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Adventures of Pip – Full Playthrough

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Just finished beating Adventures of Pip, by Tic Toc Games. The full release will be available in May for Xbox One, PS4, 360, PC, Mac and Wii U, but it got an early release on Steam. I’m not sure how completely done the game is though. At least I’m hoping what was released on Steam isn’t the finished product. It seems almost fully polished. It’s a solid platformer with excellent controls and all gameplay elements are there and I didn’t encounter any bugs, but it’s lacking some music. Worlds 2 and 3 use the same tracks and every stage in each world uses the same music throughout. Boss music is also sadly absent. There just wasn’t enough variety. Jake Kaufman is responsible for the soundtrack and I’ve never been disappointed by his work, so I’m hoping it all just hasn’t been added in yet.

Honestly, I’ve never been a big fan of pure platforming games. I’ll play them, but they tend to get too aggravating too fast or I simply lose interest because there’s generally no substance. Adventures of Pip provided just the right amount of difficulty (for me anyway) and had a few challenges but nothing that got too rage-quit inducing. For the less casual platform gamer, I can see this game getting picked up and blown through in a single sitting.

Overall I enjoyed the game, which for the designer of a platformer, is quite a challenge to get me to say. Below is the full playthrough done on Twitch, laid out stage by stage. We had some technical difficulties throughout. Audio levels especially in the first video. It’s mostly the commentary (which is asinine anyway) that has problems. Game audio is pretty much fine.

 

 





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Gonna Have Me Some Fun – Blood Dragon

WARNING: Blood Dragon is built for speed, it’s got everything that Uncle John needs.

Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon is basically a raging-hard-on-induced, love letter to Arnold Schwarzenegger movies, or 80s action movies in general. As Michael Allocca put it, “It’s like if Duke Nukem took an untested amount of mescaline and traveled back to 1982.” Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon gave me a boner so hard that my 6 year old self was able to touch it.

Most people were introduced to Blood Dragon via this trailer, which was originally thought to be a hoax.

And then, thankfully, we found out it wasn’t.

First off, Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon really has absolutely nothing to do with Far Cry 3. It is its own entity completely and doesn’t even require the original game to play – a stand alone download available for $15. So why did they call it Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon and not just Blood Dragon? Probably because they were hoping to bank on the success of Far Cry 3. Other than sharing the same game engine, they really have nothing to do with each other. This made me worry slightly about the quality of the game, but even more so, I was really anxious about them feeding too much into 80s sentimentality without any real substance. Fears were unrequited. Yes it is highly sentimental of the 80s, but the game is awesome. Anyone of any generation who’s a fan of FPS games will enjoy Blood Dragon. If you don’t, there something wrong with your brain. It’s not the game, it’s you.

You start with what is basically the opening scenes from Predator. If you’ve ever seen the movie, you’ll recognize it immediately. And if you haven’t, dear God, please, do something about it. Now. Like, seriously. Stop reading this and go watch Predator. Crouching produces an icon clearly resembling the silhouette of the T-800 crouching upon his transportation back through time. Granted the references are numerous, it’s not just a parody on Schwarzenegger 80s pop culture, it’s a self-aware parody of the video game world itself. The ubiquitous gameplay tutorial is a hassle. More games are forgoing the packed in physical manual for the hand-holding, in-game tutorial – WHICH IS ALMOST NEVER SKIP-ABLE! True to form, it is impossible to skip the tutorial in Blood Dragon, however, in its heightened sense of self-awareness, they mitigate the aggravation by intentionally trying to aggravate you with its asinine-ness.  Thus, the snark-laden tutorial comes of being cleverly stupid by pointing out the ridiculousness of the trend and provokes a few chuckles rather than slinging expletives at your TV. For example, “Press A to indicate your ability to read,” and, “To look around, look around,” are two such commands given during the tutorial.

It’s not just all silly jokes and puns though. The gameplay is top notch and brings everything you would expect from a great FPS. You can chain stealth kills together, it’s got plenty of weapons, and plenty of action. To lend some genuine authenticity, they even got Michael Biehn, best known as Kyle Reese from Terminator and Cpl. Hicks of Aliens, to do the voice of Rex Power Colt. Soundtrack by Power Glove, who must have written the soundtrack to James Cameron’s dreams; picture Terminator meets Blade Runner and that’s pretty much what Power Glove sounds like.

