So, I'm playing B:BC2. Picked it up a few days ago, despite having pre-ordered it, because my game shop forgot to call me and tell me it was in. (*cough*)|
I think it says really, really positive things about a game that's basically a first-person shooter if you sometimes find yourself stopping, in the middle of intense scenes like when you're carefully progressing through a ruined village full of hostiles, because in a lull in the action the NPCs have started having a conversation that's just too interesting to miss.
They just wandered their way through a discussion of sin, absolution, and faith to Haggard confessing to Sarge that he did steal his moisturiser once. He felt guilty, but it also felt so good - he'd never moisturised before, and it really felt nice. Gruff, grizzled Sarge replied: "Good on you, Haggard."
I love the Bad Company games.
Dean (reading item description): "Potion. Restores some health to all allies."|
Dave: "In my day, we called those MegaPotions."
Chas: "And did you quaff them while walking to school uphill both ways in the snow?"
Dave: "Only in FF5."
By the way, if anyone's actually wanting a Dreamwidth invite code, let me know.|
So, in an entertaining inversion, for the past couple of days Chas has been playing Demon's Souls on my PS3, and I've been playing Dragon Age: Origins on his computer.
My Romance Status: I was at the point of occasional kisses with Morrigan, but I was getting frustrated with the fact that she is, essentially, a giant bitch who gets pissy with me every time I'm nice to someone in front of her. And then we met Zevran, who's all friendly and charming and nice and has had such a hard life and he just needs love, and who actually likes you more when you just talk to him for a while, and who doesn't get pissy at you all the time. So my character fell into bed with Zevran almost immediately. So we've spent a lot of time talking, and had really a lot of sex because Zevran likes you slightly more every time you do that, so Zevran totally adores me and eventually, I swear, I WILL convince him that there is more to life than sex and death and THERE WILL BE GAY LOVE.
When I made the case to Chas that it totally wasn't wrong to drop Morrigan like a hot rock after making out with her, because we never actually TALKED about anything to do with Our Relationship because she wouldn't let me, and therefore there were no promises made even implicitly, he agreed that it was okay, but only because it's Morrigan and she's a GIANT BITCH.
I may play the game through again as a jerk, in which case we'll probably get on better, but it just doesn't seem consistent for my current character. Maybe if I play as a mage. Or an elf. Both categories have grounds to be grumpier people.
Apparently it's not that strong in later parts of the game, but the gameplay experience does have one thing I find very cool: if you play as an elf, it can offer grounds for gamers with societal Privilege to empathise more with the experiences of minorities.
Because in the Dragon's Age world, people are racist towards elves, and it seems to be a thing where people who play as an elf are angry and bitter towards the bastards who treated them so shabbily. This could be good for people who wonder why minorities seem so angry about stuff - being able to empathise with it and see that no, it's actually a completely reasonable way to feel.
Of course, this could make playing an elf unpleasant for people who have similar experiences in real life. It could also be cathartic for some. DA:O isn't really pretending that the origins are fun - playing as a city elf could be inherently triggering for some people, too. Games aren't always nice.
Note to self: Posts should be forthcoming on Florence Nightingale and why she deserves to be lauded in part for being such an awesome person with severe disabilities, and also why she's emblematic about how common perceptions of historical figures can be viciously skewed by the kyriarchy; on Demon's Souls and its reception and what it says about games and gamers; on revisionist history and why people are stupid.
Winston Churchill would not allow himself to stand close to the edge of railway platforms, lest he be seized with a suicidal impulse and throw himself in front of a train.|
Knowing this makes me feel much better about the fact that I do the same thing.
Every particular about yourself, no matter how good, or how terrible you feel about it, is something that you share with someone else. What makes each person special and unique is the combination of characteristics that no-one else has shared, the memories and connections they have formed.
This is a big deal to me right now.
Florence Nightingale was plagued with terrible nightmares pretty much every night. This didn't stop her achieving things in life - it doesn't have to stop me.
I'm still playing Demon's Souls really a lot. I discovered a game flaw that resulted in my starting over again, but I don't mind, because my current game is turning out pretty brilliantly. And my fondness for my character build was reinforced last night when I was invaded by a Black Phantom and won handily by the power of my character's versatility.
