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On 18/05/2021 at 8:49 AM, Dcubed said:

Shame to hear that STEAM ran out of steam for you.  Been meaning to play that game myself at some point... but I REALLY hate BS same-turn reinforcements; so maybe I should push that one further down the backlog :laughing:

Play Shadows of Valentia, damnit!

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Time for an update, starting with...

Monster Hunter Rise:

 

Have been pretty much glued to this since it launched, really enjoying it a lot. So much so that I basically replayed it from scratch (using a 2nd profile) immediately after completing it with my 1st character! :o Yeah, I just could not get enough of this game! :D Needless to say this is probably my favourite entry in the Monster Hunter series. While there are certainly some issues with it (especially for anyone that's been playing these games for a while now) ultimately it is a fantastic experience. I absolutely love the traditional Japanese theme they went with, the presentation is also phenomenal considering the limited power of the Switch, and the new gameplay mechanics are such game changers that I won't be surprised if they become permanent additions to the franchise. I can't even imagine playing another MH game without the Wirebug! Wyvern Riding is so much fun too! :cool:

While I certainly got my money's worth from the game already, with additional content still on the way and hopefully some more N-E online hunting sessions too (plus the worrying possibility of me double-dipping when the PC version arrives :hehe:) the Monster Hunting fun in Rise isn't over yet!

 

Spending so much time with MH Rise meant not much else has been played, I did however manage to sneak in a few games when I saw Apple had added a bunch of new titles to Apple Arcade a while back. Just couldn't resist checking some of them out, especially as one of them was from none other than Platinum Games!

World of Demons:

 

I'd never heard of this before seeing it in the new Apple Arcade line-up, but apparently Platinum had been working on it for over 3 years! So yeah, being a big fan of most of their stuff I had to check it out. To best describe this game I would say it's what happens when you take the humour of Viewtiful Joe, the art style of Okami and the gameplay of Bayonetta and then mix that all up in a blender. :laughing: I was super curious as to how it was going to play given it's a fast-paced action game primarily designed around mobile phone touch controls, and sure enough the answer was not very well. :grin: You can tell they tried to simplify certain aspects in order to make it work, but on-screen buttons were never going to offer enough precision for something like this. Luckily though, the game is also playable on Apple TV which is where I ended up playing it using a DS4 controller, and that made it infinitely more comfortable and enjoyable.

In terms of gameplay it was pretty straightforward, the areas are all quite small and very much on the simple side. There is some mild exploration/puzzle solving in there but seeing as you have to unlock paths by defeating Yokai (which gets pretty repetitive after a while) that kind of put me off looking for secrets, backtracking, etc. I think the best thing about the game for me (other than the superb art) was actually its dialogue, it's super cheesy stuff but some of it really did make me laugh a lot. Also, some of the monster designs are so completely out there, I was particularly surprised they got away with the ones that had...

Spoiler

...an eyeball in their bum hole. :laughing:

Anyway, a reasonably enjoyable game IF you can play it with a controller. In which case I'd recommend at least giving World of Demons a go for anyone who's a fan of Platinum Games. Hopefully it'll make its way to other platforms at some point too so more people get the chance to play it.

 

Quick mention on another Apple Arcade game that I unfortunately didn't spend as much time with as I'd have liked, and that is Wonderbox:

This is basically like The Legend of Zelda x Captain Toad, with the added awesomeness of a level creator. :) I'm no longer subscribed to Apple Arcade, but if/when I do again, this'll definitely be one of the first games I jump back into. ;)

 

Right now I'm back on Game Pass though checking out the latest additions there. I started with Dragon Quest Builders 2, but initial impressions were not good :hmm: (unsure if I'll return to it) so I'm currently playing Just Cause 4 instead, which I'm happy to report is proving to be as entertaining as I was expecting it be:

Physics? :p

 

Completed:

  1.     Tetris Effect: Connected (PC)
  2.     Doom Eternal (PC)
  3.     Dragon Quest XI (PC)
  4.     The Medium (PC)
  5.     Yakuza 3 Remastered (PC)
  6.     UnderMine (PC)
  7.     Ring Fit Adventure (Switch)
  8.     Levelhead (PC)
  9.     Superhot: Mind Control Delete (PC)
  10.     Sea of Thieves (PC)
  11.     Doom (PC)
  12.     Monster Hunter Rise (Switch)
  13.     World of Demons (Apple TV)

Played for a while:

  •     Cyber Shadow (PC)
  •     Control (PC)
  •     Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair (PC)
  •     Yakuza 4 Remastered (PC)
  •     Wreckfest (PC)
  •     Taiko no Tatsujin Pop Tap Beat (Apple TV)
  •     Wonderbox: The Adventure Maker (Apple TV/Mobile)
  •     Clap Hanz Golf (Apple TV)
  •     Dragon Quest Builders 2 (PC)

Older games that I'm still playing regularly:

  •     Mario Kart Tour (Mobile)
  •     Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Switch)
  •     Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (Switch)
  •     Rocket League (Switch/PC)
  •     Super Mario Maker 2 (Switch)
  •     Tetris 99 (Switch)
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Currently playing Stories: Path of Destinies.
Playing through to the true ending was fun enough, going for the Platinum is a bit of a slog. But I only have to complete it 18 more times... :D

The game sure has some things going for it. The story is not that bad, the characters are quite fun, the narrator mostly does a good job and fights are enjoyable.
The biggest problem, however, is: it starts to get repetitive quite early. You know the locations well enough after a few playthroughs, the characters never change, the story only slightly deviates from what you already know and the fights only get easier and easier the more you unlock (which usually isn't a big deal, but you become overpowered very fast).

Here's the thing: If the locations were procedurally generated and enemies had a little more variety to them, it would be much better.

It's a solid game, but sadly goes on for too long.

Granted, I could just stop going after the Platinum, but I'm actually enjoying the mindless fights these days. Takes off a bit of the anxiety :)

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21 minutes ago, drahkon said:

Currently playing Stories: Path of Destinies.
Playing through to the true ending was fun enough, going for the Platinum is a bit of a slog. But I only have to complete it 18 more times... :D

The game sure has some things going for it. The story is not that bad, the characters are quite fun, the narrator mostly does a good job and fights are enjoyable.
The biggest problem, however, is: it starts to get repetitive quite early. You know the locations well enough after a few playthroughs, the characters never change, the story only slightly deviates from what you already know and the fights only get easier and easier the more you unlock (which usually isn't a big deal, but you become overpowered very fast).

Here's the thing: If the locations were procedurally generated and enemies had a little more variety to them, it would be much better.

It's a solid game, but sadly goes on for too long.

Granted, I could just stop going after the Platinum, but I'm actually enjoying the mindless fights these days. Takes off a bit of the anxiety :)

This has been on my backlog for years. Every time I go to play it I remember just how many times it needs to be completed to unlock the platinum and then I decide to play something else. :D 

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59 minutes ago, Hero-of-Time said:

This has been on my backlog for years.

Just checked and I bought it in April 2016 :laughing:

I'm now 13 endings away from the Platinum (and maybe a few minutes of grinding XP, depending on how well/bad I'll do in future fights). Give or take 30 minutes per playthrough, 6.5 hours to go :D

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Posted (edited)

Two more to add to the list...

Famicom Detective Club: The Missing Heir

famicom-detective-club-missing-heir-revi

Click here to see my writeup

 

Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney

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After playing through FDC: The Missing Heir, I was in the mood to revisit everyone's favourite detective lawyer, Pheonix! Has been ages since I last played the original Ace Attorney, so I decided to get it on Switch and try out the fancy new HD version...

... at first I found it really weird and un-natural to play this game on anything other than a DS/3DS; everything just felt kind of... off.  However, I eventually adjusted and found myself able to enjoy playing it again; particularily thanks to the game thankfully supporting touch screen controls in handheld mode (which work mostly how you'd expect).  That being said? I did find myself missing the microphone support... blowing away fingerprint dust just isn't the same when pressing a button instead (and yes, I miss being able to shout "OBJECTION!!" into the mic; I know it's dumb, but I loved doing it!).

Anyway, control quirks aside, it's a fine enough port; far better than the crappy iOS version and much better than the 3DS version of AA Trilogy in terms of visuals (if not interface).  Let's get on with the game itself.

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Yeah, alright Phoenix.  SHEESH! I'm just getting to it!

 

Released back in 2001 for the fledgling Gameboy Advance; the very first Ace Attorney game wasn't released outside of Japan until it got an enhanced port for the Nintendo DS in 2005.  This port added touch screen controls & microphone support; but more importantly, it added an additional case (Case 5: Rise From The Ashes); making it the one and only Ace Attorney re-release to actually add additional gameplay content.  The port itself was made specifically for the western market, but the additional case was added to tide Japanese fans over while they waited for the fourth entry in the series (Apollo Justice); which itself wouldn't see release until 2007 (a whole 3 years after Trials & Tribulations originally hit the GBA in Japan).  This case would actually incorporate certain gameplay elements & characters that were originally intended for Apollo Justice, and the case itself was written with long-term fans in mind by Minae Matsukawa (who was also one of the main writers who worked on Apollo Justice).  This has some ramifications on the overall game, which I will get into later on.

 

phoenix_wright_ace_attorney_trilogy_ps4_

Don't worry Larry, it's not that bad!

 

Ace Attorney is a classic Japanese adventure game in the same mold as laid down by the Famicom Detective Club games.  Playing the two back to back, the influence that FDC had on AA is blindingly obvious; no need for a cross-examination here...

