Good Things

//Good Things

My Top 12 Games of 2015: #06 Fallout 4

I hear that war never changes, but I’ve been thinking about it and I don’t know if I agree. You could be broad enough to make this sound true but by that logic “nothing” changes. All we need to do is be broad enough about what we consider important to the description of a topic and we’ll eventually find something that doesn’t change. “Music always involves people, therefor music never changes.” Fallout 4 is superficially very similar to Fallout 3. In both games you’ll play a human character, in both games you’ll scour the wasteland, and in both games you’ll hide grenades in people’s pants. You did that didn’t you? I hope you did, it would be sad if you didn’t. Those pants are just asking for an explosion.

This game was actually higher on my list but as I thought about it I started moving it lower. I quite like Fallout 4. I keep finding myself coming back to it, wanting to play it more. Sometimes I can’t even explain why I like it so much but other times it becomes pretty obvious. We can start with the secondary game of Bethesda games. I know a lot of people hate that Bethesda provides the userbase with a fairly blank slate and then gives them the tools to create something pretty slick. For me though this has always been one of the reasons that I like Bethesda games. Often a game developer will give the user minimal (or no) tools and just presume they know best. What you are left with is a game that is “almost” good but its just missing some quality of life tweaks or additions that would make it pretty sweet. For the most part Bethesda has provided me with games I find already fun and then I get to go exploring to make them real good.

fallout43

Refreshing the Nexus is a deeply satisfying event for me. Taking modules from other users and trying to mesh them together to create an experience custom tailored to me is great. And I can do all this without the bullshit that is microtransactions and DLC. Far too often people defend that whale shit by saying “It allows you to get the game experience you want, rather than charging everyone for everything.” Yeah, well, Bethesda gives me that same freedom but doesn’t nickel and dime my ass.

“But Rico, what about the attempt to charge for mods on Steam?” I…well alright. I can’t argue with that. That was genuinely stupid. They were going to ruin the thing that I like about their games but I can understand why they’d be so shortsighted. The almighty dollar is a bigger motivator of human action than the fear of any god. Luckily they rescinded on it after a lot of customer backlash but even had they done it, as far as I’m aware, they weren’t going to block the Nexus from still providing mods for free (with an option to donate).

I’ve got a lot of mods on my version of Fallout 4 now. Tweaking all sorts of things that make the game more satisfying for me. A lot of these things I’d never expect any game company to think about. As I’m playing through Xenoblade I think to myself “If only I could mod out this problem or that.” I really like it but that expectation of greatness from a developer becomes more and more unrealistic the larger the title becomes. It’s one thing to get the tightly designed Super Mario World to feel like a nearly flawless experience. It’s another entirely to try and make an open world game feel flawless and tight. Almost by necessity it won’t feel like either of those things.

Always gotta mod in bovine home security.

Bovine Home Security

As for bugs? I’ve experienced basically none. I had one minor problem with exiting a menu too quickly a single time. Otherwise nothing has ever gone wrong for me. Does that mean the game works for everyone? Apparently not, if you read the Destructoid forums it sounds like it is crashing for some people and its kidnapping and selling the children of others. It’s interesting to me that this title would be so divisive. I don’t really see all that many people in the “It’s ok.” world. Its either “Pretty good!” or “It touched me and now I’m taking it to court.”

My feelings more directly for the game vary depending on what we are talking about. The weapons are all great to me. I like all of them, I like modding them, I like using them, and I like the variety therein. The outfits (with the mod that allows you to wear armor on armor, yo dawg) are all fun and help me to feel like I’m some kind of fashion oblivious post wastelander. The power armor really delights me, getting in and out of it is something I do more than I need to. I’ve had a few funny experiences where people tried to trick me into an ambush and I just stand there, bullets whizzing by me, wondering just what is going through their heads. I’m standing here with Danse, both of us in fully upgraded power armor, both of us holding super sledges. If I were these bandits I’d be faking like I was lost.

“Oh uh. Yeah, sorry. We were looking for the shopping mall.” Awkwardly sweating while I back away slowly.

The story for the game is incredibly predictable. I can say, without exaggeration, that down to the letter I knew what the story was within the first 10 minutes of the game (first 5?). It’s an atrociously predictable story that has absolutely no stakes. I find this sad because there was an opportunity that was desperately missed. How amazing would it have been to make your character and your spouse, then take turns going through the wasteland busting ass? “Honey, I’ll be back in a bit. Got a little murder in me to get out.”

