CyberPunch83's Blog - Apr to Jun 18 (40 followers)
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Apr
20
PermalinkWalking Into the Sunset
There is a rant coming. You probably know what it's about at this point as well. Don't worry, I'm saving that one for Monday. I plan on fully going off on not only the stupid decision regarding the game title, but also the decision to drop what is an essential part of gaming. The coming rant is probably going to go off the rails pretty quick in terms of going from hard facts to actual opinions, so just wait and see for that one. For those of you that may not know, I'm talking about Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. It is happening and Treyarch have made some really bad decisions for their game.

In the meantime, here's two reviews for games completed in the last week.

JUJU Micro-Review: I went into this game basically as blind as I possibly could have. No idea about the story, characters or anything else, just a look at the achievement list to see what I was in for with the game itself. Turns out JUJU is a 2.5D side-scrolling platformer that looks a bit like a knockoff of Donkey Kong Country with the different worlds, abilities, and absolutely no voice over acting whatsoever. Turns out there's a reason for that last point: the game is Polish in origin and the developer probably wanted to save money on porting the game to other regions.

You play as Juju, a shaman panda, trying to rescue your father, sadly not named Po, from an evil bat named Calypso. Not Po was also a shaman and protector of these evils. Said evils are released, your father is captured, and you inherit his abilities and mask to rescue him and save the worlds. A decent enough setup, not a lot of room for nuance, but what would you expect from a game like this anyway. It didn't even get a physical release. Controls are very simple, with the face buttons gaining abilities as you progress through the game, up to a game-breaking projectile launch move learned in the fourth world that made enemies a breeze.

The game is quite pretty. Every world is highly-stylized and easily to recognize. The enemies fit within certain classes but all of them have unique looks for each world. The levels increase in difficulty on quite a linear scale, although the boss fights can leave you wondering how to proceed and how to damage the boss. I will admit I had to look up a walkthrough video twice for boss fights. There are also side levels to be found which transport you to pocket dimensions where you collect coins to please a monkey god. Probably sentence I never thought I'd write. You only get one shot at them per level, if not you need to die and reload a checkpoint.

The game is easy enough for achievements, and could be conceivably completed in one day. I spread it out over a few days because the levels do get repetitive and boring the further you go. There are only so many variations on a common theme to go around. You will want a guide handy for the locations of all of the teleports in the levels. You could find them all outside of one, but it will take some effort and searching. The game is also fully backward-compatible on the Xbox One, so no need to dig out the old 360 to enjoy this game.

Verdict: not too boring, could have used a touch more variation. 6/10

Dear Esther: Landmark Edition Micro-Review: When you play a game which is retroactively credited as starting an entire genre of games, you can't help but look that much closer at what is going on around you and how this inspired others to make the same style of games. In the case of Dear Esther, the developers wanted to tell a story and keep it front and center at all times, at the expense of gameplay or mechianics. A bold decision, and given its impact on the gaming industry as a whole, quite a smart decision to make as well.

To explain who you are and what you are doing would be to give away the entire plot of the game, so I won't do that. What I will do is tell you the developers beautifully recreated an island in the Scottish Hebrides and you explore the island while slowly uncovering the story through four chapters of walking and listening to audio bites from your character. The game is incredibly pretty. The environment and everything around it is wonderful. What little music there is has been used to great effect as well, coming in at just the right time to accentuate the proceedings in the game itself.

Being one of the 'walking simulator' games, it is a quick completion, even when you factor in playing the game twice to listen to all of the audio logs for an achievement. You can knock this out in around three hours. The only gripe I would level at this game, and this is an incredibly small one, is the walking speed is maybe a bit too slow for the game. I understand what the developers were trying to do, basically make you stop and enjoy the enrivonment, but this could have been achieved with an ever-slightly faster walking pace. Perhaps a bit less ambiguity for the story as well, but again, very minor gripe. I highly recommend this game.