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http://shmuplations.com/justiceforall/

Quote

Shu Takumi: With the first Gyakuten Saiban, I feel like I exceeded my expections… or rather, that I reached them. Looking back on the first game, we used the best parts of all the brand new ideas we had… we really worked it up into something nice, I think. As for the presentation of the story and the technical side, however, I’m proud to say we set a much higher standard for ourselves with the sequel. Also, games are supposed to be entertainment, and I think the root of this series is the enjoyment one gets in investigating and solving a mystery. We’ve really given that aspect of the design our all.

Regarding the mysteries, there’s Edogawa Ranpo’s short story “The Psychological Test”, in which the perfect crime unravels due to the criminal’s contradictory testimony. It had a big impact on me, and was a big influence on the game. I also read many other things, including Shinichi Hoshi’s stories. I feel like all my life I’ve been pursuing that element of surprise and unexpectedness.

phoenix-wright-ace-attorney-trilogy.jpg

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https://www.capcom-unity.com/zeroobjections/blog/2014/09/12/the-early-days-of-ace-attorney

Quote

Takumi: Tweets from 2010?

Janet: …Well, it was a long time ago…

Takumi: ???

Janet: I-It’s OK if you don’t remember…

Takumi: …Oh, THOSE! Yes!

Janet: I remember reading them and being shocked by how different the original draft of the game’s story was – how Phoenix wasn’t even a lawyer, but a private eye!

Takumi: Yes, AA was originally supposed to be a detective game, so naturally, Phoenix was to be a private eye. But then, one day, I made a startling realization: the gameplay concept I was going for was for players to enjoy finding and taking contradictions apart, but that was hardly related to investigating or detective work at all. In that moment, I had it – I realized that the main setting for the game should be the courtroom.

Janet: That’s quite the jump, but you know, I can’t imagine this series being anything else at this point.

Takumi: I suppose so, but in some ways, it will always be “Surviban: Attorney Detective Naruhodo-kun” 2 in my heart.

Phoenix-Wright-Ace-Attorney-Trilogy-2.jp

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Certainly, the investigation portions of the game are clearly inspired by the Famicom Detective Club titles.  Unlike the classic adventure games seen in the west, Ace Attorney is a decidedly linear affair; where you are tasked with figuring out how to advance the rectilinear story forward by asking the right person for the right information, by presenting the right items at the right time.  Some people have labelled the Ace Attorney series as a Visual Novel... but that's not really right at all.  Visual Novels are known for eschewing interactivity in favour of telling a narrative, but Ace Attorney is different; here, the gameplay & story are intrisictly entwined together to form a game where the story IS the gameplay.  Betwixt the interactive gameplay and the linear narrative is a focus on mystery solving; the game will not advance until the player successfully proves that they have correctly solved the mystery, a trait that clearly demarcates the Ace Attorney games from the more modern & atypical Visual Novel format...

Phoenix-Wright_-Ace-Attorney-Trilogy_201

Shut it you! Go back to see January and leave me alone!

 

So then, it's an adventure game in the same mold as the Famicom Detective Club titles...

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https://web.archive.org/web/20141008205230/http://www.officialnintendomagazine.co.uk/55629/features/interview-shu-takumi-on-the-making-of-phoenix-wright-ghost-trick-and-more/?page=1

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Err... don't you mean Herlock Shlomes there Phoenix?

 

He's right! Of course, the big differentiator between Ace Attorney and other detective games like the Famicom Detective Club titles is of course, the focus on finding & exposing contradictions.  That is the lynchpin that ties everything together within the Ace Attorney series, and this is what allows them to turn insane story contrivances, ridiculous over-the-top characters and ludicrous murder plots into a compelling narrative AND gameplay experience.  Ultimately, the courtroom setting is just window dressing for a game that is all about finding & exposing contradictive evidence.  It is NOT a lawyer simulator in any sense of the word.

ccefae3a05edfd36d719e741469fc30a.jpg?v=2

Yes, lets talk about the first entry in the series itself Edgey.

 

Pheonix Wright Ace Attorney was the first game in the series, as such it was tasked with introducing the world to the concept of this series' strange Contradition Exposer gameplay.  As such, compared to later games in the series, Pheonix Wright Ace Attorney comes across as fairly simplistic and straightforward by comparison.  Case 1 is basically a glorified tutorial, and even Case 2 still feels like the training wheels are firmly stuck on.  As enjoyable as they are still, it's not really until you get to Case 4 that you start to see something more akin to later games in the series... and then that's the end of the game! While there are plenty of series trademark turnabout twists, its a very approachable and easy game to figure out; an excellent way to get into the series for sure, but it can kind of feel like the game just finished as soon as it really gets started...

... of course, this is where Case 5 comes in; which is basically as long as Cases 3 & 4 put together and far more complex! It's actually pretty striking just how it stands out like a sore thumb when you stack it up against the original 4 cases from the original GBA release; as it suddenly feels like somebody turned the difficulty slider WAY, WAY up past the limit of the original game!  As such, I kind of feel that if you're new to the series, you should probably skip Case 5 until you've finished both Justice For All and Trials And Tribulations; as it's really obvious that Case 5 was designed for veteran players who have already experienced the entire original GBA trilogy.

While Cases 1-4 all feel fairly straightforward and managable to figure out and keep everything in your head, with logic that is pretty parsable even when the big twists are twisting all over; Case 5 felt oddly overwhelming.  In comparison to Cases 1-4, Case 5 is messy, convoluted and difficult to manage in your headspace; especially when you're bombarded with masses of evidence! Almost as much as Case 3 & 4 combined!  While I love all 5 cases, the difficulty curve isn't so much of a curve as it is a 90 degree wall when you hit Case 5!

Naturally I can't really delve into the actual story beats without ruining the gameplay experience, but suffice to say that I love all of the series' trademark insane twists, wacky characters and ridiculous contrivances... it's that Contradiction Exposure gameplay hook that truly ties everything together.  If there's any complaint to make with Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney in particular however? It's that the Investigation sections feel a bit basic here; granted, being the first game, it was always going to feel simpler.  However, I feel that the Investigation gameplay portions of the Ace Attorney games didn't really truly come into their own until the introduction of the Psyche Lock mechanic in the second game... something that Shinji Mikami (Producer of Ace Attorneys 1-3) himself admitted...

Quote

Mikami: There were no drastic changes, but the investigative parts from the last game were kind of weak, so to heighten the player’s sense of tension we added the new Pscyhe Lock system. The scenarios have also doubled in terms of content. And there’s new characters too. If you play Gyakuten Saiban 2, you’re sure to want to play the first one!

Kojima: You’re a good salesman, Mikami. (laughs)

Mikami: It’s all true though! But I didn’t tell our director, Shu Takumi, to make it that way. Normally when creating a sequel, you make it so the player will want to buy the first game too, by tying the games together somehow. I never said anything like that to Takumi with Gyakuten Saiban 2. 

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Best keep quiet if you know what's good for you...

 

One thing I do like with Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney that later games don't really delve into as much however (barring a few notable exceptions that I will not name due to spoilers), is that there are more elements of legal conjecture that are used here than in later games; particularily with legal concepts like the Statute of Limitations.  Even though the lawyering side of things is ultimately window dressing, I do feel that its a shame that later games don't really take as much advantage of the unique setting & potential for legislative cajoling as they could... The Ace Attorney series falls onto the murder mystery crutch too much, and I wish that we could see more unique kinds of cases & application of actual law concepts...

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No! I can't talk about THAT Ace Attorney game! It's a huge spoiler!!

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The evidence is in the game itself! The reader is just gonna have to play the series themself to find out!

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All three answers are correct!

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Bugger...

But yeah, that's Ace Attorney.  Every game is an insane, wild ride, filled with larger than life characters, wacky settings, wonderful Japanifornica localisations, ridiculous & convoluted plots; but its all tied together and made oddly compelling by their fantastic Contradiction Exposure gameplay, it's what allows you to suspend your disbelief and get sucked into its wonderful world.  Though the Ace Attorney series is molded in the form of classic Japanese adventure games, there really isn't anything else like it.  It's my favourite Adventure game series and the first game gets the series off to a fantastic start, but the best is yet to come...

 

And with that?

Spoiler

New Super Mario Bros 2

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX (MSU-1 Switch Remake Music Edition)

Pilotwings 64

Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon & The Blade of Light

Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance

Super Mario 3D World (Switch Version)

Perfect Dark Zero

Castlevania: Circle of the Moon

Sabrewulf (GBA)

Actraiser

Sonic Delta (Sonic 1,2 and 3&K Combined!)

Bowser's Fury

Tales of Game's Presents Chef Boyardee's Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden, Chapter 1 of the Hoopz Barkley SaGa

Terranigma

Metroid II: Return of Samus

Famicom Detective Club: The Missing Heir

Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney

 

Edited by Dcubed
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13 minutes ago, Dcubed said:

Visual Novels are known for eschewing interactivity in favour of telling a narrative

I mean... there ain't no rule. I think the main aspects that characterise Visual Novels are the perspective (first-person, with other characters and background being in full display on-screen) and the large amounts of text. The interactivity part of it is optional, but by no means forbidden, especially when you consider that many VNs are totally linear except for a couple of dialogue choices that determine the ending (and they don't stop being VNs just because of those choices).

Taking that into consideration, I do think the investigation segments in Ace Attorney are very much Visual Novels. It's a borderline case with the courtroom antics, but even then, I'd count it as a VN, one more example of a game pushing the boundaries of genre conventions.

17 minutes ago, Dcubed said:

Japanifornica

I also think there's one "c" too many in that word. Or is there...?

