Monday, December 19, 2016

Assassin's Creed Bloodlines: completed!

While still bogged down in the quest to avoid quests in ACIII, and with a newly-charged Vita downloading games I had purchased on the webstore and forgotten about, I came across Assassin's Creed Bloodlines, a PSP game I bought for about £2 in a sale a while ago.  Set between the original AC and ACII, it got middling reviews at the time of release, and I can understand why - on first impressions, it's trying to be a fully-fledged AC game, and releasing alongside the amazing ACII won't have done it any favours.

But step back from it for a bit and you realise that it's actually far better than it appears.  Gone are the open, sprawling maps, replaced with small, discrete areas.  Gone are the countless distractions, and the missions are a lot shorter (albeit often with multiple parts).  Unlike the original game, Bloodlines is far more linear, not requiring multiple side missions before approaching the main target.  This is a game designed for mobile playing, where there is no requirement for you to remember your objectives for hours on end.  It may be driven by the limitations of the hardware, but the result works really well.

That's not to say there aren't frustrations.  The combat is a bit clunky, especially going straight from ACIII, and the camera frequently served to frustrate this by hiding the person attacking.  It is very easy to win the fights, simply by holding the right trigger (the block button) and countering, with a few exceptions of boss battles.  The combat serves only as an annoyance, and I was frequently trying my best to avoid it by sneaking around the scenery.  This didn't always work, particularly when I accidentally jumped off a ledge onto a guard's head - and there's no air assassination here.

What was more annoying was when there was no alternative but to fight.  After each boss battle, he area was swamped with soldiers who would attack before I could run away.  In addition, there were often soldiers standing guard outside the entrance to key rooms, and without the distraction tools available in later games I just had to massacre them.

I may be going a little overboard though.  The combat was a minor annoyance, and the game anything but.  There was a reasonably involved story, with Altaïr searching for the Templar archive where they keep lots of exciting mystery stuff.  He tracks it down to Cyprus, which is where the game is set.  Throughout the game, Maria (who has a very modern middle-class English accent) is slowly won over to the Assassins, as she sees what the Templars plan.  There's enough tension to keep playing.

But it's not a long game. It's taken me a couple of weeks of commuting to finish it, and that includes a lot of unnecessary battles and diversions.  Easily worth £2 though.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Fat Princess: Piece of Cake: not what I was expecting

I read a recent email from Sony which told me that Fat Princess: Piece of Cake was closing down its servers at the start of next year.  This was bad news, since Fat Princess is a game series I always liked the sound of, and I wanted to try it out - and a free version of the game is a good way to do so.

So I resolved to download it, but that meant finding my Vita, hoping it still held a charge, registering a new device password on Sony's 2FA system, and so on.  It all worked, amazingly.  I loaded up the game, ready to carry the fat princess around, to find that things weren't as I was expecting.

This isn't a strategy game or a platform game or anything like I believed Fat Princess to be.  This is a match-three game, with microtransactions all over the place and a slow learning curve.

But you know, it's actually a really good match-three game.  There's a lot of strategy in choosing which gems you are matching - choose red to make the swordsman hit one member of the opposing front row, yellow for the musket to shoot the entire front row (with lower damage), orange to drop a bomb on the first two rows, blue to restore health, purple to power up the princess (who acts like a smart bomb), and green to collect gems to upgrade your characters.

Get four in a row and you get an extra turn, and a sparkly gem which turns all surrounding gems the same colour when matched.  Get five in a row and you get a wildcard which erases all of a particular type.  Create combos (or 'cascades') and moves follow each other.

There have been a couple of tricky levels so far, normally with overpowered bosses, but I'm made my way through Cake Cove and ave completed the weekly levels a few times.  I will probably come back to this from time to time ... but probably won't spend money on it.

And I still need to try Fat Princess.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Assassin's Creed III: an expanding map

Now, this is the Assassin's Creed I recognise.  A map filling with icons to distract me from the main quest, a feeling of being overwhelmed and not understanding half the gameplay mechanics.  It looks as if I can build up my homestead with people sympathetic to my cause; there are pages of books flying around and random feathers; there are viewpoints and animal pawprint missions (?) and message delivery missions and and and.

