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.