Friday, July 18, 2014

Disney Infinity: searching for the game

I'm not sure what to make of this, really.  There was a very long and convoluted start, where I was introduced to the idea of sparks and had to guide a glowing orb through a world which took ages and ages, with a fixed camera and many places to get stuck.  The controls felt awful, and I hoped that it was just the vagueness of the character that led to this disconnect from the ground.

Sadly not; soon after my character took shape, and I was given control of the camera - which actually made it worse, as the game makes no attempt at all to move the camera to a useful viewpoint.  If you turn your character and shoot your gun, you would hope that the camera would swing around so you could see what you're shooting at ... no such luck.

Finally, after an absurdly long introduction, I reached Mickey dressed as the Sorcerer's Apprentice, who led me through an undulating landscape and had me grab onto a pole - which turned out to be the flagpole of the classic opening castle.

What's more, it turns out that this castle is the centrepiece for the free roam playground which is just generally empty.  Empty, that is, apart from the voice that crops up every five seconds telling you that you've unlocked things and there's another tutorial and people are stuck and and and and oh just shut up.

I went through a couple of the tutorials and then tried some of the adventures, which seemed to be just minigames with little depth.  I've not actually tried the play set modes yet, so may need to give that a go.  At the moment it all seems just a bit empty.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Goat Simulator: er, what?

What indeed.  You're a goat, you can do tricks like in a skateboarding game, you can lick things and headbutt things and destroy things.

You can wear a crown.  It's daft.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Dear Esther: completed!

I started this a few times but never devoted enough time to see it through - my previous work computer stuttered horribly with it as well.  I tried running it on my seven-year-old iMac and it works wonderfully, even at high resolutions.  Huzzah.

And I played through the whole game in one sitting - I'm not sure, in fact, if there is a save mechanism.  Or, indeed, a game - it is very much an interactive novel, with the story told by narration over the top of the exploration.  Sure, there are some hints to find across the island and some of the things you see constantly make you question whether this is a hallucination or dream, but you can't influence the story in any way, or die; you can only trigger the next part of the story by walking far enough.

It's a complex story as well, and by the end I think I'd figured out a decent interpretation of it.  I believe that your character is lying in a coma, desperate to tell Esther about the circumstances of the car crash which you were both involved in.  The island doesn't exist other than as a construct of your mind - there being no way off indicates the way you are trapped without hope of recovery.  Quite bleak for a game, but continuing the theme of To the Moon nicely.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Populous: the Beginning: an enforced restart

The best game ever?  I have often wondered if that was just nostalgia talking, with the game's sublime mix of action and strategy existing only in my memory.  I've been without a means to play Populous: the beginning for some time now, but a recent promotion let me rebuy it for £2.50 with various patches to allow it to play on modern machines.

Or, at least, that was the idea.  In order to run the game I need to delve into the game directories and find one of the executables, rather than running from the installed shortcut.  Most annoying.  Anyone else who's having issues, look for a file called popTB.exe and run that - you'll need admin rights though.

Unlike most PC games, it's well worth putting up with the game being a little unstable.  The game is as good as I remember it, if not better - the carefully balanced strengths and weaknesses of each character really shines after all this time.

Of course, I had no access to my previous saved games, so I have had to restart.  I initially had difficulty getting past the fifth level - Death From Above - because I didn't notice the timer in the corner of the screen, but soon cracked that.  After that it's been relatively plain sailing, with only a couple of restarts.

I have grown to hate preachers once again, because they have the ability to completely stop an attacking party.  In response I overcompensate by training too many preachers of my own, and as a result don't have enough attacking power.

In the last level I played, Fire in the Mist, I was constantly attacked and had to contend with a volcano near the start of the level.  Still, it made a good platform for a lookout post.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Titanfall: I killed one - no, two!

Two titans, that is.  Big stumpy robots.  I was waiting for this to come down in price given its online-only and multiplayer nature, and I'm glad I did; the game feels a bit light on content from what I've played so far, with matches lasting a relatively short period of time, and everything being a little repetitive.

But it's repetitive fun, and that's the important bit - it takes a while to work out what's happening, but once you do the game's tense and exciting.  The feeling of reward you get for each kill is immense, particularly when the kill is a titan.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Endless Ocean: tickling fish

As part of my Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection goodbye tour, I went back to the seas in the Endless Ocean.  I couldn't work out what was going on at all; I wandered the boat looking for how I could play multiplayer, found that I had a dolphin companion, and went diving.

