CyberPunch83's Blog - Jul to Sep 17 (37 followers)
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Aug
18
PermalinkReviews on the Run
No, I'm not X-Play. I'm sure at least one or two people out there became very disappointed at that little revelation. I'm just a guy, who plays games and blogs about them in between everything else life throws my way. I considered titling this one 'Review Cavalcade Part IV' but there had been a week in between part III and now, so I figured the momentum had died down for that one. Maybe I'm wrong. Though this does leave the door open to picking up with a part IV somewhere down the line if I play and review a whole whack of games in a short span.

One thing that will not get a review here, but is also a recent completion, is Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition. Title Update 54 to be precise. New achievements anyone familiar with the Windows 10 version will know very well, along with new items, biomes, and enemies. we now have llamas, and yes they do spit at you when you hit them. This is the fifth title update for the Xbox 360 version, bringing the game over 2,000 Gamerscore, which is something I didn't think was possible on that platform. There's a future blog in there about limitations somewhere.

Syberia Micro-Review: This game came to me highly recommended by my girlfriend and longtime gaming partner petranat. Because she thought the game was terrible. In many ways I have to agree. The game is a point-and-click at heart but tries to include third-person movement controls. This game started life as a PC title in 2002, then moved to the Xbox 360 in 2014 and is now available through backward-compatibility on the Xbox One, which is where I played it. The game is set in modern times for 2002, as American lawyer Kate Walker.

You run around various small towns and villages across Eurasia trying to solve a mystery of an heir to a toy factory. Along the way you solve minor logic puzzles, but mostly run from place to place talking to people and fetching items for them. It's an interesting concept, but the games do not deliver on the mechanics for that concept. The graphics were to be expected for 2002, with mostly painted backgrounds you in front of, and they look pretty enough. The cutscenes are all in 4:3, which does age the game somewhat. Controls are very sticky and extremely picky. They will be your biggest adversary in this entire game.

For some reason, the backgrounds which did have animation in the original release, was not copied over to this version of the game. You will encounter a waterfall with rushing water sounds, but the fall itself is entirely static and does not move, betraying the sounds you hear. Not sure how that happened in the transition from the PC. Voice acting is about as wooden as the allies you come across in the game. Not great either. Achievement-wise, this game can be done in one day with a guide to complete the game in less than six hours for one specific achievement of the 13 available.

Verdict: a good concept and narrative let down by clunky controls and a confusing audio and visual delivery. 5/10

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Toy Story Mania! Micro-Review: If you read my First Thoughts from last week, you will know what I think of this party game. It wouldn't quite be fair to compare this title to a Mario Party since there is a bit less structure and far more opportunity for free play where you go from game to game. For a party game with a carnival theme mixed with the characters from the Pixar films, there is a surprising amount of depth to the few games to be found in this game. It's not all shooting galleries, since there is also ball throwing, balloon popping and ring tossing. It's pretty much all the carnival games covered.

As previously stated, the mini-games are split into five themed areas, each around one character from the films. Such areas as Wild West themed around Woody, and Space Station themed around Buzz Lightyear. Each area caters to a different style of carnival game. Wild West is a shooting gallery, and Space Station is ring toss. Each game is entertaining enough, and has a secondary objective to complete for massive points. Many jokes about weak points and massive damage were made. The games do not really get repetitive and are quite entertaining, as bite-sized as they are. Also player 2 can't pause the game or change their controller settings. Not a good idea.

The graphics are spot-on. Every character looks like their film version with no noticeable flaws or imperfections. Some of the voice cast is back, like Tim Allen as Buzz Lightyear and R. Lee Erney as Sarge. Some are not, like Jim Hanks (brother of Tom Tanks) doing the voice of Woody. It all sounds just like you want it to. This is another easy achievement title, coming in at three or four hours depending on your luck with one or two levels where some targets must be lined up, and some other requiring at least a second controller, if not a second person.

