Monday, March 20, 2017

My thoughts on Nioh and learning the art of doing a let's play

I've been playing Nioh on the Playstation 4 on my youtube channel. I...kinda like the game I think? I dunno, there are just some gameplay issues that really get my goat, so to speak.

For one, you play a ninja. Ok, so he's British, but in all fairness he is basically a ninja. Ninja or not though, why the hell can't he jump and climb? Or swim? Ninjas, and pretty much anyone, can jump and climb. But you can't in this video game. You are stuck on the ground. And don't fall in to a small patch of water, you will die.
Seriously, why is this still a thing in video games? Someone please explain this to me. I mean if Geralt in The Witcher can make the leap from being able to do not a whole lot of The Witcher 1 to doing pretty much any god damn thing in The Witcher 3, why is it that this new IP cannot allow me to paddle my way back to shore after I dodged an axe swing from a demon skeleton, fell off the pier and in to shallow water, only to drown. That. Is. Fucking. Dumb.

Oh and no climbing? What in the name of fuck? So often in this game I see a low hanging on a building or a waist high ledge leading in to another area and think "hey I could explore that" but no. Instead William (that's the playable character in the game) just runs up to it. And stands there. And does nothing. Not. A. Fucking. Thing.

This is my biggest gripe with the game thus far. That and controls that feel sluggish, being unable to stop an animation to change actions, one particular boss that felt like a spammy fucking cheater, the lack of a clear story line (I mean seriously, what the fuck is going on?), and my inability to pronounce Japanese names fluently (though I will admit the fault lies with me there, not the game).

If you would care to watch me struggle though this, and also witness my evolution from sub-par video editor to slightly sub-par video editor, check out my new youtube channel here
digitalsoap plays...

Here is the first episode:

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Final Fantasy XV: A Perfect Clusterfuck

I came in to the Final Fantasy series rather late. I started delving in to the series when I heard about the almost universal gamer love for FF7, so I decided to see what the fuss was about. I first played 10. That was a weird game, which I didn't particularly love. 10-2 was even weirder and I lasted perhaps an hour before I gave it up. I didn't play 12, although I hear it's pretty good and I've also heard it's getting a HD remake for the PS4 so I might delve in to that when it comes out in 2017.

Then came the big pile of steaming poop that was the 13 series. The characters were unlikable and I could not relate to them. It was a pile of hallways and boring combat. But I persisted and finished the game. Shitty story. I then played 13-2. Even worse story, which I did not complete. Perhaps I got a quarter of the way through. It was awful. I even played 13: Lightning Returns. Lasted an hour at most. Fuck that game.

Needless to say I came in to 15 with a fair amount of trepidation. Just to start off I'll give a quick summary of the plot of the beginning of the game. You play as Noctis, son of the King of Lucis, setting off on a roadtrip with his three best friends: Gladio, Ignis and Prompto. The four of them are headed to get Noctis married off to his betrothed Lunafreya The Oracle. And that's the start of the game. Off you go. Those who have seen the FF15 movie Kingsglaive will know what occurs within the first chapter of the game, but I hadn't seen the movie. I'm more interested in seeing it now and not just because I love the sound of Sean Bean's voice.

Ok so let's get in to the negatives first, because there are a lot of them. The small stuff first which is the bugs and graphical glitches. They're there and boy are they there. It's locked to 30fps on the PS4 and still there a frame rate drops. The controls are often unresponsive, so the phrase "but I hit the button" or "c'mon you bastard I'm hitting the damn button" were uttered more frequently that I would normally use them.

Also, I like to refer to this type of game as "open world" with the hand motions. It's not really an open world. Yeah it's a pretty big space, but the amount of invisible walls drives me crazy. The map isn't exactly clear either, showing possible paths that just don't exist in the game world. Even the driving is restrictive and so very very boring. I just make Ignis drive.

