Sunday, September 24, 2017

SC on Metroid: Samus Returns (3DS)

They took the word "finally" off the end of the title.

One of the highlights of this past E3 was Nintendo's seemingly out-of-nowhere announcement of Metroid Prime 4.  It was just a title graphic, but it did a lot to revive some ounce of faith in Nintendo not letting their non-Mario or Zelda franchises waste away.  I was particularly excited about this because, though I haven't articulated this much in my videos (since Nintendo copyright flags my references to it), I'm a big fan of the Metroid games.  Metroid was the first game I played on the NES that wasn't Mario Bros./Duck Hunt, and I got hooked quickly.  I also sunk more hours than I can count into Metroid II: Return of Samus on the Game Boy and my copy of Super Metroid is still in good condition, box and all.

So you can imagine how I reacted, after already losing my shit over the Prime 4 announcement, when Nintendo's Treehouse segment started with the reveal of Metroid: Samus Returns.  I thought for sure I was daydreaming.  Two Metroid game announcements in a single E3?  And one's getting extra special amiibo?  Fuck going to a convention, I'm stocking up on Metroid gear!

The one thing that gave me pause about it was the developer, Mercury Steam.

One of those "Wait, what?" moments.

Mercury Steam's reputation to the gaming public was heavily marred in the eyes of many.  Their most high-profile games to that point were Clive Barker's Jericho, which was meh, and the Castlevania: Lords of Shadow games.  The first one was generally received well despite some shortcomings, but the second one was panned to the point that it lingered with Mercury Steam like a fart in a blanket fort.

Once they were revealed as the developers, my friend Unreal and I were going back and forth about this on the RiverCityGamers podcast and privately.  At some point we both agreed that we hoped Mercury Steam would "pull a Double Helix."

Double Helix Games was a punchline for their work on middling or bad titles like Silent Hill: Homecoming and the Battleship tie-in game.  Then they worked on the first season of Killer Instinct and the newest Strider game and were seen in a much better light.  That was the hope we had after seeing the announcement and the gameplay demos which followed.

That being said, Mercury Steam pulled a Double Helix.

And there was much rejoicing.

Good thing they did, too.  I spent a couple hours driving to a store to make sure I got the special edition.  Just saying, it probably helped that they were working closely with a company hellbent on getting first-party titles right (lately, at least) like Nintendo instead of Konami, which was approaching the height of its "I don't give a fuck" attitude toward video games at the time.

Samus Returns may be advertised as a "reimagining" of Metroid II, but that's only part of what it actually is.  It has the same general sequence of events from the gamehunting down Metroids, getting the lava levels to drop to explore more areas, etc.but it also borrows elements from other games in the series, namely Super Metroid; things like Super Missiles, the Grapple Beam, and Power Bombs are present.  It borrows the idea of unique animations for kills on some encounters like Other M had and also adds things that aren't in any Metroid games, namely the Aeion abilities and some new boss encounters, effectively making it a quasi-new experience.

Not that one, thankfully.

Control-wise, there is a slight learning curve to Samus Returns.  Holding the R button to use Missiles, Super Missiles and such takes some getting used to for someone like me, who's been conditioned by games like Super Metroid to just press a button to switch to them.  However, it didn't take more than a half-hour after getting Missiles for me to make the adjustment.  By the time I was a couple hours in, I wasn't even thinking about it.  Even hopping around walls and onto ceilings with the Spider/Spring Ball for some more complicated puzzles wasn't an issue.  Even the melee counter, a key feature for dealing with boss or miniboss encounters and another way to handle regular enemies, works well.

Samus' movement controls are modeled to take full advantage of the platform it's on, and maybe a little common sense about what she might be capable of.  Rather than being locked to eight directions all the time, she can aim in eight directions while moving or absolutely anywhere by holding L and aiming manually.  Ledge grabbing makes navigation easier, as does being able to aim and fire in most directions while hanging from a ledge.  From this position Samus can jump off, hoist up, drop off, or climb up while rolling into a ball.  The one thing that I can say is nerfed about her movement is wall-jumping, which can't be abused the way it is in games like Super Metroid but is still simple to pull off.

Among my memories of it, one of the things I distinctly remember about Metroid II was getting lost thanks to the lack of an in-game map.  Samus Returns not only rectifies this by having one, but makes it so you can add multi-colored pins to the map for things you might have to come back for later.  It's minor, but still handy for marking passages or items not otherwise explicitly shown on the map.  The one thing that could make it better would be adding captions to said pins.

Met Raid: Sam Is Return is good goode.

Having to go back to a previous state, either due to a severe fuck up or just plain missing something you might want or need, is simple as the game allows you to load previous checkpoints or saves at any time.  In terms of the user interface and controls, Samus Returns is made about as versatile and accessible as possible.  It clearly has a modern audience in mind, but throws in more than enough nostalgia and adherence to the original Metroid II to keep old schoolers happy.

The environments are well done in their own right.  While the Game Boy original largely had flat black backgrounds, here every area has unique backgrounds to each area and areas within those areas.  I'd frequently glance at the background and see machinery moving or collapsing, alien lifeforms resting or moving along the walls, or storm cells on the not-so-friendly surface of the planet.

This is complemented by a soundtrack which borrows elements from a few different Metroid games, namely a couple tunes heavily inspired by Super Metroid's soundtrack, and even borrows a few sound effects from it.  The songs range from haunting to energizing and almost always work well with each action and environment, save for maybe the first part of the credits roll.  When the theme for the surface of SR388 started up, I was locked in.

