tempest in a teacup

the pointless musings of a strange recluse

So I just played the RE5 demo on my PS3

I’ve only played the Wii version of Resident Evil 4, so someone please tell me – were the aiming controls as sluggish in the PS2 and GameCube versions of RE4 as they are in RE5? I don’t mind that you can’t run and gun like you can in Uncharted, but seriously even on the ‘Fastest’ setting the cursor moves way too slowly.

The Wii version supports classic controllers, so I suppose I could go figure that out for myself…

On another, happier note, Valve has updated Team Fortress 2 today with what most people would regard as a surprisingly good update. Among the changes are a couple of things that the competitive crowd has been asking for for a long time:

  • The ability to turn off random damage at the server level (something which I alluded to in an earlier post)
  • The ability to turn off weapon models or adjust the weapon models’ FOV (to improve the viewing area)
  • The ability to turn off the ‘nemesis’ icon above characters’ heads (this was giving away enemy positions)

In addition, they’ve made changes to how critical hits and random damage work in the normal game – the ranges for random damage have been reduced from ±25% to ±10%, meaning that we should no longer see the Demoman occasionally one-shotting Scouts and Snipers with his grenades. On top of that critical hits have been changed, and for the better, I think. The base chance to crit that every player has has been reduced from 5% to 2%, and the maximum it can go is now 12% as opposed to 20% before. On the other hand, Valve has also reduced the amount of damage you need to deal in order to get a bonus to your crit chance. The idea (according to them) is to make crits less random and more based on recent performance, which is a good idea – in theory, at least.

There are a bunch of other fixes, most of which are assorted class buffs and bugfixes. They’re mostly being overshadowed by the stuff I mentioned above, though – the Steam forums are honestly going nuts right now. And this is before the Scout update has even been revealed…

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The list of doom, August edition

Here’s last month’s edition.

Games that have been knocked off the list due to completion:

  • Devil May Cry 4 – Beat it on Devil Hunter, although honestly I don’t think I’m really done with it yet. I can’t say that I’ve really mastered any aspect of the game (except maybe Nero’s Devil Buster but it’s LOL EZ anyway).
  • NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams – I’ve gotten all my C ranks and unlocked the true ending to the game, so it’s leaving the list. I’ll still keep trying for A ranks and better scores from time to time, though (it’s a freaking score attack game – who wouldn’t). Maybe I’ll put some footage up here when I try it out.
  • Zack & Wiki – I’ve beaten the main story quest, but I haven’t found any of the hidden treasures yet. Still, that’s good enough for me for now.
  • Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition – Beat it shortly after my last list of doom post. I’ve fiddled around a bit with the other modes (the Ada side missions and the Mercenaries minigame) but I haven’t gone back to the game yet.

Games still being played:

  • Super Mario Galaxy – Would you believe I’m still stuck on that one Luigi purple coin mission?
  • Advance Wars: Days of Ruin – Really haven’t touched it at all.
  • Sonic Rush Adventure – That last Sol Emerald is a bitch.
  • Mass Effect – I’ve just finished up the Noveria story quests. It seems that there really aren’t that many main story quests which is a little alarming, but I’ll see what happens. I’ve started to get a good feel for my final opinion on the game, too…and it’s a little uneven.
  • Beyond Good & Evil – Still fun – I’m right after the part where Pey’j gets kidnapped (spoiler).

Games that were started and beaten over the course of the month:

  • Metal Gear Solid – Great boss fights, great sneaking areas, terrible gun controls, WALL OF PLOT is annoying.
  • Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance – Boss fights are somewhat less great, sneaking is much more fun, gun controls are better, WALL OF PLOT is still annoying.

New entries on the list:

  • Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence – Not too far in. I can’t say I’ve gotten the hang of CQC yet – for some reason every time I try to grab someone from behind I end up throwing them and setting off an alarm.
  • Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword – this is surprisingly good for a handheld conversion of Ninja Gaiden. There are some cutbacks (simplified combos, only one melee weapon and two ranged weapons) but otherwise it’s fast and furious just like the console versions.
  • Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune – my first PS3 game! Think Gears of War crossed with Resident Evil 4 with a minimal bit of Tomb Raider splashed in for good measure. Very polished and slick – nothing to complain about so far.
  • Bionic Commando: Rearmed – I never played the NES version, but even so this game is pretty cool. While the levels and bosses themselves are pretty well-designed, I particularly like the Portal-style Challenge Rooms.