And oh god the most infuriating thing in the game is the combat, especially in tight spaces, wooded areas and dungeons. Trying to lock on the a particular enemy or body part is next to impossible when the camera whizzes around Noctis, constantly changing targets or putting trees in between the camera and the action, making it so very difficult to coordinate attacks effectively causing hair pulling, controller throwing, foot stomping acts of rage. My poor cats think I am mad at them as I suddenly rage whilst they are curled up next to me on the couch. Poor dears. I might have started to overfeed them just as an apology.

The crux of my experience with Final Fantasy 15 is this: I fucking love it. It looks beautiful, the music is amazing, the story is very anime but I was fully invested, the combat at it's best is a joy, and it's the best Final Fantasy experience I've had in my short history with the franchise. Running around the wilds on a chocobo, searching every possible corner of the world for new treasures and monsters to fight is great. I really love the fishing, which is not something I have enjoyed in other games. Pulling in a monster catch after spending 10 minutes winding it in on so very satisfying.

The story is, well, crazy. I am keeping this spoiler free, though I might writer a blog later about exactly how crazy it is later on, so all I can say right now is that it is very difficult to follow. I hadn't seen the Brotherhood anime nor the Kingsglaive movie so I missed a lot of the references made in the game. A lot of characters are introduced, given names and such, but don't last very long in the story, possibly only a scene or two. That being said, I felt invested in the story of the 4 friends. I may have teared up a few times during the game. Just a few, mind you.

This game is not for everyone. It is oh so flawed and yet I love it. There is no perfect game. If there is, I haven't played it. Of course a game can be perfect in your eye and mind and can do no wrong. Fan boys and girls world over will rage if you say anything negative about their favourite game. I am not that guy, I see flaws in all my favourite things and am willing to discuss them.

I don't know how to end this post. I am on a new medication and am feeling a little wonky myself so I'm just gonna shut up and go play Samuari Warriors 4 which is also a wonky, crazy, fun as hell game. Doesn't really have a narrative to write home about, but I do get to decimate thousands of enemies per map so...that certainly is a thing.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Tyranny: So who wants to be a baddie?

Tyranny is an odd game. I honestly don't know what to make of it. I think I like it? I certainly enjoyed the setting and the majority of the main story, but there are just some bits that detracted from it being a truly great game for me. It feels like it could have used just a bit more time in development, a bit more fleshing out, a bit more...something. I shall explain.

Tyranny is the new game by Obsidian Entertainment, creators of some of my favourite RPGs out there, such as Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2, Alpha Protocol (yes, I actually enjoyed that buggy mess of a game), Fallout: New Vegas, and Pillars of Eternity. Tyranny is certainly more like PoE than if only for it's use of engine and systems, but Obsidian have always been great story tellers. Tyranny is no exception in this regard.

You begin the game with the war already mostly won by the conquerors. Your character was part of the victorious army. During one of the best character creation sequences I have used, you go through a procedure called "The Conquest" where you choose the actions your character took during the first 3 years of war and occupation. This informs how various factions and NPCs view your character and changes various dialogues and actions you can perform in the game.

You're basically a bad guy. You can definitely develop your own code of honour, or even just go balls to the wall evil, all options are available to you. That is in part due to the dialogue system which reminiscent of older systems from Baldurs Gate and even as recent as Dragon Age Origins. Modern conversation systems are far more dumbed down, providing far less dialogue options (look at Bioware and Bethesda's more recent offerings). The amount of lore and history available to you is almost overwhelming, which I love. I adore delving in to the lore of new worlds and discovering new information and stories.

Delving in to a game of Rut, Marry. Slaughter with your companions.
Now. My biggest qualm with the game. After about 25/30 hours of exploring and fighting and conversing and reaching what I felt was barely scratching the surface of an epic and amazing experience, the game just ends. The third act is barely an hour long and makes all my effort feel for naught. It was a shock to my system. I was in absolute disbelief. I am still scratching my head over it. Is this just a short story experience for a full game price or is there upcoming dlc/expansions for it to complete the story? Either way, not happy about it.