Me, shortly after hearing the Brinstar "Red Soil Wetland" music.

Enemy variety is a little lacking in some parts, with a couple particular ones getting palette-swapped and given slightly different abilities.  I'm talking about common enemies, not the various Metroid mutations you hunt throughout the game.  That said, it didn't bother me in the slightest as Metroid II had the same issue.  Not excusing it, just saying it's a common thread.

Boss encounters are challenging at first, but still generally simple to figure out what to do to beat them.  That's only half of it, however, as most fights in this game require equal parts strategy and proper execution of said strategy.  The Queen Metroid and the Diggernaut in particular have a heavy emphasis on execution.

I've completed the game once (in about 10 hours) and am going back to 100% the game, since each area has several sections with items you can't reach without power ups from the later stages.  This is made less of a chore by the teleportation stations scattered around the map, which can send Samus from one end of an area to another or to another area entirely.  I, for one, welcome this as a way to take the tedium out of backtracking for completion's sake.

There's another reason I'm doing this, which is the Chozo Memories gallery, somewhat similar to what Prime offered but in a different format.  Tied to item completion, it shows images of the Chozo civilization before it completely fell to shit, which are divided into four parts, each unlocking separately based on your progress.  I'm a sucker for lore stuff like this so I'm anxious to find out for myself what all of them are.  It's a nice incentive to not just drop the game after getting through it once.

Me, going over the Bloody Roar manga again.

I can't speak much for amiibo compatibility, though I did use my Samus Smash Bros. amiibo on it just to see what it did.  Doing so gave an extra missile reserve tank and a concept art gallery (about 35 images) after beating the game.  Other amiibos have the similar effect of unlocking items, but also grant things like a sound test option, Metroid II art for the gallery, the Fusion suit, and a "Metroid marker" of sorts for the map.

Metroid: Samus Returns is exactly what I hoped it would be.  It's a great take on a classic formula with some new tidbits thrown in that make it a unique experience from its source material.  It sucks Another Metroid 2 Remake got taken down, but it's nice to see that it wasn't in vain considering how well the official game turned out.  Despite my concerns, leading up to its release I was hoping I'd be able to say what I'm about to say, and now I can finally say it.

Good job, Mercury Steam.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

SC On Resident Evil 6 (PS3)

The Insidious Sixth.

 There's quite a story involving myself and this game.  I avoided it initially because I was highly skeptical of what I'd seen and heard about the game.  I didn't touch it until early August of 2013 when I rented it from GameFly and started playing Leon's campaign.

I became so frustrated and disappointed with what I played in the first two chapters alone that I stopped playing it entirely.  I didn't return it because I kept telling myself 'I'll just give myself a couple days to calm down and go back into it.  I will see this game through to the end."

That was two years ago.  I didn't play the game again until fellow RiverCityGamers member WellUnreal007 played through every campaign with me via co-op in mid-to-late August.

Let's make this perfectly clear right away: Resident Evil 6 is the game that reminded me what hatred feels like.  I hate this game.  I hate so much of this game that I won't even consider getting it for collection's sake.  Resident Evil 6 gave me a new level of appreciation for Resident Evil 5, which I was largely indifferent to and gave up on after about half an hour.

I will say a few positive things about the game, though.  Mercenaries is still fun, even if the unlockables and playable characters initially available don't all make sense (coughAgentbut notAdacough).  Movement is relatively fluid, being able to pick up items on the run is great, and being able to dive back, lay on the ground and fire as well as do melee attacks is a nice addition, in particular for Mercenaries.

What follows is not any kind of in-depth, structured, organized review as much as it is a list of grievances and rants for why I hate this game so much.  Some of these are things I made notes on from way back when I first started playing the game, but most are from my sessions with Unreal.

Note: I played every campaign on the Normal difficulty without infinite ammo or such cheats active.

"Until you can pin me, Resident Evil 6 is not over."

There are so many poor and/or disorganized design choices that even starting up the game is awkward.  The game loads a screen which is essentially the title screen without the title and prompts the player to push a button.  Then it goes through the loading screens, then it goes to the intro to the title screen, then the title screen, then it goes to the menu.  This kind of Chinese fire drill shit is almost as bad as the autosave clusterfuck in Tony Hawk Ride.

Also, the overdramatic "I'm Not Inception" orchestral menu music never.  Fucking.  Stops.  That's not to say the game itself doesn't also have a shit ton of overdramatic orchestral music.  The music itself is fine, but for the most part it's grossly misused, playing way too often or at really awkward times.  Opening a door to an empty room?  STRIKE UP THE BAND!

Going back into the game was a struggle because I didn't remember all the controls.  The game was no help with this because the controls section of the options menu doesn't show the controls, just some options to switch around a few things like inverted aiming and the reload and fire buttons.

There were so many fucking item drops in this game that I never ran out of ammo for any weapons and I never found myself short on healing items.  In fact, I had the opposite problem; I was overloaded with ammo and grenades and mixed herbs, the last of which I couldn't use because I was maxed out on tablets.  This can be made even worse by equipping perks (who the fuck thought Resident Evil needed this?) to make even more items drop, on top of doing things like boosting defense, boosting different attacks, etc.

The prologue, aside from not matching up with what happens to Leon at the end of the campaign, was a harbinger of things to come that would piss me off; being unable to walk in any direction but forward while carrying Helena, being able to kill everything by spamming Leon's kicks, invisible walls forcing Leon to jump over a particular railing, and FIFTEEN QUICK-TIME EVENTS.  Yes, I counted.