The invader was heavily armoured behind a tower shield. I met him in a room with only one entrance, a staircase rising from below - it was around where I was when he invaded, and was the place where I could be safe from the line of hostile-to-me crossbowmen nearby and sure I would know where the phantom was coming from.
As he appeared at the stairs, I hit him with a shot of Soul Arrow, a ranged damage spell, then backed off and switched to my sword. He came up, and we fenced briefly - I took one hit that , then dive-rolled past and around him and sprinted down the stairs. I wear light armour so I can move fast, much faster than he could. This gave me a few moments - I cast a miracle to heal, then switched back to spells and cast Warding, a powerful protective spell.
By then he was advancing down the stairs. I dodged past him again and to the upper floor, where we engaged. A slash of my falchion hit him as a powerful blow from his massive sword hit me, but thanks to Warding, he did only light damage. It left me bleeding, but not yet badly wounded.
He started to run, I assume to wait until my Warding spell expired - thirty seconds, perhaps, and I would be weaker again, and my mana could not be infinite. But it was too late for him, and I was too fast. He had made only a couple of steps before I, slashing rapidly at his back, had dispatched the Black Phantom from my realm.
Booyah. For this success I gained White Soul Tendency, a sign that I have achieved an innately good act in vanquishing the black phantom that sought to steal my very soul.
There is stuff I want to do today.|
But I also want to play Demon's Souls. Like, a lot. It calls to me.
Solution: When I have to make myself take a break anyway, for lunch, and am at a convenient stopping place for doing so...
... pass the game over to housemate.Dave. Demon's Souls isn't a great game to play for just a few minutes. If I'm going to let Dave play, in order to feel like I'm being at all fair, and to let him actually try to get somewhere, I ought to let him play for a good long chunk of time.
Which means that I *can't* play for a while, and will instead just have to get stuff done.
I have defeated the first two bosses in the Palace of Boletaria and Stonefang Tunnel. I also made it far enough into the Shrine of Storms to get the Talisman of God, which is pretty awesome - I'm kind of multiclassing it, and can cast two miracles now as well as my two spells. (Other than that, my character is kind of dex-based.)
Gametraders is awesome, really, because they are selling Demon's Souls. The game has no Australian release date and may well never get one. But because PS3 games aren't region-locked, imports work fine.
So they're stocking and selling imports. Basically, Gametraders will sell you good games.
(If you're in Perth, I recommend Gametraders at Carillon Arcade if you can get there. The guy who runs it is incredibly nice, and the shop struggles a bit sometimes despite having good prices and good service and not being one of the Evil Empires. Just don't rely on the Gametraders website to find out what they have in stock, because tragically the website is terrible, and he can't do anything about that, it seems. Call and ask. He's awesome and helpful and makes a policy of stocking good games even if they have to be imported.)
Right, it's a Japanese game. It explains quite a bit, really.|
*looks at collection of PS3 games*
All the good action/RPG games are Japanese.
Except the ones that are French.
And Japanese games have the best music. Western game designers just don't seem to go to the place where you get a seriously good composer to put together an awesome original orchestral score.
They really, really should.
I did just discover a Point Of Annoyance in Demon's Souls. Apparently, with a soul level of all of 13, I was nonetheless high enough level to get invaded by a Black Phantom - one who somehow had massively more hit points and/or armour than I did and was able to hit me with plague *and* poison.
Thereby losing my newly-recovered body.
I knew I was going to die soon, but I wanted the chance to do something in body form....
I'm currently watching Dave get wtfpwned by something that looks like a hybrid of a mindflayer and a medusa in the opening section of the Tower of Latria. (Dave and I have both beaten the first Demon Lord, and gone no further. In his case because after he'd done that I wanted my PS3 back and he stopped playing, in my case because it took me all day today to manage it and then I was about to turn off the game and got attacked and killed by a Black Phantom. The fact that I couldn't actually quit once the Black Phantom turned up was also annoying.)
However, Dave has now given up on killing the medusaflayer, and -
- no, it caught up to him and just whumped him again.
LISTEN FOR THE BELL, DAVE. YOU CAN HEAR IT COMING BY THE BELL.
