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    Shadow of Mordor (XBONE)    by   JChambers       (Jan 23rd, 2018 at 00:57:27)

    It is day three of my playthrough of Shadow of Mordor, and I have realized something that I had forgotten: The game wears thin fairly quickly. As I said on day one,The game basically boils down to a series of assaults meant to strike terror into your enemies. After two days of spending my postgame time looking back at my actions, I began to look for ways to avoid the main hook of the game. Instead I tried to find a way to avoid enemies, instead concentrating on side activities such as hunting down artifacts. I do not believe that the game is necessarily immoral or without a purpose, I just do not find myself compelled to continue the activities. I have the same sort of aversion to the Grand Theft Auto series. I never really cared to role play criminal activity. This does not mean, however that I find those who do enjoy these types of games to be morally bankrupt. Instead I think there is plenty of room for all types of stories within varied media. Still, I did not think that reflecting on Mordor would lead me to this conclusion. I felt that I had just fell off the game previously due to other, newer games. Instead, I now feel like I have bounced hard off of a game that I find a bit too far on the "renegade" end of the spectrum, and that is too bad. The game has a lot going for it mechanically.

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    1979 Revolution: Black Friday (PC)    by   will89       (Jan 21st, 2018 at 20:46:28)

    1978: Revolution kicks off by immerging the player in the action. With timed options in many of the beginning events, the player feels connected with Reza Shirazi. While you are feeling sympathy for Reza, you are also uneasy with the setup with the game. I should preface, before writing more, that I spent most of 2015 and a good deal of 2016 deployed to the Middle East. Having seen how dirty war and revolution can be, the story hit my heart.
    I wonder if it does the same to others. The game very quickly delves into the interrogation of Reza. It is violent, and you instantly gain sympathy for Reza. No matter what he says, he is oppressed. It reminded me of being in the Middle East and how others are treated along the same lines or worse. While the events in the video game are based on actual events but may not have been the reality of what happened, it still made my gut wrench.
    Reza is reminded of his friend and the scene and chapter change. Things are more light-hearted, but Reza is handed a tape and told its contents are important. It is here that he is introduced to the revolution. The story illustrates that he was living a normal life until the tape started to change things. What I did enjoy about this section was how it outlined historical events that occurred during the protests. While it was important, I felt more connected to the torture portion because of how horrific it was.

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    Shadow of Mordor (XBONE)    by   JChambers       (Jan 21st, 2018 at 20:06:38)

    My second playthrough of Shadow of Mordor has gone something like this: Climb tower, get mission, get distracted trying to hunt down Orc, run afoul of different Orc, die fighting different Orc, respawn, get distracted trying to hunt down different Orc....

    One of the main things that I enjoyed about the game the first time that I played was the Nemesis System. I like the way the randomly generated Orcs present themselves WWE style with a short threat/monologue. I actually did not realize it at the time, but for me the insults served as a reason to say "I need to go hunt down that jerk". I find it to be a good bit of motivation as opposed to any of the narrative driven reasons that I was supposed to be invested. Killed by an evil army? No big deal. Ghost-elf in my head? I'll live. My family is dead? Meh. Oh, what's that you say? That green guy just called me names in a Mary Poppins chimney sweep accent?! Time to die...

    This second playthrough has led me to question the way the game motivates me. Family vengeance (in my opinion) is a great reason to go Orc hunting, but is not a "real" motivation. I was completely sucked in to the mechanics of the Nemesis System, and to be honest, it is a great system. I would love to see this used in other games. There are a few problems that come up when considering the gameplay within the world that serves as a setting. I need to look it up, but previous bits of lore within the world basically say "Orcs are people, too". The mechanics feel just a bit off in conjunction with the story, and I hate saying that because I really enjoy both elements separately. I think I might just really like the idea of playing a generic Orc Murder simulator, that way I could shut my brain off an go full WWE.

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    FireWatch (PC)    by   damnlyons       (Jan 21st, 2018 at 00:37:44)

    Session 2:
    Iíve just completed 2 more days. I canít get enough of Henry and Delilahís banter. Itís excellently written, in my opinion. And thank goodness too, as their dialogue is essentially the entire game. The spookiness/mystery aspect is definitely picking up as well. I remember the first time I played, I was worried that Iíd been bamboozled into purchasing a horror game. One scene in particular really sticks out to me. That moment when youíre walking back to your tower at night, and Delilah says ďOh well, at least youíre back in your tower,Ē but youíre not. And then she says ďI am looking at a man that is standing in your tower. And itís not you?Ē I get goosebumps just writing that. Thereís something so profoundly unsettling about having a place where you should feel safe and secure invaded like that. Firewatch EXCELS at creating this suffocating feeling of uneasiness throughout the vast majority of its story. Even though I wouldnít technically call it a horror game, I think it does a better job at creating the atmosphere of one than many that Iíve played (though Iím kind of a wuss, so thatís a very short list if Iím gonna be honest).

    Firewatch is a very ambitious game, story-wise. It attempts to interweave several plotlines into one cohesive narrative, with the main exposition coming through a simple radio and some notes. By and large, I think it succeeds. It has its shortcomings, though. The developers tried to cram a ton of story into a very short game, and it shows. The plotlines donít always feel fully fleshed out. That being said, I still thoroughly enjoyed my time with it. It dragged me across the entire emotional spectrum in a way that a lot of triple A titles can only dream of replicating. Iím sure a large part of why Firewatch is so short is due to a small budget, so with its success I hope Campo Santoís next game will be more ďfeature-lengthĒ. Iím very excited to see what they can do without financial restrictions holding them back, and I very much look forward to playing it.