But no, I’m sent out to find my son. A kid I’ve got no background with, a featureless mass of flesh that means literally nothing to me. I’d sooner bang Strong than care about this kid.

Luckily it isn’t all for naught. Everything that isn’t main story related is great. I like the entire cast of side characters. Danse in particular grew on me faster than an extra limb. Strong is fun, Piper is cool, and so on. Not a one of them overstayed their welcome for me and that’s a positive for me.

Once you get far enough into the game the Brotherhood of Steel starts literally raining from the sky at times. Few things are cooler than a half dozen fully armored (and armed) Brothers dropping from the sky and laying an ass blasting smackdown on Super Mutants, or Raiders, or Mirelurks. It’s just, so good, those are some of my favorite moments. The randomness of Fallout is really where it shines for me. Wondering just what I’ll see around the next corner. Who I’ll meet. What story I’ll uncover from beneath the dirt.

But then we’ve got those puzzling questions. Other than the awful main story. Why does nobody know how to work a saw? Cavemen could build better shelters than the people of the post apocalypse. I’ve got access to wood, and tools, and everything I make looks like shit. I don’t mean to brag, but even in my lacking manliness, I could out build everyone in the commonwealth. No part of me believes that humans of the future would be willing to live in a home with a tattered roof. Especially when the very rains themselves can slowly kill you.

Further, just how many bombs were dropped exactly? Why are we 200 years after they dropped and everything is still a shitty yellow color? Life bounces back extremely fast. I can, in no way, believe that everything would look like someone vomited on it. Plants would have built up a tolerance to the radiation, smaller animals would likely have survived just fine, what few larger ones that survived would be doing alright by now. There would be areas of high radiation but the majority of the Earth would be blanketed by life. A couple centuries is a long freaking time.

I think they do it because they want the game to feel hopeless. Perhaps Bethesda thinks that lush greenery consuming a city just wouldn’t incite the same kind of fear that a barren desert would. I heartily disagree. I feel like fearing a lion attack around every corner, especially a two headed fire-breathing lion, would be terrifying.

We'll find it buddy. We'll find it.

We’ll find it buddy. We’ll find it.

I’ve sunk 71 hours into Fallout 4. The majority of those were not spent idling around. And I think I’ve enjoyed about 68 to 69 [heh] of them. I know other folks don’t like this game but seeing as this is a list of games >I< like rather than a list of games >the cool kids< like, it makes the list. If I had to choose what kind of game this is (and I suppose I do) I would not say it is a great game. Not yet, once the modding tools are released I think I'll be able to confidently say that. Because Bethesda games are not just the game itself to me, they are the entire creative experience. They create communities and forge friendships between talented people. They are Minecraft, pre-minecraft. Perhaps not QUITE that much control, but I think of them as wonderful toolkits whose demo mode (the base game) is well worth the face price alone. For now I give it a solid GOOD. Once the tools are out you can mentally transition that to a Great. Only just though, this isn't the next Casablanca of video games. But I'll be coming back to it over and over across the next year I'm certain.

By | 2015-12-19T18:09:55+00:00 December 19th, 2015|Good Things, Reviews|Comments Off on My Top 12 Games of 2015: #06 Fallout 4

My Top 12 Games of 2015: #08 Dragon Quest Heroes

I’ve actually already written a review for this game which you can read here, if you are interested. So instead I’m going to talk a bit about why I liked this game. It’s been a while since I played and I still think this is a good game. It’s a light hearted experience that really helps to calm me down when I’m feeling frustrated about things in life. I don’t want all my games to be feel good romps but I like to have that option. All the characters in Heroes are just delightful, they are caricatures from start to finish but I like that. The voice acting is great, all the corny dialogue just washes away any kind of anxiety that might be clogging up my heart. I’m a big fan of VAs that don’t have American accents. I like my games to feel a little more varied and if everyone sounds like they are from California I don’t really get that feeling.

Like most Dynasty Warriors games you >could< grind this thing out until you hate your life. You could do that, but I wouldn't recommend it. It's actually possible with Bianca to generate the monster coins at breakneck speed which makes some of the poorer design choices in the game more palatable. The actual story is pretty straightforward, you good guy, boss bad guy. Good guy beat bad guy. The end. I was cool with that then and I'm cool with it now. If you like Dynasty Warrior type games I think you'll find this pretty delightful. I haven't decided if Hyrule Warriors is better than this or not. I may have mentioned one way or the other in my review but at this point, now that I've had time away from both, I can't really say. I think they are both pretty good experiences that everyone should dabble in if they like to diversify their gaming experiences. This is another game where I'm sittin around 65% done but could get platinum in a weekend. All the things that remain are basically either done or just a small grind away. I’ll likely get back to it once I cool off from my other games but for now it’s at a comfortable stopping point. Just realized that in my Final Fantasy Post I basically linked to nowhere for my trophies. That’s embarrassing. Maybe I’ll fix that sometime.

