Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Guild Wars 2: The Re-Review

It's been two years since Guild Wars 2 released, and almost that long since I posted my original review. I was looking over that review the other day, and it's... really outdated. I briefly considered updating the review, but so much has changed that it would actually be easier to write a whole new review.

So here we go!

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Saira

Post-Launch Review
Saira
Developer: Nicklas Nygren
Released: December 2009
Played: best ending obtained in 4h:12min

About

After a teleportation accident, photographer Saira realizes she's the only person in the galaxy. After two years on her own, she needs only a few more parts to finish the new teleporter she's been building to try to find out what happened to her. Saira will have to travel across seven star systems to find the parts she needs.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

inFAMOUS 2: Festival of Blood

Post-Launch Review
inFAMOUS 2: Festival of Blood DLC
Developer: Sucker Punch
Released: October 2011
Played: complete with 85% of trophies in 2h:39min

This is going to be a quick post and not a full review, since this is a relatively short DLC pack. Full review of inFAMOUS 2 here.

Festival of Blood is a silly side story that may or may not have canonically happened. Zeke meets a lady in a bar and tells her the story of how Cole was turned into a vampire and Zeke had to save him before the curse took full effect at dawn.

Cole doesn't have much in the way of electric powers for the duration of the DLC (though he does earn a few more at certain optional milestones), and only the first island is unlocked, so I'm guessing this is supposed to be set early in inFAMOUS 2's story. You get some nifty vampire powers to play with - full flight (though limited by blood energy) and a vision mode that allows you to spot secrets and upgrades and disguised vampires. Flight is fun because it's not something you ever get to play with in this series, and it makes city traversal feel fresh again.

Flight is powered by blood, which you can gain by staking vampires or sucking on civilians. There's a very brief effort to suggest that Cole may not need to drink blood, but it's quickly glossed over, and the series' iconic morality system is completely dropped for the DLC. It's like the writers want me to feel bad for drinking blood, but they couldn't be bothered to really do much about it.

The story is rather basic - Cole is now a vampire, and needs to kill the one that turned him (called Bloody Mary) before dawn, when she'll take full control. Mary's backstory is much more interesting than the main plot - you can find some of her musings on her history as optional audio logs, and you learn the defining bits as part of the main story. Her backstory is more interesting, but still relatively shallow.

The worst bit is when you're forced to play some UGC (user-generated content) missions to progress the story. They're two official missions produced by Sucker Punch, but they're of unimpressive quality and feel like a poorly shoehorned attempt to get the player interested in UGC. Since the UGC was entirely optional in the main game, I spent a good half hour wandering around the map collecting audio logs and canopic jars in the hope that maybe I'd unlock the next story mission somehow. When I'd finished both those things I had to check a walkthrough to realize that I had to do that UGC mission to progress. Not cool.

To me the best parts were the bookends with Zeke where he's telling the story to the girl he's trying to seduce. You get to see Zeke being charming and funny and completely (and unintentionally) sidelined by Cole. Too bad these are only a few minutes at the start and end.

Recommendation: maybe.

Festival of Blood felt kind of mediocre to me overall. It's neat to see the city all dressed up for Pyre Night, there are a couple of fun new powers, and the bits with Zeke are entertaining. But all the vampire stuff is fairly generic and relatively uninteresting. At only $5 and as a standalone it's inexpensive fun, though I didn't find it particularly memorable.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Bravely Default

Post-Launch Review
Bravely Default
Developer: Silicon Studio
Released: October 2012 (original Japanese release) / December 2013 - February 2014 (For the Sequel & EU/NA releases)
Played: 100% complete in 74h:54min

About

A mysterious disaster opens a chasm that swallows a village, rots the sea, stills the wind, and sends magma and earthquakes out of control. Four heroes affected by the disaster set out to close the chasm by reawakening the four powerful crystals that govern the elemental forces. But is that really the right thing to do?

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Delayed review this week

Been playing Bravely Default and I was hoping to get it done for today, but I haven't played a lot of JRPGs and I underestimated how long it'd take. Think I'm over 60 hours now.

In the meantime, enjoy this related comic by Katie Tiedrich at Awkward Zombie:

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

The Banner Saga

Post-Launch Review
The Banner Saga
Developer: Stoic
Released: January 2014
Played: story complete in 9h:40min

About

A Kickstarter success now available to the public, The Banner Saga is a tale of vikings, giants, and monsters in a world where the gods and the sun are dead. This strategy game follows two groups of humans and varl in the sparsely populated north. The dredge are forming armies and pushing south, razing settlements as they travel... but even the dredge and their immortal leaders are afraid of something.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Adventure Time: Card Wars

Post-Launch Review
Adventure Time: Card Wars (Android)
Developer: Cartoon Network
Released: February 2014

About

Did you see that episode of Adventure Time where Finn and Jake play Card Wars? This game is that game. Collect monster, spell, and building cards, and battle opponents from across the land of Ooo to unlock stronger and rarer cards!

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Dark Souls II: Crown of the Sunken King

I don't have a full review for you today since I've been busy moving to a new apartment, but I can share some quick thoughts on the first episode of Dark Souls II's DLC.
The Crown of the Sunken King is quite strong. Just entering the DLC area is intimidating - you hear the sound of heavy breathing as you walk down the tunnel, and knowing Dark Souls I was worried I'd unknowingly walk into a giant mouth or something. Then you get a gorgeous view of a huge underground pyramid, followed by a bit of a surprise.

The level design is great, with areas that are intricate and maze-like. Enemies are fantastic, with some tricks and surprises I haven't seen before (like a spirit I thought was a player ghost at first, and almost got me killed). The drakeblood knights have crazy AI and feel almost like fighting another player with all their rolling and timed swipes. Jester Thomas is ludicrous. And there's an optional boss that fans immediately dubbed the "gang bang", which is kind of apt given how the fight is organized (ie you'd better bring friends).

The two big bosses have some interesting features. Elana adds some new lore mysteries - why does she summon a knight with this very particular appearance? Her boss weapons hint that she may be another fragment of Manus, or at least has some kind of strong tie to the Dark. And the aggression and diversity of the final boss is very reminiscent of Kalameet, an excellent DLC boss from the first Dark Souls' DLC pack. I was very lucky to have some good co-op partners for that one since I nearly flipped out when the boss appeared. I mean, I saw it coming, but it's pretty dangerous looking.
And I can't finish this without mentioning the Puzzling Stone Sword, one of the coolest weapons in the entire game (if you can find it). It's got quite the move set.

So yes, I enjoyed this DLC, and I'm looking forward to the next two crowns!

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Sir, You Are Being Hunted

Post-Launch Review
Sir, You Are Being Hunted
Developer: Big Robot
Released: May 2014
Played: complete in 3h:19min; messed around for 30min in second world

About

The experiment has gone terribly wrong. You are trapped on a small archipelago until you can repair the machine by finding the pieces scattered across the islands. But you're not alone - robots patrol the islands, aiming to kill you before you can escape. You are being hunted.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

I've covered FPS drops you know

Dead Rising 2: Off the Record has been installed on my laptop since forever, and I figured I'd finally get around to reviewing it to make space for some of the other 40 games I own and haven't played yet. But things didn't go according to plan.

For some reason, Off the Record is giving me massive frame rate problems when Dead Rising 2 didn't. I'm not sure what the issue is, since the graphics and environments appear to be exactly the same, but I can't seem to get it running at a reasonable frame rate. It's actually so bad that the game seems to be missing some of my control inputs - I'll click to attack and nothing happens.

So I'm not sure if I should try to tolerate the FPS drops or just wait until I get a new PC.