Another small problem I have with the game is that I just don't care about the companions I'm offered. There's a cool mechanic where your Loyalty/Fear meter with each companion can give you extra skills in battle, but in terms of actually hanging out with them, I just don't care. I stuck through the entire campaign with the first 3 companions I received, and whilst I dabbled with the others I always went back to the originals. It's not that they were terrible characters, it's that their stories don't go anywhere. No companion quests, no loyalty missions, so what reason is there to care about them if all you need them for is to soak up and deal out damage in battle. Hell, one of your companions is a Beastwoman who deals crazy amounts of damage and jumps around like a...well...a beast in combat. Also one of the most annoying voice acted characters in a game I have ever played and hence I never wanted her in my party.

Tyranny is a very curious game. In terms of story and lore, what happens to you and how you influence the world is nothing short of amazing. It's just too short and ends just when things get really interesting. And I mean reeeeeeeally interesting. I feel that this was an opportunity lost. That being said, if there is dlc or expansions that expand or continue the story I'm totally in. Take me money. Just take it. I need more of this type of story telling in my life.

Yes, I realise how contradictory this "review" is. I don't really consider this a review. More of a spilling of my brain guts on a page in an attempt to sort out how I feel about this game. I love it. I hate it. I need more of it. I'm addicted. I'm an addict. Oh god I'm an addict.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Soundtracks that made a game better: Sleeping Dogs and Daptone Radio

Upon hearing of the death of Sharon Jones I began thinking about where I first heard her music. It was on the Daptone Radio station from the game Sleeping Dogs. Now I didn't really love Sleeping Dogs. I found it a bit of a repetitive mess and I don't think I ever got further than about half way through the game. However that game has had an immense impact on my life thanks to Daptone Radio.

I don't remember the other radio stations in Sleeping Dogs too well because once I tuned in to Daptone Radio I never tuned out. The acts that stood out to me were Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings, Charles Bradley, Menahan Street Band, and The Budos Band. I spent the majority of my time in Sleeping Dogs just driving around and listening to these songs that were just so soulful and joyful. Here's a few examples of the songs from the station:

I never considered myself much of a funk or soul fan. I certainly didn't dislike it but it was never something I sought out. I'm pretty much a metal and rock head. I love my heavy riffs. There are metal and alt rock radio stations in Sleeping Dogs, but whether it was due to my mood or something going on in my life they just weren't doing it for me. 

I will never consider Sleeping Dogs to be a great video game, but it will always hold a special place in my gaming library and my heart thanks to Daptone Radio. So thank you United Front Games and Square Enix for creating a soundtrack that introduced me to all new music that I will otherwise probably never would have sought out. 

RIP Sharon Jones. The world is a little less soulful now that you are gone. Much Love. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Shadow Warrior 2: Oh what a shame.

I loved the Shadow Warrior reboot in 2013. It was badass. The sword and gun play was fantastic and it felt like stepping back into the 90s realm of first person shooters. Just with prettier graphics.

Then Doom came along earlier this year. I haven't touched the multiplayer but oh my glorious squashed nuts it's a helluva shooter. Keep moving, keep shooting, monsters everywhere, keep moving keep shooting. Dare I say, as close to a perfect modern FPS that there is.

Needless to say I had high hopes for Shadow Warrior 2. Having played 2 hours or so I don't want to play any more. To play more would be an endeavour in futility and frustration. Why oh why is there a loot system? Why does it make me stop every minute or so to see if any of the shitty relics I've collected make my weapons any better? Why are the enemies such bullet sponges? WHYYYYYYYY

I don't expect any answers. I gather that the devs decided to go with a more Borderlands shooter loot fest but they got it oh so wrong. Shadow Warrior is about slicing and dicing and blowing shit up. Having to pause that to swap out shitty upgrades for another shitty upgrade breaks the flow of combat and the game.

Don't get me wrong. The first hour is great, the sword play is fantastic and the choice of weapons, all with their own animations, feel good. Then it just stops feeling good. It feels like a grind. It made me sad.

I guess I could hope for a patch to get rid of the relic loot system, but I somehow feel that would be asking too much. In the mean time I'll be playing Doom to get my fill of demon slaughter.