea of Thieves for awhile so I've properly dedicated some time into that these last few days, including four hours straight yesterday morning when my dogs woke me up at 2:30 and I couldn't get back to sleep 🤦‍♂️

Even when it was released I was sold on the game play and the world they had created, I was just one of the many voices disappointed at the lack of content and, ultimately, the lack of single player action too; not only was it slow going on your own, but if a bigger crew stumbled upon you hours of work would be lost in a flash.

However, in the two years since launch the game has changed quite abit and now does have a story mode called "Tall Tales" which I embarked on over the last few days. 

In many ways it's still frustrating as it doesn't carry your story progression mid mission, if you don't get it done you go straight back to the start at your next play through, and the missions are about 2 hours long if not more due to the clues being riddles and sometimes very vague, countless times I found myself on the wrong island. Which sounds annoying but, ultimately, if you invest in it and take it for what it is, the whole ethos of "creating your own story" becomes true and I guarantee my experience on the first mission was probably very different to any one else's.

After a few attempts at the first mission (including one where I dropped the shroud breaker (the macguffin) in the sea and lost it 🤦‍♂️) I finally readied myself, finished the puzzles, claimed the shroud breaker and headed back to my ship to take it back to the stranger at an outpost and finally complete the quest. As I sailed back the music quickly changed and I had an enemy Skelton boat by my side. Before I had a chance to react my ship had four cannon ball holes in its side and was sinking fast, a good 5 minutes sailing away from the outpost. As I was sinking and thinking I was never going to get this thing done, I quickly grabbed the shroud breaker and leapt off the deck into the ocean. I was a decent swim away from land, and this land was a Skelton fort as well, brimming with enemies. Still, shark infested waters meant if I tried to swim the distance (and with no map to properly navigate)  I wouldn't have lasted long. So I swam to the fort, and saw there was a row boat on the beach! I quickly hopped in and started rowing, and managed to fumble my way to a few wrong islands before reaching the outpost, all the while being accompanied by a lovely Megaldoon shark that just circled my tiny row boat in a threatening manner...

The second mission was less less puzzles and more battles; the fighting system still isn't amazing but does a job, for the end I tried a few times to go toe to toe with the Skelton lord and her minions, but kept getting annihilated, so I basically beached my ship, drew them towards it and then jumped back on it, picked out my sniper rifle and took them out slow and steady using my ship for cover! 

So many ways to skin the proverbial on the game and, if you're restarting the mission , although the puzzle of mechanic elements are the same, the game moves the locations around of where things are, so you have to pay attention and you explore my islands because of it too.

It's really become a fantastic game, feels vibrant and full of things to do now, and it all still feels very Rare as well!

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Posted (edited)

First post here in a while, unfortunately have had a very busy few months outside of gaming in my personal and professional life, but I'm hoping to catch up with my Gaming Diary entries over the next few days.

Let's start with February...

YAKUZA KIWAMI | 2016

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Originally released in Japan in 2016, Yakuza Kiwami is a remake of the original Yakuza released for the PS2 in 2005. Opening up in 1995, the game follows Kazuma Kiryu, a fast-rising yakuza who is Lieutenant Advisor in the Tojo Clan’s Dojima Family known as the “Dragon of Dojima”, as he is on the brink of starting his own sub-family. However, one rainy night, thunder rocks the dark skies above the fictional Tokyo district of Kamurocho, as flashes of lightning illuminate the scene in the Dojima Family office: having kidnapped and forced himself onto Yumi - a childhood friend of Kiryu’s - a Family associate now lays in a pool of his own blood, gunned down by and now at the feet of Akira Nishikiyama, Kiryu’s best friend and sworn brother. Kazuma arrives, and makes a decision which will change his destiny, and that of the Tojo Clan, for good: picking up the emptied gun, Kiryu sends a trembling Nishikiyama and a traumatised Yumi out of the room as the police arrive to arrest him.

10 years later, Kazuma Kiryu is released from prison into a changed world. Yumi is missing. Akira Nishikiyama is changed. And ten billion yen has gone missing from the Tojo Clan, putting the organisation on the brink of a war of succession. As Kiryu starts to find his feet again, he meets a young girl named Haruka in a blood-sprayed bar, and what follows is an epic narrative which will shake Kamurocho to its core.

The game takes place mostly in the small but detailed open world of the Kamurocho district realised in the same engine as 0, with plenty of distractions on offer, ranging from nearly 80 substories (side quests) of varying length and hilarity to a wide range of minigames (batting cages, pocket circuit racing, karaoke, bowling, pool, traditional tabletop card and strategy games to name just a few!) to Majima Everywhere, a new feature where the crazed Mad Dog of Shimano, Goro Majima, appears just about everywhere you can imagine to challenge you to a fight, which can help you to upgrade your Dragon Style abilities (a style Kiryu fell out of touch with while behind bars).

The fighting in this game is for the most part a whole lot of fun, as you punch and kick your way through enemies in third-person brawler fashion, and besides the newly introduced Dragon Style, the Brawler, Rush, and Beast Styles from Yakuza 0 also make a return. Brawler is pretty barebones and is what you would typically expect from this type of game, but the other styles are much more unique and fun to play around with: Rush allows you to quickly weave between opponents and tightly shooting off some quick punches, whereas Beast has you sweeping your way through enemies with wide motions, grabbing just about nearby potential weapon (be it a sofa, a sign, or a knife) to take the battle to your opponent. As you make your way through fights, your Heat Gauge will fill – once this is filled, you can unleash a devastating Heat Action on your opponent to deal tremendous damage to them in what normally plays out as an almost always brutal cutscene-like animation. Winning fights is one of many ways to earn many in this game, which can be used to upgrade your Style abilities. Battles are everywhere, whether it be in one of the many substories, the main story, or just when walking around in Kamurocho, so it’s definitely worth investing in Kiryu as you play through the game. What I really appreciate about this series is that, unlike games like Grand Theft Auto and Just Cause, you cannot harm random members of the public, an omission which is just as much a mechanic in that it organically deals with the moral code of the yakuza through gameplay.