Speaking of quick-time events, they are so poorly implemented in this game that I wound up dying a number of times because there was so little time to react to the button prompts.  It didn't help that some of these were stacked in succession (e.g. Ada with the chainsaw monster).  Because of the QTE setup for getting grabbed by enemies, I had a low-health Leon get grabbed in a single frame and then disabled before the enemy could do anything.  It looked like Leon was near death because he sucks at playing tag.  And why, when being grabbed by an enemy, would you have a QTE where you're supposed to wait for the right time to hit R1?  I'm getting hit as I'm playing light stopper in this asinine QTE.

On a related note, a monster with a bio-chainsaw-arm thing?  Fuck off.  That's just stupid.  This will become a pattern, but most of the big bad threatening monsters in this game are so overblown and so (for lack of a better term) fanfiction-esque that I just laughed at them, then got annoyed at them for coming back again and again and again and again, across multiple campaigns no less, only for them to die from things way less impactful than what they went through earlier.  It's the Fingerpoke of Doom in Resident Evil form.

That awkward moment when Nash and Hogan act out
most of RE6's boss fights.

Speaking of, cross play (being able to jump in at points where characters from different campaigns cross paths) is an okay idea, but the implementation is pretty poor.  AngelHalo would jump in when this happened and he basically had to act as a minute man, keeping his game on and ready to jump in at a moment's notice.  On more than one occasion it flat-out didn't work and he couldn't join us.

Leon's campaign has a couple places with decent atmosphere like the subway tunnels and (sometimes) in the streets early on, but it's repeatedly undermined in various ways throughout the game, namely by music choice or the horrible dialogue.

The beginning of his campaign is also excessively on rails.  You can't run, pause the game, or access the item menu initially.  The guy you find says "It's locked, but I work here" for every single door Leon and Helene encounter which they can't open before he opens it, and he doesn't open it until a bunch of predetermined pathing and dialogue take place.  This guy has no reason to exist other than to try and create tension and die in the elevator.

On a similar note, it's easy to tell who lives for any significant length of time and who doesn't.  If their character models look like they're last gen or worse in quality, they're dead.  If the character doesn't even get a first or last name, they're dead.  Resident Evil 6 seemingly only bothered to make things the player would directly look at for more than ten seconds look decent.  Other survivors look like they came straight out of an early Gamecube game and it's really easy to tell which ones will come back as zombies and which won't; the ones that don't revive have absolutely no wounds anywhere on their bodies.  Background vehicles, especially in the helicopter sequence with Ada, look like empty box-shaped husks of what were supposed to be abandoned cars.  Framed pictures on desks and walls are horrifically pixelated and what's supposed to be a breaking news story on a television is a JPEG image of a news caster whose mouth has been cropped at the lips and moves up and down like a ventriloquist dummy, out of sync with the dialogue.  The average Newgrounds flash animation has more effort put into it than this.

Also, every goddamn playable character in this game (except Piers and Sherry most of the time) has to make some kind of action movie-esque quip for damn near everything.  If they're not going to take what's going on seriously, why the hell should I?  Then again the characters are all so poorly written, going from one-liners to brooding assholes back and forth so fast they get whiplash, I thought the big plot twist would be that most of them were schizophrenic the whole time.

Leon, for example, has this recurring idea of him trying to save too many people and ending up not saving anyone, which gets dropped and not mentioned for long periods of time and/or undermined by dumb bullshit.  The first time this shows up is when Leon and Helena see some guys on a security monitor holding up signs and calling for help.  They proceed to stare at these guys long enough for them to get overwhelmed by zombies, and ONLY THEN does Leon move away from the monitor to possibly do something.  Later on he and Helena get to a chapel full of survivors waiting for help and Leon doesn't seem to give a shit about any of them until a B.O.W. shows up and kills all of them.  Even later on they hole up in a gun shop where, again, Leon proceeds to not care about anyone until after they're dead.  This is a big difference from me, because I didn't care about these people before or after they died.  Most of them can barely get out a sentence of dialogue before dying.  Yeah, that guy I saw for twelve seconds and didn't really know dying really shook me up.  I've had burritos more emotionally involving than these random nothings.

There are also little scripted scenes in which Leon tries to, say, help a guy out from a car or motorcycle crash in the middle of the street, and the guy almost immediately dies because of an explosion or another vehicle crashing into the pile.  In one scene moving toward a group of survivors got me killed because an ambulance came out of nowhere and sideswiped me.

How scripted is Resident Evil 6?  After a motorcycle and ambulance crash on one side of the road, flaming cars magically appear on the opposite side and block my path, forcing me to continue following the straight line of the campaign.  Note that there's a button you can press which will bring up a beacon pointing to exactly where you're supposed to go if you get to an area that isn't a hallway.  Also a dozen zombies appeared, even though I went through the whole area and killed everything and nothing had spawned for a minute or two.

Thanks, game.  Not only is there a "where do I go?" beacon, but you even have on-screen indicators for where to find keys to unlock doors.  Why bother telling me to search for a key(s) if you're just going to tell me exactly where they all are?  There aren't even that many places to look in the first place!

Hey, remember how zombies were threatening in the earlier Resident Evils because they showed up a lot in tight spaces or effectively blocked off where the player needed to go?  Because I don't think the developers remembered that.  Most encounters can either be easily avoided or one-button melee prompted into submission.

