CyberPunch83's Blog - Jan to Mar 18 (40 followers)
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Jan
19
PermalinkBoot to the Head
I've tried some new games in the last week. Some of them I completed, others I tried a brief snippet via someone else's account. Read on for my thoughts on those games.

Cuphead First Thoughts: A sadly common theme among games with long development cycles is the tendency to accidentally create unrealistic expectations of a game to which the finished product could never fully strive toward. This can be done in the form of endless trailers, developer interviews, or even multiple playable demos, rare as the latter are these days. Cuphead succumbed to none of this, instead turning in an incredible run-and-gun experience not seen in a very long time with this level of polish.

The game is designed as a spiritual successor to both the animations of Walt Disney and Max Fleischer. This is evidenced in the entire presentation of the game, the exaggerated proportions of the main characters, brothers Cuphead and Mugman and the very consistent level and character design. Not to be undersold by its somewhat-cutesy image, this game is difficult. Not Dark Souls levels of hard, and certainly not the 'Dark Souls of run-and-gun games'. That term needs to die forever in a fiery pit. Consider this title to have a steep difficulty curve instead.

Each boss has a unique strategy to beat them, at which point the game moves into muscle memory and remembering the attack patters and fight stages. While it may not seem immediately apparent you are making progress, a handy indicator when you die (and you will die a lot) informs you just how far along certain stages you were and if you really did die just before the end of a boss fight. I'll leave it up to the comments to decide if players should be made aware if they died right before the end of a fight or not. There are arguments for both sides of course.

I'm looking to playing more of this title as soon as schedules allow. This game can be played in co-op and anywhere, thanks to the Xbox Play Anywhere program. Someone with the right dedication could indeed play this on the go with a tablet and a controller either Bluetoothed to the tablet or through direct wired connection. There's an interesting thought: playing the best and newest games on the go, provided you don't mind the setup. If there ever there was a reason to get a Surface tablet not for business reasons, there may be one here.

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Fight Night Round 3 Micro-Review: If ever there was a case for broadly grouping all games within 6-8 months of a console's release as 'launch titles', this is Exhibit A. Released in February 2006, Fight Night Round 3 is every bit a product of its time as you think it is. Repeated textures, copypasted audiences complete with synchronized movements that make for bland backdrops for a game based around a sport I do not and probably never will understand. I do however understand illegal kicks to the groin until your opponent falls over.

According to the walkthrough here on TA, the best way to get through this game is to buy and repeatedly use the illegal groin kick move. I can safely say this method is effective and probably the fastest one out there. Long as you can avert your ears from the colour commentators repeatedly calling our your moves and how they are detrimental to your career, to no actual detriment since you didn't lose anything from spamming this method. No less winnings or a reduced rating boost from destroying a man's nether region.

To quickly cover the game's career mode, you start as an up-and-coming boxer and must fight your way to the top, gaining a reputation and taking on title fights. In that sense it seems to accurately cover a fighter's career, from small venues all the way to title fights brought to you by ESPN2. The moveset is probably complex and innovative and leaves room for unique fighting styles. If you follow the walkthrough for this game, you will never see any of it. Rather just hold LT and B until the game gives you achievements.

This game can be completed in one sitting, in around three hours if you're unlucky and lose one or two fights. Only eight achievements on offer here, all based around certain high-profile events in your fighter's career. Disable the autosave in case you lost one of the four fights you can only play once per career to save backtracking with a second fighter later on. Make sure you manual save occasionally as well. For extra fun, try creating the ugliest fighter ever known with the in-game creation tools.

Verdict: I still don't understand boxing. 3/10

Coming up on Monday: sometimes it's best to stick to what you know.
Posted by CyberPunch83 on 19 January 18 at 23:41 | There is 1 comment on this blog post - Please log in to comment on this blog.
Jan
16
PermalinkGlitch Raider
Anyone looking at my recently played games will notice two things. One is a rather-significant lack of ROBLOX being played, and while all it requires is playing once per day for twenty consecutive days, my current schedule does somewhat preclude me from even going after that. More on that little situation in a bit. The other thing you may have noticed is a recent spike in playing Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition. After finishing the Campaign in June, I effectively left the game as it stood for a while, with all that remained being the game's multiplayer.

