CyberPunch83's Blog - Jan to Mar 18 (40 followers)

PermalinkIndistinct Voices and Unfamiliar Sounds
Here's one I've never done before. A First Thoughts on a game I haven't played on my card yet. Long story short, the game is on petranat's console and I played it on her account a day or two before this writing. To my knowledge this game had somewhat of a reputation before I played it, and was one of the first things I had heard about the game. Not necessarily the best first impression, but at this point I've played so many truly awful games that one more wouldn't hurt that much, unless we have something of a 'straw that broke the camel's back' situation, in which case yes it will hurt a lot.

NORTH First Thoughts: The ID@Xbox program is a shining beacon for indie developers to release their games to an audience much wider than what would have been achieved otherwise, either through self-distribution or going through a platform oversaturated with lower-quality indie titles like Steam. The service will always have my respect and admiration for giving an opportunity like this to game developers everywhere. However not everyone that comes through there has a quality game to show. NORTH is one of those titles.

You play as a nameless, silent protagonist who has fled from his homeland of South Wherever to the bustling city of North Wherever. Without understanding the language and culture, and with basically no means of communication other than to your sister and family back home, you have to find a way to ensure survival for both you and the family counting on you. The game doesn't really tell you any of that. Instead you're surrounded by drab stone walls, skyscrapers that never seem to end, and blazing neon lights as far as the eye can see.

The game's developer even goes as far as to state in the official game description that the visuals were inspired by science fiction classic Blade Runner. And the best part is I love those visuals. Some of my favourite games from both the original Xbox and Xbox 360 generations have a similar visual style, which drew me to those games in the first place. I'm willing to give the visuals a tentative pass, though it still gets some stick for the visuals not looking like they have been updated since 2003. This game was originally released on PC in 2016. Something had to change in thirteen years.

Without going into spoiler territory of the gameplay itself, this game is based around trippy visuals, a sense of exploration mixed with fear and a surprisingly good soundtrack that fits in very nicely with the game's aesthetics. Sadly the gameplay does not hold up, and the whole ordeal is over and done with in less than half an hour, maybe stretched to one hour if you include reading all of the ancillary material like the letters sent to your family back home. Also there is no menu and no pause function to the whole game has to be completed in one sitting. Whoever approved that was insane.

To close out today, a review for a game I stared at on a shelf for months before finally starting to play it about two weeks ago.

Iron Man Micro-Review: The game is done, I have some thoughts and musings about the game, let's go. Flying controls continue to suck. You can hover/gain altitude and fly forward no problem, but the game doesn't really like it much when you round corners. Your cornering speed is not very fast, so it might be best to slow down to make sure you won't crash anywhere. You don't lose health from crashing, but it takes all momentum away and can lead to taking unnecessary damage, especially on Formidable difficulty, also known in any other game as Hard Mode.

I'm not sure why the game went with 'Formidable' for it's Hard difficulty, when the lower two difficulty levels are named as you would expect: Easy and Normal. I've got a plan for a full blog on that specifically and some of the dumbest names out there for difficulties. Keep an eye out for that one in a few weeks' time. I'm going to be calling it Hard Mode for the rest of this review. The biggest change is you take significantly more damage, while your enemies don't gain any additional health. That second point is actually a blessing in disguise given what you're in for later on.

The AI is a lot more aggressive and fires a lot more often, to the point the game will slow down on you just to try and render everything that's on-screen at any given time. This is incredibly frustrating when you are flying and trying to duck and weave around obstacles and missiles, only to have the game begin to chug and get in your way. The boss fights are about the same, with maybe a bit more health and a lot more enemy fire to avoid. For the rest of my thoughts on the game, please see my First Thoughts about this game from March 13th.

