CyberPunch83's Blog - Apr to Jun 17 (37 followers)
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May
27
PermalinkCrappy Game Week 2017 Part III
In 2004, Activision released Spider-Man 2, a game released alongside the then-recent superhero film, and provided you played it on the PS2 or original Xbox you got one of the best and most entertaining open-world experiences this side of a Grand Theft Auto title that generation had to offer. In 2006, EA released Superman Returns, a game that would have rivaled Spider-Man 2 for graphics quality and overall visual fidelity, had it not been released two years and one console generation later. Late to the party is never a good sign.

Crappy Game Week 2017 has reached its conclusion once again, and once again I feel as though I'm staring down the worst game on the docket for this year. Last year it was ShellShock 2: Blood Trails, a game that was downright offensive, and was also a terrible first-person shooter with weird controls and terrible graphics. Admittedly the Superman part of Superman Returns is colourful enough and made in the licensed likeness of Brandon Routh, along with a bald Kevin Spacey pre-House of Cards as Lex Luthor.

Metropolis certainly lives up to its name, being a truly large open-world, that apparently only contains a few shades of brown and gray in its colour palette. Maybe that branch of the Metropolis Urban Planning Committee were all off sick that day. Despite this, an open-world environment is only as good as the methods at which you can get around it, and being Superman, it's super speed all the way. In that respect, the game does well. You get around in a hurry either on foot or in the air by holding RB and it genuinely feels like you're moving at super speed as well.

The one thing the game does right in movement and how it feels is immediately crushed by how stiff the controls feel. The best way to describe the controls is feeling like there is a small amount of input lag before the action happens. Being a game that wants to give the freedom of moving from on-foot to flight at the press of a button, the jump function was sacrificed. If you ever find yourself needing to go up one small ledge, you better hope there's enough space to leap into flight mode and then enough come back down for the inevitable slam attack done on landing.

When games are made based on a film license, they can do one of two things with the plot of the film that spawned the game. They can either stick to it and use that same plot for their game, with some interactive sections thrown in and maybe some missions between the plot points to pad out the game time. The other option is to use the film's plot as a jumping-off point to tell an original story set within that universe. Both schools of thought have produced good games and bad games. Superman Returns falls firmly into the latter category in both contexts. The plot of the film is used a jumping-off point, and the resulting plot is not good.

Being Superman, originally designed to be the strongest, fastest, and other words that end in -est superhero ever, this had to be worked into the game, and this is one Superman Returns' unique features. Superman himself does not have a health bar, rather the city of Metropolis does. During fights and missions, the city takes damage, and you fail the mission if the city sustains too much. It puts an interesting twist on protection missions, since every mission basically becomes one. Credit to EA on this one for a legitimately interesting feature in an otherwise dull game.

Being a superhero game with melee fighting, there are different moves and melee combos to use when punching bad guys to your heart's content. The game offers 34 ground-based combo moves and 6 air-based moves, some of which unlock by leveling up Superman and progressing the story. Based on previous experiences with games that give you multiple melee combos to use, you will eventually find one or two that can be made to work for every situation. I found the uppercut, done by pressing A and then X, is relatively reliable for getting enemies where you need them for further beating.

To put a cap on this game and indeed this event in general, Superman Returns is a boring use of a film license where so much better could have been done. At the time of this game's release, we were still three years away from the release of Batman: Arkham Asyulm, which arguably showed us how a third-person superhero game should be done. The achievement list is mercifully short, and that's likely the only reason someone would consider purchasing a game like this in the first place. It's debatable if there are worse ways to spend the 14-16 hours required for all 18 achievements in this one.