It was so much easier when I was an eagle.

So, as always, I've started off by ignoring the story and trying to scale all the viewpoints in order to unlock the map.  What is quite interesting, though, is that I have a much lower drive to get the rest of the side missions completed when I don't have the achievements or trophies to chase.  I'm happy to see the pages disappear into the distance, not chasing them like those awful dynamic orbs in Crackdown 2.  I'm far more likely to head for the exclamation mark to continue the story.  This is shaking off years of videogame training, where sidequests may have been optional but they always made progression easier; in Assassin's Creed the benefits you get are marginal at best.

But it's still a bit overwhelming.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Pokémon X: breezing through the gyms

Still playing this, but I feel my pokémon may be too powered up now since I've taken the last two gyms with one-hit-kills, and I struggle to capture any wild pokémon without making them faint.  I may need to try to rush through the story a bit.

I have settled on a great team though:

  • Delphox, now level 54, with fire moves
  • Blastoise, level 51, with surf and strength
  • Pidgeot, level 51, a variety of flying and dragon moves
  • Pikachu, level 50, electrified up
  • Amaura, level 48, with ice and fighting moves
  • Lucario, level 46, with ghost and fighting
I've grown a bit too attached to them all, which doesn't bode well for finding legendaries ...

Friday, November 18, 2016

Assassin's Creed III: an unexpected twist

Hang on, he was a Templar?

OK, the clues were there: generally unlikable; cold and calculating; trying to find things rather than prevent them.  The characterisation was painfully thin, once the twist was revealed. But it's made me quite unhappy that I have aided the wrong side for three chapters of the game.

And then his friend did this.

Playing as a kid for a chapter seemed odd, particularly because it seemed so insignificant. I suppose the idea was to set off the carefree nature of childhood against the pain of loss, but it just felt a bit stilted. Still, at least I know who I'm playing as now, and it looks like the rest of the game is going to have some spectacular scenery.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Assassin's Creed III: an unlikable toff

Progressing with the series, a change of time period, a change of location, and a change of console.  I'm not sure if the latter is a good idea or not, because the combat controls have changed a lot from previous games, and I'm not sure if this is a change due to moving away from the Xbox 360, or if all versions have the same changes.  I assume it's the latter, and that means the change is a good one since I now how a larger map available to me (although not separately zoomable, which is annoying).

I seem to remember Assassin's Creed Revelations ended with Desmond being trapped in the Animus, but here he is, walking around with his friends, going to the pub and the greyhound races, having a picnic in the local park, watching the X-Factor and eating crisps.  Well, he's in the real world anyway.  There was a very brief explanation of him getting out, but it felt pretty tacked on.

Oh, and his dad was there as well.  I don't remember his dad from before.  Have I missed something?

Anyway, the big glowy ball of wonder opened a door, and the animus was set up inside a big cave system with no obvious food supply.  The target avatar this time was Haytham Kenway, a British man sent over to the US at the time of colonisation.  The first mission, however, was set in the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden (or, rather, the Theatre Royal as it was then known).  I was tempted to watch the play, but I suspect it would have repeated quite quickly.

I quite liked the effects of the world being built around you as you walked through the courtyard.

After assassinating in the theatre, I was sent to the US, and several missions aboard a boat.  It was only on arrival in America that the title screen appeared, over an hour into the game.

I don't like Haytham.  He is a calculating, mean, simplistic idiot who has no morality or ethics.  I didn't want to do half of the stuff he was meant to, particularly because it was largely directed against British soldiers who were innocent of malicious schemes.  That wasn't the only reason I struggled though; as mentioned above the controls have changed significantly, with aiming and combat 'simplified'.  There is no longer the need to lock on in hand-to-and combat, but this means you lose some control of where to direct your attacks.  Shooting is also much more difficult.

Assassin's Creed games were never about the shooting, though, so I wasn't too worried about that.  Except I should have been, because a few missions have almost depended on it.  Sigh.