Nothing has ever been more worth the download price. And remember, C400 is like C4, but with two zeroes.

Single Player, Mandatory-Online Games

noeaSingle Player Online Games, or, Why I hate EA

Remember when you could buy a brand new game, go home, open it up, put it on and play it right away? Well that may soon become just a memory and I fear that the next generation of gamers won’t even know what that feeling is like. More often than not when you purchase a new game, it requires an immediate update. Ok, fine, whatever. Download my update. I’ll go grab a drink and take a leak while it loads. “Sorry, but the servers are currently down for maintenance.” That is the most infuriating message to receive after just purchasing a new game and it is inexcusable. There is no argument, no line of thinking, no rationale, no excuses, NOTHING that can justify why that happens.

Let’s say you just bought a new car and it’s sitting in your driveway and you’re about to take it out for the first time. As you turn the key, instead of the engine starting, you get a message stating, “Sorry you can’t use your car yet. We still haven’t finished working on it, but we sold it to  you anyway.” You’d be pretty pissed. A TV, a fridge, a toaster, ANYTHING – when you purchase it, you expect it to be usable upon receiving it. “Hey, Jimmy, why aren’t you wearing those new shoes you bought?” “Because they’re having problems finishing attaching the leather.” You would call BS on that immediately, and you’d be in the right to do so. It’s not okay when any other retailer of goods does this, so why can video game publishers get away with it?

Players of MMOs are quite familiar with the situation, but that’s to be expected when a game is played entirely online. Even so, it should work at launch. I can accept server downtime for routine updates, large patches, bug fixes, add-ons, etc. but when a game is released for retail sale, as a finished product, it should work out of the box. Especially if I’m going to be playing a single player game. Why do I have to log into a server to play by myself? I’ve heard all the arguments for this, but as I stated earlier, it’s unjustifiable. Oh, okay, you’re making sure I have an authentic copy of your game. EA’s Origin and Ubisoft’s Uplay network require constant online access to play any of their newer games regardless if you’re playing multiplayer or not.  Fuck you! I bought your damn game. Let me play it on my own terms.  This also brings into question the concept of true ownership of the product. If I can’t use something that I purchased, then is it really mine? Generally, something that I own, I’m free to do with and use as I please and is mine forever until I so choose otherwise. Let’s say, 25 years from now, I have this game that requires their servers to play, but the servers have been permanently shut down. Then I can’t play this game. I can still play my old NES games that I bought years ago without any problem, so why shouldn’t I be able to play this one? What did I really buy? Did I really buy anything or did I just rent it? Granted a long, extended rental period, but it would be a rental nonetheless.

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my computer screen for about 2 days straight trying to log into sim city

In case you weren’t already aware, Sim City, a game published by EA, and the impetus for writing this, had a disastrous release. For over a week, servers were unstable at best and many users had long wait times to log on and even then would get booted from the game due to server instability. For the first few days, the game was essentially unplayable, with an almost complete inability to log into the game.  Similarly, but not nearly so awful, Diablo III and Starcraft II had a near inability to log on the first few days; both requiring constant online connections to play even a single player game. EA said that they had no idea so many people were going to be playing. The Sims is the best selling PC game of all time. Did they really think that they wouldn’t need more than a few servers to accommodate such a large fan base? At launch, wouldn’t it make sense to go a little overboard with servers because everyone is going to be logging in all at once. Blizzard is awful with this.

EA has as least admitted they screwed up. To anyone who purchases Sim City before March 25th, they will be entitled download one free game – Battlefield 3, Bejeweled 3, Dead Space 3, Mass Effect 3, Medal of Honor: Warfighter, Need for Speed: Most Wanted, Plants vs Zombies, and Sim City 4 Deluxe. It’s nice that they’re giving out a free download. They didn’t have to. They could have just said, “We already have your money. Things will be fixed in time. Until then, deal with it.” It doesn’t make the situation right, or fix the increase in constant online games, but it’s nice to see a big publisher admit they were wrong.