Verdict: there's a reason an entire genre popped up from this game. It's that good. 9/10

Coming up on Monday: a huge rant about Black Ops 4.
Posted by CyberPunch83 on 20 April 18 at 22:56 | There are no comments on this blog - Please log in to comment on this blog.
Apr
17
PermalinkBad Intel and Misprints
First thing today is a correction from last week. I erroneously wrote that the TrueAchievements 10th Birthday Challenge was active and ongoing at the time of that writing. I was wrong on both counts. The event in particular I was referring to in the sense of specifically looking for certain achievements that start with a specific letter had not only ended, but ended nearly five days before that blog was written. Talk about being late to the party. Many thanks to everyone that pointed out that rather glaring flaw in my blog research. You can be sure it won't happen again.

I finally caved and bought some more games. Yet another entry in the endless stream of spring sales on the Xbox has arrived, and along with it came the usual site PM indicating some games on my Wish List are going on sale. It's too bad the games on my Wish List that I truly want are obscure Xbox 360 titles which were never made available digitally and can only be found in disc form, which seems to only increase in price whenever I check an eBay listing to see what the games are going for this month. It's always about 10-15$ more than I would be comfortable paying, and this includes all taxes and shipping costs as well.

I didn't fully cave and buy everything on my list. Instead I bought one game and one large piece of DLC that I had to purchase before the end of the year anyway. On the game side I purchased Sherlock Holmes: The Devil's Daughter. I have come to enjoy and appreciate the point-and-click adventures of Sherlock and his faithful partner Dr. Watson ever since my first time playing one of these games way back in my first Crappy Game Week back in May 2015. The strange thing about the three games played in that week was I ended up coming to respect each game for something different and unique.

In the case of The Testament of Sherlock Holmes, it was the methodical way in which Sherlock pieced together the evidence to solve seemingly-impossible crimes. In the case of Murdered: Soul Suspect, it was the combination of setting and unique abilities of a ghost trapped between this world and the afterlife trying to solve your own murder. In the case of Dark, let's just say I loved that game in the same way you love a retarded cross-eyed dog that rolls over and pees on itself whenever it sees you. An attempt was made, but you know they were never going to fully make it.

That aside... well, aside, the other thing I bought was the Halo 3: ODST Campaign DLC for Halo: the Master Chief Collection. One of my gaming goals for the year is to finish that game entirely, and that meant eventually buying and completing that DLC. One hundred achievements, one thousand Gamerscore remaining. Seven and a half months to do it. Let's go. Once I really get rolling on it, it will be done before you know it. Keep an eye on this space for updates as I work through an interesting departure from the Halo formula, but one that works in its own way.

Now for an update on a game I've played a lot, but blogged little about.

ROBLOX Progress Report: One of the two long-term achievements has finally been unlocked, and could have been done much, much sooner had I ever remembered to get the thing done or not forget to log in after three or four straight days. The '10 day roll' achievement is done, and as of this writing, am sitting at 13/20 days required for the final achievement, '20 day roll'. That will be done in the next week, since I have to keep the streak alive for that amount of time, and unlike some other games I play that I sometimes revisit, I honestly can't say the same about ROBLOX.

For those that may not know, the game boils down to a series of user-generated minigames, each with different objectives, everything from obstacle courses, first-person shooters, medieval RPGs, and everything in between. If you absolutely cannot find what you are looking for among the probably thousands of gametypes available to you, you always have the option to make your own. I haven't experimented with that, so I don't know what is required to make your own level, but the options is always there if you ever feel that way inclined.

Personally I found a few gametypes that would allow me to whittle away a few minutes per day, just enough to ensure the day counted for my streak. There have been reports since the game's launch that just opening the game and being at the main menu won't be enough for that day to count in your streaks. The best way around this is to play a round or two of any gametype you want. Anything that can burn away around ten minutes. Even if you idle some of it, you can be sure at that point you're good for the day and can go back to whatever you were doing before.

The game has an added bonus, which might be more or less pronounced depending on the time zone in which you live. The game uses GMT to determine what is midnight and where a new day starts, since some sort of line had to be drawn somewhere. If you live in EST, as I do, this means you have until 8 PM to complete that day's streak entry, and can then work on the next day later that night. For those of you on the west coast of North America, this changes to 5 PM for your cutoff on the current day and when the next day technically begins.