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Jonnas said:

I mean... there ain't no rule. I think the main aspects that characterise Visual Novels are the perspective (first-person, with other characters and background being in full display on-screen) and the large amounts of text. The interactivity part of it is optional, but by no means forbidden, especially when you consider that many VNs are totally linear except for a couple of dialogue choices that determine the ending (and they don't stop being VNs just because of those choices).

Taking that into consideration, I do think the investigation segments in Ace Attorney are very much Visual Novels. It's a borderline case with the courtroom antics, but even then, I'd count it as a VN, one more example of a game pushing the boundaries of genre conventions.

When I think of what demarcates an Adventure game from a Visual Novel? My mind always turns to 999.  Specifically comparing the original DS version to the cut-down iOS version (which removes the escape room sections entirely; leaving only the “Novel” section of the game).

Quite simply, the original DS version is comfortably an Adventure game, while the iOS version? That’s a Visual Novel.

I think that there’s too much of a focus on gameplay for Ace Attorney to be considered a Visual Novel though.  The story is basically an elaborate puzzle for the player to solve; more so than it actually being a narrative that is meant to be told in its own right.  Ace Attorney is an active experience, not a passive one; therefore it’s an Adventure game and not a Visual Novel in my mind.

Quote

I also think there's one "c" too many in that word. Or is there...?

NzJxETX.gif

I’ll let you be the judge of that

Edited by Dcubed
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Three more games finished for me since the start of the month.

Mirror's Edge 
I beat this waaaay back on the Xbox 360 when it came out and remember it being a stunning game. I've run through the story mode again and had a good time. I still feel this is one of the most interesting and unique games I've ever played. Visuals really hold up thanks to the fantastic art direction. Even though the animations look a little clunky now. Managed to beat the game in 3 hours or so. Doubt I'll do much more. The first 3 or 4 levels hold up really well but the game starts showing it's age when it asks you to do more. Some of the later levels are a bit of chore to get through and going for a "no shooting" achievement run made it even harder. It's a shame EA have strayed away from this type of game in recent years because they were really on a roll with this, SSX and Burnout in the early 360 days. Good memories. 

Perfect Dark
Finished the XBLA version or Rare Replay version of this. I actually started it on the day I got the console but it took me a little time to beat it. Played though on Secret Agent bar the last level as I kept getting one-shotted by the boss. I have to say, this game is still mostly fantastic. I'm not so keen on the back half of the game, but the first 8-10 levels are everything you'd want from a Goldeneye sequel. It's classic N64 gameplay but in HD and running in 60FPS. Magic. I've also put a fair bit of time into the challenges in MP mode, which really ramp up in difficulty towards the end. Once the aliens begin to appear the story really takes a nose-dive, and with it the level design and mission structure, unfortunately. It doesn't quite have the consistency Goldeneye had, but I can still appreciate it for what it is. I will have to go back and do the Skedar Ruins on Secret Agent, I have no chance on Perfect... I really find the Skedar designs and the alien craft levels pretty uninspiring. But the DataDyne levels at the beginning, the Villa, Chicago and right up to the President's plane crash are still immensely fun to run through. The music is also top drawer and classic Rare. One of my favourite video game OSTs. The Carrington Institute is also a blast, especially the firing range. 

Habroxia 2 
The first game I bought for the Series S. Cost me £4 in a sale and it's just as much fun as the first. The thing I like most about this game, as with the first, is the mechanics. Managed to roll the credits in about 2 hours and will go back and do New Game+. I'm sat on 850G and the remaining 6 achievements shouldn't be too hard to get, which would make this my 4th 100% game on the system. Not really much to say apart from that, fun for what it was. Kinda torn on which I prefer, I think the first game offered a little more challenge and I prefer the linear structure over the branching paths in this one, even if it was kinda cool hunting down the alternate exits. Very much pleased with the boss rush mode. I've had fun with that despite not quite being able to finish it. 

I've also been pumping a ton of time into Forza Horizon 4, which I think may well be the best racing game I've played in a number of years. The world design is simply jaw-dropping. It really feels like the UK and I love the mix of town and country as well as the sheer variety the seasons offer. It doesn't hurt that it's one of the best looking racers around. It's very arcadey, but not too much as when you really crank up the difficulty, the game is supremely rewarding if you can drive well. There's nothing quite like the feeling of pipping someone on the line in my souped-up 1997 Subaru Impreza. Handles like an absolute dream, just the right amount of drifting. I really, really wish I'd had the chance to play the three previous games, but it looks like they're all unsupported now. I've been powering my way through the career mode (level 110) as well as spending a good amount of time online. The open-world, always online nature had me very sceptical at the start, but it is impeccably done. You never really feel like you're "always online" but you're never more than a few seconds away from an online race of event. The best open-world racing game I've ever played and firmly puts Burnout Paradise to shame. 

Call of Duty: Warzone is the first COD game I've played since MW on the 360. Been having a lot of fun with this with friends, and far less so in solo. I like the gameplay but hate the progression and skill-deficit to regulars. Not a shock for a F2P online battle royale, but the new Soviet-era map is excellent and a lot of fun to explore. 

Finally, I've jumped into the story mode of GTAV. Many of you may know that I'm a massive fan of GTAIV and felt it was far, far better than anything from the PS2 era. I thought the story was fantastic. I didn't think GTAV would be able to top it, but it's right up there so far. The voice acting is truly something else. It is engrossing and superbly acted and scripted. The missions are nicely varied, Los Santos (Like Liberty City in IV) is leagues ahead of the PS2 counterpart. It's more compact (but still massive) and there's a ton of interesting stuff to do. Really enjoying playing through Michael and Franklin's storylines, but I'm really not a big fan of Trevor at the moment. Put in about 15 hours so far and done 30% or so of the missions. It's a huge step up from IV in almost every aspect. However, I much preferred the realistic handling in IV and the "atmosphere" of the world. San Andreas is too bright and happy. I much preferred the grey, corrupted, ugly city environment they'd built in the previous game. I played through it in 2018 and it still looked amazing thanks to the very subtle art style. This game is much more poppy and bright and it kind of detracts from the overall criminal underworld vibe a little. That's a personal preference though, so far, I still think this game deserves all the praise it gets. Not gonna be trying GTA online. 

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Still putting GamePass to good use I see, @Nicktendo. :D 

I’m a big fan of the Forza games and with me no longer owning an Xbox I do miss playing them. I used to love the Gran Turismo series but things got a little too realistic and serious for my tastes and then that’s when Forza came along. I remember being blown away by the first game on the original Xbox. The features that they implemented, such as seeing the drivers line and auto breaking, were great for those wanting a more accessible experience with serious car game. 

It’s crazy how many games they’ve been able to churn out in comparison to the GT series and what’s even crazier is the quality of them hasn’t really gone down.

Get that 100%/platinum on Habroxia 2. Colin will be proud of you. :laughing:

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2 hours ago, Hero-of-Time said:

Still putting GamePass to good use I see, @Nicktendo. :D 

I’m a big fan of the Forza games and with me no longer owning an Xbox I do miss playing them. I used to love the Gran Turismo series but things got a little too realistic and serious for my tastes and then that’s when Forza came along. I remember being blown away by the first game on the original Xbox. The features that they implemented, such as seeing the drivers line and auto breaking, were great for those wanting a more accessible experience with serious car game. 

It’s crazy how many games they’ve been able to churn out in comparison to the GT series and what’s even crazier is the quality of them hasn’t really gone down.

Get that 100%/platinum on Habroxia 2. Colin will be proud of you. :laughing:

Still finding plenty to play with GamePass and having a great time! It's a fantastic service and unbelievable that I paid the equivalent of £8.77 a month for a 12-month ultimate sub. 

Horizon is so good. A perfect blend of arcade and sim as I said before. I also loved the first on OG Xbox but that was the last time I played the series. I've heard Motorsport 7 is not that great though. Some average reviews and a lot of poor user reviews. Haven't bothered wasting the 100gb on it, but maybe it's worth a pop sometime once I'm done with Horizon. 

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It's been a couple of months since my last update in here, so I figured it was time to get close to being caught up (I say "close" because I want to sit on Suikoden II a little longer after finishing it on Saturday). I've finished a few longer games in the time I've been away from this thread, but I've posted about them in their own threads, meaning it might end up retreading some ground I've already covered before, so hopefully this won't be too long. Hopefully...

MARCH

YAKUZA 5 | 2012 

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I can appreciate and understand many of the criticisms often levied at Yakuza 5: it is long, and pacing makes it feel long as it drags its heels between major story beats shared amongst its five protagonists. 

Yet when my journey through the game saw the credits rolling after nearly 60 hours of play - completing all but six substories and completing the side stories in their entirety - I still wanted more. I think the game was purposefully designed to be taken much more slowly than its predecessors, what with it nearly having 80 substories and also having the aforementioned side stories, which serve as complementary story arcs for each character, each tied to a unique mini-game, one of which is getting to play the role of taxi driver as Kiryu. I won't say much about the others, because they tie quite deeply into each character's own story in this game, but I was pleasantly surprised but just how much variety was on show throughout these side stories. Though they're quite basic and a little clunky at times, I had a blast spending more time with each of these characters, and that followed through into the game's substories. I think you stand to enjoy your time with this game more if you remember to take your time with it (so long as you're having fun, of course!) and by trying out as many different parts of the game out as you can, and I would recommend this mainly because it felt like each character was fleshed out in a meaningful way in their respective side stories. 

