Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Borderlands: stuck in New Haven

Well, there and Rust Commons.  It feels like we made little progress tonight, for once not because John spent the entire session choosing between two identical guns, but because we struggled to make progress past the spiderants and other foes.  In fact, we only managed to complete three missions, and unlock five more.  We need to increase our firepower somewhat!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Splatoon: splosh

An online shooter - from Nintendo.  And as such it's not really an online shooter at all, it's an online competitive painting game where everything is jolly and fun.

Immense fun.


Look at the colours!


Look at the character designs!

I've played online more than offline so far, which is incredibly unusual for me.  It's just so well designed and ... fun.

Immense fun.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D: getting used to the time sickness

Hello again!

I have been playing things, you know.  I've been playing a bit of Heavy Rain, and some Cities Skylines.  I've completed Peggle Blast again, and played a few levels of Two Dots.  I've made a little progress in a second story of 80 Days, and caught a few big ones in Sega Bass Fishing.

But most of all I've been playing Majora's Mask.

I said I'd write more when I'd worked out how the game works.  I sort of have, although there are still things that I don't know how to do.  On the first day, a little boy or girl wearing a fox mask runs to the postbox, and I haven't worked out how to talk to them. Postboxes are a mystery too.  Is there a reasons for the workmen in the town square?

But outside Clock Town it's a little more straightforward.  The game seems to be neatly divided into a core story (make it through the dungeons and gather the giants to stop the moon) and side quests (make others happy and gather information).  There are some of the latter which change into the former - such as finding Epona which allows you to access the ocean - but otherwise it's clear what is optional.


Not that it really matters.  I've been trying to do everything, following the hints in the notebook to find where I can get all the optional masks and heart pieces.  I've fished, I've thrown bombs at targets, I've taken photographs, and I've jumped around islands.


The game is magnificent, and the amount of detail crammed into the cartridge is astounding.  Look at the Gamecube in the background!
 

I've just completed the temple in the sea, and the giants have told me there is one more.  Before I go off there, though, I've got a frog choir to find.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Forza Horizon: completed!

As I said before, an excellent game.  So much so that it became my go-to racing game, and I've been working through it at a pretty steady pace.  About half-way through I got a little bored, and took a bit of a break (from racing games in general, apart from Mario Kart 8), but once I returned I was compelled to complete the game.

And let's be clear, there's a lot of game to complete.  As well as the overall career, where you get points from doing well in races and earn wristbands to unlock more races, you get to race against the tournament's stars, compete in street races, do PR stunts, and compete in absurd 'showcase' events where you race fighter planes and hot air balloons.  And on top of that you can get achievements for driving on every road, finding advertising signs, doing races again and competing against Xbox Live friends ...

And I've done it all.  I've actually won every race, both official and unofficial.  I've taken photos, got skill chains, increased my car collection to about 30ish, have around 4million credits in the bank.  I've even bought a Land Rover, a Mini and a Beetle so that Nicholas can play with them in free roam.

And I've just ordered Forza Horizon 2, because I've heard it's even better.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

80 Days: 89 days

It's been a while.  I've been playing a fair bit - progressing in 200cc grands prix in Mario Kart 8, getting the gold wristband in Forza Horizon, pootling around the world in Majora's Mask.  I've completed Peggle Blast and found that I am hopeless at Worms Reloaded.  Maybe at some point I'll write more, particularly since I have a draft post on the last of those half done.

But what I wish to talk about today is 80 Days.  It's an iPad game, although it can be played on a phone if you really must.  It's a text adventure with trading and route planning, based loosely around the Jules Verne novel but with a great deal of artistic licence thrown in.  Your primary objective is to get around the world in 80 days, but if you fail (as I have done) you simply restart but with knowledge over what may happen.  There are hundreds of routes to choose from and the world seems to be based on a random seed meaning that no two games will be the same.