Coming up on Friday: the first walking simulator.
Posted by CyberPunch83 on 17 April 18 at 07:10 | There are 4 comments on this blog post - Please log in to comment on this blog.
Apr
14
PermalinkFor Want of an Achievement
As I write this, and ongoing until a point in time I am not currently aware of, is the TrueAchievements ten year anniversary celebration. The site-wide challenge is to earn achievements whose first letters of the achievement names spell out 'Happy Birthday Trueachievements'. Seems like a fun enough challenge, as it might get you to start some games you had sitting in your backlog for a while, or to complete some games that have been sitting on your card for even longer. Either way, get out there and earn some achievements, and have fun along the way.

For the last few weeks now, I've been stuck on the letter Y. As it turns out, not only is Y one of the less-common letters in the English language, but it shows up even less frequently in achievement names as the first letter. Granted I have three un-earned achievements on my card right now that start with said letter, however two of those come from a game which is effectively on permanent hiatus until some hardware concerns can be fixed. For those of you keeping score at home, the game in question is Epic Mickey 2. The third achievement comes from Disneyland Adventures, however that game is not one that should be rushed, so it will not.

This meant taking a trip to my game drawer to see what I could possibly play that fit the bill. Here's the thing about TrueAchievements. The site can track which games you have added to your collection, be it either physical or digital and regardless of platform, however there is no method to list the achievements from games in your collection, but have not started. Basically this means there was no quick way to look at a list of achievements for games I could start. Your only option would be to bean dive all of your games and find one that worked eventually.

I did just that, trying to keep the games I was looking at initially limited to those with a quick completion time. I'm not against playing longer games, and I was seriously considering finally starting L.A. Noire on the Xbox 360 in the next week or so. Unfortunately that game did not have that which I needed, and that would have been very convenient as well. In the end I found two games which can both fit the bill nicely: Madagascar 3, a game based off the movie of the same title, and JUJU, a game I know next to nothing about but is playable via backward compatibility and I bought it probably a year ago now.

One of these games will be started asap, the other one probably not far behind it. The quest to complete this little challenge continues. We may return to searching for individual letters. For now here's a review for a lackluster game about an alien.

Destroy All Humans! Path of the Furon Micro-Review: The thing about a game where you play as a classic alien, abducting and destroying humans, and generally causing extraterrestrial chaos wherever you go, is that a lot of the allure gets lost when you either leave Earth or are no longer surrounded by humans, instead being among your own kind. This was the dilemma faced on the last level of the game. Saying much more would constitute a spoiler, so I won't say more other than the story had to take a few weird leaps in logic to get you there in the first place.

The game's style of plopping you in a location, having you complete missions and side quests along the way did get somewhat old toward the end. It probably didn't help that the side missions or odd jobs boiled down to races, either in foot or in your spacecraft, or were a combination of destroying buildings and abducting people. You do enough of that in the main story missions. Crypto's voice actor and accent do get more and more grating as you go along, for what that's worth. No one else's voice work was much better, but it was generally all serviceable at worst and passable at best.

One event of note I came across though, and this may have been by accident. While in Sunnywood, aka not Los Angeles, I was doing the penultimate story mission, and destroyed a building as a part of it. Normally the police, working their way up the military show up to stop you from wreaking absolute havoc. This time, no one showed up. Either because of the mission constraint or because the game bugged out on me. I was free to destroy all of Sunnywood as I saw fit. So I did just that. Leveled every building I could and faced no repercussions for my actions.

One less-fun incident of note: after completing the main story and being ejected into the playable epilogue of the game, about 90% of the game sounds went away. This included the background music, ambience, sound effects and some people's lines. It wasn't quite playing the game on mute, but not far from it. Making and reloading a save cleared this up, so at least it wasn't permanent. The game would receive a much lower score had that been the case. The game is receiving a low score anyway, so maybe it wouldn't have mattered.