As always with a Yakuza game, playing the next entry means many new faces, as well as seeing many returning ones too. Two returning playable characters from 4 not named Kiryu were great to see again, and I think it's pretty astounding just how pumped I was to see them pop back up, that's how you know RGG did a good job with these characters! Playing as another character who was in earlier games but wasn't previously playable was great too, I loved their arc throughout, and thought their mini-games and side story were easily amongst the highlights of the game, even if to begin with the lighter tone did feel a bit out of place. The new face introduced in this game wasn't as great in my opinion, not because his story wasn't interesting (I actually appreciated RGG highlighting some of the more morally grey areas of nightlife with him), but I think the timing of his introduction was one of the main reasons the pacing felt so off at times. And, well, Kiryu is Kiryu, is there much else that I need to say about that? 

I was actually surprised by how much darker some aspects of 5 were than in previous games, and that's not to say that the earlier games were all sunshine and rainbows. There were certain points in the story that felt fairly predictable in concept (such as a character's death), but shocked me in execution (such as how they died, and how someone else nearly died the same way). This also felt like it bled over to some extent in combat, such as with Heat Actions. Whereas in previous games the enemy life meter will appear until the final hit, in Yakuza 5, the strange decision was made to have their life meter disappear as soon as they have taken enough damage, which in Heat Actions - especially ones with QTE's - feels pretty brutal. For example, you might be mashing square as part of a QTE, but then the enemy's life meter will disappear, obviously meaning that you've succeeded in taking them down...yet the game wants you to see the Heat Action through to the end, asking you to keep pummeling a guy's gut when the game is clearly telegraphing to you that he's already down and out. It wouldn't feel odd if this were the only Yakuza game I'd played, but I thought it was worth highlighting, because it feels like a choice was made in the other games for this to not be the case. On the topic of combat still, my best piece of advice for every battle in this game (including boss battles) is to just try grabbing the enemy, as many times this will stun them or at the very least break their animation chain. Also, thank goodness that after the other five Yakuza games I played before this one that they did away with the final level being you get shot down, getting back up, only to be shot down again. 

Pleasantly surprised by this game's soundtrack too, especially relating to a certain character's relevance to the story. Be the Star!! sounds like it'd slide straight into Persona 5's soundtrack seamlessly, which you can't say for many tracks at all if I'm being honest, and there were many others like it that I thought were a great time. I also really liked the music in the credits (this is the video with the best sound quality I could find, but don't scroll to the end if you haven't already, as it shows the game's ending!), the opening piano piece in particular, but it sounded really familiar. As someone in the linked video points out, the melody of the piano piece (and that opening song of the credits in general) is very similar to Adele's Make You Feel My Love, which I found hilarious (and pretty accurate). 

It's far from flawless, but I loved my time with Yakuza 5. While it puts its foot down on the brakes a little too hard at times, I appreciated its slower pace and getting to spend more time with its characters. 

 

APRIL

YAKUZA 6: THE SONG OF LIFE | 2016

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Well, I did say that I wanted more, didn't I? Which naturally meant that I had to follow Yakuza 5 up with Yakuza 6: The Song of Life. And yes I'm 100% copying over what I added in the game's own thread and tweaking it a bit, as reading it back, I really don't have too much else to add. 

Quote

Yakuza 6, perhaps more than any other game in the series, drives home the secret truth strength of the series: just how great the character writing is. They have mastered controlling your emotions, the ability to instantly attach you to characters, to make you want to protect someone like a brother or to want to seek rage-filled revenge. It's the strength of the character writing and how great a job they do of making you invested in the cast of this world which makes the twists and turns of Kiryu's story hit so damn hard. I highlight 6 in particular because it's more of an epilogue to the story than the epic culminations that we saw at the end of 4 and 5, which both felt like finale material, and for better or worse, it relegates key characters from the earlier games to the sidelines to return the limelight back to Kiryu. 

It's funny, because so deep into the series, it's hard to comment on the game, because it feels so familiar every time that I pick up the controller to play one of these games now that I feel like I've said my piece on a lot of it in the earlier games. To be clear, though, I think that's not a weakness of the series, but a strength, and it's what allows them such freedom in their creativity. But, returning to the Dragon Engine after being away from it since Kiwami 2, I have to say, boy, are these games serious lookers. Though, it can be a bit rough at times - when ragdolls are flying about, heck the karaoke of all things is the most technically flawed thing in the game for some reason with its weird frame rate drops/screen tearing which only impacts the input bar and not the background footage - and having certain areas from earlier games cut out definitely felt a bit odd (especially when one of those areas was only completed in 5 after being teased since the second entry!). 

I finished Zero a bit over a year and a half ago, and another six games later, the Kiryu Saga is complete. It's been such a great escape, especially throughout everything that's been going on in the world over the last year, and the fact that I've gone out of my way to save some of them for tougher times, knowing just how much they can boost my mood, and really strengthened my love for these games. They're embedded in my mind as getting me through this last year: Kiwami and Kiwami 2 back-to-back when everything started really picking up with COVID; Yakuza 3 after a couple of months of working from home was starting to wear me down; Yakuza 4 was the first game I played after I moved out of my parents' house and into my first apartment; and now Yakuza 5 and Yakuza 6 back-to-back over the last month or so, after what felt like a never-ending winter which really did a number on my mental well-being, and I've been feeling a bit lost when it comes to my own direction lately. 

It's taught me to never dare to underestimate the power of putting a smile on someone else's face. 

The substories and main story walk this very fine line between being as serious as The Godfather and making you break out in fits of laughter, it puts you through the emotional wringer with how well it draws you in with a laugh, puts tears in your eyes, then leaves you grinning wistfully. But there's so much more to the substories than just being hilarious detours, there are important messages to take away into your own life. Seek out the opportunity to help others, embrace the weirdness around you, and always stay true to yourself. 

Yakuza 6, perhaps more than any other game in the series, drives home the secret truth strength of the series: just how great the character writing is. They have mastered controlling your emotions, the ability to instantly attach you to characters, to make you want to protect someone like a brother or to want to seek rage-filled revenge. It's the strength of the character writing and how great a job they do of making you invested in the cast of this world which makes the twists and turns of Kiryu's story hit so damn hard. I highlight 6 in particular because it's more of an epilogue to the story than the epic culminations that we saw at the end of 4 and 5, which both felt like finale material, and for better or worse, it relegates key characters from the earlier games to the sidelines to return the limelight back to Kiryu. 

I really didn't want this game to end. The melancholic jolliness of Today is a Diamond perfectly encapsulated what this game was all about for me. 

 

 

RED DEAD REDEMPTION | 2010

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Red Dead Redemption is a game I'd heard about for much of the last decade, and I knew that I wanted to get to eventually, as I'm a fan of classic Westerns. 

And this game nails that feeling of the old classics as you make your way around this corner of the world as John Marston. The sun beating down on you, the vast expanse of the desert, friend and foe alike always willing to turn on you at the drop of a hat. The whistling of a single track reminding you that you're out here all alone, isolated from the rest of the world. The desperation and cruel desires of man when left with no laws to strictly govern them. 

Yet in my time with the game, I found that it consistently tripped over itself when it failed to give you clear direction and left you to your own devices. It's very heavily dependent on its map to get around, despite settlements never being too far from one another, and that's because they're not easy to see off in the distance...at all. From a visual perspective when trying to match the films it is clearly inspired by, I can understand it, but from the perspective of video game design, it felt like it wanted to remind me that it was a video game at every chance it got, such as by looking at the map or with its morality and recognition systems. Though I think it has some tremendous side quests, the very first side quest has you run back and forth from the first settlement to another location, and it very nearly put me off bothering with side quests in this game altogether, as I was given the false impression that this was what I could expect from the other side quests; to put it bluntly, it was the worst choice of a first side quest to have, and maybe one of the weakest in the game, even if it does do a good job of setting the tone for how cruel it can be out in the middle of nowhere. I also found the AI in the game to be temperamental at the best of times: walking into Thieves' Landing for the first time, someone walked out of the saloon and, without me having done anything, randomly he decided to start shooting me with his buddies; the crossing into Mexico was also ruined for me by the AI, albeit in bit of a freak accident involving wolves and some other fellow on the road. I played this on a PS3, so let's not even bring up the fact that you can tell that you're getting closer to a settlement by counting the frames, the plethora of bugs to be found in this game, or the fact that everyone in a settlement will run and scream like headless chickens if you dare to help catch a criminal with a lasso and don't put it away fast enough. 

Despite all this, the game still manages to have moments where its ambition shines through; there's still a great game underneath all of the issues I have with it. There's a strong Western story, a stellar cast (if a little exaggerated at times), a small handful of genuinely excellent quests - along with great curation of said quests: with less than 20 in total, they all clearly have a purpose - and a great amount of mission variety, in both structure and presentation (the Breath of the Wild sequel could learn a thing or two from this game's quests I feel). The soundtrack for this game, as I touched on before, perfectly captures the feeling of those Westerns from the 50's and 60's. 

There are some things in particular that I want to touch on, but delve into spoiler territory, namely to do with my favourite moment in the game, my favourite quest, and that ending. 

Spoiler

My Favourite Moment

I'm talking about Javier Escuella. 

When you finally get to him, the game presents you with two options: kill him, or capture him and take him back to jail him. I caught him, threw him on the back of my horse, and the guy kept mouthing off - and eventually got onto the topic of Abigail, and kept pushing. In my mind, everything he'd done up to this point had been fair game, but I couldn't see the John the game presented me with not doing something about this. 