I was not looking forward to this. Crystal Dynamics crafted a great single-player experience in their 2013 reboot of the series, officially known as the first entry in the 'Survivor Timeline'. The mechanics were solid, the story was very interesting and relatively easy to follow, and the characters were mostly memorable in their own right. It was yet another game that did not need a competitive multiplayer aspect tacked on just for good measure or for increased sales or average play time. Despite all of that, we got one anyway, and while they tried to bring the same elements from the single-player, it didn't really work.

For one, the servers used to power these multiplayer matched may not be the best around. In playing the multiplayer over the last week or so, I could play 4-5 consecutive matches with no issues whatsoever, people coming and going as they please, only to be suddenly met with a very long loading screen, far longer than usual, at which point I'm kicked back to the main multiplayer menu. I didn't have a connection hiccup, everything else seems to be fine. Seemingly the game decided I'd had enough of playing with these people and had to now go elsewhere. Quite annoying to encounter this more than once.

The game types on offer, of which there are four, do offer the potential for creative games and an engaging experience. You have your standard deathmatch and team deathmatch, along with two unique modes. Rescue is round-based, with team Survivor trying to secure medical supplies and tem Solarii actively preventing this. Think CTF with a twist. Cry for Help has the Survivors activating radio beacons while again the Solarii are preventing this. More like Hardpoint, with the twist of both teams having different goals, with the teams switching places at least once per best-of-3 games, which comes as the default for matchmade games.

Any game with a competitive multiplayer will have some sort of meta gaming taking place at the same time. The players react to changes made to one or more of the multiplayer's main elements and as a result, popularity and overall use of certain weapons and tactics change over time. This is normal, expected behaviour for any multiplayer game. The meta for Tomb Raider has evolved to a point that sufficiently skilled players make their way around a map by jumping everywhere and always wielding shotguns while doing so. This makes for hard to shoot, and hard-hitting enemies.

For someone who was actually trying to play the multiplayer, and just happened to have some achievements along the way that needed to be earned, these players made the game into quite a hassle to play. These players were seemingly everywhere, could down you in no more than two shots most of the time, and you usually had little to no way to counter or fight back. This is not meant to come off as being overly whiny about the game or complaining about where the game has gone, but it could scare off first time players if this is their first experience.

The somewhat ironic thing about that last point is if someone is totally discouraged and they find themselves on this very site, they could always set up a boosting session for whatever achievements they were trying to earn legitimately and get it all done far sooner than the other method. I did that same thing, and made a session that may or may not have happened by the time you read this. At the time of this posting, the session is the following day and is also full at this point. Many thanks to all who applied or otherwise showed interest. As always happens with this sort of thing, any extra applicants are recommended to make their own session for around the same time.

So what state has this left the multiplayer for Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition? To try and put something of a cap on it all, there is no one playing the ranked matches, which is annoying due to an achievement tied to those specific games. People only ever participate in player matches, and when you do get one together there is always at least two people who have prestiged at least once, know all of the maps and strategies, and are almost always the aforementioned jumping shotgunners. Juxtaposing that strategy with the ancient Japanese armour these players wear is good for a laugh though. The players must know how ridiculous they look in that instance.

Coming up on Friday: the return of a modern PC classic.
Posted by CyberPunch83 on 16 January 18 at 04:52 | There are no comments on this blog - Please log in to comment on this blog.
Jan
13
PermalinkArt Thief
As promised, both some Halo and some World of Tanks news. One comes from some gameplay over the last month, give or take a few days, and the other comes from a game I am yet to play this year. I'm sure I'll get to it eventually since more achievements will doubtless be added, but other games I want to finish have come up and taken center stage. Expect to see some of that on Monday in my continuing adventures to complete some games I have had sitting on my card for months on end. One thing to keep in mind is multiplayer boosting still sucks. That could probably become the subtitle for this blog and little if anything would need to change.