The melee prompts are just plain dumb too.  Some are alright, but for some reason every character has a bunch of pro wrestling moves as their melee prompts.  Yes, moves that tend to hurt the person doing the move as much or more than the person taking it.  I would be one thing if they were doing the moves deliberately wrong so a zombie would land on its head, but they don't.  Leon german suplexes a zombie on concrete in a way that should easily bruise or chip multiple vertebrae in his back.  Even worse, I saw Helene kill a zombie with a tilt-a-whirl arm drag, a move so effective in pro wrestling that nobody pretends to be hurt by it.  It would be more believable for me to kill the zombie by punching the TV screen.

Helena says "Oh God!" In reaction to a grate falling from the ceiling and making a loud noise.  The catch is she does so a good four to five seconds after it happens.  How do you fuck this up?

Helena also does weird shit regardless of whether she's controlled by another player or the AI.  I've seen her warp at light speed through doors, spins rapidly in a circle right before a cutscene triggers, and have her character model lock up while turning a crank, at which point the crank spun super fast through her face.  At one point she sprinted off-screen while I was kicking zombies and I noticed some were falling over for no apparent reason.  Helena, located about 40 meters away in an alley, was shooting through a building and several cars and hitting the zombies I was fighting.

I get that zombies aren't smart, but when I'm standing 10 feet away from a zombie that's looking directly at me and it doesn't react at all to my presence something is wrong.  Something similar happened with a whole swarm of zombies about 15 feet away from me in a later section.  Even worse, one zombie I shot turned around, ran away, then attacked another zombie!

Too stealthy!
How scripted is Resident Evil 6?  At one point Leon's flashlight stops working right before he's supposed to go through a dark area.  I backed up a few steps and his light came back on.  Stepped forward again, it turned off.  Backed up again, it turned on.  Either Leon or his flashlight is a melodramatic douchebag.

Why in the hell does choking down a health tablet near your partner heal them?  It makes sense with the first-aid spray but this?

The over-dramatic bullshit that goes on in this game really exposed some of the voice actors.  Hunnigan in particular, a character who's had zero range of emotion in games and films prior to this, sounds really awkward when she has to show any sort of emotion beyond dryly spouting exposition.

At some point there was a sequence in which I jumped off a bus and a car almost instantly went from zero to sixty in reverse.  There are no words for how bad this looked.

About those QTEs?  I was initially keeping count of them but I stopped after 22.  I didn't even finish Leon's first chapter and I was up to 22.

Chapter 2 of Leon's campaign starts as a result of the driver being a fucking moron and deliberately running over a zombie, which caused the bus to spin off the road and crash.  It then begins with Leon and Helena on their backs on the bus floor being "attacked" by zombies which are hovering a foot-and-a-half off above the ground and not really making an effort to go after either protagonist.

At this point Helena's AI took a nosedive.  Helena not only blocked a grenade I was throwing which blew up in my face and led to me dying, at one point I was downed and near death, which Helena responded to by running away and letting me die.

This whole time Leon keeps asking Helena what's going on with her and she keeps saying "I'll explain when we get to the cathedral."  They get to the cathedral, get to the basement of the cathedral, get even further below the cathedral and she still didn't explain anything until she almost got herself and Leon killed.  At this point I'm struggling to find a likable character.

Oh, I didn't even mention any of the story so far.  This whole thing starts with the President of the United States dying before he's about to speak at a university.  He was about to go public about what happened with Raccoon City and, rather than do this at the White House or any other highly-secured location, he decides to do this at a college where someone causes a viral outbreak which kills him and thousands of other people.  This President not only was completely ignorant to how much danger he willfully put himself in, but he told enough people what he was going to do that word spread to the wrong people and they were able to plan this outbreak.  People are dumb in this game.

You know game, if you wanted me to sympathize with Helena you shouldn't have had her be manipulative up until finding her mutated monster sister, then have her be a dumbass by repeatedly trying to negotiate with the mutated monster sister.

I got hit by zombies through a door, but I couldn't shoot through the gaps in the door to hit them.

There's a boss fight in the cathedral in which absolutely nothing was happening, but Leon got thrown backwards and took two dots of damage.  Before you say it, it wasn't the gas attack and I wasn't playing online at the time.

There is no time table for how long it takes zombies (or anything else for that matter) to reanimate.  Some people don't reanimate for hours or even days, and some reanimate in less than a minute.  This gets even worse with Chris' campaign wherein some people reanimate as fully-mutated monsters in about ten seconds and some never reanimate at all.  Oh, did I mention that all the notes to this point were largely just on things I jotted down during Leon's campaign?

May or may not be a monster in RE6.
The "main bad guy" is a defense secretary named Simmons.  If he wasn't the main bad guy I would have forgotten he existed because this guy is one of the most bland antagonists I've encountered in awhile.  He dresses all in white with one of those neck things that makes him look like a young Colonel Sanders about to give everyone a bucket of fried chicken.  And of course, this guy puts himself in the middle of a massive outbreak where he ends up getting infected by Not Ada.

Speaking of, there's a plotline that there are two Adas, one of which is a clone.  The motivations of the clone are never explained as she goes after both the protagonists and the antagonists (including one flashback wherein she kills Chris' squad) for no apparent reason except to maybe cause confusion over what the real Ada is doing.  Nobody catches on to the fact that the Adas are dressed completely differently (blue dress and red scarf vs. black leather pants and red jacket) even after seeing them mere seconds apart.

