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.