So, I thought, What if I kill him then throw him in prison? And so I shot him, rode back, threw him behind bars, and for that cutscene I thought I'd done something totally immersion-shattering, as he just threw him in there, stood around for long enough that you'd think there was supposed to be voiced dialogue for the scene - but didn't say anything - and the scene ended. 

In the next scene he's handed over to Ross and they react to me handing him over but dead. This is my first Rockstar campaign that I've seen through to the end, so maybe they do this a lot, but I can't overstate for a second how much I appreciated the effort and thought clearly put into this game based on that alone. To be honest, it was probably at that point that I started enjoying the game more. 

My Favourite Stranger

It was the one titled I Know You. I love when games get meta or self-referential, so having the guy with a top hat reference my deeds - both good and bad - from other side quests, and then him just vanishing (John's conscience or something religious?) really added a lot to the character of John Marston that I didn't know I needed. 

The Ending

While towards the end it became apparent where this was all heading - John's death - I sure as hell wasn't expecting the time skip and to be playing as Jack Marston.

I clapped, that was awesome. Immediately jumped up to one of my favourite game endings/epilogues, I loved it. 

If anything, I thought a sequel was being set up based on how much John was talking about the future and essentially preparing him for life without him leading up to the ending. There's a whole other level of appreciation I have for the game with the ending they have, such as realising that there are so many interactions they had to record his voice for when to see the credits from that point you could probably reach it in 15 minutes or so. 

Though it's rough around the edges by today's standards, and shows it age in a lot of its design decisions, the underlying qualities of Red Dead Redemption stand tall to this day and make it a game worth experiencing. I wanted to love it more than I ended up liking it, and feel that it would greatly benefit from a modern remaster/remake, but for now, I'm pleased that I experienced it. 

 

Spoiler

January

Suikoden (1995)

February

What Remains of Edith Finch (2017)

Mega Man 2 (1988)

Papers, Please (2013)

Sound Shapes (2012)

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (2008)

March

Yakuza 5 (2012)

April

Yakuza 6: The Song of Life (2016)

Red Dead Redemption (2010)

 

Edited by Julius
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Stories: Path of Destinies done!

On my way to the Platinum nothing changed. It's an ok game that could've used a lot more variety.

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After listening to this game's soundtrack again today, I'm chomping at the bit to talk about it. It's time. 

SUIKODEN II | 1998

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In the mid-to-late 1990's, after the success of his directorial debut and at a time when gaming was expensively transitioning from two dimensions to three, Yoshitaka Murayama of Konami found himself with a limited budget and a difficult decision to make: to either make the leap with the giants of the JRPG landscape, Final Fantasy, into the elusive third dimension, or to take onboard fan feedback from his first game, and instead focus the budget on further realising the world, story, and characters that they had quickly come to adore.

He chose the latter. 

Suikoden II begins on a cool, quiet night as the player character, Riou, and his childhood friend, Jowy, prepare to return home from their time with the Unicorn Youth Brigade, a unit of teenage soldiers whom had recently been tasked with overlooking Tenzan Pass, as rumours abound that their home country of Highland is on the verge of signing a peace treaty with the neighbouring City-States of Jowston. When the pair awaken to the sounds of bloodshed and slaughter, they quickly scramble to escape, but not before learning the shocking truth that their unit died at the hands of their own countrymen in a ploy to rally public support against Jowston, allwoing them to stage a false flag invasion. Being chased away from the camp's remains, Riou and Jowy quickly find themselves cornered at the edge of the nearby cliffs, and after marking a nearby stone and making a pact that they would return to this spot if they got separated, dive into the rapids below, as their destinies begin to take shape. The opening credits come in and evoke a wistful nostalgia as the hauntingly beautiful Reminiscence carries you through scenes of their childhood...  

...and thus the tale begins. 

As was the case in the first game, Suikoden II does away with some of the major tropes seen in many other JRPG's at the time (and which we still see to this day), such as the exponential escalation towards fighting a god in order to save the world, and instead focuses on a localised conflict as you once again gather the 108 Stars of Destiny to save your corner of the world from the ruins of war. Throughout your journey there will be many familiar faces from the first game, with many loose ends picked up and continued here, and I was surprised by just how many of the first game's enormous cast I could instantly recognise, be it from their portrait, sprite, or in many cases even only a mention of their name, which I think speaks to the first game's strengths in spades, and players who gathered the 108 Stars in the first game are rewarded handsomely.

Unfortunately, a few of these recruitable characters become permanently missable beyond a certain point in the game, such as if they are introduced on the field in a strategic battle, or in some cases missed during a short stay in a town or city. Missing out on these characters means that you won't be able to recruit all 108 Stars, and as a result of that, just like in the first game, you won't be able to see what is considered by most fans to be the better of the potential four endings, which are decided to some extent by your choices in the game. I had an issue with this early on where, even using one of the more popular recruitment guides for the game, I missed one of these permanently missable characters and lost over 5 hours of progress, and I do think that even more so than was the case in the first game, it is an incredibly tedious undertaking to not only recruit all 108 Stars of Destiny, but also to ensure that you are taking the right actions during your playthrough to keep the option of the supposed better ending open when the end of the game arrives. The game generally does a better job at naturally curating your recruitment of these Stars, with an early recruit being this private eye who can dig up dirt on your companions or offer hints on where a potential recruit might be. Something also slightly improved upon from the first game is that when a new character is recruited, some can be moved into your Convoy (two additional slots for your party where they will travel with you but not take part in battles) and others will kindly ask you if you want them to join your party now or make their way over to your castle instead, but this is not the case for every recruit, and there were many instances where I found someone forcing their way into my party, which meant having to send a party member I was confident using back to the castle in their place. 

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The game doesn't waste any time at all, immediately sticking you straight into its story which goes by at a breakneck pace at times as it is saturated with memorable moments and important story beats one after another, and not holding back any punches when it comes to shining the light on the atrocities of war. It paints a vivid picture of a land and its people tired of battle through a deeply researched and considered history, not pushing you towards what is right and wrong but rather letting you walk down that path of empathy yourself, emphasised further during your skirmishes with its oppressive antagonists. Early on in the game's story, Highland torches villages in the eastern countryside as their ruthless and sadistic prince, Luca Blight, blazes a path of revenge towards the City-States' largest city of Muse. Though I don't want to highlight the exact reasoning for Luca's search for vengeance, his is amongst one of the darker and more origins for a villain in a JRPG, and he is also easily made to be one of the most formidable. Similar to the first game, Suikoden II is rarely difficult to get through, but Luca Blight justifies his presence as the game's primary antagonist time and again, very early on in the game introducing himself as a force to not only be reckoned with, but genuinely afraid of, which is in stark contrast to how the main villain from the first game was handled. 

In many ways Suikoden II is an evolution of the foundation seen in the first game, and that couldn't be made any more evident that in its standard battle mechanics: it is, for all intents and purposes, essentially the same. Long-, mid- and short-ranged characters make a return; you're picking your entire party's actions before you see them all play out; and the need for grinding is still virtually non-existent due to the experience multiplier based on level differences between your characters and the enemy, so fighting in an area until given an option to 'Let Go' rather than 'Run' is still the most effective way to level up your party. A small but noticeable change is that you can equip each character with up to three runes rather than one this time around, with more slots opening up the higher your magic stat, which gives you much more freedom and room to experiment. For example, something I found to be extremely overpowered throughout the course of the game was to equip a character with the Double-Beat Rune (which allows them to perform twice as many physical attacks, and given that this character used a three-piece rod and would hit twice per turn normally, allowed for four standard physical attacks per turn) and Spark Rune (allowing every other party member performing a standard physical attack to do so immediately after she did).

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Duels also make a return from the first game, and are also largely unchanged, with the biggest changes of all to the combat made to Army Battles. Gone is the simple rock-paper-scissors base - even if the three classes of Infantry, Archers, and Mages do return - instead replaced by a traditional top-down, map- and turn-based strategy format as you would expect to see in something like Fire Emblem. Speaking to your strategist, Apple, you can rearrange your units with the members of your army to boost attack and defence stats, or add additional passive skills such as Cavalry (which will mount that unit on horseback and increase their mobility) or Bodyguard (which lowers the odds of the enemy landing a critical hit). It works exactly as you'd expect, and though I think it's generally an improvement overall to the way Army Battles were handled in the first game, it isn't without its issues, the first of which is that it certainly holds your hand throughout a few too many of the early battles, not giving you full control of your units. Though this makes sense in the context of the game - as you aren't at that stage the leader of your army - it brings me onto the point that sometimes these battles can feel aimless, without a clear objective, and oftentimes when there was a clear objective going into the battle, changes on the battlefield as a result of scripted story elements meant that you didn't really need to do all that much anyways.

When this is coupled with the fact that even the range of units on horseback don't feel like they have a great enough range to actually outmaneuver the enemy, let alone in some cases actually utilise all of your units, you often end up feeling like you're just there as part of the ride. The game does seem really cool things in these Army Battle stages to push the story forwards and give a sense of scale to what's happening (reminding me a bit of how Final Fantasy VI sparingly had cutscenes play out inside its battle screens, or even during battles), but its greatest sin is that not only is it heavily RNG-based, but that it depends quite heavily on your Luck stat, meaning that even if you outclass an enemy in every way, there's still a chance that you won't land your hits. To share how absurd this could be at times, I went out of my way to test this: in one of the final Army Battles in the game, where I spent over half an hour on my first attempt at the battle with the final enemy on the battlefield surrounded from all sides and dodging attack after attack until they eventually succumbed, I restarted the game after doing so and destroyed their forces in just over 10 minutes - not as a result of a different strategy, but simply because my attacks landed this time. I know this is true to some extent for most strategy games and JRPG's in general, but it seemed like it was worth highlighting, as I thought this was a pretty egregious mistake made by the team, and was one of the consistent things getting in the way of the pacing of the game. 