The prologue, which is supposed to be set later in Leon's campaign, doesn't match what happens when Leon and Helena finally get to that point.  Also, why did Helena try to stop the dead pilot from falling out of the helicopter?  All it did was get her grabbed by a conveniently-just-reanimated zombie and set up more goddamn QTEs. People are dumb in this game.

The gas which turns people into zombies is very selective about where it goes, unless you're telling me that vehicles in this game, like the hummer Leon and Helena ride in through the gas, is completely air tight.  Also, the gas just stops spreading at a certain point and forms another "keep following the one path forward" wall.
The final boss in Leon's campaign is a neverending pissing contest between the game designers, seeing who can make the biggest and most ridiculous boss monster.  First off, the boss monster is Simmons.  Second, Simmons' infected form looks like the monsters from Alone in the Dark.  Third, Simmons becomes a big monster, a big monster that becomes horse-like and runs alongside a train Leon and Helena are on, which was so goofy I wound up dying because I was laughing over one of those ridiculously short instant-death QTE, a larger monster which shoots what appear to be white Cheetos, a dinosaur which rips off animations from Deviljho in the Monster Hunter series (remember to recycle, everyone), an even bigger monster with long limbs for a building climbing and skywalk fight segment, a huge insect-like monster which can only be killed by getting it to absorb zombies impaled with lightning rods and having lightning strike the monster, and then just a giant insect.  The game simply doesn't know when to stop with this bullshit and I was begging for the game to end by the skywalk fight.

During some of these fights Simmons will mutate back into his Alone in the Dark form where he's vulnerable to a one-button prompt where he gets mounted and punched in the face MMA style before mutating back into his giant monster form.  Thanks for ensuring I can't take any of these fights seriously by making Simmons a fucking Transformer, and for breaking the law of conservation of mass over your knee even more than RE5 did.

These bosses typically end with Simmons not dying despite getting blown up, falling off buildings, burning horrifically, or all of the above.  As such it's anticlimactic that he's killed just by getting impaled on a statue.  Then I told this game to go fuck itself when Simmons bled out and it formed the Umbrella logo beneath him.  Get it?  Because Umbrella started all this shit and there's now a company called NeoUmbrella?  Get it?!  DO YOU GET IT?!

Chris' campaign pissed me off more than all of the others, and it's not because it's the least Resident Evil-like of all of them.  It starts with Chris getting drunk in a bar because he lost all of his squad, because that's never ever happened to him in the history of Resident Evil.  Even then he didn't lose all of the squad because we see in a cutscene later that Piers Nivans (If there was ever a name for a guy I'd want to punch in the face repeatedly, it's Piers Nivans) was in the squad and saved Chris from dying, even though the last time we see them Piers is trying to drag an incapacitated and jibbering wreck named Chris while shooting at a group of monsters that are clearly going to catch them.  I guess one of them had a deus ex machina grenade to get out of that bind.  Beyond that Chris apparently never tries to go after Not Ada

Piers is eating a steak in the seedy-looking bar (this shithole serves steak?) when he confronts Chris in the bar and forces him to face his past, which Chris has somehow forgotten.  Piers then says they're bringing him back into the fold with the BSAA and everyone in the bar, all BSAA members, stands up.  This is the kind of cliche bullshit I'd expect if someone made a BSAA-based anime, but here it just made me groan and regret not returning the game after finishing Leon's campaign.

So Chris is back in charge of a squad.  Yup, the guy with a history of not having squad members survive is back in charge.  Again.  You can probably guess where this goes.

Chris' campaign, and to some degree every campaign in this game, is designed similarly to Red Steel; hallway, area with enemies in it, hallway, checkpoint, repeat.  Yes, I just compared RE6 to Red Steel.

At least this game is a somewhat physical workout instead of
one long headache.
The camera is at its worst in Chris' campaign.  You know what I don't need in a cover shooter? Well, Resident Evil for one thing, but I don't need QTEs and in-game cutscenes that spin my character around so I get disoriented and can't tell which direction I'm facing or where the enemies are relative to me.
How scripted is Resident Evil 6?  Chris has a flashback to when his squad got wiped and, during this flashback, he gets a new gun.  When the game goes back to the present Chris now has that weapon, as well as any other items he got in the flashback.  Did Chris somehow forget he had that stuff with him the whole time?  Also, this is where the dead cocoon people do not hatch at all when the flashback showed them hatching seconds after dying.  Also, why do different monsters hatch from different people that this happens to?  

The main enemies in Chris' campaign can mutate and their weak point is whatever mutation they have.  In other words they were normal-sized people and mutate to get an even bigger weak point.

When Chris' squad members start getting picked off it's usually because they wander away from the group or run off by themselves, which Chris tells them not to do.  People are dumb in this game.  I'm not excluding Chris from that, who said everyone should stick together and then moments later tells everyone to split into three groups.  Oh, and we usually don't even know their names or hear them speak until they're about to die.  Yeah, that's how you engender sympathy for these guys that otherwise look and act like each other and we know nothing about.  10/10.

One of the last squad members with the most lines of the expendable lads sounds like a cartoon police chief.  This did not help at all.

Ghost Yawn.  They took Yawn from the first Resident Evil and made it a pseudo-ghost giant snake with QTEs because of course there are QTEs.  Why does Chris go on the warpath for this thing but not for the other shit that's killing his squad?  And why did they bring back what was a pretty "meh" boss from RE1 which had way more to do with Jill because Richard sacrificed himself to save her from Yawn?  Fuck this game.