Verdict: Ultimately forgettable, boring and uninspired. There is a good reason why there haven't been any Superman-centric console games since this one. 3/10

Coming up on Monday: a return to quality gaming.
Posted by CyberPunch83 on 27 May 17 at 04:05 | There are no comments on this blog - Please log in to comment on this blog.
May
25
PermalinkCrappy Game Week 2017 Part II
When a game is created and a genre is chosen for said game, it's generally a pretty safe assumption that any future entries in the series will stay within that chosen genre, barring any truly strange games which may or may not end up being known as the redheaded stepchild of the franchise. With this in mind, you can imagine my surprise when the second entry in Crappy Game Week 2017 not only doesn't follow what I outlined above, but is also a first for being the first digital game ever used for this event. Does this signal the start of a trend? Who knows.

Game #2 is Cars 2, a series I am now convinced I will play all numbered entries this year alone. The first Cars title was done back in February, Cars 2 should be completed by the time this is live on TA, and Cars 3 is set for release on both the Xbox 360 and the Xbox One later this year. That last title may end up holding a strange distinction, which I will go in-depth about in a future blog, probably sometime next week. For now, it's back to Disney's truly bizarre world of anthropomorphic automobiles and more car puns than some people will be able to handle.

The first Cars game was open-world, with racing missions used as barriers to story progression. Cars 2 is an arcade racer, with multiple game types, the same few maps recycled multiple times, and an impressive array of playable characters, even though there are three variants of the series' main character, Lightning McQueen. The gametypes are standard race, Battle Race (think racing with weapons similar to Full Auto), along with Attack (kill enemies to keep a constantly-draining meter full) and Hunter (kill a certain number of enemies across five rounds in an arena).

In a first for the series, you get a choice of cars to use as well, each with their own small set of stats. Each one has a different top speed, power level related to attacks, and vehicle class, which links to weight and vehicle health. You can get away with McQueen for basically all of it, since he has the most balanced stats of all of them. Many other vehicles are available, covering nearly every character seen in the titular film and some that may be original to the game, Having not seen the film myself, they may have made some new ones for the game.

Being a racing title, the most important part of the gameplay is the vehicle handling. After using multiple vehicles across multiple races, I can confirm the handling is awful. Everything feels very slow to react, and when it does react, it's not quite to the level you would expect. Speed doesn't seem to have any impact on turning radius, so taking every corner slow isn't a viable option. Thankfully, there are only handful of courses where there is no barrier and you can actually fly off into the void, from which the game so nicely brings you back with little penalty.

The tracks are bland and generic. The track in Tokyo is a dense urban metropolis. Italy is picturesque coastlines and quaint villages. London seems to be no more than Hyde Park, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and the Tower Bridge. Radiator Springs is an excuse to re-use some assets from the first game, released five years before this one, and an additional six years before the year in which this is being written. As bland as they are, the environments are unique enough and nothing can be easily mistaken for something else, so that gets a provisional pass.

The engine sounds, and indeed the sound in general is another of this game's weak points. Perhaps it was to save money, perhaps it was to meet a deadline, but every vehicle basically sounds the same. Revving sounds for driving and pre-race, tire squeal for drifting around corners. Drifting has been implemented in a strange fashion. Hold B to round the corner on the blue drift arrows on the ground, but you will turn sharper than the corner itself so be prepared to turn out of the corner slightly to keep it going as long as required. Either for an achievement tied to drifts, or just to come out of the corner.

Expect to spend no more than 10 hours earning all 50 achievements in this movie tie-in. Because those are the best kind of games. Some achievements require a second controller for local multiplayer, but you don't need a second person, so that makes it easier. One achievement requires mashing RT before the race starts to get a boost off the line. This one can be tricky because you need to be very fast with RT presses to build up the on-screen bar to max. Once you've done it once, do it 39 more times and the achievement is yours.