However, as fun as the battles are, due to there being so many, it can certainly get repetitive at times, and can even start to grate and break your immersion somewhat if you’re rushing to the next story point only to be interrupted by some nobodies. Towards the end of the game, more and more enemies will be equipped with guns and knives, and if hit by a bullet or stabbed, you’ll find that you’ll be down for a little while. Though okay in small numbers, there are sometimes large groups equipped with these weapons, and you won’t be able to deal out more than a couple of punches before falling to the floor, then getting up and having the cycle repeat. Boss fights at times come down to having enough health replenishing items to hand, and a lot of them are hit sponges with a ridiculous number of health bars to work through, so do expect some battles to drag on for quite a while. In the place of normal Heat Actions, sometimes bosses will hunch over and start regenerating health while glowing an aura matching one of your Styles. Change to the corresponding Style and deal some more damage than you’ll be able to with other Styles, or, if you have your Heat Gauge filled, you can unleash an incredibly over-the-top Kiwami Heat Action. Though these can be fun to begin with, they don’t bring a whole lot more to the table than normal Heat Actions, and so can wear thin pretty quickly.

Like in Yakuza 0, what Yakuza Kiwami manages to do so well is balance a great and varied cast of characters with an intriguing narrative, all while remaining fun. There is a smart balance of silliness and seriousness in this game, and as is the case with the rest of the series that I’ve experienced so far, one moment you could be on the brink of tears, and the next you could be laughing your guts out. Chapter 12 in particular is a highlight at roughly an hour long, as it is almost entirely story-focused, and the few fights that there are in this chapter feel much briefer and purposeful than elsewhere in the game. There are plenty of emotional, soap opera-style twists and turns that you see coming, but at least just as many that you don’t. Though I don’t think that the story is as tight or as focused as Yakuza 0’s, and experiences some pacing issues around the offset, it deals with a lot of important themes such as family and friendship in an engaging and intriguing way, and is still well worth the price of admission. However, having a foundational familiarity with many of the core cast from playing Yakuza 0, I can’t recommend playing this game without having played through that game first.

In short, I strongly recommend playing this game. It took me around 17 hours without dipping too much into side content. And, if you want to get into the series for the first time, though, it’s well worth checking out Yakuza 0 first, as it will greatly enhance your experience with this game.

After finally continuing my Yakuza journey since completing Yakuza 0 for the first time in October last year, it only seemed right to move onto...

YAKUZA KIWAMI 2 | 2017

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Taking place one year after the events of Yakuza Kiwami, Yakuza Kiwami 2 is a remake of 2006’s Yakuza 2, and once again lets players take control of the stoic Kazuma Kiryu. After a close friend calls Kiryu out from his illusion of peace to stabilise relationships with the Tojo Clan’s western counterpart, the Omi Alliance, Kiryu quickly finds himself becoming the rival of the Omi’s “Dragon of Kansai”, Ryuji Goda, with the returning Kamurocho and Sotenbori caught in the crossfire of this grand retelling. Along the way, many familiar faces return and new faces appear to give Kiryu a helping hand (or vice versa) as he aims to calm the turmoil in the yakuza and in his own heart as he is challenged with questions of identity, family, legacy, and love.

Kiwami 2 is a beautiful game to look at, with the settings this time being realised in incredible detail in SEGA’s Dragon Engine (also used for Yakuza 6). Transitions in and out of buildings on bustling streets are seamless, and the game also makes use of a first-person view. In case that level of immersion wasn’t enough for you, transitions in and out fights on the streets and throughout most of the game are also seamless, and the food and drink of Japan look as detailed as ever before. Don’t be surprised if you’re not allowed into an establishment after throwing a hooligan through one of their windows, though.

The game’s fighting has slightly changed from previous entries that I’ve played, with Styles from previous games not making a return this time around. In their stead is a universal fighting style which can be upgraded through points acquired through eating and drinking, as well as through fighting, making the game seem much more in line with a typical RPG experience when compared with previous entries. Though it can be fun maxing out your stats, the lack of variety in fighting styles can make the game feel a bit less exciting than some previous entries, due to the lack of diversity in how to handle enemies. On the other hand, you can charge up a running kick which floors enemies and is almost always fun to use at the start of a fight.

In terms of side content, substories once again make a return, with 75 of them being on offer this time around, ranging from helping out an old friend with his issues (including some fantastic cutscenes) to dealing with someone stealing your identity to even being a voice actor. Some of these substories are stronger than others, but almost all of them are guaranteed to make you smile (if you’re not already laughing yourself onto the floor or crying your eyes out). Other games and activities also make a return, and a Command & Conquer-style game which sees you helping out the always hilarious Goro Majima (who once again steals some of the scenes in this game) with his up-and-coming construction company makes for a nice change of pace, as does visiting the arcades to throw down in Virtua Fighter 2. The game also features a side-story which unlocks as you play through the main game called the Majima Saga, what turns out to be a short two-hour epilogue for Yakuza 0 which follows the Lord of the Night between the events of Yakuza Kiwami and Yakuza Kiwami 2. I would highly advise checking this out if you enjoyed Yakuza 0, but it would probably be best saved for after you’ve completed Kiwami 2’s main story (as it will all then be unlocked for you to enjoy in one sitting).

Kiryu’s relationships and willingness to help others in this game is highlighted throughout much of the story, and I think a case could be made for him being one of the best protagonists to use as a role model in any media, for anybody. He is not a flawless character, but he and his never-ending struggles are far too relatable, and so seeing how he handles those with respect for himself and others is, I think, a great example of how someone should aspire to act. And I love this quote:

It’s easy for men with power to stray. They’re only human.

I really don’t want to talk too much about the story, because I think that even mentioning certain story beats or names from previous games returning in this one could spoil some of the fun for those who have yet to experience it, so instead, I will say give out some quick non-spoiler mentions to certain part that I did and didn’t like: Chapter 12 being the weakest in the game (an absurd setting which seems too much even for this series, with horribly cramped hallways which aren’t fun to make your way through, and easily the least enjoyable boss fight in the game), save for how it ends; Ryuji Goda being a well-crafted and relatable antagonist; and Outlaw’s Lullaby, the street fight music in Sotenbori, being the amazing jazzy backing track that I never knew I needed when throwing punches at some punks.

I think that, besides some issues with pacing at certain points in the game, I hold this game in the same regard as Yakuza 0, which is to say that it is an incredible video game, with a great cast and an exceptional and hilariously melodramatic story. If you haven’t already, you should play Yakuza 0, then Yakuza Kiwami, and then this game – it is well worth the financial and time investment to have one of the most unique gaming experiences you’ll be able to find available today. Just make sure that you have some tissues to hand for some of those endings, because you might need them.

I have loved my time with the Yakuza series so far and cannot wait to continue my journey with Kiryu and co. in Yakuza 3 next time around.