Verdict: there's a reason THQ went bankrupt. Somewhat-disappointing games like these didn't help. 5/10

Coming up on Monday: a Progress Report on a free game. No, not that one.
Posted by CyberPunch83 on 14 April 18 at 04:52 | There are 5 comments on this blog post - Please log in to comment on this blog.
Apr
10
PermalinkPause While You Pause
One game I will always keep on my console, even through long droughts where I don't play the game, nothing new is added either content or achievement-wise or I'm just busy with other titles on other systems, is World of Tanks. Assuming the sheer amount I've played and blogged about this game in the past isn't an indicator of that. To wit, as of this writing I have over 1,150 hours logged into just the Xbox One version alone. This does not count the two years this game was only available on the Xbox 360. Who knows how much higher that number would climb?

Recently the game updated to version 4.4. Nothing in the way of new achievements, for better or worse since the Xbox 360 version was dropped from all future achievement updated after 3.4. That platform was only dropped because the game had maxed out at 99 achievements and that console can't support more than that, even for digital titles and having the additions spread out as much as possible. To be perfectly honest the Xbox One version is due for another addition soon, since we haven't got anything since Update 4.0 back in August of last year.

The big new additions of late have been to the 'singleplayer' War Stories mode. Bite-sized missions where you complete objectives, battle AI enemies and have a chance to try out other vehicles you either won't have researched or may not have any interest in driving. I put singleplayer in air quotes only because while playing one of the missions last week, my connection went for a derp and I found myself dealing with input lag in a singleplayer game mode where I was the only human around. To say I wasn't impressed was quite the understatement. That did clear up soon enough.

Three new War Stories were added, each one chapter in length. They deal with German, American and Soviet tank commanders effectively going against orders to do either what is right or what is most profitable. The American mission has you fighting German vehicles, while the German and Soviet missions both have you fighting Russian vehicles. It's almost a shame in some respects to have the one mission where you're playing as a German commander is where you turn on your superiors and have a change of heart of sorts, leading into the mission proper.

A previous War Story had you driving a German Tiger with a French crew who managed to infiltrate a production facility and steal the aforementioned tank for research by Allied forces. This is the only previous instance of using German vehicles. I can understand the subject being slightly touchy to some people, but if Wargaming really believed that was the case and people would be somewhat offended, Germany wouldn't be one of the best tank nations in the game and the one where many new players flock to in order to get an early leg up on the competition.

As always, I'll keep posted here with updates and other large significant changes to this game. Expect at least one new nation added to the game before the end of the year if the PC version, which is usually a few updates ahead of us, is any indication of where the game is going next. In the meantime here's a quick update on a game where you play as an alien, and few people seem to really care.

Destroy All Humans! Path of the Furon Progress Report: The game is broken down into five main areas, and I'm in the progress of cleaning up all of the side missions in the third area, the game's equivalent of Hong Kong. The game fancies itself as mission-based open world, since every mission has a name, usually some sort of pun to shove the word alien in there somewhere or an equivalent. The XP rewards are going up quickly, which is nice since the next upgrade I need costs 1,000,000 points. That is a lot and may be the single most expensive upgrade in the whole game.

Whenever you press the center button on the controller during gameplay, the game pauses in the background. This is a good thing, since then nothing can happen when you're not looking. This is especially useful in heavy combat situations and you absolutely must look at something else and not let the action pass you by when checking a message. The quirk about this pause feature, and the only reason I'm bringing it up here, is the game pauses itself, even when you're already paused. The game can't tell the difference between the two and pauses anyway.

This can lead to some rather humourous situation wherein you're at the pause menu, bring up the Xbox guide, and for a fraction of a second, see 'Game Paused' over top of big letters that say 'Paused'. If you pause too hard or too many times, does time begin to move backwards? I mean time bending is a skill you learn in the game, and becomes incredibly useful pretty much as soon as you gain access to it, to the point some collectibles and missions would be basically impossible without them. Don't worry about not knowing how to use it, as the game proved ample tutorial for this skill.

As it turns out, each area not only has collectibles, but they are also unique to the area as well. This serves no other purpose than for the game to have some more unique assets and for the achievement list to be a little less boring, so credit where its due for this one. This was a situation where they could have got away with nothing but the same collectible in each location and no one really would have complained. This effort can and probably should have gone elsewhere, but it's a nice and ultimately appreciated touch.