Verdict: Cars 2 is bland, inoffensive and ultimately forgettable, much like the movies and indeed the company behind it all. There are worse uses of your time. 5/10

Come back Friday as CGW 2017 reaches its pinnacle of crap with a Superman game. That Superman game.
Posted by CyberPunch83 on 25 May 17 at 02:56 | There are no comments on this blog - Please log in to comment on this blog.
May
23
PermalinkCrappy Game Week 2017 Part I
This year's Crappy Game Week is all movie-based games. Not really by design, but more by sheer coincidence. With this in mind, possibly the worst concept for a game must be the game based off the movie, which is in turn based off a board game. At least when the film is based off a book of some sort, you can take some liberties and show an aspect of the book not in the film, but in this case you don't have that ability to creatively stretch out and are severely-limited in what you can do with your game. In the case of Battleship, CGW 2017's first game, it means shoving two games in at once

For those that don't know, Battleship was a relatively-disappointing 2012 film based on a children's naval-themed board game built around strategy and a small amount of deception. Battleship the game does this by basically having the original game running alongside the FPS elements of the game, and can be switched between on the fly and pause all other actions by pressing LB. Seems weird that the alien invaders all take a collective coffee break when you pull out your military iPad, but there you go. This is the same invading alien force that started with Hawaii, so what do they know about tactics anyway.

Battleship as a shooter is painfully generic. You fight through the same tropical islands both forwards and backwards, with slightly different scenery each time likely so you wouldn't notice the back-tracking. It was noticed. The weapon selection isn't great. Three human weapons, four if you could grenades and two alien weapons. Regardless of your choice, everything but the shotgun feels ineffective to the point of useless. The human carbine, an M16, feels slightly more accurate, but your hit markers will tell otherwise. Also the main alien weapons, the KRAW, gets more accurate the longer you fire it. Try to figure that one out from a physics perspective.

The in-level checkpoints are too spaced out to be effective. If like me you went right for Admiral difficulty to get all of the achievements knocked out in one run, you will find yourself dying quite a bit, and only then do you get an idea of how sparse these checkpoints are. You can clear 90% of a tricky enemy engagement, not because of AI skill or level design, rather due to lack of sufficient ranged weaponry, get killed by a mine the AI loves to deploy, and do the whole thing over again. Thankfully the game does give you regenerating health, otherwise this would be a far harder game.

The Battleship-esque minigame is by far the most exciting part of the game. You are given control of anywhere from two to four ships depending on the mission, each with their own strengths and abilities. You power up the ships with Wild Cards given from some downed enemies. You can also briefly directly control the ships to put a more personal touch on affairs. If this mode had been fleshed out a bit more, it could have made an excellent Live Arcade title instead of tacked on to a bland shooter, which at this point almost goes without saying the game was published by Activision.

There are collectibles, and while it could be argued they do relate to the game as a whole, it's a bit of a forced comparison. The collectibles are Battleship pegs, both the red and white variety. Four per level, and given the short length and linear nature of the levels it won't take long to find them. It's a distraction from the mundane gameplay, which boils down to 'shoot this, move a ship here, plant C4 on that'. You would think the protagonist has some secret obsession with explosives for the sheer amount of times an objective is accomplished by strapping C4 to it and blowing it sky high.

The last level is likely the one that will leave you cursing the game the most. The final objective isn't on land, it's controlled via your ships, and you get an instant game over if any of the ships you're supposed to protect are sunk, even if you have the ability to bring them back at full health and keep fighting. That was probably an oversight, since the game makes it known you have the ability to revive ships used in the mini-game. Endless waves of enemies don't help matters, and neither do the basically-useless squadmates you're given to help fight off the aliens.

The graphics aren't the worst you've ever seen, though a little substandard for 2012. The colour palette is very washed-out, even for the alien faction, which is usually free creative license to make soldiers and weapons look as goofy and loudly-coloured as you please. Almost makes it hard to tell the human weapons apart from the alien ones. Sounds are repetitive. Who knew the same sound used for defusing a bomb is the same for planting C4? This is the case according to Battleship. Also no subtitles are offered, and as someone who likes them in their games, this is a bit of a disappointment.