Anyway, the changes don't stop at the controls.  Yes, there are still viewpoints ...

... and collectables such as note pages, but there is a distinct lack of the empire building from previous games.  No shops to buy, no assassin network to command - or even assassins to call on during missions, except in very restricted ways.  In a way this is good, since my main complaint about Revelations was that there was too much to do.  It may be that the game expands a bit, since previous entries introduced them gradually, but I'm now four hours in and it's still very linear.

It's lovely to look at though, certainly more so than Revelations, and there are some very nice graphical effects around the world.  I am currently hiking around the countryside in the snow trying to find out about the movements of someone called Braddock, and there's a real sense of inertia to movement.  As you walk, you dig furrows in the snow.  Unfortunately not everything is modelled with accurate physics, meaning that if you kill an animal (such as one of the wolves which are constantly attacking you) and then walk around its corpse, you can make it levitate.

Hopefully I will adapt to the controls soon.  The Wii U controller is great for the game though, and I like the larger map, especially for planning movements through lots of guards.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Game Boy Wars: offset grids

I love Advance Wars, even if Kieron always wins.  Since Nintendo seem to have forgotten the series exists, I decided to try out some of the original games from the NES and Game Boy eras.  The fact that they were only released in Japan is a barrier only in terms of language, due to the wonders of emulation - and even that isn't an issue if you find translated ROMs.

I didn't; I like the excitement of not knowing what buttons do what.  Not that there's much to guess here.  The main difficulty was finding which menu item progressed a turn.

Unfortunately the version of Famicom Wars I tried first didn't work, so I progressed on to Game Boy Wars.  The first thing I noted was that the map grid has each row offset - so effectively it's played on a hex grid rather than a square one.  When you select a unit to move, it's not clear initially where it can move to; you have to keep an eye on the "distance remaining" marker.  Some of the squares are different colours and it's not clear why.  The units aren't cute like in later games in the series.

But it's still fun.  The first map was actually relatively difficult, albeit mainly because I forgot to build units for a couple of turns after the first.  I'll come back to this some day.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars: playing online

For something old, with a much-improved sequel, SARPBC has an active online community.  I hosted a game, and found five people joining me very quickly - and just as with Rocket League, playing online multiplies the fun several times.

While recording gameplay on the PS3 is still tricky, SARPBC does allow you to save replays.  I scored the overtime goal in this match - after many close calls.

Friday, October 07, 2016

Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars: evolution of a masterpiece

I was surprised to learn that Rocket League was actually a sequel to a PS3 game by Psyonix called  Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars.  With such a catchy title, it's hard to see why it never took off to the same extent as Rocket League did.  Having said that, apparently it was downloaded on PSN over two million times, so if anything it just goes to show how I don't keep up with trends any more.

Anyway, when I found this out I saw it was on sale on PSN for £1.99, and since I got Rocket League for 'free' via PS+ I thought I would try it out.  It was only after I had bought it that I discovered that there's an extensive trial version which I could have tried for free, since the way PS3 games are sold on the store is ludicrously complicated.

It's ... not bad.  The essence of Rocket League is there, and many of the pitches and arenas are recognisable from the sequel.  There is a single-player mode which is different from the standard tournament I played through in Rocket League - here there are minigames and a tournament of varying rules and opponents, which I have already played through once but am likely to do so again.  As with Rocket League, the game comes into its own with the online side, which is great fun but finding a match is a pretty bare bones experience, reminding me of Half Life deathmatch servers from 2002.

But the cars feel less weighty and solid, it's slower and less precise, and there's either awful screen tear or quite a poor (and varying) framerate.  The controls feel a bit untidy, and aerials are much harder to pull off.  It is a great demonstration on how controls can make or break a game.

I'll probably complete the single-player game and play a few more online matches, but other than that it'll be back to Rocket League.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: a great witch arises

You know, this game was keeping my attention, but unfortunately Pokémon X intervened and took up the cartridge slot in the 3DS - and, of course, there was the perennial issue with the 3DS of picross games.  With the launch of the new Phoenix Wright game on the eShop, however, I thought I ought to go back to the Layton crossover and try to finish it.