Verdict: another film adaptation, one should have stayed in that cave. 3/10

Coming up on Friday: a Micro-Review for NORTH.
Posted by CyberPunch83 on 19 March 18 at 17:21 | There are no comments on this blog - Please log in to comment on this blog.
PermalinkShadows of the Tomb Raider
We're going to put a hold on the original planned content for today in favour of some stories that broke in the last few days instead. Frankly these stories are all huge and could in any other week warrant a blog all their own, but instead we're going to combine them here instead. We'll start with the older piece of news, which is the official confirmation of Shadow of the Tomb Raider, the next entry in the Survivor Timeline Tomb Raider games. For a quick explanation of the timeline name, check the game's wiki, since they have far more information.

What we do know is it's the next full entry in the series, chronologically taking place after the events of 2015's Rise of the Tomb Raider. Other details are slim at this point, though it's worth mentioning we have been somewhat aware of the game's development for a while now, since late 2016. A reddit user spotted someone working on a slideshow on their laptop on the train, with a Shadow of the Tomb Raider logo mostly visible in the upper-right corner. Square Enix never publicly commented on this leak, stating the usual line about not commenting on rumours or speculation.

The last detail that lent credence to this leak was the location this photo was taken: Montréal, Quebec. The home of the Eidos Montréal studio, who gave us the Thief reboot in 2014, along with the last two Deus Ex titles, Human Revolution in 2011 and Mankind Divided in 2016. The same developer also worked alongside Crystal Dynamics on the two released games in the Survivor Timeline Tomb Raider games. All of this together all but confirmed this was at least the working title for the game, and it was being developed at least in part in Montréal with the Eidos team.

Full disclosure: I haven't yet played Rise of the Tomb Raider, however I do own a physical copy of the game. Quick aside on that, once my current in-progress title is completed (Iron Man on the Xbox 360), I have one other game planned for playing and then it's on to some actual physical Xbox One games. The last one I've touched was Halo: Master Chief Collection, which has been well-documented here over the last six months or so. Aside over. I will be playing Rise of the Tomb Raider, ideally before getting or playing Shadow. However I don't have long, since the game currently has a rumoured release date of September 14th.

That's well ahead of the usual slew of fall releases, which includes Red Dead Redemption 2 this year, and hopefully far enough ahead that it's not caught up in the wave of releases and ultimately forgotten. I don't think this will happen since I believe the brand to have enough name recognition, at least enough so to get a film adaptation that is just arriving in theatres as of this writing. Generally this is seen as a positive step for the health and strength of a franchise, to say nothing of the quality of the film itself and how faithful of an adaptation it is or is not. That's not what we're here for.

Expect a lot more information about this game at E3, or maybe even sooner. One game that has seen many E3 appearances, for better or worse is Star Wars Battlefront II. They went and made some news again, and this one is pretty breaking as well. In a major upcoming update that should go live in the next month, EA and DICE have announced they will be dropping paid loot boxes entirely from Battlefront II and only making cosmetic items available for direct purchase. Better late than never to be sure, and it's about time EA have either listened or shown they have been listening since the game's launch.

The new way the box system works is earning crates upon daily logins,and completing timed challenges. All premium paid boxes will be gone, leaving only paid boxes that contain cosmetic items like emotes and poses. The actually meaningful items, like Star Cards and character power-ups, will be earned through levelling up characters and earning skill points to distribute to said Star Cards, instead of throwing money at boxes that may or may not even contain the cards you were looking for in the first place. I guess all that talk about gambling and regulations must have finally go to EA.

While this one update may not bring people back to the game in numbers EA and DICE may want, it's a step in the right direction for both a game and a franchise that has left quite the sour aftertaste on many people. This is also the same loot box system that had to undergo significant changes before Battlefront II even released, based on the feedback of playtesters. Given the rumours of the Star Wars license being revoked from EA, this could be seen as something of a reactionary measure. This is entirely rumour though, and nothing has ever been confirmed one way or another.