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    FireWatch (PC)    by   damnlyons       (Jan 20th, 2018 at 22:39:47)

    Well I suppose I should start this off by saying Iíve already played through Firewatch once. However, itís been so long that I wouldnít be surprised if Iíve forgotten many details and I no doubt missed many more. Thus, I feel completely validated in my decision to play through it once more (especially since I remember really enjoying my time with it). Iíll be curious to see if my opinion of it changes at all.

    Session 1:
    Well right off the bat, I notice that you canít seem to sprint. I guess Iíd forgotten that little detail. I can understand the mindset behind not including such a feature, as Iím sure the devs wanted people to bask in the splendor of the breathtaking visuals (not to mention the fact that it artificially lengthens the time it takes to complete the game). It wouldnít be so bad, but since Henry moves at approximately the same speed as a very large, stationary boulder, Iíve come to the conclusion that the devs ACTUAL goal is to antagonize their player-base. UPDATE: The game took its sweet time letting me know, but apparently you can in fact sprint. Thank god.


    Iíve just completed the prologue, and MAN the game doesnít waste any time in hitting you with some tough choices. I donít think Iíve ever gone from chuckling to tearing up in such a short span of time before (UP being the notable exception, of course). Having had family members go through the nightmare that is dementia/Alzheimerís, the decision to put Julia in a nursing home or not really resonated with me. What a moral dilemma. Do you sacrifice your own happiness to take care of someone who doesnít even know you anymore? Or do you ďabandonĒ them? While the former may be the selfless decision, I donít believe itís the right one. After watching various family members slowly succumb to the devastating effects of these diseases, regressing into husks of their former selves, I wouldnít wish that burden on anyone. I would argue that your moral obligation to your loved one is to stay with them for as long as theyíre lucid, but past that point they need the professional care provided by a nursing home, as taking care of them then becomes a full-time job that requires training the average person simply doesnít have. Regardless, itís still an incredibly difficult decision. In the later stages of these diseases, the person that you knew is gone. Whatís your moral obligation to a complete stranger?

    Oof. I think thatís enough Firewatch for now.

    This entry has been edited 1 time. It was last edited on Jan 20th, 2018 at 22:43:51.

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    South Park: The Stick of Truth (PS3)    by   dkirschner

    Can't wait... ------------------ Yes, this is great. Hilarious.
    most recent entry:   Saturday 14 January, 2017
    Tore through this the last couple days. This had no right to be as great as it is. I read the reviews and still approached with a grain of salt, but damn if this isn't like playing a South Park movie. It's hilarious (if you find South Park funny) and it's actually a fun RPG too.

    My favorite thing about the game is all the memories it conjured. I watched South Park when it first came out. I think I was 16. I remember sitting in my mom's room on the couch watching it (not with my mom though; she tried to hate it, but eventually admitted she liked it). Every week, my friends and I tuned in to the new episodes. This lasted at least through high school, and I kept up with it pretty good through a few years of college too. I haven't really watched it since, but this was so familiar. So much from the old classic episodes are here. I helped Al Gore find ManBearPig. I rescued Mr. Hanky's children. I helped Stan beat up Shelly for stealing his iPhone. I shot magic missles with Cartman. You can look in all the boys' closets and poke around their rooms and see years of South Park paraphernalia.

    The other best thing about the game is traveling to Canada. It typical South Park fashion, they poke fun at Canada, but you'll have to travel there for yourself to enjoy it.

    The game is fun to play too. You explore the town of South Park and have varying access to people's homes and iconic stores. To enter a number of secret places, you'll need keys, but they all open up. Side quests are fun, but the real joys are the main story and also trying to "friend" as many people as you can on social media. You play as the "new kid" and your first quest is your parents telling you to go make friends. You meet Butters, who is role-playing a paladin, and he takes you to Cartman's castle, where you realize that the neighborhood kids are playing a humans vs elves larp. You get drawn into it, and the game goes from there.

    Battles are turn-based, but active kind of like Paper Mario. Your moves require you to input various commands to make them successful, so the combat isn't button-mashing action-RPG fare or menu scrolling. It's solid, if easy. You choose a class. There is fighter, magician, ranger, and...Jew. I chose Jew because I was curious. Turns out all your class gear involves you doing more damage the more damage you've taken. Ha. I assume the other classes were straightforward. Anyway, you can equip anything you want and your class luckily doesn't restrict you, just determines your special abilities and standard equipment.

    A couple things I didn't like about it include an early level cap. I did the last two or three areas at max level. I mean, sure I was already a badass who couldn't really lose, but still. Why not make the max level higher if people are reaching it so early? Give me some more ability points or something. Then, selecting special actions outside of combat is cumbersome. Every direction on the D pad enters a menu, and holding or pressing R1 and L1 also bring up radial menus. But you have to select with the left stick. Right stick doesn't do anything, and trying to select with the D pad brings up one of the other menus. There are more efficient ways to toggle special abilities that are less confusing. Aside from that stuff though, it's mostly great!

    Definitely worth a play if you ever enjoyed South Park.

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