Aug 4, 2013

Video Game Reviews @ The Temple

Shadowrun Returns – I was pretty freaking excited for this game, I have to say. I kickstarted it pretty early (I even kickstarted Shadowrun Online, I’m ambivalent about that one, mostly because I just can’t get into MMORPGs). I loved the 16bit games, especially SNES. Besides, Shadowrun was always my favorite pen & paper setting. I never got to play it much, sadly, but I read a ton of the books, and I just loved the mix of tech and magic. So my impression of this game is no doubt boosted by my love of the context. If I can be objective, I think it’s fair to say the game is limited in scope. Fair enough, it’s a small group with (albeit very successful) kickstarted funding. The game is super linear. I encountered precisely one side quest, which is a bummer for a world that’s built all around doing jobs for a bunch of people. The remaining optional quests are just extra clicks in the environment you are in. So, there’s not a lot to do in that sense, and I blasted through the main game in 14 hours. On the flip side, there’s a ton of building blocks. I played a mage/shaman (naturally), but I might actually go back and give it a shot as a cyber’d out samurai or a rigger. Deckers were borderline useless in the main story (only two real quests). But one of the selling points here is that you can build your own campaigns. Not that I would, but other people are already on it. One group is trying to rebuild the 16bit game. One group is supposedly making a 100+ hour campaign! Not only does that make my nerd heart soar with glee, but also gives hope that the less-used things like deckers will have a chance to shine. The tools are all there. The blocks for making an interactive story are there. The combat system, while nothing unique or life changing, completely supports the system and the fun. Really loved the game, was so excited to get back to it. Really looking forward for the user-generated stuff.

FTL – This game is pretty dang cool. You control a spaceship, flying through many dangers to get back to your fleet and stop the big bad. But you don’t move the ship around, it’s not an action game, you are controlling the crew of the ship – running around repairing systems as they break, or augmenting systems to improve them. You can control the power shunted to the systems, giving priority (assuming you don’t have enough) to whatever you want – life support, sensors, engines, weapons, shields, etc. The only way you control a battle is by choosing when and where to fire weapons, trying to take down an enemy’s systems strategically. You don’t move the ship around or anything. It’s a lot of fun, if you are a micromanaging type. It’s also ridiculously hard. Like jesus hard. Like I was never able to beat it. I had a lot of fun playing it, trying to get the couple of extra ships available and get some achievements. But I could not beat the damn thing, even the one time I tried on easy mode. Eventually I was over it, but I did put 22 hours in. 22 hours and I didn’t win! Still fun though, maybe I’ll get back to it and finally try to beat it, seems unlikely though.

Rage – Mega meh. This is basically just a pretty version of Borderlands. Except borderlands isn’t ugly, it’s just stylized. This is the prettiest game Id can make, which is quite pretty, but it is 100% unnecessary. The story is a mix of Borderlands and Fallout. The weapons are the same as an FPS, the vehicle is the same as Borderlands. The 16 hours it took me to get through it were plodding and I almost didn’t make it, I’m glad it’s not any longer. Yet despite that 16 hours, the scope felt extremely limited. Just two cities, and it all looks the same. It’s not that they did anything super wrong with the game, it just did absolutely nothing that hasn’t been done. Actually, they did one thing horribly wrong: the lack of effective auto-save in 2012 is just ridiculous. I should never lose 45 minutes of playing because you only save when I leave a city and I forgot to hit F5, that’s just bananapants.

Saint’s Row: The Third – This is my first saint’s row game, I feel like I get the gist. It’s pretty fun. It’s just GTA with a couple layers of ridonculous polish on top. But it’s a lot of fun, pretty cartoony, over the top, goofy action. But I played it for 40 hours, I even did all the damn side missions and fully owned the map. Pretty fun time.

Crysis/Crysis Warhead – Just now getting around to playing Crysis, yikes. In the game’s defense, being 5 years old, it still looks pretty dang good. Maybe not as good as the newest games (which I don’t have anyway), but way better than anything else half a decade past. I mean, I have almost the best mobile GPU you could buy a couple years ago, and I still couldn’t max the AA and stuff, pretty crazy. As far as game play: pretty average. The powersuit thing is neat, but I never use strength, definitely never use speed. I’m just invisible when I feel like being sneaky, until I get bored with the kind of lame detection mechanics and I rambo through the rest of the level with shields. All the stealth is completely ineffective with the aliens anyway, the game is more fun with the Koreans. The weapons are good, but not so different as to be memorable. Warhead is a stand-alone expansion, it’s really just more missions. Different character, same powers, same guns, except the last BA gun is different. Otherwise, just some extra of the same. It’s not a bad game, it’s pretty, the gameplay just wasn’t super interesting.

LA Noire – This game is both amazing and meh. What they were trying to do, and did, technologically, was pretty impressive. The facial animation and acting and all that was better than any game I’ve seen (granted, I’m always a bit behind on games). The actual graphical quality left a bit to be desired, but that’s okay. The game play is interesting, hunting around for clues, interviewing subjects, etc. But, it turns out, being a cop is super fucking boring. I stopped playing the game halfway through after getting distracted with my Ouya. I made myself go back and finish it out. I don’t know if the plot didn’t catch me, or I’m just turning into a player who only wants to shoot things. It’s certainly a good game, I just didn’t have a blast.

Aug 2, 2013

Short films

A couple of sad but very well done ones:

Top Floor – Pretty sad

Unsaid – Crazy sad