Edited by Julius
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Posted (edited)

This was brought up in the Resident Evil 3 thread the other day...

On 13/04/2020 at 8:39 PM, Hero-of-Time said:

They should remake Resident Evil Zero. That way they can do it right and get rid of the crazy dropping the items system they put in place in that game. I should really replay it to see how it holds up. I don't think i've played it since the GameCube days.

...and that's exactly what i've done.

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I played the first part of the origins collection back in Dec of 2014. I remember playing it over the Christmas break due to the length of time I had off and because of how intense some of the trophies were. I needed plenty of time to run through the game multiple times and learn the layouts, which is exactly what is needed with Zero. I think that's why i've put off playing this for so long. With plenty of free time on my hands at the moment, I figured I would take a run at the game.

Campaign First Run

This was a run just for me to get used to the game and learn the layouts of each of the areas. Starting the game, I was quite shocked just by how rough the both the voice acting and CGI sequences are. In my mind the game looked fine but comparing it to the 2 new Resident Evil remakes, there's no denying this game could do with an upgrade.

Coming off of playing Resident Evil 3 Remake I found the controls a little clumsy and I kept pressing wrong buttons to do certain actions as my brain kept going back to RE3. I eventually adjusted and managed to get a handle of what was what. It was still a little fiddly though. Something simple, such as picking up an item, can often be a little awkward and a lot of the times you expect to be able to pick an item up only for the game to want you to move away from it or a little closer.

Swapping to and fro between the characters was a bit of a pain in the backside, as was juggling all of the items. Having to pause just to switch between characters was a ridiculous faff...that was until near the end of this play through where I accidentally hit the touchpad and found that also allowed you to switch. I'd been playing the best part of the game thinking the status menu was the only way to do it. :laughing:

With this being my first run through the game I did find it hard when it came to the inventory system. I wasn't really sure what I needed to keep and what I needed to leave. It also didn't help that you can lose a lot of your items if you move past certain parts in the story, if you don't place said items in a specific spot. Eventually I stopped trying to horde certain things and just went about using them as I came across them. This made it far easier to keep one or two spaces free for any key items that needed to be picked up.

I ended up finishing my first run in just under 7 hours. I somehow had to get this done to under 3 and a half in order to get an S rank.

Leech Mode First Run

This mini game that you unlock isn't that mini, at least when trying to get a perfect run. You need work your way through the whole of the mansion map and pick up leeches, blue for Billy and green for Becca. There are 100 ( 50 each ) to collect but the issue is that once you collect 1 of them you can no longer put it down. This means you need to try and balance your inventory to make sure you have enough space for herbs and ammo but also enough for the leeches. Furthermore, you can't actually save in this. If you die then you have to restart it. I figured the best course of action was to go around each of the rooms, collect ammo, kill every enemy and then go back around the map and pick them all up. This took some doing and I got a little frustrated towards the end of it because I was missing a single leech and for the life of me I couldn't find the thing. It took a lot of searching around and repeating areas but I eventually found it in a room where the camera angle shifts only when going into a specific section. With them all found, I left the mansion and unlocked my rewards, which consisted of infinite ammo for every gun, a magnum and a sub machine gun. The whole thing took over 3 hours but the rewards would coming in handy during my next campaign run.

Leech Mode Second Run

I had to play this mode again but this time I had to collect only 50 leeches with 1 player and then leave the mansion. This run was a much speedier affair. I no longer had to sweep each room or kill every enemy. Completing this didn't unlock any new goodies but it was required for a trophy.

Campaign Second Run

This run was going to be very tense. I had to play through the whole game without saving. One wrong move and that meant I would be forced to restart the whole thing. Luckily, thanks to my Leech Mode runs, I now had a magnum with infinite ammo at my disposal. The whole thing went very smoothly, so much so that I tried pairing it with some other trophies. These required me to not heal or combine any herbs. Sadly, I got hit a couple of times and rather than risk it, I did end up using some herbs. I didn't combine any though and I managed to get through the run without using any first aid sprays. I managed to get an S rank with this run, finishing it in 2 and a half hours.

Campaign Third Run

This run was quite a blast. I had to play the game as Wesker, which was pretty hilarious. He has a special move that, when charged, can blow up zombies heads. I still had all my infinite weapons with me, as well as now having a rocket launcher thanks to my previous S rank. I did have to take this run a little slower than my previous one because I needed to make it through the whole game without healing. This was made easier than my last run because I could actually save and if I did cock up somewhere I could quit and reload. I done this run through of the game straight after my last one so every thing was pretty fresh in my mind. 

Campaign Fourth Run 

This final run of the game needed to be done on the hard difficulty. This would certainly be a challenge, not only because the enemies are harder and the herbs not as plentiful, but because I couldn't bring my array of infinite weapons with me. This had to be done from scratch. I started this run yesterday evening but having already played through the thing twice that day I was feeling burnt out and I was finding it hard to make any progress. I fired it up again this morning and cracked on with my final run. The hardest part of this run was probably the train at the start. With it being the start of the game I found it hard to gauge just how much damage I should allow myself to be taking and how much ammo I should be trying to conserve. Halfway through the run I found that I had plenty of ammo and herbs and the run turned out much easier than I expected. It also helped that I had played through the game numerous times and at this point pretty much knew the game like the back of my hand.

If I was to describe Resident Evil Zero in a single word I think it would have to be clumsy. The classic Resident Evil puzzles, atmosphere, combat and controls are all here but the player has to contend with inventory management and character switching so much that it does tend to get in the way of the game. The runs where I had infinite ammo were a far better experience, not because I could just go around killing enemies as I saw fit, but more because I didn't need to carry different guns or ammo, meaning that my inventory had plenty of room to spare. I often think what the game would have been like if it had just kept the old chest/item system from the original games. However, I do think Capcom deserve some credit for actually releasing the game in the first place ( thing was in development hell for years ) and also trying to mix the formula up a bit but without taking away the core of the series. Despite my issues with the game, I did enjoy my time with it and got a great sense of satisfaction from earning the tough platinum and finally putting Resident Evil Origins on the completed shelf.

@Aneres11 I now join you in the RE0 platinum club.

giphy.gif?cid=ecf05e4739d12a21c57b3d1055

Edited by Hero-of-Time
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4 hours ago, Hero-of-Time said:

This was brought up in the Resident Evil 3 thread the other day...

...and that's exactly what i've done.