Verdict: a harmless, turn your brain off kind of fun that sticks around just long enough to be entertaining. 6/10

Coming up on Monday: controller limitations.
Posted by CyberPunch83 on 18 August 17 at 16:23 | There are no comments on this blog - Please log in to comment on this blog.
Aug
14
PermalinkDisney Double Header
This blog isn't all World of Tanks, whining, Destiny complaining, and some bad games thrown in for good measure. Sometimes this blog has a lighter side, a more carefree side. I feel this is demonstrated and emphasized by two games I recently started playing; both are Disney titles, both are co-op adventures with my girlfriend petranat as well. Disney titles are generally seen as lighthearted, kid-friendly games that can be played and enjoyed by the whole family. Generally. Keep that word in mind.

Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two First Thoughts: On the surface, Epic Mickey 2, the follow-up to the Wii-exclusive first game, adds another playable character to the mix: Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Yes, there were animated characters before Mickey Mouse came along. They were just relegated to a place that became and known as Wasteland. This is the in-universe explanation for why these characters haven't been featured in Disney animation in quite literally decades. This game appears to be set in more or less present times, as in the cinematic introduction, years pass and show Mickey Mouse earning all of the accolades he is known for today.

Being a co-op title, a vast majority of the game's 46 achievements can be earned with both people playing. This cuts down on repeated runs for earning all of them. Each character also has unique abilities. Mickey has the magic brush, allowing use of both paint and thinner to create and destroy objects and the environment to access secret areas and collectibles. Oswald has some sort of device that allows for use on electrical panels to activate them and whatever comes along with them. He also has a sort of hover feature tied to his double-jump.

One other thing Oswald can do is not pick up or hand in side quests. Being a mostly-linear title with quests and side quests, you will need to speak to people to find these and hand them in. For some reason, probably because kids and because Disney, player 2, who is always Oswald, cannot pick up or hand in side missions. I can understand it from a logic perspective, but at the same time if there are two competent people playing your title, this puts unnecessary work on the first player and makes the second player basically feel along for the ride, despite having different skills and abilities.

There is quite a bit of game to go, and even with guides and a walkthrough, two playthroughs are required at absolute minimum to earn all achievements. There is a reason this game has a 3.6 TA ratio, which is high for a game overall, and even higher for a Disney title, given their history of producing child-friendly fare, generally tied to a recent Pixar film release. This is a departure in both senses, as it's a darker co-op original adventure based on characters, and not a specific franchise or combination of franchises. Watch this space for more.

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Toy Story Mania! First Thoughts: Toy Story is a film and a franchise near and dear to me. It's the first Pixar film I ever saw, and between sequels and other video games, this has proven to be one of the strongest franchises Pixar has ever created. I have played Toy Story 3 to completion in January of last year, and this was the one remaining game in the Toy Story series here on TA. That leaves Toy Story Mania, the game I have played and am talking about now. Long story short, Mania is a party game, limited to two people, where you play a stream or carnival games themed on certain aspects of the universe.

The game contains an Adventure Mode, which is really just picking any one of the five themed areas and playing a preset mix of the mini-games with either one or two people. Being released in 2012 and from a major third-party publisher, the games comes baked-in with Kinect support. The game isn't Kinect-required, just you can use it if you want. In-game, this translates to moving your body to dodge incoming thrown pies during most of the challenges. If you're not using Kinect and prefer to dodge the pies the old-fashioned way, you use RS to dodge to either side or down. There are achievements tied to the pies as well.

While 49 achievements for this title may seem a bit daunting, most of them are mission-specific objectives and a handful of them can be earned in any level with power-ups. One run through any of the Adventure mode stages will net you at least 6-10 of these, depending on how much you study the achievement list before going into every level. If Adventure Mode isn't to your liking, you can Free Play every mini-game, even though some of them need to be unlocked by playing one of the other unlocked levels. Either way it won't take long to earn all of the 49 achievements.

Coming up on Friday: Progress Report on another game that keeps getting more and more achievements.
Posted by CyberPunch83 on 14 August 17 at 21:22 | There are no comments on this blog - Please log in to comment on this blog.
Aug
11
PermalinkLong-Term Updates
As of this writing, I have two what could be considered long-term projects active on or around the Xbox. Those of you that have been around for the last few months will doubtless recall the Achievement Research Project, a little something I set up to find the most common achievement names on the Xbox 360. The other project I have on the go, and likely the one that will be completed first, is the 'Top Shelf' achievement in World of Tanks for researching a Tier X vehicle of each class. There are updates for both projects, coming to you here and now.