What's your take on this news, either Shadow of the Tomb Raider being confirmed, or EA finally listening to the players? Let me know in the comments. Coming up on Monday: a progress Report on an Invincible superhero.
Posted by CyberPunch83 on 16 March 18 at 18:46 | There are 2 comments on this blog post - Please log in to comment on this blog.
PermalinkGenius Billionaire Playboy Philanthropist
Slime Rancher Micro-Review: This is more of a review as the game stands now, since there is more content planned for release for this title at some point. The 'Mochi's Megabucks' update drops March 13th for PC, which may or may not be out by the time you read this. The update is set for release on consoles a little bit later according to the most recent release from the game's developer, Monomi Park. Now, about the game itself. I've finished playing it, and it was a lot of fun from start to finish. I don't think I've said this enough, but the slimes are adorable in their own unique ways.

Visuals aside, the game does offer some additional content once you've completed what passes for the main 'story' or narrative in the game, and this content contains some of the best rewards you can hope to achieve. This content, and the monetary reward provided, ties into what will become the biggest money-sink in the entire game. There is a sort of in-game prestige system, which requires more and more money to reach each successive level. Reaching level 22 is all but essential to earn one of the hardest achievements in the game, along with unlocking access to the area you will need for it as well.

Not going into spoiler territory here about that, but suffice to say the areas are hidden, you will know when you find one, and the rewards are well worth it. Not everything is perfect about this game, like the amount of hunting you may have to do if you miss the one opportunity to find and farm Gold Slimes in the entire game. If you don't use one of the post-game areas, you're stuck with grinding an area, vacuuming up slimes in the hope a gold one will pop out, since there is always a small chance one will come out where a normal slime of any type will appear.

Other than hoping a Gold Slime will show up when you need one, some achievements require going out of your way to complete certain actions. Said achievements don't require much effort or preparation, however I noticed a strange issue with the 'While You Were Away' achievement. I was away from the ranch for more than 48 in-game hours, and upon my return the achievement didn't unlock. I tried it again, making sure not to use any of the teleporters, and it still didn't work. What ended up working for me was sitting on the island with the Pink Gordo and the achievement unlocked upon my return. I'll take it.

Verdict: a fun title added to the Games with Gold program that I probably wouldn't have played otherwise. 7/10

Iron Man First Thoughts: The Marvel Cinematic Universe has become a multibillion-dollar industry unto itself on the strength of seventeen films at the time of this writing. The games have been a mixed bag at best, for the few that have been made. Not counting LEGO games in this one, since those games have a charm and style of fun that shines through any franchise license slapped on top. What I'm talking about are the games directly based on the films, and this one, like the film it was adapted from, is a first entry, and as a result has some strange quirks about it.

The controls are very clunky. Sure Iron Man can fly in every suit configuration other than the original Mk I suit, but that's because that one was built in a cave with whatever Tony Stark had available while held captive. We're not going to dock points for that one. What we will dock points for are the horrible flight controls. Holding LT most of the way down (halfway down according to the game) will let you hover at your present altitude. What the game really should have said is anything other than LT fully held down will trigger hover mode. Holding LT all the way down increases height. Letting off LT entirely slowly lowers you down.

The rest of the controls aren't great either, and the camera is near-useless. It flings itself around at every opportunity and is usually more interested in examining a patch of grass two feet to the left of your current target. Thankfully the game has an auto-lock system for targets, although you have to be within a certain distance to the target. So close as to almost render the auto-lock useless but you have it anyway. Fair enough. The character models for Iron Man are the high point of the visuals. Everything looks like generic game locales #14-21 and the cutscenes have that weird late-2000's look where everything is too fluid and undefined in shape.

The voice actors are close enough in their performances. Robert Downey Jr is back as Tony Stark, as is Terrence Howard as James 'Rhodey' Rhodes. Gwenyth Paltrow's Pepper Potts and Jeff Bridges' Obadiah Stane are soundalikes. It is noticeable in that it's different from the film, but I had to look it up online to confirm RDJ's involvement in this game since he really doesn't sound like himself. It's said that some actors really phone it in when voicing their character for a video game, and that may have been the case here. Everything else about the game is relatively standard and unimpressive. Perhaps it will get better as the story goes on. I have my doubts.