When I last played, I had just defended Espella in court and she had been subsequently accused of not being just a witch, but the great witch.  And so I went off to examine the town for clues, solving puzzles along the way.  I searched for, and found, a cat, running into the High Inquisitor along the way.  Layton was summoned to the storyteller.  Wright went to see Espella, and then to the scene of a murder three months previous.

The storyteller appeared flummoxed on how Layton and Luke had appeared in the town; he hadn't written them into the story.  He was keen to write them out, though.

He hinted that he was going to kill Wright, so Layton sped over to the alchemist's house, where the murder had taken place.  It wasn't Wright that was cursed though; Layton has been turned into a golden statue.

Statue?  No, it's Layton.

So, off to court now to prove that Maya - the only one in the room with Wright when the witches appeared and cast the curse - isn't a witch herself.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

An old-fashioned game save


Friday, August 12, 2016

No Man's Sky: Bangaio One

I started on Bangaio One, a forest planet with temperate climate, abundant flora and some fauna.  In fact, one of the first things I saw as I turned around the survey the land was a pair of tyrannosaur-type creatures on a nearby hill.  Luckily they didn't run over and attack.

There is little grass on Bangaio One, with the ground covered by short bushes and leaves.  Parts of the ground are more barren, allowing you to glimpse the orange and red dust beneath.  The air seems clear, although in the distance you feel there is a bit of a lack of visibility.

The relatively leafy ground made spotting some creatures tricky.  The Bangaioan Jawbreaker was well-camoflaged and hid in the bushes; the Thundercatian Bangaioese Boar was more visible.

As night fell, the sky darkened to a deep green; the two dinosaurs had not moved from their positions.  I crept near them to harvest some flowers.

After fitting up my ship, I went for a fly around the planet, watching the sun rise over a rocky outcrop.  And then I pushed off into space, looking back to see my planet as I did so.

I have already been back a few times but I know one day soon I shall say goodbye for good ... unless they can add the functionality to revisit places you've been.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Pokémon X: I may have the Rumble Badge

There was a bit of mucking about in Shalour City, running back and forth to the Tower of Mastery and the gym.  I was anticipating a long slog up the tower, similar to the ghost towers of other games, but after winning the gym badge and being told to go back up the tower, in fact it was a simple slope to the top.  There I was given a Lucario with mega evolution.  Mega evolution seems to make your pokémon change colour a bit and become stupidly overpowered.

Lucario in hand, I left the city and started to travel East, but in real life I got off the train and some time over night my 3DS ran out of battery.   I can't remember when I saved.  I hope I don't have to repeat the gym, although beating the fighting trainers only required one of my pokémon - Vivillon, who could one-hit-kill with a Psybeam.

Monday, August 01, 2016

Assassin's Creed Revelations: completed!

I actually completed this a while ago, but it's taken me ages to get around to writing about it - and getting the screenshots off my capture box.  Plus, you know, there were some after-game parts I wanted to get around to, including an achievement for catching the taxman which occurs once in a blue moon.  I may write about those separately.

The main game first, then.  The storyline, pulling together the missing parts of Altäir's life with the later years of Ezio, was probably the most coherent yet, although the modern-day parts, with Desmond in some sort of coma, were less successful.  The story missions seemed more varied and tighter than in previous games, but the amount of extraneous guff seemed too high - the tower defence games and constant need to send assassins to the Mediterranean were not optional enough and felt entirely superfluous.

The city of Constantinople wasn't as interesting as Rome, partially due to a lack of countryside and ancient ruins.  There was possibly more variety in buildings, but I found myself constantly having the refer to the map to work out where I was, whereas navigating Brotherhood's city was second nature by the time I finished the game.  The poor draw distance from viewpoints didn't help.

Having said that, the game on the ground is stunning to look at, and I enjoyed the parkour more than before, largely due to the hookblade which allows you to make large jumps with little fear of damage. I noticed I played the game slightly differently as well - making more use of the hiding places and running from enemies, rather than simply engaging in the fight until they were all dead.