Halo: the Master Chief Collection Progress Report: Last stop, Halo 3: ODST DLC. Between the day this goes up and the last time I posted a Progress Report about this game, I decided to submit myself to the grind and just get the last 60 or so Environmental kills remaining for the 'Rock and Coil Hit Back' achievement. This means a lot of hours spent sitting in the 'Team Halo 2 Anniversary Playlist' waiting for enough players to show up and form a game. From there it was hoping Lockdown was a map option, and it was voted on, and only then could the grinding begin.

This came after a few attempts to organize boosting sessions for this very achievement. As anyone who has ever tried to boost Halo: MCC is well aware, the hardest part is always trying to match up with the other half of the boosting party. During each of these attempts at getting matched, we were lucky if we got matched two or three times over a three-hour session. Very disappointing. The few times we did, one of two things would happen. Either Lockdown was not a map given to us as an option, or we would get Lockdown, vote on it, only to have the game collapse and disconnect everyone before it loaded.

Boosting obviously wasn't going to work, so off it was to the untamed wilds of matchmaking. It turns out a surprisingly high number of people still play this game, and just this one playlist, over three years after the game's launch. At least this meant getting games to work on this achievement didn't take as long as it could have. Of this, I am grateful. It got to the point where I would actively ignore the ongoing game on Lockdown and focus on just the Environmental kills, to the detriment to my team during those games. To anyone who played with me during this time, I'm sorry. You probably were looking for someone who could contribute to the team.

But this is all finished now. After 'Rock and Coil Hit Back', it was just boosting out the remaining wins, which can be done solo with a rather-handy crafted map type of Construct in Halo 3. Long story short, it's a CTF variation where you win the game before it even finishes loading in. Back out of the results screen, start the game again. Rinse and repeat until achievements unlock. With all of this out of the way, it's now just a matter of getting the ODST DLC and completing its related 99 achievements. Chalk that one up as an end-of-year goal.

In other gaming news, Wargaming stole some artwork from a DeviantArt user. Around the start of the year, Wargaming released a new Premium tank. Don't all act shocked at once. This time it was a variation of the already-Premium vehicle VK 45.03, a Tier VIII German Heavy for those interested. Known as the Adler VK 45.03, it featured a dark grey body and stylized German flag wrapping around the turret. This had been announced by Wargaming for probably less than 48 hours before the community at large noticed this and called them out for the theft.

While Wargaming were relatively quick to modify their own news story to give credit to the original artist, greyweaselUK, the fact this had to happen at all is some unacceptable and somewhat shady behaviour from a relatively-large gaming company like Wargaming. I'm all for using player-created artwork with their consent and permission, but those last two points were quite flagrantly violated and Wargaming seemed to just act as though nothing was wrong until the community response became too large to ignore. Only then did they relent.

Wargaming has arguably done a lot wrong and mishandled much over the lifespan of World of Tanks on console, but this is a special kind of unacceptable. If this blatant theft of someone's original artwork has been done once, they are just as likely to do it again, and next time it will be a smaller user on a smaller artwork platform where it will go unnoticed for longer, possibly indefinitely. One can only hope that last point doesn't come to pass and people notice before long. To think all of this could have been avoided if Wargaming had simply asked permission instead of deciding to just take something that looked pretty.

However that would require Wargaming somewhat listening to their community, now wouldn't it?

Coming up on Monday: Tomb Raider multiplayer is a glitchy jumping mess.
Posted by CyberPunch83 on 13 January 18 at 02:33 | There are no comments on this blog - Please log in to comment on this blog.
Jan
09
PermalinkSerious Profession
Long story short, I came down with something over the weekend and have been feeling miserable. This won't get in the way of the content I have lined up over the coming weeks including one facet of the Achievement Research Project I won't spoil for now, but one thing that those of you keeping up with that little side project will appreciate. Games are still being played, completed and written about. Plans for 2018 are taking their final forms. Watch TA in the coming days to see exactly what they are and when they plan to be completed.