This storytelling is bad even by Resident Evil standards.  It does the Pokemon anime thing of creating an almost-subtle message, then spelling out what that message is over and over and over.  Yes, I just compared RE6 to the Pokemon anime.

Piers did nothing but piss me off the majority of the game.  He's one of those uptight military types who's constantly going on about what the mission is and what they're supposed to do.  On top of that, he's the reason Ada escapes when Chris and Leon finally catch her.  Good job, numb nuts.

Before that there was an annoying driving sequence which starts with Piers driving (he says he's the best driver in the BSAA) and Chris on a gun turret, trying to catch Ada and taking out other vehicles with enemies on them.  Then, for no fucking reason, Chris says he's going to drive and Piers goes back to the turret.  Asshole, you just gave Ada a head start because you forced the driver to get out.  This is one of those sequences where making a couple mistakes means failing the whole section and having to start over at the point where Chris thinks he can drive.

Chris and Piers don't even "kill" Not Ada.  Some random assholes in a helicopter shoot her and they just assume she's dead after she falls several feet to the lower part of a ship.
The running sequence right before the final boss is absolutely terrible.  The camera is Sonic 06-like with how much it swings around and changes position, making this sequence harder than it should be.  I couldn't see some obstacles I had to slide under because of this and got killed.  This sequence already has zero margin of error and this makes things even worse.

How scripted is Resident Evil 6?  Even if you nail every move and never stop running, the big monster is scripted to catch up with you at certain phases.  Yup, no matter how well you do at this whole sequence, the monster will catch up to you repeatedly regardless.  I even had moments where Unreal and I did everything right and we still got killed.  Fuck this game.
I have no caption for this.  I just wanted to remind myself of
better Resident Evil games.
 Seeing Chris still try to save Piers after he'd already mutated himself to kill the boss monster was beyond painful to watch; not because it was emotional, but because Chris is such a goddamn idiot.  They don't build any kind of significant relationship between Chris and Piers over the course of the game so by the time this ending sequence happens I was glad to see Chris be rid of this asshole and Chris didn't have enough reason to flip out the way he did, much less convince himself Piers could be cured somehow.

And then Chris goes back to the shithole bar and eats a steak.  Fuck this game and its piss poor attempts at subtext.

Now for Sherry and Jake.  I'll spare you the rant on how Capcom killed off Wesker in the last game, then immediately turned around on it and said "Oh wait, he had a son guys!  Did we mention he had a son?  Because he does!"

I played as Sherry as partial payment to Unreal so he could run around and punch things as Jake.  It's the least I could do.

According to this campaign, Sherry has a mutation as a result of the G-Virus injection from RE2 that gives her Wolverine's healing factor.  Why, then, does this apply to a cutscene where she gets impaled in the back by a large scrap of metal and nowhere else in the game?  Why does she even need healing items?  Oh wait, I'm putting thought into this.  Nevermind, let's go back to the loud dumb game.

Can you tell I'm struggling to keep writing at this point?  I still have half a page of notes to get through and it feels like three pages.

There were QTEs on the helicopter scene which I missed, but the game kept going like I succeeded anyway.  What was the point of that?!

Have I mentioned how many goddamn explosions there are in this game?  There are a ton of explosions across every campaign, but I really noticed it during Sherry's.

That one part where I had to go up an icy slope and getting hit at all would force me to slide all the way back to the bottom was such a crock of shit.

Why is it that when an in-game cutscene happens it switches whatever weapon I'm holding to the stun rod?  This got me damaged later on because the game wouldn't stop switching me from any of my guns to the stun rod.

I was technically player 2 for Sherry's campaign.  This game defaults player 2 to a left-handed camera so it's over the opposite shoulder.  There's a button to switch it to the right-handed view, but the game keeps switching it back after loading screens and some cutscenes.

The running sequences have a Sonic 06 camera angle looking behind the characters at the thing chasing them.  You know what you absolutely shouldn't do with this angle that Resident Evil6 does?  If you said 'have some sequences in a set of narrow twisting hallways where you can't see when or where to turn' you'd be correct!

The snowmobile sequence was miserable.  Why even put these kind of vehicle sequences in the game if you're going to make them ridiculously stiff, have isntant-death chasms that appear and have the characters on them look like they're riding horses and not snowmobiles?
Once they're captured, Jake and Sherry end up getting all their weapons back once they find new clothes in a random set of lockers.  What?

So Simmons' group captured Jake and Sherry so that no one would find the data Sherry had to engineer a vaccine from Jake's blood, but then they proceed to conduct all the research necessary to engineer a vaccine from Jake's blood?  What the fuck?

The final boss fight, which is the same monster machine thing that's been chasing Sherry and Jake the whole campaign, is basically one long QTE.  There's a game called Let's Go Jungle which has QTEs where you and the other player have to hit a button at the same time, including delivering a final shot to the final boss.  RE6 does the same damn thing.  This boss, which has been shot, beaten and blown up with every weapon in the game, set on fire several times, blown up several times and had buildings and cars and other debris crush him and survived all of that, gets done in by a single magnum shot, falls into a seemingly neverending explosion, and THAT kills him.  It's underwhelming to say the least, but also par for the course in Resident Evil 6.

Me after this game's final bosses.