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There are other issues to highlight in this game, such as the fact that - for whatever reason - this game's framerate can quite noticeably dip at times, made obvious most of the time by how sluggishly a character sputters out their lines of dialogue. I can't remember this happening at all in the first game, so I'm not sure whether it's a result of larger settlements and a larger world map, but I was pretty stunned when I noticed it for the first time, considering the level of polish applied to much of the game. There is also something strange that happens with the camera when walking up stairs where it jitters about and actually looks exactly like the framerate dropping; it's an unfortunate coincidence at worst, but still, it's something I was surprised to see made its way to the end product. There were also one or two times where I would be in a dungeon and I wouldn't clock onto how to complete a very light puzzle simply because of the way parts of the room appeared, for instance in a late-game dungeon where a gap which you could plug between two platforms looked like a rock outcropping, giving me the impression that I couldn't plug that gap between those platforms as it was already filled with something else. It probably isn't too much of a surprise considering the time that this game released, but its localisation had some issues which would take me out of the game for a moment, which was also something that happened in the first game (and virtually every other JRPG around at the time, so its not like this is a deal-breaker). There are also some strange audio bugs when performing some Rune Spells, mainly high-pitched beeping noises, most notably in boss battles (though that could be because I generally avoided using them outside of boss battles), and the game crashed on me with an endless black screen after beating what is by far the longest and most difficult battle in the game, which was pretty annoying. I haven't seen any mention of the the game crashing like that elsewhere, so I might have been one of the unlucky few there. 

My biggest issue with the game is a holdover from the first game, unfortunately, which is further compounded by the importance at times of how quickly you make a dialogue choice and the dialogue choice that you make, which is that there were times when tapping X to get through the next line of dialogue would register as selecting a line of dialogue if a choice was following that text box. It's by no means a game-breaking issue - you just need to remember to slow down when you feel like a choice is coming up, and the game is generally very forgiving if you make what most would consider to be a poor choice - but it's the fact that this happened to me at the very end of the game, when I was essentially choosing the ending that I would see play out, that highlighted just how much of an issue it could be. 

But these issues are nothing compared to the issues that I felt that the first game suffered from the most, and above all else, that was extremely poor item management. I don't know if this was a common criticism of the first game at its time of release, or if this is just something that the team worked to implement in this sequel anyways, but they went a long way to addressing my earlier criticisms in this game! The main way that they tackle this is by adding a shared inventory where you can store up to 30 items, and each member of your party can equip up to 3 pieces of armour as well as hold 3 further items, giving you a greater total of item slots than you had in the first game when away from your castle. The castle storage area is also larger, with storage of up to a further 60 items. These changes are then supplemented by further quality of life improvements, such as the ability to sell items directly from your storage room at your castle; being given the option to either store or immediately sell items that you're replacing on a party member (for example, if you're upgrading to a better set of body armour, do you really need that old set taking up valuable space?); being able to equip items to recruits not in your party when at your castle; and having an option to default a character to the best gear currently available in your inventory. There is also a Special Items box in your inventory, most importantly where your Blinking Mirror (to teleport you back to your castle) is kept, which is a big improvement over the first game, where you could theoretically equip it to someone who isn't your player character and they leave without little warning, meaning that you would be without the Blinking Mirror until they turned back up. 

I mentioned before how there are four endings, and how I accidentally only saw the "good ending" instead of the "best ending", which my immediate response to was to say that the "best ending" was infinitely better than the lesser "good ending". The more I've thought about it since completing the game, the more that I realise I may have jumped the gun in saying this: though the "best ending" seemed much stronger to me, at the time, this was based on my own interpretations of the characters, story, and world presented by the game. Further reflection on this has landed me on feeling that the choice you are given at the end of the game does feel substantiated by the story told, and if you interpret the story differently to how I did - with a little less optimism and a bit more scepticism - then I can understand why that choice is made available. It's a great ending in its own right which I might have undermined based on my initial gut reaction, and its inclusion is more than warranted, and it also kindly points you towards the "best ending", as if telling you to seek it out.

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One of my absolute favourite aspects of this game which I can't go without mentioning is the sprite work. I've thought about it a lot the last few days, and I genuinely think that this might have my favourite sprites of any game I've played so far. There's a level of undeniable polish here that just wasn't touched upon in the first game and pays off constantly throughout, such as the ridiculous number of unique sprites. Early into the game I can still remember being left astonished by the effort put into having a youth brigade member polish his sword, Riou bend down to pick some rope off the floor, or scrub the floor, another time when a character trips then struggles to get up, and when a dog dives onto someone before snuggling up to them. These unique sprites help to keep cutscenes fresh and go further than any other sprite-based game I've played to realising a character through their movement and interactions with the world, which makes it so obvious that the choice to stick with two dimensions and instead push the game further with a focus on story, rather than make the jump to three dimensions, was objectively the best decision, and in hindsight has helped Suikoden II to age far better than many of its early 3D JRPG counterparts. The crazy part is that even though they decided going against fully 3D, they did use FMV's throughout, such as for high level spells or to accentuate the atmosphere of certain scenes, and the decision to steer well clear of having anything resembling these characters fully realised in 3D - at best, we get their shadows - was an immensely important one. There's also a small detail I noticed branching off from their attempt to better include "shade" in the game - giving further depth to spaces which by comparison can make the first game look a little flat - where when you step into little pockets of light, such as light filtering through the treetops in a forest, there's a blink-and-you-miss-it colour transition for your character from dark to light. I had a grin on my face a lot of the time playing this game purely because of its sprites, and I even found that there were unique sprites to be found in the credits sequence! In one of the castle mini-games, the cooking contests, the amazing sprite work is on show once again. It's simply wonderful how much it adds to this game. 

Miki Higashino returned to compose this game's score after the resounding triumph that was the first game's soundtrack, composing a total of 98 of the 105 tracks on the OST, the total number of tracks making it one of the largest JRPG soundtracks at the time of the game's release. She completely knocked it out of the park, with a soundtrack which bursts at the seams with originality and flair, and for me is in contention for being one of my favourite video game soundtracks, thanks to its sheer variety of influences making so many of its moments and locations feel distinct and unique, not only within the Suikoden series up to this point, but in JRPG's as a whole. In an interview about this she said that she would often look at the game's map and towns, and assign different musical influences to each, such as Celtic, Spanish, Middle Eastern, and Japanese, to name but a few. As I went through the game it's no exaggeration to say that I noted down almost every track as being superb. I obviously don't want to spoil the game for anyone, but unfortunately some of my favourite tracks contain the names of places, events, or characters which might spoil certain moments in the game, and I've had to refrain from talking too much about another aspect of the game - one of my favourite aspects - to try avoid spoiling things too. Fortunately, there are still plenty of other tracks to discuss, and I've had plenty of other things to say about the game. 

The first track that I want to highlight is Days Past, which stands alongside Reminiscence as one of the more wistful and melancholic tracks in the game - you can feel the pain of memories from a simpler time grabbing hold of you and whisking you away. Almost completely at the opposite end of the spectrum to that is Beautiful Morning, a light and cheerful track, which hasn't failed to put a smile on my face any of the times that I've listened back to it. And, it almost feels like cheating doing this, but there's Heart-Softening 1, Heart-Softening 2, and Heart-Softening 3. The first is a slowed down version of the main theme, and the second is even slower, but what makes them so impactful is just how much you can hear the instruments straining at times, and there's a lot of texture added to the tracks because of this. The third hits me the hardest, though, because not only does it strain, almost with agony, but it has a wider range of highs and lows, and immediately puts you exactly where it wants you emotionally. To highlight some of the town music, Carried on Rippling Waves is this light and heartwarming take on the main theme; Radat's Theme calmly ascends while its percussion continues pushing on throughout, which is a pretty accurate reflection of the people you'll find there in the game; and Withered Earth frantically strums you through the western settlements you'll find in the game. Secret Village of the Ninja might be one of my favourite tracks from the series - and any game - period. Early on, it lulls you into this dreamlike state, before it's pierced by the flute which carries its main melody, and then the female vocals come in as if to snap you back to reality. There's also the epic fully orchestrated opening FMV, performed by the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, and We Will Always Be, the game's glorious credits track which in its second part heavily leans on the work of Heart-Softening 3 to great effect, that choir gets me every single time. 

Unfortunately, in 2001, after more than 15 years at Konami, Higashino left the company on maternity leave but never returned, walking away from working full-time on compositions to prioritise her life at home as a new mother. In the years since, she's shared that she found herself seriously overworked and overwhelmed by her role on Suikoden II in particular. She's not the only one to say something along these lines, as series creator and game director Murayama, who left just a few years after Higashino, has also shared that he wrote almost all of the NPC dialogue in the game, slept at the office for months during development, and on several occasions fell asleep writing only to wake up hearing voices. These are two masters of their craft who were pushed far beyond any reasonable limit, and though Murayama is coming back as the driving force behind Eiyuden Chronicle, Higashino's only major work since leaving Konami was composing for 10,000 Bullets with Yasunori Mitsuda and Pop'n Music: Adventure. Next year it will have been 15 years since she last composed for a game, with Suikoden II over 20 years later remaining her last major soundtrack effort. It's unfortunate that she no longer actively composes, but it's fitting that her last effort wasn't just good, or great - it was nothing short of a masterpiece that has moved every person who has played the game. I hope that she knows that. 

