CyberPunch83's Blog - Apr to Jun 17 (36 followers)
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 yesterday 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 | 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.
May
14
PermalinkLate to the Party
Last week I reviewed Minecraft: Windows 10 Edition. If you haven't read that, I recommend reading the review. If not, know it's basically the same as Minecraft on other platforms with some features currently unique to that platform. It can also be played with a controller, either wired or wireless depending if you have a wireless adapter or a cable to physically connect the controller to the computer. If you're a Minecraft fan I highly recommend playing this game again on Windows 10.

Said review was a milestone. Minecraft: Windows 10 Edition was the 100th review on my blog, covering both Micro-Reviews and longer full blog reviews. At this point I am also at four platforms with games that have been reviewed for this blog (Xbox 360, Xbox One, Windows 8, and Windows 10). It wasn't until after said blog had been published earlier in the week that I was updating some lists I keep of blog posts and reviews that I realized I hit the three-digit milestone and didn't even realize it at the time.

The odd thing is Minecraft shouldn't have been the 100th review for this blog. That honour should have gone to either the Payday or Waste of Space DLC for Goat Simulator. The reason for that is there is one game I've played to completion since this bog began but never wrote its Micro-Review. Said game is Assassin's Creed Chronicles: China. Started December 24, 2015 and finished December 2, 2015, it should have come in as the 40th Micro-Review for this blog. Instead it was apparently lost in the haze and never got the review it deserved.

I'm not going to retroactively review it now for two reasons. First is it's been so long since I've played the game, I would have to go back and run through it all again to familiarize myself enough with the game to be able to write a meaningful review. With a certain annual gaming event right around the corner, this is likely the worst time next o E3 for something like that to happen. The second reason, or perhaps the second and third reason for this review not happening, is because I reviewed the other two games in the Chronicles trilogy.

To elaborate further on that point, all three games in the Chronicles trilogy are side-scrolling relatively-linear Assassin's Creed adventures, and China was the first entry in the series. As a result, the following games, India and Russia are far more refined, have more new features and improved existing features, and overall feel like better, well-crafted games than the first entry. Not to take away from China, but it will feel lacking in features and unrefined in its gameplay and story mechanics compared to the other two games.

In other news, the Achievement Research Project is slowly nearing its conclusion. A while back some of the search parameters were changed to include XBLA titles, which themselves used to have their own label. Perhaps in the spirit of condensing or streamlining some of the older filters were removed and folded into other ones. This increased the number of pages by just a little over one hundred, and each page takes longer to process since some are not physical Xbox 360 titles and therefore are excluded from this research. For a full breakdown on that one, refer to a blog from a few weeks back where I detailed that more.

For now, know that as far as alphabetical sorting, I am up to the letter P, and this sort method placed numbers and special characters at the front, so I don't have a whole load of extra characters to sort through once I hit Z. One problem I have sort of left to the end of all this research is Japanese-only games their characters for achievements. Given how I am approaching this, some of those games will make the list, however I don't expect them to climb much higher than two or perhaps three unique mentions.

Outside of that, a new feature has been added to the page for listing games that will make work like this much more tolerable. Unless you are very specific on your sort settings at the top of the page, it is very plausible that your result will be over 100 pages of games. Given each page entry is around 50 entires each (haven't counted the exact number), that's a massive list to go through or continually reference. This can make any sort of data processing, like the Achievement Research Project, take an inordinate amount of time to accomplish.

Seeming because of this, a 'go to' feature has now been added to the page. With it, you can now get to specific pages if you know where you left off, or take your best guess and navigate from there. You can still go up to three pages in front or behind with the pre-existing controls beside the jump feautre, which is what I will likely be calling the 'go to' feature from now on. The name seems to fit, and the other candidate was the '20 goto 10' button, for those of you that know what that means. I guess I don't need the games list page as a pinned tab in Chrome anymore.

Coming up on Monday: a blog on time, and a list.
Posted by CyberPunch83 on 14 May 17 at 04:49 | There are no comments on this blog - Please log in to comment on this blog.
May
08
PermalinkGood to be Bad
This blog's idea and inspiration came from a side note in last week's blog about Call of Duty: WWII about how for the many AAA games produced about World War II, none of them let you explicitly play as the Germans or another Axis power. Granted this is only as far as I'm aware and only really goes back a couple of console generations, but this seems like an idea that's never been touched, and 70+ years after a conflict ends seems like far enough away to create some titles with some historic or artistic merit.

To be perfectly clear, I am not advocating for playing as one of these factions in a game because I approve or condone of any actions they have committed. A digital representation of a warring faction does not in any way approve of the atrocities performed by these historical enemy combatants. I don't want anyone to get the wrong impression of these sort of ideas and notions. They are just that. If a game developer wants to roll with it and see where they end up with regards to a completed game, that is their decision and their decision alone.

History is said to have been written by the victors. When we think of enemy combatants in games, a few images jump immediately to mind. These images often come complete with said enemy combatants being on the other end of a gun barrel or some other crosshair. Not every war begins and ends with the entry of the United States and victory all but assured. There are other sides to every conflict, and regardless of your opinion of the factions presented therein, there is merit to seeing a battle from another side.

Even Battlefield 1, for all its praise as being a well-balanced shooter and showing a more human side of a war often forgotten in gaming by its younger and flashier cousin, in its Campaign missions always has you playing as a soldier from an Allied power. One would think a war that ended nearly a century after this writing could show both sides of the war and have any criticism passed off as exploring a new historical avenue for a war largely ignored by AAA gaming, their audiences, and the developers that produce such games.

Before any of you go racing to the comments to bring up how this would never be done and how game developers would never force you to play in the role of an antagonist, consider games like Grand Theft Auto and really any sandbox title. Sure you play as people with redeeming qualities, but there's nothing stopping you but your own imagination from slaughtering both civilians and police en masse in said games. The only different is this is presented as an activity you can partake in if you want to.

The option is out there in games to be a violent unhinged psychopath with no regard for human life, but as soon as you put a uniform and approval on those activities, suddenly it becomes morally wrong and ethically reprehensible. Forgive me for thinking that to come off a bit hollow. The strangest thins to come out of all this is game developers do make these levels, and people seem to lose their minds with the so-called 'controversy' when they do. Said example was even in a Call of Duty title of all franchises. The only catch is the level is entirely optional.

Cast your mind back to 2009. Modern Warfare 2 had a little level called 'No Russian', where you and three armoured teammates gun down hundreds of unarmed civilians with light machine guns in a Moscow airport. While this mission does tie into the overall narrative of the game and that trilogy of games as a whole, the mission was entirely optional. The game tells you as much at the beginning of the Campaign, reassuring you that you will still get the full experience even if you choose not to play that level.

I believe there is merit to seeing the other side of a historical conflict in the confines of a video game. In no way does the game have to or need to glorify the other side's exploits, rather present them in a fair and balanced manner. We are far enough removed from any global conflict that could make it into such a game, we as a society should be able to look back on both sides to any given conflict or war. Not to say that will never happen again, but we do play games as ninja, who were traditionally oppressed farmers who stood up to their samurai oppressors and no one cares about that.

Perhaps I'm totally off base here and talking a load of garbage. Let me know in the comments if you agree or disagree with the idea of playing a game as a traditionally enemy faction.

Coming up on Friday: more missed anniversaries than non-missed ones.
Posted by CyberPunch83 on 08 May 17 at 21:30 | There is 1 comment on this blog post - Please log in to comment on this blog.