I started well, travelling through France and Germany, then up to Scandinavia.  Unfortunately routes to Russia were limited and I ended up having to travel back down through Turkey and the Middle East to India, arriving in Japan at around day 45.  Not too bad, but my journey across the Pacific (a direct boat to San Francisco) was interrupted by a storm, and we lost a number of days heading down to Hawaii instead.  I led a mutiny to get the boat to depart for the US West coast immediately, but travelling across America took a long time and on day 80 I was aboard a paddle steamer, just after it had exploded.  No oceanic transportation from New Orleans meant a slow trek up the coast to New York.


It felt a huge anticlimax, and this made me realise just how exciting the game had become.  Every time plans went wrong, or I arrived at a city with no clear path forwards, I was feeling genuinely anxious.  I remember watching Michael Palin's second travelling series Pole to Pole, and feeling that without the time constraints of Around the World in Eighty Days it felt a little pedestrian.  Here again I could see the deadline creating the tension.




A game like this needs to have good writing and a clear visual style, and 80 Days has both.  It's a testament to its quality that as soon as I'd arrived in London I was ready to set sail again.  On my second journey I managed to make good time across Europe and Russia, until on day 23 I was thrown into a Russian military jail.


Let's hope I can continue at this pace.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D

I've started this, and got through the first three-day cycle.  I will write more when I have worked out how the game works better, but for now let's just say it's excellent.


Assassin's Creed brotherhood: completed!

I'd love to say that I became sufficiently focussed to ignore the chaff and power to the end of the story, but the reality is that I ran out of other things to do - I completed the Cristina flashbacks, and the courtesan missions, and the thief missions, and there were no more assassination contracts unlocked.  Once I reclaimed the Apple of Eden, it was pretty straightforward to the ending, with a bit of a rubbish gameplay element where you were forced to use the apple to defeat enemies rather than using the sword which had sufficed throughout the game.  I could never quite work out what the apple was meant to do - it was apparently meant to turn enemies on each other, but at times it actually killed people next to me and at other times it didn't.  There were points where there was one enemy remaining, cowering before me, but I couldn't progress until he was dead.  The apple didn't seem to do anything, I couldn't select any other weapon to use.  Eventually after enough blasts and running away and coming back, I was allowed onwards.

That wasn't the weakest bit of the endgame though.  You become Desmond and have to get the Apple from its plinth, which means navigating a timed platform bit around the room that it's held in.  Which would be fine, if the game would actually go where you told it to.  I fell down countless times because Desmond hadn't grabbed a platform he was jumping to.  Not fun.

Anyway, story over, endless credits sat through.  Was that it?  Of course not; a couple of new assassination contracts opened up, and I had collected 99 of 101 flags.  I spent a couple of hours running around the world tidying that up.  I'm not going to attempt 100% synchronisation on all the missions though - where you have to complete the mission in accordance with an additional rule (like not killing anyone, doing it in a strict time limit, not being detected) - I think that way madness lies.

So, all done.  What next?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Assassin's Creed Brotherhood: getting distracted

Look at this.


Look at it.  Every single one of those icons is something screaming "come and get me, interact, get distracted!".  This is why I have made no progress in the story for the past week, instead running around liberating Borgia towers, finding loot stashes, and recruiting assassins with weird-looking eyes.


I have sent my group out on missions, I have found people who have been ill-treated by the Borgia, I have followed courtesans around the streets.  I have taken part in massive battles, I have destroyed war machines including a handy boat cannon thing.



But more than anything I've just spent time running around and admiring the world, trying to climb towers and exploring.  I know my way around now - previously I thought it was a bit odd to have just one city compared to the multiple locations of previous games, but this way it feels much more of a solid place.  The draw distance helps with that.


Borderlands: leaving Fyrestone

It feels as if we have made a lot of progress.  We had to find Sledge, who wasn't at the top of a snowy mountain unfortunately.  He wasn't a very nice person, and we had to fight our way through a long cave to get to him, but we worked well as a team - eventually - to bring him down.  Sure, there was a bit of an issue at first when everyone sad they were ready, I opened the door and ran through, and then looked around to see John faffing around with his gun selection and Kieron looking in the opposite direction.