Coming up on Friday: A challenger reappears.
Posted by CyberPunch83 on 10 April 18 at 04:18 | There are no comments on this blog - Please log in to comment on this blog.
Apr
07
PermalinkTrading Places
As you have probably heard by now, No Man's Sky, the former PS4-exclusive space-em-up, most known for having nothing to do and no way to interact with other players at launch, is coming to the Xbox One later this year. Since the game's very hyped launch in August 2016, numerous updates have moved the game to 'playable' status according to those who stuck around, and all of those updates and extra content will be coming to the game as its initial launch on the Xbox. I can't say for sure if I'll try out this game since it seems like a huge time investment.

I'll wait for some reviews to come in for the Xbox version and see if any other tweaks or improvements were also brought along for the port. There are entire posts and blogs to be written about this game, how post-launch content was handled, and what the game has changed into over nearly two years. You won't be finding that here today. Perhaps if I ever play No Man's Sky this will change. For now, know it's coming. As is the physical release for Slime Rancher of all games. File this one squarely under 'never thought would happen', but it's coming in September, along with a PS4 port.

We may never know, but some sort of agreement must have been struck between Hello Games, the people behind No Man's Sky, and Monomi Park, the developers behind Slime Rancher. Both games were previously console exclusives, and there must have been some demand for each game to come to the other console. Most notably when No Man's Sky first released on PS4, people took a poke through the game files and found what could only be references to the Xbox One, indicating a port was either in consideration or some degree of development before being scrapped initially.

In what is probably the worst pivot this blog has ever taken, let's now talk about a game where you play as an alien and has levitating shrubs and rocks.

Destroy All Humans! Path of the Furon First Thoughts: Coming into a game franchise in its fourth and final entry is a strange experience. Not every game takes the time to being you up to speed on the characters, places and situations that have led the final game to start where it does. A certain level of background knowledge or information is all but required to make the most sense of what will happen in the game, although it can still be enjoyed without all of that knowledge. This game is the former, where they are expecting you to know a few key points about the story

You play as grey alien Crypto, who after crash landing on Earth in the 1950's has made a comfortable living for himself as a casino owner by 1979 in Totally Not Las Vegas. You are reminded by your hologram sidekick to destroy the titular humans, and have to come out from a life of relaxation and easy living to take over the world for the Furons once again. Furons being Crypto's particular race of aliens. Being an alien, you have access to all manner of futuristic weaponry, complete with a spacecraft with a death ray built in.

This game is nearly ten years old, and in many ways shows it as well. When stretched all the way out to 1080i, the game doesn't look perfect, but passable. The engine is probably what holds it back the most, since texture pop is very real and the relative draw distance is quite short. When traveling at a high enough speed, you can be nearly on top of some objects before either the model or texture decides to show up. This can make hunting humans for sport and experience rather difficult since they can run off and never be seen again. The music is also quite repetitive.

Path of the Furon is a third-person semi-open world title. You go between five different large, open levels, complete with side missions, races and collectibles. This is not a bad thing, as it gives a sense of scale to the proceedings, and you need large levels to accommodate spaceship travel and combat. The worlds are relatively sparsely-populated and everyone always seems to be where you are, but for the purposes of the game it's fine. Different areas even have unique enemy types to keep the combat somewhat fresh.

The dialogue is awful. Crypto talks with a Southern drawl, seemingly for no reason other than spending 20 years in Not Vegas. It it irritating, especially when juxtaposed with both the lines spoken by Crypto' hologram partner and the NPC dialogue. The other alien is too high-pitched and whiny, the NPCs are painfully generic 1970's Americans. There are far too many dialogue cutscenes, as each story mission requires going through an entire dialogue tree and just exhausting all talking points until you accept the mission.

When the game does include dialogue and you have to pick the right thing to say to proceed, there is no apparent punishment for making the wrong choice and you're free to guess again, which is balanced nicely by there being no apparent way to determine the correct response outside of trial and error. You can skip through non-essential dialogue by mashing A, however if the game hasn't finished loading behind the cutscene, the characters will remain stationary and the camera fixed until the game is ready to go again.

Coming up on Monday: something about World of Tanks.
Posted by CyberPunch83 on 07 April 18 at 03:15 | There are no comments on this blog - Please log in to comment on this blog.