Anywho, as I said before. It’s a good game. I probably wouldn’t come back to it year over year, but that initial binge is well worth the price of admission at full and certainly at any sale price. Obviously enjoyed it since it’s on my top 12 of 2015 :p.

By | 2015-12-17T18:13:51+00:00 December 17th, 2015|Good Things, Reviews|Comments Off on My Top 12 Games of 2015: #08 Dragon Quest Heroes

My Top 12 Games of 2015: #12 Batman: Arkham Knight

This list will be somewhat in order of which game I liked the most to the game I liked the least (of those games I liked the most). That isn’t to say any game on this list is “bad” it’s just that they are all good, but some are better than others. In all cases I feel like if you play these games you’ll be in for a good time. In the case of Batman: Arkham Knight, I don’t have quick access to my screenshots, so hopefully the small wall of text won’t be too daunting. There will be some light spoilers but it’s mostly stuff that you experience minutes into the game. For the most part, marketing fucked it up long before this post.

Of all the games I’ll be talking about over the next 12 days, this one was the most controversial I think. The PC release for it was absolutely awful. It was like they didn’t even try, which might have been the case. WB is becoming somewhat infamous for just being an awful POS company to buy games from. They are a bit like herpes, not an ideal thing to have, but a lot of people deal with them regardless. Before this game I enjoyed the first three, yes, even Origins. For me Origins was an integral part of the relationship between Batman and the Joker. The story it told was touching in some weird, psychotic, fashion. And with that said, a reminder that I’m about to lightly spoil the game but if you’ve seen any promotional material for it you probably already know.

(more…)

By | 2015-12-13T23:30:38+00:00 December 13th, 2015|Good Things, Reviews|Comments Off on My Top 12 Games of 2015: #12 Batman: Arkham Knight

Reviews: Dragon Quest Heroes

As mentioned in my early thoughts on this title, Dragon Quest Heroes is one of a growing roster of Dynasty Warrior titles set in other universes. Previously we had Hyrule Warriors and now we’ve got Dragon Quest Heroes. There are likely more but these are the only two I’ve played, I can’t speak to the rest. Most of the Dynasty Warrior games give you an impossibly large roster with a billion different things to collect. This is great for people who only want to play one game for the next thirty years but I do think it ends up falling onto the far side of what I’m looking for in a game.

That isn’t to say they are bad games. I’d rather have too much content than too little, but they tend to overwhelm me and I never get to finish them. Someday Hyrule Warriors, someday. Dragon Quest Heroes does not suffer from this. I would argue that it has just enough content to be fun and challenging. Because there isn’t a very large amount of things to grind (largely legendary weapons) the maps that do exist don’t overstay their welcome. You’ll see most of them three to four times at a maximum and the content therein is so fun that you’ll never feel like they are padding for time.

Out of 110 or so quests there is only one that I think requires too much of you. Specifically the kill 10 Pandora’s Box quest. These mobs are a bit difficult to find and searching for them is the antithesis of fun. However 1 out of 110 is pretty damn good in my opinion. The remaining quests hit your standard collect items, kill monsters, and complete missions that you’d expect from an RPG (and realistically there isn’t much more that we do in real life either, so it’s not a criticism). You can generally complete 3-5 of them at a time which is also great. And while doing so you’ll level regularly.

Some of the missions require specific characters which is great because it incentivizes you to try them out. You might never use Kyril but once you do you might realize you like him. The same goes for anyone else. The case is relatively small with 11 characters (one being your main which cannot be taken out of your party) but this works to the game’s advantage. With the exception of the two leads (who are somewhat interchangeable in my opinion), each character feels unique and has a lot of fun nuances to their playstyle. As far as power curves go I would say that Terry and Bianca are likely lightyears ahead of the rest of the roster, but that’s not necessarily a negative or a gamebreaker.

For a while though, Yangus is a beast.

For a while though, Yangus is a beast.