The Achievement Research Project is getting more attention in the last few weeks, as I've found some more spare time to put toward it. When given the choice, I'll always prefer actual gaming to poring over monotonous lists of achievement names with slight variations. As of this writing, I am about halfway through the letter R. This was starting with numbered achievements first, so once I hit Z this will be done. TA is currently listing 392 pages of Xbox 360 achievements. This number got a bump a few weeks back when XBLA was folded in as well. It has made research take longer since those have to be filtered out.

I know the next few letters, R, S and T will be some of the longest to process in terms of achievement names. All three letters are in the top eight most used letters in the English language, so I am expecting a lot for all of them. For those wondering, the most common letter in English is E. Once those are done, it should be smooth sailing toward the end of the alphabet. I have it on good authority that Japanese achievement names are located past Z, but I doubt there will be many common achievement names there. There might be, and I will find out in time. That part will take longer because some Japanese characters look very similar to my untrained eye.

Without giving away the names themselves, the top 10-20 common achievement names are pretty much set and I can't see them moving anytime soon. Some of these entries have been around for a while, and I'm sure there are some achievement names you have seen a lot that will show up in this list. The top five most common achievement names have 38, 34, 31, 28 and 27 unique mentions. I will be posting a Google doc of the list itself once it's done. Assuming copying the list from Microsoft Word into a Google doc doesn't crash anything, break the internet or try to divide by zero. If life as we know it comes to an abrupt end in a few weeks, this may be why.

The other long-term project, which was basically dumped into my lap through a title update is the 'Top Shelf' achievement in World of Tanks. The achievement asks for researching a Tier X vehicle of each type of tank that goes to Tier X. Light tanks currently max out at Tier VIII on console, however the PC version recently updated to Tier X Light Tanks, so that won't be far away for us. Of the remaining four tank types, I have researched Tier X Heavy Tanks and a Tank Destroyer. This leaves a Medium Tank and an Artillery. Insert all your artillery hatred here. Your tears taste sweet.

The Medium tank I'll be chasing is the Chinese 121. I am currently at the T-34-2 at Tier VIII and am getting closer to researching the Tier IX WZ-120. I need just over 42,000 XP to research that vehicle, and then the grind starts over again with a new vehicle. There are two packages I have to research to get to the point where I'm saving XP for the 121, and they should be no more than 45,000 XP each, far as my calculations can assume. If anything changes, then the spreadhseet I created to track all of this would also have to update as well. After all that it's another 180,000 XP for the 121 itself.

Over to the Artillery side, I am currently at the American Tier IX M53/M55. I have researched the final package for this vehicle, and now it's just saving XP for the Tier X T92 HMC. As of this writing, I need just a bit under 200,000 XP to finish that tank. While it's closer than the T-34-2 to the 121, this one will likely take longer. In World of Tanks, you earn more XP for enemy vehicles attacked and destroyed that you spot or are right in front of, rather than Artillery's indirect fire mode. This means you earn less XP per match than any other vehicle. It's the trade-off for more damage per shot.

Your first win of the day always gives double XP, and I will be needing that the most for the Artillery. You can have a great game outside of this, and get little more than 1,300 XP. When you need just a shade under 200,000, this equates to many more games, and many more good games. Anyone who has played World of Tanks, even non-Artillery roles, knows there can be days where you cannot get a single win, and if you do, it's due to the rest of the team and nothing you were able to contribute. Needless to say this one requires a lot more patience, and will be the one tank type that will be preventing the most people from earning this achievement.

Coming up on Monday: a First Thoughts on what should have been a very dark game.
Posted by CyberPunch83 on 11 August 17 at 15:18 | There are no comments on this blog - Please log in to comment on this blog.
Aug
08
PermalinkSequels and Sportsball
Bit of a slow news week in these parts. Not a whole lot has been going that has made it into the sphere of things I notice, react to, and then write blogs going into depth about what I think about a subject. The two single biggest pieces of news come from an unlikely sequel, and two sports leagues finally getting some recognition in gaming, arguably after it's been more than overdue for quite a while. Put it this way: you would expect a sports league that's been around in one form or another for over 100 years would have had at least one game made about it by now.