Tension and reason to be cautious and fearful, this game has it. Which is pretty cool.
So the thing about Demon's Souls is that it's an odd kind of semi-multiplayer game that is very very cool.|
Other players appear in your game, as phantoms - you can't interact at all, BUT you can see them, which can give you tips about what's ahead. You can see them fight, you might see them run into side-passages.
And when they die, they leave behind a bloodstain. Touching the bloodstain lets you see the last few seconds of their life - so you can take a guess at what killed them, and perhaps avoid the same fate yourself.
You can also leave messages for other players, composed from a list of set phrases. The messages show as glowing glyphs on the ground, which subsequent players can read.
If a message was helpful to you, you can Recommend it. A recommendation on a message heals the player who left it, if they're online, and much-recommended messages persist longer in the world than overlooked ones.
Earlier I was playing, and I left a couple of messages around. One of them, a little distance before I got jumped by three skeletons, was: "Beware the enemy's ambush."
I stopped playing for a while earlier, and housemate.Dave is playing. I cooked and ate dinner, then came back to the couch, where I'm watching Dave play. (I was cooking for a while, because Dean is sick, and I cooked her dinner, but I cooked her something somewhat different from what I cooked for me.)
I saw him fight those same skeletons, then call up and Recommend the message - the one I left.
Obviously I'm not playing right now, since Dave is using my game on my PS3, so I don't get healed, but I still find myself having a little moment of squeeful delight that my message was recommended, after being helpful.
And he didn't even know it was my message. It was just a PATENTLY GOOD MESSAGE.
So, according to the Gametraders website, the closest copy of the PS3 game Demon's Souls in one of their stores is in Queensland.|
I wanted the game, so I was thinking of ordering it from Amazon, since PS3 games aren't region-locked.
However, when I stopped in at Gametraders Carillon this afternoon, they not only had it in stock, but they're giving copies of the Artbook and soundtrack for it with the game. (And the soundtrack is really really good, so I'm rather pleased.) And in buying it there I was supporting a nearby shop with a very nice owner.
I was pleasantly surprised by the character customisation options. Your character is supposed to be fully customisable, and here's the thing: it really, really is.
One of the first things you choose is gender. Your choices are Male and Female - but the thing is, what you're ACTUALLY deciding there is more or less "does your character have breasts, because it affects which armour will fit". In the appearance edit, you can alter facial features to be as masculine/feminine as you want. You can go for pure androgyny if you want. You can choose how you look.
Another option is Origin - in this fabled land wherein the story takes place, do you come from North, South, East or West?
If you're from the North, you look extremely Scandinavian. From the South, you look southern African. From the East, Asian. From the West, Caucasian.
And since you have controls for affecting every facial feature really thoroughly (it has a slider to decide the brightness of your character's sclera), I think from there you could replicate the appearance and ethnicity of your choice.
It feels inclusive, to me. I don't know whether other people would be less happy with it, but it at least feels like they tried. (Although the range of available hairstyles is surprisingly limited given the rest.)
As for the gameplay: Well, I've pretty much just gone through the tutorial, so far. Word around the web and in the game store is that it's best described as unforgiving, but in a really cool way.
And the soundtrack is excellent.
Because seriously, Leonardo and Ezio are so gay for each other.|
And yet, this is a meticulously-researched piece of fiction inspired by historical events - the in-game database will tell you the known historical facts about people who appear in the game. Database profiles of characters will tell you things about people's lives that differ wildly from what happens in the game itself, because the database is telling you about the Real World. It's brilliant.
There's some background story happening which involves a seriously hardcore conspiracy taking place across centuries of history - which is also meticulously researched. Thomas Edison is a vindictive asshole. Henry Ford is a vicious anti-Semite. There is betrayal and murder lurking throughout the last millennium.
And meanwhile, Renaissance Italy is beautiful. And the game is rich with detail and options, and with tenets of a philosophy that is almost a marvel in itself.
It is a video game that contains prostitutes, but it's the anti-Grand Theft Auto; the courtesans are your allies, your character addresses them with courtesy and respect. A man murders a prostitute in Venice. Your character hunts him down and kills him in return.
