CyberPunch83's Blog - Jan to Mar 18 (39 followers)

PermalinkReactionary Measures
This blog can be fully categorized under 'unfortunate coincidence'. This week saw probably the second or third instance of a game being announced as upcoming in the Games With Gold program, and it's a game I have either purchased if not played and completed within the last 6-8 months. I'm sure that has happened to other people just as much, if not more but that doesn't make it any less of an annoying coincidence. This time the game in question is Disney Pixar's Brave. Coming to a Games With Gold near you in March 2018, and already came and went through my console and petranat's gamercard months ago.

For those that might not know, the game is a relatively linear action adventure game based around the 2012 film. You play as Merida, and the optional player two plays as an endless series of wisps who have some combat potential but mostly serve as a spawn anchor and collectible vacuum while player one is the main force cutting down enemies. The game is a bit longer than can be completed in one day, but it's entertaining enough and for the most part you can turn your brain off and enjoy the game for what it is: an ultimately forgettable Disney title. Check out my review blog from a few months back for my full take on the game.

Games With Gold taketh, but occasionally Games With Gold giveth as well. Split/Second and Blur are two racing/combat games released a week apart back in May 2010. Being an old fan of the Burnout franchise and no new game on the horizon at the time, I figured I would have to play one of them to see if that particular itch could be scratched. That decision of whether to play Split/Second or Blur was a decision made for me, when I turned on my console one day to find Blur started on my card with two achievements unlocked offline, with no timestamp to track it down. I guess I had to play Blur then. Which I did from December 2013 to January 2014.

For more information about that little adventure, read my blog from that time and more about this very strange situation which I have never fully been able to explain. Kind of wish I could, but with no timestamp and no clear reason or suspected person that could have done this, it will always remain a bit of a strange mystery. At least it was a game I was able to complete. Since then, the other game of this little unlikely pair, Split/Second is heading to Games With Gold in March 2018, which I am looking forward to playing to see which vehicle combat game that isn't called Burnout is superior. Expect a blog or two about that game likely over the summer as I work through the backlog.

Of course Games With Gold overall has been more hits than misses, giving players a free copy of some great titles. I do feel bad for Xbox gamers in places like South Korea and Japan, since according to Wikipedia, a lot of the games we got in North America were replaced with other titles over there, and often the same title multiple times. There can't be many things more annoying than finding out what the next month's free games are, only to find it was previously the free game a few months ago, and not only do you already have it, but you've already completed it as well. Let's hope that practice ends soon and never happens to gamers here either.

In other news, a game was announced earlier this week, for release later this year which has me genuinely excited to see a return of a franchise I thought dormant for at least six years now. Burnout Paradise Remastered is coming in March 16th, and this is probably the first remaster in quite a while which has me excited. Paradise was one of my favourite games on the Xbox 360, and the move of Burnout to an open-world game was one of the best things they could have done. It opened the door for so many new possibilities in gameplay and setting up the series' trademark Crash Mode, which can be executed anywhere in the game, and not just on pre-set tracks or courses. More freedom is always a good thing.

All eight DLC packs released for the game are being packed in as well, which makes the 40$ price tag that much easier to swallow. The single best one released was Big Surf Island, an entire separate area connected to the main city via bridge that is a playground for all things stunts and jumps. Factor in increased resolution, improved textures, and doubtless some other improvements, and this will make one of the better game releases this year up to that point, since I'm pretty sure some absolutely monumental announcements are coming at E3 this year. It just feels like one of those years, and I hope I'm not wrong. We'll just have to wait until June to find out.

What games are you looking forward to this year? What do you want to see announced at E3? Let me know in the comments. Coming up on Monday: meanwhile, back at the ranch.
Posted by CyberPunch83 on 23 February 18 at 14:23 | Last edited on 23 February 18 at 19:01 | There are 3 comments on this blog post - Please log in to comment on this blog.
PermalinkDivergence Point
The Achievement Research Project is finished. Let's just come right out and say that. But I'm not done with everything I want to do for it just yet. There is one small re-version I want to make, and I have just the plan to do it as well. There are a lot of achievements whose names are 'The something'. In the current version of the Achievement Research Project listing, those achievements have their own listing. For example, 'The Collector' is separate from 'Collector'. I plan on doing another version of the list where I do the opposite and combine them into one. It should serve as an interesting comparison point.

I am going to make a modification to the list where the word 'The' in an achievement title is effectively ignored. This will result in different totals and maybe even a new most popular achievement name. The idea came up for this when these achievement names were first reached. Since some rulings had to be made up on the go, not every possibility was accounted for when the project was started. However the rulings were decided with enough time to not go back and re-do half of the project, which would have been a major pain had that needed to be done for any reason. This project will be ongoing over a few weeks.