Coming up on Friday: some minor news from the Fallout universe, and a potential game reveal.
Posted by CyberPunch83 on 13 March 18 at 06:12 | There are 2 comments on this blog post - Please log in to comment on this blog.
PermalinkAsleep at the Controls
As I alluded to at the end of Monday's blog, the game we are taking a quick look at here today is one that at first glance might be in violation of some rules, but the game would not have made it to release if that had been the case. Regardless of that, this has to be the single strangest and quite possibly the stupidest thing I've seen happen on the Xbox platform. Let me introduce you to a little game known as W.O.R.L.D.S: Win Own Reinvent Live Discover Sim. Long enough game title to be sure, but the unusual name aside, that's just the start.

Full disclosure: I haven't played this game yet myself, and for reasons I will make very clear soon enough, I will not be playing this game. Before I knew anything else about it, the game did something to bother me to such an extent that I couldn't in good conscience play this game or ever have it show up on my card. The game is an element-matching title, like the many Doodle God entries we've seen before now and will surely see in the future. In this way the game is likely perfectly fine and playable, and also is a free title which is always nice to see as well.

If we take a look at the achievement list, everything really starts to fall apart. The total Gamerscore available from this title is 1,048. No, this is not a typo, it really does total up to that weird of a number. Why? We may never know, but we can always float some theories as to why the developer would top out at such a strange amount. Let's first establish this isn't the first time a game's total Gamerscore pre-DLC is not 1,000. The actual first time was Condemned: Criminal Origins, a launch title for the Xbox 360 way back in 2005. It capped out at 970 Gamerscore. Being the early days of the console, there weren't really hard rules on such things yet.

Other games since then have included odd-pointed achievements, which always topped out at a total ending in 5 or 0, which meant as long as you unlocked all of the achievements would always mean a consistent Gamerscore total for the player. Since the release of Condemned in 2005, rules were set in place for what a game could have for available Gamerscore. Retail games had to have 1000, Arcade titles had to have 200, later increased to 400. These numbers could all be increased with DLC, however the increases in DLC allowances and game totals over time will be a whole blog in its own right given the sheer number of changes that have been made over the years.

There is an even more rare case where a game will not ship with 1000 available Gamerscore on-disc, where the remainder will be filled in with DLC later. While this does have the side effect of confirming a game will have DLC shipped for it eventually, which can be good or bad depending on whether or not you are a fan of the game or franchise. However all of that is dependent on the DLC actually being released. Let me introduce you to Hellboy: The Science of Evil. Released in 2008, the game with 840 Gamerscore available on-disc with the remaining 160 as shipped DLC achievements to be unlocked later.

However this DLC never came. No announcement, no name, not even a planned release date. To this day it sits on TA as 'Unreleased Add-On' and that's all we know about it, along with what the achievements were meant to be for and their unlock conditions. As a result you can only earn 840 Gamerscore and have one more uncompletable game on your card. Both this and Condemned aren't nearly as bad since both of their totals end in a 0, therefore not messing up anyone's Gamerscore total. However this all is comparably tame when you factor what W.O.R.L.D.S. did to common sense and Gamerscore everywhere.

The only other potential route this game could take with releasing a game with such an odd score would be planning on releasing a second game or expansion to the first game that rounds out the number, effectively holding your Gamerscore total at ransom unless you don't mind the number not being a 5 or 0 by natural means. This must seem odd since I myself currently have a Gamerscore that ends in a 1, but that's due to a game in progress which will even out to 1000 in the end so I'm not worried about it. Not like it's an overly-difficult route anyway.

With odd-pointed games in mind, there is the possibility I may write a blog about just that in the coming weeks as well. There are more than enough games that have done that through DLC additions, which ties nicely into how the rules for DLC have changed over the years to slowly move to the model we have now. Long story short, under the old rules games like Halo: The Master Chief Collection and Assassin's Creed: The Ezio Collection would not have had the massive Gamerscore totals they boast now without some serious rule changes that took place over the last ten years. For the record I plan on playing and completing both of those games before the end of the year. Consider it another stretch goal.

