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.


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.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Another World: trial and error

As a game, it's aged.  The controls are a little rigid, with fixed jump lengths and the same button used for shooting and running.  The updated graphics, in cut scenes especially, look a bit flat and lifeless.  The difficulty level means that you are never far from a death, often from something you couldn't see coming.  I've no idea if the original game had chapter saves, but if it didn't it would have been almost impossible.

But it's a fantastic experience.  the story has really pulled me in, despite the lack of words and signposts.  Transported to a new world, captured and thrown in jail, then after escaping and making a friend, constantly hunted down.  I want to make it to the end to see whether I can escape, but some sections are proving pretty difficult.

It took me ages to work out that I had to shoot this rock to give myself a path back up.  It took me even longer to realise that I had to make it through the screens to the right of this one, past the falling rocks, in order to  shoot out a wall which then stopped the level flooding in the wrong place.  There was nothing indicating what you have to do, more an immediate death if you did it wrong.

Actually, there was one thing indicating the correct direction.  The game has hidden checkpoints you trigger if you do something in the wrong order.  If you die and start in a different place to the last 300 attempts, you know you've made progress.

There are some minor visual clues as well.  After fighting past a couple of guards I found this room.

 I'd previously been killed multiple times by a guard in a room with these lights hanging from the ceiling.  The shadow at the bottom of these balls moves across and stops directly under the big one, which you can shoot.  Do it right, and you hear something cry out ... and then later you find this.

I have no idea how far I am through the game now.  I've been swimming in an area I think I flooded earlier, and have helped my alien friend get through a corridor - but he's disappeared again.  There was a room at the end of a corridor which was instant death every time I entered it, but when swimming I found a power line and I hope that's done something about that.  We shall see.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Virtua Tennis 4 World Tour: completed!

Long time no see.  How have you been?

I've played lots of games.  I'm some way into Assassin's Creed Brotherhood now, and I'll write more about that soon.  But what I've been playing most has been Virtua Tennis on the Vita.  I've been through the world tour mode two and a half times now, winning major tournaments, and have unlocked all the skill games and playing styles.  I've completed the arcade mode multiple times.  I've played the game not just to completion, but almost to boredom.

It's a really great game, which has surprised me since I've never found the previous VT games that involving.  But, you know, it's a tennis game.  There's not much more to say.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Virtua Tennis 4 World Tour: almost famous

Actually, very famous indeed. I've been playing this on my commute for quite some time, and am almost at the end of my second trip through the World Tour mode.

After an initial run of multiple losses in the arcade mode, I decided to try some of the practice modes and start World Tour on the 'casual' difficulty.  I was having no fun losing 15-40 0-40, after all.  World Tour is represented by a map where you must travel through countries stopping at practice sessions, publicity events, single matches, side tournaments and larger tournaments, building up your fame, condition, skills and money.  Each turn you get given a new move ticket to your collection of three, meaning that you can choose how many spaces to progress (and hopefully missing out on injury spaces).  At various points you can choose which path to take.

I quickly got into the swing (hah!) of the game, and won matches as a matter of course.  I got through the tournaments and won with few points against me.  I completed the whole World Tour mode after a couple of weeks, and started again immediately.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Borderlands: accidentally defeating Marley and Moe

Quite a lot of progress through this on Friday night, mainly because of the extended length of time we had to play.  The first five minutes or so were spent trying to work out which missions we'd completed, and this finally managed to introduce Kieron to the mission log.  He still doesn't know how to turn a mission in, though.

Then we had a look at the missions we had queued up, and compared them to our progress.  We are all still relatively low level, around 13 or 14, and so our choices of what to achieve were slightly limited.  There were a few scavenging missions which seemed appropriate, and finding the safe house with Sledge, so we set off to do those, killing lots of things on our way in an effort to build up our experience levels.

While running down a path we heard Kieron shouting that he was being attacked.  We ran to him, and started to fire at the skags that were responsible.  They were pretty tough; even after setting them on fire multiple times they weren't dead.  It was only when we were all crowded around my turret regaining health that we realised that these were Marley and Moe, who we had to kill for a mission that was recommended for characters several levels above us.

We still managed to kill them, after a long draw-out battle.  We're becoming a little better at team work.

We've nearly finished the missions in the Arid Badlands now.  Maybe one more session and we can finally move on.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Ico: completed!

No more opportunities for Dido lyrics.  There are big plot spoilers here, so don't click onto the post if you're the one person who's not completed this but intends to do so - I wouldn't normally worry for a twelve-year-old game, but the end of the story is pretty affecting so shouldn't be spoilt.