Ezio is a nicer person than Altair. Altair was an arrogant bastard. Ezio is not. Altair did nothing out of altruism; as Ezio you can, if you wish, steal money from the wealthy and throw it to the poor. (But as Ezio, you don't have to steal money at all; you can earn some, and invest your earnings in renovating the Villa Auditore and the town of Monteriggioni, and become wealthy from the visitors this draws, and the return on your investment in local businesses. Early investment in the villa's income is actually incredibly lucrative.)
Like the first Assassin's Creed, AC2 is partly a collecting game. But it's not arbitrary, not even slightly - Ezio has reasons for picking up everything he collects. And he doesn't get by by grudgingly tolerating people with good reason to hate him, Ezio makes friends and helps people.
You can avoid killing a lot of guards you might otherwise have to slaughter with creative distractions. (Up to and including my having bypassed one group of guards by throwing coin on the ground, getting the guards distracted and obstructed by the crowd of people delightedly scrabbling for the money.) Instead of having desperately poor beggars getting in your way and frustrating you, you can get rid of the minstrels who do something similar by throwing them money - where the poor slump against a wall in miserable states, you can throw them money that visibly cheers up their lives - they exclaim happily that it's their lucky day, gather the money, and walk off with heads held high.
I choose to believe they're off to invest in some better clothes and find a job and build themselves better lives.
In Monteriggioni, your investment in the town and the renovation of all its institutions and facilities results in a visible improvement in the cheer and quality of dress of the town's populace, as well.
AC2 just lets you feel like you're making the game world a better place.
And it's just more fun. The side-quests are less repetitive, and they're more optional - the gameplay incentive for doing them is to make money, and you can make money through investing in Monteriggioni and then just collecting your income. The areas you can explore are much bigger, sooner - it comes as a shock every time you come up against a section of the game world that's locked off.
You can have your clothes re-dyed in local colours, just for the hell of it, too.
And the characters, Ezio and the NPCs alike, are all more real, more interesting. Even the character who, at introduction, I felt I was going to hate thoroughly, I started to like almost immediately.
The most challenging sections of the game, so far at least, are the puzzles. Some of them are genuinely challenging to think about and solve. A lot of games that include "puzzle" elements tend to have solutions that are blindingly obvious. At least one of the puzzles in Assassin's Creed II gave me a genuine warm, glowing feeling of achievement for having worked it out.
This is awesome.
Metal Gear Solid 4 is not a fighting game. It is Tactical Espionage Action.|
However, the final boss fight is a fistfight which introduces a set of controls not previously used or encountered throughout the game.
This would be irritating enough were it not also that these controls are incredibly mushy. The correspondence between buttons used and actions taken by the character seems weak. The results I get from a certain set of actions seem inconsistent.
I am currently losing my sixth attempt at this fight on this run through on the second-easiest difficulty setting; I beat this fight first try on my last run through, which was on a harder setting.
I know that hand-to-hand combat can be done well, because I was playing Batman: Arkham Asylum recently, and the feel of the fighting in that is exact - if I lose the fight, it doesn't feel like it's because the controls just don't work, it feels like I got it wrong.
Otherwise I really enjoy this game, but at the moment, it's just annoying me.
So it turns out that reeeaaally late at night, after I went to bed, until *10am* before he could put it in the fridge, Chas stayed up and baked a cake for my birthday, which he then HID in the fridge (hiding the box behind cheese and yoghurt and stuff), and then sneakily iced it while our friend Oliver was here to distract me with chat while Chas was in the kitchen an otherwise-suspiciously long time.|
So there was SURPRISE CAKE! Because my official Birthday Deliciousness is chocolate mousse.
Then Olly left, and we all chilled for a bit before loading Band Hero. Four instruments, four people in the house - for the couple of songs before dinner was ready, I was on guitar, Chas on drums, Dave on bass and Dean was rocking the mic.
By "rocking" I mean that the rest of us were playing on difficulties from "beginner" to "easy" and Dean was singing Expert and scored better than us. *cough*
It's mah birfday!|
Not a big deal to most people, but you know, I've had a hell of a year so I'm trying to feel special about it and look optimistically at being 29.
I bought myself a present - Band Hero! I wanted drums, because part of what's letting me down with my attempts to learn (real) guitar is my sense of rhythm. This will help, and will Make Learning Fun.