The one weak point in the story was the involvement of Sofia Sartor, who came across as naïve and hopeless at several points throughout the game.  Her kidnapping was a cliche too far.  It wasn't made clear why she was so interested in Ezio's books, and the limited involvement the two of them had didn't establish any sort of relationship.  Ezio continued to ignore her and hide away throughout, which makes the idea that there would have been any sort of romance extremely unlikely.

But she helped him find random books, so that's alright.

The end credits went on for hours, over a dull background of the destroyed animus hub.  Which was then rebuilt, so you could continue to play and find stuff.

Which I did.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Pokémon X: lost in Reflection Cave

I've not written about Pokémon X before, and yet have fifteen hours logged to it.  Partially that's because I've been rather lazy with my gaming diary, and partially that's because Nintendo have prevented you from posting screenshots to Miiverse, which in turn means I can't post them here.

Anyway.  I don't have a great record with pokémon games.  I have played Yellow, Sapphire, LeafGreen, Pearl, Black, and now X.  I have never completed one; I have reached the Elite Four on the first four games listed, and on Pearl I managed to beat them - only to get defeated by a champion and sent back to the beginning.

Yet I keep getting drawn back in.  Maybe it's that I love the beginning game - exploring the map, catching pokémon and filling up the pokédex.  The gyms to start with are generally easy, and the main problem you can have is being too powerful, with a team who just KO any rare wild pokémon instead of letting you catch them.

And so it has been the case with Pokémon X, except the game seems to be progressing a lot slower than previous iterations.  I have played for 15 hours, and have only cleared two gyms.  The journeys between gyms are not only longer - multiple long routes each time - but also contain more sidequests and distractions.  It feels a bit Assassins-Creed-ish.  I am trying to ignore anything not important, outside of the usual pokémon collecting and levelling, but I fear that I may end up with an underpowered team.  We shall see.

I've just arrived in Shalour City, where I believe there is a new gym.  People are talking of a strange tower, though, so I suspect I may investigate that first ...

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Assassin's Creed Revelations: a change of scenery

I've not played much of this recently, since gaming time has been limited and the PS4 controller is always there screaming "Rocket League!".  However, I did manage to progress with the story, largely because I last left the game on a boat to Cappadocia - a town built inside a cave.  There wasn't much to distract me there, with a few data fragments spread around and little else.  The missions were generally easy, with the difficulty coming not from the missions but from the soldiers on rooftops, which were the most effective way of getting around.  I rescued the spy, caused explosions, and killed the big fat man.  Back to Constantinople!

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Psycho Fox: completed!

I've heard many great things about Psycho Fox, and I'm sure that I've played it before, possibly at William Davis's house when we visited him after returning from Kenya, back in 1990.  I didn't remember much of it, though.

A predecessor to Decap Attack and Magical Hat Flying Turbo Adventure, Psycho Fox is known as one of the better Master System games.   It's easy to see why.  When you compare it to other games at the time, there's a great sense of momentum to the character, and the controls are perfect, so you feel that every death is your own fault.

It took me a couple of lives to get in my stride and work out what was happening.  Initially you have a single hit before you die, and you have to be pretty cautious when progressing through the levels.  However, by hitting the eggs (using a comic extending arm animation) you can sometimes find a black bird companion who not only gives you a projective weapon, but also acts as a second hit point.

So far, so Mario.  The two main differences are that first, when you throw your companion he lands on the floor and then returns to you, and second, all the time you're not holding on to the bird you are reduced to a single hit again.  So you have to be quite careful when you throw him.

As the bird returns to you, he continues to kill any enemies.  There are some parts of the game where this is used to good effect, where a row of enemies can be killed as long as you are standing on the same level as them.  Getting onto that level can be the hard bit.

Having mastered the basic mechanics, and without the need to play the whole game in one sitting (due to the wonders of emulation), I had little trouble with it.  Yes, I lost the occasional life, but by playing through relatively slowly and taking the top route where possible I was able to find treasure which allowed me to play the bonus game between levels, which often gave me extra lives.