Image

I played the first part of the origins collection back in Dec of 2014. I remember playing it over the Christmas break due to the length of time I had off and because of how intense some of the trophies were. I needed plenty of time to run through the game multiple times and learn the layouts, which is exactly what is needed with Zero. I think that's why i've put off playing this for so long. With plenty of free time on my hands at the moment, I figured I would take a run at the game.

Campaign First Run

This was a run just for me to get used to the game and learn the layouts of each of the areas. Starting the game, I was quite shocked just by how rough the both the voice acting and CGI sequences are. In my mind the game looked fine but comparing it to the 2 new Resident Evil remakes, there's no denying this game could do with an upgrade.

Coming off of playing Resident Evil 3 Remake I found the controls a little clumsy and I kept pressing wrong buttons to do certain actions as my brain kept going back to RE3. I eventually adjusted and managed to get a handle of what was what. It was still a little fiddly though. Something simple, such as picking up an item, can often be a little awkward and a lot of the times you expect to be able to pick an item up only for the game to want you to move away from it or a little closer.

Swapping to and fro between the characters was a bit of a pain in the backside, as was juggling all of the items. Having to pause just to switch between characters was a ridiculous faff...that was until near the end of this play through where I accidentally hit the touchpad and found that also allowed you to switch. I'd been playing the best part of the game thinking the status menu was the only way to do it. :laughing:

With this being my first run through the game I did find it hard when it came to the inventory system. I wasn't really sure what I needed to keep and what I needed to leave. It also didn't help that you can lose a lot of your items if you move past certain parts in the story, if you don't place said items in a specific spot. Eventually I stopped trying to horde certain things and just went about using them as I came across them. This made it far easier to keep one or two spaces free for any key items that needed to be picked up.

I ended up finishing my first run in just under 7 hours. I somehow had to get this done to under 3 and a half in order to get an S rank.

Leech Mode First Run

This mini game that you unlock isn't that mini, at least when trying to get a perfect run. You need work your way through the whole of the mansion map and pick up leeches, blue for Billy and green for Becca. There are 100 ( 50 each ) to collect but the issue is that once you collect 1 of them you can no longer put it down. This means you need to try and balance your inventory to make sure you have enough space for herbs and ammo but also enough for the leeches. Furthermore, you can't actually save in this. If you die then you have to restart it. I figured the best course of action was to go around each of the rooms, collect ammo, kill every enemy and then go back around the map and pick them all up. This took some doing and I got a little frustrated towards the end of it because I was missing a single leech and for the life of me I couldn't find the thing. It took a lot of searching around and repeating areas but I eventually found it in a room where the camera angle shifts only when going into a specific section. With them all found, I left the mansion and unlocked my rewards, which consisted of infinite ammo for every gun, a magnum and a sub machine gun. The whole thing took over 3 hours but the rewards would coming in handy during my next campaign run.

Leech Mode Second Run

I had to play this mode again but this time I had to collect only 50 leeches with 1 player and then leave the mansion. This run was a much speedier affair. I no longer had to sweep each room or kill every enemy. Completing this didn't unlock any new goodies but it was required for a trophy.

Campaign Second Run

This run was going to be very tense. I had to play through the whole game without saving. One wrong move and that meant I would be forced to restart the whole thing. Luckily, thanks to my Leech Mode runs, I now had a magnum with infinite ammo at my disposal. The whole thing went very smoothly, so much so that I tried pairing it with some other trophies. These required me to not heal or combine any herbs. Sadly, I got hit a couple of times and rather than risk it, I did end up using some herbs. I didn't combine any though and I managed to get through the run without using any first aid sprays. I managed to get an S rank with this run, finishing it in 2 and a half hours.

Campaign Third Run

This run was quite a blast. I had to play the game as Wesker, which was pretty hilarious. He has a special move that, when charged, can blow up zombies heads. I still had all my infinite weapons with me, as well as now having a rocket launcher thanks to my previous S rank. I did have to take this run a little slower than my previous one because I needed to make it through the whole game without healing. This was made easier than my last run because I could actually save and if I did cock up somewhere I could quit and reload. I done this run through of the game straight after my last one so every thing was pretty fresh in my mind. 

Campaign Fourth Run 

This final run of the game needed to be done on the hard difficulty. This would certainly be a challenge, not only because the enemies are harder and the herbs not as plentiful, but because I couldn't bring my array of infinite weapons with me. This had to be done from scratch. I started this run yesterday evening but having already played through the thing twice that day I was feeling burnt out and I was finding it hard to make any progress. I fired it up again this morning and cracked on with my final run. The hardest part of this run was probably the train at the start. With it being the start of the game I found it hard to gauge just how much damage I should allow myself to be taking and how much ammo I should be trying to conserve. Halfway through the run I found that I had plenty of ammo and herbs and the run turned out much easier than I expected. It also helped that I had played through the game numerous times and at this point pretty much knew the game like the back of my hand.

If I was to describe Resident Evil Zero in a single word I think it would have to be clumsy. The classic Resident Evil puzzles, atmosphere, combat and controls are all here but the player has to contend with inventory management and character switching so much that it does tend to get in the way of the game. The runs where I had infinite ammo were a far better experience, not because I could just go around killing enemies as I saw fit, but more because I didn't need to carry different guns or ammo, meaning that my inventory had plenty of room to spare. I often think what the game would have been like if it had just kept the old chest/item system from the original games. However, I do think Capcom deserve some credit for actually releasing the game in the first place ( thing was in development hell for years ) and also trying to mix the formula up a bit but without taking away the core of the series. Despite my issues with the game, I did enjoy my time with it and got a great sense of satisfaction from earning the tough platinum and finally putting Resident Evil Origins on the completed shelf.

@Aneres11 I now join you in the RE0 platinum club.

giphy.gif?cid=ecf05e4739d12a21c57b3d1055

 

A wonderful read! 

And the club was kinda lonely, so it's nice to have you here! :p 

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Bought OneStepFromEden today on Switch. Balance patch isn't out, yet, but I got some disposable income. Only done one run:

:laughing:

I've seen several gameplay videos so I knew the basics, but man...there is so much going on. You have to keep track of a lot of things. It's bonkers, but very fun. 15 minutes in and I'm hooked :D

Picross S, OneStepFromEden and Fire Emblem: Three Houses (with the occasional hour of Modern Warfare and MHW: Iceborne) will last me for a while. :peace:

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Finished Days Gone yesterday.  It started off a little slow, but the story picked up and was extremely satisfying (for me at least).  Deacon is a decent character overall, and each of the camps provide something different (be it weapons, bike upgrades and missions).  The world is certainly full of opportunity for exploration, but with the right upgrades on the bike you can go further and faster.