(I'm kind of terrible at it. To check whether we had screen lag letting us down, Dean tried it out. It did turn out that we had a 3ms audio lag.)
It came with Guitar Hero: World Tour and I bought Guitar Hero: Metallica. (What I want to come out: Band Hero: Queen. FOR REALS.)
Obviously it also has potential for having fun with others, but I find it's best not to rely on other people's joining in for prospective joy in something - free time and inclinations may not align as you might hope. Whereas I have good feelings about it helping me with my ability to pick up rhythm and to translate rhythm in movement.
I'm also making sure to keep practicing with my real guitar, because I have no illusions that Guitar Hero will somehow make my ability to play a genuine instrument improve. (And, hey, I have a genuine Gibson Les Paul Studio less than ten feet away from me right now that I own and that is beautiful, feels good to hold and play, and that I went through quite a lot of trouble to restring recently. Why wouldn't I play it?)
More Metal Gear Solid 4.|
So there's this scene where you come across a soldier weeing into a river. I stealthed up to him, and, just as he zipped up, pointed a gun at him. Snake growled, "Freeze!" and the soldier dropped his gun and put his hands up.
I nicked his gun and then, for fear he might raise the alarm otherwise, shot him with a tranq. He fell unconscious.
All well and good so far, fortunes of war, that kind of thing. And we were still doing okay when I searched his body for anything else useful.
But the way Snake searches bodies is to pick them up and then drop them. And this guy landed in a crazy pose - feet braced up on the fence, arms sprawled to the side... It's hard to describe but I found it amusing.
So, I said to Chas, who was watching me play and was also entertained by his unusual pose, "Man, that's practically art." Whereupon I switched guns and put a bullet in his head. "Now I have to make sure he doesn't wake up and ruin it."
A pause, as Chas splutters faintly.
Me: "That was slightly serial killerish, wasn't it?"
I think I've been spending too much time in Arkham Asylum lately.
So, yesterday I bought, and started playing, Batman: Arkham Asylum.|
In the game, the website for Arkham Asylum is mentioned. www.arkhamcare.com actuallyexists, though - they made the site, and they made it, actually, very cool.
Along with Gotham City Municipal, which even has really well done resident comments on the news articles. One comment is from someone saying that they know more about the Blackgate fire, and e-mail them for details... I tried the e-mail address, I got a long e-mail response including a link to an FTP site where "she" put all her evidence, with the username and password to access it.
It's just so... comprehensive. And cool.
The game itself is also really good, but you know, I expected that.
I'm playing Metal Gear Solid 4. Currently in Act 2, replaying a bit because I forgot this game doesn't autosave. (Fortunately, I didn't lose *that* much progress.)|
I really have been enjoying this game, mind you. Partly because it does actually reward exploring, and even creative thinking - for example, I worked out that it can be extremely effective to use the Metal Gear Mk II as a diversion. When guards are looking for Snake, unstealth it for a moment in a different direction, let the guards spot it - then restealth, but they'll go looking thataway for the robot, and will be drawn away from Snake.
Also in my current play rotation:
- Assassin's Creed II
This game is also brilliant. Better than the first game, which I also enjoyed - they've improved the mechanics for a lot of gameplay elements. This doesn't necessarily make them *easier*, mind you. For example, blending; instead of finding a group of scholars (who you'll have had to rescue previously in a big old combat, rather than being able to be all sneaky and stealthy all the time), joining them, and autopiloting their pre-ordained path, to blend now, you mingle with a group of citizens. And if they're moving, you have to move carefully with them, rather than going with them automatically.
It's both harder for the specific task and easier for general gameplay capacity and totally more awesome.
- Lego Batman
A little frustrating at a couple of places, but mostly those are when the game crashes - it's both the simplest game I've played on the PS3 and the buggiest. It's fun, though, and sometimes genuinely amusing with the story clips.
Another reason Scribblenauts is kind of awesome: The conversations you end up having.|
"I accidentally summoned the Egyptian god Ra once. I meant to summon a ram but I accidentally got Ra. Unfortunately the farmer beat him up and he exploded."