In fact, by the end of the game I had 20 lives remaining, partially due to getting 5 bonus lives a couple of times, and partially due to finding eggs with lives inside.  The first time I found such an egg I ran away from the life - it appears as a flickering version of yourself, and you ave to catch it, but I didn't realise this until one ran into me.

The levels were slightly varied, between blue and black backgrounds and the floor sprites.  Some levels outside were set more in the sky, with clouds to jump on; others relied on collapsing platforms and ice floors (which caused their own problems with the momentum).

As well as collecting lives in the bonus game and in eggs, there were other items that could be collected - some sort of star, a stone staircase thing, and a green bottle marked 'S'.  Experimentation during the last set of levels showed that using the staircase thing enabled me to change character, to a hippo, monkey or tiger.  The monkey had a higher jump, the hippo a lower, and the tiger the same as the fox.  I saw no other difference between the characters, but recognise that the monkey may have been useful during some of the earlier stages where high jumps were required.  There were some areas blocked off by boulders, and I wonder if the hippo could have broken through them.

The star seemed to be some sort of smart bomb, and the potion might have been invincibility but I never quite worked it out.  The only time I tried it, the game corrupted itself into a glitchy wall (which I eventually jumped through to continue the level) so I never tried it again.

So, after a few sessions (with save states made between them) I completed the game, only learning half its secrets in round 7-2.  Maybe I'll go back to it one day to take a different route through some of the levels - especially in the later levels, there are many different routes to go and I suspect quite a few secret areas to find - but for now I'm happy to finally understand why this is considered to be such a good game.

Friday, April 01, 2016

Assassin's Creed Revelations: a very long game

My main complaint about Brotherhood was that there was too much to do.  Revelations gives you even more, and also takes the stuff you did in Brotherhood and complicates it.

This map only shows some of the stuff you get to distract you; shortly after this I bought a map showing the location of memoirs, and I've also now unlocked locations for data fragments which are strewn across the city.  There has been so much stuff to do it's a wonder I've made any progress with the story.

Complication: dens
In Brotherhood, you had to defeat Borgia towers before buying the shops in the area.  In Revelations, it's the same except with Templar dens.  And when you capture a den, you have to install one of your assassins as a den leader, and if you get too well known the templars may attack your den and you have to go back to it and play a tower defense type game to stop them retaking it.

Complication: international relations
In Brotherhood, you had to send some of your recruits off to far-off lands to partake in a finite number of missions which would reward you with money and materials.  You could recruit ten assassins, and allocate them effectively to make sure that success was guaranteed.  However, each mission took a certain amount of time, so it wasn't a quick win.  All of this exists in Revelations, except the templars try to take back the cities you have power in, and your influence is constantly decreasing, so you have to constantly carry out new missions.  You can also post your recruits to these cities permanently, which means that it's a little easier to make sure you have resources to defend the cities but it's a big pain to swap between local and overseas assassins when assigning tasks.

Complication: chests
There are now two types of chest: those which are not refilled, which contain money and ingredients, and those which are refilled, which contain ingredients.  Since I'm not using many bombs, my ingredients are almost permanently full, making the second type pretty useless.  It's not easy to tell from a distance which type of chest you're approaching, though.

Complication: recruitment
Due to the fact that you have dens to protect by appointing a den leader, and you can post assassins overseas, you can continue to recruit new assassins and then train them up. This turns into a balancing act - who do you send away, at what level, and who do you retain?  The first few recruitments were all quite interesting, but now it's just a case of stopping the soldiers beating up a citizen each time.

Addition: first-person Desmond
The modern-day story is odd; Desmond is stuck on an island in his head with the bloke who was leaving all the messages in the last game.  As well as entering the past, there are some other doors which are slowly being unlocked (I would guess by collecting data fragments).  Going into these starts segments where Desmond talks about his past and you solve puzzles in first-person by placing blocks in the air.  It's all a bit odd, and the general dark nature of the game makes it more difficult than it should be.