The big challenge comes from the Hordes, which vary in size (50 to 500) and the location.   Best to leave the Hordes until later in-game, when you get (literally) the big guns.  They provide a lot of satisfaction, especially if you use strategy over the run and gun method (nothing wrong with this, the Horde just will be relentless in getting you.

I enjoyed it that much, i platinum'd it in 1 play-through.

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As part of the PodPals challenge, I just completed:

Ori and the Blind Forest

rd8wQJf.jpg

Didn't get the achievements, nor did a "One Life" run

A 2015 indie darling from Austrian developers Moon Studios, as well as a Microsoft IP, it is also the N-Europe Videogame Club's game for April (and I believe I was the first one to finish it), which I played on Steam. You can read my extended impressions in the thread itself.

The abridged version is:

Presentation...5/5
Gameplay-......4/5
Thorns............1/5
Difficulty..........4/5
Exploration......3/5

A very solid Metroidvania, although with a lot of room for improvement still. I hear Will of the Wisps addresses some of my issues, at least.

 

  My 2020 log (Hide contents)

Played/Beat/Completed:

-Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon (2018) Completed (January 13th)

-Mr.Driller: Drill Spirits (2004) Beat (January 30th)

-Dragon Ball Fighterz (2018) Beat (February 22nd)

-Advance Wars: Dark Conflict (2008) Completed (February 25th)

-Capcom Beat'em Up Bundle (2018) No Goal (March 13th)

-Professor Layton and the Curious Village (2008) Completed (March 23rd)

-Kirby's Pinball Land (1993) Completed (March 28th)

-Pikuniku (2019) Beat (March 31st)

-Ori and the Blind Forest (2015) Completed (April 18th)

 

Currently Playing:

-Fire Emblem: Three Houses (2019)

-Bravely Default (2013)

Meanwhile, progress on Fire emblem and Bravely Default is going pretty well. Hadn't had so much JRPG in my life in a while.

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Played through Gears 4 and Gears 5. 

In Gears 4, I didn't really care about the main character - the two other ones were more interesting. The "everything happening in one day" was an interesting idea, but the game both felt short while also really dragging on for some levels. The starting section of the game, showing a few different eras, was really cool though. 

The game has a "hell yes" moment later one with a mech suit...but then it again goes on two long and you end up in an awkward feeling final boss with dodgy QTE moments. The combat was enjoyable overall, fights were fun (except for the horde mode section...it seemed too much "try this bit in multiplayer" and took you out of the game).

The Locust (sorry, swarm - they're too similar that it seems odd for them to come up with different names for the same stuff) plotline was somewhat interesting, but the miscommunication/no time to explain plotline relating to the COG was just terrible. Part of the game also takes away one potentially interesting idea that was a possibility in previous games: that the humans may not be from Sera (nothing ever confirmed it, it was just an idea that people had, but a potentially very interesting one.

Overall, enjoyable but nothing spectacular or stand-out.

 

Gears 5 adds some things to the mix, such as a little bit of open world. Upgrading Jack was very interesting, and using him in combat was a lot of fun. Overall, there were a plenty of fun levels and set pieces that made the game a lot of fun to play. The open world, while nothing amazing, added something to the franchise which was a bit different. 

The main character from the last game is even worse, but you don't have to play with him for long. Kait's personal story is somewhat interesting, even if the overall game plot felt a bit pointless. And then there's the twist:

Spoiler

The first confusing thing about the big twist is that...you pretty much already know it. They did it in a previous game. I don't think they outright said it, but it was extremely obvious as to where the Locust came from. The other twist is also spelled out for you well before, and makes you realise that the characters did something really stupid at the end of the last game - leaving the body of the new queen behind.

The twist also ruins another potential interesting plot point of the series - that the Locust were the indigenous population. I wanted humans to be colonists (the "colony ship that took 20 years - or longer - to get there" idea would fit well, means there aren't spaceships flying everywhere and communication with Earth takes many years for a message if even possible), and it to be revealed that the Locust were relatively peaceful (with their own culture and everything) before their homes were being destroyed. 

Overall, a lot more fun and exciting than Gears 5. 

 

I probably don't recommend buying the games, but if you have the Xbox games pass, it's worth giving them a try.

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Posted (edited)

I picked up Jedi Knight II a few weeks ago when it was on sale for around £3 on PSN. I played it back on the original Xbox and it's a game I have fond memories of. I decided to start it this week...

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I love it when you look back at an old game, remember it fondly and then play it again in recent times to find that it's aged like a fine wine. Sadly, this isn't one of those cases. This game is rough. I mean REALLY rough. 

For starters, the controls are stupidly loose, so much so that it makes it a nightmare to actually aim and hit anything. I honestly felt like a real life Stormtrooper. The reticle often shows up as red, meaning you are going to hit the target, but when you fire your weapon you soon find out that the laser doesn't actually hit the enemy. I tried lowering the sensitivity but this didn't really help matters. I'm thinking this is a side effect of the game really being made for the PC. A mouse and keyboard would be far more suited for this twitchy control scheme.

Once you get a lightsaber you would have thought things would get better or at least easier, right? Nope. Even the lightsaber combat is all over the place. You could be swinging like a madman right next to an enemy and he would still not die. It was if you had to be very precise with the movements and hit specific points for the thing to actually count. The best thing you could do was just throw the lightsaber and try and direct it towards the enemy, hoping that the trajectory would at least knock a few of them down.

Graphically the game is very blocky looking, with character animations, especially facial ones, hilariously dated. It's not just the characters either. Environments look awful at times and it's often hard to make out just what buttons can be pressed in order for you to continue. The whole thing is very janky and just not smooth at all. Something as simple as jumping feels completely off and often I ended up missing my landing due to the animation and environments clashing. Also, I have no idea what is going on with the lighting in the game but it is stupidly dark. Even the brightness options in the game weren't enough. I had to crank the setting right up on my TV in order to see what was going on in some of the darker stages.

I had numerous glitches throughout the game. I would sometimes fall through things that  shouldn't, I would be sent flying across the screen for no reason, saves sometimes didn't load...the list goes on. Speaking of saves, I have no idea if this is a glitch or what but when saving you can't actually overwrite your previous save. You eventually fill up your save slots and then get told you can no longer save because there's no more space. You then have to quit the game and the go through the save files and delete them in order to continue, hoping that you don't actually delete the one you are using in the first place.

