01
Mar
10

This Gaming Weekend (Alpha Client)

Rules of Blogging #79: Been playing a fuckton of games over the last few days? Not quite ready to focus on one of them for a single post? Unable to currently play most of them due to global PS3 armageddon? Then throw out a ‘What I’ve Been Playing’ round-up post! Maybe while listening to some 16 Volt. Maybe.

Bayonetta

If you were writing a walkthrough of Bayonetta you’d probably have to start every paragraph with “after a lengthy cutscene.” Not only is the game’s story told in excruciatingly long cinematic chunks, it is, without doubt, one of the most completely batshit insane affairs I’ve ever seen in a videogame. I remember the first time I saw the anime Excel Saga not quite knowing whether to love or be disgusted by just how brutally retarded it was. Bayonetta’s like that. It might be brilliant. I’ve completed it and I’m still not entirely sure.

The actual game is on much more solid ground. It’s clearly in the same mould as Devil May Cry but Bayonetta is much more focused on the dodging mechanic. Time your dodges right and everything slows down leaving enemies open to combo attacks. It’s also a game that demands multiple playthroughs. Your first time through the game is primarily focused on surviving and figuring out how to defeat the myriad of enemies thrown at you. On subsequent attempts, as you can afford more powerful techniques and weapons, things should become much more centred around actually moving through the levels with style. At least that’s my theory – I’m not quite ready to delve in again.

Mass Effect 2

I’ve got no excuse for having not finished this yet, especially since it’s been the only thing I’ve wanted to play for most of February. The only reason that I can think of for my slowed progress is that I’m near the end – and the end means over a years wait for the next Mass Effect. If we were further into the year I’d call it my favourite game of the year so far. It’s a true statement still, but loses most of its impact if you say it at the start of March, especially when you’ve only played a couple of 2010 released games.

I’ve got a couple of posts lined up to go into some specifics but, as a general overview, I can confirm the truth in all the reviews. The combat is much improved over the last game. I’m now actually looking forward to the fights Shepherd finds herself in instead of merely putting up with them. That said, the true brilliance of the game, as with last time, lies in your interactions with your crew members. The overall plot might be a but more clunky this time round, but the characterisation of some of your team is as strong as ever.

Battlefield 1943

I’m still going through periods of playing this compulsively. In the period between the closure of the Battlefield: Bad Company 2 demo and the release of Battlefield: Bad Company 2 this Friday it’s pretty much the only competitive online shooter I’ve played. For a console FPS that isn’t called Modern Warfare 2 it’s still surprisingly easy to find a game.

Luckily most of the hardcore FPS freaks have moved to MW2 so things are surprisingly casual for a game centred around shooting men in the face. I’ve been able to gain a respectable score while indulging in the stupid crap I tend to get up to when I become a little too familiar with an online game – excessive sniping, parachuting out of a plane at the right angle for it to cause insane explosions and parking a tank in the middle of an enemy base to see how much destruction I can cause before being blown up have all been unhelpful contributions to my team’s war effort.

Borderlands

Specifically the Mad Moxxi DLC pack which adds an arena mode to the game. With loot drops and XP earning removed for the arena battles the game’s forced to rely purely on its FPS mechanics. Luckily it rises to the challenge admirably, proving just how satisfying its gunplay is.

Because trying one of the arena battles solo is tantamount to buying a one way ticket to Rape City (which I don’t think is a real city) I’ve been forced to head online for co-op buddies. Generally I never do this with strangers because I assume they’ll be arseholes, hence why despite owning Left 4 Dead for about a year I’ve never actually played its campaign mode, but here your interactions are pretty basic. As waves of enemies flood your ranks your interactions are kept to “kill things, keep other players alive.” There’s very little room to be a dick because, if you are, you could lose a hell of a lot of progress.

Heavy Rain

This is how I’ve spent the last two evenings, and would be this evening if I could. It’s the same story as could be applied to any Quantic Dream game – if you’re the type of person who is prepared to enjoy it you will absolutely love the thing. I’m sure once I’ve finished the game and have gone back to try and elicit different results, once I’ve seen the limitations of the storytelling mechanic and the way you don’t have as much agency over the outcome as you first thought, I’ll be slightly less fond of the game. For now though it’s a rare example of a game where my decisions are reactions to often tense and stressful situations. I want to do the right thing for each character and trying to decipher just what that is where the game’s strength lies.

An example, that I’m keeping vague but is nevertheless slighlty spoilerish: A guy is pointing a gun at the head of my partner and I’m trying to talk him down. At each point I can choose a different topic to try and make him lower the gun or I can shoot him. With each attempt he’s becoming seemingly more erratic. Do I try a different approach? Have I got time? Oh God he’s going to pull that trigger at any moment… At which point I’m hammering the R1 button to take him down before I fuck it all up. Fuck. I don’t even like the guy I’m partnered with.

Yeah, Heavy Rain’s really fucking good.

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