tempest in a teacup

the pointless musings of a strange recluse

A worthy cause

It’s time for a random post about the games I’ve been playing!

Mass Effect 2

A solid sequel which improves upon the original in almost every way. I say ‘almost’ because instead of improving the planetary exploration so that it didn’t suck, they basically excised it altogether. That said, the combat is far better just by virtue of taking pointers from Gears of War. The enemies do far more than just bumrush you now – they take cover, and they try to flank you if the battefield allows for it. There’s also some decent enemy variety, between the different merc squadrons you come up against as well as species-based traits. I found myself deploying skills manually a lot more often than I did in ME1, too – switching your ammo powerups and weapons around depending on the situation makes a big difference, especially if you’re playing on harder difficulties (I finished the game on Veteran).

The sidequests are also better in general, partly because of the combat improvements and partly because Bioware put some effort into designing quests that didn’t take place in the same three prefab bases.

So yeah, two thumbs up from me, especially if the first game disappointed you.

Just Cause 2

I picked this up during the recent Steam summer sale, since I had heard good things about it. At first, I was trying to figure out why it was so hard to get around, as well as why I was dying so much.

And then I figured out how to use the slingshot + parachute combo, and the game suddenly clicked, and became pretty great.

You can cross vast distances just by chaining slingshots – it’s pretty exhilarating to be honest. The grappling hook and parachute are the core of this game in many ways – you can use them to engage and disengage from battles on your own terms, to drag enemies out of cover, pull enemies down from high perches, and generally to demonstrate your general superiority. The game is basically about causing chaos, and the game responds to your actions by throwing tougher and tougher enemies at you the more chaos you cause. I’m playing on Normal and the toughest enemy so far has been a helicopter, but even those are a piece of cake if you grapple to them and throw the pilot out of the cockpit. Oddly enough, getting bumrushed by multiple soldiers is actually more dangerous to my health than helicopters, mainly because a lot of your fighting tends to be done out in the open.

Really, though, my only complaint with the game is that the side missions are a bit uneven. Some of them are interesting at first – blow up a bunch of rockets and then hijack a jet to blow up another one as it lifts off, hijack a car and drive it to a safe house…and then they start to repeat, and I get a whiff of Assassin’s Creed deja vu.

Bayonetta

This was the first game I bought for my 360, and it’s everything I would have expected. You can play it NG-style with a dodge button and no lock-on, or you can play it DMC-style with the lock-on button and using the jump button to dodge. Dodging, of course, plays a major role in the game, allowing you to slow down time when timed just right. Combined with the fact that most of your attacks don’t put the enemies in hitstun, this means the best strategy is generally to fight aggressively, and then dodge at the last possible second to activate Witch Time. It’s something that takes a bit of getting used to, but I’m having a lot of fun doing it.

Some of the fighting arenas are also pretty great setpieces – fighting on a giant building that’s falling through the air, fighting across the walls and ceiling of a church…pretty spectacular.

The only qualm I have so far is the QTEs that seem to randomly pop up in cutscenes, but they’re easy to do for the most part, so I’m not going to complain too much. The ones that you do as special finishers are easy enough to do and they’re great to look at, so I have no complaints there.

Backlog Blues

Unfortunately my backlog has only gotten longer since I last wrote about this stuff…Metroid Other M, Monster Hunter Tri, Thief Deadly Shadows and both Max Payne games have been added to it (damn you Steam sales, damn you to hell). At some point I’m going to have to buy a bunker and stay in there until my backlog is empty…

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