Overcooked First Thoughts: This isn't as much a First Thoughts as it as a Progress Report since I've now played through two entire worlds of this game with petranat. Regardless of that, Overcooked is a top-down co-op focused kitchen simulator, wherein you cook orders, serve them to the wait staff, and try not to let your entire kitchen get burned down or have all of the food swiped by nosey rats you can't seem to just keep away once and for all. Did I mention this game can be a bit hectic? In the best way possible though.

This game can be played with anywhere from one to eight players local. How do you accomplish this? I'm glad you asked. If you play with more than four people, two people share a controller. The game has a very limited control set, enough so that you can have two people share a controller. Thumbstick to move, A to pick up/drop, X to interact, B to dash. That's it. Not entirely sure how it's condensed to one side of a controller since I've never done it, but I will find out and report back next time I take this game for a spin.

The game tasks you with cooking recipes in your kitchen and serving them up. These come in many shapes and sizes, ranging from soup to pizza and burgers. Each one has multiple steps and has to be served on a clean plate. Managing all of this with a time constraint and a three-star requirement can be a hassle, but rest assured with the right co-op partner and some patience, you will get into a rhythm that works for you and you'll be racking in the three-star ratings in no time. Have fun doing it all twice, since only player one gets the really important achievements for story completion.

The game has a somewhat minimalist art style, going with rounded cutesy character models and simplified, easy to distinguish from a distance ingredients. Combine this with the music that not only fits to each level, but also increases in tempo as time runs out, and it makes for a fast-paced kitchen experience. Not unlike working in a real kitchen really. My experience with such things is very limited at best, but it is my understanding that kitchens really are this fast, with little to no room for error. So props to Team 17 for what may be some accidental realism.

Achievements are a pain for this game. I talked about this briefly last week but there is a 1G achievement for playing the first level, then another 199G for earning three stars on all levels. The rest of the achievements are laid out in a sensible manner and do not raise any concerns. Basically the rest are for story missions and trying out some of the other game modes. There is a competitive multiplayer, but there is more than enough of a challenge to be had with the co-op campaign as it is. To me, this is co-op gaming done right.

In other more recent news, a fully Kinect-free future, one which Microsoft must have thought utterly unthinkable just a few short years ago, appears to be a reality now. We already were aware that Microsoft had completely shut down production on Kinect sensors, making the ones still available in stores now the last of their breed. Now we have the news that the Kinect adapter, a special plug required for the function of the sensor on the Xbox One, will also no longer be manufactured. If this doesn't mark the absolute end of this era of motion gaming, I don't know what does.

Personally, I never saw the Kinect as more than a 'me-too' to the motion controls integral to the Nintendo Wii. While I won't directly chastise Microsoft for thinking they could capitalize on a trend, I will say that the Xbox 360 had been poised a serious console for serious gamers, not one which has games where you get up and wave your arms around to make someone move or shoot. Call it a half-baked approach, but one that Microsoft has fully removed themselves from with the ceasing of all Kinect-related production. Time to let the secondhand market to kick in if you still want one.

It will be interesting to see in the coming years how the Kinect fares on the secondhand market, and indeed if there is a market for it whatsoever. It was something of a gimmick of its time, and now that we have fullly moved past it, will people be interesting in using this peripheral in the future for any sort of retro gaming? Only time will well on this one. I don't own a Kinect but have plans on some games that require one, so acquiring one of each for the Xbox 360 and the Xbox One has to happen at some point.

Coming up on Friday: Some Halo, and some World of Tanks news.
Posted by CyberPunch83 on 09 January 18 at 05:38 | There are 2 comments on this blog post - Please log in to comment on this blog.
Jan
06
PermalinkReports of my Death...
I'm back from my Christmas break/exile. Some things have happened in the game industry, most notably even more fallout around Star Wars Battlefront II. The sad thing seems to be how the singleplayer campaign tacked on to the game in an attempt to justify its price tag seems to be decent if a little unimaginative. But we're not going to get into that now, mostly because that is a game I highly doubt I could ever be paid to play. Much as I like Star Wars, it just isn't for me. I prefer mine in brick format most of the time.