Coming up on Monday: one final look at my farming career.
Posted by CyberPunch83 on 09 March 18 at 23:11 | There are 2 comments on this blog post - Please log in to comment on this blog.
PermalinkStuff we Found in the Microwave
Bit of an unusual one here today, since this one is more about some semi-random thoughts and musings I've had over the last year or so, none of which were really long enough for a blog in their own right. Some of them actually did managed to get spun out into their own piece, but all of these you see before you just couldn't get there for one reason or another. If this goes over well, I can look into making this into a semi-regular feature since I more than likely have enough disconnected thoughts floating around that could be put to the blog here.


Call of Duty needs to take a break. I feel like this is no less than the twentieth time I've suggested this on the blog alone, to say nothing of conversations had with friends and co-workers. The franchise that has not stopped to catch its breath or take any sort of break is flying headlong into oblivion as ever. Even with three different development teams behind this juggernaut and the rotating schedule for developers, it's not enough to keep everything fresh and new. Assassin's Creed apparently learned a lot from its forced break back in 2016, silver screen performance aside. Maybe it's time Activision learned that lesson.

But we all know they won't. This year it's Treyarch up for development duties, and there's a strong chance we'll just see Black Ops IV. Expect to see it 'leaked' sometime around May, a reveal on or before E3, and an absolute cavalcade of trailers and screenshots until its inevitable November release and massive Christmas sales. Call me jaded if you want, but this pace has been unsustainable for a while now and it's high time something slows down before it breaks down. All of this despite the fact that Modern Warfare 4 might still get me back if the Zombies mode wasn't tacked-on to add perceived value to the entire package.


Music and rhythm games saw a brief resurgence this generation with the return of the old heavyweights in Guitar Hero Live and Rock Band 4. As much as it was nice to see a return of franchises that last saw their popularity peak when I was in high school, something never felt quite right about it. Not helped was the fact that I saw this coming back in 2013. There was a probably-internal MadCatz survey about the franchise that was circulated that a friend of mine found and showed me. Given the font and layout of said survey, it was guaranteed to be Rock Band 4. Fast forward two years and there you go.

Like some film franchises, some game franchises don't know when to quit and will always be making more games. For a while it had seemed like this genre had oversaturated itself to the point of no further games, and it seemed like a fitting end. A genre that exploded onto the scene last generation, enjoyed a brief time in the glory and the spotlight, then burned out just as quickly, never to return. Instead they popped up again years after people last thought about these games and expected the people to come back in droves. While some did doubtless return, it couldn't have been in the numbers either Activision or MadCatz were expecting.


Remasters need to stop. Recently, de Blob 2 was re-released on the Xbox One, despite the gamg originally releasing for the Xbox 360 back in 2011, and the game being available through backward compatibility. To make matters worse, reviews like the one here on TA correctly point out that save for a few cleaner edges and one new achievement, the game is the same as it was seven years ago and did not take advantage of the increased power on the Xbox One. For a game all about colours and visuals, this seems like a misstep to effectively ignore what the new platform can do. We are also apparently scraping the bottom of the remake barrel at this point as well.

If you asked for this remake, then I hope you enjoy it. For the rest of us that either never heard of this game until now or are not interested in playing it again (I'm in the latter category myself), this seems like a waste of time for THQ Nordic who have other, newer games they should be focusing on right now. de Blob 2 was an entertaining enough game, but not one I can see myself playing again. I can only imagine what game we will next see re-made for current-gen consoles if this is allowed to continue. My money is on a Dead Space remake with all of the microtransactions from the third game brought in and you have to supply a credit card number to start the game.

Coming up on Friday: the single stupidest thing I have ever seen in ten years of Xbox gaming.
Posted by CyberPunch83 on 06 March 18 at 04:47 | There are 5 comments on this blog post - Please log in to comment on this blog.