Verdict: Not the worst game I've ever played for a CGW, but far from the top of the crap heap as well. 5/10

Come back Wednesday for Part II of this weekly celebration of dreck and chaff as we delve into the sickly-sweet world of Disney for Cars 2.
Posted by CyberPunch83 on 23 May 17 at 00:00 | There are no comments on this blog - Please log in to comment on this blog.
May
19
PermalinkCrappy Game Week 2017 Primer
You can feel it. Just around the corner. Seen out of the corner of your eye, but when you turn to look, it's gone and you're not quite sure if it was even there. But you know deep down, it's out there, waiting to be found. Crappy Game Week 2017 is just a few short days away, and as soon as this blog goes live I'll be diving into the first game for this year, but more on that in a minute. First, let's do a quick recap of how this event came to be, and what is on the menu for this year.

To really grasp how this event came to be, we have to go back to about this time in May 2015, almost two years ago. I was cleaning out some drawers and come across some games I had purchased likely around a month prior, but never played. After doing some research into said games and realizing what I had on my hands, I resolved to finish three of said games within one week. This was not planned and likely not happened had I found these games at any other time. However just the right set of circumstances lined up and Crappy Game Week was born.

Admittedly, the games I chose for the first year weren't really bad per se, rather short completion times that I knew could all be completed in a single week. If you read my reviews from the time, you will find that only one of the games really counted as bad, the other two happened to be quick completions and legitimately interesting games if a little dull at times because of either unintuitive gameplay or boring collectibles. After this, I deemed CGW a success and resolved to do the same thing the next year with truly bad games.

The CGW 2015 lineup consisted of The Testament of Sherlock Holmes, Dark, and Murdered: Soul Suspect for the Xbox 360.

Last year was something exceptional, if only for the games I played. Two movie-based titles and one of the most bland, offensive shooters I've ever played. It got to the point that I showed the game to my girlfriend petranat, and one of the opening lines of narration has become something of an in-joke between us. Sometimes you have to find your own enjoyment in games when none is provided, and that's exactly what we did. CGW 2016's games were genuinely awful, and some I wouldn't really recommend even for the achievements.

Last year's games were Bee Movie Game, Wanted: Weapons of Fate, and ShellShock 2: Blood Trails.

This year I think will fall somewhere in the middle. At the outset, the games don't seem to be so deplorable that I can't recommend them to anyone looking for a relatively-quick Gamerscore fix, nor will I be running to the rooftops to extol the virtue of a game that pleasantly surprised me by being competent and overall decent. We'll have to let the next week of gameplay decide that, and I'm not holding any assumptions going in. I want this to be as neutral of a starting point as possible, given the event itself.

This year we're starting off with the same place that CGW 2016 started, with a game based off a movie. A game based off a disappointing movie based off a fun board game. At least it's not something based off a bad movie in turn based off a decent YA fiction novel. This year it's none other than Battleship. A movie most of you either forgot existed or have been blocking it from your mind ever since you paid $12 to see this film back in 2012 that does seem to have at least recouped its production cost at the box office.

The main reason I'm not holding out much hope for this game is the genre shift between platforms. Being released in 2012, this game was available in some capacity on every game console at the time. On every non-Nintendo console, the game was a first-person shooter, because that's the first thing that comes to mind with a board game like Battleship and its associated film. On Nintendo platforms, the game was instead a turn-based strategy title, which is much closer to the original board game then the Xbox 360 will likely turn out to be.

According to TA, the game is an 8-10 hour completion, with a walkthrough to help guide the way. This should make the game a lot to handle, knowing someone else has already paved the way for a quick and painless completion. Considering I have two other awful games to tackle this upcoming week as well, I'll need all the help I can get for this one. At least the site rating is 2.6/5, so it's at lest got a >50% rating going for it. The next day or two will determine if said game is worth the rating or if it was inflated by Battleship diehard fans.