What is for me are crappy games, movie-based games, and LEGO games. All of which can be found in abundance here for all to enjoy. For those wondering, my Christmas and New Year's went well, spent some time with my girlfriend and my family and all that wonderful stuff. So what better way to start 2018 and ring in the new year then to review a game from 2006? Answer: exactly the kind of content people have come to expect from this blog over the last three years. Yes I am aware I missed that anniversary technically, but I'll make up for it with the blog's fourth birthday this September.

LEGO Star Wars II Micro-Review: The problem with playing games out of order in a series is sometimes you go back to an older game and find absolutely nothing new from the newer game you've already played, leading to an almost false sense of disappointment at finding nothing new. That could have very well been the case here with LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy, but there is still enough charm and clever sight gags to keep this game entertaining and overall pretty fun to play.

A couple of protips I picked up along the way which I will now pass on to you. If you're struggling to earn studs, there is a 50,000 stud bonus for completing each level's minikit, totaling 900,000 extra studs to be had there. For the more completion-focused among us, there is also a 100,00 stud bonus for each Gold Brick earned after 60. With 99 Gold Bricks in the game, this translates to another 3.9 million studs to be claimed for being somewhat thorough with the game. Given the millions needed for some Red Bricks, this should come in handy.

Last protip: if going for the 'complete X level with no deaths' achievement, be very careful in land vehicles. If it gets destroyed with you inside it, while you may not die, the game counts it as a death attributed to you. Found this out the hard way on Endor a couple of times. Extra care needs to be taken with the AT-ST walkers seen primarily in Episode VI levels. Keep this in mind and the only reuly hard levels will be the flying-only levels. Good luck with those, especially the last level of episode VI.

Being an older LEGO game, you basically know exactly what to expect. If you've played the somewhat recently-free LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga, you will already played 50% of this game and it will be an opportunity to play it once more in its original format. Kind of a shame the very first LEGO Star Wars game was not released on this generation of consoles, since it was the prequel trilogy in a standalone game. At least we have 27 other LEGO games with which we can occupy our free time and enjoy some brick adventures.

Verdict: another fun and charming LEGO game. Sometimes shows its age. 7/10

Let's quickly talk about goals. I made on this site a couple of years back, and it totally crashed and burned when World of Tanks released a title update containing an achievement that took two solid months of playing nothing but the game non-stop to accomplish. This past year a similar long grind took place, for a slightly different aspect of the game but nonetheless one that still took many months of concerted effort and grinding. Long story short, I am very intimately familiar with Chinese Medium tanks and American Artillery by now.

Assuming Wargaming isn't actively reading this and trying to devise something to interfere with my gaming goals once again, I have some unofficial goals for 2018, which may turn into actual goals in an effort to keep me on track and focused on said goals. The first of which is easy enough to understand: 300,000 Gamerscore. As of this writing my Gamerscore does not end in a 0 or 5 thanks to Overcooked, a game I will be writing about here in the coming weeks. Ideally that gets finished and the matching 199G achievement is earned.

The other goals I have can be seen as more curated to this site. I want to complete some games I've had on my card for quite a while and this seems like as good of a year as any to get them done. Two games that stand out as prime candidates are Halo: the Master Chief Collection and Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition. The former has one annoying multiplayer achievement left which I am slowly grinding, and the latter has all multiplayer achievements, some of which can be earned solo. That will still require boosting, so let me know if you're interested in that.

I know I'm a bit late to the party on this one, but I hope everyone has a safe and happy 2018. May the achievements be frequent and the Gamerscore be ever-increasing.

Coming up on Monday: too many cooks.
Posted by CyberPunch83 on 06 January 18 at 05:32 | There are no comments on this blog - Please log in to comment on this blog.