Lately, I've been thinking about how certain "Holy Grail" games can be easily overhyped when recommending that people check it out. I think it comes from a well-meaning place, of wanting to share something which resonated with you with others, which is a very human thing, but this can come at the cost of the game not living up to those lofty expectations. Sometimes, I find it intimidating to play a revered classic: what if it simply doesn't click with me? I felt that way going into Suikoden II, especially after enjoying the first game so much, and I know that many others might feel the same way.

A game can be brilliant without being life-altering, and, like with all art, how you interpret it and what you take away from your experience with it might be vastly different to mine. You might not like it's battle system, it's world, or not care at all for its sprite work, and that's okay. 

Suikoden II is not a perfect game, but it is a sequel in the truest sense of the word. It builds on every foundation you can find in the first game and attempts to improve upon what was there before. With a beautiful soundtrack up there with the very best, a rich and storied world, charming and memorable characters, masterful sprite work, and a story which will captivate you from beginning to end, I truly believe that Suikoden II thoroughly deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as some the greatest games in the genre. 

 

If you haven't already, then I implore you: play these games

 

 

Edited by Julius
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After Stories: Path of Destinies I decided to give Bugsnax another go...

It's boring. Couldn't keep playing after an hour. There's literally nothing that would keep me engaged ::shrug:  Oh well, time to find a different game to play. Maybe I'll borrow The Last of Us: Part 2 from my sister on Friday. Still haven't played it and have not been spoiled, yet :D

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Platinum'd Mass Effect last night (I didn't screenshot the trophy page, because why). Great fun, but I'm anxious to get onto ME2, I have a feeling that's where the series really gets going.

The cutscenes are janky af sometimes, weird animations, editing etc, but the story-telling and gameplay were mostly fun. Combat was much better in the main missions compared to the repetitive side ones.

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In another one of those classic "Game Pass to the rescue" stories. I beat Wolfenstein: The Old Blood over the past couple of days. 

A game series I've always been interested in but never played despite owning WSII on Switch, and then selling it at cost 2 years after I bought it... So it was nice to start this series from the "beginning" with this prequel to the 2014 (if I remember correctly) game, The New Blood. My first experience with a Machine Games title, and one which I enjoyed overall, at least enough to want to try the proper games in the series. 

I finished the main story in about 5-6 hours. The first half of the game is set in Castle Wolfenstein and it's certainly a fun location to explore. Some very nice vista shots when you're outside and the general feel of the world they have created is top notch. The levels, however, are very much a linear affair, and there's not really much you can say about this game other than "corridor shooter" with some more open spaces. The story is the real hero here. I enjoyed it more than I had expected I would, and even though the game is essentially about moving from room to room and set piece to set piece, it's tied together really nicely by the story. The FPS view remains constant from start to finish, even in cutscenes, which gives it a very Doom 2016 feel and really helps with immersion and the feeling that you are experiencing everything as Blazkowicz. 

I'm grateful, ultimately, that the game respects your time. It really is a short affair and could probably be done in about 2-3 hours if you were a lot better at not dying than I am. Having said that, I seemed to power through the back half of the game, dying only a couple of times in the final 3 levels, each time on the supremely tough final boss (no spoilers). From chapter 5 onwards, you're outside the castle and exploring the town of Wolfsburg, which is a nice change of pace and keeps things a little bit interesting, even though the levels seems to be much, much shorter. The shooting mechanics are standard fare, I can't really say they're exceptional or ground breaking, but you have a pretty decent arsenal at your disposal and everything works as you'd expect it too without ever stepping into unique territory. 

The main issue I had with the game was the copy-and-paste nature of the set pieces I mentioned earlier. A lot of the time it felt like you were placed in a room with 10 or so guards (either with or without powerful heavies) and two colonels who can call for back-up should you be spotted by anyone. You basically have to stealth your way through and try to take out these two guards or your gonna be facing a mob of enemies. I honestly got pretty tired of this gimmick by the end as getting caught by anyone basically meant it was better to try again. The stealth element was tense and fun at the beginning but wore on towards the end, especially as you couldn't take out standard enemies with one shot from the silenced pistol. Most of them were armoured up, which meant you needed three or four quick shots before they went down. When they moved after being hit, this became extra tough, and eventually frustrating. The sniper rifle was much better for this, but everyone and their mum could hear it so it was basically unusable. 

In each level you can find a bed which allows you to "dream" and play classic Wolfenstein levels, similar to Doom 2016. Supremely fun at first when I discovered it, but endlessly dull when you're doing it for the third, fourth and fifth time. The levels are long, boring and uninteresting. If you've seen one, you've seen them all. Annoying that a lot of achievements are hidden behind this stuff. Would have preferred to see it feature much more sparingly. 

All in all, I did enjoy my time with this game despite a couple of niggles. An absolutely perfect expansion or budget release, and something I'd definitely like to see more of in unison with major titles. Not too sure about the history of this game but it does very much feel like an expansion to The New Blood, and if that is the case, it's extremely well done. A nice, short, compact game which can be beaten in a couple of sittings and presumably adds a lot to the main story of the first release. Set in a very detailed and lovingly-crafted small nugget of fictional Germany, it has definitely whetted my appetite for more. 

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I finished a couple of games over past couple of days. Castle Crashers Remastered and Spider-Man: Miles Morales.

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I originally played this during the 360 days. That was back when indie games were few and far between but were usually all of a high standard, unlike today where every man and his dog seems to just churn out games on digital stores.

When going back to a game you've not played in years there’s always the danger that your memories have betrayed you and the game isn’t as good as you thought it was but that wasn’t the case here. It’s still as fun now as it was back then.

I pretty sure I played through the whole game in coop mode on the 360 but here, outside of a few stages, I just played it on my own. I thought it was more difficult than I remember but then I realised you could buy potions and other helpful items to aid you on your adventure. Idiot.

As mentioned, I played a few games in online coop and there were only one or two times where the game got a little laggy with 4 players, the rest of the time was pretty much smooth sailing. I was actually surprised people still playing the game, some of which had stupidly high ranked characters.

Trophy wise, there were a couple of tricky ones. There was one that required you to win 40 games in the online arena. When trying to earn this legit I actually came across a guy who messaged me asking if I wanted to just boost it. I was more than happy to do that.

Another tricky trophy was to survive 2 minutes and 30 seconds in the new mini game that was added to the remastered edition. It took a fair bit of time to get my head wrapped around what was actually going on in the mini game and then completing the task took a while as well. There’s a little bit of luck involved as the maps you are placed on are random, with some being better than others.

I really enjoyed revisiting the game after all these years. Strange how I’m already feeling nostalgic about 360 games. It doesn’t feel that far back but a quick look shows the game is now 13 years old! Crazy!
 

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I ended up buying this on Thursday as part of the Days of Play sale. I was a big fan of the original Spider-Man game when it released on the PS4 and was excited to finally get to play this next part of the franchise. Sadly, I don’t think the game reaches the heights that the first game achieved.

Firstly, I think them charging full price for the game is very harsh as it feels more like DLC rather than a fully fledged title. I think of games like Infamous: First Light or Uncharted: The Lost Legacy. Both of these spin offs were shorter in length than the main games but priced at around the £25-£30 range, which is what this should have been. Had I paid the £50+ price that the game launched at I would have been very annoyed.

Secondly, I simply don’t have the connection to Miles as I do to Peter. As a kid, I grew up reading Spider-Man comics and watching the cartoon but Miles wasn’t around back then. Hell, I have more of a connection with Ben Reilly than I do with Miles. I have read more recent comics that have featured him as a side character but nothing enough for me to care about him like I do with Parker and his friends and family.

The game pretty much plays like the original game but with Miles having electrical powers that Peter doesn’t have. Speaking of, I found it hilarious that pretty much every problem/puzzle that needed sorting involved a generator needing charged up or electricity being redirected. Very convenient. :D 

I did like how a lot of the side content bloat was trimmed in this game when compared to the original, especially when it came to the trophies. A lot of the busy work in the first game got really tiring towards the end, especially if you had left the majority of it for a post game clean up. Here, the tasks are better spaced out and not as time consuming.

The length of the game is decent enough for DLC or a stand alone budget release but when you only concentrate on the story, which is what I done for NG+, you see just how short the thing really is. You can finish the game in about 3 hours if you just mainline it. On the one hand I’m glad because having to go through a much longer experience for the NG+ trophy would have been annoying but on the other hand there really should be more to the game when they are charging what they did at launch.

The combat and traversal is still some of the best in any game from recent times. Everything just moves so fast and fluidly. It makes the game really fun to play, especially going from point A to point B. There were very few times I actually used fast travel because it’s simply too much fun not to swing around the city.

Good game but I’d rather Insomniac just had concentrated on making a proper sequel over what we got here. Saying that, at least now they can dive straight into it without having to explain anything about Miles. I wouldn’t be surprised if the next game features both Miles and Peter, with the player either getting to choose who they are or having to switch between them in certain segments.  

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Danganronpa V3 (PS4)

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With this I complete the full series to date. Gameplay doesn’t deviate from the established routine of the previous games, which sees another set of students involved in a deadly ‘killing game’. You explore the school setting & further the dialogue in the story before someone suddenly meets an unfortunate demise, at which point you search for evidence before entering a courtroom to try and deduce who the culprit is.

