tempest in a teacup

the pointless musings of a strange recluse

E3 2014 roundup

Basically what I think this year’s E3 sealed for me was the fact that I’m going to end up owning all three consoles again this generation. As it probably should be.

As it stands these are the main things that piqued my interest:

  • Scalebound
    No in-game footage shown but it’s being made by Platinum Games and it’s being directed by Hideki Kamiya. So yeah, I have to play this no matter what. Also dragons are cool.
  • Phantom Dust
    Never played the Xbox original but I heard good things about it. Might as well jump in with the remake!
  • Assassin’s Creed Unity
    I was really intrigued by both the single-player and the co-op they showed and the setting (18th-century Paris) is probably the most interesting one they’ve used since Assassin’s Creed II.
  • Far Cry 4
    Again, great setting, looks great and open-ended, and the villain seems to be a real basket case who should be fun to take down. Also co-op!
  • Bloodborne
    Hidetaka Miyazaki’s new game seems to eschew the medieval setting for something slightly more modern (as in the 19th century) but I will be playing it since I liked Dark Souls a lot.
  • Uncharted 4
    These games have always been good so yeah, more please!

There were other things too of course – The Division continues to look stunning, Battlefield Hardline looks like a way more fun take on cops vs robbers than Payday 2 and I’m kind of torn between The Crew and Forza Horizon 2 in terms of figuring out what my next racing game fix should be.

On a random note, I do think it’s hilarious that Platinum Games is now three for three in getting me to buy consoles that I don’t own. I bought an Xbox 360 to play Bayonetta (because the PS3 version was sketchy), I’m buying a Wii U to play Bayonetta 2 (and The Wonderful 101) and now I’m going to be buying an Xbox One to play Scalebound (there were other things I wanted to play on it, but this just pushed me over the edge).

As for Nintendo, well, I don’t think anyone will disagree when I say that this was probably the best thing shown in all of E3:

Masterfully remixed

I will say the new Zelda looks nice at least, and that the new Smash Bros seems to be coming along quite nicely. Devil’s Third being on Wii U is also a bit of a surprise but it’s a nice additional incentive to get one.

But yeah, I’ll probably end up owning all three consoles again. I don’t know when I’ll buy what (will probably get a Wii U soon, a PS4 once Guilty Gear Xrd drops and an Xbox One once…Forza Horizon 2 or that Halo collection drops, but that’s just an estimate right now).

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An old opinion, now backed up by empirical evidence

I posted a while back that I was rather unimpressed by what I had seen of LittleBigPlanet. One of the common replies I got was that I couldn’t make a proper judgement without playing it first, which is a reasonable response. I was loath to spend $50 to buy a game that I wasn’t sure about, though, particularly when my gaming backlog is already a mile long.

Well, Sony released a LittleBigPlanet demo on PSN last week, and I downloaded it and finally got to play through some of the levels. And…

(cue drumroll)

…I still don’t see what the big deal is. The platforming is pretty slippery, imprecise even. I mean, I can compare it to Sonic Unleashed and confidently say that even that game has tighter controls in its 2D sections. I can make precise jumps reasonably easily in Unleashed, whereas LBP’s ‘on ice’ movement and floaty jumps mean that I tend to be slip-sliding through levels rather than navigating through them with precise timing.

Stephen Fry’s voiceovers are great, though.

And for anyone who would retort that I’m missing the point because I haven’t played any of the levels online with four players – attaching a collaborative level design toolkit to Daikatana doesn’t magically turn it into Half-Life.

With that said, I suspect that’s the last I’ll have to say on the subject of LBP. Unless a copy ends up falling into my lap.

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Incoherent rambling

About time for one of these posts, I think.

I’ve found a new place in downtown Seattle that I’ll be moving to next month. My current complex is honestly not that bad except for two problems:

  1. The ISP choices are terrible (I currently have 1.5Mbps DSL, which is the highest speed available)
  2. There isn’t really much of anything within reasonable walking distance

The new place has a supermarket on the ground floor (yay) and a few restaurants within walking distance. The ISP is Comcast, which may be dubious to some but I’m willing to go through the annoying setup process if it means I get a download rate from this century. The only downside is that I’ll either need to take a bus or a company shuttle to work, but eh, I need to start getting up earlier anyway. Getting all my stuff moved over is going to be a pain though…the number of my possessions has increased considerably since I moved to Seattle.

Speaking of Internet, I braved uTorrent a while back to watch some fansubbed anime, namely the first two episodes of K-On! I like it, but I probably won’t be able to watch the rest of it since BitTorrent basically nukes my connection (for reasons I haven’t figured out yet).

Still waiting for Sony to patch in PS2 support for the Madcatz SF4 sticks…I figure if it doesn’t come within another few patches I may just sell this to buy a HRAP3 (which does work for PS2 games). As it stands I need to use my old Tekken 5 stick over an adapter, and going from the awesome Sanwa joystick + buttons to the decent-ish Hori stick and buttons is…well, it’s like owning a Ferrari and driving a Honda instead, if you get my drift.

Installed iPhone OS 3.0 last week. My phone seems to be a lot more responsive now, so it’s obvious they’ve put some work into performance. I don’t use copy/paste much, but the push notifications have been very handy – I finally installed an IM client (Beejive) on my phone thanks to this new feature. Of course, if the damn thing supported background tasks in the first place this wouldn’t be an issue…

That said, I kind of wish AT&T didn’t want $400 from me for the 3GS. That new camera and faster CPU are really enticing.

I took out my guitar for the first time in months today, and all I can say for now is ‘wtf I suck.’ Hopefully this will change.