And that’s it for August!

It just occurred to me that my Wii backlog is basically empty now (except for Galaxy). Any Wii game recommendations? Keep in mind that I’m a lonely bastard who plays games by himself all the time.

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An addendum

I just beat Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition. Yay.

I thought it was kind of funny that the post-boss jet ski escape killed me more times than the actual boss battle (4 times vs. 0 times). Still, good game overall. It is probably a bit easier than the GameCube and PS2 versions because of the Wii remote aiming, but stuff like sniping still requires you to use the stick to aim (@!@#$ Regenerators).

The writing continues to be as ridiculous as ever (midget Napoleon lol) but it doesn’t detract from the action in the slightest.

Oh well, one less game to worry about for next month’s list of doom.

I’ll probably chuck a low-priority item on the backlog to complete the Ada sidestories at some point.

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The list of doom, July Edition

Here’s last month’s edition.

Games that have been knocked off the list due to completion:

  • Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition – well, Dante’s route on normal anyway. I’ve started a Vergil playthrough, but it’s more like something I can do if I’m in the mood. With this I can finally claim to have beaten a DMC game!

And that’s the only game I managed to beat last month.

  • Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition – Still on Mission 5-2.
  • Zack & Wiki – No progress here either.
  • Super Mario Galaxy – Took a few stabs at clearing that Luigi coin mission, and the closest I came was 80-something coins before my reflexes failed me.
  • NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams – I set my sights a little lower and decided to go for all C-ranks first so I could unlock the true ending to the game. Unfortunately this is easier said than done because some of the side missions are really fucking stupid.
  • Advance Wars: Days of Ruin – Gathering dust. For some reason I simply can’t bring myself to finish that particular mission.
  • Sonic Rush Adventure – Set a few more personal records in time attack, but otherwise nothing else. I’ve noticed that the physics in this game are quite broken (at least as far as Sonic games go).
  • Mass Effect – I’ve unlocked my character’s specialised class (went for Shock Trooper) and after spending ages on sidequests I’ve finally started on the main story quests again. Still pretty good so far – the universe is interesting, and conversations with the supporting characters tend to reveal some interesting nuances over time.
  • Beyond Good & Evil – Played a bit more. This feels like a Zelda game with most of the tedium/treating the player like he’s five years old stripped out. So far, having a lot of fun with it.

The only “new” entries on the list?

  • Diablo II: Lord of Destruction – Nostalgia got to me after the Diablo III announcement. I’m rebuilding my old Zeal/Fanaticism Paladin (boring build, I know, but it was the first D2 character I ever made). In addition I’m playing a summoning Necromancer for playing online with PenPen.
  • Devil May Cry 4 – So far it’s definitely easier than both Devil May Cry and Devil May Cry 3, but still rather fun. The Devil Bringer isn’t quite as interesting to me as the instant rev and other frame-specific moves like Table Hopper and the instant Exceed, which are the main source of depth in Nero’s play style.

Stay tuned for next month’s update, when I reveal pretty much the same list with no changes whatsoever!

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Electronic Entertainment something or the other

There were only a few things I was looking for out of the gaggle of E3 propaga- er news:

  1. Mirror’s Edge news (this game still looks bloody awesome)
  2. Sonic Unleashed news (hopefully my dreams don’t come crashing down around me)
  3. Any news out of Valve (this had better come to Steam, damn it… and Episode Three details kthxbai)

Blizzard is a no-show because they just held their Worldwide Invitational where this little game called Diablo III was revealed, and where Starcraft II was shown off in a competitive match for the first time.

Anyway, on to the few other tidbits that caught my eye.

Apparently Nintendo has announced some thingamajig that will improve the motion sensing of the Wii remote. How it does this, I have no idea. I’m more concerned about the fact that plugging that thing into the remote seems to preclude the attachment of a nunchuk for smoother aiming in Resident Evil 4.

Microsoft’s presser was largely uninteresting to me since I don’t own an Xbox 360 and they hardly mentioned PC releases. The reaction on the Internet to the news that Final Fantasy XIII would be coming to Xbox 360 has been hilarious, though. It’s a repeat of the NERD RAGE that erupted when Devil May Cry 4 became a multi-platform title instead of a PlayStation 3 exclusive – somehow they feel betrayed because Square Enix decided to widen the game’s potential market. Whatever. I’ve given up on trying to analyse the psychology of lunatic fanboys.