The whole reason Sherry is with Jake is because his blood sample could cure the newest virus that's causing the latest outbreaks.  So of course they end up getting kidnapped and dropped into China, right near where Sherry has to rendezvous with her boss, Simmons!  Again, why the fuck is Simmons right in the middle of the outbreak?  Why does Sherry not get suspicious of this or meeting Leon and having him say point-blank that Simmons is behind everything?  And why does Simmons, knowing that Sherry and Jake will be there and having a vested interest in Jake dying, only have a small firing squad about 30 feet away that doesn't shoot them until Simmons says so, by which point they're already ducking for cover?  People are dumb in this game.
There's a motorcycle sequence in which Jake and Sherry jump out a building and past a helicopter.   Jake did a literal 360 no scope (as in spinning while shooting) on the motorcycle, then the models glitched out and the motorcycle was facing upward, at which point Jake and Sherry rocketed into the sky before the game set them back on the street.  I completely lost my shit.
Jake, as a mercenary, initially asked for millions of dollars for cooperating with Sherry, but in the ending he texts her saying he changed his asking price to $50 before riding off on a motorcycle while wearing sunglasses.  We get it.  You're Wesker's kid and you like emulating Cloud Strife.  Or Shadow the Hedgehog.  Or that guy from Ride to Hell: Retribution.  Or whichever lame "badass" character does that.

Ada's campaign, as the shortest one which was initially designed as a single player experience, is probably the best.  I say probably because Capcom decided to throw in Agent, a faceless, nameless husk of a person as a co-op partner.  He can't open doors, he can't activate switches, he's invisible to the gun turret security cameras and he can't even aim during the helicopter sequences.  When Ada goes through a door, grapples to another location or enters a cutscene he disappears and reappears wherever she ends up.  His dying still results in a game over, though.  He's important enough to hold Ada back but not important enough to otherwise be worth the effort of fully integrating him into the campaign.  Agent just shoots straight ahead and can't hit anything unless it moves into his bullets.  Fuck this game.

This has the same problem with running sequences as Sherry's campaign.  Fuck my life.  And this game.

The part where Not Ada mutates is okay, but again the game can't stay consistent about what can hold back Not Ada, heretofore known as The Blob.  A single door leading into the ship holds her back for a bit, but none of the other structures are capable of holding back The Blob, except for a few other similar doors deep inside the ship?

That explosives are necessary to beat the final incarnation of The Blob is kind of shitty. I mean, I had a shit ton of explosives with me because this game is ridiculous with item drops, but why would you do that?

And that's it.  I'm done.  One last time, fuck this game.  I'd rather play through Escape from Bug Island again than go back to any of this game's campaigns.

Simmons vs. Not Ada

Monday, September 29, 2014

Friday, September 12, 2014

SC on Mighty Gunvolt (3DS)

The gun is good.  The volt is evil.
Well, I wasn't expecting this (blog entry) to be a thing. Mighty Gunvolt, as the name suggests, is a title from Inti Creates, also known as "those people working on Mighty No. 9."  While it won't be commercially available by itself until December, it's being given away for free to two groups of people:

1. People who buy the recently-released Azure Striker Gunvolt, and
2. People who backed Mighty No. 9's Kickstarter.

Mighty Gunvolt plays, sounds and looks like the retro Mega Man games, so I'll try and make clear where it's different.  For example, the translation job on the game is so shoddy I can't tell what's going on.  Take this excerpt from the opening crawl:

The other time, the other place: experiments on humans started by massive media group "Sumeragi" to audition for next "muse" idol.  their magic hand even reached female schools.  Female students vanished, and no new couples formed.  Love was in danger.
"Gunvolt," it's the name who we call the only one to fight them.  It's no accident he was involved in the troubles.  Together with angel "Ekoro" and robot "Beck" he fights to free successivefuly occupied major city facilities.

Mission: Successivefuly.
As the text suggests, there are three different characters to play as which affect the order of the stages slightly.  You can't switch characters as the game goes on, but the game's only five levels long so whatever.

Each character has different abilities that affect how you might approach certain parts of each stage.  Gunvolt can double jump and has a mid-range pillar of sparks he can shoot which can be moved slightly up and down.  Ekoro can hover (think Toadstool in Mario Bros. 2) and charm enemies to fly with her and shoot other enemies, as well as launch them into other enemies.  Beck has a dash attack, which he can also use to enter narrow passages.

There honestly isn't much to say about the levels as they're all pretty basic jump-and-shoot sidescrolling platforming.  As someone who doesn't play a lot of Mega Man I had no problem reaching and beating the end of the game in a single playthrough, much less the two other playthroughs I did afterward.  The one sticking point is being able to defeat the bosses at each level, which comes down to the old newbie Mega Man strategy of sacrificing a life to see what their attack patterns are like.  The bosses do tend to throw out an extra attack when they're low on health, but by then it's too late for them.
The game doesn't run smoothly though, save for when you're playing as Ekoro and try to grab onto a ladder while holding a charge shot; you can get stuck to the ladder doing this.
Overall I'm glad this was just a free game, and allegedly it won't cost very much when it does release by itself.  It's a fun diversion for a half-hour or so but I can't see myself playing it anymore beyond now.

Anyway, once you complete the game you'll see the following text:

In order to prevent a "muse" auditions, "Copen" infiltrated Sumeragi group, to rescue "muse".  But his plans ware shattered by "Zonda" easily defeated him.  "Zonda" would use her, to fill the world with ultimate love.  But "Zonda" was a failure.
What was the true planning of "Zonda?"  With his death, no one may never know.  The first place it is unknown if anything really existed in that world was real.  So, perhaps all "Zonda" has showed may have ben illusion...

Who the fuck is Ben Illusion?