The point of all this is, don’t release a game if it’s not finished. I wouldn’t have minded waiting another week, or month, or whatever for the game to release as long as I get a completed product. I paid for it, I want to be able to use it right away. If it’s not finished yet, don’t release it. And this mandatory online crap has got to go. Bottom line, if a game has a single player mode, then DO NOT require online server access.

THQs Humble Bundle

Humble-THQ-Bundle

We all know that THQ has seen some rough waters over the past year; Their stock dropping from about $20 to around 60 cents a share. To avoid being delisted, the company did a 1 to 10 reverse stock split to bring themselves back up to market standards, but their stock has still been steadily in decline since. They’ve tried redirecting their company’s gaming focus, moving away from casual and child games after the utter failure from the UDraw tablet. Instead, THQ plans on focusing on the hardcore, mainstream, 15yr-35yr gaming audience. However, even their top titles haven’t given them the success they so dearly needed. WWE was considered a success, but sales were down from last years release, Darksiders II didn’t meet the company’s expectations, but probably worst of all, the license rights to the UFC games has been lost to publisher EA.

As a seemingly last ditch effort to get some revenue, THQ has available a Humble Bundle offer. Clearly a sign of desperation considering the Humble Bundle is generally associated with indie games. At the time of this writing, there are 5 days left to get 8 THQ games for around $6. The games included are:

  • Red Faction: Argmageddon
  • Darksiders
  • Metro 2033 – an excellent and underrated FPS set in a post nuclear irradiated Russia.
  • Company of Heroes – one of my favorite RTS of all time. More importantly, it shares the game engine with Dawn of War, which is definitely my top favorite RTS ever.
  • Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts
  • Company of Heroes: Tales of Valor
  • Saints Row the Third
  • Titan Quest – basically it’s a Diablo clone in ancient Greece. Of all the Diablo clones out there, this one is by far the best, and I actually like this game better than Diablo III.

Essentially, you could get the first 6 games for absolutely free, but if you beat the average payment amount others are giving, you unlock Saints Row, Titan Quest, and additionally, Path to War DLC for Red Faction, and soundtracks to Red Faction, Saints Row, and Company of Heroes. That’s a lot of stuff for 6 bucks and it shows just how in need THQ is right now. Games that were retailing for $59.99, they’re almost literally giving away. During checkout, you choose how to divide your payment between THQ, charity, and the Humble Bundle team. So if you really wanted, you could give it all to charity and say “screw off” to THQ. Or if you don’t care about children in need, give it all to THQ, because quality video games are more important.

Personally, I don’t want to see THQ be forced to liquidate for selfish reasons. The WWE games are pretty fun but most of all, they own licensing rights to the Warhammer 40k games. I know some other publisher would probably pick them up, but I’ve really enjoyed what’s been released under THQs guidance. And nothing’s certain, I’m fearful for what might happen.

Btw, incase you didn’t figure it out already, just click on the banner up top to go to the Humble Bundle page.

X-COM: Best Strategy Game Ever

VS

At the time of this writing, I’ve played through nearly all of X-COM: Enemy Unknown so I feel that, aside for maybe a few things that happen at the end that are yet unknown to me, I am hopefully pretty accurate with this info. I’m not here to review the game; you can read about that anywhere considering this is a pretty high profile game. I am here to discuss the differences between the new Firaxis developed reboot and the original strategy masterpiece by Microprose. First and foremost, I know most people are saying they’re dumbed the game game. I don’t know if I really agree with that sentiment per se. Streamlined, definitely, but not necessarily dumbed down. Many of the micromanagement facets of the game that might have bogged down gameplay have been cut or changed and what remains is a sound strategy game where they leave you to focus more on the tactics of combat.

However, most of the things they removed are things that I liked. My list of grievances is as follows:

  • Having multiple bases is gone. It’s not something that would be required the way the new mechanics are set up, but I enjoyed this level of management.
  • Your soldiers level progression is predetermined. No longer are their stats determined by how you outfit them and method of play.
  • Rockets have been nerfed. Heavies can only carry 1 rocket per mission (2 with an upgrade). There are no inventory slots to take extra rockets and incendiary rockets are gone completely.
  • Aircraft options are limited. Hybrid craft are non-existent (to  my knowledge) which means that shooting down a craft and mopping up afterwards can no longer be a simultaneous affair.
  • Interceptors cannot be sent out in multiples. You can only send out one at a time and hope for the best.
  • Selling items is limited to only what is salvaged from aliens on a mission. You can no longer sell weapons, gear, items, etc, from your own stores.