The one shining light in this mess of a game was the soundtrack and atmosphere. It does feel very much like a game set in the Star Wars universe, with lots of the music being taken from the original trilogy and used at just the right moments. For example, when exploring the Jedi temple and heading towards the final battle, the piece that plays during Luke and Vaders confrontation on the Death Star in ROTJ starts playing. It's such an underrated bit of music from the original trilogy and I was loving it when it showed up here.

Moments like like these cropped up throughout the game but it wasn't enough to salvage this mess.

It's funny, as seen here, I recently played through Resident Evil 0 and both that and this were released in 2002. The difference in quality between them both is like night and day and whilst Resident Evil 0 does have certain things that need updating, this game needs a complete overhaul. I was thinking of picking up Jedi Academy, another game I played and loved in my youth, but after this I think i'll leave it in the past where it belongs. I think this gif/quote is quite fitting given the subject and how I feel... 

;MeatyEnchantingAlligator-size_restricted

:D 

Edited by Hero-of-Time
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5 minutes ago, Hero-of-Time said:

I played it back on the original Xbox and it's a game I have fond memories of.

Uuuhhhhh, it was one of my favourite PC games back in the day. Maybe I should play it again.

5 minutes ago, Hero-of-Time said:

This game is rough. I mean REALLY rough. 

5 minutes ago, Hero-of-Time said:

it makes it a nightmare to actually aim and hit anything.

6 minutes ago, Hero-of-Time said:

Even the lightsaber combat is all over the place.

6 minutes ago, Hero-of-Time said:

The whole thing is very janky and just not sooth at all.

6 minutes ago, Hero-of-Time said:

I had numerous glitches throughout the game.

nope.gif

 

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1 minute ago, drahkon said:

Uuuhhhhh, it was one of my favourite PC games back in the day. Maybe I should play it again.

Maybe the PC version is better....probably not.  :laughing:

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Posted (edited)

Still playing catch up, but I only played one game in March. Fortunately, I have plenty to say. 

FINAL FANTASY VI | 1994

FF6.0.jpg

The sound of thunder rumbles as streaks of lightning illuminate the heavy, purple clouds above. The shrieks of organs fill the air with dread, followed by the dizzy, spiralling strokes of a piano, which find focus on the city ahead. A bell ominously rings out. Long ago, the War of the Magi reduced the world to a scorched wasteland, and Magic simply ceased to exist. The organs return, the bell ringing out again. Foreboding. It strikes again. 1000 years have passed... Iron, gunpowder and steam engines have been rediscovered, and high technology reigns. We see people wandering through the streets, and a harp springs from the depths to the hopeful heights. The organ climbs menacingly, seemingly with malevolent intent. But there are those who would enslave the world by reviving the dread destructive power known as "Magic". A steel fortress comes into view as the sounds of brass triumphantly cover up the organ with fanfare, as we barely catch a glimpse of a pale man in a colourful costume scurrying away. Can it be that those in power are on the verge of repeating a senseless and deadly mistake? Flutes and strings majestically take centre stage, slowing before a harp circles again and again, as if its destiny is undecided.

The cold wind howls through the air as three people, each atop towers of armour, meet the edge of a cliff overlooking a small city. One of them a young woman with long green hair, her eyes dazed, as if in a trance. Finding their way down from the cliff, the three wade through the thick snow towards the small city, their feet pounding the white flakes into the ground with little remorse. A simple and hopeful melody plays out, but it seems…lost. Confused. Controlled.

This is the scene that was first set for players in 1994 on the SNES, at the beginning of Final Fantasy VI. Notably, this was the first game in the series proper which was not directed by producer and Final Fantasy series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi. Finding himself spread thin across multiple projects at the time – including his involvement with Chrono Trigger – Sakaguchi would provide a main scenario and still oversee and be involved with the project, but passed the directorial reins onto Yoshinori Kitase (his largest role to this point being a scenario writer on Final Fantasy V) and Hiroyuki Ito (who had worked previously on the battle systems of Final Fantasy IV and Final Fantasy V, and is probably best known for his creation of the Active Time Battle system).

You first take control of Terra Branford, a super-soldier naturally gifted with the power of magic and mentally-enslaved by the Gestahlian Empire, who has most recently been directed to take part in the assault of the snow-covered city of Narshe in search of a recently unearthed Esper (magical creatures of all shapes and sizes, whose magic has been used to fuel the Empire’s lust for world domination). However, upon encountering the creature after laying waste to most of the city’s military forces, Terra’s squad is annihilated, along with her Magitek armour…and she wakes up in a stranger’s home, finally free of the Empire’s grip on her mind but suffering from amnesia.

Shortly after, Terra is chased out by Narshe’s forces until Locke Cole, a thief who prefers the term “treasure hunter”, and a pack of moogles turn up to save her. Quickly finding someone to trust in Locke, he shares with her that he is a member of the rebellious outfit known as the Returners, who fight to see Emperor Gestahl overthrown in order to bring an end to his reign and the terrifying might of his empire. Locke and the Returners offer for Terra to join them in their plight, being honest that while her magic would be a great aid in their battle efforts, they would only feel comfortable having her join of her own volition.

thecast.jpg

The globetrotting odyssey that unfurls in the following 40 hours or so is filled with meaningful highs, tragic lows, and important questions about allegiance, friendship, and love. Along the way, we meet an enormous cast of fourteen playable characters, many tied to the main story but some entirely optional, and almost all of whom feel like a main character, having a story to tell and goals to pursue that you want to lend them a hand in achieving; whilst Terra is something of a primary antagonist for much of the game, this is clearly an ensemble cast. To name a few of my favourites, there are the twin brothers Edgar, the young king of Figaro and champion of technology, and Sabin, who traded the throne for his freedom; Celes, a Magitek knight forged by the Empire and tempered in battle; Cyan, a fearless and faithful warrior from a foreign land; Shadow, who comes and goes like the wind, an assassin swearing his allegiance to no-one (other than his dog, Interceptor); Setzer, a gambling vagabond with a flair for the extravagant; and Gau, a young boy draped in monster hides, raised in the monster-infested plans known as the Veldt.

