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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Motion to Dismiss

So I’m playing Super Mario Galaxy 2, backlog be damned. And it’s a pretty good game, just as I expected it to be. Sure, extra lives still grow on trees much like the original game, but the stages are inventive and it usually takes me a few tries to figure out the exact timing or trick to beating them.

One thing that I’m not glad about is the persistence of the silly motion controlled-stages.

Sure, there are fewer of them, and I’ve already gotten all the gold stars in all of them, but they still reinforce my held notion that the Wii’s motion control is a dead end for games on that system. There’s perhaps one use of the Wii remote’s motion sensor that I’ve been able to tolerate, and that’s its use as a pointing device (in games like Resident Evil 4, or any number of Wii FPSes).

Super Mario Galaxy, on the other hand, has you do stupid crap like hold your Wiimote vertically and tilt it to control a giant ball that Mario is balancing on. These stages are nowhere near as interesting as the pure platforming stages, and the controls aren’t anywhere near as precise as they need to be. It’s at times like those that I wish the game supported the Classic or GameCube controller.

After my experience with the Wii, Sony and Microsoft’s motion controllers have me more apprehensive of the kinds of crap they’re going to try and pawn off on the gaming public. I’ve heard rumblings of a motion controlled version of Sonic Riders for Natal…ugh.

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The E3 post I should have written a month ago

Yeah, I’m late. I’ve been busy :p

There was some interesting stuff at E3, I guess. Of particular interest to me were the following:

  • Left 4 Dead 2 – yeah, I’m looking forward to it. There’s been a lot of bitching about the timing of the release (just a year after the first game came out) and I understand some of it, particularly since L4D has only gotten two significant updates since its release (the first being the major patch that buffed the Infected in versus mode, and the second being the Survival Pack). However, the point of a sequel is to improve upon the original’s mechanics, and it looks like L4D2 will do this, with more weapons, more enemy types (the new Charger special Infected should make corner camping a fair bit harder) and the Director now being able to control the weather (which affects visibility) and the routes you can take through the level. Given that, I’m very much willing to shell out another $50 to try it.
  • Metroid: Other M – This came out of nowhere, really. The fact that Team Ninja is developing something for the Wii is pretty much enough to get me excited. While my experience with Ninja Gaiden is limited to the DS version (lol) and the demo for Ninja Gaiden Sigma, as well as an hour or so playing Ninja Gaiden II on my friend’s 360, and if this new Metroid game is anything like it then it will definitely be worth playing.
  • Super Mario Galaxy 2 – more Mario Galaxy? Yes please.
  • Mass Effect 2 – I thought Mass Effect was a game that failed to live up to what it could have been – it had an enormous universe to explore…which mostly consisted of barren planets with abandoned mines/military bases/laboratories, all of which must have been built with prefabs or something seeing how they repeated the same 4 level layouts again and again. The combat system was decent enough, although the much-hyped dialogue tree system wasn’t really anything that hadn’t been done before. If anything I’d have preferred a system that didn’t separate your options into ‘Obvious Good Choice’, ‘Obvious Neutral Choice’ and ‘Obvious Bad Choice.’ There have been games that have done this already, and I’m not sure why so many devs seems to be married to it. In any case, Bioware claims that ME2 will have less barren planets, and that the choices you made in ME1 will have actual consequences for your ME2 game. On top of that they’ve apparently beefed up the combat with new features like location-based damage and an improved cover system. I guess I’ll keep an eye on it.
  • Assassin’s Creed II – I’m playing the first game right now, and while it’s a pretty fun action game, all the people who called out the pointless overworld (which can fortunately be skipped after you’ve visited all the cities) and the lack of investigation types are pretty much right on the money. While this game seems to have added a bunch of new combat moves, I don’t know that it’s addressed the real problems with the game. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it has, but interviews like this don’t really do much for my confidence.
  • Uncharted 2: Among Thieves – The first Uncharted is still one of the best PS3 exclusives out there, and its sequel seems to improve on it with a more involved melee system and more enemy variation. Hopefully the combat set-pieces are just as exciting as the first game’s.

That’s basically it, I guess. Borderlands seems kind of interesting, but I want to know more about it before I decide whether I should look forward to it or not – right now it seems to be a first-person Diablo II with guns.

Tomorrow being a ‘special occasion’, I’ll have a more in-depth post on a game I’ve been playing on my PS3 for the last week or so.

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Bet you saw this coming a mile away

After 3 or so hours of playing, the best thing that I can say about Sonic Unleashed for Wii is that it’s not terrible.

It’s just unrelentingly bland.

No, I don’t really feel like going into detail right now. Maybe tomorrow.

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Touching is still good

Or so Nintendo would like to remind us. They just announced a new DS model: click here for more details

In a nutshell, this is what has changed:

  • No more GBA slot
  • The unit is thinner, and the screens are slightly bigger
  • 3-megapixel camera
  • MP3 player
  • In-built web browser
  • SD card slot for storing photos and MP3s
  • Onboard storage…and this will apparently be used to download games from a DS game store, much in the vein of the Wii Virtual Console or WiiWare.

The price has also gone up, to about USD180, and the new version will be launched on November 1st. To be honest, this new version will only be a must-buy for me if they managed to work WPA encryption support into the device…I really don’t want to run WEP on my router. Other than the addition of internal storage and the online store, I’m not sure the other additions are really worth the asking price.

At the same event, they revealed that the Wii will allow you to download games to SD cards starting next year. It’s not as good as a hard drive, but given the unit’s limited capabilities it will have to do. The Wii can only read non-SDHC cards, so the maximum storage capacity will be 2.5GB – not great, but better than nothing.

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Convention Tales

I spent most of the day at PAX today, since I’d never been to a gaming convention and there were a few games I wanted to check out. I actually didn’t get to play too many of them (the lines were way too long for me to be standing around) but I did get a reasonable idea of how some of the games I’m looking forward to are shaping up.

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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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MY BLOOD! HE PUNCHED OUT ALL MY BLOOD

Meet the Sandvich!

(No, that is not a typo)

The Heavy update has finally arrived, and I took the opportunity to put a few hours into the game to see what had changed. I’ve already seen Heavies running around with all three unlocked weapons, so the achievements are definitely quite reasonable this time around.

I haven’t tried Arena Mode yet, although I will eventually. I did get to play a few rounds on Badwater Basin, the new payload map. I like the fact that there are now several side passages and back alleys that I can rely on for my Pyro ambushing. On the other hand, it seemed like the last cap was just as entrenched as the last cap on Goldrush tends to get on full servers. Time will tell, I suppose.

I didn’t see any servers running cp_steel, which was a little surprising, given that it was a community map that was overwhelmingly recommended to Valve for inclusion in the update. I did, however, see my TF2 client either crash or boot me out of the server I was playing in for no apparent reason. Others seem to be having similar problems – a patch will be needed.

Still, the abundance of Heavies means ample opportunities to get those Medic achievements – or improve my Spy skills.

On an unrelated note, I nabbed the PC version of Bionic Commando: Rearmed off Capcom’s digital store last week, and so far I have to say it was worth the money. I never played the original NES Bionic Commando, but this seems to be a decent recreation (although by comparing footage of the NES version to the remake it looks like some of the physics might be different). On top of that, the developers have taken a page out of Portal‘s book and added challenge rooms for people to prove their mastery of the bionic arm.

Also, because I turned on my Wii for the first time in weeks and noticed that Mega Man was available on the Virtual Console, I bought it, and played it for a few minutes. First impressions: this game is just as challenging as the Internet says it is.

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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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