Then there are some things that I’m mostly indifferent about. I acknowledge their change, and I can see why they did it, but either way would have been fine with me. Gone now are the different types of shots. Aimed shot, snap shot, auto shots are all gone  leaving everyone with just a generic fire mode. But Time Units are gone as well, so the amount of time each soldier used to line up a shot is irrelevant now anyway. TUs have been replaced with each soldier simply being granted 2 action points a turn, which allows them to move and then have 1 action or spend the entire turn running. Though this leaves less flexibility with what each character can do per turn, that also makes you think harder about what they must do. Setting up your soldiers personal inventory has been simplified, making it easier to just jump into a mission, but it also limits what they are able to carry, but that again makes you think harder about what to do with what you’re given.

Some changes they made are definitely logical choices that made the game better:

  •  Movement is far more fluid. Climbing, getting into cover, ducking, etc, happens automatically and doesn’t require a specific button press from the command icons.
  • Soldier classes. I know I said i don’t like that you can’t customize your soldiers as much, but having classes is great. Each class gets specific abilities that help further personalize them and add a new element to leveling up rather than just increased stats and researching new weapons.
  • New armor. All over the place. A handful of new armor types that have nifty functions like cloaking and grappling hooks.
  • By far the best – and by today’s standards, necessary change – is the addition of multiplayer, complete with leaderboards and customizable teams. The only thing I could hope for there would be some kind of co-op mode, but I won’t cry about it.

You can say this game has been dumbed down, but  it’s really just a different type of game. They wanted to take the focus off micromanagement and base development and put it more into the action and combat experience. Much of the tedium from the original game has been broken down, though I enjoyed parts of that tedium. Yes, they did simplify a lot, but the quality Firaxis put into X-Com: Enemy Unknown stands up on its own against the original. Plus, this is the most intelligent and tactically sound game that has been released on a console in years

For those of you who do actually come to this blog and follow it to any degree, I apologize for it’s rather lacklusterness lately. I’ve been super busy trying to buy a house, trying to get a new car, looking for a better and more fulfilling career (partly because I never saw the job I have now as a career). If anyone knows of any job opportunities around the southern NH area, seriously, let me know. I’d be willing to do nearly anything as long as it gets me out of my current situation. That being said, the car and house part of my time consumption are almost taken care of and once that’s squared away, I can get back into some serious gaming.

Extra-Life

http://www.Extra-Life.org is a fundraising organization that works with the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. They will be holding 2 events during the month of October to help raise money for kids. October 1st will be G3: Gaming and Giving for Good, being sponsored by XBOX 360. Even if you don’t have Xbox Live, they are giving you a free weekend of gold membership to play games online in support of the fundraiser. The other, the Extra-Life 2011 Marathon, will be held on October 15. The idea is that it’s like a walkathon, but with video games. Play games for 24 hours on your favorite console, or PC. This is being supported by PS3, XBOX, Steam, and Rift. Below are links to each respective events sign-up page.

DONATE!

Everyone is welcome to participate whether you are an individual, team, want to donate, or even just pass the word along. $1 would be better than nothing, and if that’s too much for you, then at least take the time to let someone else know about this and forward this site to them.

I will be joining in on Extra-Life 2011 on Oct 15. Expect to catch me on XBOX Live most likely playing Space Marine all day. In case you haven’t already noticed, I have these huge banners on the sidebar so if you’d like to sponsor me and make a donation, click on them. My goal is to get $100. That doesn’t seem like much if everyone who came across this even gave pennies. Any little bit helps, so Make a Donation!

I get no money out of this. You’re not giving me money, you’re giving money to kids who need medical attention. Even giving next to nothing would still be SOMETHING. You don’t even have to leave the comfort of your computer to donate. Just click on the large SPONSOR ME! picture and it will take you to a link where you can donate. They have preset denominations, but you can select other in put in whatever. You can use a credit card or even paypal! PENNIES! PENNIES WOULD BE AN ACCEPTABLE DONATION EVEN.

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