What makes this particular cast so wonderful is their interactions with one another: their petty squabbles, their conflicts in morals, their laughs, their showed woes, and most of all, their support of one another. They are all individually broken in one way or another, whether it be through loss of loved ones or identity, a troubling past or a completely forgotten one, and seeing this ragtag group provide each other support with moments of joy in victory and comfort during those worst of times is something that this game excelled at portraying. The characters’ victories are yours, but so are their struggles and defeats, and this game doesn’t shy away from serving our characters with scenarios which challenge their values time and time again. It’s wonderful to see it all play out.

48-14062011_185928.png

One of the reasons that it is so easy to get behind this cast is that, while we witness the Gestahlian Empire carry out many disgusting acts throughout the course of the game, the chaos and torment brought to the table by the game’s main villain, Kefka Palazzo, makes every twist and turn impossible to predict, and contrasts greatly in opposition to our cast. Twisted and frightening, Kefka is, in many of your early encounters with him, a surprisingly bumbling fool of a general, with plenty of hilarious lines to boot which made me laugh out loud on several occasions. However, behind the clown-like face paint, there lies a restless energy of malice which firmly takes a grip on the story at pivotal moments and tears control away from you, the player, and the characters that you are controlling.

While Kefka clearly starts the game out as an antagonist, as the body bags pile up as the game goes on, his descent into madness only becomes clearer and more horrifying, and as his allegiances blur, his conviction clarifies and true intentions come to the fore as he ceases an opportunity to change the fates of the world and its many inhabitants as he ascends from a loose cannon with a cackle to a god who leaves a world of ruin. It fills you with dread, and your final battle with him at the end of the game, accompanied by the operatic notes of the organ in Dancing Mad, is as much a battle of ideologies as it is an epic battle to the death, and as you complete phases of the final showdown, you climb up to the warm, deathly glow of the transformed heavens which the game climbed down from at the very beginning in the opening scene. It’s awesome.

Best Final Fantasy Snes GIFs | Gfycat

Battling and battle mechanics are an essential part of any JRPG, but I think that’s especially true in games which lean on turn-based battles. With the Active Time Battle system being refined by this point, I think it’s little surprise that I really enjoyed its inclusion and utilisation in this game – it provides a great question of a player’s ability to balance speed and formulate an attack strategy, and there were a number of battles in the game which were made all the more exciting, challenging and fluid by its inclusion.

All playable party members have an ability which is unique to them which can be used throughout battle without using your MP: for instance, Sabin, a trained martial artist, makes use of an ability called ‘Blitz’, which allows players to enter a Street Fighter-type combination of D-pad and button inputs to unleash a wide range of attacks from a spiral of fire to a flurry of fists. I found that the inclusion of abilities made me want to utilise a lot of characters throughout my journey to try out their individual abilities, and I’m sure that it made my time with the game more enjoyable. It’s one of many times in the game when you’ll find that a character’s trait is boiled down into a game mechanic, such as when Locke can steal guards’ clothing to sneak through an enemy-occupied town.

In addition to abilities, the magical creatures that I mentioned before known as Espers aren’t only closely tied to the story, but they actually serve a purpose in the game’s battle mechanics. When an Esper dies, they leave behind their power in its purest form, a magical stone known as Magicite. This can be equipped to party members to teach them spells once you reach a certain point in the story, and because all spells in the game can be learned from battling with Magicite equipped, as well as there being perks to levelling up with Magicite equipped (such as increasing particular stats), you can train your party members to fit almost any purpose you desire, from a tanking healer to a speedy warrior.

Final Fantasy VI is a friendly enough game for the most part which invites players from all walks of JRPG proficiency to have fun, though I do think there are one or two quite noticeable spikes in difficulty, most notably on the Floating Continent and in some of the second half’s optional dungeons and bosses. Saying that, one of those difficulty spikes did make for one of my favourite boss battle experiences in the game where I was too stubborn to grind to take on a boss, and so I spent nearly two hours refining my battle strategy until my party could take down the Storm Dragon.

The opera scene in Final Fantasy VI was a cinematic masterpiece ...

And what hasn’t already been said about the legendary Nobuo Uematsu? Once again, he delivered a score which fit the bill and then went beyond what was asked for. His use of leitmotifs (a musical theme for an idea, character, place, or situation) throughout this game is on par with some of the greatest musical compositions across any and all types of media, and that each of the playable characters receive a theme means that you end up with a cast who are not only excellently animated and characterised in their sprites, but are fully fleshed out. You can feel their motivations and struggles throughout much of their respective themes, which is an incredible feat of great storytelling being realised by an otherworldly soundtrack, and I quickly lost track of the number of times that a story beat matched with great music covered me in goosebumps and elicited an emotional response. The Opera House scene in particular is a spectacular melding of the game’s score, game design, game mechanics, and storytelling, and even though I have heard Maria and Draco countless times before, it nearly brought tears to my eyes when I finally played through the scene myself, and the use of its main melody from Celes’ part in its portrayal being used in her character theme is a subtle but meaningful piece of character evolution.

I could go on and on for pages and pages about how great this soundtrack is, but, instead, I think I want to talk about the game’s ending specifically. After the final battle is won, our part in this tale is over, and there’s nothing left to do except put the controller aside to let Uematsu blow us away one final time. What follows is a twenty-plus minute ending sequence which ties up every playable character’s story in short vignettes and allows each character a chance to take a bow, all while their themes play out one last time. We get a final bow put on top of Terra’s ending, letting her hair down with the wind rushing around her: she’s finally free at long last. We also get to see many familiar faces from all over the game’s world as we see life trying to return to normal, and we get the series’ main theme capping off a tremendous medley of themes from throughout the game which accompanied the ending sequence. It’s an excellent farewell and encore to these characters and to this story. Here's the ending medley in all its glory:

I finished this game at 3 AM on a Monday morning, and as things calmed down, with the lights off, I was accompanied only by the screen’s darkness, stars glistening as The Prelude played out on an infinite loop. I sat there for a bit over twenty minutes soaking it all in.

The journey was finally over.

Final Fantasy VI is an expertly crafted piece of gaming and music, with many of its developers and inarguably one of the greatest composers of all time realising this game at their collective peaks in the midst of what was undoubtedly a golden era for JRPGs. This is an experience which undoubtedly stands the test of time, and stands side-by-side with Chrono Trigger as one of my favourite gaming experiences.

It's one of the greats. 

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Edited by Julius
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Next up I'm going through all the Uncharted games.