My dolphin seems to be able to bury his tail in the sand.

I swam around for ages, looking at random fish and managing to uncover their names by touching them.  Except sometimes that didn't reveal their names, and some fish I had already seen.

The area I could swim in was pretty limited, and I kept finding caves that I wanted to explore but they were too far outside the "target area".  Pretty fish kept swimming away.

Eventually I decided to try to find the multiplayer again, so returned to the boat. I have no idea why my character has a ponytail.  I eventually found the ladder leading to the Wi-Fi enabled sea, only to find that it would only let me join an existing friend who was online at the same time.  I don't know anyone else with the game.

I wandered back to the back of the ship, only to find the most stilted conversation ever.  No idea who she's talking about here.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Games Evening 23.7

A rarity, with Matt and Andrew visiting with no children in tow.  They did so in order that we could play some games, before Andrew moves 34,771 miles away.

The idea was to play like we used to, including finding games as close as we could to our old habits.  Unfortunately, a number of my games are still in the loft, so I was unable to get hold of PES4, Burnout 3, or Rockband.  We made do with what I had to hand.

  • Mario Kart 8 - still superb.  Andrew quite enjoyed it, although the use of items somewhat eluded him.

  • FIFA 13 - we were hopeless, until we turned the difficulty down from 3/5 to 1/5.  Playing as England against Accrington and some random Irish team, we managed to scrape a couple of wins.

  • Blur - the screens were too small, unfortunately.
  • Nintendo Land - the real star of the evening.  We were in fits of giggles as Andrew ran in the wrong direction, away from Matt, during Chase Mario.  We never got around to playing Ghost Mansion, which is probably for the best.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Project Gotham Racing 4: moving to the silvers

Following an evening on Wednesday where John, Kieron and I met up online to kill each other in Halo 3, race around in PGR4, and find orbs with each other in Crackdown 2, I decided to see where I was in the various modes in PGR4.  A fair way in, it seems.

Back in 2008, I got frustrated that I had to play some levels with bikes.  I got past those at some point and when I started last night I was up to the eighth of ten sets of arcade challenges, with a variety of platinum, gold and silver medals.  I managed to complete each of the remaining challenges in set eight on my first go, so was feeling confident moving on to set nine.

Suddenly I couldn't use a nice controllable car - oh no.  Big powerful slippy monsters of cars that don't actually go where you want them to; coupled with elimination events where a single mistake can mean that you're never going to survive to the end.  It took many attempts, but I finally passed them ... to be confronted with a race around the Nürburgring.  Hmm.

Still, the game remains ace, and there's also the career mode to explore, which I have obviously played some of before.  It may stay in the Xbox 360 drive for a while.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Mario Kart 8: crossing the line

I was dragging a green shell behind me, but as I turned the final corner I saw red and blue shells approaching.  The red shell would be disposed of by the green, but would I cross the line before the blue hit me?

No.  But the blast threw me forwards the 10cm I needed.  Huzzah!

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Mario Kart 8: refinement extraordinaire

Is Mario Kart 8 perfect?  No.  The series has stagnated in terms of its single-player mode, the battle arenas are no longer arenas, and the time trial ghosts are a bit glitchy. But those surrounding aspects do not  change the fact that the central game is utterly glorious, and remains a superbly fun experience.  The racing gameplay has been refined with new items (and the loss of some old), the track designs have been meticulously put together, and everything is balanced beyond compare.

A good player will win 75% of their races.  A great player will win 90%.  The chance for less talented gamers to win keeps them interested, and while it's fashionable to claim that there's no skill and too much randomness in the game, that is less true than ever with the addition of the horn item which can destroy blue shells.

I've been working my way through the 50cc tournaments, but have just learnt that completion of 100cc and 150cc unlocks the lower levels anyway.  Practising on 50cc has helped in any case, and my first 100cc cup was a breeze.

The other amazing aspect of the game is MKTV - not the short-lived Milton Keynes endeavour, but rather a replay mode which enables uploads to YouTube and replays on its own website.  The details that you can see when watching these replays are quite amazing.