Oh, yes, the game is very dark and that's a huge pain if you play it during the day or in the evening with a light on behind you.  I've had to turn the brightness up on my TV to be able to see properly.

Addition: collecting books
There seems to be a whole other plotline going on, with a different icon on the map.  I'm not sure why this is or whether it's important (but I'm tending to do those missions before the main ones anyway).  The general format is that Sofia asks you to do something for her, you do, she tells you where a book is hidden, you go and get the book and find the location of a hidden location; going to that place lets you find a key for a memory.

The missions you do for Sofia are, at times, quite daft.

Addition: becoming Altaïr
When Ezio finds a memory, it's back into the past further.  This is one story I have been able to keep up with - it concerns Altaïr's exile from Masyuf after the first game, and in each (short) sequence you play as Altaïr as an increasingly old man.

It's fortunate that despite this abundance of distraction, the core gameplay is still great fun.  I have made a little progress with the story - up to the end of sequence six, in fact, which sees me (temporarily, I hope, given that there are still data fragments to collect) off to Cappadocia on a boat, sailing through flaming wreckage and debris caused by the templars' attempts to stop me leaving.  The action sequences, while a little on rails, are good at getting the blood flowing, although it can be a little disappointing and immersion breaking when you fail for no real reason.

The story has been complicated.  Ezio is trying to find out about his past and where the Apple of Eden has come from; he finds books buried all around the city although these are a side mission and not crucial to the story.  There's a Turk assassin who is setting up the order in Constantinople.  Other stuff is happening.  To be honest, because of the big gaps in my partaking of the story line, I've got a bit lost.  I might need to read the Wikipedia plot summary when I finish the game.

The story certainly isn't leaving me hanging there, anyway.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Rocket League: not good for the heart

I have tried to play a number of PS4 games, but I find it difficult since as soon as I turn on my PS4 the Rocket League icon is sitting there.  To play anything else, I have to scroll past it.  I frequently don't.

It's a tense, exciting, thrilling game, played in short ten-minute installments, and I think I'm getting better at it, albeit slowly.  Last night there were a couple of games which I was particularly pleased with - including this one.

Friday, March 04, 2016

Pokémon Picross: you are not allowed to have too much fun

I am nearly done with Picross e3, which will mean a purchase of Picross e4 in the near future.  In the meantime, though, I was pointed the way of Pokémon Picross, a free-to-play 3DS game which uses the same mechanics as the e* games but with puzzle solutions based around Pokémon.  Obviously.

It's not quite the same.  The backend is the most different - rather than just selecting from a menu, there's a sort of story attached, where you have to travel from area to area, solving the puzzles and collecting picrites.  You get a certain number of picrites for solving puzzles, but also for meeting various conditions - enabling certain powerups, meeting the time limit, and so on.

Powerups are another difference.  You can equip a certain number of pokémon, who will then give you things like a random row reveal, freezing time, or showing you where moves exist - like in the e* games, with blue colours.  To be honest, I don't really use these - except you are forced to do so in order to get the maximum number of picrites.  It would make more sense if you got more for not using powerups ...

But maybe not from a financial point of view.  Your powerups can only be used a certain number of times before needing to be recharged - basically, they're out of action for an hour or so.  You can always pay picrites to recharge them quicker.  You have to pay a certain number of picrites to access the next area, but there aren't enough in the puzzles themselves so you have to do the daily challenges - earning a few each day.  Or you can just buy picrites for real money,

So everything seems to be geared up to get you to spend picrites.  It feels like you're constantly being badgered to give the game more money, or wait for another day or another week before you're allowed to have any more fun.  Have lots of fun!  But only a certain amount each day!

The odd thing is that there's an option to buy a bundle of picrites which are unlimited, which would effectively make the game a standard pay-for title.  But I resent paying for that, and instead am chipping away at the daily challenges in order to open Area 4.  I think it may be because even when using a virtual currency, buying things in-game always stresses me, so I don't like the backend structure of a game that's based around that.

Finally, an exercise for the reader.  I had trouble with this - where is the valid move?  It took me 20 minutes to find it, but there is indeed a definite place to go.