Oh yeah, that two-player co-op in Resident Evil 5 is pretty cool. I doubt I’ll buy it unless that rumoured PC version materialises though. For the life of me, I just can’t aim with a thumbstick at all. Don’t ask why.

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The list of doom, June Edition

Here’s the original list.

Games that have been knocked off the list due to completion:

  • Psychonauts – I didn’t get all the scavenger hunt items, etc, but I was level 50 by the time I hit the final boss, and he didn’t give me much trouble.
  • Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time – Excellent game, but that final boss was far less challenging than the platforming area that led up to him.

Updated progress for the remaining items:

  • Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition – No progress made. Haven’t touched my PS2 in a while, actually.
  • Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition – Mission 5-2. @#%@ Regenerators.
  • Zack & Wiki – No progress made. I don’t expect any will be made for a while, actually…
  • Super Mario Galaxy – No progress made. That Luigi purple coin mission is really hard if you just bumrush it without any planning (like I tend to do)
  • NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams – Finished the main story on both sides (not that it was hard, there being only 3 levels on each side and a common final level + boss fight). But I always try to play platformers to completion, so my next target is A-ranking everything. Yes, that includes that music mission in Memory Forest, a mission whose designer really needs to be shot.
  • Advance Wars: Days of Ruin – I, uh, played a few more turns of mission 13. Still haven’t beaten it.
  • Sonic Rush Adventure – I’ve been doing more time attack runs than Sol Emerald hunting, if you get my drift.

New entries on the list:

  • Mass Effect – Level 20, just picked up Liara T’Soni. I’m playing as a Soldier, and will be going for a Paragon rating, like the goody-two-shoes that I am.
  • Beyond Good & Evil – I actually haven’t gotten very far in this game because of a weird bug that causes my framerate to drop like a stone when I’m in the overworld. Just to remind you all, this is a 2003 game having problems running on a 2006 video card.
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An Interview with the Devil

In this case, the PC version of Devil May Cry 4. Capcom has bestowed upon us a demo and a benchmark test, so I took it upon myself to download them and give them a shot.

This isn’t Devil May Cry‘s first outing on the PC, although arguably the PC version of Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition is best left forgotten. So how does this new instalment fare on the PC? Actually, it’s looking a lot better than I had hoped.

My first excursion into the game was the benchmark tool, which does a real-time render test of one of the game’s areas. The first thing I noticed was that like Lost Planet, the range of resolutions the game supports is thankfully wide, with a healthy variety of 4:3, 16:9 and 16:10 aspect ratio resolutions available. MSAA is also supported, which is nice if you want to boost your framerate by running in a lower resolution yet dislike the jagged edges this causes.

I opted for 1280×800 with 2x MSAA, and managed to get a fairly smooth framerate in the demo level (for some context, I have a Core 2 Duo E6750 clocked at 2.66Ghz, 2GB of RAM and a 256MB nVidia GeForce 7900GS). The framerate never quite hit 60 fps, but it never really got choppy either, and was more than adequate, hovering in the 40-50 fps range. One oddity is that after you exit the in-game options screen, the game enters a prolonged loading phase for about 30 seconds. I have absolutely no clue what it’s loading – it does this even when you don’t change anything in the options. The strange part is that the actual level loading is really snappy (as one would expect, given that it’s not reading off a slow optical drive).

The demo itself features a time-limited run-through of one of the early levels, as well as a boss fight against Berial, the flame demon featured in the Xbox Live/PSN demo that was released earlier this year. I haven’t tried the boss fight yet, but I gave the other mode a shot.

Control-wise, the game wisely lets you use a gamepad. However, when it comes to configuring these controls, it opts to fall in line with other Japanese PC ports like Guilty Gear XX #Reload by having you map your gamepad controls to an intermediate mapping, which you can then customize from within the game. In GGXX‘ case it had you map your controls to PS2 buttons; in DMC4‘s case it’s the Xbox 360 controller. The additional layer of indirection is irritating and unnecessary, but I suppose that’s what you get when a company that normally deals in console games starts doing PC releases.

That said, there isn’t really anything wrong with the gamepad controls. I plugged in my PS2 pad using a USB adapter, and it controls just fine. There are keyboard controls too, but I was able to tolerate them for all of 5 seconds before giving up and going back to my pad. The mapping is something like WSAD for movement, I to attack, K to jump/dodge, J to shoot, L for Devil Bringer, Space for targeting mode, N for Devil Trigger, M for taunt, and the arrow keys to control the camera. You can give it a try if you have some irrational phobia for gamepads, or are a raging masochist, but count me out.