Let's start with a sequel. Everyone simultaneously loves and hates them, buys then and decries their very existence. While I'm not here to rail against sequelitis and its many forms in the industry, I'm instead going to take some blog space here and place some attention on a sequel I never saw coming and am cautiously excited about: Q.U.B.E. 2. For those that may not have played the original, think basically Portal with a few more mechanics, but the same sort of minimalist style, sterile white environments, and mysterious voices from on high telling you what to do without seeing any real payoff or consequence for your actions.

Q.U.B.E. 2 seems to promise more of the same, with the reveal trailer containing more disembodied voices setting up the narrative of this game before going to the usual quick cuts of new gameplay features, cut together in just such a way as to make it seem all flashy and impressive, when you just know at least one of these new features or mechanics will be the single most mundane thing in the game, but so useful to be seen all the time. Sort of similar to the launch method in Portal. You don't think about it much after a while, but it's always there.

This game isn't due to hit digital storefronts until 2018, but there is a lot to like in the teaser trailer and images that have been released up to this point. Q.U.B.E. is unique enough of a concept that a second game is welcome, and this one seems to have quite a bit more budget behind it, as the textures and surfaces all seem a bit more deep and detailed. Early days still, but anyone who likes puzzle games or who loved Portal ought to keep an eye on this one. At the very least check out the first game in the series to see what you're getting into for the sequel.

Moving from sequels that no one really expected, to games people might have expected, but waited a very long time to finally receive. The NFL isn't the only professional gridiron football league in North America, despite what they may have you think. The Canadian Football League, also known as the CFL, has been plying its trade of Canadian-rules football since 1909, when its trophy, the Grey Cup, was first awarded. This is a league that has never had any sort of recognition or acknowledgment in gaming in general for that entire span. Until now.. sort of.

Enter Canadian Football 2017. The first, and first unlicensed, CFL video game. The game was originally intended to be an actual CFL game, with team names and logos and player names and likenesses as well. For one reason or another, this did not happen. Instead we have teams from the same cities as CFL franchises, but not the team names. This has led to the developers coming up with their own team names, like the Ottawa Lumber Jacks, and the Montreal Ducks. Truly iconic, timeless franchise names that will live on through the ages.

Being a digital, ID@Xbox title, with a current average user score of 0.9 stars out of a possible five, you know this game is real quality. Based on the clips currently floating around TA, this is one of those hilariously-bad games that may be best enjoyed after a few drinks, or when you need to lighten the mood after losing badly at another game. Those of you that are familiar with my annual gaming fest known as Drunk Gaming Night with my girlfriend petranat should keep an eye on next year's proceedings and this game might just make an appearance.

From a terrible sports game, to a good sports game. The NBA Live series has been competing with the NBA 2K series for court dominance on consoles since their respective starts in the late 1990's. I've never played either game, save for trying out NBA 2K17: The Prelude last year because free 1000 Gamerscore in an hour or so. This year, NBA Live 18 is trying something never before done to bring some attention to their series and possibly some good karma as well: the Women's National Basketball Association, or WNBA will be making an appearance in NBA Live 18.

For those that may not know, the WNBA was founded in 1996 as a counterpart league to the NBA, and has been going along ever since. The league currently has 12 teams spread across the US, and has gone through its ups and downs, same as any sports league. Granted this league hasn't been around as long as the CFL, but at least when the WNBA was founded, video games were already a thing people knew about and enjoyed. So excuse me for seeing it as a bit odd that we have never got proper game representation of this league until now.

The word from EA is these teams and players will only be available in the offline mode of the game, and cannot be taken into online play. While I'm sure there was a way to make this happen and do it in such a way that both does justice to the players and maintains a fair and balanced online game, perhaps that aspect is being put on the shelf for NBA Live 19's required new innovation. In which case, we see what you're doing EA. You can just admit it. NBA Live 18 drops in September.