When we encounter one of these big boss fights, the temptation is just to split up and all use specialisms.  Kieron does love to go beserk.  Where the battle against Sledge worked well was that the limited size of the arena meant we couldn't do that, so I threw down my turret near to where John was and helped to heal him while he was shooting Sledge in the back and I was throwing grenades at him.  His health went down pretty quickly.

We also cleared off all the other side missions from the Arid Badlands, including the Circle of Death.  I have no idea what happened there - I died after two rounds (with John desperately trying to heal me but to no avail), and everything seemed to reset.  We left the arena, John faffed around with his gun selection for another four hours, then we went back in - and then after killing three skags it told us we had won.



So, we're now in Dahl Headland.  We've invaded Lucky's compound to rescue him and powered up the fast travel network - but we've not been much further than that.  It seems a bit scary out there.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Blok Drop U: completed!

Not the most taxing game, I managed to finish this in about thirty minutes.  The idea is that you start with a screen full of blocks and you tap on the grey ones to get rid of them, with the aim of getting the single red block to rest on a stable surface.


Unfortunately the red block is a bit bouncy, so dropping it from such a height probably won't work.  Instead, by getting rid of some of the blocks and causing the rest to collapse in an organised manner, you need to get the red block to rest quite gently.


That's the idea, at least.  The problem is that it just feels a bit too random as to whether things will happen in the way you expect, which is a fatal flaw in a puzzle game.  On some levels I ended up doing the exact same thing a few times and eventually got past the level when the red block happened to bounce in the way I intended.  At other times I carried out a very controlled descent and the game still didn't let me complete the level - this is blatantly safe:


Anyway, half an hour later, and it's all complete.  i can't see myself going back to it; I'm just glad I got it for roughly 40p.

Monday, February 02, 2015

Another World: completed!

I continued to play this on the 3DS for convenience.  I was quite close to the end, it seems - after fighting my way past a group of guards, assisted by releasing animals that attacked them, I was escorted to a big tank thing which was then repeatedly attacked, and I had to prod at various buttons to fire my escape pod into a public bath. 


I then ran away from the shooters, following my friend, before falling down a hole and being saved by an enemy.  Why he didn't let me drop I have no idea.  He kicked me over and was about to kill me when buddy intervened, leading to a big fist fight.  I crawled over to the control panel ... very slowly ... then killed the baddie as he walked towards me.


I teleported up through the ceiling, and was initially worried by the big bird thing until I realised it was the way out.



Hooray!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Assassin's Creed Brotherhood: there's too much to do!

I've no idea why I started playing this, other than just fancying some climbing and sneaking action.  For someone who hasn't played previous games in the series, it must have been horrible, with hundreds of game mechanics introduced in the first ten minutes.  For me, who's completed the previous two games and rounded up most of the collectibles, it was bad enough - I could ignore the movement instructions but had to learn the new building upgrading mechanisms, Borgia towers, tunnel system, and then over the next hour or so learn about recruiting assassins and sending them to do jobs around Europe, opening up buildings for the thieves, mercenaries or courtesans, and finding bits of aqueduct that had fallen down.

All of which seems pretty superfluous to the main story, and means I make little progress.  I've just finished sequence 5, after many hours of playing, and the lack of urgency isn't doing the game any favours.  I am more interested in finding the viewpoints and liberating the city from Borgia influence than I am following the plot - all I know is that the people I didn't kill at the end of ACII still aren't dead and people still want them to kick the bucket.  Oh, and the glowing ball has been stolen again.

It's a quality production, and the city of Rome has been well modelled (although it feels a little small compared to the multiple locations of previous games).  I think soon I will run out of stuff to do in the areas that have been unlocked, and I'll be forced to continue with the story to open these out.