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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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Whittling down the backlog

This past weekend I cleared another couple of games off my backlog – Metal Gear Solid 3 and Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune.

First off, here’s what I thought of MGS3 as a whole.

The removal of the passive radar system from all previous games makes the game somewhat harder since you’ll have to lurk unseen to figure out what the guards’ patrol routes are. On the other hand, though, I thought the food and camouflage systems were pretty useless – the former is basically there to annoy the hell out of you by forcing you to hunt for food every few minutes and the latter is redundant since the camouflage types come equipped with a handy percentage value to tell you exactly what you should be wearing when. The cure system seems similarly ultimately pointless since the game pretty much tells you exactly what you need to use to cure your wound – and I never ran out of supplies (at least on Normal difficulty).

That said, it did have some great moments – the boss battles are way better than MGS2’s for sure (with the exception of one), and I found the lack of backtracking through the same areas (for the most part) to be an improvement over the first two games’ almost excessive use of it. The action sequences are generally less awkward than those in the first two games, although the first part of the game (when silencers are in short supply) is somewhat harder than the rest of the game.

So yeah, I thought it was a decent game, with some odd trappings that didn’t really make sense.

As for Uncharted, I thought it was generally a well-polished third-person shooter. It’s not quite like Resident Evil 4 where you have an inventory and can stock up on items, guns and other such stuff, nor can you really buy items. Healing and weapons are handled similarly to the Halo series, in that you can only have 2 weapons at any given time (one single-handed weapon and one double-handed weapon), and that you recover health gradually after avoiding damage for a certain period of time. In addition, unlike RE4 you can move while in ‘aiming mode’, and can also ‘fire from the hip’ while running. The game also features a Gears of War-like cover mechanic, which is pretty much the main way you avoid taking damage during combat.

Overall, as Yahtzee mentioned in his review, it’s a game that borrows extensively from games that came before it, and ends up being somewhat greater than the sum of its parts. I actually think it isn’t quite as challenging as RE4, partly because the enemy AI is somewhat retarded and partly because of all the additional abilities Nathan Drake has over Leon Kennedy. Still, I’d say it’s definitely worth checking out if you have a PS3.

So I’ve beaten the only PS3 game that I have…I suppose I could get Metal Gear Solid 4 if I wanted to.

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Am I missing something?

Someone really needs to tell me what the fuss over LittleBigPlanet is about, because I don’t see it. It’s a level design toolbox for a fairly average platformer, and it looks like you can’t modify the basic mechanics in any way, so…what’s the big deal?

The only thing I can think of at this point that might get me to buy the game is the fact that Stephen Fry does the tutorial voiceovers.

(Next post will be about King of Fighters XII, now that I’ve had some time to sit and think about the ramifications of the new system)

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Five hundred and ninety-nine US dollars

I’ve been hearing rumours that the 80GB Metal Gear Solid 4 PlayStation 3 bundle was soon to go the way of the dodo, and with it all backwards compatibility from the product line. I was pondering whether or not to take the plunge and shell out the cash for one of these bundles, but an e-mail that popped into my inbox at work swiftly resolved those thoughts.

A guy at work was selling his 60GB PS3 along with a few games, for the bargain price (relatively speaking) of $450. I wasn’t particularly interested in some of the games he was offering (Tiger Woods and Madden…right), but I realised that that sort of price for the long-discontinued 60GB model was a pretty damn good deal, so I jumped at it. Hence the shiny black monster now perched next to my 32″ HDTV.

The machine is remarkably quiet, even with a disc inside it – noise elimination was clearly one of their priorities in developing the hardware. Heat is another story, though – I tried to reposition the console slightly to make space for something else and the underside was almost too hot to touch.

That said, I don’t have much else to complain about. I’ll probably put Ubuntu on it so that I can use it as a media center (without being restricted to the formats that the PS3 supports natively). And now that I have something that can actually use the hi-def capabilities of my TV, I might start buying more DVDs (and downloading content from the PlayStation Store – I hear Xam’d is particularly good).

Games? Err, I got Guitar Hero III along with it, but until I clear my existing PC and PS2 backlog I’m probably not going to buy anything else for it. I’m still halfway through Devil May Cry 4 and I suspect I’ve barely scratched the surface of Mass Effect.

On a somewhat related note, I beat Metal Gear Solid at last (after disovering the first-person aiming option in the escape level which was never revealed to me, and in any case was rather difficult to use). Of course, the game rewarded me by freezing up right after the credits, preventing me from saving my complete file. Joy.

Overall thoughts? Rather rough around the edges, but it did have enjoyable moments.

I put a few minutes into Metal Gear Solid 2 – the two main things I brought away from it were

  1. Yay aiming doesn’t suck as much!
  2. Boo the cutscenes are still way too long.

I’ll probably only continue once I get the PS2 memory card adapter I ordered from Amazon tomorrow, so I can move all my save data onto the PS3. I’m not sure what I’ll do with the PS2 yet, but I’ll probably take it back to Singapore the next time I go.

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E3 Day Two in a nutshell

Nintendo: Hey gamers! We’re just going to talk about how awesome we are and about how we don’t really need you any more since we make more money selling shallow waggle-fests to people who really don’t know any better :D

Sony: So uh we have all this shit that’s coming out at some point and it’ll be really awesome! In the meantime have all these repackaged versions of our existing hardware!

Oh, and Sega?

So apparently Sonic Unleashed is part Sonic Rush/Secret Rings, part…stretchy hands combat game.

Worst E3 ever.

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