The plan is to make a second document for the Achievement Research Project, one list with the 'The' included and one with 'The' not included. From there the results can be compared to see if any movement takes place for the title of most common achievement. Once that is done, all the files will be uploaded for all to see. I wanted to do that right after the initial research was done, but this opportunity was pointed out to me and I decided it would be a worthwhile endeavour since someone was likely going to ask about it anyway had I not done this myself. Consider this to be me getting out ahead of that and taking this other route so no one asks about it later.

Keep an eye out for that in the coming weeks, or as soon as I can get it done. Whichever comes first. In the meantime, here's some thoughts on a new game I started. Yes, I still do that. Though I should probably look into starting one of the physical games I own soon. Haven't touched one of those in quite a while and haven't started one of them in even longer, so it might be time to (hopefully not literally) dust off the disc collection and play one of those. If it weren't for the relatively prominent location in which I keep these games, it is very possible I would have forgotten about them by now in favour of the constant stream of digital games available to play.

Slime Rancher First Thoughts: Take the farming and growing aspect of Harvest Moon, throw in some visuals that wouldn't look out of place in No Man's Sky, and add in some slime creatures that could have flopped right out of a Katamari game. Wrap it all up under some premise about farming said slimes on a remote alien world and you basically have the premise of Slime Rancher summed up. However don't let the ease at which the game can be summed up let you think it's a dull or boring title by any means. There is quite a lot of fun to be had here.

The main game mechanic is building pens with which you collect and store various slimes, each with their own abilities and quirks and sometimes different storage requirements. Your character is equipped with a gun that can pick up and spit out different slimes and items wherever and whenever you please. This ties back to the collection aspect of the game. The slimes all generate items called plorts, which are sold to make money, which goes back into other apsects of the farm, like more pens, upgrades for pens and buildings, or ranch expansions.

The in-game economy does seem to behave in a way to be expected of such a thing. The market reacts to sudden influxes of product and their selling price will drop over time. Stop selling an item and the price will go up over a few in-game days to a point where you can make the most money again. Your main goal while doing this is to unlock and explore more of the planet, while trying to make sense of journal logs found throughout the world, presumably left behind by someone who was a farmer before you. There is a narrative to keep you going.

In about four hours of gameplay, I managed to earn 15 of the game's 57 achievements. I know there is a lot left to do, and most of that comes down to exploring and opening up the map for further exploration and discovery. Given the sheer number of mechanics at play here, the game comes with its own in-game encyclopedia of information, which you fill in as you discover new areas and slime types. There is an achievement for filling out this entire encyclopedia of information, and will most likely be the last achievement earned while playing this game. In place of one of those 'earn all other achievements' type things, this is the closest equivalent.

Coming up on Friday: screwed over by coincidence.
Posted by CyberPunch83 on 20 February 18 at 23:32 | There are no comments on this blog - Please log in to comment on this blog.
PermalinkUp, up and Back Down Again
Another week, another update to World of Tanks. This one, update 4.3, gives us the Chinese TD branch, which may be the line with the least amount of historical accuracy since the introduction of the Japanese Heavies. At least there are real either documents or production models for most of those. The tanks are alright, mostly being copies of existing Soviet designs with minor changes, or based on other proposed modifications of real Chinese tanks. Not to say the tanks are no good, but some of their designs are a little uninspired, if not a little boring as well. If this is what you're looking for in World of Tanks, then they have just the new tank branch for you.

I'm always happy to see more content added to the game, and for a game that has been around as long as this one, it's no surprise eventually Wargaming may run out of original ideas for new vehicles. At which point they should work on balancing the ones they do have. However we all know this won't happen since that is not nearly as profitable as releasing a new premium vehicle every few weeks for those ardent collectors who insist on owning every premium tank. Trust me, they are out there. I've played with a few of them before.

In other news, TA may need to look at the way they list the completion times for episodic games. Some of you may know that in the last few weeks I played a great many games I owned with completion times of two hours or less. While I enjoyed these games and did have fun with them, it got to a point where the next games in the list were episodic, specifically the Telltale Walking Dead games. The completion estimate listed is only for the first episode, and the number of episodes in a season can range anywhere from three to eight.

Since by this point all of these games have had their full seasons released, it would be pertinent to show the actual completion time for the entire season. Perhaps a toggle for the completion for just the first episode and the entire season, in a similar manner to how on a series page on TA you can toggle between all entries and only unique entries. This would give an idea of just how much time is truly required for full completion. In the case of Telltale games they are generally very straightforward and self-contained so it will not take long.

Eventually I'll get to all of these games and many others in my endless quest for Gamerscore. At least this year I have a definite goal of 300,000 Gamerscore which is more than attainable with my current crop of games both physically and digitally owned. Just a matter of getting right down to it and getting some more games knocked out. I'll make some progress updates on that in the coming months as I hopefully complete this and the one other goal I have laid out for myself here on TA for 2018. In the meantime, here's a review for an awful movie-based game.