Coming up on Monday: Crappy Game Week 2017 begins!
Posted by CyberPunch83 on 19 May 17 at 16:21 | Last edited on 20 May 17 at 01:59 | There are 4 comments on this blog post - Please log in to comment on this blog.
May
15
PermalinkSome of This, Some of That
By the time you read this, it will be too late. Alan Wake and its two expansions will no longer be available to purchase on the Xbox Store. This goes even if you have a code to a copy of the game and its content through a new copy of Quantum Break. The reason given from Remedy is expiring music licenses. We can only hope they will re-negotiate said licenses to make the game available again. If Alan Wake was already in your download queue on your console, you will have no problem downloading said game. Like the 360, once it's in your queue you're good to go.

Speaking of download queues, a few weeks ago my console was on the receiving end of an update. I'm sure many others were as well. Nothing immediate seemed to change with this update, and was likely some backend stuff to make the console run faster or more efficient. Turns out that wasn't the case. Either because of this update or something else that happened to my console around the same time, all of the games in my download queue decided to start downloading themselves to my console. This presented a problem.

At the time of this writing, I have sixteen games in my download queue on my Xbox One. Some backward-compatible Xbox 360 titles, some DLC packages, and mostly games available from Games with Gold. Said games started downloading themselves from my queue. Given the quality of the internet connection at my house, one of two things will then happen. Either I won't be able to access the internet on any other device, effectively meaning my console takes all the available bandwidth, or I can access the internet but gaming will be laggy like you wouldn't believe.

This presents a problem if you're playing games that always require an online connection like Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare or World of Tanks. One of those games recently had another batch of achievements added. It may be the game I have now played for over 940 hours on the Xbox One as of this writing, along with three achievements remaining out of the six added in Update 3.7, better known as the first achievement addition not tied to the Xbox 360, since that version of World of Tanks is capped out at 99 achievements.

Compounding the problem of my games downloading all at once is the three Xbox 360 games I purchased in the last month or so, or however long it's been since the last of these lists was written in a blog and published here on-site. This time I'm not going to list the Games with Gold titles, since it's basically a given you would have them if you regularly play on the Xbox One and have a recurring Xbox Live Gold subscription. None of these games are backward-compatible, however as long as there is a working Xbox 360 to be used, this will not present a problem. Here's the latest crop of games:

-Spongebob Truth or Square
-Monster Jam
-Madagascar 3

Yes two of the three games are intended for kids, being based off a long-running animated series and a kids' film franchise respectively. The other one is Monster Jam, a game I've been looking for in stores for a while now in my attempt to complete that series according to TA. After this game, all I need to buy and complete is Monster Jam: Crush It! on the Xbox One and I can finally say I have completed a series in its entirety, even including platform variations, only because this series has none of those. The Monster Jam have been interesting but far from memorable. I will be glad to get back to the 360 and play those games.

All of this doesn't take away from an event coming up very soon. Crappy Game Week 2017 is just around the corner. The games have been set, as has the running order. Expect a primer blog on Friday covering a lot of the details on this year's event, and how this year should be legitimately awful games unlike years past where the games turned out to be better than I thought, to the point when one of the game's Xbox One port was made free, I was legitimately excited to play that one again. Double-dipping isn't inherently evil.

A bit of everything in today's blog. Games that are no longer available, games I play far too much, and games for a console over a decade old. This comes after Friday's blog ended up being pushed back to Sunday due to scheduling issues. That doesn't normally happen. If there ever is a service interruption, I try to make them known as soon as possible so these sort of unexpected delays do not happen. The next week or so of blogs have been basically planned out already, so we shouldn't have any issues there, assuming all goes well with the actual games for Crappy Game Week 2017.

Coming up on Friday: CGW 2017 primer and a quick recap as to how we got here.
Posted by CyberPunch83 on 15 May 17 at 17:38 | There are 3 comments on this blog post - Please log in to comment on this blog.