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

SC On Sega Superstars Tennis (Wii)

In the background: characters who were collecting dust before this game.
 This is going to be relatively quick as I didn't have much patience to play beyond what the game initially offered.  As such, don't view this as anything more than an extended impression of sorts.

That being said, I found Mario Tennis on the N64 more enjoyable.

Sega Superstars Tennis doesn't have much to offer in terms of stuff to do.  You can experiment with different characters as there is a decent roster of 16 characters (though 5 of them, almost 1/3 of the roster are Sonic characters).  There are different types of characters with different focuses such as ballspin, speed, power, control, and all around.  The only ones that seemed to make any major difference in how I played were speed and power. 
Each character is also supposed to have a special ability that builds up over the course of a match which can cause the ball to take weird paths through the air and confuse the opponent, as well as having other effects such as the Rokkaku Police running onto the court for Beat's and Gum's specials. The thing is, the computer opponent is never fooled by the weird flight patterns, which make the ball take way more time to get across the court and reduces that would-be strategic move to little more than a novelty.

You can play a singles or a doubles tournament if you like, though at most you'll end up playing three matches and a "special" hidden stage against the Sonic villains before a rather lazy credit sequence plays.  Outside of adjusting the difficulty, that's it for this mode.

I don't wanna work.  I wanna bang on this game all day.

The beef of the game, however, is in a mode called Planet Superstars.  The idea is to jump around different game worlds based on different Sega franchises and completing specific tasks according to the world you enter.  For example, the Puyo Pop Fever world involves completing a game of Puyo Pop by smacking tennis balls at grouped puyos of matching colors.  The House of the Dead "Curien Mansion" world involves hitting zombies with tennis balls as they shamble toward you and/or throw axes.  The Virtua Squad world turns the game into a gallery shooter where you try to take out targets before they "shoot" you.  Space Harrier world is basically Space Harrier... with tennis balls and without the ability to fly.

Those are all well and good except for two things.

One, some of these challenges really expose how strange some of the game's controls are.  Only in singles or doubles matches/tournaments can you pick the control scheme to use, of which there are three (one with the nunchuk, two without).  Most of the time it forces you to play with the Wiimote held like an NES controller, where performing drop shots or lobs involves mashing both buttons at the same time in a certain sequence.  Aiming these is also a chore as sometimes you need to hold a certain direction, then move to a diagonal direction while making the shot.  This is absolutely infuriating to do in places like the Chu Chu Rocket world, where you need to hit a specific tile, sometimes more than once, quickly to not fail the stage.  Thanks for taking the fun out of Chu Chu Rocket, Sega.

The second problem is the more glaring issue, though.  There is zero balance to these worlds.  The Sonic world has a total of 14 missions, easily the most in the game.  Super Monkey Ball and Jet Set Radio have 12.  Virtua Squad, Puyo Pop Fever, Chu Chu Rocket and Space Harrier have 10

Guess how many missions the Space Channel 5, Samba de Amigo, OutRun worlds each have?  Just two each.
NiGHTS isn't much better off with only three missions, though all of them got it better than Golden Axe and Alex Kidd which have just one goddamn mission each.  
 More like Lonely Axe, am I right?
Not only that, but many assets get reused between each world.  For example, Space Channel 5's court is used for the Chu Chu Rocket world, which really pissed me off because Space Channel 5's court legit screws with my eyes.  Because of the mix of dark colors and bright lines I would occasionally lose track of where the ball was or, for overhand smashes, have no idea where the ball was in the air and completely miss the shot.
Oh, and did I mention the game isn't the best programmed thing I've played recently?  In the time I spent playing doubles matches with this game, my character froze for no apparent reason on five separate occasions.
It's a good thing I didn't pay much for this game or I'd be more pissed off.  Until then I'll just continue to sulk about how there are no new Jet Set Radio/Golden Axe/Chu Chu Rocket/OutRun/House of the Dead games coming any time soon.
Although there is Hover: Revolt of Gamers being developed, so that's something.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

SGDQ 2014 Blog: Day 8 (The End Is Near)

The mood was still up, but you could tell some people were starting to get a little down that the marathon was so close to ending.  A lot of people would be heading home after the last part of the marathon, leaving about five hours between the time the marathon finished and checkout Sunday morning.  The parking lot thinned out quite a bit by Sunday afternoon.

On a lighter note though, I managed to catch the entire FF6 run, aside from a few minutes where I stepped out for a bathroom break.  MisterMV has the singing voice of an angel.  Essentia has the singing voice of a fallen angel, though I credit that more to the filter put over her voice.

Meanwhile, the bonus stream would get going later in the day Sunday with the most official of organization methods; paper and pen.  Bonus stream is a lot more laid back, so there's not a ton of pressure involved.  I volunteered a couple of games which might make it on at some point, though I'm trying to defer to anyone who signed up before me.

Until I get back, this will be the final entry in this series of blogs.  I had a great time at this year's SGDQ and hope that I can make it to future marathons as a runner, volunteer or otherwise.  I'm also not looking forward to the drive back because seriously, Kansas is terrible.  Thanks again to the folks at SpeedDemosArchive for organizing the event and letting me run a game during the marathon (with a donation incentive no less) and to LazerLong for letting me sit in on MadWorld.  Also thanks to |3ass|3oost for splitting a room for the duration of the marathon and then some.

And before I go, congratulations to JKB for winning that Mario Sunshine race.  Ohio was represented well this marathon.  Now to get back to putting together the next Five Dollar Gaming...