The courtroom gameplay feels particularly Phoenix Wright-esque, where the majority of times you are trying to present evidence that contradicts somebody’s statement. To mix things up though during the trials, sometimes you’ll have to complete a minigame to solve a particular problem. There are more mini games then the previous titles, including a basic racing game or a Minesweeper-style one.

For me these games, in the most part, are the best in the Danganronpa series. The presentation as a whole has been more refined, plus the twists, turns & revelations in each case still felt fresh & continually surprised me.

Despite this, I still came away slightly disappointed. The humour was frequently more juvenile than the first two games, which fell flat a little too often for me. I won’t spoil anything, but I found the story to be the least satisfying out of the series so far. Not to say it was bad, far from it. The mysteries and murders were still excellently done, I just preferred the overall stories in the previous two games. Although of course I may have been a little fatigued from the 50+ hours of this visual novel series beforehand...

I enjoyed the trilogy and I’m now ready to move on from the series & maybe take a short break from the visual novel genre.

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RATCHET & CLANK | 2016

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I grew up in a time when character-driven platformers were being played a whole lot by my friends and their older siblings, and I remember watching them play games like Crash Bandicoot, Spyro, and Ratchet & Clank, being handed the controller a few times and just having fun with them as we ran around collecting things and hitting anyone we came across. Besides playing Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly on my PS2, though, I don’t think I owned any other games like that, and I never got particularly far into Enter the Dragonfly either. Of all of the genres I missed out on growing up, this was the one I always felt like was something I completely missed out on and would never get to experience for the first time as a kid.

So, ahead of Rift Apart releasing next Friday, I completed 2016’s Ratchet & Clank over the last few days, and I came away fairly mixed on it, though I’d probably lean towards it more in a positive light rather than a negative one. I’ll focus on the positives first.

I really liked the game’s art style, it’s very vibrant and richly coloured that it looked exactly how I remember games like this looking when I was younger. The game also felt pretty much exactly how I remember those games feeling: not extremely tight in its platforming, a little floaty at times, but giving you a good chunk of space to explore for Holo Cards, Gold Bolts, and collecting bolts, which were fun to seek out. My favourite level was Gaspar – by a decent amount – getting to fly around with the jetpack (I seriously wish this was implemented into every level), a whole lot of combat, very few puzzles and cutscenes breaking up the pacing, what felt like an ongoing Metroid reference throughout (the brains?), I think it’s probably the strongest level in the game by some margin because it’s one of the few times it doesn’t feel like the game is getting in its own way, even if each level does look and feel quite distinct from the rest.

The weapon variety in this game was great, with new weapons regularly coming in to shake things up, and it was a whole lot of fun figuring out which weapons would work well together; my go-to was throwing down a Groovinator to get everyone dancing, then tossing a Proton Drum in behind that for Area of Effect damage, which would often free me up to focus on other enemies storming in from elsewhere. Mr Zurkon – and by extension Zurkon Jr.! – was hilarious (the game definitely got a good few chuckles from me throughout, especially Solitary Bill!), I always kept him on hand in case some random enemy came up out of nowhere to keep them at bay, and the Sheepinator got a good laugh out of me towards the end of the game too. I kid you not, I saved the RYNO for the last boss fight and it got them down to 1% in less than 15 seconds, to the point that I had to awkwardly wait around for the final boss to do

The Clank parts of levels were generally fun brain teasers where you got a chance to traverse the level by throwing Gadgebots around; I had an absolute blast going for gold in the hoverboard cups – even if getting under 01:35 on Rilgar requires a near-perfect run, which was…annoying, given just how easy getting under the challenge time on Kalebo was thanks to shortcuts, and I also think that it’s one of the buggier sections of the game with just how poorly some hit boxes detect – and would have actually loved to see more of them; and the air combat sections were generally a good way of shaking things up too (especially with the nods to Star Fox – Do a barrel roll! – and noticing the Resistance logo for the first time here before it turned up elsewhere).

Unfortunately, though, there are some negatives to go over, the biggest one being how overly reliant the game is on the cutscenes from the movie to get by and tell a “story”. I came here for fun above all else, and do feel like story expectations are low in a game like this where it’s basically just something to point you forwards and even doing it well goes unnoticed by most, but it’s just so flat and forgettable here that I think it genuinely holds the experience back some. So many of these characters have cool designs that scream exaggerated personalities, and yet I can only probably remember less than half of their names. Not only that, the cutscenes are really poorly laced into the story itself, and the best example of this is how the penultimate boss fight starts out with a cutscene where the bad guy pretty much goes “Hey Ratchet” and we instantly transition into the fight – no reasoning, no comment from Ratchet, nothing. It leads to one of many very awkward transitions in the game from cutscene to gameplay and back, and outside of a couple of chuckles, I thought that the cutscenes were very forgettable themselves too. Doesn’t help that the PS5 has yet to receive an update for us to turn off the notification regarding gameplay recording stopping due to being in a cutscene, which I was reminded of again and again and again throughout (no fault of the game, but it definitely got on my nerves, and it’s been a long time since I’ve come across so many cutscene notifications).

I encountered quite a lot of bugs, if we want to call them that (I mean I guess they are), throughout the game. Enemies clipping into and through walls (especially after explosions), Ratchet getting caught on the terrain a number of times, I was surprised by just how many rough spots I encountered. Like I mentioned before, I think the hoverboard races were probably the worst when it came to this, and there were times where I wouldn’t hit anything and feel like I was being penalised for going too fast or jumping too high, it was pretty frustrating at times.

There were also some audio issues, where talking to certain characters in completely open spaces would result in some echoing, though I think that’s an issue I’ve had in the Spider-Man games too, though other than that I do want to highlight just how good the sound design was in this game, every weapon and interaction sounded distinct from the next (though I’m fairly sure I heard some sound effects from the old LEGO games, which was a nice blast from the past too I suppose!).

The levels in the first half of the game felt very cookie-cutter to me, and though improved a lot in the second half of the game, this game commits what I consider a level design sin in that it introduces a new mechanic for the first time in the final level of the game, one which slows down your progress and steers you away from having as much fun as you might have been up to that point, and felt very much at odds with what I expected going into the final level. Considering just how the level plays out anyways, and how you’re going to have to blast your way through to some extent, just further highlights what I feel was a poor decision.

Just to briefly mention enemy variety, because it didn’t feel like it mixed things up all that well, and how other than the very first level which the game opens with I don’t think you see or really interact with anyone who feels like they’re living in this world, it feels very much like a 2000’s video game in that regard. I know it’s a remake to some extent of the original game, but that first look at what we saw in Rift Apart with getting to interact with normal people living in this world

I didn’t go into this game expecting to be blown away by its soundtrack, and yeah, other than that main theme which turns up every now and then, I don’t think there were any particular tracks of note. Though, very annoyingly and related to music, the music playing in the final cutscene fades out waaaaaaaay too early – it was like it was building up to a nice crescendo and then just got cut off – and it’s genuinely been on my mind a lot since I finished the game. Why would you possibly think that was a good idea? It makes my blood boil!

For me, though not a great game, Ratchet & Clank is by no means a bad one. I think it’s good, a fun time, and I’m glad that I played it, but it just didn’t sink its hooks into me deep enough to make me want to take on Challenge Mode and play through it again. This all being said, I’m still very excited for Rift Apart next week, as this felt like a nice appetiser and quickly got me up to speed with what I should expect going into that.

 

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Posted (edited)

Yeah, that’s how I kind of feel about the R&C series as a whole.  They’re... fine.  They’re perfectly ok & inoffensive games that have perfectly perfunctory gameplay; but they don’t really do anything exceptional outside of their lush presentation.

Edited by Dcubed
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I already knew that Dcubed has awful taste in games but I expected better from you, @Julius. You've made a powerful enemy today....

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Let's be honest, the original Ratchet & Clank games on PS2 are way better than the newer ones. The original games had something else that kind of made them stand out...

 

 

The remake is a perfectly fine game but being made to tie in with a movie lets it down. The original game and storyline is WAY better. They so badly butchered Drek and the infobot commercials were some of the best parts about that original game.

 

 

Anyway, regarding gaming lately I've been working on this bumper multi hour Zelda video that covers the entire franchise for its 35th anniversary.. As a result I need to capture footage so I am currently playing through again everyone's favourite Zelda game :p Yes that's right, I'm playing Skyward Sword. Just got Farore's Courage again and intending to play until Ancient Cistern before switching over to a completed file to get the rest of the footage.

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Posted (edited)
36 minutes ago, Hero-of-Time said:

I already knew that Dcubed has awful taste in games but I expected better from you, @Julius. You've made a powerful enemy today....

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Probably sounds like I hated the game considering how much I've got listed down as being negatives to be honest :laughing: just one of those that didn't click with me unfortunately!

I like to check out reviews after I've made my posts just to try to get a better sense on where I've landed compared to the general consensus, or just to see if anyone was crazy hot or cold on a game (and I also just think it's great to get other perspectives, it's why I enjoy coming here so much!), and Huber gave it 3.5/5 stars back in the day when he reviewed it, which is a score I'd probably agree with to be honest. I also probably sound a bit harsh because I've played some brilliant games so far this year (long may that continue) :D 

I agree with @Aperson, I think the game was held back by the film just based on the game's content and how some scenes are stitched together. I think presentation is really important, so if I'm ever going "Oh wait, we're fighting now?" after a cutscene where you're setting up the boss fight, I think you've done something wrong. 

Still, I am looking forward to giving Rift Apart a go next week, and even based on the gameplay videos we've seen I've still got high hopes that (for me) it'll be a step up from Ratchet & Clank 2016. 

Edited by Julius
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