Disney Pixar's Up Micro-Review: Movie-based games come with few expectations of quality, decent gameplay and graphic fidelity, and this game came close to not meeting any of those hurdles. You play as Carl and Russell, the geriatric man with a floating house and an overweight overachieving boy scout. The unlikely duo play through some linear levels, mostly set in a jungle environment, with two flight levels tacked on for seemingly just good measure. For those missions you play as the dog named Dug where you go Red Baron on some other biplanes in brief shooting sections, one of which has you protecting someone else.

The jungle levels contain some minor-league platforming, collectibles in three flavours, and the ability to do two-player co-op in a game with no camera control. The game constantly reminds you of the ability to do co-op with a big 'P2 press start to join' flashing in the upper right corner of the screen for the entire game. You do need at least a second controller if not a second person for one achievement. Otherwise everything else can be earned solo and in one run of the game no less. You'll be thankful by the end it's only one run.

This game is painful. The enemy types are generic, no camera control, no course correction mid-air either. If you jump to get a collectible or a coin, you better pray you faced the right direction when you jumped since you can't change direction mid-air to get it. This makes for some frustrating sections where that ability would make getting from point A to point B a breeze. Also there are some levels where the collectibles are found basically out of order. Each level has a Bronze, Silver and Gold collectible, and sometimes the Gold is found first, or the Silver found last.

Verdict: rent or borrow if you really want to play it. This game should have stayed grounded. 2/10

Coming up on Monday: an update to the Achievement Research Project.
Posted by CyberPunch83 on 16 February 18 at 21:24 | There are no comments on this blog - Please log in to comment on this blog.
PermalinkBack to the Wasteland
As I alluded to last week in a blog, I've been playing quite a bit of Fallout 3 recently. I discovered a YouTube channel that goes over side quests and their related locations, going into detail on all related lore to the area, connections to other people and quests, and any notable loot you can get along the way. The channel is called 'Oxhorn', and I highly recommend you check it out if you're ever in the mood for some lore of Fallout 3, New Vegas and 4. Pretty sure he posts a new video almost every day for the more voracious content consumers out there.

Personally I've been re-visiting some old areas I hadn't been to since their respective quests, and it would be interesting to see what I had missed, or what I decided I would now collect and keep in my player-owned house. To start, there are multiple housing options in the game, and for the record I chose the house in Megaton. This is my base of operations from which I will scour the Capital Wasteland for anything of value, and some items of no value just because I want them in large quantities in my house. We start with the Arlington Library.

One thing that was very apparent about my first playthrough of the game was that I was quite inconsistent with searching for and picking up loot through my travels. Most of that I attribute to not managing my weight effectively and having to leave some items behind out of necessity, others are armour and miscellaneous items I didn't want before, and a third category seems to be rooms I completely bypassed while on my way to complete a mission or quest. Seriously I found closed doors and locked safes that were way below my skill level for the time. There's no excuse.

A lot of the items you find in-game which can be seen as 'vendor trash' or miscellaneous items do have value. Either in what they are and being sold to vendors, or as craftable weapon parts. It's more often the latter. Even for those items which cannot be made into something, there is a weapon that can fire any random junk you find, meaning everything is potential ammunition. This hasn't led me to collect absolutely everything, since I'm not trying to pick the wasteland clean, just take any all items of appreciable value.

The list of places I have currently re-visited include the Anchorage War Memorial, Arlington Library, Statesman Hotel, Our Lady of Hope Hospital, and Ranger Compound. I had searched most of the area in and around the town of Grayditch, however that save file, and amazingly the autosave file, both became corrupted, resulting in about six hours of lost progress. Everything in the above list except the War Memorial had to be searched again since my save progress was gone from that point forward. This brings me to another important point about Fallout 3: the save system.

Being an RPG, and more accurately being a Bethesda RPG, the save system is fairly robust in the sense that you can save anywhere at any time, and the game autosaves for you whenever you load a new map area. This normally manifests in an autosave made every time you exit a building or structure. This is not a bad thing. What is a bad thing is that robust does not always mean stable, for this same system is not. It is my understanding these saves get more and more fragile as they age, to the point now where the save may not take and might just result in a quiet game crash, forcing a hard reset of the console.

If you do attempt a save under these conditions, my advice would be to do so right after the game successfully makes an autosave. This way nothing will be lost if the game does bug out and freeze everything while trying to make a save. This is to say nothing of the same system seen in Fallout: New Vegas. While that game is on the same engine as 3, saves were handled slightly differently. The widest-known and reported bug was successively-larger save files as the game couldn't quite handle saving over itself too many times without the file becoming bloated.