Coming up on Friday: more words in more places.
Posted by CyberPunch83 on 08 August 17 at 00:51 | There are no comments on this blog - Please log in to comment on this blog.
Aug
06
PermalinkReview Cavalcade Part III
Here we go. The third and presently final part of the Review Cavalcade blog mini-series. Unlike some blog entry series that have come before, this one has the best chance of staying around longer than most. Instead of releasing a review for a game as soon as I'm done playing it and have earned all achievements, which is still the bar for entry for a Micro-Review, I'll write it and then hold off until I have a second one to publish then do them here, likely in a future numbered installment. As of this writing, I have another game to review and set up for a potential fourth entry in this series, so it's all down to when I complete another game.

Moving away from ID@Xbox titles for this one. Today we have a review of an XBLA title, back when the Xbox Live Arcade was a thing, which is now available through backward-compatibility and was available for free through Games with Gold a few months back. The other is an Xbox 360 disc release that was apparently available digitally at some point, but has since been delisted from the store, however is still available physically, which is how I ended up with a copy of this title. You could almost call it a throwback given both these games were originally released for the Xbox 360.

Heavy Weapon Micro-Review: Tanks are cool. Depending on who you talk to, tank beats everything. Apparently in the right set of circumstances, one single tank can even defeat all of Communism by using it's atomic power and infinite ammo to destroy absolutely everything in its path. Heavy Weapon is a side-scrolling shmup where you are shooting down wave after wave of enemy aircraft, with the occasional ground vehicle. It's a twin-stick shooter, with LS covering the side-to-side movement and RS covering shooting and aiming. RT fires nukes. You get nukes.

The story is as painfully patriotic as you can get. You are an American nuclear tank dropped into what is quite obviously the Soviet Union and to take it all down with the power of tanks and democracy. It's a pretty thin plot to give you the ability to shoot down every single moving object you can find. There are allied aircraft which drop powerups and shields, and they cannot be shot down through friendly fire, so don't worry about killing your buddies. The game comes with three modes, the story, Boss Rush (only unlocked upon successful completion of the story) and survival mode. This is the fun part.

You and three friends can get into tanks and survive an endless wave of enemies, trying to survive as long as possible. Lives are infinite, but respawn times increase upon each death. As long as one player remains, the game continues. It's a boatload of fun with both friends and randoms. The game looks pretty enough for a side-scroller, sounds are a minimum, including no voice acting, and the mission structure does get a bit repetitive since it's always just shooting enemies. However as a bite-sized gaming experience best enjoyed with friends, few games compare.

Verdict: A game that could have used just a little bit more story and narrative to truly achieve greatness. 8/10

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Generator Rex: Agent of Providence Micro-Review: This game was basically an exercise in learning that Ben 10 became large enough to effectively get a spin-off franchise, which proceeded to get its own game. If that isn't too strange of a concept, then here's a review of that game. You play as Rex, who has shapeshifting abilities, as long as it's one of three specific arm weapons or one context-sensitive leg move. This is an issue I've always had with games containing shape-shifting protagonists, is that you don't let the player truly shift shapes into anything else. I realize limitations of the medium, but give it some thought next time.

You have no camera control in this game. Plain and simple. The camera will move for you when going from room to room, and sometimes follow you down hallways. This gets very irritating the furthrt into the game you get, especially when looking around for collectibles, which this game has, because of course. The game is basically a beat-em-up, as you do go from encounter to encounter, beating up a selection of enemies, and then moving on to the next one. There is a combo system, but it's slow and poorly worked-in. The last hit of any combo will send an enemy too far out of reach to continue racking up combos.

The whole adventure can be done in one day, however grinding the enemy research will take far longer. You have to collect a certain number of DNA samples from fallen enemies, however when and where these show up are entirely random. Unless you are the luckiest person who has ever lived, you will need to replay levels and grind enemy kills to collect enough of these semi-rare drops. That is the one and only noteworthy thing in an otherwise bland and inoffensive game, only inoffensive in the sense it doesn't have gratuitous violence and gore. It is criminally boring though.

Verdict: a dull, sometimes humourous game with little replay value beyond grinding achievements. 4/10

Coming up on Monday: sequels, words, and maybe even some punctuation.
Posted by CyberPunch83 on 06 August 17 at 03:54 | There are no comments on this blog - Please log in to comment on this blog.