"Pegasus is much more manoeuverable than a helicopter."
"Hey, dragon worked. Thanks! He was more aggressive than the superhero, I guess."
"Dragons are like that."
"Setting fire to things is a lot of fun, I've got a long way with that."
Some things could also be misinterpreted.
So, in Scribblenauts?|
If you write "teleporter", you get one.
But if you step on it, you go to a strange holding chamber. With a bunch of other little mans.
I think you need to make two, but I haven't tried that yet.
I find it completely awesome that there is a setup for what happens if you only have one teleporter and step on that.
ETA: No, two doesn't work - that time I ended up on a mysterious alien world.
Concepts I am impressed Scribblenauts can handle:
Also, it has fan (tool) AND fan (human). I haven't found a useful purpose for the human fan, but hey, it's there.
I have yet to use a "bomb" without blowing up my little man, though.
ETA2: You know what other term I recommend in Scribblenauts? "time machine"
I just finished Half-Life 2. For bandwidth quota reasons, I can't download/install Episode 1 for three more days, which is probably for the best, given I have an exam on Friday and all.|
I originally got Half-Life 2 (well, the Orange Box) because playing Left 4 Dead - initially on Chas's computer/Steam account - had given me a taste for FPS (first person shooter) games. Before, I hadn't ever got into them. But first I was lured by killing zombies, and then I just liked it.
So I bought Left 4 Dead and the Orange Box on Steam. The Orange Box was a fairly easy decision, because, you see, the Orange Box contains Portal, and I love Portal, and I wanted at last to own it. Portal on its own was $20; the Orange Box was $30, and would also give me Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2 Episodes 1 and 2, and Team Fortress 2 (which I will probably never, ever play, because I don't really want to or care, but the rest of the Orange Box was worth the price - and it being Steam, it's not like there was even wasted media involved, because it's just sitting on my Steam list of undownloaded, uninstalled games).
I also bought Plants Vs Zombies and Crayon Physics Deluxe, but those are for another review.
What I expected of Half-Life 2 was a good FPS that had a plot and a physics engine. Which it is.
What I didn't expect is that it would quite as much fun as it was. See, the thing is, my previous experience with FPSes - L4D included - is that they're reasonably mindless bad-guy-shooting... which can be entertaining, and a good way to burn off stress, but all it is from there is more of that. Different numbers of bad guys, from different places, but... you shoot stuff, that's it.
Whereas Half-Life 2 has puzzles to solve. It was an awesome feeling when I had to look carefully at what was around me to find a solution to an obstacle of some kind. And the combat is incredibly varied - different battles involve different tactical choices, using cover is a genuine necessity, the different weapons have uses rather than just being out-of-ammo backups for your One Good Weapon. In different sections you have different *ways* of fighting available, and what works in some places doesn't work in others... it's just really really cool.
I now intend:
- to buy and play the original Half-Life
- to install and play the episodes
- to play through Half-Life 2 again on a higher difficulty setting, and take the gnome with me
- to find out what the hell is going on and why there are vortigaunts everywhere
But that's all for after my exam. Because I have an exam on Friday, and I want to finish this unit as strongly as I was going before Everything Fell Apart; thereafter I have to keep up with this semester (expected to be easier than last semester, because I'm not doing a 12-point history unit and therefore don't have several hundred pages of reading to do every week), and, uh, finish my essays from last semester. (Hooray for Special Consideration.)
Current Music: Dean cooking
Current Mood: tense
Things I am doing tonight include: Installing Assassin's Creed on my laptop. Because sometimes, you're just in the mood to kill people, y'know?|
I'm a couple of days behind on reading LiveJournal again. Mostly because yesterday was Thursday, which (until after next week, when it becomes Wednesday) means psych appointments, which means total emotional fragility for me for a couple of days. (Which didn't mesh flawlessly with my getting very annoyed this evening, but fortunately I really am getting a lot better and anger did not become hideous depressive crash.)
The point remains, my friends list can be a bit saddening, which causes problems.
*after playing Assassin's Creed a bit*
You know what the biggest flaw in this game is?
Long, unskippable cutscenes. And I've been playing for aaaages and I'm still doing the plot setup section.
Current Location: Destiny; kitchen table