The menus and NPC UI is probably where this game is at its weakest. You are forced to work through extremely slow dialogue with every menu taking about 2-3 seconds too long for my liking. I did find that the rest of the game was so good that I didn’t mind this. It’s borderline deal breaking but the game just squeaks by on its gameplay to make you not feel the full brunt of the sting.

The art design in the game is excellent. I’ve always been a fan of Akira Toriyama’s style. His characters have a real good volume to them and the colors tend to be vibrant. I don’t think there is a single creature in the game that isn’t painfully adorable. Sometimes literally as they whittle away at your health. The music is alright, it’s a bit short and you’ll probably end up turning it down to almost silent after not too long.

Similarly the voice acting in game is repetitive and will probably see itself muted after your 90th rain of pain cast. The actual sound effects themselves are fine with the exception of footsteps which is absolutely terrible. Far too loud and doesn’t come close to sounding like footsteps. Again, the game is so good that I’m able to overlook these things and still have fun. I’ll likely be playing this a bit more after this review.

One of the mechanics in the game is called Monster Medals. Basically as you defeat monsters they’ll drop a coin that allows you to summon them on your side for the length of either the level you are in or their health bar being depleted, whichever comes first. This creates an interesting mechanic wherein you place big monsters in choke points to give you enough time to adventure out and destroy the enemy’s spawn points.

Combining that mechanic with the waypoint system provides for a pretty dynamic gameplay, the mastering of which can be the difference between a fun time and a terribly complicated slog.

He and I have the very same peeping outfit.

He and I have the very same peeping outfit.

If you do ever find yourself playing this game I don’t recommend selling anything to 0. A few achievements require you to have 1 of everything for weapons, armor, and accessories. It’s best to just sell down to 1 and keep the last one. As for armor orbs, just buy 4 of the best one and share them between your characters as you switch them in and out. At least until you run out of other things to buy (which will eventually happen).

Dragon Quest Heroes (which I feel like I might have called Monster Hunter at some point in this review) is well worth your money and time. Or at least, it was well worth mine. This genre is not for everyone but if you want to enjoy a light hearted story about heroes against darkness you’ll find it in spades here. Plus the interplay between the characters (and their very pronounced accents) will likely elicit some laughs here and there. I know I’ll never get bored of broken English. If anything is better when it is broken, English would be that thing.

Guess who vapes.

Guess who vapes.

By | 2015-11-15T19:32:30+00:00 November 14th, 2015|Good Things, Reviews|1 Comment

JustTheTip EP.14 ~ VVVVV

VVVVV has to be one of the most inconveniently named video games that I’ve played in a while. I’ve had to copy and paste the name to put it just about anywhere. I get it, kinda, it’s 5 V’s and V is the Roman Numeral for 5. Then I got wondering after I thought this was actually more about what the game featured most. Endless rows of hungry fangs.

VVVVV-2

This game is ruthless. Nearly every inch of the map seems to be covered in spikes or other baddies waiting to destroy you in a single touch. However the game also features a checkpoint system that makes repeated deaths not feel that bad. It’s the same strategy used in Super Meat Boy and it works here just as well. You play a little guy that I don’t think is named. If he is I certainly don’t remember it. The whole game is very simple aesthetically but I don’t see that as a negative. VVVVV features graphical quality and style that is very similar to games on the Atari. Repeating patterns or solid palettes for all the rooms and baddies.

The music is real catchy. I enjoyed the the music from the minute I started up all the way through an hour later. I’ve got zero complaints about that as well. The controls are just as simple and thoughtful as the music and the visuals. You have your directional keys and a simple single jump button. There are also buttons for maps and I believe one of the buttons was for opening the computers but otherwise its all one button.

The challenge is not to overcome the controls but rather to overcome the twitch, pixel perfect, platform challenges.

VVVVV-3

The game occasionally mixes things up on you requiring that you lead another character to safety while simultaneously not dying. It is remarkably frustrating but I didn’t hate it. It’s a mystery how this game ended up in my library. I’m guessing it was another one of those humble bundle deals. Honestly if you can find a copy for under ten dollars I think you’ll get more than your money’s worth. 5 to 7 is a good butter zone.

I put an hour in and it was beginning to look like I nearly finished it. However the challenges are numerous. I wouldn’t recommend anyone try to complete all the achievements. Unless you really hate yourself.

And why do that? I’m sure you are lovely.

By | 2015-12-14T00:12:37+00:00 May 6th, 2015|Good Things, Reviews|Comments Off on JustTheTip EP.14 ~ VVVVV