As for the game itself? It’s Devil May Cry. You should know what to expect. I don’t think commenting on the game mechanics from a demo is going to help anyone, although I will say that the Devil Bringer technique is pretty cool and satisfying to pull off. There’s nothing quite like grabbing your foe out of the air, slamming him on the ground and watching him explode into a shower of red orbs. At the same time timing seems to play a significant role in how effective your Devil Bringer attacks will be, which has me salivating at the juggle possibilities.

Configuration quirks notwithstanding, the PC port of Devil May Cry 4 looks to outdo the port of its predecessor by a significant margin. It’s probably not going to be the version of choice for most people, but for those who game primarily on their PCs and haven’t invested in either an Xbox 360 or a PlayStation 3 yet, it should be worth picking up.

On a side note, I hear that Capcom may be planning to release Resident Evil 5 on the PC as well. It goes without saying that this interests me a good deal (particularly if they actually add mouse aiming unlike the lousy PC port of Resident Evil 4). With that new Bionic Commando, Street Fighter 4 and now possibly Resident Evil 5 all heading to my platform of choice, it looks like Capcom is really trying to get my attention…

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Some clarification as to aforementioned spastic monkeys

Since you’ve had to stare at my three-line essay for about three days now, I figured I should explain my position in more detail :P

As I’ve mentioned in the past, one of the games on my backlog is Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, the 2003 reimagining of Jordan Mechner’s classic platformer. At the time, my completion rate was 65%; since then, I’ve reached 81% completion, and the game hasn’t lost its lustre yet…except for one problem which you might have been able to infer from my previous post – that the camera is incredibly dodgy.

Most of the time, when you’re running on walls, making death-defying leaps and swinging on poles, it works perfectly, and maintains the perfect angle for you to see what you’re getting yourself into. However, during combat, it takes an incredibly inconvenient angle, moving around jerkily, pivoting 180 degrees for no reason and generally behaving like a douche. This is a problem not only because camera orientation determines your control mapping, but also because it changes your field of view, meaning that I can’t see the huge guy with the scimitar just so slightly off screen who’s about to leap over and tear me a new one.

Exacerbating the problem in this particular case is the fact that you need to protect someone while on this elevator, someone whom the camera excels at keeping out of my field of vision. I don’t know what the general consensus on escort or protection missions in most games is, but based on my experience here and in Resident Evil 4, I would say that they need to take a flying leap off a bridge. The so-called “artificial intelligence” is terrible at keeping itself out of trouble, and in the case of Prince of Persia, said character’s inability to keep herself alive forces me to remain nearby, in a walled-off area of the elevator, eminently suitable for all the enemies to gang up and introduce me to their little friends, simultaneously.

The combat itself is functional, if rather bland, but the camera has proved to be the source of much of my frustration so far. I’m hoping it doesn’t end up putting me off completing the game altogether.

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The list of doom

Some of you know that I have a pretty sizeable gaming backlog. A lot of it is games that I want to play but haven’t gotten around to buying yet (Metal Gear Solid: The Essential Collection is currently #1 on that list), but there’s also a pretty big backlog of stuff that I own but I haven’t gotten around to finishing yet:

  • Psychonauts (I put some effort into beating it this past weekend, and finally reached the endgame…I had to skip a lot of optional stuff to do it though)
  • Prince of Persia: Sands of Time (I’m at about 60% completion)
  • Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition (level 15, right after beating Vergil for the second time)
  • Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition (mission 3-1…which is proving to be annoyingly long. Oh, and I have almost no ammo left)
  • Zack & Wiki (the last puzzle is so ridiculously hard)
  • Super Mario Galaxy (technically I’ve ‘beaten’ this game already, but I need to get one…last…star!)
  • NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams (2 levels in on each side)
  • Advance Wars: Days of Ruin (I’m on mission 13 of the campaign but for some reason I can’t bring myself to finish it)
  • Sonic Rush Adventure (Blaze’ last Sol Emerald is giving me trouble)

This is not a state of affairs that I’m particularly happy with, given that there are other high-profile releases coming up that I’d like to devote my time to…in particular Mass Effect drops at the end of the month, and the PC version of Devil May Cry 4 arrives next month.

So much gaming to do, so little time :(

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