To my knowledge Fallout 4 does not have these sorts of issues with save files. The most common complaint I can find without completely spoiling the plot of the game for myself is some of the sidequests are endless and very annoying, and the map wasn't well-designed in the sense there is a lot of area not used to its full potential. However I'm sure I will find my own list of things to complain about when I play Fallout 4 for myself.. eventually. That game is so big and the time investment will be so large I can't just start that game whenever I please. That requires planning.

In the meantime, I'll be re-scouring all buildings and structures in Fallout 3 for all of the loot I missed the first time. Who knows: I might even come across a unique weapon or two that I've missed in the now 300+ hours on this save file, according to the in-game timer. If anything of particular note is found, or I've searched a considerable chunk of the game in search for stuff, I'll make another post here. Don't expect it for a while though, as there may not be much to write about Fallout-wise for a long time here on this blog.

Coming up on Friday: old people, overweight children, and balloons.
Posted by CyberPunch83 on 13 February 18 at 06:36 | There are no comments on this blog - Please log in to comment on this blog.
PermalinkIsland Hopper
I haven't written about Cuphead in a while despite playing it a fair bit and getting up to this point most of the 28 achievements. Still haven't finished the story once so I know there are a few achievements there to be earned which are story-based, but I've seen enough of the game to give it a full write-up here. Consider this to be two or three Progress Reports all rolled into one due to other blog topics getting priority. For those that want to know, I am currently in Inkwell Isle III and have two bosses and one run and gun level left to go. With that said, let's take a closer look at Cuphead and how it stands out from the proverbial pack.

The first thing anyone notices about the game is the unique animation and overall style of the game. I've blogged before about how pretty the game is and how evocative it is from the style of the 1930's, as the game constantly reminds you it's from that time period. Both in the character design and the environments wouldn't look out of place in an animated film from the time. I can't say enough nice things about it. Very unique as well, since there really haven't been other games that have tried this on for themselves outside of very small snippets here and there. Best to avoid them and enjoy the game at your own pace.

The game is challenging. I'm not going to call it hard, since it can be beaten with enough practice and enough patience. To call a game hard is to evoke Dark Souls and other such games, and I honestly don't believe Cuphead falls into that same category. Classifying a game as hard only brings forth players telling other players to 'get good' which is actually shorthand for 'if you weren't intrinsically good as this game and picked it up already able to master it, you shouldn't have played it'. Those sort of games don't often carry the best fan bases, or at least have some toxic aspects to be found in some corners.

The difficulty curve is real. Without going into spoilers, the game is divided into four sections, each represented as a different island. The difficulty and number of elements in each boss fight does ramp up significantly from one island to another. It's not uncommon to be briefly overwhelmed with the complexity of each fight when reaching a new island. Either some sort of new mechanic, or more objects on-screen to dodge. The best way to get an idea of the sheer difference would be to go from one of the first boss fights to one of the last and see just how much has changed. It really opens your eyes to the complexity.

This game has some very strong theming as well. Not only in each different island area, but in each boss fight as well. Each one has a very distinct look and feel, from a trio of garden vegetables to a pirate with sea monsters only a whistle's blow away. I don't want to spoil any of the bosses by going into depth and detail, but suffice to say each one is memorable in its own special way. There isn't really a theme in the bosses from one island to another, though there is usually some light connecting theme to them. This does extent to the areas in which they are found as well.

The run and gun levels serve as a fun distraction to the boss fights that make up most of the game. Again, they are designed and themed to the areas they are found, and they offer up a different challenge than the boss levels. 2D platforming meets the difficulty baked into this game in the best way possible. Tough, but ultimately beatable and always rewarding when you find the best route to score all five coins and the A-rank. Quick aside: each level has five coins to collect to buy power-ups and different special moves.

Gameplay protip: each run and gun level can be beaten without killing anyone. The achievement list for this game hints as much. Sometimes it means you need to take a hit in some placed where you would normally shoot someone and move on, but it can be done. It makes the run and gun levels more of 'run and duck' or 'run and avoid' levels. If you pull this off, there is a special P-rank earned on the level, which is above A-rank and does stand for Pacifist, as you probably guessed. Like many things, this is difficult bot rewarding to pull off.

Cuphead is a very unique game available on the Xbox platform right now. If you're a fan of games that aren't just a walk in the park and requires some actual effort, practice and skill, this is the game for you. If you like games that are evocative of 1930's animation from the likes of Fleischer and Disney, this is the game for you. If you like games in general, this game is worth checking out. You will not be disappointed and might even have found something you would have never played otherwise. Expect another Progress Report on this one when a bit more of the games has been completed, probably at least one playthrough.

Coming up on Monday: revisting a classic game and looking ahead to the next one.
Posted by CyberPunch83 on 10 February 18 at 04:53 | There are no comments on this blog - Please log in to comment on this blog.