 

Finished the first one last night...you can easily tell its age. The enemies in the game are relentless (in the wrong way) and the game doesn't really give you any sections to breathe. Sometimes you get though a massive combat section, start walking to the next area and another one will start.  The combat itself is also nowhere near as fun as previous games, and I'd even say that Uncharted on easy is more difficult than Hard in later games. The stealth mechanics don't work in most areas (there are a few areas where you can stealthily kill one or two guards, but then the rest of it is unavoidable) and once a single enemy sees you, every single one knows where you are until the combat ends. When you add this together with them being bullet sponges (unless you get a headshot, which feels more difficult than in later games) and then loads of snipers and grenade launcher enemies later on, it just feels unfair and not fun.

 

The platforming sections are also not amazing. The way forward is often poorly telegraphed, and the camera can sometimes encourage you to jump towards the wrong thing. They also feel a bit too similar to each other.

 

When it came out, Uncharted was an amazing game. However, the amount that was improved by Uncharted 2 (and games in general) makes the first age really poorly. 

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After my horrendous experience with Jedi Knight 2, I needed something a little more fun to play through. I decided to fire up South Park: The Stick of Truth.

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I think it was back in 2016 that I last played through this game on my PS3 and I had such a good time with it I figured I would play through the game again. I got this version free when I picked up The Fractured But Whole a coupe of years ago on the PS4 and it's just been sat in my PS4 digital library ever since. I started it late last night, been on it most of the day and the credits rolled tonight.

Having played the game before meant that I was ready for the nightmare of all of the missable trophies and I still remember certain tactics that could be used to make quick work of the bosses. Most of them get butchered it you stack up the bleed status effect and you can then just sit back and watch them bleed out. This even works in standard battles as well. 

Despite being my second time through the game I still found the whole thing absolutely hilarious. The battle that involves you fighting underwear gnomes, your parents having sex in the background, all the while you are trying to dodge your father's testicles at set periods during the fight, still had me howling. Yes, it's as crazy as it sounds. :laughing: Like The Fractured But Whole, it's just like playing through a very long episode of the TV show and it was just what I needed to play after my last game.

Another platinum in the trophy cabinet and another game crossed off the backlog. :peace:

 

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I've been playing Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna - The Golden Country in between other games this past week and after 20 hours of play time the credits have now rolled.

Spoiler

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Despite loving Xenoblade Chronicles 2, it has taken me a long while to actually sit down and play through this. I had started the game twice before, both of which I gave up after 5 hours. That being the case, it meant that this would be the third time I would be playing through the first 5 hours of the game as I couldn't just start from my last save as it had been too long since I had last attempted to play the game.

If i'm honest, I'm really not sure what I think of the game. On the one hand, I love the characters and the relationships each of them have with one another. I found each of them very likeable and none of them were really annoying. On the other hand, the game is a technical mess, feels cheaply made and is really just a load of side quests that have a few story beats thrown in. Also, i've come to really dislike the battle system. Don't get me wrong, it works well but there were loads of times where there is simply far too much going on in a battle that it's laughable just how much gets thrown on the screen all at once. I mean, take a look at this...

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As for the technical issues I mentioned, there were numerous times when I would load up the game and it would take ages before the textures would actually pop up. Then there were the issues with the resolution of the game. Man, this is rough. I'm playing on a 58 inch TV so this issue is VERY noticeable. There are times when the characters and enemies honestly looked like they were from the original Xenoblade game on the Wii. Both of these issues were present in the base game and i'm not that happy that they seemed to have been carried over here, especially when this game is far small than that. Here are a couple of examples of the issues.

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When I mentioned the game felt cheap I said this for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the lip syncing in the game is horrendous. It didn't really bother me in the base game but here I found it very noticeable and very irritating. There were times when lines of dialogue were being said but the characters mouths had stopped moving or where a character would be giving an emotional speech but the facial expressions wouldn't match what was coming out of their mouth. Addam was a prime example of this because no matter what he was saying he always seemed to have the standard grin on his face. Then there are things like blocky looking enemy models, environments that look like they are from a generation ago and very stiff character animations.

As I said earlier, the game is mainly made up of you just running errands for people, with the main story beats only really occurring at the start and the end. This was such a shame because what is there is pretty good, especially if you've played the base game. It really does feel like you are just zipping back and forth between areas in order to build up a community of people. Doing the quests allows for more people to join, which brings me to my next point which is the gate keeping. This was a thing in the base game and it's back here. Two times during the game you are required to have your community at a certain level. This means if you don't do the side quests then you can't actually progress the main story. It wasn't really an issue for me as I was keeping on top of things but when you consider that this was a big complaint from the base game you would have thought they would have ditched it here.

Putting the negatives aside (I could go on a bit longer), the characters in the game are fantastic. I've always loved Jin and seeing him here alongside Lora makes his character all the more tragic. It's interesting seeing the relationship he had with her and how the bond between them both, along with what happens to Lora, essentially created the Jin you see in the base game. You get a better understanding of why he done what he did. Speaking of Lora, I thought her character was also pretty strong and it was nice to have a female character who wasn't all happy go lucky all the time. However, there was one scene in the game which I thought didn't really fit her character that well and I found it very odd it was even in the game...

Spoiler

It was when her and Jin were talking at his old place and Jin said something that made her all giddy. She said no girl could resist the line he said and that sometimes she would just swoon over him, or words to that effect. It felt completely out of character for her and generally out of place in the whole game. Very weird.

The cutscenes and music accompanying them still manage to get me hyped. Just like the base game, they reminded me very much of an anime and I think they pull it off well. The game's visuals do get to shine here. Because there's not a lot going on with the game when these scenes occur it means that the hardware isn't being pushed hard and the scenes do look quite good. 

I think part of the problem I have with the game is that i've played other JRPGs that have more polish, budget and care put into them. When the game originally released I had just came off of playing Dragon Quest XI and it was hard not to compare it to that, especially the graphical side of things. Playing the game i'm now comparing it to Final Fantasy VII Remake, a game I finished a couple of weeks ago. It kinda makes me wish that Monolithsoft weren't hampered by the limited capabilities of the hardware they are working with and that they were given a bigger budget to pour into their games. I think the story telling in their games is great, it's the tech that I think lets them down. Maybe the open worlds they keep creating are what's bringing things down? If killing the open world setting for a more linear adventure that ran and looked better was on the cards then i'd be all for it.

Anyway, that's another game off the backlog.

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I’m going to talk about this on the next episode of the cafe and will write down some thoughts here later. 

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